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Tag: August start of school

Is your classroom effective?

The Artdog Quote of the Week

The “Big Picture” may seem like a trite phrase. But most of us, students included, need a more global understanding than we’re often granted. Of not only what is required but why it’s important. Adults sometimes forget that kids need this. It’s also known as “creating relevance.” 

Without relevance, no amount of pleading will necessarily convince. With it, the possibility actually exists that you might only need to step back and get out of their way.

Beyond why, though, students also need to know how. Whether you think of it as “giving directions,” “instruction,” “guidance,” “scaffolding,” or whatever, HOW-to-do-it builds the essential bridge between “where we are” and “where we need to be.”

Providing the why and the how, as well as the what, is how teachers give students their wings.

IMAGE: Many thanks to Funderstanding, for this image-quote with an insight from educator Harry K. Wong.

Where are you headed?

The Artdog Quote of the Week

My apologies if I scared anyone who’s not set to go back to school this week.

I know some already have started; I know others won’t start for a few days or even weeks yet. But it’s That Time of Year. Time to gird up your loins and make the most of your opportunities!

Best wishes and GOOD LUCK!

IMAGE: Many thanks to Sage Buddha for this quote-image featuring the wisdom of Dr. Seuss.


What August means to me

It’s August again. Yes, already.

As a former student, teacher, and parent, August has for decades meant the start of school to me. I was kind of startled when a news item about LeBron James’s new I Promise School in Akron, OH mentioned James had come to speak there for the first day of school, in late July. Did it really start that early?

A new experiment in education begins: I Promise School in Akron, OH, with special funding from LeBron James. (Photo courtesy of Akron Public Schools)

Well, yes and no. Akron schools (including I Promise, which is a public elementary school) don’t start regular classes for real till August 4. Still, that’s earlier than they traditionally have begun where I live.

For most of my life, there’s been a good, practical reason why school didn’t open in mid-summer. Where I grew up in Missouri, and where I spent my teaching career(s), it was usually hot as blazes in August, and for most of that time the public schools were NOT air-conditioned (believe it or not, SOME STILL AREN’T!). As far back as I can remember, the administrative offices had AC, but normally not the classrooms.

Priorities. After all, where was the most important work being done? Sometimes that old Paradigm of Control becomes a matter of prioritizing who has to sweat, and who doesn’t. Here’s where we see a barometer for the true level of concern over optimizing student learning conditions!

This illustration by Ellen van Engelen perfectly sums up my dominant impression of starting school in August.

Right up there with not being hungrynot being in physical pain, being able to see and hear, and not living in terror, it really helps learning outcomes if you’re not so hot you can’t breathe or think. Trust me. I know this.

My experiences with starting school in August inevitably have led me to associate the month with being uncomfortably hot. Ask me what August means to me? Straight from the gut, the answer comes back: for me, August means heat exhaustion. As the effects of climate change grow more profound, this will only get more important.

Are your local public schools air-conditioned? If so, the children and teachers of your area should thank you and all the other taxpayers who made it possible, as well as the wise school leaders who made it a priority. If not, there’s something desperately wrong with the local funding priorities!

IMAGES: Many thanks to Akron Public Schools website, Akron, OH, for the photo from the I Promise School, newly opened for the 2018-2019 school year. I also deeply appreciate the artistry of Ellen van Engelen, and her extremely apt illustration for Sara Mosle’s New York Times op-ed piece, “Schools are not Cool.” You captured it, Ellen!

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