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Posted by on in Early Childhood

preschool children

I just returned from our state’s annual Early Childhood Higher Education Summit feeling a mix of angry and frustrated. Our NAEYC state affiliate maintains a staff of attorneys and advocates who actively participate in legislative conversations and hearings dealing with early childhood education. This month, a bill comes up for a vote on whether or not to increase funding for our state-supported preschool programs. This has stirred considerable debate, as I know exists in other states around the country, as well. A spokesman from our advocacy team highlighted conversations she had with legislators and said there is still a good number who aren’t convinced preschool makes any difference- and therefore may not be worth the money.

This seems unbelievable to me, considering the past, current, and ongoing available research to the contrary. What don’t these people understand? Can we just break it down into terms they are capable of processing? This isn’t just blind spending. This is a real investment in everyone’s future.

meeting

How about some simple facts:

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Posted by on in General

heavens

There were six kids absent from my class and about that many absent in each of my fellow teachers' classes as well. Celeste looked up from her bell work as I was entering the attendance into the computer. "Why are so many kids gone today?" she inquired.

"Oh...is it that God thing?" blurted out Miguel.

I asked, "You mean "Good Friday" - right, Miguel?"

"Yeah," he replied. "Yeah... Um, what is Good Friday?"

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

backbone

It’s been said that the Principal is the face of the school.

If that’s the case, then the Assistant Principal is definitely the backbone!

For those lucky enough to have an Assistant Principal in your building, they are the ones who work, for the most part, behind the scenes in a number of areas.  They are the ones who organize and lead efforts such as: the master schedule, testing, staff development, student discipline, assemblies, recognition events, duties, ceremonies, buildings and grounds, and staff evaluations.  And, while doing all of these important tasks, they do it while connecting with students, staff, parents, and community members!  Could you imagine what would happen if your Assistant Principal wasn’t there?

This week marks National Assistant Principals Week

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

doctor and elderly patient

Over the weekend, I remembered a profound lesson my father taught me years ago.  As an eye doctor, he explained the shift he made after less than a year of practice.  In his eagerness, zeal, and knowledge, he shared that he could diagnose the patient's eye problem quickly by observation and begin thinking through the treatment process.  Often, he was able to determine the course of action without even talking with the patient!  This resulted in him being able to move more patients in and out of his office, so he could help more patients and increase productivity.

Yet, he came to realize that, even though he proved the necessary physical treatment of the patient's eye, he did not treat their human need to share their story.  Although he knew the necessary course of action to treat their eye, he deprived them of sharing the background on what occurred, their pain, and how it has impacted them.  My dad recognized the need to allow patients to share their story as part of their healing process.  Today, he is known not only for the precision and work he physically does to help heal others, but he is also esteemed for his compassionate heart and sensitivity to others.

I was reminded of this story at an annual retreat with the Worthington Resource Pantry Board Meeting.  As part of the visioning process, a facilitator asked a question that went beyond the physical aspects the pantry provides regarding food, resources, and training to those in need.  The facilitator asked the question: "How do you want clients to feel that are serviced at the Pantry?"

The members of Board all agreed it was a profound question - it isn't just about supplying physical needs to others; it's also about empathesizing with them and treating the whole person.  Our conversations lifted the tone of the meeting, as we talked about the need to provide dignity, hope, pride, welcomed, invited, and a sense of community to the question.

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Posted by on in Project-Based Learning

Screen-Shot-2017-04-04-at-9.06.15-PM.png

First, we kill our students creativity. Next, we ask them to be creative and wonder why they have such a hard time.

We always aspire for our students to move away from fact regurgitation and move toward higher level thinking and deeper understanding. When we ask students to brainstorm and generate ideas, provide solutions to problems, or to think and reason critically, we are really asking them to be creative. The sad truth is that by standardizing education we often kill creativity. The hope lies in the fact that creativity is an acquired skill that can be improved.

If we make a conscious decision to change things up in our classrooms, to change the way we educate our students, we can increase their creativity. With increased creativity they can innovate and be more successful.

The human brain is composed of gray matter and white matter. Gray matter stores knowledge and is used when we think. White matter is tissue through which the brain transfers and connects information. Scientific studies show that extraordinarily creative individuals have more white matter than others. This is good, because it proves creativity is something we can get better at.

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