Tag: teaching

Helping Students Develop a Unique Mindset and the Ability to Think Critically is the Calling of Every Teacher

Effectively motivating your students and providing them with engaging educational programs and activities is at the forefront of every teacher’s mind. However, it would not be beneficial to teach them so that they are unable to learn on their own. Teachers should obviously aid in a student’s learning, but also help in the development of a unique mindset and the ability to think for oneself, thus being able to learn outside of just a classroom setting.

Doing this can be somewhat challenging, as you’ll essentially have to “fool” them into taking part in activities that almost force education. This, however, sounds much harsher than what you can actually do. Inspire unique thought by asking open ended questions and encouraging all to take part in a discussion. Assign projects that require students to combine their current sets of skills with new ones learned over time. Develop a framework within your regular teaching schedule that does not take away from current methods, but adds a twist to them every now and then.

One great way to develop unique mindsets in the classroom is to ask your students to theorize something. This can be done over a short or long period of time in which their theories may prove true, or false. Have them test and modify these stances as things progress. This is a great activity to expand one’s knowledge and learn that a theory is just that; something that can be proven false no matter how passionate one feels about it.

Encourage reading, but do not demand it. Younger students are often forced to read, whether it be sections of a science book, or a certain number of chapters in a fictional work. This poses the risk of creating disdain towards the idea, making children and young adults unwilling to read during their own time. While certain activities and classwork will require reading to some extent, explain the benefits of doing so on your own. Allowing your students to read without any external pressure can do wonders for their classroom engagement in addition to improving brain power.

Create activities in which your students must work together to achieve an end goal. Collaboration is a great way to learn one’s own value in any given situation. Rather than creating some type of hierarchy, assign equal roles and allow your students to enjoy their unique value applied to the task at hand; another great strategy in building confidence as well.

Teach them to embrace any mistakes made. Almost no task will be done perfectly throughout their education, and that is perfectly acceptable. It’s an age-old saying that holds true merit: “Everybody makes mistakes.” To discredit yourself because of any type of mistake is to demean your own worth. Teach your students to make these mistakes without pointing any fingers, and explain the benefits of allowing oneself to stride through missed opportunities. To dwell on a mistake provides no value, but they should learn from any made.

Though these are just a few strategies you can introduce to your students to help them develop unique mindsets, they can be extremely valuable both in, and outside of the classroom. As Alice Wellington Rollins once said, “The test of a good teacher is not how many questions he can ask his pupils that they will answer readily, but how many questions he inspires them to ask him which he finds it hard to answer.”

Education Research: What to Know for the New Year

Educators and those within the education industry are well aware of the constant changes and innovations that occur on a yearly basis. New studies may be released promoting certain teaching strategies as opposed to others, or detailing the types of environments children seem to thrive in that contradict a traditional setting. Regardless, professionals with years of experience under their belts understand the most important aspects, and those that are the most truthful. Below are a few findings Chalkbeat has compiled that all educators should take with them heading into 2018.


Teacher Certifications Come with Ramifications


Vetting teachers before hiring is obviously a crucial aspect of the employment process in education. However, overly strict rules often limit adequate, trustworthy teachers from joining, and thus benefiting the school they wish to work at. Similarly, certifications exclude teachers of color, which is often extremely detrimental in the sense that students of color have been shown to benefit more from educators of the same ethnicity.


Another downside of certifications is that they are often state-regulated, which means teachers are very limited in terms of where they want to teach. While it may be rare for an educator to move across states, the option should always exist. Certifications effectively render that impractical.


Unions may not be beneficial


Steven Virgadamo, with 35 plus years involved in implementing school improvement programs in nearly all 50 states, believes that having a group of educators more interested in protecting their jobs can sometimes be counterproductive to student performance, unless of course job security is tied directly to student test performance. The needs of the students and their families should never be placed secondary to the needs of the teachers.


State Tests Show Results


Mandatory statewide testing has always been seen as a somewhat controversial practice, but they have been shown to provide results. The University of Chicago found that students who took state tests later showed improved grades, a higher acceptance rate among colleges, and a consistent college tenure. But, with more testing came more displeased students, suggesting that teachers who may be great at improving test scores may lack in providing a happier educational environment.


Staying ahead of the curve in educational trends can be difficult, but knowing what works best, and what has worked in the past can equip teachers with the necessary tools to help their students succeed, as well as improve their personal teaching methods.

8 Ways Early Childhood Teachers Can Help Ensure a Smooth Transition for Students from Home to the First Few Days of a New School Year

teachersIn the south, Midwest and west coast the new school year is already in full swing. The new school year in the northeast corridor is just beginning this week. Transitions are exciting opportunities for children to learn and grow. Parents and early childhood professionals share a role in making children feel safe and secure as they move to new educational settings. Of course, such milestones in children’s lives can cause anxiety, too. Strengthening the ties between educational professionals and families will help create smooth transitions for both adults and children. Making a smooth transition between home and school requires teachers and early childhood professionals to help children feel good about themselves and learn to trust other adults and children. Helping children adapt to new situations can ease parents’ minds and give them a chance to become involved in their children’s education.

Over the past several weeks, Steve Virgadamo offered suggestions for parents as to how to ease the transition from the lazy, hazy days of summer to a more rigorous and structured day in an academic setting. Below, Steven offers practical advice as to early childhood professionals can do their part to help each student transition smoothly from summer to the first few days of school.

8 Ways Early Childhood Teachers Can Help Ensure a Smooth Transition for Students from Home to the First Few Days of a New School Year.

  1. Set up an area for photos of parents and family members that children may “visit” throughout the day. Also, include items that reflect the cultural experiences of the children to help promote a sense of mutual respect and understanding. Children, just like adults, need time to adjust to new people and situations.
  2. Hold an orientation for children and parents. Small groups encourage children to get to know each other.
  3. Experience helps to ease transitions but change can still be stressful. Patience and understanding on the part of parents, caregivers, and teachers help children learn how to approach new situations with confidence—a skill that helps them make successful transitions throughout their lives.
  4. Show children around the new school or program, introducing them to other adults who are there to help them become acclimated.
  5. Make an effort to get to know each individual child as quickly as possible. Parents can provide information about children’s likes, dislikes, and special interests.
  6. Welcome suggestions from families, particularly those of children with special needs. Parents can offer specific suggestions they have found useful for their child and advice on classroom setup and modifications.
  7. Make sure activities are developmentally appropriate for children. Activities that are interesting, challenging, and doable will help children feel comfortable in their new setting.
  8. Work with your administrator to have a cry area for parents – remember the first day of school can be as hard or harder time of separation anxiety on some parents than their child. Allowing parents to gather for awhile proves to be an opportunity for the school administrator to befriend new parents.

Thank you for reading!

Steve Virgadamo