The climate and the culture of your school are not the same thing.

The culture of a school is represented by its shared beliefs, its ceremonies, its nuances, the traditions and the things that make the school unique. School culture takes a great deal of time to create. It doesn’t happen overnight. It happens over years.

The climate of the school is represented by the immediate and current conditions that exist in the school. Many things can impact that, such as contract negotiations, a death of a faculty member, a state championship, perhaps a change in leadership.

Everyone associated with the school has the responsibility to contribute to the creation of a school’s culture, from the custodian to the community member. Everyone has the responsibility to contribute to the fundamental foundation of what the school is, how it functions, how it sustains itself and how it grows. Creating a school culture is always active, always ongoing and always a conscious consideration of leadership in everything it does. (read more…)

Building the home-school connection is important for all school staff, but few realize the power of the tool in their pocket. Even if they don’t have Internet access, most parents have access to cell phones. However, in many cases, most simply use their phone as a calling and texting device. It’s time to change that! There is so much more you can do with free and easy-to-use resources that will help you coordinate and connect with parents in powerful and exciting ways.

1. Mass texting

Services like Remind101 provide a safe, one-way, mass text messaging system created specifically for use in education. It keeps your phone number, and the phone numbers of your subscribers private, stores all of your sent messages, and it’s free to use. Once the school’s parent coordinator signs up and creates a parent list, parents are able to sign up with one text or e-mail. Because of the convenience of sending messages directly to phones, Remind101 is a perfect tool for announcements and reminders such as school holidays, school events, photo days, fundraising events, testing days and more. (read more…)

Mirror neurons are everywhere! From books to blog postings to last year’s first full conference devoted to the topic, mirror neurons are still generating excitement more than 20 years after their discovery.

All this fervor may not be misplaced. Scientists are currently exploring how these specialized nerve cells can influence everything from autism to speech disorders to one’s capacity for empathy.

In learning, students’ mirror neurons likely play a significant role in developing skill mastery. Teacher modeling, a common classroom practice, is a powerful instructional activity for skill learning. However, going through the motions is not enough. Research suggests we attend to specifics when we demonstrate new skills. Specifically, three details “matter.”

1. Goals matter. Mirror neurons engage when we observe someone acting to achieve a desired outcome. These specialized neurons in the brain’s motor system do not respond to mere movement; goal awareness activates them.1

Thus, when modeling a new skill for students, be sure the desired outcome, or goal, is obvious. (read more…)

A wise veteran teacher told me something my first year of teaching that I will never forget, “Every few years, someone is going to tell you how you teach is wrong. Approach X is the best way to teach. A few years later, someone else will tell you how awful that approach is. It’s all BS. Teach to the students in your class and you will always be right.”

I wasn’t sure what he was talking about at first, but then I saw it happen. Every few years, there is a big push on how to teach students in new and exciting ways. People come out very strongly for these new approaches and how they can change the world of education as we know it. I’m not against change or looking at new approaches. I’ve moved from a traditional lecture-based class to a project-based learning class and have loved the switch. (read more…)

FridaySome schools and districts plan events around national-level campaigns like Digital Learning Day. However, a majority of respondents to a recent question posed by EdTech editor Katharine Haber say it is teachers and others at the school-level or district-level that drive their current use of classroom technology. Still others report that it is a combination of all three.

When asked about the forces standing in the way of increased use of technology to enhance classroom learning, an overwhelming majority of respondents say funding is the culprit. Others say time for training and teacher support are factors, while just a few cite resistance from parents.

Did your school or district participate in or host any events associated with Digital Learning Day, held on Feb. 6?

No

 76.34%

Yes

 23.66%

Which type of support is driving the current level of classroom technology use in your school or district?

School- or teacher-led programs

 35.59%

District policies and initiatives

 32.20%

All of the above

 21.19%

National or state policies and campaigns

 11.02%

 

What is the biggest obstacle to the increased use of classroom technology in your school or district? (read more…)