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Posted by on in What If?

shhh

If you are ever going to have classes that are too noisy, you can bet that the time for this particular teacher nightmare is right now near end of the school term. Even those timid students who were too shy to speak above a whisper at the start of the year now appear to be completely comfortable shouting across the room. The classroom noise level this time of year isn't just stressful; it's a sure indicator of unproductive behavior.   

Although could be dozens of approaches to consider when your students talk excessively and loudly, using just a few effective strategies may help you begin to solve this problem for yourself and for your students. Examine the following approaches in view of your own experience and adapt the ones you find useful to make the remaining time you have with your students productive, peaceful, and quiet.

Be emphatic and explicit when you speak with your students about this problem. You should make it very clear when it is okay for them to talk and when you want them to work silently. If you are clear in communicating your expectations to your students, they will be less likely to repeatedly test your tolerance for noise.

Avoid the sound-wave effect of a loud class time followed by a quiet one followed by a loud one again. Be consistent in the way you enforce the rules in your class about excessive talking. Teachers who aren’t consistent spend their time getting a class quiet, allowing the noise level to build to an intolerable level, and then getting the class quiet again in an endless and ineffective cycle.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

You know, it’s really hard nowadays for a child to simply be a child. There’s so much pressure to perform academically, that Kindergarten has become the new first grade and preschool has become the new Kindergarten.

Parents get caught up in the frenzy, worried that their children will be “behind” by the time they get to Kindergarten. They don’t realize there is a simple solution to it all… PLAY.

To those of us who are early childhood educators, this is no surprise. But for others, and even some well-intentioned teachers, there is a flawed mindset that play and academics are unrelated and that one must take a backseat to the other.

It is this kind of thinking that is not only taking the fun out of childhood, but also interfering with learning.

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Posted by on in Assessment

standardized test

Don't show Mama Our Nation's Report Card. Not so good. 

Tonight I'm sharing my opinions, not a major statistical treatise, but I will toss some information into the bowl, like Strega Nona, and let's mix it up, and put a little honey on top. 

Tonight I offer heartfelt, plain talk about yesterday's shocking headlines, or not so, really, that our kids have failed. Or at least, didn't show any growth in fourth and eighth grade reading. Goodness. Yet here we are in America, right in the middle of endless standardized testing.

Now this. Drat. Flat scores. The sideways. Up scores, like Florida. Down, like second language learners and special needs labeled students.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

After fourteen years of teaching child care professionals and teachers about preschool learners, one of my college students, with sweet, enthusiastic innocence, told me that her threes understood the word “hypothesis.” That in her center, they teach a “word a week” to the children. And their philosophy? Their motivation? “We have to get them ready for being four.” I suggested that the children are learning to be three. Why push them?

Her program is called an Academy. That says a lot. A Facebook friend, who owns a center, confessed that using the word “Academy” in her school’s title was a marketing decision. She is uncomfortable with it because her program is a process-oriented, creative program where children learn organically—through play experiences, with teachers as guides. But she bit the bullet and chose that word—Academy—to bring parents in.

“Academies” ask two-year-olds to glue noodles to a paper plate, then ask the teacher to glue on the letter “N. They display these almost identical pieces on a bulletin board in the classroom so parents will think their toddlers are learning something (they’re not). They call this academics. Many parents believe that an early academic start (mimicking public school) is good for their children. You can’t blame them. They so want to believe they are giving their children a jump start. All they know is from their own experience, and they don’t remember school any further back than early elementary school. These are the biases they base their choices on. These biases don’t come from developmental theorists, or from the hallowed history of child care and early education. They certainly don’t come from today’s leaders in the educational field. They come from the cultural memory of the industrial age. Ken Robinson calls this a mechanistic approach to education. This approach is outmoded.

We want to prepare young children by allowing them to grow organically, and learn through curiosity, imagination, and creativity. These three qualities are immensely important. They won’t perpetuate the mechanistic, industrial world view of the 19th and 20th century, but will prepare a generation to become the talented, productive, individual human beings that we will need in the future. How can we educate parents to demand the best for their children? By educating them about what the best is.

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Posted by on in General

StopTellingKidsToThinkOutsideTheBox.jpg

Tripping on 'shrooms in Prague once I stopped by an art gallery window and saw it. It was an orange dog; the tiniest of canines. A stain of fluorescent orange paint in the bottom right corner of a sizable painting of some natural scenery. I remember the grass, the trees, and the people in it but in that moment all I could focus on was the strange orange dog.

I was 23, window shopping, and laughing too hard at a silly little orange dog on an otherwise green painting. Later, I was examining people's faces on the metro ride back to the Airbnb-style room I booked. Being aware I'm influenced I felt I could look into anyone's soul and know who they were. It was like a superpower that allowed me to see them for who they really were; if they were good or bad.

And in case the good people in my school district's HR department are reading this occurred 17 years ago, happened before I became a teacher, and was the last time I used psychedelics. It's just that I still remember that dang dog and wonder if my memory would be so vivid had my consciousness not been altered. For some reason, my mind decided it was significant enough to keep and maybe it uses it somehow to this day without me even realizing.

Using More Of The Brain

Steve Jobs, Richard Feynman, Jimi Hendrix, Jean-Paul Sartre, Bill Gates, John Coltrane, and The Beatles have 2 things in-common; they changed the world by being the GOATs (greatest of all time) of their respective crafts and they operated outside of the realm of conditioned and compliant thinking. Oh, and they all used psychedelics, so that would make it three things I suppose.

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