Amazing Kindergartens

Another amazing kindergarten, this one in Italy. Can we go back to kindergarten?

In addition to improved safety measures, the new school incorporates a variety of energy efficient technologies including a rooftop photovoltaic system and rainwater harvesting.

Read our previous post about Japan’s tree kindergarten.

More excellent candidates highlighted by the Global Teaching Prize

The Global Teacher Prize is “an annual 1 million dollar award that will be given to an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession.” It’s a good resource to get inspiration from some incredible teachers, and highlights their story.

Take Linda Cliatt-Wayman, who has transformed one of the most violent, troubled schools in the country:

Cliatt-Wayman was the new principal at the time, and she hoped a combination of tough love and high standards would improve the school. Amid constant violence and even threats to her life, it was Cliatt-Wayman’s responsiblity to save the struggling institution from closure.
“I could not find a principal who was suitable to handle this school,” Cliatt-Wayman, who was previously assistant superintendent for Philadelphia Public Schools, said during the TV special. “Therefore, I said to myself, because I love these students … I will just volunteer to be the principal.”

Read more about her story here.

Learn about the Global Teacher Prize here.

You earned your break

We hope you’ve had a wonderful, restful time off. Can’t agree more that teachers need a good, restful break.

What high school student reflect on their teachers’ work-life balance? None that I know of. I remember turning in essays in English class on Friday and receiving them back the following Monday. Each essay was returned to me with spelling and grammar corrections and detailed feedback on my arguments. My classmates and I never realized that teacher sacrificed her weekend in order to grade the hundreds of essays. No late-night outings for Mrs. Berry. Likewise, I always thought teachers just showed up to work in the morning and decided to teach whatever they wanted. No planning necessary. Since I thought like this until I became a teacher, I can understand why many adults keep that same mindset.

My official workday begins at 8:10 and ends at 3:15. Any teacher knows that my workload is not confined to that time period. I have classes to plan for, essays and tests to grade, student and parent e-mails to respond to. Though I often leave the school premises right at 3:15, that’s only because I like getting work done at a local coffee shop. Oftentimes, I’m not finished for the day until 7:00. Saturday is usually my only full day off. After brunch with friends on Sunday afternoon, I’m already in the teacher mindset, preparing and reviewing lesson plans and grading. It never ends. I can plan the best lesson ever, but then I have to have another for the following day.

read more:

Teaching Emotional Intelligence & “Soft Skills”

Can emotional intelligence be taught? Probably can’t hurt to aid its development. Studies and real world experience show compelling reasons to get behind it: reductions in future misbehavior, confidence and more.

From NPR:

Soft skills might include teaching kids to work cooperatively in a group or teaching them how to think about the long-term consequences when they make a decision, whereas teaching physics is an example of a hard skill.

“The conclusion that we would make is that these [soft] skills should be emphasized even more in our education system and in our system of socializing children,” says Kenneth Dodge, a professor of public policy and of psychology and neuroscience at Duke

More on emotional intelligence from the New York Times:

For children, Brackett notes, school is an emotional caldron: a constant stream of academic and social challenges that can generate feelings ranging from loneliness to euphoria. Educators and parents have long assumed that a child’s ability to cope with such stresses is either innate — a matter of temperament — or else acquired “along the way,” in the rough and tumble of ordinary interaction. But in practice, Brackett says, many children never develop those crucial skills. “It’s like saying that a child doesn’t need to study English because she talks with her parents at home,” Brackett told me last spring. “Emotional skills are the same. A teacher might say, ‘Calm down!’ — but how exactly do you calm down when you’re feeling anxious? Where do you learn the skills to manage those feelings?”

Controlling Play

Allowing children to play can teach them a lot more than intervening (at least according to one blog author.)

Do you agree? Exceptions?

“I will NOT!” he yells back. “You have to let me play! That is the rules!” He gets dangerously close to them.

The adults observing the children look over at me with worried looks. I instruct them to observe but stay close and hidden among the trees. Secretly, I’m wondering if we should intervene now, but something tells me to wait. The little boy reaches up and tears down a piece of their tepee. “Stop it!” one of the girls yells. They don’t back down. A few more girls come and form a wall with them. The little boy suddenly reaches into their tepee and grabs the “jewels” they have hidden in there and takes off running.

The girls let go of each other’s hands and start chasing after him. They run around and around the trees in hot pursuit of the little boy. He finally comes to a stop and turns to face them. He holds out his hand and says, “FINE! Have them!” He returns the stolen jewels, stomps off, and finally sits down in front of an old oak tree – sulking. The girls resume playing “house” in their tepee.

Not even two minutes pass before one of the girls from the tepee group walks over to where the boy is sitting. She does something that surprises every adult watching. She sits down beside him. She looks him in the eye and starts talking in a quiet voice. He begins to raise his voice again. She patiently puts her hand up and waits for him to stop shouting. He becomes silent. A few minutes later, they get up. She reaches for his hand and leads him over to the group of girls at the tepee. He says something to them and they invite him to play.

Read more: Washington Post – Why Adults Have To Stop Trying So Darn Hard To Control How Children Play

School without walls

Some say nature is the best teacher, and are taking that concept into schools.

A typical day at Fiddleheads starts at 9 a.m., with Desi, Stelyn, Joshua and fellow students zipping up waterproof suits so they can climb on, and sometimes slip off, sopping-wet logs; create secret forts under dripping boughs of bright green, and examine squirming earthworms in grubby hands.

Students go on “listening walks” with their teachers during which they stand in a circle with their eyes closed and name the things they can hear, like wind and rain, when they don’t talk. The children also eat lunch, sing songs and occasionally squabble under the open sky and towering trees.

What Teachers Do

Welcome back if you are back, here’s to a wonderful Monday. If you are on vacation… enjoy it!

Here’s a video you might like:

Who will be “the world’s best teacher”?

Know a teacher who should be nominated? Find out more about the Global Teacher Prize here.

Teacher Belinda Daniels is changing up how indigenous culture is taught in Saskatchewan.

In Pakistan, Humaira Buchal is an advocate for young women’s education. She has been teaching disadvantaged young children since the age of 12 and helped form a school for close to 1200 students.

Argentina’s Inés Bulacio doesn’t educate in a traditional classroom. She teaches children at Buenos Aires hospital who cannot physically make it to school how to create animated shorts and radio programs.

A heart condition prevented Australian Christian Williams of going to the London Olympics in 2012. Instead, he teaches mathematics from a coffee shop where students learn arithmetic through trick shot videos and other innovative methods.

read more:

Should empathy be the emphasis?

Should empathy be the emphasis? Look back and remember your favorite teachers and administrators… did you learn “more” from them? (Probably, right?) Does it turn out that their understanding of your situation through empathy might have made you like them more?

The articles highlighted below lay out how empathy can help teachers and students. Both good reads, hopefully inspiring for you.

If you do get inspired, here’s a link to Empathy in Education, where they provide empathy based lesson plans that are worth a look.

By developing empathy in children, teachers not only help kids feel valued and understood, they also impact social change and innovation for decades to come. Volumes have been written about how to teach empathy, and there is still much to learn.

…For children to develop the capacity to feel empathy for others, they must feel seen, felt, and understood regardless of how they learn. Teachers who know, appreciate, and respect students beyond academics help children feel cared for and increase their ability to care for others.


read more:

If you need a reason why empathy isn’t just a nice sentiment but an actual need in the classroom, this:

…Under stress, the brain triggers a surge in cortisol, a hormone that produces the “fight or flight” response and inhibits the ability to absorb new information and to connect emotionally with others. Stressed children are anxious, tuned-out, emotionally volatile, and have diminished energy, stamina, and memory. The result is a vicious cycle: Students experiencing trauma at home come to school unprepared to learn and unable to forge trusting relationships, leaving them more isolated and subject to failure, which further increases stress levels.

read more:

‘Hello from the Mother Side’: See stressed-out mom’s hilarious Adele parody

Does doing your kids’ homework make you want to write a forlorn song? Or perhaps pour yourself a big glass of wine?

Adele’s “Hello” has already spawned plenty of parodies, but this may be the first to touch on the frustration of doing your kids’ math homework.

Mills hilariously struggles to complete her daughter’s fractions assignment, belting out, “Hello from the mother side. I must’ve tried a thousand times to tell her this homework is really breaking my heart.”