leadershipWhile mingling at the local dog park, I met a young lady who reminded me of what makes teachers great. She is a second year teacher who is working with some of our most at-risk students at a school dedicated to children with significant behavioral and academic challenges. The next step for these kids is either reintegration or movement to a high security detention-like facility. They’re 7-years-old! As a retired principal who led several schools with integrated special-education classes for similar high-needs children, I was very interested in her story.

She has five students who are officially in Grade 2. Some can read a bit and some can’t. Some have supportive parents, some don’t. Some have impulse control, some don’t. Some are angry, some are sad. With this young teacher, all have hope.

Last year, she worked in a similar school with very different results. She said her principal expected her to follow all of the rules and not step out of the box in order to meet the needs of her students. (read more…)

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More than 2,000 educators have voted for the 2014 SmartBrief Educators’ Choice Content Award winners! Cast your vote by Dec. 10!

SmartBlog on Education this year launched a monthly Editor’s Choice Content Award, which recognizes content written by educators, for educators that inspires readers to engage, innovate and discuss.

Our editors and writers sift through thousands of sources, reading a variety of content, including blogs and commentaries written by you and your peers. We selected the two best original content pieces each month and posted them on our blog.

Now we need your input! Help us choose the 2014 Educators’ Choice Content Award winners.

Vote now using our online survey for the original content piece that made an impact on you, challenged you to think outside the box and inspired you. The two with the most votes will be named the Educators’ Choice Content Award winners of 2014.

Enter by December 10. (read more…)

classroomAs a child, any report to an adult of another child saying mean things to me was met with the adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Those adults were so wrong. Words in the hands of the right person can be weapons of mass destruction.

As a teacher, I am acutely aware that my words have the power to uplift or destroy. An entire year of progress can be undone in an instant. This was reinforced for me recently when I attended the National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention. I saw many of my students’ favorite authors speak and a common thread emerged. In their early school careers, many of these authors were in the classroom of a teacher whose words and actions left them deflated and hopeless. They began to believe that they had no worth as a student, or more importantly, as a person. (read more…)

professional developmentOne of the greatest things I can do to support, engage and promote the importance of caring is to engage my students, family and community through projects that offer opportunities to work together to solve a common problem or need.

Through collaborating around a common need of interest, the community becomes engaged in an almost seamless way because the passion and interest around caring is “there.” This year, I began my school year with an opportunity presented to me through a former intern of mine who is now in graduate school pursuing a masters in technology.

As we began our project of caring and making a difference, I asked my students to think about a problem that might need to be solved. I asked them to think about a time when they needed something and how it felt if they didn’t get it. My students started thinking about the emotions behind what can happen when you have a need that is not met. (read more…)

digital literacyWe didn’t all learn to drive the same car. In many school districts, technology is pushing forward into every school, classroom and home. Many choose the route of one-to-one computing, some chose BYOD and some are still finding it a challenge to choose between the two. It is important to start the process with a focus on students, without it there can be no real change. It is not about the device, and in the end, the technology should be invisible.

Implementing a project should begin with a vision. Technology shouldn’t be the main focus but a vein running through a strategic plan touching every objective and outcome, providing the highway to efficiencies and collaboration. Every district is different across the country, with different views, demographics, policies and procedures.

Adopting technology at its lowest level means asking the fundamental question to measure, “Is it making a difference in student learning?” The route of technology you decide upon can bring major benefits beyond this question. (read more…)