This principal found a "broken component" of the school culture, grading, and changed it. To me, school culture seems like a very difficult thing to overhaul, because it has various components. However, identifying prominent issues, like this principal did, can have a profound effect on the atmosphere. Their grading philosophy was reformed. Including no zeros, multiple forms of assessment, a failure floor, and retests. These efforts made by the faculty and administration reignited interest in learning for students. I think this method worked for their school because it instills intrinsic motivation and uses self-determination. Students are no longer working for grades or rewards. They are motivated to learn to please themselves and their teachers, with whom they developed positive relationships.
Obviously, school leaders can't always mimic businesses -- but they can learn from them. When business leaders teach principals the skills that they use to build a strong organizational culture, school leaders can completely transform their schools.
Lauren Jackson's insight:
This article clarified for me what school culture is. When I visited College Park Academy a few weeks ago, a young girl exclaimed "Welcome to College Park Academy! Have a fun day!" This little gesture had a profound impact on me. It showed that she feels comfortable in that environment, and we (their guests) should too. Instead of focusing on details such as on time arrival, cell phone use, etc, principals and teachers need to focus on the overall "feel" of the school.
At Paint Branch Elementary last year, their new principle Mr. Hendershot, spent every morning greeting students and teachers at the front door. The children loved the individual attention they received from him, and he truly made an effort to learn all of their names. To me, his gesture each morning made the children feel welcome before they even entered the building. Instead of looking over spread sheets and factual details, he put school culture first.
The Positive Action campaign aims to foster academic achievement and build character in students. They provide 7 strategies for positive classrooms, and I came up with an idea for each to implement in my future classroom:
1. Make Learning Relevant - use Project Based Learning with a driving question that students uncover
2. Create a Classroom Code of Conduct - have students create classroom rules
3. Teach Positive Actions - implement a community service activity
4. Instill Intrinsic Motivation - allow students to select their own reading materials to encourage independent reading instead of having the class read the same book
5. Reinforce Positive Behaviors – use a “student shout out” box
6. Engage Positive Role Models - allow parents to come in and describe their job for students to explore different career paths (“Career Day”)
7. Always Be Positive – as most students know, there is NOTHING worse than a grumpy teacher; when the “vibe” of the classroom is tired/gloomy use a happy song for the teacher and students to dance/sing along to
sGlennon Doyle Melton calls it a “brilliant Love Ninja strategy,” and she proudly told the world about it. Melton, a writer and mother of...
Lauren Jackson's insight:
While I was watching the Today Show the other morning, this teacher caught my attention. As many people know, it is Anti-Bullying Week this week. Bullying is a negative influential factor on the overall classroom environment for students. This teacher discovered a way to identify students who are "at risk" for bullying. She has every student write (on an index card) which student(s) they would like to work with on the next group assignment. However, she uses the index cards to identify which students may feel isolated or not included in groups.
What I liked the most about this teacher and her instruction is her modesty. The parent of a student in her class was so amazed by the deep thought she puts into her instruction, and wrote a blog about her. As a parent and a teacher, it is essential that children feel comfortable with us. We create a comfortable classroom climate to encourage social-emotional learning. Looking back on my education, the classes/years that I enjoyed the most were those where I established lasting bonds with the teacher and other students.
Governor Cuomo created a panel to review the flawed rollout of the Common Core. His panel is stacked with supporters of Common Core. The governor invited the public to offer suggestions. Here is on...
Lauren Jackson's insight:
The other side of Common Core
In last semester's Honors Seminar with Dr. Corbin I learned more about No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and the Common Core than in any other class. The seminar, which focuses on education policy, should be mandatory for education majors. The political decisions surrounding Common Core will affect our daily lives as teachers. It is still too early to tell the far reaching effects of Common Core, but there have been many proponents in the education sector. I've read various articles supporting the nationalized curriculum, but this post on Diane Ravitch's blog highlights the opposing view. The most valid point in the article surrounds the enactment of Common Core without democratic process. States had to adopt the standards in order to obtain RTTT funding. I support equal education and opportunity for ALL students, and nationalized curriculum supports that idea. However, the article the Khara shared via Twitter (shared on my scoop account) highlights the benefits of local PBE which is still critical for meaningful day-to-day instruction. We must find a way to localize the national curriculum.
With many students entering college ill prepared to succeed, states and districts are increasingly offering transitional coursework for high schoolers who need extra help.
Lauren Jackson's insight:
I scooped this article on "Transitional" Courses after a recent visit to College Park Academy. The article addresses transitional courses for high school students who fail to meet the college and career ready standards, something we've heard a lot about in Common Core and Race to the Top. Though these courses address the readiness gap, it is still relevant to the innovation taking place at CPA. A significant benefit to online courses is the ability to student's to go at their own paced. I had never seen a Blended Learning school before, and found this method innovative but overwhelming. I am definitely going to do some more research and Scooping about technology in the classroom. If we are becoming connected and globally competent educators, then our students should be connect and globally competent students.
Great idea for Project Based Learning is a social studies classroom. We read in the Essentials for Project Based Learning that the topic must be meaningful for students. This teacher suggests students come up with and investigate historical topics starting with A through Z.
The video of the student's final project is on the website (I recommend taking a look!)
This article relates to the Transitional courses article (above) by integrating technology. Luckily, the high school I attended required lap tops so I was very familiar with various programs/applications. I discovered, however, that many of my classmates in college were unfamiliar with programs such as iMovie. Using these programs in elementary classrooms is beneficial to expose students to technology as well as storytelling purposes.
Another article that provides explicitly the essentials for Project Based Learning. The Buck Institute focuses on PBL to produce 21st Century Skills. Incorporating technology is fundamental in PBL. What worries me, as a future educator, is the unknown. I want to fully prepare my students with the skills they need, but we are preparing them for an unknown future. For example, in elementary school my computer class focused on "words typed per minute." But now students need to know much more than that when it comes to technology. How can we prepare globally competent students when we don't know what the global sphere will look like in 2020 and beyond?
This semester is the first time I have truly immersed myself into Twitter for educational reasons. Although I've always followed Secretary of Education (@ArneDuncan) and Superintendent Dance (@DDance_BCPS) on my personal account, creating a Twitter solely for education purposes allows me to focus on the trending topics in education. Becoming a connected educator is not only something that will benefit me. In order to cultivate globally competent students, I have to stay informed of the changing goals of education and the skills 21st century students will need. Twitter allows me to establish ethos when talking about education, supporting my opinions with facts. Although I like learning from educational exports, I really enjoy reading tweets from new/young teachers to gain insight to prepare myself for whats ahead.
FPinterest is where you go to discover new things and collect stuff you love. If you find something online you want to build, cook, buy or do, just Pin It to your board on Pinterest!
Lauren Jackson's insight:
First Scoop! Loved this Olympics Craftivity on Pinterest. As an effective teacher, we must align global standards across multiple subjects. Students can explore different countries, cultures, sports, and traditions. This activity would be meaningful for most students since it is a current event that their parents and peers are talking about. Over winter break, I helped a 1st grade student craft an olympic torch for her homerooms opening ceremony. By the end of January she knew more about the Olympics than I did!
I re-scooped this article from Sydney's page. I'm sure all of us have experienced classroom environments that are negative, positive, and in between. When I think of a comfortable classroom environment I automatically think about positive teacher student relationships. I didn't realize that student student relationships are equally as important. It is not about the quantity, but the quality of relationships within your classroom.The relationships must be genuine and important to students to further interactive learning. As a young teacher, it is critical that I am consistent in my methods. Students need warm, approachable teachers to ask questions. Even when I am feeling overwhelmed, I will not let my emotions control my interaction with students, for it can have a negative impact on the classroom climate.
This article acknowledged a huge misconception regarding classroom environment. Some teachers may settle with "I get the students I get, and nothing can change that." We need to highlight that the classroom climate is created by all members of the class. I believe the students play an essential role in the climate, but positive student teacher relationships are even more vital. As a student teacher, when entering a new classroom, I can almost immediately get a feel for the classroom climate. In particular, one classroom I worked in had a negative environment, with few peer and teacher relationships. It made it unenjoyable for me to be there, so I can only imagine the impact on student achievement.
This Pin was discovered by Positively Passionate About Teaching -Angie Lobue. Discover (and save!) your own Pins on Pinterest.
Lauren Jackson's insight:
I found this "Student Shout Outs" idea on Pinterest. Although its not a form of Project Based Learning, this idea fosters social-emotional learning. It is important for students to learn to give, as well as receive, compliments. When a student recognizes their classmates achievement, they write them a "shout out." This emphasizes a nurturing classroom climate, in which students acknowledge each other's successes. As a student, it always meant more to me when another classmate noticed my achievement, rather than the teacher.
This tweet from the US Department of Education struck a chord with me. President Obama makes a great point about resources, particularly wifi, which are demanded by the general public but are not available for students in public schools. At University Park Elementary, I was stunned to discover the classes were situated in "pods," not closed over classrooms. The pods were separated by file cabinets and blackboards, and the school was waiting for the next grant to build walls the completely separate the classroom. Things I took advantage of during my education are not available for all students in the US, and we must make that a priority if we claim equal education for all.
I really enjoyed Dr. Goldstein's video that I rescooped from Dr. Bote's page.
This video helped explain what resilience is and how to ensure our students leave school with resilience, an aspect of global competency. Dr. Goldstein put resilience in a real-world context.
In order for students to be resilient, they must overcome the idea that, "A good day is a day when bad things don't happen." As a teacher, I want to highlight the benefits of adversity to my students. Pyschological research shows children who overcome "bad things" develop coping skills for future negative experiences.
The point is NOT to find whats wrong and to fix it. During my journey to become a teacher, I realized I will not be able to fix every problem that my students have. And that is a good thing. They are supposed to create solutions to these problems themselves. Project based learning is a great way for children to create solutions to problems that are relevant to them.
Huntersville Herald School takes green-based learning approach Huntersville Herald “It's hands-on learning with math, reading, writing and world culture all based around a project,” Co-founder Jennifer Jakubecy said, adding there is an emphasis on...
Lauren Jackson's insight:
Along with project based learning, I'm an advocate for learning outside the classroom. Too often students think learning is confined to four walls. The students at this school lead the entire project, from gathering materials to construction of the fort. I want to incorporate hands-on experiences for students in my future classroom, especially outdoors. Additionally, students at this school meet weekly to brainstorm ideas to make the school better. I love that idea to make students proactive in their environment instead of complaining about what they don't like.
This video from Edutopia provided me with vivid examples of what Project Based Learning looks like in different schools and multiple age levels. I loved the worm project in elementary school (that we watched in class as well), and I wish we did projects like that when I was in high school! These projects proved that standards and curriculum don't always have to be boring. Students conducted projects that aligned the standards of multiple subjects including math, science, and social studies.
This article reinforces my belief about the importance of social studies in classrooms. In the era of No Child Left Behind, social studies instruction in classrooms has diminished significantly. This is problematic because social studies includes history, geography, government and world cultures. We need to move away from the "Whats tested is taught" philsopgy in education. As Sarah Anderson mentions, people need to know how they can participate in the decision making process. I love the idea of Place Based Education (PBE) which is still possible with a nationalized curriculum and standards. Teachers can align standards with local problems or topics. Part of PBL is making things meaningful, and PBE is the way to do that.
"I realized authentic change is rooted in education" -- why hasn't the rest of the country figured that out?
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