Monday, August 31, 2015

Move over Kid President, how about Kid Superintendent!

Check out this awesome idea started by @rock_supt in the Rockwood School District... sorry Kid President, perhaps it's time for you to move over! :)

"I want to find someone who can help me with an important mission," says Dr. Knost. "We need a voice – a Rockwood Kid Superintendent – to be the ambassador for the 21,500 students in Rockwood."

Read the entire post on Rockwood's website about how a student can be the student representative for the Rockwood School District: 

What an awesome idea! Hopefully by sharing this, other districts will start their search for their first Kid Superintendent.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Is this really what we want in our schools?

I walk down the halls of an elementary school and catch sight of a group of students walking single file.

The teacher walks at the front of the line as each student follows the one in front of them like a line of baby ducklings following their mother.

All the students are looking straight ahead with their hands crossed neatly behind their backs.

Perhaps most noticeably, all the students have their cheeks puffed out full of air making what teachers and students know as 'bubbles.'

Read more here about these 'bubbles:'

Another teacher walks by and praises the students for creating such a wonderful line while having some of the biggest and best bubbles she has ever seen.

The students aren't making any noise and are marching almost militantly down the hall toward their next destination.

Full disclosure... I've never been an elementary teacher nor have I ever worked in an elementary school. So, it's quite possible that I'm missing the boat here and don't fully understand the justification of this practice.

I do, however, understand the importance of walking the halls without disrupting others and I understand keeping one's hands to themselves. I also understand that some of our early elementary students have never had any type of structure in their lives, so their ability to act around others can be challenging.

Having said all that, I just wonder if there is another way we can accomplish what we are trying to accomplish without this rigidity... I wonder if this is how I'm going to want my son, Emory, to be treated...

Check out some of the responses I got on Twitter when I tweeted this question: image:

Saturday, August 29, 2015

10 unique and creative classroom designs:

@bball_tracyj's 5 grade classroom at Clark Vitt Elementary

Library video production room at @umswildcats

@jkelley7222's classroom at Beaufort Elementary

Kim Bruno's 4th grade classroom at Clark Vitt Elementary

@erobbins2ndgrade's classroom at Central Elementary

The reading tree in @misshinsonin3rd's classroom at Central Elementary

Continued from above...

@megangerling's kindergarten 'think table' at Beaufort Elementary

@jhalltech's video production room at Union High School

'Readbox' Image via @crestviewmiddle

Each student has their own mobile space for materials in @bobblehead99's 5th grade classroom

Continued from above...

@bobblehead99's 5th grade classroom at Beaufort Elementary

Saturday, August 22, 2015

10 reasons it's a great time to be in #education

As many of us start up or get ready to start up another school year, we have much to look forward to and much to be excited about. Here are 10 reasons why I believe it's a great time to be in education:

1) - Global competition is increasing and the pool for career opportunities is becoming more fierce. As the world seems to get smaller, students are being forced to compete with an even larger pool of applicants for colleges, for jobs, and for life in general. It's my belief that through this increase in competition, both schools and students will rise to the occasion to ensure all kids are prepared to be successful regardless of what path they choose in life.

2) - Everyone thinks they know what is best for education. Now, some would argue this is a bad thing, but the reality is, everyone and their mom (I love you mom) seem to think they are an expert in education. On the positive side, this has brought education to the forefront as of the most important and pressing issues facing society. The fact that everyone has a past education experience means education will always remain a top priority.

3) - Technology is changing the way the world does business. Technology is enabling things to happen that were never before possible. This has huge implications for education as a whole. Education systems are no longer limited to what they can or can't do; they are limited to their creativity and their ability to think innovatively.

4) - Students are bringing more and more knowledge and experience into the educational setting than ever before. When in history have students been able to teach the teachers and be an instrumental part to the educational process as much as they are now? This shift has continued to push the mindset that educators are no longer simply dispensers of knowledge; but rather are facilitators and instigators of self-directed learning by students. In this environment, educators can learn just as much from their students as the students can learn from them.

5) - College education programs are getting better and better. Now, I'm not saying we can't continue to improve here, but I believe college education programs are doing a better job of preparing young teachers to be successful in an education career. This includes moving education programs away from just theory and approach to actual hands-on learning alongside mentor teachers. More college education programs are getting future teachers into classrooms earlier on and pairing them with more experienced mentors. Not perfect yet, but definitely getting better.

6) - More and more districts are collaborating with local businesses. This is a very exciting aspect of education now. Local businesses and the overall business industry have a vested interest in seeing kids who are prepared and are ready for the work force. The more partnerships that are formed between school districts and the business industry, the better prepared our kids will be upon entering the job market.

7) - We are learning that money is not the single determining factor for student success. It's easy to believe and often misleading when people say that money is the most important factor when determining overall student success. First off, we need to discuss what 'student success' means, but secondly, there are countless examples of schools and districts that are finding success who would not be characterized as 'wealthy' schools or districts. Of course, money does help, but don't assume if you don't have money you can't find success. Success may not be easy to find, but I assure you it comes in more forms than just the green type.

8) - Schools are once again becoming the center and hub of the community. Too often there is a disconnect between the schools and the community in which they serve. This is slowly but surely changing. Our schools in our districts are becoming centralized hubs of not only student learning, but also learning for parents and people within the community. If schools aren't there to serve the community, then how could we ever say we are truly serving our students?

9) - Innovation and creativity are all around us. Keep your eyes and ears open because there are a lot of great things happening in education. As schools and districts continue to do a better job of telling their stories, the positives of education are becoming more and more prevalent. What once was a story dominated by all the negatives, is slowly shifting toward a story that emphasizes the positives and the opportunities around us.

10) - Every single day educators get to impact, influence, encourage, support, guide and help students become the best they can be. If this doesn't make you feel that it's a great time to be in education, then perhaps it's best you make room for someone who does...

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The importance of student-teacher relationships: From the mind of a 6th grader...

At our all staff district kick-off event, our superintendent asked a 6th grade student from one of our elementary schools to speak on the critically important topic of student-teacher relationships.

Imagine how nervous this student was to speak in front of 400+ adults on what it means to have positive relationships between students and teachers.

Though scared and nervous... I think he nailed it!

Here are Tanner's top tips for good relationships between students and teachers:

1). Good relationships with students increase their focus because if you like your teacher, you're going to pay attention to her/him.

2). Relationships decide what type of attitude your classroom has. If you have good relationships with your students, you will probably have less 'I don't want to learn attitudes.'

3). Relationships decide a student's attitude toward school and affect their self-esteem. A good relationship between a teacher and a student helps their self-esteem because the student knows you care about them and they want to think good about themselves.

4). Your relationship with your students mostly decides how much respect you get.

What a powerful message from a 6th grade student! Thank you for sharing this important message with our staff Tanner!