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As public pre-K expands in schools, study finds principals are unprepared to support it

JP has over a quarter of century experience helping schools implement effective pre-school education. Give us a call and explore how we can help you.  516-561-7803 or email at . Our School Improvement Specialist are eager to help. 

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Principals lack the experience and expertise in early childhood education that is needed as pre-K programs expand in public elementary schools and that could inhibit their ability to manage and support pre-K teachers, according to a new report.

Early Childhood Preparation for School Leaders: Lessons from New Jersey Principal Certification Programs” by the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at the University of California, Berkeley, found that principal familiarity with pre-K is a problem nationwide but researchers zeroed in on New Jersey, which has a highly regarded public pre-K program but no requirement for principals to have college-level coursework in early childhood education.

A 2015 report found only one in five principals nationally who were supervising a pre-K program at their school felt well-trained in early childhood concepts.  A 2017 report found most principal certification programs “do not provide comprehensive instruction focused on children prior to kindergarten.”

In New Jersey, during the 2015-16 school year, 30,000 children started a pre-K program in a state elementary school.

Twenty-three institutions of higher education offer principal certification programs in the state, and 18 were included in the study. Among those programs, only 23 percent required principal candidates to learn about the development of children’s and adolescents’ math skills. Only 39 percent required coursework on children’s and adolescents’ literacy skills. More than 75 percent of programs said they do not offer or do not require human development and learning from candidates in principal certification programs. These are topics that help educators understand “the course of typical and atypical development as well as age appropriate expectations for learning and behavior,” according to the report. Without this knowledge, adults may label normal behaviors as “problematic,” which leads to unnecessary discipline.

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Teachers: These are the 6 must-know strategies for great blended learning

blended learning

Teachers offer insights on how to ensure successful blended learning instructional strategies.

Teachers value today’s classroom digital resources, but students might not be as comfortable using technology as parents and educators believe, according to a new report about successful blended learning strategies.

The report, Teaching with Technology, a new report from the Foundation for Blended and Online Learning (FBOL) and the Evergreen Education Group, characterizes blended teaching as using a combination of face-to-face instruction and digital content, tools, and resources.

A survey of teachers from 38 states finds that time, thoughtful planning and support at the school- and district-level, and ongoing relevant professional development are key to the success or stagnation of their blended learning efforts.

Teachers are incorporating new technology tools and strategies into their classroom practice, and despite their different approaches, and blended learning plays a large role in teachers’ approaches.

The report draws insight from educators teaching in traditional public schools, charter public schools, alternative education programs, and private schools, as well as in-depth interviews with teachers and administrators across the country, and school and classroom observations by its authors.

Nearly all respondents (97 percent) said they are using computers in their teaching, and between 64 and 66 percent of respondents report that they are using each of four types of resources and strategies: student creation of documents, student collaboration, free online resources, and online resources purchased by the school or district. This finding demonstrates that use of open educational resources and purchased resources is not either/or, but that in some cases teachers are using both free and purchased materials.

About 60 percent of respondents said they regularly use formative assessments (61 percent) and/or differentiated instruction (58 percent).

The report offers a number of major takeaways and recommendations, based on teachers’ responses:

1. For teachers to be successful in their use of technology, the devices, internet access, online content, and software must work well and consistently. Some teachers report that they have two versions of their lesson plans—one for using computers and one for paper when internet access fails—but clearly it is not reasonable to expect most teachers to take on that level of planning. Although many schools are using computer labs or carts, teachers who are further along in implementing technology express frustration at not having better and easier access to computers.

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What Pre-K Means for Your Pre-Teenager

Just how important is good preschool in the course of a child’s life?

Skeptical researchers have contended that it doesn’t really matter, that preschool provides only short-term educational assistance that fades out after a few years. But new findings from a continuing study of 4,000 children in Tulsa, Okla., should put that contention to rest. High-quality prekindergarten has powerful long-term cognitive effects.

The researchers, based at Georgetown University, began tracking these children in 2006 and followed them through the eighth grade. As eighth graders, they were less likely to be held back than their classmates who did not attend preschool, and their scores on the state’s math achievement test were higher. They were also more likely to take algebra in the eighth grade — a consistent predictor of college readiness.

It’s not just that the Tulsa preschoolers were ahead of their peers academically when they got to kindergarten. While the gap in math achievement narrowed over time, the students who had gone to prekindergarten still maintained an academic advantage in middle school. When the researchers used the Tulsa data to project the impact of the program into adulthood, they concluded that because of those youngsters’ higher projected income and diminished likelihood of incarceration, every dollar invested in quality preschool could generate a two-dollar return.

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5 Principles of Outstanding Classroom Management

A teacher engages his students in a math lesson.

When we asked our community for their best classroom management practices, over 700 ideas rolled in.

Effective classroom management requires awareness, patience, good timing, boundaries, and instinct. There’s nothing easy about shepherding a large group of easily distractible young people with different skills and temperaments along a meaningful learning journey.

So how do master teachers do it?

To get a deeper understanding of experienced teachers’ go-to classroom management strategies, we took an informal poll on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Unsurprisingly, there is no silver bullet for classroom management success. That said, as we pored over the more than 700 responses, we did see some clear trends. Here are the most often cited and creative approaches.

1. Take Care of Yourself to Take Care of Your Students

As the airline safety videos say: Put on your own oxygen mask first.

To learn effectively, your students need a healthy you, said our experienced teachers. So get enough sleep, eat healthy food, and take steps to attend to your own well-being. In her first year of teaching, Jessica Sachs “was working 15-hour days and was completely stressed out. My husband finally said to me, ‘The most important thing that you do at school is make decisions. If you are too tired to do that properly, it won’t matter how well-prepared you were the night before.’” A few deep breaths can go a long way to helping you identify frustration before you act on it. Mindy Jones, a middle school teacher from Brownsville, Tennessee, notes that “a moment of patience in a moment of frustration saves you a hundred moments of regret.”

Countless studies corroborate the idea that self-care reduces stress, which can deplete your energy and impair your judgment. While self-care is more of a habit or practice for your own well-being than an actual classroom management strategy, the benefits include improved executive function, greater empathy, and increased resilience—all qualities that will empower you to make better decisionswhen confronted with challenging classroom situations.

2. Focus on Building Relationships

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7 ways to effectively address challenging behaviors in children with autism

children with autism

After appropriately identifying the behavior in a child with autism, a suitable intervention can be used to proactively, or reactively, reduce and replace it.

Challenging behaviors can be difficult to address in children with autism. After appropriately identifying the behavior, a suitable intervention can be used to proactively, or reactively, reduce and replace it. Experts reviewed key points and effective ways to address these problem behaviors in the edWebinar, “Effective Approaches to Reduce and Replace Challenging Behaviors Exhibited by Children with Autism.”

1. Define the behavior in a non-subjective manner: In order to address a behavioral problem, the behavior must first be defined. The behavior should be specific, observable, and measurable, and it should not be subjective.

2. Have a data baseline: It’s crucial to have a baseline to tell if the intervention is working, and how well. Therefore, data collection is key when putting an intervention into place. Different methods of data collection can be used depending on the circumstance or how you plan to measure the behavior that’s occurring.

3. Implement proactive strategies: After identifying the behavior and collecting the data, what can be done to reduce or replace it? Proactive strategies may include a classroom checklist to make sure the environment is optimal for learning; the student has an effective way to communicate; there are enough opportunities for movement (depending on the age of the student); and more.

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