Smartphones . . . they have quickly become an unquestioned and pervasive extension of the countless new technologies that have changed our world exponentially over the past two decades. In a recent conversation with a Board member at my school, I appreciated his comparison of our age to that of the late 1800’s when American life changed forever with the introduction of electricity. In his words, “Electricity touched everything; in the same way today, technology touches everything.” We are directly and constantly connected to information and to others, making many daily tasks and interactions easier. Truly, it is an exciting epoch in which to be alive; as an adult, it is an equally humbling charge to shepherd the next generation from childhood to adulthood in an age so vastly different than the one in which we were raised.
Parents often ask me how they can help their children become better readers. Most parents already know about the importance of reading to and with their children and are thrilled to do so for both the bonding it provides between parent and child and for the research-proven benefits of helping children hear examples of proper inflection, intonation, expression and overall fluency. Many parents are often enlightened to discover that equally important are their conversations with their children before, during, and after reading a piece of text.
The educational journey through a PreK-8 school allows students to gain the skills they will need to be successful in secondaryschool, college and throughout their adult life. It is our responsibility as educators to provide students with the foundation of skills they will need to be successful in the future.
I am grateful each January for the 365-page story that lies ahead, yet to be written. Each one of us has the opportunity to refocus our vision for tomorrow and update our daily pursuits with that vision in mind. As adults, we have learned that all established goals require actionable steps and consistent (often daily or weekly) behaviors which eventually produce the end results we desire. For all of us, setting goals seems to be the easy part; it is the calculated, consistent follow-through where we struggle.
At the cutting edge of educational technology are two exciting new technologies, AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality). Both have a place in the future of education and the world. For day to day use, AR is the one to keep your eye on. But, let’s start with a brief look at what these new technology acronyms really mean.
When we think of the word “failure” it can often bring up thoughts of inadequacy, not being good enough, or being unsuccessful in a particular aspect of life. Many times children feel if they don’t get the answer right the first time or make a mistake when learning a new skill, that somehow they have failed.
What if, instead of viewing mistakes or failure as something negative that indicates a deficit we possess, we begin to view it as an opportunity? Imagine that - failure is an opportunity! An opportunity for growth, an opportunity to learn and thoroughly understand, an opportunity to achieve something great!
One of the most wonderful things about art is the amount of freedom it provides. We can make art out of almost any material and about any subject matter. It is an excellent means of self-expression as well as self-exploration. One of my favorite moments in the artroom is when a student has an a-ha moment and is surprised by how well their piece has turned out or thrilled at the mastery of a new technique. They do not always know how talented they are and art teaches them what they are capable of.
Personally, I started to identify myself as “an artist” very early in life. I loved to make things and working with my hands. In elementary school, I used to go into my backyard and dig clay out of the ground. I sculpted it into small bird’s heads and used pebbles for the eyes. I would bake them on the driveway until they hardened in the sun. This was perfectly normal to me, because I was “an artist”. I looked for any excuse to make things and loved sharing what I had made with others. My parents were the recipients of countless creations over the years as I explored various artistic avenues.
Parents want the best for their children, and so do teachers. The first parent/teacher conference is a great time to ask about ways you can support your child. There are so many great resources on the internet these days, which can seem overwhelming. Having a conversation with your child’s teacher may give you the targeted answers you need. There are, however, several concerns that all parents share.The start of a new year is a great time to look at your child's plan for homework, organization, and other routines to help make the year run smoothly.
Talk to me about your Middle School experience. What do you remember? In what significant ways did you grow as a Middle Schooler?
The general narrative proliferated by adults and popular media in the U.S. is that the Middle School years represent the worst and most challenging stage of human development. Some hyperbolically reference the lingering post-traumatic stress they experience to this day when they call to mind their personal journeys through “the middle years.” Others recall uncomfortable feelings of insecurity, compounded further by the cruelty of peers wrestling through their own struggles with confidence and self-image.