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Dare to Dream? The Scariest Part of Being a Kid Today

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Originally posted on ojlowe:

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Such a simple question to be followed up with a conversation with a child that could last for hours if you wanted it to. My mother tells me that I wanted to be a garbage man (maybe because she used to always tease me that Grouch from Sesame Street was my true father), an astronaut, an inventor, and a race car driver, but most of all, I wanted to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Personally, I remember having the dreams to be many different things, and the encouragement to become all of them……That is until around 8th Grade.


It is clear to me that from 8th grade on, the thoughts and dreams about my future was systematically redirected by the adults around me. My dream world that allowed me to believe I could achieve anything had slowly transformed into a reality…

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For Every Parent Who has a Child

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Simply because we need the reminder! A child’s life is THAT IMPORTANT!

Originally posted on ojlowe:

Bullying is no longer in the mass media and has taken a back seat to other issues plaguing the United States, like Teacher Evaluations and Standardized Testing. Kids of all ages are now left to fend for themselves. As America changes its focus to what ever the mass media chooses, more young kids will have to wake up to a another day of being a victim. Sadly, it is our American Society that continues to fail our children. The opportunity was there to help. The push from celebrities and politicians, the coverage from mass media, and even an emotional movie to show the damage that is being done. So what happened?

America happened. After hearing about bullying for over a year, America’s lack of focus to support its children, its future, kicked in. We became immune to the stories, and emotionless to the suffering these kids go through. We are…

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3 Issues of “Age Appropriate” when it comes to Technology?

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Originally posted on ojlowe:

A close friend and colleague posted the following which led to an interesting conversation and plenty of eye-opening feedback:

Screenshot 2015-01-17 12.12.16

In today’s ever-evolving world of technology, with the ability to bring information and knowledge to its user- What is Age Appropriate when it comes to Technology? The following are 3 issues to contemplate when providing technology into the hands of your kids.

Identify The Benefit of Use

“I give it to them to keep them busy and out of my hair,” is NOT an acceptable reason in terms of good parenting. Sorry-but there must be a purpose for your child to have a tablet or smartphone. Anytime you put technology, or anything new, into the hands of a child, they will be engaged. Something as simple as a new pen can be just as engaging as a tablet. Granted, the tablet is visually much more stimulating. However, depending on the situation, the…

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The Biggest Bully in the School?

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This past weekend had an interesting conversation brought up by my son about events that are taking place in the classroom. Mind you that he is in 6th Grade, and we all know what the Middle School atmosphere is like with all of the hormones and maturity changes the students are going through. So it was no surprise as I heard him talk about books being picked up from students’ desks and being dropped onto the floor for no particular reason. For him to add that there are mood swings where individuals are nice one minute, then raising their voice in accusation of students doing wrong the next minute is also not alarming. However, if you learned that these among other actions were perpetrated by the teacher, would this surprise you?

Surprisingly, I don’t believe that most of us would be surprised to learn this, and as a matter of fact, we would all be able to flood our memories of teachers from our past who felt the need to incorporate these tactics into their own classrooms. Is it simply the position of power that allows for these teachers to get away with such action? If a student in the room was to walk around and dump another student’s books onto the floor would this be tolerated? Would it be tolerated for a fellow classmate to voice derogatory remarks and accusations towards students in the class? So why is it tolerated that a teacher be allowed to do so?

There is nothing wrong with having high standards and expectations from students in terms of proper behavior, and I for one, support and encourage it. However, we should not lose sight on the fact that we are talking about kids, and kids are not perfect. There should be an expectation that kids will test the boundaries of the rules, and will also simply make a mistake and break rules at some point. This is an expectation that all teachers, administrators, and parents should have regarding their kids. They should also expect that students who do break the rules need to have consequences for their actions! I believe we all agree with this point.

If you have ever had to present or speak in front of a group of teachers, you have definitely experienced the lack of respect they show upon themselves. Ironically, teachers will be disrespectful, as if imitating their students, by displaying the same behavior they despise from their own students within their own classrooms. If a presenter walked around the room taking the teacher belongings from the tables and dumping them on the floor, how do you think the audience would react? What if the presenter called out an audience member for not paying attention, or for talking during his or her presentation?

So then WHY is a teacher allowed to behave inappropriately without the same expectations? Even as the responsible adult in the room, it can be expected that he or she will make a mistake in judgement when dealing with the classroom environment every day of the school year. Should a lapse in judgement happen, everyone would agree that there would be consequences to be accepted. Why does this lapse in judgement have to be a major incident? Why do we consider actions like: Dumping books on the floor, throwing erasers, name calling, false accusations, crumpling up a student’s work, kicking book bags, etc- to be acceptable behavior from our teachers? Teachers are to be the leaders of the classroom and school environment. Teachers are to be held to a higher level of respect. Allowing such petty behavior to be displayed by a teacher in the classroom should never be tolerated. The classroom should be a safe haven for each and every student to learn and pursue their education! Don’t just leave it up to the students to speak up, if you know of a colleague that is tarnishing the reputation of being an educator, speak up!

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Have We Lost Our Digital Minds?

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What if you were told that students in our educational system are lost? What if you were told that teachers in our educational system are lost? What if you were told that our educational leaders are also lost? Would you believe it? There has been a movement to improve the American Educational System for some time now, yet it seems that our system would be a direct reflection of a classroom that existed 10, 15, or even 20 years ago! Is any of this new, or earth shattering to hear?

What has truly been lost is the knowledge of what the digital age can actually provide. For many district personnel, the focus has been on infrastructure, PCs, Laptops, tablets, SmartBoards, access, etc. While it is important to make sure that decisions being made on these items are vetted, these are decisions that will not truly affect the success of the classroom. These are decisions being made on the “tools” to be used in the classroom. Yes, we must equip our students and teachers properly in the move to a Blended Learning Environment, but we must not lose focus on the biggest change that technology provides to the classroom. We must identify that the move to technology is not as linear as moving from a pencil to a pen.

The discussion that has been lost needs to be centered around how students are able to acquire knowledge. With today’s technology, the teacher does not have to be the center of information. Anyone using technology properly has an infinite supply of knowledge at their fingertips. The key word being “Properly”! Whereas students and teachers in the past were limited to texts, self-knowledge, and the knowledge of colleagues- Today, students and teachers alike have access to the same knowledge base through the internet. The transformation that classrooms today must make is to allow and educate students on who, what, when, where, and how to gather and research the information they are inquiring to learn. The teacher must transform him or herself to become a facilitator of learning, rather than position themselves as the center of knowledge.

It is not necessary to develop the futuristic classroom that many are seeking to bring a Blended learning Class to your students. It is, however, necessary to provide our teachers with Professional Development around using technology in the classroom, and around how to facilitate students vetting the instant information they receive properly. There is no reason why a classroom should not have the capability to enable every student to learn by means best suited for them individually, while also allowing a teacher to guide whole group lessons. The technology tools along with the access to infinite information will support a great teacher in enabling life-long learners in their classroom.

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5 Steps Parents can take for a Successful School Year

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With all of my former colleagues heading back in for another exciting, inspirational school year, I feel it necessary to advise my fellow parents on some steps to make this year a success for their kids. Every year, both student and teacher enter the classroom on a clean slate, but it will not be long before the hazards of a “Bad School Year” become apparent (Pun Intended). Here are 5 simple guidelines to help avoid it.

  1. Stop thinking a “C” represents Failure- over the last 10-15 years, there has been a shift in the mentality of the grading system in schools. Along the way, the prolific idea of getting Straight A’s became the movement of the norm. Getting an A used to be reserved for students who went above and beyond the actual work needed to be completed. Today, however, students are receiving As just for completing the work on the average requirements- yes, AVERAGE?!  Should your child receive a B or C from this year’s teacher, do not jump to the conclusion that your child is failing, even if they received straight As the year prior. The work they did the year prior has no indication on the work being asked of them this year, nor does it have any indication on the requirements of the current teacher. The expectations of each teacher will vary, which does not mean that one teacher is better than the other. It simply means that your child will have to reach or exceed the new expectations set forth by their current teacher. Be ready to explain that receiving a B from Mr. High Expectations, is better than the A given to them by Mr. Easy. Remember that a C represents “average”- as defined, 1. the typical or normal quality, degree.  Is it really a negative to be of typical or normal quality? If you honestly believe that an average student deserves an A, then I would suggest that your standards need to be raised.
  2. Open your mind to the possibility that it may be “your child”- I have had a running joke with one of my former colleagues for over 10 years because of these situations. Her child happened to be attending the same school we worked in, and a teacher approached about a situation involving her child. In a classic parental reaction, the exact words of…”What? Oh, no, not my child!” were exhaled. Now in defense of my colleague, her child was and is a poster child of excellence, and admirable qualities, however in this instance, it was her child. The situation was handled accordingly, after retracting said words, because of the willingness of the parent to trust the teacher. Many situations are mishandled or blown out of proportion due to the fact that as a parent, you choose to side with your child without trusting the teacher or the facts in each particular case. Yes, there are cases where a teacher has developed a vendetta on a particular child or parent, but these are extremely rare and have usually developed over time (showing a pattern). Teachers are in the classroom to teach and expect the conduct of their students to respectfully allow every individual their right to an education. The goal of every teacher is to create a safe and encouraging environment for all, and if your child is disrupting this, it needs to be dealt with. Trust me, no teacher is ever excited to make a disciplinary call to any parent.  They are made as a last resort, and your support is greatly appreciated! If upon receiving such a call regarding discipline, your reaction was to state “My child already informed me of what happened….” and you then ask “What did YOU do?”, then you are part of the problem.
  3. The way you learned is not the way your child will learn- First, let’s simply acknowledge the known fact that all students do not learn the same way. Good. So what would make you think that your child must learn in the same fashion that you did? We must also acknowledge the fact that education is transforming to meet the needs of today’s students for tomorrow’s careers. We must also allow the education system to do its job and educate our children. Using Math as a prime example- simply memorizing that 2 x 2=4 is no longer good enough. Students are being asked to understand why this is so. Students are required to provide the correct answer, however, they are now being given the opportunity to learn and understand the different options that lead to the correct answers. It is similar to the change in parenting where you actually explain an answer to your child, rather than express “Because I said so!” Should your child have some homework that you do not understand, simply document this in a note to the teacher to inform them of the troubles your child had. Please do not force them to complete the assignment the way you learned, as it limits your child’s ability to expand their learning and understand the lesson at hand.
  4. Your child’s grades are not the best indicator for future success- If you have spent any time on FaceBook, you will see many parents announce and exclaim the success of their children by posting their report cards every marking period. Every parent should be proud of the work their child is doing, but the report card is not the best indicator of success. As a matter of fact, every teacher will tell you that the report card actually holds little value, other than to update a child’s progress. I had a conversation once with a mother who claimed that because I gave her child a B, I would cause her to not qualify for Harvard! Folks, if you believe that Harvard is worried about what your child received in 4th Grade, YOU are one of THOSE parents! The best indicators of your child’s success will be based upon 2 ingredients: Effort and Social Skills! The level of your child- above, average, below- is irrelevant. You must focus on the effort your child is putting forth to improve. No student is getting paid to learn, but if they were, their grade does NOT indicate they are learning. Learning is indicated by the gaining of knowledge from current levels. Thus, your focus needs to be on the effort to gain knowledge, not that your child is an A student. Second, and most importantly, your child’s social skills- or lack of them- will be a huge factor of success or failure in the future. The world is built on communication skills, and the ability to work with others. Whether in a partnership, or in a group, the jobs of tomorrow will demand that your child work well with others. Let’s be honest, even if you are extremely intelligent, you will have a hard time keeping a job if you can’t relate to others. Do your part as a parent and make sure it is……not my kid!
  5. Be Thankful for the teacher- Whether or not you agree with the policies, the grades, the discipline, or the work- just be thankful that the teacher is willing to place him or herself in front of your child every day to do their best to educate them. To think that every year will be a blessed year for your child is impossible. There will be teachers who make a lifetime impact, and unfortunately, there will be teachers who make education a nightmare (Hopefully not). Either way, the year will be a learning experience for your child and can provide them with a foundation to be successful in the job market. We will all have bosses that impact us positively and negatively just the same. Make sure to support your teacher irregardless of your personal feelings towards them. A teacher’s job is hard enough, and the last thing any teacher wants is to have issues with parents. What other career is being guided by politicians at the federal, state, and local level; Departments of Education at the federal, state, and local level; So-Called Educational Leaders; Billionaires and their Foundations; Administrators at state, local, district, and school levels; and Board of Educations? Most of whom have little to no experience actually running a classroom. Support your teachers, support your schools, and try not to be that parent! In the end, every teacher wants to help every student- no matter what you do as a parent. Trust me though, you will get a lot more from a teacher you support than from a teacher you are fighting against.

Please talk to your child every day and encourage them to simply “Try your Best!” Keep your expectations high, but also be willing to explain why you are still proud of your child’s effort even if they are not a straight A student. As a teacher, I have so many more stories of inspiration from my C students, as many A students didn’t have to work as hard. If your child is PROUD of their effort, as the parent you need to be PROUD of your child! Work together with your child’s teacher to make the most of the school year, and the results will come. Your child will never give 100% effort to learn if they know you do not support their teacher. That responsibility falls squarely on your shoulders! Best of luck to a great year. Remember that every year, every week, every day can be a fresh start to their education!

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“One More Day” Before School Starts- Inspiring School District

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Need some INSPIRATION with only a day remaining before students come to your Class?

The Daily Grind can bring the spirit of teachers down, it is great to see a district that keeps the atmosphere fresh and engaging for their staff.  Great Job! Would love to see the Mid-Year Inspiration and, of course, the End of the Year Celebration put on in this district!


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