From the Staff

10 Things Principals Don’t Tell Their Teachers, But Should…

From our newsletter of April, 2016: Jackie offers this for a little perspective.  🙂

1. “I really do care how you feel about me.”
I want you to like me, and I know you don’t like everything I do.  When I come off like a hard-ass who doesn’t care about your opinions, it’s mostly because I’m insecure or uncertain of my authority.  I’m your boss; the school is at least partly an extension of myself.  So I want you to like your job.  And I definitely want you to like me.

2. “I don’t think I know everything.”
A few people stepped in, without being asked, and made a huge difference in my professional life.  I will always be grateful to them as mentors and coaches.  So I don’t offer advice to you because I think I’m all knowing or all-powerful.  I see something special in you, and I’m repaying the debt I owe to the people who helped me.

3. “I like when you’re having fun.”
You don’t have to lower your voice and pretend to be serious when I enter your classroom.  I know it’s possible for students to perform at a high level and have a little fun at the same time.  Busy, engaged students aren’t necessarily quiet and serious.  I used to work that way, too.  When you enjoy what you do it makes me feel a little better about our school and about myself.  I get to feel like I’m part of something more than just the administration.

4. “I really would like to pay you more.”
I have a budget based on the number of students in attendance each day.  The largest expenditure is teacher salaries, benefits, and payroll taxes. I am challenged all the time to […]

By | March 15th, 2017|Adminstrators, Education, Empathy, From the Staff, Teacher|0 Comments

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

Where’s Waldorf?!

Education Transformations sat down with Lyra Matthews, a first grade teacher at Sparrow School, a Waldorf inspired charter school in San Diego, to find out what she likes about this method of education. Waldorf Education is a humanistic approach to instruction based on the educational philosophy of the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, focusing greatly on use of imagination, nature, hands-on activities, artistic and social expression, and fostering both creative and analytical modes of understanding.  One of the reasons Matthews likes it is because she has the freedom to teach in a way that allows her to take into account the developmental stages of her students. She says she takes a subject and comes up with her own way of presenting it, in order to find ways to pique the students’ interest and appeal to their natural curiosity. Also, she uses stories as a basis for lessons, with imaginative images that children can relate to, since they inherently have a pictorial way of thinking. Matthews has been teaching the Waldorf method since 1998 and, having had all of her own children go through and enjoy the Waldorf inspired educational approach, she is motivated to stay with this method of teaching.

Through years of classroom experience, she has discovered she can use music and rhythmic movement as ways to attract the interest of her first graders, and to have them work as a group. She has seen that starting a lesson with a song draws their attention to a subject, and presenting ideas in the form of stories makes it understandable to them. The subjects are further enhanced by incorporating art into the work, as the children draw directly into their own […]

By | April 9th, 2014|Education, From the Staff, Teacher|3 Comments

Hands On Turns the Fun On!

Can learning be fun for students and teachers?

Teacher of the Year, Heather Glanz, who has been teaching fourth grade in the Santee School District for the last 17 years, says a very enthusiastic yes to this!  She shared that thinking like a kid is how she does it.

How do you think like a kid?  Glanz says, “Start by putting your hands on everything!!”

The more hands on you can be, the more fun they, and you, will have.  What would a kid really enjoy?  That’s what Glanz asks herself when she is teaching, and for her that works.

We asked Glanz about implementing the new Common Core standards.  She says that most of what she’s already doing with her students, including developing critical thinking skills, is in alignment with the Common Core standards, so it will not be a big transition for her.  She continues to implement the “best practices” that she has perfected over the past 17 years. 

Glanz’s attitude towards students and learning helps her classroom stay fun and exciting.  Many of her students have come back years later to visit her.  They remind her how important her teaching is, and that she really makes a difference.  One such student claimed that Glanz’s passion about science developed in him a lifelong love of science, and inspired him to major in science in college.  How awesome is that?!!

To our question about one thing she would like to see change in education, Glanz answered, “More money and resources allocated for the classroom and the students.”  For example, science needs to be taught through hands on experiments, which requires materials.  “Students can’t learn how a rock forms just from a book,” says Glanz.  In her school, she shares only five […]

By | March 21st, 2014|Education, From the Staff, Teacher|1 Comment

Music Can Help Bring The Grades Up

Does music matter in schools?

Many students can’t even take a music class in school anymore, but for the ones that can and do, it matters a great deal.

Recently we had the chance to interview Spencer Caldwell, this year’s Teacher of the Year for Cajon Valley Union School District, a band and choral teacher at Hillsdale Middle School for the last 17 years.  Caldwell was also Teacher of the Year in 1996 and 2005.  Clearly he is doing something right!

One of the many ways Caldwell has made a difference for students is by founding a nonprofit parent organization called Hillsdale Music Department Parent Association, to help raise money to support his music program, as well as the district’s five feeder elementary schools’ programs.  They raise about $30,000 annually, which makes it possible for students to have music education and performance experiences that extend beyond the basic classroom curriculum, providing instruments and concert attire at no cost to students experiencing financial hardship, providing funding for an assistant band director, piano accompaniment and individual instrumental coaches, supplemental choral instruction, and more.  Some of the parents involved have kids who graduated from the program 5-6 years ago, but they have stayed on the board because of their dedication to the cause.

Spencer Caldwell Spencer Caldwell

When it comes to implementing the new Common Core standards this year, Caldwell feels like he doesn’t have to change much, because he already uses many of the strategies they espouse, and his students are all very engaged.  Also, when they tracked SAT scores, they found that kids who took music classes were ahead of the rest by an average of 60+ points. However, he […]

By | February 28th, 2014|Education, From the Staff, Teacher|0 Comments

Stop Bullying Flash Mob

We all need to be more aware of bullying and the effects it has not only on children, but on adults as well.

Just last week a freshman at Serra High School in Tierrasanta was arrested after it was discovered that he brought an unloaded semi-automatic hand gun to school to confront a bully.  The young man was expelled and arrested with felony charges, in his efforts to protect himself.  No one was physically hurt (in this instance), but clearly damage was done to all involved.

In an effort to raise awareness about bullying and encourage the community to get more involved, Daril Bonner will be presenting an epic Flash Mob at Horton Plaza Mall Square on Saturday, February 22nd, 2014 at 12:30 pm.  This performance will be a heart-wrenching dance drama designed to inspire people to be more than just silent bystanders, but to get involved.

As reported by the “East County Magazine,” San Diego actually has a higher suicide rate than the nation at large.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, suicide ranks tenth in causes of death nationwide.  Daril says, “If we remove the social stigma that comes from seeking help, we reduce the risks.  Stomp out bullying flash mob is designed to counterattack the social stigma that bullying is not that big a deal. The facts and statistics prove otherwise.  It’s vital that the community of San Diego get involved. We are exerting our efforts to help prevent teen suicide and reduce school violence related to bullying in San Diego.”

This flash mob will be a moving, eye opening experience.  If you can make it, please do, and share this […]

By | February 7th, 2014|Bullying, Empathy, From the Staff, Safety|0 Comments