Monthly Archives: September 2012

Judging by your track record

Year after year, schools enroll new students. For public schools, the process is a little less rigorous, but for most private schools, each student has to go through some sort of application process that determines their ability to succeed in that environment. An essay, teacher recommendations…something to help determine if they are “acceptable”. Whether public or private, all students start the school year off with a track record – all the facts that make up the student’s academic story.

But do educators equally judge the students they serve? More often than not, those with acceptable track records are not judged on their past, but on their potential. Interestingly enough, those with tarnished records are not judged on their potential but on their past. Is that fair to the student? Don’t all students have the potential to succeed? Does a student’s track record measure who they will turn out to be or do they grow to measure up to their track record?

In any case, a student’s file might suggest potential, but it doesn’t determine success. Educators play a huge role in helping to shape the success of a child. We’ve heard multiple stories from successful adults about the “teacher that changed their life” – the educator that saw their potential and helped them realize it, too.

Although difficult, teachers must see the potential in every child they serve. They must see that there is room for growth in each child in order to believe that there is greater potential. And more than that, they must make the child believe it! A fixed mindset cannot function in a world of potential because the fixed mindset doesn’t value the search for better.

Potential includes the achievements just beyond what a student has already done. However, to truly work towards attaining that next best level of growth, one needs to value getting to the next level more than they value the one they have already attained. This does not always come natural for a child. Helping a child discover his or her potential is an exercise in finding and pushing their limits.

Success can only be achieved through effort, willpower, resilience, perseverance, and grit. Yes, grades and test scores are important, but without the aforementioned, one cannot consistently find success nor discover their true potential.

Many will argue that it’s the parents’ job and that the seed of success is planted at home. The reality is that not every student has the most ideal, supportive family life. Statistics show troubling numbers of children nationwide who don’t receive even the basic needs of survival, such as food and shelter, from their “home life”. When a child’s reality is a life you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy or they are living through a situation you can’t begin to fathom because it seems so out of the realm of civility, how do you expect them to thrive and believe in themselves at school? The process to begin tackling these issues is so multifaceted, and of course there is not one concrete solution, so as an educator what do you do? Do you just throw your hands up and say oh well if they are not getting the support they need at home, there is nothing I can do about it at school?

Tomorrow you will get another chance to help your students discover their own potential. Will you be the inspiration they need?

Let us know. What do you do to inspire your students to reach their potential?

21 Signs You’re a 21st Century School

1. Your book report list…includes a selection of e-books. amazon.com

2. Your students work on collaborative projects…with students in Australia. epals.com

3. You give weekly class updates and homework clues…via your blog.

4. You prepare substitutes with detailed directions…via Podcasts. YouTube

5. You use a paperless, online system… for registration and enrollment. k12online

6. You stream live webcams in the classroom… for a first-hand look at places, nature, and animals. Earthcam.com

7. You realize the importance of professional development…and read blogs, join online communities, and tweet for self-development.

8. Your students share stories of their summer vacation…through an online photo repository. Shutterfly

9. You teach your students not to be bullies…or cyberbullies. stopbullying.gov

10. You have your morning coffee…while checking your RSS feed.

11. You take your students on a field trip to the Great Wall of China…and never leave your classroom. trip list

12. Students are involved in global classroom projects…focused on the environment. Global Classrooms

13. You are remodeling… to create environmentally friendly, energy efficient, “green??? schools.

14. To help with tight classroom budgets…you utilize many of the free resources available on the web. free.ed.gov, discoveryeducation.com

15. You require your students to conduct an interview…via Skype or FaceTime.

16. You are a part of the 21st century education…paradigm shift!

17. Your curriculum is project-based…rather than textbook-driven. project based learning

18. Students are required to submit a research report… on video.

19. You share lesson plans with other teachers…from around the globe. teachingthatsticks

20. When working on a research project…textbooks are not the first source of reference.

21. Your response to people who say…It’s impossible, do you really think you can reform education? “I think I could, if I only knew how to begin. For, you see, so many out-of-the-way things had happened lately that Alice had begun to think that very few things indeed were really impossible.??? –Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Every great achievement was once impossible until someone set a goal to make it a reality.

Successful Schools: A Test Score Doesn’t Tell the Tale

Americans are looking for schools they can trust! In 2012, a Gallup poll revealed that confidence in public schools is at a 40-year low — only 29% of respondents expressed “a great deal” of confidence in the public education system.

An increasing number of students are opting out of their neighborhood schools and into the chaotic, developing marketplace of school choice. Parents, the consumers in this marketplace, are not automatically moving towards private school as an option anymore.

They have become more research-oriented and tenacious in weighing their options. Charter schools, other public schools within a district, Montessori schools, religious-based schools, and in some cases even home schooling have all become viable options for parents trying to find a healthy, high-functioning learning environment for the education of their child – all in all, a school that is successful.

But the elusive recipe for school success is extremely difficult to convey simply and clearly. Yes, test scores are a valuable measurement, but in many cases they are overvalued.

One paragraph doesn’t tell the story of a book. Similarly, one test score doesn’t tell the tale of a school. Using one tool that is as limited as a one or two day test doesn’t accurately portray schools.

Although test scores are important, rarely should they be the sole determinant for examining what makes a school successful. A school is a cohesive entity that relies on many factors to ensure a better education for all students.

Over the next eight months, K-12 Online will conduct an independent study identifying and discussing the characteristics of What Makes A School Successful’. Here are just a few of the topics we will be discussing: Technology Integration inside and outside of the classroom; First Impressions and how to get parents to choose your school; Parent Involvement and creating a sense of community.

Research shows that there is not a single thing that schools can do to ensure high student performance, however, research also shows that high performing schools tend to have similar characteristics that make them successful.

The study will include research, case studies, and interviews with schools that do well in each of the identified areas. Watch for our email and blog post highlighting the first characteristic of a successful school: leadership.

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