“In exchanging information with parents… give parents information only if they can do something about it or if they can use the information,” advises Kay Albrecht in her article, “Helping Teachers Grow: Talking with Parents,” in the new Exchange Essential: Evaluating Teacher Performance.    “For example, if a child is cranky or fussy during the day or cries more than usual, the teacher might say to a parent, Michael was fussy and cranky and cried more than usual.  This comment does little except make the parent feel guilty.  A more effective statement might be, When Michael was fussy or cried, I sat with him on my lap and read him a book, took him with me on an errand to the storage closet to get more construction paper, and offered him his snack early to make sure he wasn’t hungry.  Today these strategies worked.  What strategies do you use at home in situations like this?  “Such a response tells the parent that the teacher kept trying to alleviate the problem, suggests some intervention strategies the parent might try when faced with a similar behavior at home, and, most importantly, opens the door for parents to offer additional suggestions of what has worked at home or to identify other causes of the behavior that the teacher may need to know about.” EXCHANGEdownload (2)


How to Address “Yeah, But” Objections From Resisters | MindShift.

What’s stopping you or your peers from making a meaningful change in your teaching practice? What are the “yeah, but” arguments you hear when you propose a new idea, a way to do something differently?

Rob Mancabelli and Will Richardson, authors ofPersonal Learning Networks: Using the Power of Connections to Transform Education, asked a few hundred teachers to list the “yeah-buts” they hear from other teachers, administrators, and parents.

The audience attending the packed ISTE Conference yesterday had a long list of complaints and objections they’ve heard along the way.

Here are just a few:

Yeah, but:

  • It’s not safe to let kids experiment on the Internet.
  • We need to block and filter sites.
  • It’s always been this way.
  • Is it standards-based?
  • We don’t have this technology in our school.
  • We don’t know how to use this technology
  • It’s disruptive to the classroom.
  • Will it help our assessment scores?
  • It’s not rigorous enough.
  • We don’t have enough bandwidth or infrastructure.
  • We don’t have enough money.
  • There’s no room for this in our curriculum.
  • Teachers can’t be trusted.
  • It has a negative effect on the brain.
  • Does everyone have to do it? Why isn’t something that you do, if you’re so interested.
  • Students are cheating when they look stuff up.
  • It’s too fun.

Richardson and Mancabelli have some advice for frustrated educators who run into the proverbial wall when they propose new ideas: appeal to the nay-sayers’ emotions, rather than their intellect.

“Often our response to a ‘yeah-but’ is one of defensiveness and this can sometimes derail the conversation,” wrote Trevor Shaw.

In addition to listing all the rational reasons why the idea might work (introducing critical thinking, introducing autonomy, showing trust, engaging thought), ask them: “What’s at the root of this for you? Why don’t you think you can’t make this change?”

Chances are you’ll hear some interesting answer, which can then be rationally addressed.

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Exercise and Academic Performance – NYTimes.com.

New study found that exercise can significantly improve children’s cognitive abilities and their academic performance, as well as their health.  This seems like a “no brainer” to me, yet, schools continue to cut recess and require students to sit still for a long time!

I remember when I was in 2nd grade ( a long time ago) Sister Mildred, who was about 110 years old and wore a full habit, would stop the class work each day  to lead us around the room singing and dancing – it was a full out dance party for 15 minutes!  That was in addition to playground and PE class.  She recognized the importance of movement and saw to it that the children in her care, not only exercised but had fun!  I will never forget the sight of her skipping and dancing- robes and habit flapping away!  I suspect she benefited as well!

What can you do, as an educator or parent, to ensure that children have exercise as part of their daily school diet?  What does exercise look like at your school?  Yoga? Stretching?  images (14)

Sitting on exercise balls instead of chairs?  Maybe, you too could have dance parties- just like Sister Mildred!

ECRP. Vol 1 No 2. What Should Children Learn? Making Choices and Taking Chances.

The purpose of this paper is to consider the concept of children’s potential as it is interpreted and supported by an early childhood curriculum. This discussion represents a first step in responding to the question—What should preschool children learn?—recently posed to me by the Committee on Early Childhood Pedagogy, a group of scholars convened by the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council to address issues of educational goals and content in the preschool age period.

This is well worth any early childhood educator’s time! Read it before school begins in the fall.  Research based.  How can this support your work with children and families?

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“Tiger Mom” study shows the parenting method doesn’t work. – Slate Magazine.

As a parent, I read every new book or article about parenting and education.  That was before blogs, thank goodness, so it narrowed the field some what!  I did it because I wanted the very best for my children.  I suppose I thought by being informed of the best way to parent, I would provide my children with all they needed to be successful in life without the struggles many families face.  I soon found out life doesn’t work that way.  “We make plans, and God laughs!” has become a favorite quote.  Don’t get me wrong, I have great kids ( mostly grown now) but I didn’t foresee them dealing with dyslexia , anxiety, depression, or the demands of  life as I planned the perfect path for my children. download

What are your thoughts?  As a parent, have you been torn to be the Tiger Mom or to choose a different path?   What support do parents have to make decisions on their child’s education? Is there only one way to parent?  Let me hear from you.

This is near and dear to my heart!  My youngest son is dyslexic.  He’s 20 now and in college at the University of Montana.  I honestly thought that he would never go to college because I wasn’t sure he could survive elementary, middle, and high school!  Things were tough for him in school especially in 7th grade.  Teachers were tough on him, in an effort to instill skills they felt were vital to education. He developed OCD and anxiety which with a change of schools and some minor behavioral adjustments suddenly went away.  It taught us to really listen to our son.  We had always been advocates for him, but up until then, we felt that we were running the show. He showed us, taught us, what he needed ( a new school -which would accept him as he was and be willing to make adjustments). The good news is that we found such a school.  I can remember the first parent/teacher conference where I understood that the teachers were on his side.  One teacher, Mr. Jones (God bless him) stood up in front of the other 5 teachers, principal, and learning specialist and declared, ” If you can’t teach a student like C.R., you have no business being here.  He is the finest student I have ever had!” (This from an Honor teacher who had been named STAR teacher by the valedictorian).  Together, C.R. and Mr. Jones tackled English Lit, Modern Lit, Classic Lit, and writing/composition.  Yes, he was very lucky to have Mr. Jones for 4 years.  Their relationship was based on respect for each other.  It was what our son needed to survive in the world of current education.  C.R. was accepted to The University of Montana which was suggested by his counselor (it had a strong support system in place).  CR is extremely successful in his life as a college student… good grades, good friends, and good summer jobs.  I don’t think it was a life that his elementary and middle school teachers felt was possible.  We know it is possible but if CR had not had someone in his corner like Mr. Jones, or a school willing to make changes like Mount Vernon, who knows …maybe they would have been right.  How many dyslexic students are on their own, just waiting for school to be over so they can succeed at life?

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Lisa Belzberg: Can Dyslexics Succeed at School or Only in Life?.

James Heckman is one of the world’s most distinguished economists. He built his career studying the labor market. In 2000, he won the Nobel Prize.

But in recent years, Heckman has become famous for something else. He is now one of the country’s leading advocates for investments in early childhood education.

Let’s do all we can to spread the message that to invest in Early Childhood Education is an investment in our future!Heckman


How a Nobel Prize-winning economist became an advocate for preschool | state of opportunity.