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  • Reframing Our Focus in Education with Digital Learning: Cultivating the Brilliance in Every Child

    Posted By Sandi Everlove | Feb 22, 2017
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    When most of us hear the word brilliant, we think of rare individuals who are exceptional in ways that set them apart. But what if that kind of thinking has held us and our children back? What if we reframed our focus in education to discovering, cultivating, and nurturing the brilliance in every child?

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  • Teachers Really Matter! Always!​

    Posted By Janet R. Macpherson, Ph.D. | Feb 08, 2017
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    I will start with full disclosure, I started my after-college life as a teacher, teaching students with special needs for six years. I have known many teachers throughout the years. My spouse is a teacher. My current work allows me to work with district administrators and teachers. Teaching is one of the most complex and challenging professions. For the most part, individuals who can’t stand the heat will leave the profession pretty quickly, ensuring that those who make a career of teaching do so because they believe teaching is a calling. I am one who couldn't stand the heat, and partly due to that experience, I believe teachers are the best thing since sliced bread, in an educational sense.

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  • How Can We Teach if We Don’t Take Care of Ourselves First?

    Posted By Jeffrey Sprague, Ph.D. | Jan 18, 2017
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    The modern challenges of public school teaching are diverse and deep. While it is clear that academic achievement is “job one” for schools, we now are faced with a dizzying array of risks and challenges from our students, parents, and society. Some might say it’s “depressing” and it’s not a joke. Recent years have seen an explosion of, and discussion about, schools traditional use of “exclusionary discipline.” Typically, teachers have sent students to the office to see an administrator (or another person) to respond to most forms of disruption in the classroom. But a contemporary view of exclusion is that it’s harmful to students and doesn’t work in the long run. We hear about the “school to prison pipeline,” and “trauma informed care” at a time when budgets are declining, and perhaps the students we receive at school are more challenging than we remember. Most teachers and administrators I work with agree with this, and yet we are all left wondering, “What are alternatives that work?” Others (maybe you), wonder if we are in an era where there are no “consequences” and challenging students will ruin schooling for everyone. We know what we are doing is not the right thing, and yet it’s stressful to feel ineffective without understanding what else to do.

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  • Getting Inventive with Student Incentives

    Posted By Julie Perron, Ph.D. | Nov 09, 2016
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    Creating and sustaining school cultures that support the social and emotional needs of children is a topic of continual discussion in educational forums. I have spent decades exploring how to best support students when we can only truly control the seven or eight hours a day they are in our care. How do we then find ways to make a positive impact that is self-sustaining, while keeping the learning rigorous and the programs relevant on campus?

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  • Civil Discourse is Doable

    Posted By Michelle George | Oct 12, 2016
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    During a recent professional development training, I was talking with some teachers from neighboring schools, and the topic of our current contentious presidential race came up. One teacher said his school had decided to ban any sort of political campaigning or sign posting. He said the administration was concerned about inappropriate discussions and aggressive disagreements, so the decision was made to simply avoid the whole thing. I was flabbergasted. If we as educators can’t provide frameworks and processes for students to have intelligent and respectful conversations about the leadership of our country, where are our young people going to learn to be active citizens? In my mind, learning the art and practice of civil discourse is an integral responsibility of public education in the United States.

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  • Community-Driven Classroom Management

    Posted By Josie Pack | Aug 24, 2016
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    The overwhelming feelings of fear and insecurity rise into my throat as I stare into my plan book, pencil tapping away at the empty space where my first week of instruction should be. When do I start with my content areas? When are the materials arriving? Will we have test scores by then to begin grouping? I’m getting ahead of myself. After several long, deep breaths, I begin to remember what these first weeks are really about. I won’t be overwhelming my students with an explicit lesson on narrative writing during day one. I won’t be diving into comprehension quizzes on day two. I must go slow to go fast. Establish norms. Build my classroom community.

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  • Are We Punished When Rewarding and Rewarded When We Punish?

    Posted By Jeffrey Sprague, Ph.D. | May 18, 2016

    In his book “Thinking Fast and Slow” (Kahneman, 2011), Daniel Kahneman tells us many critical things about how our minds work, and how those processes affect the manner in which we make decisions. He was awarded the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his life’s work, and presents to us simple rules that can guide how we make decisions about our own lives, including what we purchase and how we get along with our partners, friends, and family. He also illustrates the importance of observing longer term patterns to make decisions, and not allowing single events to lead us to believe that something is “true.”

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  • MAGIC ACTIVATED: Part 2 of 2

    Posted By Antavia Hamilton-Ochs | May 04, 2016
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    I am more than a teacher. I am an activator. I'm tasked with lighting thousands upon thousands of little ‘aha’ moments in little minds each year. Not each spark takes hold, but others explode! Sometimes, I get to see the magic take hold in the most powerful of ways. Part 2 of 2.

    Carmen came to me a reading-shy freshman. She was ever so polite, with a smile that melts my heart daily.

    She'd forget her glasses. She'd quietly chat with her friend. She'd wait for someone to notice she was lost.

    In the past, I would give her a heads up before calling on her and be met with panicked eyes. While another student read aloud, I'd go over to her and softly let her know I'd help her. When she started to shut down, I'd smile and let her know that ladies let people know what they need and move forward. I'd remind her that she was still moving ahead.

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  • MAGIC ACTIVATED: Part 1 of 2

    Posted By Antavia Hamilton-Ochs | Apr 27, 2016
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    I am more than a teacher. I am an activator. I'm tasked with lighting thousands upon thousands of little ‘aha’ moments in little minds each year. Not each spark takes hold, but others explode! Sometimes, I get to see the magic take hold in the most powerful of ways. Part 1 of 2.

    Periodically, I stop class for a five-minute life lesson. I teach transferable skills, as many of them as I can, on and off curriculum. As these teachable moments crop up, I seize them. I'm preparing my kiddos for life. I'd be shirking my responsibilities if I didn't teach them the soft skills that subtly support us as we move through the world. My pupils needed to be well read, analytical, adept at critical thinking, and savvy. Most of all, they needed to find their voice. They live in a world that doesn't always tell them their “value.” They are told constantly what they are “worth.”

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  • Ladies and Gentlemen … Calling Students to Distinction

    Posted By Antavia Hamilton-Ochs | Feb 03, 2016
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    How One Teacher is Working Her Magic to Help Struggling Students Reclaim Their Education, Part 2 of 2 As is my usual style, my little ideas quickly take on a life of their own and turn into BIG magic! Since I was already pulling out all the stops for Lham, as described in last week’s blog post, I scoured my roster for others like him. These students were caught up in a political Groundhog Day from which they could not escape. There was a lot of identifying and re-identifying of the problems, without any real plan to remediate the issues.

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