I grew up loving basketball, and Alan Seiden was the best high school basketball player I've ever seen. He was also my neighbor and a classmate at Jamaica High School in New York City. One of the most indelible memories from my youth is watching Alan hit one beautiful jump shot after another at Madison Square Garden as he helped lead our team to the city championship. The New York Times compared him favorably to the basketball legend Bob Cousy. He went on to St. John's, became one of the greatest stars in the history of that university's basketball team, and was a two time All-American. He also played briefly in the pros.
This morning I sat in two inner city middle school classrooms in Indianapolis as I do most weeks. But something struck me deeply in the center of my chest as I was observing the boredom and apathy in the detached, sleepy and seemingly sad faces of many of these seventh grade students. The teachers were cheerfully present, the standards were posted, the paperwork was almost completed, there were no overt disruptions, and compliance was at hand.
The procedures, rules and transitions were hard-wired into the brains of these middle school students and adults, but an "inner" inspiration and deep subconscious yearning for something else attached to the notion of the "purpose of school" were nowhere to be found.
It's February and love is all around us. You might be thinking, "Really? Where?" That's because it's so easy to get down in the dumps during the winter months and only focus on all of the problems you face in the classroom. Just remember that Valentine's Day is when we're supposed to show our love to family and friends.
It's been a long time since I was in elementary school. But I can remember it like it was yesterday.
I wasn't the cutest, skinniest or best-dressed girl. I wasn't even a popular girl, but I had an advantage; I could sing like "nobody's business," and my teachers loved that about me. As a result, I think I was spared the bullying that could've come from classmates due to my lack of the aforementioned qualities.
When I was school age, I never told a lie, but I bet many of you readers have lied in your youth. Okay, so maybe I did lie a few times . . . All of us have encountered students who've told us lies during our professional careers. One of the best I heard recently was when a teacher confronted a student for copying, word for word, from Wikipedia. The student responded, "I can't help it if Wikipedia copied my paper!"
At a statewide forum on school safety sponsored by the NJ School Boards Association on January 18, 2013, more than 700 educational leaders discussed the issue of school safety and security in light of the unfathomable deaths in Sandy Hook Elementary School. Why it takes a tragedy to force us to think about things that were no less important the day before that tragedy, we can lament. But now, we must act, and act wisely.
Every once in awhile I visit a school that reminds me of what public education can be at its best, a place where I'd like to be, as a child or a teacher, a place that elicits the best in me as an educator. And so it was with my recent introduction to the world of the Mission Hill School, a Boston area public pilot school, as captured by the filmmaking team of Tom and Amy Valens.
In this nine-part series, we will look at important factors that influence the happiness and social and emotional learning of elementary school age children. These are very useful in helping students learn, manage emotions better and increase empathy. Each blog features one letter of the acronym HAPPINESS:
H = Happiness
A = Appreciation
P = Passions and Strengths
P = Perspective
I = Inner Meanie/Inner Friend
N = Ninja Mastery
E = Empathy
S = So Similar
S = Share Your Gifts
In this post, we’ll explore the Inner Negative Meanie, the Inner Positive Friend and the choices that every student has.