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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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Posted by on in Studentcentricity

 

Power of Our WordsOver the years I’ve conducted multiple interviews and written multiple pieces on the topic of praising kids. Or, more precisely, the perils of praising kids. Many experts and a great deal of research point to the pitfalls of offering children too much praise (“Good job!”), empty praise (“Good job!”), or false praise (“Good job!”). Still, the practice persists.

It appears that offering praise – regardless of the specific words used – is a tough habit to break. The problem, I believe, is that we haven’t known what the alternatives are. We're all aware that children require encouragement and that extrinsic rewards ultimately aren’t of value. But is there a way to offer encouragement that is honest and has merit? That fosters intrinsic reward?

The answer is yes, and in a lively and thoughtful discussion for Studentcentricity, sponsored by Responsive Classroom, Kristen Vincent, Angela Watson, and Heather Wolpert-Gawron offered many, many suggestions for using praise in constructive ways. Below are their additional recommendations.

From Angela:

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Posted by on in Studentcentricity

relationshipsMore and more research indicates that relationships matter in classrooms. Relationships between you and the students and among the students themselves. They foster more academic success and can change the way kids feel about coming to school every day – for the better.

I hope you’ll listen to the wonderful discussion I had with Dawn Casey-Rowe, Mike Anderson, and Dan Brown on this topic. It’s chock-full of ideas for how you can create trust and personal connection with students at the beginning of and throughout the school year.

Here’s what Dawn had to add:

Building relationships with students is the thing that makes them want to learn.  

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Posted by on in Studentcentricity

 

Classroom ruleFollowing what was a very interesting discussion on Studentcentricity about the establishment of classroom rules, panelist Nancy Flanagan began jotting down some notes to send me as takeaways. The result, however, was a whole lot of thoughts that turned into a blog post. Here, with Nancy’s permission, is the piece, which originally appeared in her column for Education Week Teacher.

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I once had a principal whose core beginning-of-the-year discipline strategy was insisting, in August meetings, that the first day of any school year should be dominated by reading, illustrating, discussing and reinforcing classroom rules. All staff members had to turn in copies of their classroom rules, before the first day, for his files. We were directed to hammer on the rules every minute of every hour for the full day. Skip the exciting plans for learning. It was all rules, all the time.

Eventually, it seemed imperative to him that we should all be using the same rules. The same number of bathroom passes per term. The same punishments for forgetting a pencil.  The identical set of steps in dealing with misbehavior--verbal / written warnings, call to parent, detention, suspension, yada yada.  He had lots of supporters for this idea, most of whom thought that kids were getting away with murder in other teachers' rooms. Unlike their own silent, straight-row paragons of classroom uniformity.

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Posted by on in Studentcentricity

 

child and computerA quality coach in Arizona who attended one of my recent presentations sent me this quote from a teacher of one-year-olds:

"We have to have long group times where we go over flashcards with numbers and letters, and require that the children sit still for at least 20 minutes, because that is … when the children are learning the concepts they need to know before moving up to the twos classroom." 

The coach tells me that this is something she runs into with providers all the time: the belief that they “must prepare [children] for kindergarten by having kindergarten expectations beginning at age one.”

I don’t know what frustrates me most: the idea of group time for one-year-olds, asking one-year-olds to sit for at least 20 minutes, or the belief that they need to know numbers and letters by the time they move up to the twos classroom!

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