Friday, July 15, 2011

Surprise! Boys and Girls Learn Differently

Here is a quick survey about Boys and Girls. See the table of results at the bottom. Correct answers will show in green. Incorrect in Red. Newest responses will show at the bottom of the spreadsheet.



If males and females really are the same, why are they so different?

Boys are falling behind. This is not an "American" problem. Research is showing it is a global issue.

If we are truly the same and equal, why are boys being diagnosed for learning disabilities at a much higher rate?

A spattering of research:
  • one of the underlying beliefs in our culture is that we have fabricated these gender stereotypes. This is probably more appropriate for girls and their self-image. Women's right has actually made it harder on women socially and emotionally. However, it is more than just culture. We are wired differently:
    • the brain, even with the naked eye, looks different in males and females. They are different!
    • men who has a stroke on the left lose more speech functions than men who stroke on the right. But that is not true in women, they use both sides for speech. The joke that men only use half of their brain is sort of true (in speech at least)! Look at Congresswoman Gifford and her recovery.
    • Girls hear better than boys - the distinction has even been observed in newborn babies continuing through development. Girls will often complain that a teacher "is yelling".
    • Girls are better at reading facial expressions. Studies done as early as the day of birth. Gender was not known by researchers. The newborn girls tended toward the face of a young woman rather than a mobile. Boys have more cells in their eyes to make them sensitive to movement. Girls have more "P cells" and are sensitive to soft colors.
    • Boys and girls approach direction differently. Girls give direction by landmarks. Boys are more procedural.
    • part of the brain that deals with feelings develops much more quickly in girls. Do not confuse "emotion" with "feelings". Boys will show emotion, but asking "how do you feel about that" isn't as appropriate.
    • Risk taking - Boys take more risks than girls (sometimes to their own detriment). 
    • Boys are more into rough and tumble play. Very healthy for boys. Some say this is a cultural thing, but it has been observed across cultures. There are always exceptions, of course. Boys will "duke it out" then be friends 2 hours later. Girls tend to hold grudges.



Classroom Techniques: An Overview
Science is confirming what we all knew already...Boys and girls are different. There is a growing movement of single-gender education. If there are truly differences, we can better target classroom instruction in a single-gender environment.

Just splitting them up...does that make a difference in and of itself?
The presenter wrote his dissertation on it. His research showed teachers didn't do much different in terms of teaching techniques based on gender. He expected there to be no real difference because instruction wasn't being changed.

Surprisingly, all subjects except Social Studies showed differences, and male classes caught up to girls...even with no instructional modifications based on gender.

Some observations from the classroom:
Girls typically draw pictures of people, flowers, and trees with colors, neatly arranged using warm colors (red, green, yellow, brown). Boys tend to draw action in 3rd person perspective using "cold" colors (blue grey silver and black). Girls draw nouns, boys draw verbs. 95% of kindergarten teachers are women. Teachers tend to encourage students to draw the pictures they like. Students are intuitive and boys find that their "action" pictures are not pleasing to the teacher and quickly label themselves as "not good at art". In a modern, 21st century, "gender-neutral" classroom, the boy quickly transfers his "inability" in art to many areas of the classroom.

In single-gender schools, boys get more involved in art, drama, and the like. Our co-ed system has created the cultural differences we see because of a lack of awareness of gender differences. The difference isn't the culture, it is the biology.

Classroom Strategies for boys:
  • single-gender classes
  • put the boys in the front (but explain why...they can't hear)
  • Boys need action
  • use primary colors for organization (if you use a table for papers/organization in that is color coded)
  • Boys should use Blue or Green when highlighting
  • Move around when you talk (boys are stimulated by motion/action)
  • use visual cues
  • Try to speak only when you are facing the students - Don't talk with your back to them
  • Make sure boys are looking at you
  • Give wait time - especially for boys
  • after a student does answer a question - before you indicate right or wrong - ask a student to summarize and judge whether it is right or wrong
  • Spread out boys' desks as far as possible - allow opportunities for rough & tumble play
  • teach boys how to identify serious injuries
  • have boys take notes word-for-word because they are not good [tendency] auditory learning
  • small boys do better with several shorter recesses in a day
  • break skills into smaller bits
  • make handwriting exercises into fun games - grade handwriting randomly from ALL work, not just handwriting practice
  • break long-term projects into concrete steps with deadlines
  • if students can't write in their books, let them use sticky notes in their books
  • let them memorize things (boys)
  • break up lectures by stopping every 5 to 10 minutes and ask for a synopsis
  • Talk for 5 minutes and then have them write down what they remember
  • Have students work math problems twice - specifically the 2nd time on a fresh sheet of paper
  • have a variety of literature choices so boys and girls can choose (Michael Gurian's website has a list of "boy friendly" books"
  • Encourage boys to go into non-typical careers. Encourage their passion!

Classroom Strategies for girls:
  • give girls more risk-taking opportunities
  • start with thebig picture and comprehensive discussion. Then head to the details.
  • math/science - begin with written materials and describe each step
  • a soft voice is better
  • have them stand when they're answering a question
  • be careful of facial expressions - girls read into them and can get discouraged
  • concept mapping works well
  • journaling and question journals
  • pair girls up and have one explain while the other DRAWS it
  • make her explain how she would solve it FIRST, before solving
  • Don't present alternative ways of solving problems until they have mastered one way


Presented at IICSE by Dr. Doug Roth - Dean of the College of Education at Southeastern University. 7/14/11

Basic Tools of the Digital Classroom

Presented at IICSE by David McVicker (@DavidMcVicker)- Assistant Principal of Elementary at Ben Lippen School, 7/12/11 Columbia International University, Columbia, SC

Tools of the Trade
The following is a list of pretty standard resources. I will not include a real summary of each. There are plenty of descriptions, tutorials, how-tos, etc. all over the internet/blogosphere. A simple Google search will provide [way too] many resources on each item listed below.

There are SO many, we must have good discernment to find the things that work well in your classroom to provide consistency for the students.

Pushing for a computer lab is 15 years too late. Internet must be in the classroom.

Online Content - Part of active learning - not a replacement to instruction
Khan Academy - 2400 video content lessons - Math, science, and more. AWESOME!
TED Talks - every talk is limited to 18 minutes - cutting edge talks by experts in various fields.
iTunes U - 350,000 videos from high schools and universities

Search

Time is the most limited resource in the classroom. Do everything you can to use it wisely.

Memorization by itself is not bad. You must ask yourself WHY you are memorizing.

Communication
Gmail - a bit passe for students
Twitter - great for open discussion.
Facebook - this is where most students are spending time
Skype - many uses beyond just video chatting with grandma

Writing - Just because it's not pen and paper doesn't mean it's not important
Google Docs - Online writing collaboration
Blogger - blogging site
Word Press - another blogging site
Kidblog.org (Primarily for elementary and middle grades students)

Choose new technology in bite-sized pieces. Be intentional with the tools you use to encourage thinking. Don't have so many balls in their air that if one drops, they all fall.

Feel free to comment and add more tools. This is not an exhaustive list by any means. I just wanted to point out what he talked about in the session.



Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Basic Tools of the Trade

The following is a list of pretty standard resources. I will not include a real summary. There are plenty of descriptions, tutorials, how-tos, etc. all over the internet/blogosphere. A simple Google search of any tool will provide [way too] many resources on each item listed below. This list is intended for someone looking to get started.


There are SO many, we must have good discernment to find the things that work well in your classroom to provide consistency for the students.

Inserted thought: Pushing for a computer lab is 15 years too late. Internet must be in the classroom.

Online Content - Part of active learning - not a replacement to instruction
Khan Academy - 2400 video content lessons - Math, science, and more. AWESOME!
TED Talks - every talk is limited to 18 minutes - cutting edge talks by experts in various fields.
iTunes U - 350,000 videos from high schools and universities

Search
Google
Bing
Yahoo!
YouTube

Time is the most limited resource in the classroom. Do everything you can to use it wisely.

Memorization by itself is not bad. You must ask yourself WHY you are memorizing.

Communication
Gmail - a bit passe for students
Twitter - great for open discussion.
Facebook - this is where most students are spending time
Skype - many uses beyond just video chatting with grandma

Writing - Just because it's not pen and paper doesn't mean it's not important
Google Docs - Online writing collaboration
Blogger - blogging site
Word Press - another blogging site
Kidblog.org (Primarily for elementary and middle grades students)

Choose new technology in bite-sized pieces. Be intentional with the tools you use to encourage thinking. Don't have so many balls in their air that if one drops, they all fall.


Presented by David McVicker - Assistant Principal of Elementary (also AP Physics teacher) at the Ben Lippen School. 7/12/11 Columbia International University, Columbia, SC

Developing Thinking Skills in a Digital Age

My 3-year-old is able to think at a high level. He can take a set of criteria (at his age it is given by me) and evaluate his own behavior and the behavior of others. For example, the other day he saw a young boy interacting with his parents. He watched for a few minutes and turned to me and said, "Daddy, that boy is being disrespectful." He was using a given criteria for behavior, analyzing another's behavior, and evaluating and labeling that behavior based on that criteria.


But what does it mean to teacher students in a classroom?

These are my notes from a session at IICSE. Presenter info at the bottom.

Two Key Components:
1. Teaching Students to think
2. Understanding the digital learner

The need to cultivate a student's ability to think is not new...but the setting has changed...because a shift has occurred.

The shift has an impact on how students find and live their calling.

Defining Thinking Skills
The cognitivie processes that enable us to make meaning from and create with information.

The ability to:

  • Form ideas and opinions based on reason and evidence.
  • Evaluate the worth of ideas, opinions, and evidence before making a decision, formulating opinions, or taking actions.
  • DO something with information or concepts


Thinking skills form the foundation upon which the decisions making capacity and predispositions that direct a student's life are built.

Why is it so difficult to develop thinking skills in our students? (class responses)

  • takes more time
  • curriculum not written that way
  • curriculum too broad - teachers must cover too much as the sacrifice of depth
  • teachers not aware of their own critical thinking skills
  • teachers not aware critical thinking needs to be taught
  • such a variety of learning styles and student needs, it is difficult to get to it all
  • can't force someone to think


You have to have a target at which you are aiming if you are going to be intentional in your planning.

The 21st century student has a different schema...different presuppositions, beliefs, and values...
Their scheme is NOT of reason, rather experience.

"They think with their feelings and listen with their eyes." Their thinking is not based on "is it reasonable" or "does it make sense". They decide based on "is it good for me and my beliefs?"

The do not connect face-to-face as much, yet they want/crave/need relationships.

Nothing in their daily lives challenge them to "go deep" into ideas and concepts.

The world tells them to think for themselves because you can't rely on others. However, unchanging truths do exist.

We must train/disciple/mentor them to be independent thinkers who recognize:

  • they do not exist on their own
  • they cannot control their destiny
  • they cannot simply "look to themselves" or set their own standards if they expect or desire to be a child of God.


To understand who they are in Christ (and who they are without Him), they must be thinkers who can interpret, compare, extrapolate, analyze, evaluate, differentiate, etc...

Reflection Time: I agree that a student must develop who they are as an individual. That can only be done through thinking skills. A student can then make a conscious decision to follow the Lord or a purposeful choice to not trust Him. To be an "independent thinker" from a Christian worldview is different than "independent thinker" from the secular world's perspective. Independence to the world generally places the person at the center of all things. Whereas Christians, though independent, still recognize God not only at the center of Truth, but as Truth himself. A person who "thinks" searches for truth.


Presented  at IICSE by Dr. Helen Boen, Westar Educational Services (www.helenboen.com) and Elementary Principal and Assistant Headmaster at the Ben Lippen School. 7/12/11 Columbia International University, Columbia, SC

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My New Role: No Longer "The Young 'Principal'"

Well that didn't last long. No I wasn't fired (yay!). My new role (and title) are very exciting to me. I am now the "Dean of Instruction". This is part of our school's restructuring the create more efficiency and effectiveness as the administrative level. I've created a Prezi to try and explain it as simply as possible. (I recommend viewing it in full-screen, found at the bottom right under "More" after you have clicked "Play" [the triangle].)





Monday, July 11, 2011

Where does a school begin with Social Media

Presented by Randall Ross, Executive Director of Gathering Media at IICSE, Columbia, SC. July 11, 2011

Here are my notes:


Where do we begin?
Have a strategy
Must be data-driven AND people-focused

Phase 1 - Laying the Foundations
  1. Interest in Social Media (people are asking. school decides to explore the possibilities so not to lose touch with culture and community.)
  2. Training on Why (Why is social media growing in our culture? Why should the school engage?)
    1. Decision point - Wait or Move Forward
  3. Create a "Social Media Task Force" - (asses the community, develop the SM strategy and implementation plan. Should be comprised of a proper sampling of stakeholders)
  4. Community Assessment (gain understanding of demogrpahics, infrastruction readiness, and current use. Needs to be enough info to get a clear picture and make informed decision)
    1. Decision point - wait or Move Forward
  5. Goals for Social Media (immediate, mid-term, and long-term)
    1. Immediate - create and engaged and prepared commnity to invovle in teh communication and promotion of the school's values and mission
    2. Mid-term - to enhance the reputation of the school and leverage its strenghts for increased enrollment.
    3. Long-term - to deepen relationship formed with the community through promoting shared values and mission
  6. Social Media Strategy (Who, what, when, where, and how. Establish guiding values. Identify target groups within the Tribe. Identify key SM content. Identify SM platforms. 
Phase 2 - Implementation of Social Media Presence
  1. Social Media Training (communicate policies and procesures. Training for content creators. Training for SM Monitors)
  2. Monitoring and Maintenance (analytics and evaluation tools. Schedule for SM presence maintenance. 
  3. District Staffing Needs (hiring, changing, or adding a job description)
Phase 3 - Ongoing Process of Imprvement
  1. Set plan for growth of SM (start small. build upon areas of high interest or use. Add content creators
  2. Empower and Reward Advocates (recognize contributions and seek input. find ways to deepen connections)
  3. Review and Analyze Usage Patterns
  4. Back to Phase 1 - Community Assessment

Timeline:
Soft Launch: 30-90 days
Limited Launch: 90-180 days
Full Launch: 12-18 months

Project Cost:
Training: $570-$1200
Manpower:
  • Monitoring - 1/8 FTE - 5 hr/wk
  • 1-3 faculty creators - 2 hr/wk
  • 1-3 guest creators - 2 hr/wk

Analytics:
Prices vary from "free" to $400-$1000/yr+


The Content Carnival
Interaction won't take place without dynamic content. These are ideas for different types of content.

Information
  • School Mission and Beliefs
  • Course Schedules and Offerings
  • Permission slips and covenants
  • Curriculum Pieces
  • Homework assignments
  • more...
Announcements
  • Weather related info
  • disaster and crisis alerts
  • Alerts for missing students
  • Fine Arts events
  • Athletics
  • Dismissal Delays
  • more...
Articles and Blog Posts
  • New Teacher/Administration Stories
  • Departmental updates or Program Info
  • Programs for Parental involvement
  • Student Articles and Stories
  • Teacher/Student acheivements and awards
  • Local Highlights of the School System
  • Statewide/National Education news
  • Fundraising/Development articles and updates
  • Devotionals and Chapel transcripts
  • Physical Ed. and Healthy Living Articles
  • more...
Rich Media
  • School Promotional Videos
  • Athletics highlights
  • Fine Arts commercials and Trailers (drama trailer for upcoming play...others...)
  • Podcast of chapel services
  • Podcast of Weekly Announcements
  • Photos of school activities and events (Flickr, Picasa, etc.)
  • Vids/Pics of student projects
  • Mission Trip and outreach media
  • Interactive polls and surveys
  • more...
Sources of Content (mostly Christian b/c conference is Christian Education)
  • ACSI
  • Your website and social media channels
  • YouTube, TeacherTube, GodTube
  • albertmohler.com
  • challies.com
  • worldmag.com
  • desiringGod.org
  • the people you follow/followyou
  • local news and community activity boards
  • Local churches and schools
  • advocate sources
  • donor sources


Resources to help with SM activities
Basic
  • SM Forums & discussions boards
  • www.convinceandconvert.com
  • www.socialmediaexaminer.com
Media Hosting
  • YouTube
  • iTunes - free podcast hosting
  • flickr.com - photo storage (or picasa)
Document Sharing
  • Google Docs
  • Free Online Wikis
  • iwork.com
  • dropbox.com
  • SM Platform tools
Analytics
  • google analytics
  • quantcast.com
  • SAS.com
Monitoring
  • google alerts
Third Party Helps
  • Tweetdeck
  • hootsuite and cotweet
  • bit.ly - url shortener

Introduction to Social Media

Presented by Randall Ross (@gathermedia), Executive Director of Gathering Media at IICSE, Columbia, SC. July 11, 2011

Define Social Media
(Wikipedia) Media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media uses web-bases technology to turn communication into interactive dialogues.
(Kaplan & Haenlein) - a group of internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundation of web 2.0, which allows the creation and exchange of user-generated content.

(Ross' Definition) Technology-driven media that creates social connections through interaction with dynamic content.


History of Social Media (gave a handout...I will summarize in a small nutshell)
Started with email in the 1960's when people wanted a way to connect their computers and information. In the 1980's companies like Prodigy and AOL sprung up to make email available to everyone. This made companies realize that services could be exchanged via the network, which resulted in the .com boom of the 1990's. Eventually that bubble burst and companies realized that people still wanted to interact in a face-to-face manner. They liked going to stores. Then, September 11, 2011 happened. Americans' (and much of the world's) eyes were opened to a broader global climate. We realized more than ever that we are a "global village". This gave way to a desire to be connected to the rest of the world. Blogs by soldiers in Afghanistan opened up the whole idea of instant, front-lines news from non-commercial outlets. This led to the desire to network that in turn gave way to the expansion of social media.

This does not have all of the minute details. He was trying to give us a very broad overview. Of course it is much more complex than this...

Social Media in Plain English

Our Time Focused on the Big Four: Blogger, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn

Blogs In Plain English

Blogging is the backbone of social Media - It is where it began and what sustains is. Great for content storage and links back from other Social Media outlets.

Twitter

The idea of Twitter is simply the "Headlines" of real life, without the full stories. This can also be found on Facebook status, FourSquare checkins, etc. The idea is to provide small bursts of information. Could be thought of as "micro-blogging". Also great for content distribution and linking to larger content.

Social Networks

The focus is to see connections between people that are not normally visible. Various social networks have their target audience (ex. Ping is focused on music, concerts, etc.).
Social Networking is a combination of blogging and Headlines (Twitter). More media rich which makes it great for content sharing.

Professional Networks (sorry no video)(LinkedIn)
"Facebook's big brother" or "Facebook with a job"
Fine-tuned for professionals that want to network and share information.

What is the number one question on your mind...?
Is social media a fad?


My Notes from the other sessions will be posted shortly.

Why Use Social Media?

Presented by Randall Ross, Executive Director of Gathering Media at IICSE, Columbia, SC. July 11, 2011

These are my notes:



Why Use Social Media?
  • Its where the focus is
  • we are already focusing on it
  • to keep in touch with the global village
  • correct info at the right time...and quickly.
  • "marketing tool" - Sort of
Social Media is relationships. Schools should think of themselves as a "tribe" (see Tribes by Seth Godin).

No longer "us vs. them". Our community (Tribe) is made up for people with:
  • common values and connection
  • common values and limited connection
  • common values and NO connection
  • no common values and no connection (not in our tribe)
"The real power of tribes has nothing to do with the Internet and everything to do with people." - Seth Godin

"If you don't lead the discussion, then someone else will."

8 Reasons why we should engage in social media?
  1. Your people are!
  2. It is a great way to humanize your organization. Have a school account AS WELL AS a personal account
  3. People will get to know you (your tribe, your organization, and you as a leader.)
  4. People will learn something. (content creation, distribution, and affirmation)
  5. People will stay informed. (more efficient than a newsletter. real-time updates and response)
  6. People will defend you. (That's the way a tribe works...loyalty. People that believe in you will protect your brand and message.)
  7. People will talk to you. (unique access and format. real and perceived flattening of connection.)
  8. People will talk about you. (your values and story can be spread. your advocates can start conversations of their own.)
6 Fallacies of Social Media
  1. Social Media is inexpensive (takes a lot of time, man hours, and training to do it well)
  2. Social Media is fast (social media is about relationships. Relationships take time, trust, listening, and constant communication. It is not a "silver bullet".)
  3. Social Media is "Viral Marketing" (not every tweet will get retweeted 6 billion times. Social media simply makes viral marketing possible)
  4. Social Media results can't be measured (many tools have ways to track the interaction and activity in a qualitative and quantitative way)
  5. Social Media is optional
  6. Social Media is hard (SM is created to be a natural/organic thing. If it is hard, you are trying to make it more than it is)
Is Social Media Safe?
As an individual? Organization? Community?

What is the danger of engagement in Social Media? (individual responses from attendees)
  • Bullying
  • how much info is too much?
  • isolation from those right next to you
  • broadcasting unwanted information
  • destroy reputation
  • burn bridges
  • Control of content
  • Can't stop
  • perceived superficiality of relationships
  • intentional or accidental misrepresentation of self
Presenter's Response:
Social Media has no moral position. It is the misuse of SM that is wrong. The people are wrong, not the tool.

For 6 years, Mark Zuckerberg has been focused on one thing: Free Social Connection. The greatest benefit is also the greatest threat. 
Spiderman: "With great power comes great responsibility." There is great power in SM.

"Back in the day, bullying happened in the school yard and you came home to your safe haven. Now you come home to a whole new aspect of bullying."

There has been a lot of progress in the past few years. We now have built-in safeguard to protect the integrity of SM.

Blogging safeguards - Mostly related to comment management. Setting preferences, moderation, etc. The blogger can choose the level, type, and accessibility of the two-way interaction.

Headlines (Twitter, FourSquare, etc.) - Safeguards based on followers. Regulate who is following you. Delete inappropriate people.

Social Networks - Most activity happens on your News Feed. News Feeds have many controls as to what shows up.

YOUR Social Media is never out of your control. Education is the key. The problem is: other people are out of your control.

The starting point is Theology - God reigns over SM just as much as He reigns over the other aspects of life.

What other defenses do we have?
  • Policies
  • Tribe Leaders and Advocates
  • Legal Defenses
Resources:
covlife.org - media library - Parenting "Teens and Facebook"

Sunday, July 10, 2011

"The Institute" - 41 years training educators

Tonight was the commencement address for the International Institute for Christian School Educators (IICSE). The commencement speaker was Dr. Milt Uecker who, as a veteran of the Christian School movement, presented us with the timeless questions asked by Christian educators. It is amazing how 40 years ago these questions were asked, just clothed in different circumstances.

Amazingly, Dr. Uecker spent a good amount of time referencing Neil Postman’s [non-religious] book The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School. In the book Postman talks about how all education must serve a god. That god may be the Christian God, democracy, humanity, nature, etc. Education must have a narrative about that god or it loses its meaning, context, and relevance. Democracy has a narrative; humanity has a one; nature too; Christianity’s God has a narrative in the Bible (surprisingly well laid out and much easier to read/understand than the narrative of nature and humanity…) In order for Christian education to be successful, that narrative must be the centerpiece. The humanistic narrative is certainly the centerpiece of many educational philosophies. Democracy, capitalism, and others can easily been seen as in others as well. A “Christian” school that does not have the Bible not only at its founding, but as its continued foundation and vision-driving force fails to be a Christian School.

You can see this at Harvard University with Scripture plastered all over the architecture and in the crests and emblems (“Veritas Christo et Ecclesai” or “Truth for Christ and Church”). It was there once, founded as a training ground for men entering the ministry. Now God’s story is just a decoration, not part of the philosophy of those institutions.

Dr. Uecker passionately spoke to the ultimate purpose of Christian education as transformational. First and foremost a spiritual transformation and secondly (though not diminished in its importance) is the learning the must take place. We must have BOTH. If we have spiritual transformation but no learning, we fail to be a school. If we have learning but no spiritual transformation, we fail to be Christian. I must say that this was a great way to start off the conference. As a relative newbie to the Christian school movement (I’ve worked in Christian Education for 5 years now), his words were inspirational. Sitting next to my more veteran colleagues, from my school and others, they were just as fired up with his words. I will be attending 4 plenary sessions, two 6-hour sessions, and 5 one-hour electives. I pray to come away with a passion for something that will truly impact the lives of my students and teachers.

Friday, April 22, 2011

This Must Stop!!

Last night I was catching up on some blogs when I came across this statement on the Learn it in 5 blog. It was giving advice on how to "get the most out of Twitter”:
“Only Follow the Best…
If there isn't a profile, I won't follow. If the words "muse," "Christ," "guru," "environmentalist" or any other self-aggrandizing, religious or political words are in the profile, my guess is the person has very little to offer.”
I don’t understand how being a Christian (and open about it) automatically disqualifies me from having anything of value to offer in the professional arena. How can we as educators be okay with such blatant and open prejudice against a group of people based on one single characteristic that they share? What would have happened if this person wrote “Black” or “Female” or “Deaf” or “Muslim” or “Homosexual”? All of those characteristics imply a certain set of cultural beliefs and experiences, yet no one in academia would dare write a statement against them or claim that they have little value. It baffles me that we hear about tolerance and respect all over the place. We are mandated to teach and encourage it. However, what it really means is tolerance and respect of everyone except Christians. That’s what I see and experience all over the place.

How dare you disrespect me based on one single characteristic when you do not even know me as a person. My father is also Puerto Rican. Do you hate me more because of that too?

When I asked Pernille Ripp (@4thGrdTeach) to speak with some of my teachers, it was solely based on the value of what she was sharing. How did I know the value? I FOLLOWED HER. I read her thoughts. Did I agree with all of them? No, but I gave her the time and respect she as a human being deserved. The result: a great time with a fellow educator who holds very different beliefs.

I am not sure how my blog post about my first 10 days with my Android phone boils your anti-Christian blood. Or maybe it was my post asking teachers how long it takes them to lesson plan. Oh I know, it must be the one where I explained the new structure of my school.

I hope that there are educators out there, Christian and non-Christian, who see the prejudice and hate that is aimed at the Christian community. I am not asking you to convert. I am just asking for your respect.

I know you have the right to write whatever you want. I am not asking you to stop. I am asking you to reflect and stop the hate.



Photo by Emerys, Blake, “No More Hate” retrieved 4/22/20115 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

10 Days with my New Smartphone

It has been 10 days since I finally got a my HTC Inspire. I debated for a long time if I wanted to do an iPad, iPhone, or Android phone. After months (literally) of debating, I went with Android because my school uses Google Apps for Education and it made sense since Android is another Google project (and I like open-source, it makes me feel warm and fuzzy).

Right out of the box I will say that my productivity has improved. I spent the first couple days completely out of my office; sort of a “trial by fire” to see all the things I would need my phone to do. The only thing I went in my office to do was to have a parent conference and return one phone call that needed to be done in private

Because Android comes already set up for Google, Twitter, Facebook, and a million other apps/services., there wasn’t a whole lot of app downloading, but here is a list of what I’ve added so far:
  • Evernote – Can I say, “Awesome!” All of my pop-in observation notes are now being channeled through this. I have created a notebook for each teacher so I can keep pictures, videos, notes, and more categorized by teacher. All of which can be emailed to them with the touch of a button.
  • Gtasks – The only Google service not really supported by Android natively is Google Tasks, this app gives me the access I need. It is not super powerful like an OmniFocus for iPad, but I haven’t been left wanting yet…
  • Picasa Tool – Making file uploads easier. I do a lot of pictures in Evernote, but sometimes I want to share things, especially in the Bible class I teach. This is the easiest way I’ve found.
  • Blogger – Now I can post on the go!
  • Weather Channel – I didn’t like the weather app that came with my phone, so I went with this one. It is okay. It crashes on me every once and a while. I will continue to look for something better. But most of all I need weather alerts. Yes I have a weather radio in my office, but if the whole point is to get me out of the office, I need the alerts wherever I am.
  • Music Apps – As a music lover I had to add these: gStrings Free guitar tuner, Harmonica, Jam Box, Mobile Metronome, Pandora, Solo Lite, and xPiano. All free from the marketplace. Basically, I could start my own band with my phone now, but I think that is the point.
I am basing this mini-review on iPad Workflow for Principals and some other links I have read on eduleadership.org.

Basically, what I have noticed is that my email has been less of a bother. The only time I use email on my computer is when it is something a bit longer. In reality, using my phone is making me think about what I want to say and exactly how I want to say it. I don’t want to bog myself down with ramblings in an email using a touch screen keypad, so I am forced to be clear and concise in my writing.

My time in classrooms has greatly increased. Now I can use the voice-to-text feature (built in) to speak my notes into Evernote while I am walking to another classroom. Just before I walk into another classroom, I save the note, email it to the teacher, and start all over again in another room. I know I spend more time in classrooms than many principals already due to being a small private school, but I see this as a main part of my job…so I am excited!

Only 10 days into and I am feeling good. I really had to talk myself into buying this. I got my wife an iPhone so I could compare and see which I really liked. I am happy with my choice and it has had a positive impact on my work so far.
If you can think of any functionality I am missing or should consider, please let me know.




Portions of this page are reproduced from work created and shared by Google and used according to terms described in the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution License.

Friday, February 25, 2011

How Long to Plan a Lesson?

I know there is no way to measure the time exactly. But I would like to know how long it takes, on average, for an elementary teacher to plan a single lesson, including setup/prep.

Please leave your time in the comments (along with your grade). If you can't say for one lesson, perhaps you can say how long it takes you to plan for the week, and include how many lessons/subjects you teach. (I know, you could probably do the division, but some don't like to be that absolute. Broadening the scope may make it easier.)

Thanks for entertaining my curiosity.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Field Trip to the 4th Dimension: A chat with a colleague

Our elementary school teachers had the chance to step into The Fourth Dimension yesterday. We used a Skype video call to chat with Pernille Ripp about the changes she made to her classroom this year and her reflections on it thus far. Beyond the content (which was pushing long overdue), it was a great experience for all 16 of us just to connect with a colleague across the country (about half way).

Rather than do the summarizing, I will let my teachers’ responses speak for themselves. I will say this is just a few and I had teachers ready to "throw it all away" today in their classrooms.

I think that Mrs. Ripp was very inspiring in her talk yesterday.  She obviously loves her students and gave us all a lot to think about when it comes to the community that is our classroom.  I will definitely be praying and thinking about implementing some of her ideas into my own classroom in the future.  She was very genuine with us and did not just talk “theories”, she is living what she is telling us about and that made her presentation more genuine.

I appreciated everything that she had to say regarding class management, especially her process on dealing with student situations and the reward/punishment system. As a resource teacher I have trouble gaining students’ respect when the only reason they want to behave is because they want a reward from their other teacher. I loved Mrs. Ripp’s theories and plan on implementing many into my classrooms.

I truly enjoyed hearing what Mrs. Ripp had to share with us.  I too have felt overwhelmed at times in the past 3 yrs when it comes to class management and trying to keep up with every little thing for rewards and consequences.  I do support her thoughts and actions and feel as though this is a GREAT idea to help our students become more “in tune” with their actions and our expectations...  Her concept gives students more of an ownership for their actions and teach them about choices before, during and after any given situation.  Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to look outside our box.

Now, I know Pernille would not like getting all this credit (because she told me so). And to the credit of others, she is not the "inventor" of this type of classroom. But she is doing it, which makes her an expert. She is also the person who our faculty will always remember as the catalyst to change. (She is also the one who they will call in October when they feel totally overwhelmed!)

Students Getting Involved

This year, our 5th grade classes (here and here) began a school supply store. The students created "The Smart Mart" so that they could financially support a missionary (and alumnus of our school) living in Indonesia. These students built this business from the ground up, beginning with a name of the store. The students run every aspect of the store, from sales and profit margin to marketing and purchasing. The students keep inventory and determine when it is time to buy more merchandise.

It is amazing to see them work. We have a few future salesmen at our school. More than anything, it is interdisciplinary teaching at its best. Math, writing, economics, technology (the students developed fliers using Publisher)...and the students argue over whose turn it is to do each job.

Additional Info:
The Smart Mart is open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays before school. You can read more about the Scherer Family and their ministry in Indonesia. They are currently serving with New Tribes Missions.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

5 Practices of Exemplary Leadership: An Example

I was very intrigued when I saw Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership by Chris L. Atkinson. As a young leader, I am always looking to internalize concepts that can help me develop a as person and administrator. The reason it caught my eyes is because I instantly recognized these practices in the greatest Leader:

1. Model the way – Jesus modeled the life we should live. The best example of this is the words of those who admittedly were against him (of course his friends/followers would say he was perfect). Pontius Pilate, the man who sentenced him to death, admitted he couldn’t find anything against Jesus (John 19:4-6). In fact, Pilate’s wife even told him the man was innocent (Matthew 27:19). One of Jesus’ executioners admitted his perfection after all was done (Luke 23:47). Even Judas, the man who betrayed Jesus, tried to undo what he did because he felt guilty for accusing an innocent Jesus (Matthew 27:4). The foundation of the Christian faith rests on the example of perfection set by Jesus.

2. Inspire a shared vision – Jesus did a good deal of teaching through parables. These parables were heard not only by his followers, but by the general public and even those who opposed him. The parables can be found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, with a majority in the Gospel of Luke. The purpose of the parables was to provide analogies of the coming Kingdom through the means of nature and other colloquial situations. Many of Jesus’ parables are well known even outside of the Christian church (i.e. The Good Samaritan, Prodigal Son, etc.) Parables made up about one-third of all of Jesus’ teachings.

3. Challenge the process – It would be an understatement to say that Jesus challenge the status quo of religion (particularly Judaism). Using words like “hypocrites”, “brood of vipers”, “blind”, and others, he stood strong against individuals and groups who were self-serving and missing the point. Jesus reminded everyone that life is not about a set of rules to follow; it is about relationships (hmm…sound like education at all?). In fact, he summed up everything in two commands: Love God and Love others. This was radical compared to the laws, rules, and expectations in his day.

4. Enable others to act – While Jesus taught many thousands sometimes, his main focus was on 12 men. He spent 3 years preparing these men to become the leaders of the movement that would truly change the world. More than anything else, for those who believe in Him, the Spirit of God actually lives in us and guides and directs us. Is there a better piece of empowerment than God himself living in you?

5. Encourage the heart – Unfortunately the Gospel of Christ is often seen is discouraging and condemning. But to those who experience God, his presence is the greatest encouragement you could have. One of Jesus’ final words was words of comfort as he sent his disciples out to do their job. He concluded The Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) with, “I am with you…” That is what they needed to hear. Of course, he proved that later when tongues of fire dropped down on his disciples and they started speaking languages they never before knew how to speak.

I find it encouraging to study and to emulate the methods and practices of Jesus as a leader. Not that doing so gets me into heaven, but he lived to set an example. I might as well follow it…



Photo by meandmybadself [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Truth Project

Our culture is filled with assumptive language. Don't believe me, Google "Assumptive Language" and every link of the first page is about selling something (yes, even the blog post about telling others about Jesus). Few people come right out and tell you what to believe anymore. The media, politics, schools, and even the church commonly attempt to shape people's beliefs in an indirect, subtle, and often insidious manner.

As an educator, one of my primary goals is to prepare students to make decisions about their personal beliefs. As a Christian, my hope is that they believe in the Bible. But beyond that, I see people make decisions every day that are driven by deep-rooted beliefs that they often don't even realize they hold.

The Truth Project -- Teaser Trailer

The Truth Project changed the way I look at the world. It is a systematic approach to understanding the Christian worldview.

Everyone has a worldview whether they know it or not. A worldview is the set of beliefs, both conscious and subconscious, that drive our decision-making and interpretation of the world around us. While many people say they have a specific worldview, all too often the actions don't line up with the stated beliefs.
From the Truth Project website:

In a recent study, the Barna Research Group revealed a stunning statistic that continues to reverberate throughout the evangelical world. Only 9 percent of professing Christians have a biblical worldview.
Because of this, today's [Christian] believers live very similarly to non-believers. A personal sense of significance is rarely experienced, we spend our money and time on things that fail to satisfy and we begin to wonder what life's ultimate purpose really is. We are, in short, losing our bearings as a people and a nation.
 Here are a few links to research done by the Barna Research Group.
1. The Barna Update, "A Biblical Worldview Has a Radical Effect on a Person's Life," December 1, 2003.
2. A newer Barna Survey, "Most American Christians Do Not Believe that Satan or the Holy Spirit Exist" March, 2009.

Whether you are a a Christian or not, you must ask yourself: What has shaped my beliefs? What drives my decisions?  Through what lens do I view the world?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Principal Becomes the Student

I recently read a blog post (which I cannot locate now, anyone know?) about a principal who took up surfing lessons and his reflection of that learning process. In response and honor of his efforts, I chose to give it a try as well.

I should begin by saying that I am a pretty good skier. It has been a while, but I’m the kind of guy that would go a whole weekend without falling regardless of the difficulty of the slope. So it was a huge deal for me to agree to learn how to snowboard. The experience was amazing, though. It has been such a long time since I learned something with little to no background knowledge/experience.

This endeavor took place on our school’s annual ski trip to the WinterPlace Ski Resort. My “schooling” started with a few high schoolers who agreed to take me out and show me the ropes. After about 20 minutes and 50 falls just to get to the ski lift, I decided a formal snowboarding lesson was in order.

The group lesson itself was a spattering of educational concepts (perhaps another post coming about that later), but it provided me with the basics I needed. The objectives of the lesson:
  • Name the parts of the board
  • Attach yourself to the board
  • Move around without taking the board completely off
  • Cross the slope on both my heal and toe edge of the board
  • Stop moving
I accomplished all of these objectives in the span of the lesson. Now on to the practice phase…

While the lesson provided me with about 45 minutes of guided practice, I spent the rest of the day on independent practice. Even with the 90 minute lesson, I felt like I was left to trial and error. Watching other snowboarders was little help because they were moving so much faster than me. Any time I tried to imitate a proficient (or better) snowboarder, I flew wildly out of control, usually bruising the posterior region of my body. So what do you do when you just can’t get it? I found a tutor…

I recruited Lindsey, a 9th grader who seemed well adept at boarding (I mean she owned her own pink board with matching boots, she had to be good). She took me and one other student under her wing. It was amazing to see her teach me with skills that I don’t think she realized she was using. We went down the first slope and she just watched me. As we rode the ski lift back up, she told me what she saw me doing. Then she explained what I should be doing and what I needed to change to make it happen. We repeated this about 4 times. Every time we went down a slope, she was right there encouraging me. I can still hear her saying, “Oh you had that! You didn’t need to fall. Trust yourself, you’re doing it…”

Well my confidence grew and I started picking up some steam. Of course, just as I gained confidence, my bell got rung on a big fall. I swear it was like one of those Bugs Bunny cartoons where the little guy is circling around his head after getting hit with a frying pan. I was seeing stars…time to take a break…

I spent the next few hours in the ski lodge licking my wounds. I had enough Ibuprofen to open my own pharmacy. What this really did was give my brain some time to sort out and process the experience of the morning. This would have made Kevin Washburn and his “Architecture of Learning” model very proud. I felt refreshed and ready to give it another shot.

The rest of the day was spent in independent practice again. I felt good. I ended the day making it down the longest “intermediate” slope with only 3 falls. Day two was even better. I made it down a beginner slope with no falls. I recorded my “Final Exam” run down the mountain to assess what I had learned over the past two days. Take a watch and see what you think. Remember, I had never touched a snowboard before in my life…


Snowboard Exam


Reflecting back:
Probably the greatest emotion I had during all of this was the urge to quit. I kept asking myself, “Why am I doing this?” The battle in my head kept saying, “You’re a great skier. You would have so much more fun doing what your comfortable doing. Trade in your board for skis and go hit the black diamonds.” In fact, it went through my mind that the students would think I was so much “cooler” if I was good at skiing. I wanted to impress people with what I could do already, not with what I was accomplishing.

I am afraid these thoughts are all too similar to the thoughts of my students. We inundate them with new skills and concepts every day.

  • When it comes down to it and students get frustrated, do they have what it takes to push through?
  • Does every student have a “Lindsey” to come along side them?
  • Do my students insist on sticking with the mastery of less complicated skills in order to look “cool” for their friends (or teacher, or parents)?
  • Am I creating a school environment where students want to learn the "hard stuff" and are willing to do what it takes?
  • What do you do to get your students from skiing to snowboarding?

Photo Attribution:
Romain Vignes, “Super G” Mar 13, 2009 Creative Commons Attribution.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Its All About Relationships

A few weeks ago my wife and I were shopping in a craft store. As usual, I was sporting my school’s umbrella with logo showing proudly. We passed a young couple (the same age as us) in the aisle. They stopped and asked us about our school and we began a very pleasant conversation. It turned out we had lots of similarities as a couple. We talked for about 10 minutes there in the store.

We moved along to locate the items we needed, only to run into them again about 5 minutes later. In my head I am thinking, “Okay God, what do you want me to do. I never stop and talk to people in stores.” After talking for another 10 minutes, we exchanged phone numbers and had an understanding that we would get together sometime.

Photo by BurlapZack on DeviantArt
In my head I was thinking back to that Seinfeld episode where Jerry says that after a certain age you really don’t accept applications for new friendships. They don’t know the people, places, or things you like and it is like starting all over. Honestly I walked away from the store feeling like I had just been asked out on a date by a stranger…and said YES!

A few days passed and my wife and I discussed the options for the double date with our new “buddies”. We thought about lunch (not too formal, usually shorter). We thought about dinner and a movie (seems nicer, and you don’t have to talk too much in a movie if things go badly). We thought about just inviting them to our church, or going to theirs (something we had in common).

The time came when my new friend sent me a text message asking for a good time to call. So we set a time, and right on the stroke of 8:30 p.m. my phone rings. Cordial conversation begins, but only for about a minute. Right away this gentleman gets to the point. He said, “I know you said you work at a small private school and your wife stays home. So I thought I would share something with you that has worked for us. Have you ever heard of Amway?...”

Instant brain shutdown for me…This guy had the audacity to give me a huge sales pitch, over the phone, after talking to me for 20 minutes in a craft store. Where is the love? Where is the trust? Where is the relationship? It wasn’t there. What made him think I would bite on his pitch?

As educators (and administrators) we need to understand that we are trying to get students (and teachers) to buy into something. Each school has its own product. First off, our product must be quality and legitimate, that should be a no-brainer. Secondly, we must take time to develop the relationships (with students, parents, teachers, and admin) so that the heart and soul behind our product is visible when decision time comes. Without those relationships, we risk coming across like presumptuous, arrogant salesmen.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New Concept, Unlimited Possibilities

My school has announced that we will be "regrouping" our grade levels to cater more toward the students' developmental needs. Beginning in the fall, Elementary will be Kindergarten through 4th grade. Intermediate (this one is new) will be 5th & 6th grades. Middle School will be 7th & 8th. And High School will be 9th through 12th grade.

As the principal of the elementary, I will be charged with supervising the Intermediate school. I am so excited! The purpose of this change is to provide a more appropriate transition from the "structure" of elementary to the "freedom" of middle and then high school.

We have a clean slate in front of us. We are able to build an Intermediate program from the ground up. So I pose the question:


What programs, activities, or emphasis would you see as necessary in a 5th/6th grade setting? Please leave comments with your thoughts and ideas.


Photo courtesy of NASA

Monday, January 24, 2011

Why Do I Need Lesson Plans?

The title should read, "Why do I (the principal) need lesson plans?" Remember that I work at a small private school and as principal act as the instructional supervisor (among other things).

Chalk this question up to inexperience, naiveté, or ignorance. I am going to ask it anyway.

Would current teachers please comment on how their supervisors are effectively using lesson plans to help them improve as educators?

The way I see it, instructional supervision is a major part of my job. If I am doing that part of my job well, I would be in the classroom observing teachers implementing lessons. Isn't that infinitely better than reading lesson plans on paper? Anyone can write a pretty lesson plan. It takes a professional teacher to transform an effective lesson plan into an effective lesson and create an environment of learning.

The way I see it right now, collecting lesson plans from a teacher should be a way for me to help that teacher organize his thoughts to improve implementation. Think of my days teaching math. I had a few different types of students:
  1. The student who could do it correctly the first time (or even before) and I simply felt like a nag forcing him to show his work.
  2. The student who excels but shows his work so that he does not make silly errors.
  3. The student who must show his work in order to keep things together.
  4. The student who doesn't show his (or shows it ineffectively) and makes all sorts of errors.
By telling a student to show his work, I am simply trying to visually represent the connection between understanding and the externalization of understanding.

Now replace "student" with "teacher" and "shows his work" with "lesson plans". I know lesson planning is a trait of an excellent teacher (the format and function debate aside). I would expect a master teacher to plan out lessons, especially as he tries new ideas and methods.

Should teachers who "struggle" be the only ones "required" to turn in lesson plans?

Supervisors, please comment on what you believe you do well. Teachers, please share what your supervisors do to really help you.

PS - This is my first real post about a thought I have been formulating. Be kind =)




Graphic retrieved from http://images.paraorkut.com/img/pics/images/t/teacher-13246.png

Thursday, January 13, 2011

7 Things You Don't Need to Know About Me

This post is part of the Teacher Challenge to kick-start my blog. I will do these in descending order, saving the juiciest tidbit for last!

7. I began as a USSF Soccer Referee when I was 15 years old and continue to this day. I would love to ref a World Cup Game one day...

6. I was addicted to World of Warcraft. My addiction lasted for about 2 years. It was only through the help and patience of my loving wife that I survived. Still to this day I cannot go near it without risking a relapse. Maybe this is why I relate to students so well =)

5. I have eaten chicken hearts and cow tongue...and liked it! In Brazil, this is a regular item on the barbecue.

4. My wife was born in Papua New Guinea (I guess that is about her more, but you know..."one flesh"...it counts). I have never been there but like to retell all of her stories and pretend like I grew up there myself. Her family was on the mission field with Wycliffe Bible Translators.

3. I played the bass trombone in the University of North Florida Jazz Ensemble 1 (you can see me on the end in the middle row in the picture below). While I also picked up guitar, trombone was my first love. I soon found out that in order to be a trombone player, you must be crazy, poor, and unappreciated. While that sounded fun, I decided to become a teacher. Turns out teachers are crazy, poor, and unappreciated as well...

2. I was tested in the top one quarter of the top 1% of students in the United States for my graduating class. I participated in Duke University's Talent Identification Program. Of my 15 best friends from that program, I am only one of two that did not go to either Duke or an Ivy League school (the other is now a practicing physician). I received my first college scholarship offer in the 8th grade (from [The] Ohio State University...I won't link that because I am still bitter about their football championship against Miami).

1. I was a childhood actor/model. I started when I was a baby doing little commercials and print ads. I was as a Jordache kid. I was an Oshkosh B'gosh model. I was an extra in numerous movies.The crown jewels of my acting career were first, being the photo double for the main character in Problem Child 2. The only problem is photo doubles don't make the credits (only stunt doubles), so you'll have to take my word. My second big role was a co-host of a Fox TV show called "What About It" that aired on Saturday mornings. The prize of my career was my role in My Girl with Macaulay Culkin, Dan Aykroyd, and Jamie Lee Curtis. Check out the link, you can find "TJ Collazo". My part was "Boy"...WOO HOO!

Thanks to Miss W. and her Smartboard for the inspiration and example on this post.

Monday, January 10, 2011

What I Believe


I did this off the top of my head. Please ask questions, I am sure there are areas I have forgotten. This is not intended to be my theological beliefs. Instead these are my core beliefs that influence education.
  • I believe students (and teachers) are created in the image of God. Because God creates each person with a specific and individual plan, each student has his (or her) own personality, gifts, talents, inclinations, learning styles, attention span, etc. Combined with their prior experiences, choices, and cultural influences, each student is a unique individual unlike anyone who ever was or will be again. Because God’s plan for each person is unique, each student must be taught how to think rather than what to think so that they can apply their mind to their specific situations. Yes, there is foundational knowledge, but teaching simply to that knowledge hinders the students from using knowledge beyond the scope of what they were shown.

  • I believe there is an absolute truth that is the person of Jesus Christ, through whom all things were made. The Truth has been revealed to us through the Holy Scripture which points us to the Designer, Creator, Organizer, and Sustainer of the universe. All truth is God’s truth. He created it to be in consort with Himself. Therefore, all knowledge should align with the Scripture. Any knowledge that is not in harmony with the Scripture is due to either misinterpretation of the earthly knowledge or misinterpretation of the Scripture. All truth claims not passing through the “filter” of God’s Word should be regarded as false claims.

  • I believe that we educate students in order that they may fulfill the greatest commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.” (Luke 10:27). We, therefore, urge students to sharpen their minds not for their own selfish ambition, but out of love for God. This, obviously, shows that we should never stop learning. The minute we stop learning about God and His creation, we stop loving God with the mind He gave us. 

  • I believe all people are sinners and prone to rebellion against authority. I also believe all people are free agents, able to make conscious choices about their decisions. However, only after a person receives the Holy Spirit (through a saving faith in Jesus Christ) can a person choose to make decisions that are pleasing and glorifying to the Lord. This has major implications for the behavior and discipline of students. While external motivation may achieve desired outcomes for a time, those outcomes will only be present in conjunction with stimuli. That is why we have teachers who say, “My students behave for me but not other teachers.” The key to student motivation and discipline is a transformation of the heart. This transformation allows the students to self-govern their thoughts and actions and intrinsically motivate themselves to Godly choices and desires. “Discipline” should more appropriately be called “Discipleship”. It is through discipleship that a person becomes more Christ-like in their thoughts and actions.

  • I believe it is the duty of the parents to raise and educate their child. It is imperative, then, that parents find an educational institution that is in line with their family’s beliefs. Parents who send their children to a school that follows a different worldview will face increased difficulties in their child’s education. School is seen as a source of truth. Parents are naturally looked to as educators. Therefore when a child hears one truth claim at school and an opposite truth claim at home, the child will be forced to stop trusting either school or the parents and will develop a pluralistic and confused worldview. It is vital that a school works as a resource in partnership with the home and not as a replacement of the home. The school must be prepared to defer to the home on questionable or divisive issues.

All of this is with the understanding that we serve an infinite God who can never be fully understood. While his creation exists in the finite, we can never fully understand his reasoning or design.