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?

  • September 24, 2012
  • Other

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.

  • September 11, 2012
  • Other

Things Teachers Wished Principals Knew

Principals, pull up a chair: Here is what your teachers may or may not be telling you.

1. How much time, effort, and ‘free’ extra work they do for the school.

2. That school scores and standardized testing are not the only measure of a school’s quality.

3. How to provide fun, up-to-date training and professional development learning opportunities for everyone on the staff. And
if you can’t make it fun, then please bring bagels…food takes the edge off.

4. Principals need to have a vision for their building. They need to believe in their vision so all staff are inspired to get on board.

5. Make an effort to lead by showing not telling.

6. Technology is not just one more thing, but can actually support other initiatives you are trying to achieve.

7. The best principles believe in their teachers and have their backs.

8. Trust your teachers. Principals build the banks of the river but should then let the river flow.

9. Your teachers are the experts – build the structures to let teachers utilize their expertise.

10. Be honest and credible. Don’t blame the higher ups for YOUR policies and requirements.

11. Take the time to really get to know your teachers. They possess a wide range of skills, knowledge and experiences that are far beyond the regular curriculum.

12. It is extremely important to a school’s success that parents feel welcomed and comfortable.

13. Teachers NEED to always feel appreciated.

Online Registration – Ten Tips to Improve Registration

Every time one of your students enrolls or does online registration, you save time and money by not having to manually enter the information. In addition to the resources saved, parents enjoy the convenience of registering on their own time.

Many of our K-12 Online schools have been extremely successful in reducing the time, money, and resources they’ve used during returning student registration. We have compiled their knowledge to bring you our top ten tips to improve your back-to-school registration process.


1. Ensure easy website navigation

— Place the “Register Online??? Web button on your home page and other popular pages to easily link parents to your customized registration form —the fewer clicks to registration, the better.


2. Customize your forms

— It’s easy to create your own customized forms. These are forms you may need in addition to District standard forms and the ones created for you by K-12 Online.

— You can start from scratch or use a template from the forms library.

— Create your forms in Firefox Mozilla. It has fewer bugs than Internet Explorer.


3. Communicate with parents

— Send a Principal’s welcome back letter. Building mutual trust with parents from the start helps provide students with a strong foundation for learning throughout the year.

— Share with parents and students how easy and convenient it is for them to register online.

— Provide easy-to-follow steps for registration on your Web site.

— Include a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section or page regarding online registration on your Web site.


4. Monitor online registration

— A few days prior to “back-to-school??? registration week, monitor the online registration progress and print a report. The report will show you who has completed registration and who has not.

— Send a reminder email to students/parents who have not completed registration and remind students to bring in their signed registration form.

— If you assess fines or fees, reduce long registration lines by sending customized messages to students/parents prior to registration day allowing them to pay in advance.


BACK-TO-SCHOOL WEEK (For those schools that have back-to-school registration prior to the first day of class)


5. Provide adequate training

— Conduct a “back-to-school??? registration training meeting with staff and volunteers so that they are familiar with your system and know where to find pertinent information.

— If volunteers and sub-admin are checking in students, ensure that they have the correct role privileges. (See SCP HELP)

— Recruit adequate staff and volunteers. Provide staggered time slots and make sure the times overlap to make for an easy transition.

— Make sure your staff is familiar with the student online registration process, how to navigate the system and are comfortable explaining it to parents.

— Take note of the reduced data entry workload and valuable time saved to focus on other priorities.


6. Provide good signage

— Have adequate signage so parents know exactly where to go when they arrive.

— Have signs outside with a copy of the registration form pasted to it with instructions of where to go if they do not have the completed Registration form.


7. Simplify registration day

— If it is going to be a warm day, set-up in the gym or other inside area rather than outside and make sure you have enough space to accommodate your students and parents.

— Ask your PTA or a service group to host a refreshment station for parents. It provides a place to congregate and helps build a sense of community among parents.

— Have computers with access to the Internet and printers available (computer lab or library) for those who have not completed the registration process. Provide explicit directions on how to log into online registration through the school network.

— Have one computer with a volunteer whose sole job is to print out the Completed Registration Form for those students who completed the registration at home, but forgot to print the form….the express line!


8. Utilize your school’s Website

— Provide parents and students with easy, online access to your customized registration forms right from your website.

— Post events, announcements, etc. along with photos to stay connected with students, parents and volunteers throughout the school year.


9. Build ongoing awareness

— Whether you send a letter to parents, call them before school starts, or meet them in person, make contact early and plan to follow up with them throughout the year.

–Build general awareness through personalized emails with a clear call to action and/or relevant information.

— Segment your email list to send targeted emails/messages to parents, students or volunteers.


10. Start planning for next school year

— Review with staff ideas for improving the registration process for next year.

— Email a short survey to parents asking whether they found online registration convenient and easy to use and what changes could be made.

Celebrate Earth Day 2013 with classroom tips for going green

Happy Earth Day! We at K-12 Online are celebrating all things green with tips on how schools can become more eco-friendly.


Get Out!
Sending children outside to play can improve his or her concentration and fight climate change. A study published by researchers at the University of Illinois found that children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder who took walks outdoors raised their attentiveness scores and that kids who walked in natural settings did better than those who walked city streets.


Encourage your school to offer environment-oriented field trips and activities. Earth Force is a great resource, offering programs to help educators bring environmental stewardship topics, events and activities into the curriculum.


Grow Really Local Food.
Planting a vegetable garden is an inexpensive way to obtain fresh, pesticide-free food that hasn’t traveled hundreds of miles to reach your plate. For novice gardeners, visit your local nursery or gardening store and if your space is limited, consider the Kitchen Garden Planner from Gardener’s Supply Co. to learn how to get 50 pounds of produce from a three-by-six-foot garden. It’s a great project for students and schools can create their very own farmer’s market, helping to generate additional funds.


Reduce Your Carbon Footprint Together.

From recycling to composting to using less water, eco-friendly activities can start right in the classroom. Help students calculate their environmental footprint using The Conservation Fund’s Carbon Zero Calculator. Let kids type in the numbers, and talk with them about what their footprint means. Then involve the children in steps they can take to make it smaller.


Power Down Your PC.
The reduction of paper usage and consumption by implementing eco-friendly, cost efficient processes leads us to spend more time on our PC’s and electronic devices. However, when not in use, cut electricity costs by unplugging and/or turning them off. U.S. companies waste almost $4 billion annually on nighttime electricity for computers, according to recent studies. Instead of leaving your PC in hibernation at the end of the day, power it down.


Walk or Bike to School.
One-third of all traffic comes from commuters. Encourage your school to host a bike to school/work day for the local community (which can also be done as a fundraiser) or participate in the National Bike to School Day on May 8. Use alternative transportation when possible and if you must drive, go slower with proper tire inflation. It lowers emissions and saves fuel, tires…and lives.



Online Application and Registration Affordable for Small Schools Through K-12 Online

One of the toughest challenges in education is managing a small school. Budget cuts instituted on a statewide level affect both large and small districts alike, however, smaller schools tend to feel the crunch more when operating on an already meager budget.

In an age where everything is shifting towards digital, small schools cannot afford to fall behind. K-12 Online is the first online application and registration system to cater to small schools. Although the web-based application is designed for schools large and small, public and private, the product offers a solution for those districts and schools that otherwise would not be able to afford it.

This could not be more apparent than in a recent encounter between K-12 Online owner, Michelle Sam, and a private school principal.

Upon returning from lunch, Michelle was saddened to hear a voicemail from a small school who had a demo scheduled for later that day. The caller, who in a proactive attempt not to waste anyone’s time, apathetically decided to cancel the demo. She had just completed a demo with two other online registration companies and had come to the conclusion that the software would just be too expensive for their little school.

Michelle immediately returned the call, outlining K-12 Online’s software product and providing a rough estimate of cost. The caller was elated! She decided to go ahead with the demo and ultimately the school became K-12 Online’s newest client – the burden of affordable online application had been lifted.

“This is why we exist,??? explained Michelle Sam, owner K-12 Online, “I want small schools to have the same advantages and be able to operate with the same efficiency as larger schools and districts. Because we are committed to improving the education system as a whole, making online application affordable for small schools in the end ultimately benefit parents, teachers, administrators and students alike.???

Savvy schools know their future requires them to become more integrated with parents, teachers and students. The world we live in is becoming increasingly interconnected and small schools can’t afford to be left behind for the sake of our children, nor can they afford to pay large amounts of money to implement the necessary improvements.

K-12 Online was developed to combat the problems of school wastefulness and the excessive time and energy required to register K-12 students year after year. K-12 Online’s solution helps schools overcome online application and registration hassles by streamlining the process to be more cost effective and eco-friendly.

Finally, small schools and school districts can afford an online application, enrollment and registration system that not only saves them time, money and resources, but also helps generate money through fundraising tools.


  • April 16, 2012
  • Other

There is still money available for K-12 schools

In a recent article, “Grants for K-12 Schools do exist” we discussed the availability of grants for K-12 schools. Here is yet another example of how schools are cashing in on the obtainability of free money.

An elementary school in Costa Mesa, CA received a pot-o-gold just in time for a St.Patrick’s Day celebration. The school was presented a check for nearly $4,500 on March 16, from City National Bank to purchase new books for their library.

The donation matched the $3,000 in books the school collected at a holiday Barnes & Nobles book drive, which brought in 450 books.

The funds were awarded from City National Bank’s, Reading is the Way Up program, where since 2002 the company has donated more than 80,000 books to California, New York and Nevada schools and classroom libraries.

This donation is a boost for the school, which has recently started participating in the Accelerated Reader program, a program that tests student reading comprehension while encouraging them to read more often.

The program has increased students’ love for reading, and with the additional funds, the school will be able to purchase a variety of books that appeal to all types and levels of readers.

  • March 19, 2012
  • Other

Fundraising: How Online Registration Helps

A recent poll showed that 1 in 4 parents are considering switching their child(ren) from a traditional large public school environment to a smaller (independent, private, charter, religious) school. Parents feel that smaller schools have a clear academic focus and vision for high quality successful learning, while in the public school system, there is a greater gap in achievement between socioeconomic classes, more violence and higher dropout rates, and children can easily get lost in the large, impersonal system.

This can become tricky for smaller schools, because unlike the public school system that is required by law to accept all children, smaller schools typically have an admission and acceptance process. This increase in student applicants can be one of the most costly, outdated and environmentally wasteful processes that small schools endure every year. With the help of an online registration system, small schools have the ability to not only save money, but also generate it though fundraising.

A registration system that incorporates fundraising can prove valuable, help make money for the school, and in many cases, even pay for itself. With the economic downturn and flailing economy, it is necessary for smaller schools to identify processes that can be improved or optimized to generate funds through SAVINGS.

K-12 Online offers a complete online student registration software application that transforms the student application & enrollment process by eliminating expensive paper-based methods. Offering online access to customizable forms and reports, K-12 Online™ is an AFFORDABLE system that will help your school with fundraising in addition to saving money, time and resources!

School Management Software for private schools, charter schools and public schools

According to D’Agostino, K-12 Online, the school management software, benefitted his school in ways he never even thought of.

Principal Phil D’Agostino’s Costa Mesa High school piloted K-12 Online this past year. According to D’Agostino, K-12 Online, the school management software, benefitted his school in ways he never even thought of. Here are just a few of the benefits of this safe and secure, paperless educational technology.

The school management system is able to report the online registration progress of students. It will show which students have actually started to register. Right in the middle of the summer, we could flag students who had not started the registration process and call them. We would have a better idea of our master schedule in the middle of the summer rather than the week before school. We could then hire staff accordingly.

The online registration system also has the ability to send messages to the safe and secure parent and student portal so when students logged in to enroll, they could take care of business before going through the registration line during registration week such as pay for lost text and library books which can be a huge savings for schools.

When students return during registration day, they only have one signed form to return. It’s virtually paperless. The school management software has the ability to check-in students so we lined up 5 terminals and had staff accept the form and check them in. The students then proceeded to pick up their ASB items, take their school picture and pick up their books. It was so fast, we had no lines at 9.00am, a half hour into registration. The system once again was able to report who had actually checked in so follow-up calls could be made.

This school management system has made registration so efficient that next year, the number of registration days will be reduced, saving the school money and allowing the staff to get back to their offices and prepare for the start of school!