Recently I joined the Adult Basic Education team at Wenatchee Valley College teaching reading, writing, and math. I was a little nervous at first because I was facing a room full of students ranging in age from 20 to 67 and skills from 1st grade to college. Fortunately, 40+ years of teaching prepared me for the challenge of individualizing lessons, teaching, and approaches. What I wasn’t prepared for was the commitment, enthusiasm, motivation, and respect these students displayed.
Another semester is on the books and already there are angry parents and disappointed kids. So I thought it pertinent to review some of the things we need to do to remove the surprise from report cards.
I write a lot about problems: challenging students, challenging relationships, challenging situations. I hope these articles help and welcome specific questions. But this week I’d like to focus on a couple of students who have challenged themselves to be the best that they can be. Names, grade, gender have been changed for the sake of anonymity.
I have a student whose father is seriously ill and hospitalized as a result. My student whom I shall name Fred, has been visibly shaken by this. Fred still manages to attend school and keep up with his work. But it’s taking a toll. Every time his classmates ask about his dad or express concern or consolation, Fred visibly winces, but answers and appreciates all concerns.
This week I met with a mom who was concerned that her son was failing freshman English because he didn’t complete a required book report. The book was too difficult, but when her son tried to change books, he was told there were no other choices. Then he went to several of his teachers seeking help. They couldn’t help, her son explained, because the book was too difficult, even for them. So he didn’t turn in a report and now is failing the class. Is anyone feeling the breeze from ...
I leave for work each day around 7:15. It’s still dark at that time, but I see kids walking to school. Today there were 2 little girls, probably 9 or 10 years old, walking on snow-covered sidewalks – alone. And this only a few days after an 11-year old was almost grabbed on the college campus.
One of the best habits a person can develop is effective use of a planner. A planner, used correctly, will practically eliminate stress, last-minute chaos, accidental oversights. And it’s never too soon to introduce the concept to your kids.
A reader asks: “We had our children a little later than most of our friends, so while ours are still in elementary school, we see some of the challenges our friends have with their middle school children. Is there something we should be doing now to avoid the problems later?”
Report cards from the first quarter are arriving home, so I thought it might be a good time to review some things your family can do to avoid the surprise in the mail.One of the greatest academic frustrations we face with our kids is seeing that report card with “fails to turn in homework” marked as the reason for a low grade. It’s frustrating because we know our children can do better. It’s frustrating because we know that homework is often “automatic credit.” And it’s frustrating because our students have ...
Recently a parent asked me to prioritize school, family, sports, and other activities. I hesitated as I carefully crafted my reply. I’ve been asked the question hundreds of times over my many years in education. I know what’s coming.
Communicating with our children, particularly our teenagers, can be a challenge. Knowing about learning styles can help. Let’s say, for instance, that your child wants something and knows it won’t be an easy sell. Let’s look for a moment at how they are likely to approach you and persuade you.
One of the most interesting things about learning styles is that each has unique personality traits as well. Visual learners, for instance, are observers. Because they are watching people’s actions and events unfold before they commit, they are often perceived as shy, perhaps even snooty, and cautious.
We have long known that students learn differently, but until the middle of the 20th century, there was little documented research. Now there are tons of studies, books, and advice on the subject. However, it is always my goal to provide you with information and resources that you can implement quickly, easily, and yet successfully. So subscribing to the philosophy that simpler is better, let’s talk about the three main learning styles: visual, auditory, and tactile. These will be discussed in the next several articles.
It’s time once again for parent-teacher conferences, so I offer some advice, some tips, and some encouragement. For your child to succeed in school, you must be involved, and conferences are one way to make that happen. So the most important advice I offer is you must attend. Even if you feel everything is going well and you are 100% satisfied with what you are seeing and hearing about school, go to the conference.
At the beginning of every unit, our biology teacher gives the students a study guide. Every question on the test is covered on the study guide, often using the exact same wording, often listed in the same order. He also tells them that if their study guide is complete, he will go over it with them for accuracy and – this is the killer – he will go over the REAL test a day or two before they have to take it. Yes, that’s what I said! He will go ...
Most of us now have a week of school under our belts; the routine is setting in; homework should be coming home; the nerves should be settling down. If you haven’t already, have some specific conversations about what’s happening in school. Who is your favorite teacher? Who is the least favorite? What are you most excited about? Are there any new kids in school? How are they fitting in? Be prepared with a bunch of follow-up questions, starting with “Why?” Make the answers be specific.
We’ve finished those exciting first few days. Our kids have all the classroom rules and routines under our belts. When we return to classes on Tuesday, we’re ready to roll! Here are some more things you can do to get the year off to a good start. I will elaborate on many of them in the next couple of weeks.
The start of school is only a week away in most districts, so I thought it wise to revisit "The Coolidge Family Rule." If you didn't try it last year, I urge you to do so this year. And I'd love feedback on how it worked for your student.