Kids laughingDuring April, SmartBlog on Education will shine a light on educating the whole child. In this blog post, we learn about the role mentoring plays in supporting students’ social, emotional and physical needs.

In my long career as an educator, I have participated in numerous collaborative projects with other teachers and their students. I have found that these collaborative, mentorship-type opportunities educate participants in a way that goes far beyond just academic success. As educators, it’s our role to work with each student to not only guide them down their intellectual path, but also to help them progress socially, emotionally and physically. One way to accomplish this is through in-school, cross-grade mentorships.

After joining the faculty of Léman Manhattan last year as the Science Department chair, I soon implemented the Little Einsteins program, a unique partnership between lower and upper school students. As an International Baccalaureate school, we strive to develop the “whole child” — students who are principled, open-minded, knowledgeable, caring, balanced and reflective critical-thinkers and communicators. (read more…)

Mobile devices are taking education back to square one, according to Mark Riley, instructional technology coordinator for the College of Health Sciences and Professions at Ohio University. Riley presented “Designing for Mobile Learning in a Smartphone and App-based World” at last week’s CT Forum in Long Beach, CA.

“Everything we base education off of is from people who didn’t own smartphones,” asserted Riley, referencing education forefathers Plato and John Dewey. “They didn’t have smartphones or tablets. If they did, what they said would be different from what they wrote in those books.”

More than anything, mobile learning means teachers can extend learning beyond academic subject matter and allow students to develop real-world skills. “These are the skills we want our students to leave college with,” said Riley. “Social skills, being able to work as a team, solve problems as a team. We’ve always had trouble teaching those skills.”

So where do faculty start? (read more…)

This post is sponsored by ISTE

Personalized learning is emerging as the future of education. At its foundation, personalized or student-centered learning recognizes that each student has diverse needs, learns differently and have unique interests. It also respects the role of students as owners of their learning, while expanding teachers’ roles to act as guides who assist individual students on their learning journey.

Think “guide on the side” versus “sage on the stage.”

Cheryl Lemke, president CEO of Metiri Group, a consulting firm dedicated to advancing effective uses of technology in schools, is an expert on personalized learning. And research and practice tell her that schools and districts need to ask some tough questions in preparation for implementing a student-centered learning approach.

Questions like: Why is it important? What do I need to do to change policy structures to create this type of environment so teachers and students will be successful? (read more…)

As the technology leaders for our districts, many of us have become the key change catalysts as we move into transformative digital learning environments. Change management is one of the toughest challenges in any organization, but especially in education. The following three strategies will help make sure you are successful as you move your district or school into digital transformation:

  1. Listen. What better way to build a collaborative environment? Run a “listening tour” where you ask what is working well, opportunities for improvement, and ideas on technology in education. Asking these questions and listening to teacher groups in each school or department are essential to determine the culture, gather great ideas, and to build excitement. Curating the ideas and information will help define your vision and direction.
  1. Find your early innovators. The rule of thirds: one-third of your staff members are early innovators constantly learning and looking for new tools to improve student outcomes; another third are on the sideline waiting to see what happens before they jump in; and the final third are not interested in changing practice.
  2. (read more…)

classroomI’ll admit it: I enjoy being known as one of the “fun” teachers in school. I get a little lift when they walk in and the first thing they say is, “I heard English was fun today. I’m excited.” It gives me great satisfaction to know that my students enjoy coming to class and that they often share what we do with their parents when they get home. This doesn’t happen by accident. I consciously work to present material in ways that are not only effective, but also enjoyable. It gives me infinite pleasure to hear their giggles in the middle of an activity. It’s one of the reasons I continue to love my job even after all of these years.

Unfortunately, not every teacher shares my philosophy. Some are under the misconception that students enjoy a class because it is fun and no real learning is involved. They don’t believe that students can possibly be engaged in rigorous educational endeavors if they are laughing, moving and talking. (read more…)