Jackie Hicks

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So far Jackie Hicks has created 5 blog entries.

Education Reform: the Missing Ingredient…

For decades, there has been one educational reform movement after another.  Many of these movements even advocate similar best practices.  Mostly, however, these reform movements fail.  We think that is because there is one crucial piece that repeatedly gets left out of the formula.  This missing piece is the significance of student-teacher relationships and their impact on learning, and what’s needed to improve those relationships.  Adding in this key ingredient is what is necessary for our system to produce its desired educational result: all children receiving a quality education that prepares them well for college and/or career.

THE PROBLEM
In classrooms, a significant percentage of learning is dependent upon the relationship teachers have with their students.  People need relationships and connection; however, most people have difficulty with relationships, even finding them painful and stressful.  As children we learn to relate to others initially through our parents and families.  People often carry unresolved baggage from their familial relationships that affects their current relationships, both at work, as well as in their personal lives.

For teachers this can be highly problematic, given our understanding that much of the learning in class occurs through the student/teacher relationship.  Even the best teachers are faced with some students who are difficult to reach – a good teacher can reach all of their students some of the time, and some of their students all of the time, but it is a rare teacher who can reach all of their students all of the time.  And unfortunately, in their credentialing education, most teachers do not learn the necessary skills for building effective relationships with their students, parents and colleagues. Thus a gap remains between student and teacher, resulting in disconnection, alienation, class disruptions […]

By | October 2nd, 2014|Education, From the Staff, PCA, Teacher, Workshop|0 Comments

What makes a Teacher Exceptional?

When you observe an exceptional teacher’s classroom, one of the first things you notice is how engaged the students are, how well everyone seems to be getting along, and that the students would probably do anything for that teacher!  Think about your favorite teachers. Chances are they were passionate, fun, knowledgeable, as well as fair.  And you knew you were important to them!  If they made a mistake, they admitted it, and if you made a mistake, it was easily forgiven.  In fact, mistakes were simply viewed as learning opportunities, and nobody was made “wrong.”

Exceptional teachers are often inspired by the teachers they admired from their past.  For exceptional teachers, teaching isn’t just their job, it’s their calling.  And because they are creative and inventive with curriculum, they are able to engage and motivate their students.  Their classrooms are welcoming, safe places to learn.

In speaking with teacher of the year award winners and nominees, one key element of success that they all mention is how important it is to have great relationships with their students.  Likewise, when students are asked what qualities they love about their favorite teachers, they say, in addition to being fun, knowledgeable and fair, that they have “real” relationships with these teachers, and that they are treated with respect, and as a person with unique qualities.

At the end of the year teachers are evaluated for their performance. Exceptional teachers are self-evaluating and reflective of their own performance.  They are able to acknowledge themselves for the things they did well, and to set goals for improving the things they want to do better.  They seek feedback from their students, parents, colleagues and administrators to continue improving and growing.

We offer our workshop […]

By | September 1st, 2014|Education, Teacher, Workshop|0 Comments

7 Deadly Signs of Teacher Burnout

Have you “lost that lovin’ feeling” for the very job that is your passion and your calling? Do you find yourself engaging in the following signs of burnout?

  1. Taking shortcuts with lesson plans.
  2. Arriving late and leaving early.
  3. Engaging in sarcasm and hostile humor.
  4. Avoiding staff meetings and parent meetings.
  5. Frequently calling in sick on Mondays and Fridays whether real or not.
  6. Hanging out with the whiners and moaners complaining about students, parents, and the administration.
  7. Blaming students, colleagues, parents and administration for what’s not working at school.

Sometimes teachers find themselves hating the job they used to love without seeing it coming.  All of a sudden you find you are experiencing signs of burnout.  The causes of burnout are cumulative. We can all recover from a few bad days.  However, when feelings of dissatisfaction about our own or other people’s performance begin to take hold and go unaddressed, we start to isolate ourselves from others.  We feel overwhelmed by the tasks at hand, unappreciated for our contributions, and powerless to change what is not working in the system. Lack of respect and lack of acknowledgment from students, parents, peers and administrators leaves us uncertain about the future of our jobs and careers.  Conflicts with students, parents, peers and administrators that remain unresolved build into feelings of failure, negative self-talk and even depression. Perhaps you are a teacher who is chasing your own tale.

There is a way back and you don’t have to do it alone.  Start by remembering when you loved being a teacher:

  1. Make a list of all the reasons you became a teacher in the first place.
  2. Start hanging out with teachers who are enthusiastic about their students and encouraging about their work.
  3. Make time for yourself—exercise, meditate, pamper yourself, eat healthy foods, […]
By | June 16th, 2014|Education, Teacher, Workshop|1 Comment

Why is the US ranked 17th in the World, educationally?

How did the United States get so sideways with its educational system?

I’m not sure exactly what caused the U.S. to lose ground educationally, but there are a number of common denominators among the top ranking countries that relate to their success. Although they have very different cultures and governments, the top ten BEST ranked countries in education are all committed to educating their children as their highest priority.

Finland and South Korea, ranked 1st and 2nd in the world, are culturally, socially, and politically unalike. Yet in both, parents have grand expectations for their children; education is well funded; and more importantly, teachers are held in high regard – trusted to do their job.

In Finland, teachers would not tolerate being evaluated by the standardized test scores used in the U.S. to measure student and teacher success. “While Finland and South Korea differ greatly in methods of teaching and learning, they hold the top spots because of a shared social belief in the importance of education and its ‘underlying moral purpose’.”

Dr. Sahlberg, of the Finnish Ministry of Education, made no effort to hide what he felt were clear distinctions between the current Finnish and American approaches to education – he remarked, for example, on the disturbing “deprofessionalization” of teaching.

If we are honest about our priorities in the U.S., we must admit that our emphasis is on Military and National Security, not on education.

finland-map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EDUCATION’S TOP 20:

1. Finland
2. South Korea
3. Hong Kong
4. Japan
5. Singapore
6. UK
7. Netherlands
8. New Zealand
9. Switzerland
10. Canada
11. Ireland
12. Denmark
13. Australia
14. Poland
15. Germany
16. Belgium
17. USA
18. Hungary
19. Slovakia
20. Russia

By | March 1st, 2014|Education, Teacher|2 Comments

School Violence and What Constitutes a Safe School?

Students report that clear plastic backpacks, metal detectors and armed guards in school do not make them feel safer.  They feel like prisoners in their own school.  So what does it mean to feel safe in school?  It is easier to say what makes school feel unsafe:   physical abuse and violence, verbal taunting, ridicule, threats, spreading rumors, and humiliation, all of which can now take place more publicly and to a much wider degree, thanks to modern technology.  Cell phones, texting, YouTube and Facebook now allow us to torment each other instantly worldwide.   Most students have been both perpetrator and victim to some degree of these behaviors in the course of their school careers.  So we all are capable of making someone else miserable and know what it feels like to have it done to us.  When students don’t feel safe in the school environment, classroom, lunch room, playground, corridors, restrooms, stairwells, after school waiting for the bus or on the public transportation home, they can’t fully engage in learning.  They are either preoccupied with an earlier incident or thinking about how to avoid a future perceived torment.

Most adults believe that the older the students are the less they need (or want) adult help.  It isn’t true. Even adults have difficulty dealing with bullying and intimidating behavior. Just look at our U.S. Congress.  The older we get the more serious the intimidation can become.  Dealing with bullying in school at every grade level requires adult (particularly parents and teachers) involvement.

How can elementary school children deal with the playground bully?  What happens when children fight back?  Or tell an adult what’s going on?  What happens when they don’t?

My wisdom about the answers to these questions comes […]

By | January 8th, 2014|Bullying, Education, Safety|0 Comments