7 Strategies to Increase Self-Esteem in Children

7 Strategies to Increase Self-Esteem in Children

If you don't see your worth, you'll always cho...

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Over the past few years there has been a growing trend in the field of education which recognizes the critical importance of social and emotional learning (SEL).  Social and emotional learning focuses upon competencies such as self-awareness and relationship skills which thus allow individuals to respond to challenges in daily life (1).  Indeed, when students are rich in areas of SEL, other aspects, such as academic performance, begin to fall into place.  That being said, one area of social and emotional development which can massively impact a child’s learning and development in either a negative or positive way is that of self-esteem.  Self-esteem is essentially how somebody values one’s self, and how valuable they believe they are to others.  It is critically important to all individuals, and particularly so with children.  In fact, positive self-esteem could very well be as important to success in school as the mastery of any other individual skills (2).  The question which then arises is how do we as educators and parents help to boost a child’s self-esteem?  There are a variety of ways to do this, and all children are different so there really is no one set “recipe”.  Nevertheless, I have outlined below 7 solid methods to promote and increase the self-esteem of our children every single day.

“The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.”  (Mark Twain)

Create a Positive and Caring Environment:  All members of the school community want to come to a place where they feel wanted, respected and valued.  This is particularly true when we are referring to children with a low sense of self-esteem.  They want to feel like school and their classroom are a safe and warm place to go.  By maintaining a calm, consistent, kind and welcoming classroom, a teacher can accomplish this goal.  By smiling and working through the highs and lows of a typical school day together, a positive and caring environment is established and trust is created.

Genuine Praise:  Praise can be a very powerful tool to promote self-esteem in children.  It can also work the opposite if it is overused and not genuine.  Teachers and parents should take the appropriate opportunities to offer genuine praise to children for tasks they have achieved or goals they have accomplished.  It is best to praise the activity and it is essential that the activity or behavior warrants such praise.  If it does not, try to help the child understand what they could do to improve upon the activity next time, working together in a caring, supportive and trusting manner.  Do not offer false praise as a child will see through that very quickly.

Modelling:  If I have said it once I have said it  a 1000 times…”You are a model every second of every day!”  You may not think your children are watching and learning from you…but they are.  It will pay dividends for the self-esteem of your students or children if you are naturally optimistic and positive.  If you are always hard on yourself or saying you are not good at certain things, children will learn from that and will soon feel the same way about themselves.  Always try to be careful what you say and how you act in front of children as it will always be noticed and internalized.

Let Children Make Choices:  Like all of us, children want to be heard and have their ideas respected and valued.  Obviously sometimes these ideas are not possible or a tad outlandish, but for us as adults to take the time to listen to a child and actually hear what they have to say will make them feel valued.  Also, by having the power to make their own choices and decisions, children will begin to feel capable and confident.  This can be a step by step process, but it will work wonders in the long run.  When we make all the choices and decisions for children, we are basically telling them they are helpless without us.  As we slowly “loosen the strings”, positive self-esteem will follow and flourish.

Encourage and Facilitate Socialization:  One of the most difficult things for a child with low self-esteem to do is to socialize with others.  They will often prefer to sit outside the group and wander off on their own.  By encouraging children to become involved in social activities or group work we can begin to help them bolster their self-esteem through social interaction.  Of course who the child is teamed up with is quite important as it should be with children who are confident themselves, yet empathetic at the same time.  Partners need to be children who will encourage the child with low self-esteem to grow.  This encouragement and the natural process of socialization will once again pay benefits for the growth of positive self-esteem.

Encourage Leadership Opportunities:  There may be no better way to increase the self-esteem of children then to provide genuine leadership opportunities for them.  The possibilities for leadership are virtually endless.  It could be all the way from camps, to being the student who has special key tasks that are assigned to them each day to complete.  As a Principal I allow and encourage some of my students who have low self-esteem to make announcements in the morning over the P.A. system.  Their face lights up for the rest of the day.  They thrive on this feeling of importance and begin to see the value in themselves.  I cannot overestimate the importance of building and encouraging leadership opportunities for children with low self esteem.

Utilize School District/Community Resources:  There are many resources which are available for children with low self-esteem in the school district and in the community.  If parents and the school have exhausted all their strategies and distinct improvements are not noted…it is time to get further assistance.  Your school principal can and will be happy to help you with this.  If low self-esteem is not treated early it will tend to only grow and potentially worsen as a child ages.  It is best to work together to find strategies which are most applicable and useful for individual children.

Throughout my career I have found the aforementioned to be the most useful and successful strategies to increase and improve self-esteem in children.  I have seen them work wonders in my professional and personal life.  Obviously, different strategies will work better than others…depending upon the child.  The trick is to be kind, patient and consistent and find which one works the best.  Also, it is a very good idea for educators and parents to identify and focus upon the strengths of children and build upon those strengths.  Make sure they know what is so great about them.  A little trick I have seen work before is taping positive message sticky notes to a bathroom mirror so the first thing the child sees every morning is something good and positive they have done.  It could basically be anything, as long as it is a positive accomplishment and achievement for them.  As always, if you have any further strategies or tips to promote self-esteem in children I would love to hear them and share them with my readers and my students!

Sources:

1.   Vanessa Vega.  Social and Emotional Learning Research Review. Edutopia.  http://www.edutopia.org/sel-research-learning-outcomes

2.  http://www.ncld.org/parents-child-disabilities/social-emotional-skills/what-is-self-esteem

Jenny Jedeikin. University of Phoenix.  5 ways teachers can build self-esteem in kids.  http://www.phoenix.edu/forward/perspectives/2013/06/5-ways-teachers-can-build-self-esteem-in-kids.html

David Coleman.  Ten Tips to boost your child’s self-esteem.  http://www.independent.ie/lifestyle/health/ten-tips-to-boost-your-childs-selfesteem-29232101.html

Related Articles:

http://www.edubabbling.com/6-top-education-issues-of-2013-a-year-in-review/

http://www.edubabbling.com/instructional-strategies-for-struggling-students/

 

 

 

 

 

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6 Great Board Games Which Help Children Learn

6 Great Board Games Which Help Children Learn

monopoly

(Photo credit: rustybrick)

 

 

 

 

Back in September I wrote an article entitled 12 Awesome Free Educational Game Websites.  This post listed some top sites to visit in order to find online educational games.  I also made the point that in moderation, online educational games are another tool which we can use to help engage our children all the way from kindergarten to adulthood.  However, something which I neglected to mention in regards to teaching and learning through educational games was the game format many of us grew up with, namely, that of the traditional board game.  Traditional board games are not only engaging, but also promote the development of thinking, social, math, language, memory and communication skills in children.  With that in mind, I have comprised a list of 6 great board games which help children learn.  In order to make the list user friendly I have included age range, the simple premise of the game and the educational value it presents.

1.  Chess: (Ages-varies, typically 6 to adulthood)

 I may be a bit bias here as chess is my all time favorite game.  However, I also believe it is the most valuable board game for children which exists.  The actual basic rules of the game can be complicated for children, but when they begin to comprehend them awesome learning can occur.  Chess is a 2 player game where each player is assigned 16 pieces. The object of the game is to capture or “checkmate” the opposing king.  That is a very simple way to describe a game which has endless possibilities.  Chess develops mental abilities such as critical thinking, problem solving, planning and prediction, concentration, memory development, abstract reasoning, pattern recognition and patience (1).  There is a reason that virtually every school has a chess club… and the amazing learning it embodies is just that reason!

2.  Chutes and Ladders: ( Ages 4+)

This perennial favorite is also typically called Snakes and Ladders.  It is a relatively simple game which involves moving a pawn throughout the gameboard with the object being to finish first.  If the player lands on the bottom of a ladder they climb up, if they land on the top of a chute they slide down.  While the actual game may be quite simple, it brings with it a plethora of learning opportunities.  Children will not only learn to correspondence count and start building upon their numeracy ability, but they will also add to the development of such critical social skills as patience, taking turns and the acceptance of rewards and consequences.

3.  Scrabble:  (Ages 4+)

Scrabble is another time tested favorite for children, parents and educators alike.  There is the traditional game, but there is also now a scrabble junior version which simplifies things for younger players.  Basically the game involves matching assigned tiles to letters on the board and then earning points for the completion of words.  When all the tiles are gone, or no further words can be formed, the game concludes and the player with the most points wins.  Scrabble is another board game which is loaded with learning opportunities.  It teaches social skills such as patience and taking turns, numeracy, as well as spelling and vocabulary building skills.  In reality, the opportunities are endless and many schools have formed scrabble clubs which compete against opposing schools and further teach the social skills required for competition such as teamwork and concepts of fair play.

4.  Monopoly:  (Ages 6+)

If you grew up in my generation, Monopoly was the board game.  In fact, it is still immensely popular today.  Other than the traditional monopoly game there are now numerous versions including a Monopoly Junior which simplifies things for children.  The premise of the game is for players to move around the game board, buying or trading properties, developing their properties with houses and hotels and collecting rent from their opponents.  The overall objective is to accumulate the most money and bankrupt the other players (2).  The learning potential inherent in Monopoly is impressive.  It helps to develop social skills, numeracy concepts, prediction, critical thinking skills, reading and vocabulary development and even color recognition.

5.  Battleship:  (Ages 7+)

Battleship is another board game which has been around for an awful long time.  It involves “hiding” different sized ships on a grid and then “firing” at the opposing player’s ships by guessing where they are located on the grid.  Once again, this is a board game which is loaded with learning potential.  Children will develop the social skills of taking turns, fair play and perseverance.  They will also develop math skills as they navigate the grid and narrow down their predictions.

6.  Guess Who:  (Ages 6+)

Essentially the objective of the board game Guess Who is to guess the identity of the opposing player’s mystery character from the flip up board of 24 faces of men and women.  This is a wonderful game for engaging children and encouraging learning in such areas as social skills, language development, predicting, memory, questioning ability and speech development.

I was pretty determined to make this a list of 6 great board games which help children learn.  The problem is that there are so many great board games it became quite difficult to narrow it down to just 6.  Undoubtedly I left out a number of great educational board games.  Clue, Twister and Trivial Pursuit all come instantly to mind.  However, the main point of this article is that board games are an excellent way to teach children both at school and at home.  The learning they provide is varied and extensive.  The added bonus is that they also provide great bonding opportunities for families at a relatively low cost.  So, try to put away the technology even for a little while and rediscover the joy of playing board games with your children.  The educational benefits will be more than noteworthy and you will be helping to form warm, positive and lifelong memories in the process.

Sources:

1.  Educational Technologies.  Why Chess?  http://www.edutechchess.com/whychess.html

2.  Wikipedia. Monopoly Gamehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monopoly_(game)

3. Drevitch, Gary. Board Approval: 7 Classic Board Games for Kids.  Parent Magazine.  http://www.parents.com/fun/games/educational/classic-kids-board-games/

4.   Walker, Sonja  10 Best board Games to Help Kids Learn.    http://www.kids-first.com.au/10-best-board-games-to-help-kids-learn/

 

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Qualities of a Good Principal

Qualities of a Good Principal

Working with Somerset Head Teachers

(Photo credit: Ewan McIntosh)

 

 

 

One of the reasons I first started writing this blog was to create and participate in a virtual professional learning community.  My goal is to engage in discussion with others and further my own learning at the same time.  Hopefully this is beneficial to my blog audience and will also allow me to further refine my own practice.  All that being said, I have written very few articles about administration in schools.  That is a actually a little ironic as my position in education is that of a school principal.  So in order to once again attempt to further refine my own practice, I have decided to post what I consider to be the most important qualities of a good school principal.  This is essentially my own list and are rules I live by every single day on the job.  I would love to get some feedback at the end of this article in the comment section in regards to your thoughts or insight into areas I may be missing or neglected to mention.

Caring and Empathetic:  If you do not care deeply about your students, staff and parents then you really should no even dream of becoming a principal.  These people have to really matter to you…and that is something which simply cannot be faked.  The principal is the leader of the school and any good leader genuinely cares about those in their care.  A great principal will do anything within their power to help students and staff to succeed.

Collaborative and Values Other Opinions:  The days of the ”my way or the highway” type of leadership are long gone…or at least I sure hope they are!  If not, I would hazard a guess that any school which has this type of principal is an unhappy and unproductive one.  A good principal will collaborate with staff and the school community as vital contributors to the decision making process.  All stakeholders have opinions and input to provide and this should be respected and valued.  Collaboration will go a long way to create an open, productive and caring school community.  Productivity and results will naturally follow.

Shares Leadership/Empowers Others:  Schools today should be run with the vision of shared leadership at the forefront.  Principals should not be afraid to “give away” leadership responsibilities.  Many of these responsibilities can be shared.  This is not a sign of weakness on behalf of the principal…it is a sign of strength.  It is showing faith in others and it is also realizing people are more engaged when they are active participants in the process with something tangible to lose or gain.  They will take on ownership of initiatives and direction for the school.  This becomes very engaging, and true engagement is almost always accompanied by empowerment.

Instructional Leader:  While the principal should be willing to collaborate and empower others, they are still the overall leader of the school.  The buck stops with the principal.  It is the principal’s job to develop a mission and vision WITH the staff which is based upon data and solid proven strategies and methodology.  In terms of instruction, the principal should be actively involved in collaborating to set the course for the school and actively developing a solid school improvement plan.  Also, something I always do personally is to assume blame when things do not go as planned, and always pass on credit to others when everything goes right.  I do believe a true leader has to do this.

Hands on and Visible:  I can really not overstate how important it is for Principals to be very visible and hands on in their school.  This includes regularly going into classrooms and engaging in purposeful talk with students and staff.  It also includes going out for all recess duties, bus duty, lunch duty and greeting parents, staff and students as they arrive for school and when they leave.  This not only helps by gaining solid information about what is happening in the school, but also promotes the principal as someone who cares, is knowledgeable and approachable.  Visibility is HUGE.

Relationship Building:  Working in schools is a very socially oriented job.  You are socially engaged with people all day long.  You also rely on them as part of a team.  Good principals will take the time needed to get to know the staff, students and parents of the school.  One of the very first things I do when I go into any new school is learn all the names of the staff AND the students.  children will have a lot more respect and trust for you as principal if you know their name.  It shows you care.  Likewise, finding out about your staff should be done out of genuine interest.  You cannot fake these things!  I always say everything should be based upon give and take.  There are times we give, and instances where we take.  If we have solid relationships with people this will all flow naturally and there will be far less conflict.

 Decisive:  A good principal will collaborate with others…but when decisions are made they have to be decisive and relentless in their pursuit.  Wishy-washy stances on issues, problems and directions is the quickest way to lose engagement and support.  All stakeholders want timely, collaborative but firm decisions.  They need to be based upon sound principles and due diligence needs to be followed when making such decisions.  However, when they are made it becomes a matter of moving on.  Also, the principal needs to be very decisive when hiring staff who fit the vision of their school, and also bringing along all the members of the school to support and contribute to the vision.  As collective stakeholders that is their responsibility, and a decisive principal needs to ensure all this happens or risks losing the others in the process.

Communication:  While communication was essentially covered by all the other qualities, it is too important not to have its own heading.  A principal needs to clearly communicate with all the school stakeholders.  If they do not, what happens is a dysfunctional group is formed,  all spreading out into different directions.  The job of the principal is to funnel the group into one direction.  It is much more productive and powerful.  Good principals will use all the different forms of communication available to them including, memos, staff meetings, announcements, emails, newsletters and phone calls.  However, the best form of communication is always face to face and usually in a one to one setting.

There is little doubt that there are many other qualities which make for a good principal.  Organization, professionalism and visionary all come to mind.  However, the aforementioned qualities are all the characteristics I personally pursue and find the most meaningful in my career.  I would love to hear some comments about this list and any suggestions for additions or deletions, or even revisions.

Please subscribe to my blog by signing up on the blue form at the side of the page.  The more subscribers we have…the bigger the Professional Learning Community we can create!

 

 

 

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6 Top Education Issues of 2013: A Year In Review

6 Top Education Issues of 2013: A Year In Review

Happy New Year 2013

(Photo credit: Mark Kens)

 

 

 

 

There has been no shortage of major events, issues and stories which have occurred across all domains in the world over the course of 2013.  Indeed, the field of education is no different and has had its share of top stories and issues throughout the past year.  In fact, trying to analyze the issues which have had the greatest impact upon education in 2013 is quite difficult as there have been so many.  Not only that, but education stories and pressing issues can vary a great deal between districts and different countries across the globe.  Nevertheless, I have created what I consider to be the top education issues and stories of 2013 which truly have no borders.

1.  TECHNOLOGY:  I am sure I have raised a few eyebrows by putting down technology as a single topic.  In truth, I absolutely recognize that “technology” is a huge issue which encompasses numerous categories and topics.  For instance, virtual learning, flipped classrooms, bring your own device (BYOD), Social Media in the classroom, gamification, MOOCs…the list can literally go on for pages!  However, the overriding point here is that technology in general continued to be a colossal issue in 2013.  It has allowed educators and learners to address individual learning needs and has engaged the community of educational stakeholders at an unprecedented level.  Technology continues to evolve in education with new components and ideas being put forth consistently and regularly.  This has also meant educators needed to keep pace and hone their practice and skills or be left behind in the dust of the technology juggernaut.

2.  FUNDING:  I suppose a more accurate title for the number 2 issue of 2013 would be more appropriately entitled “lack of funding.”  There is little doubt that education funding has suffered greatly since the economic downturn in countries across the globe.  Even with an improving economy which has seen purse strings being opened up for many areas, such has not been the case for education.  In fact, in a report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

“States’ new budgets are providing less per-pupil funding for kindergarten through 12th grade than they did six years ago — often far less.  The reduced levels reflect not only the lingering effects of the 2007-09 recession but also continued austerity in many states; indeed, despite some improvements in overall state revenues, schools in around a third of states are entering the new school year with less state funding than they had last year.  At a time when states and the nation are trying to produce workers with the skills to master new technologies and adapt to the complexities of a global economy, this decline in state educational investment is cause for concern.” (1)

Lack of proper funding by the government has a number of negative impacts.  Facilities begin to deteriorate, resource spending is curtailed, less teachers are hired and classroom budgets are slashed.  Education funding has been a huge issue in 2013, and this is likely to continue on into the New Year.

3.  SAFE SCHOOLS/SECURITY:  Unfortunately over the years there have been some awful and heart wrenching tragedies which have occurred in schools.  Newtown  comes instantly to mind.  The response has been a lot of dialogue and enhanced security efforts and procedures at schools.  This has ranged from increasing the number of security cameras, and even turning schools into virtual fortresses in some instances. (2)  Also, the ever present and disturbing issue of bullying has continued to be at the forefront in 2013.  Anti-bullying programs have sprung up essentially everywhere and have battled bullying which not only takes place in the schoolyard anymore, but virtually everywhere, including cyberspace.  However, in 2013 we have seemed to be acquiring some balance in all of these areas.  We have begun to understand that while we obviously need to be prepared and ready to respond to emergencies to help keep our kids safe, building fortresses is not the answer (3).  Also, we have started the very necessary review and redefining of bullying.  It is simply not a negative encounter in the schoolyard.  It is far more complex and follows a vicious pattern of tormenting and repetitive behavior.  By overusing the term bullying we have done a disservice to those who are truly being bullied and in dire need of our help.  There is little doubt that 2013 has seen a much more balanced response to safe schools issues and attempts to be more proactive by building character, respect and empathy, as opposed to reactive measures have been more commonplace.

4.  SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL LEARNING:  Imagine this.  You have just had a rather heated argument with your spouse, your eldest daughter has told you she cannot stand to be around you and your boss has started your day off by announcing to everyone that you have just blown another sale.  It is not too likely you will perform very well on this day…particularly if you are lacking in areas of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL).  Children are absolutely no different.  Social Emotional Learning is comprised of competencies such as self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making which all provide the backdrop to establish and maintain social relationships and respond to challenges in life (4).  In our test focussed and driven generation we have tended to lose track of the importance of Social Emotional Learning.  That tide has begun to truly turn in 2013.  Educators and politicians have begun to realize the critical importance of social emotional programs.  They reduce aggression, improve positive attitudes, self-worth and self-respect (5).  When students are rich in areas of SEL. all other areas, such as academic performance, begin to fall into place.  Thankfully 2013 has seen the growth in importance and acceptance of Social Emotional Learning.  While acceptance has been seeping into education over the past few years, 2013 really saw a big shift.

5.  EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION:  There can be little doubt that there is an obvious trend apparent which focuses upon the great importance of early education.  I really see this happening everywhere.  In the United States, President Obama’s administration has outlined a 75 billion dollar plan to expand early childhood education.  In Ontario, Canada the government has implemented Full Day Kindergarten at a great expense in a time of tight fiscal restraints.  Why?  Study after study has shown that a strong early childhood education creates happier and more successful future students.  Once again, this is a win-win for all.  Considering all of these factors, this is a global trend which has continued to grow in 2013.  Add to this the huge growing importance of play and inquiry based learning (all the way from K-12) so prevalent in Early Childhood Education, and this 2013 issue is bound to continue to be a major story throughout 2014.

6. MENTAL HEALTH:  The final top education issue which has become quite prevalent in 2013 is that of Mental Health.  I am truly hoping this is not a passing trend.  Mental health and mental illness has been an area which has been stigmatized for generations.  We see real movements afoot now to remove the stigmatization of mental health.  World governments who have been underfunding the area of mental health for generations have begun to realize this has backfired on them to a huge extent.  Governments are starting to fund programs that deal with mental health in children and are empowering schools and educators to begin to educate the children and public in general as to the true nature and causes of mental health.  Schools and educators have begun many programs to stop stigmatization and it seems to be growing and picking up steam at every turn.  I truly hope this is a trend of 2013 which continues well into 2014 and beyond!

There you have it…6 top education issues of 2013.  I am aware there are many that did not make my list and probably should have, but I chose issues based upon growth and continuity across geographic locations.  I fortunately get to talk to educators across the globe on a daily basis and these are the issues which are brought forth the most.  I of course would love to hear from you about any issues you would like to be added to this list!  Please join this community and join the discussion.

Please subscribe to my blog by signing up on the blue form at the side of the page.  The more subscribers we have…the bigger the Professional Learning Community we can create!

Sources:

1.  Most States Funding Schools Less Than Before the Recession.   Michael Leachman and Chris Mai.  Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.   http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=4011

2.  Lydia Dobyns: Countdown: Top Education Issues I am Following in 2013.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lydia-dobyns/top-10-education-issues_b_2726942.html

3.  Lydia Dobyns: Countdown: Top Education Issues I am Following in 2013.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lydia-dobyns/top-10-education-issues_b_2726942.html

4.  Vanessa Vega.  Social and Emotional Learning Research Review. Edutopia.  http://www.edutopia.org/sel-research-learning-outcomes

5.  Vanessa Vega.  Social and Emotional Learning Research Review: Edutopia.  http://www.edutopia.org/sel-research-learning-outcomes

Related Articles:

1.   Should Students be allowed to bring their own Devices to School:  http://www.edubabbling.com/should-students-be-allowed-to-bring-their-own-devices-to-school-the-b-y-o-d-debate/

2.  Please Stop Overusing the Term Bullying:  http://www.edubabbling.com/%ef%bb%bfplease-stop-overusing-the-term-bullying/

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Edubabbling For The Masses Shout Out

Edubabbling For The Masses Shout Out

Thank you!

Thank you! (Photo credit: TLC Fotografie)

 

 

So in a few short weeks, Edubabbling For The Masses will be 5 months old.  I actually find that to be quite amazing for when I first began writing this blog I was very hesitant and uncertain about the direction in which it would go.  My desire was to produce a blog which would accomplish 3 main goals 1) Answer typical questions that educators, parents or students may have 2) Build an online Professional Learning Community  3) Do my part to promote teaching as the most honorable of professions…one that essentially paves the way for all the others.  With these goals in mind I began designing my blog and churning out articles in the very uncertain (for me anyways) world of blogging.  I was quite apprehensive as to what the response might be.

As I am now 5 months into my blogging adventure I can report that I have enjoyed this journey more than anything I have done for quite some time.  My articles have been very well received, and the level of engagement I have had from many of my readers has been exceptional.  It has been a truly amzing experience for me.  The content part of my blog has not been overly difficult as many of the posts and topics have been burning in my brain for quite some time.  The actual design and technical components have been much more challenging for me.  Also, a blog is pretty much useless as a Professional Learning Community unless people are reading it.  Due to this fact, I have had to learn all about driving traffic, SEO and Social Media marketing.  It has been a lot of work, but a very worthwhile experience.  In fact, I went from an average of 30 visits to my blog per day in the first month, to a new average of about 2200 unique visits per day.  Very rewarding!  All this being said, I really could not have done this on my own.  However, as I have discovered… when it comes to blogging, you are never truly alone.  I have been fortunate to have a lot of help along the way.  In fact, I want to send a special shout out to 3 bloggers in particular who have helped me out in some way.  The funny part is they probably do not even realize how much they have helped me with my blog, and may not even really know that I exist!  However, I greatly appreciate the help they have knowingly, or unknowingly provided to me.  With no further ado…a big shoutout to the following 3 bloggers.

1.  Ms. Ileane Smith  http://basicblogtips.com

I have found Ms. Ileane to be so especially helpful to me in everything to do with blogging.  From blogging tips,tutorials,education,social media and marketing.  The list can go on and on.  I have connected with her on some social media networks and find her to be a very knowledgable, genuine and patient person.  Ms. Ileane is definitely the top blogging expert in my books and I will continue to follow and learn from her.

2.  Tyler Moore   www.tyler-moore.com

I am not sure if I can refer to Tyler Moore as a blogger…but he is definitely a web expert.  As I have mentioned before, when I began this blog I did not have a clue how to do any of the design or technical components.  Luckily for me I found Tyler Moore through a Google search and the rest is history.  He has a number of step by step instructional videos and it literally helped me build my blog…step by step.  I would not have been able to get this blog up and running if it was not for Tyler Moore and his expertise.

3.  Starr Sackstein, MJE, NBCT http://starrsackstein.com

As a blogger, you spend a lot of time looking for work you admire and respect in your niche.  I found that with Starr Sackstein.  She is an awesome writer with an edge in regards to education.  I believe that is exactly what education needs…people to question and challenge traditional policy and push the movement to continue to innovate and transform.  I truly believe education needs to keep up with a rapidly changing society, and to read the thorough, knowledgable and motivating work of Starr Sackstein has inspired my own writing.  Her work has an edge to it, and that is a great thing!

So…to stray from my typical path, I am just writing this post today to say thanks to all my readers and a particular thanks and shout out to these 3 individuals.  I look forward to the next 5 months!

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19 Tasks Great Teachers Do

19 Tasks Great Teachers Do

"Teacher Appreciation" featured phot...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

I certainly do my best to always be positive in all my articles and posts.  I find that being positive, hopeful and energetic is motivating and best for all.  However, there is occasionally something which creeps in like a smothering fog that challenges my ongoing optimism.  At this time of the year the media inevitably reports about how great teachers have it with their “excessive” holiday time and “generous” working hours.  For instance, take this quote which comes directly from one of my local newspapers who are commenting upon the fact that our teachers have been forced to take an unpaid day off to balance the district’s books:

People in the private sector consider themselves lucky to have a job.  And teachers whine about tacking on an extra unpaid day to their very generous Christmas vacation.”

They do have jobs.  And they’re well paid.  Is it too much to ask that they suck up one unpaid day and be grateful for what they have?” (Christina Blizzard.  Toronto Sun)

I would hazard a guess that if I researched the newspapers around the globe, I would find something similar in all of them.  I would also be certain to find the story about the teacher who gave up countless hours of their own time organizing food drives for charity buried neatly on the back page!  I am sorry if this comes across as cynical, however, I have seen this cycle too many times now.  Every year around Christmas time, spring break and the summer holidays the media begin their traditional teacher bashing.  So…to get away from the negative and get back onto the positive track…I have created a post which accurately specifies the multitude of tasks teachers perform each day.  This is by no means complete as every educator is different.  Nevertheless, it is designed to bring some balance to an agenda which always attacks our teachers just when they are about to get some rest and relaxation with their loved ones.

19 Tasks Great Teachers Do

1.  Teach their students within their classroom all day.

2. Spend countless hours preparing engaging lessons which will meet the needs of all their individual students.

3. Spend countless hours assessing, revising and evaluating the progress of their students.

4.  Spend countless hours ensuring all their students meet expectations, and create plans to help those who are struggling.

5.  Arrive at work early and stay late.

6.  Lunch?  What lunch?  Teachers give up before school time, after school time and their personal lunch time to run various teams and clubs designed to meet the needs of their students.

7.  Always communicating with parents through face to face discussions, phone calls, notes, etc…

8.  Attend Professional Development consistently to improve practice and model lifelong learning.

9.  Advocate for students on a consistent basis.

10. Give up their own weekend and holiday time so they can accompany their students on trips.

11.  Give up break and lunch time to provide extra help and support to students.

12.  Manage student conduct, and help students develop proper social skills and character traits.

13.  Ever increasing administrative tasks and paperwork.

14.  Providing first aid and bandaging cuts and scrapes on a daily basis.

15.  Providing moral support and a sympathetic ear to students and parents and trying to help whenever they can.

16.  Writing reference and recommendation letters for students.

17.  Unfortunately spending their own money and time better equipping their classrooms as they have to make up for budget shortfalls.

18.  Spending a good portion of the holidays preparing for upcoming terms and/or the new school year.

19.  Spending a good portion of the holidays upgrading skills and knowledge with new courses.

There you have it…19 tasks teacher spend their time on.  The list is by no means complete or exhaustive.  As a school Principal I see it each and every day.  So for all the detractors our there I would ask you to truly attempt to fully understand the teaching profession before passing judgement.  I am not overly optimistic the media will adhere to this advice as they know bashing teachers around the holidays appeals to a certain audience and always brings with it more sales.  However, I think we can reach out to the public in general and promote teaching as the most honorable of professions.  That way the “certain audience” will slowly disappear.  That is my hope and belief anyways…and one of the reasons I keep writing this blog!

Please subscribe to my blog by signing up on the blue form at the side of the page.  The more subscribers we have…the bigger the Professional Learning Community we can create!

 

 

 

 

 

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8 Debt Reduction Strategies for College and University Students

8 Debt Reduction Strategies for College and University Students

Saving for College

(Photo credit: Tax Credits)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once again I have been neglecting the post-secondary portion of my blog audience.  Considering I have two children who are currently in University, I do understand the many issues and stresses which College and University students face.  As an educator and parent the last thing I want for my own children or students is to graduate and be loaded down with debt.  It takes time to establish yourself after graduation and to be immediately saddled with a suffocating debt load is not something young people should have to endure.  In a recent survey it was found that the “average University student leaves campus with close to $28,000 in debt, and takes an average of 14 years to pay it off.” (www.ratesupermarket.ca).

Considering this grim statistic, I have determined that my own children will graduate from University with zero dollars owing in debt.  This is not something I can guarantee on my own however as it involves input, cooperation and sacrifices from everyone…particularly the students themselves!  That being said, I have come up with 8 debt reduction strategies which families can utilize to ensure students graduate from College or University optimistic about the future, not just bogged down with a stifling debt load.

1.  Choose Schools Wisely: The end goal of obtaining a College diploma or University degree is to secure employment when you finish.  Therefore, you need to choose an institution which is respected and has great programs.  However, many institutions that have this also offer very affordable prices, while others do not.  Just like everything else it will really pay to shop around.  Also, look for Colleges or Universities which have great scholarship programs.  Scholarships, grants and bursaries can go a long way in significantly reducing your debt.

2.  Study Hard:  It is not enough to select a College or University just based upon their scholarship program.  You need to make sure they have scholarships or bursaries which are rolled over from year to year as long as your GPA is maintained.  In other words, studying hard and getting good grades can be very cost efficient for you and has the potential to make you a lot of money.

3.  Stay Away From Credit: In all truth, credit card companies love students.  Often the acquiring of a credit card will be the first real taste of “financial freedom” for students.  However, it will come at a great cost and students should not ever apply for a credit card.  They are usually at exorbitant interest rates and will leave the student with much more debt on top of anything acquired through a student loan.  Avoid the temptation!

4.  Budget and Save Money:   It is really not what you earn…it is what you spend! Ultimately, the way you need to reduce your debt is to drastically cut back on your variable expenses (those that are not fixed, like a mortgage).

You are probably thinking…what is he talking about? I don’t waste any money. Yes, I used to think the same think the same thing, but I was dead wrong.  You will need to create a very honest and real budget yourself and make sure your expenditures do not exceed your funds.

- For a 3 month period keep a record of ALL expenditures. Yes that means every penny. You will find you spend a LOT more than you think. -At the end of each month total up what was needed and what was not. - Get rid of unnecessary  expenses!!! Here are some simple ideas to cut back on your variable expenses:

a) Bring your lunch with you (don’t eat out)

b) If you have a student credit card cancel all credit cards and/or transfer a high credit card balance to low interest cards

c) Reduce your long distance phone calls (use Skype)

d) Get a better cell plan

e) Cancel cable

f) Comparison shop (never buy the first thing you see…compare!)

g) Prepare and follow grocery lists (oh this is soooooo important)

h) Stop eating out and limit your visits to the local bar or pub.  (this is the biggest money waster for most people)

i) Shop for cheaper banking/ATM accounts

j) Drink more water instead of pop

k) Stop buying coffee out

l) View newspaper and magazine articles online or go to the library

m) Shop around for your textbooks and never buy them new.  You will literally save hundreds and hundreds of dollars doing this.

5.  Live At Home: Yes, I realize this is not always an option as not everyone lives close to a post-secondary institution.  However, if you can manage it you will save yourself thousands and thousands of dollars.  It may not always be the most attractive or appealing suggestion, but doing this for 4 years could conservatively save you over $50 thousand dollars!  That is a total that makes this option look more attractive.

6.  Ask Your Parents For Help: In most cases your parents will be more than willing to help you if they are able.  Every dollar they give you is one less dollar you will be adding to your debt load.  It will pay to have an open, honest and practical discussion with your parents.

7.  Finish Your Degree On Time: Sometimes for whatever reason students end up spending extra time in a set program and have to go back for a year or two to finish up.  Turning a 4 year program into a 6 year program will send you spiraling into massive debt.  Do whatever you can to avoid this trap.  If that means doing an online course in the summer to catch up, then this is something you should explore.

8.  Work Part Time During The School Year: This is a recommendation I give which comes with a condition.  You need to make sure that any employment does not interfere with the real reason you are there…to get a great education and maintain a very high GPA.  However, if you can do that and juggle employment at the same time, you will be helping a great deal in reducing your future debt.  This can be a key strategy.

There are many ways students can avoid or at least minimize their future debt.  Nobody wants to graduate from a program which they have been giving their all, only to find themselves in a bleak debt ridden situation.  It does call for willpower and sacrifices, but in reality it will only be for 4 years and is a classic example of a little pain for long term gain!  If you have any strategies you would like to share please hit the comment button and share away!

Sources:

The Student Debt Trap and How to Avoid it.  http://www.studentdebtinfo.co.uk/tips_on_avoiding_student_debt.php

10 Ways for Students to Make Money While in College or University.  http://www.edubabbling.com/10-ways-for-students-to-make-money-while-in-college-or-university/

How to Avoid Student Debt.  http://www.studentdebtrelief.us/knowledge-base/how-to-avoid-student-debt/

 

 

 

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Positive Classroom Management

Positive Classroom Management

The Hidden Beauty!

Since I started writing this blog, my interaction through comments, forums and emails has grown daily.  Indeed, this is the part I truly enjoy and it is why I have decided to keep the blog format as opposed to just turning www.edubabbling.com into a static website.  While the comments at first were few and far between, I now get multiple queries daily and also a fair number of article requests.  Without a doubt, the most popular question and article request that I receive has to do with classroom management.  In truth, it is such a vital and complex topic I have deliberately not rushed to do an article covering it.  Instead, I have been working on a comprehensive series in regards to management which I hope will do the topic justice.  I do feel that how we approach classroom management and discipline has the potential to truly change children’s lives…either in a positive or negative manner.  That is a huge responsibility and it is thus the reason I have chosen to tread so carefully composing a response to the topic.

Nevertheless, as a “tidbit” of things to come I have posted below a sample contract template which can be used when working with children.  For classroom management to truly work it has to be positive, proactive and involve all stakeholders.  Student participation has to be a key part of the planning and process.  This particular template allows the student to focus on a weekly goal (s) which is agreed upon by themselves, the teacher and parents.  The progress towards achieving the goal is charted daily and all 3 stakeholders are able to assess the progress towards achieving the goal.  For added effect, the principal of the school can also sign with the teacher, although this should only occur in more challenging instances for it to have the true desired effect.  Achievements can be met with positive reinforcements of an extrinsic or intrinsic nature.  While intrinsic is more powerful, extrinsic rewards can have their own use and place as well.  This is really just a small  and simple sample of a plethora of strategies to come, but I have seen it used with incredible success in many instances.

I CAN  DO IT!!!

 

Name:

Week:

Goal(s)

 

Day of the Week Did I meet my goal? Teacher Signature or Initials Parent Signature or Initials
Monday     

 

   
Tuesday     

 

   
Wednesday     

 

   
Thursday     

 

   
Friday     

 

   

 

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Should Students be Allowed to Bring Their Own Devices to School? The B.Y.O.D. Debate

 Should Students be Allowed to Bring Their Own Devices to School? The B.Y.O.D. Debate

School.

(Photo credit: zoovroo)

 

 

 

 

Not too long ago I wrote an article entitled Should Students be Allowed to use Cell Phones at School?  In it, I outlined a number of arguments for and against students bringing cell phones to school.  This piece generated a lot of great discussion and emails about the topic.  One of the overriding themes in the discussion was that I was too narrow in my topic choice.  The point was made that I should have included all devices such as laptops, tablets and smart phones, not merely the traditional “cell phone.”  I would have to agree with this point!  The truth is that we are seeing a wide variety of electronic devices which are being brought to school by students.  In many cases this is actively encouraged.  In fact, there is even a term for this and it is called B.Y.O.D. (Bring Your Own Device).  The question however is whether this is a good thing or not?

Bringing the traditional cell phone to school certainly has its own set of pros and cons.  However, when we extend that freedom to all electronic devices it really complicates the issue even further.  Is it in reality a sustainable idea?  I do believe that there are many sides to this issue which need to be explored.  However, while I usually like to provide both sides to an issue, and then let the reader do the rest…this time I am coming out clearly in support of students bringing their own devices to school.

There are many factors which are put forth as reasons against students bringing their own devices to school.  For instance, inappropriate usage, including such things as cyberbullying and cheating; distractions within the school due to the device itself; restlessness and headaches caused by excessive usage, and the potential inequity amongst students.  Nevertheless, I think these issues can all be addressed by the schools and I do not believe that prohibiting students from bringing in their own devices would solve any potential problems.  In fact, by bringing their devices to school, students will be able to be instructed first hand on how to use them in a balanced and proper way.  Also, it is a perfect opportunity and environment in which to teach the dangers of such things as cyberbullying.  It is much better to do this at the school where the students have access to a wide variety of support and resources.  If we think that not allowing kids to bring their devices to school will mean these issues will magically disappear…we are sadly mistaken.

There are simply too many advantages which accompany the B.Y.O.D. movement to overlook.  In an age of tighter educational budgets letting students bring their own devices to school will save the education coffers immensely.  Also, some of these savings can be put back into the system to provide devices for students who cannot afford their own due to socioeconomic concerns.  This is simply a win-win for all.  By bringing in their own devices we will literally be on a “1 student- 1 device” ratio!  That is outstanding and it will truly engage the learners.  There are modern, advanced technology skills which students will need.  Bringing their own devices to school will let them learn in safe, productive environments and then bring that information home with them after school.  That vital school-home link will then also be established.

Undoubtedly there always has to be a balance in everything we do.  I am not recommending that we stop everything else we have been doing and just focus on teaching with technology through personal devices.  Far from it in fact.  I am advocating that we use the personal devices as powerful tools to compliment what we are doing and thus engage the learners on a whole new level.  Technology is certainly not going away…it is the way of the future.  As educators, instead of wasting our precious little time and energy ensuring that students do not bring personal electronic devices to school, we should invest that same energy into showing them how to use them properly.  That is the mission and responsibility of all educators as we prepare our children to lead in an ever changing world.

Sources:

http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.ca/2012/07/5-reasons -to-allow-students-to-use-cell.html

http://www.debate.org/opinions/should-students-be-allowed-to-use-cell-phones-in-school

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Extending The School Day: The Great Debate

Extending The School Day: The Great Debate

Primary pupils in group work in a small villag...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

The great thing about education is that we are always looking for ways to improve upon it for the sake of our students.  Education will always attempt to transform to meet the dynamic needs of society.  It is a constantly changing entity.  I have personally seen a dramatic transformation in the education system over the last few decades.  Such changes include the rise of virtual learning, blended learning, experiential learning and the increasing focus on differentiated instruction.  Essentially, the list can  go on for pages, but these are some of the more prominent ones which have taken place.  However, there is one aspect of education and schooling which has been very slow to change…that is the structure of the school day.  Indeed, there is currently a push to alter the typical school day by making it longer.  As always, there are many points which can be made on both sides of the issue.  By looking at this question in a balanced manner we should be able to determine if changing the structure of the school day would not only meet the needs of society, but more importantly, the needs of our students.

THE PROS:

Increased Emphasis On Other Subjects:  The curriculum and expectations of the education systems around the globe are quite challenging and extensive.  There is no doubt that a huge emphasis is placed upon language and math.  Many may argue that this focus comes at the expense of other subjects such as the arts and physical education.  A longer school day would therefore enable schools to devote more instructional time and emphasis on the other subjects as well.  This could in turn help our students to become more well rounded and even improve their overall development and well being as their creativity is developed and active living lifestyles are pursued.

Extra Support For Students:  A common complaint for teachers is that there just never seems to be enough time in the current school day to help all the children.  This is especially true for students who may be struggling or have special needs.  Many teachers will welcome an extended day as it provides more instructional time which can be used within the timetable to help these children.  This would also in turn address the inequity which is often inherent in the education system.  Those parents who can afford it will often pay for tutoring for their children.  Those who lack the funds for this see their children fall further behind.  This could “level the playing field.”

Meet Societal/Family Needs:  In many districts across the globe, school tends to start around 8:00 a.m. and ends at 3:00 p.m.  This is a structure which has been around for eons and can be traced back to being developed in order to match an “agrarian schedule.”  In today’s society it no longer really meets our needs.  Adults are working longer hours away from their children.  Also, both parents are now working in numerous cases which means children can no longer come home at 3:00 to a waiting parent.  A longer school day can truly begin to meet the needs of a changing society and provide our students with extended supervision and instruction which will better prepare them for an increasingly complex society.

THE CONS:

Financial Costs:  Whether we like it or not, finances play a huge role when it comes to what happens with education.  Extending the school day would come with a rather extensive list of new costs and expenses.  For instance, teacher compensation would be increased, building facilities would have to be upgraded in many instances, and the utility operation costs for schools would soar.  Considering the current cutbacks to schools which we are seeing worldwide right now, I am not sure how feasible incurring any new costs would be.

Less Time To “Be A Kid”:  Many would argue that more time our kids spend in school means less time for them to do the extra activities outside of school time and “be a kid.”  This could include the loss of organized events such as sports, music or special interests.  It could also include just spending time with their friends and hanging out, thereby stunting the critical development of their social skills.  Of course, opponents of this point would say that more time in school would mean extra time for teachers to run extracurricular clubs.  There certainly is no guarantee of that however and the kids could end up losing out.

Organizational Change:  As was pointed out at the outset of this article, changes to the structure of the school day have typically moved along at a snail’s pace.  One of the overriding reasons for this is due to the sheer magnitude of the change.  For instance, society has tended to “work around” the traditional setup.  Business and tourism relies heavily on the current organizational structure.  Also, with the increasing costs of post-secondary education, students rely on the shorter days and holiday vacations to earn extra money.  Changing the current structure of the school day could impact both quite drastically.  As well, there would need to be consensus amongst the education workforce.  Many are already feeling overworked and underpaid and may not respond very well to proposed changes which would lengthen their current working day.

Society has changed…there is little doubt about that.  The demands being put upon educators to adapt and prepare our students for this altered and challenging society have evolved as well.  Nevertheless, the reason the structure of the typical school day has taken so long to change is due to the very complex nature of the task.  There simply is no “one size fits all” for this question.  Things may change…but it is still going to take time and will utlitmately be based upon the needs of various locations and jurisdictions.

I would love to know your thoughts about this issue.  Just hit the comment link at the top of the page and send them along!

Sources:

Boyd, Hannah.  What’s to Gain with a Longer School Day?  http://www.education.com/magazine/article/Kids_Need_More_Time_Learn/

Garrett, Rose.  Forget 8am-3pm: Here  Comes The Longer School Day  http://www.education.com/magazine/article/School_Days_Longer/

Bean-Mellinger, Barbara.  Pros vs. Cons of Extended School Days  http://education.seattlepi.com/pros-vs-cons-extended-school-days-1571.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

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