professional developmentFor most of us in the field of education, summer is a time that we wait for all year. During the months of July and August (or, for some of our colleagues, June and July,) we relax and recharge. Perhaps we are doing some summer school teaching during these months or use the time to plan for next year. Still, we enjoy our time away from school and its many demands. In this context, it is pretty easy to feel balanced and unstressed.

Of course, the challenge for us is to maintain a sense of balance and control once the new academic year commences. At that point, we will again be inundated with our core responsibilities as well as the many ancillary components of teaching, such as planning, assessments, record keeping, meetings and communication. This is in addition to the responsibilities that we have towards our families, particularly for those of us with relatives (children and parents) to care for. (read more…)

textbooksA recent high-school graduate and a credit-recovery teacher from Sweet Home High School in Oregon share their insights on career and technical education.

Shela’s story

From the second you register for high-school classes as an incoming freshman, everything you do will be focused on graduation. You’ll be so caught up in taking the right classes, joining the right extracurricular activities and volunteering at the right places that it can be easy to forget the point: getting ready for life after graduation.

How do you plan for that? I’m no expert, having just graduated a month ago. But I do have an idea of my next steps, so hopefully you can learn from my story.

I’ve always wanted to do something in the medical field, but there are so many opportunities to choose from that it can be a little overwhelming.

When I found out that my school offered online career and technical education courses, I was intrigued. (read more…)

Hundred dollars bookmarkWhen it comes to money matters, American teens are just barely average, according to the latest PISA results. The good news, though, is that U.S. K-12 schools are gearing up to do something about it.

American teens have a lot to learn about finances and money management, according to a new report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The OECD report detailed the findings from the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment, a triennial survey that measures literacy in reading, math, science, general problem solving and finances among 15-year-old students across the globe. The test evaluated students’ basic knowledge of financial concepts, issues and decisions, with 2012 being the first year it was included in PISA.

About 29,000 students from 18 countries participated in the financial literacy assessment. Top scorers included Shanghai-China, the Flemish Community of Belgium and Estonia. In the middle of the pack are Latvia, the United States and the Russian Federation. (read more…)

professional developmentTake a moment to join us in a snapshot of a classroom we recently observed:

Students are hard at work designing a travel brochure as a part of their study of Ireland. They need to think about how much it will cost by air or by sea and develop a good rationale for why one way is preferable to another. They will also be including a recommended sightseeing schedule, determining why one schedule would be preferable to another.

These students have to analyze, evaluate, make decisions and communicate to an audience. As a group, they must work through this using the best of each student’s contributions to create their product. They will need to persist, overcome challenges, strive for accuracy, think flexibly and think interdependently.

We like to call these mental qualities “Habits of Mind” — attitudes or dispositions that are necessary for thoughtful work. Without realizing it, people rely on these behaviors when they encounter problems that are difficult to solve. (read more…)

classroom 2“It is not the answer that enlightens but the question.”– Eugène Ionesco

What if one day teachers walked into their classrooms and all their students listened to their every word, followed every direction, handed in every assignment and passed every test? Would this be the perfect scenario for our schools? Some teachers would eagerly embrace this scenario; for them it would be a dream come true, allowing them to reclaim their true role as teachers. Some teachers might, however, feel that something important was missing; for them it would diminish their role as a teacher.

For teachers who often work in schools where they encounter significant behavioral issues and have many students who don’t cooperate, the relief that the perfect scenario could provide might blind them to other possible scenarios of education.

I once wanted a different job that I thought offered me so much more than the one I had. (read more…)