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Posted by on in General

Have you ever found yourself thinking these thoughts?

I wish my students would take fewer risks.

My students should really stop coming up with new ideas.

I need to structure my classes to reduce creativity.

If you have, then you're on your way to becoming a good teacher. Every teacher should try to find ways to kill creativity in the classroom before it becomes a problem.

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Posted by on in School Culture


This is just one in a series of ongoing posts on the educational innovations in Israel. You can see additional coverage here.

New York City (the place I teach) is indeed a melting pot, and while New Yorkers embrace its diversity, teaching in a school where students are not fluent in English, and often are not even literate in their own language, is challenging. Students are often unable to perform at grade level, not because of their capacity to learn, but because of their capacity to understand the language. What’s more, after just one year in the country, foreign-born students are expected to perform on the same standardized tests as native speakers. When they don’t, there’s a domino effect: the student is labeled a failure. His parent feels like a failure. His teacher a failure, and if there are many such students in attendance, the school is labeled a failure. The failure however is not the student, teacher, or school. The failure is the a school system that is failing these students.  

What if there was a way to change this scenario?

As one of five bloggers invited to be a part of #VibeIsrael’s #VibeEdu Education Innovation tour I had the chance to visit a school where none of this is the case. The Bialik Rogozin School provides a unique model where refugees and children of migrant workers, some of them with little or no schooling at all, are integrated into Israeli society with common sense educational strategies that any school or district could adopt.

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Posted by on in Studentcentricity


literacy for all young learners  mediumMany years ago a man I know, whose family spoke only Polish, entered school on his first day of first grade unable to speak a word of English. His teacher sent him home and conveyed to his family that he wouldn’t be allowed to return to school until he was speaking English. Today that story seems preposterous. Sending home a non-English-speaking child is not an option! And considering that some teachers now are faced with multiple languages, there might be some rather empty classrooms should all of the English language learners be sent home.

But if you don’t speak the same language, how will you welcome English language learners to your classroom? How will you build a relationship with them? How will you help them build relationships with the other children? These are some of the questions I asked panelists Mary Renck Jalongo, Karen Nemeth, and John Spencer in a Gryphon House-sponsored episode of Studentcentricity. The episode, which was jam-packed with practical solutions, can be accessed here.

Beyond what she had to say during the interview, Mary wants teachers to know that they can’t expect young children to simply “pick up” English. She calls this a “destructive myth” and states that “children need opportunities to learn supported by competent, committed, and compassionate teachers in order to acquire another language.”

In terms of making English language learners feel comfortable in what has to be an uncomfortable – and possibly terrifying – situation, Karen advises:

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