Sunday, August 29, 2010

Nearly One Million Children in U.S. Potentially Misdiagnosed With ADHD, Study Finds

"Nearly One Million Children in U.S. Potentially Misdiagnosed With ADHD, Study Finds
ScienceDaily (Aug. 17, 2010) — Nearly 1 million children in the United States are potentially misdiagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder simply because they are the youngest -- and most immature -- in their kindergarten class, according to new research by a Michigan State University economist.

These children are significantly more likely than their older classmates to be prescribed behavior-modifying stimulants such as Ritalin, said Todd Elder, whose study will appear in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Health Economics.

Elder said the "smoking gun" of the study is that ADHD diagnoses depend on a child's age relative to classmates and the teacher's perceptions of whether the child has symptoms."

This is another great example of how important it is to NOT push ahead your child in school. I have never met anyone who regretted keeping their child from entering kindergarten if their birthday would put them as one of the youngest in the class.

Read the whole article here:

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Race to Nowhere

What makes a great teacher?

Keith Middleton, Associate Superintendent of Mason County Schools, asked some students this question for AOL. The top 11 things he and a co-author of a recent book found students saying were:

* Know us personally, our interests and strengths
* Let us know who they are as individuals
* Smile at us
* Encourage us to participate in school activities
* Spend time beyond class time to help us be successful in their class
* Give us descriptive feedback on assignments
* Tell us why
* Share how what we learn is connected to real life
* Apologize when they make mistakes
* Give meaningful work
* Are energetic, enthusiastic and enjoy their job
This is from Eric Greitens, Outside Magazine's chief inspiration officer. Five steps on how to overachieve 1. Vigorous exercise, everyday 2. Eat clean. Eat food that is good for you and keeps energy high 3. Assembly your team. Work with positive people who think they can do big things 4. Balance. Meditate, laugh, work, play. 5. A goal. Focus on something you want and don't relent.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

When is the door closed?

As we enter the school year, there are always those uncomfortable situations with families whose contracts for the school year were not extended in the Spring. Those family's are often in denial or upset with the situation. Their son or daughter may or may not have a future in independent school, and this could be a real shock. Yet, there could be long standing relationships with those families and the school may feel an obligation to the parents and the student. How does the school proceed? Carefully.

Monday, August 23, 2010

I just read a great article on a new boys school in the East Bay. Every boy will get a hammer, power saw, and wood. Why? To build their own desk!

Advice for new teachers...

This list comes from the blog of Josie Holford, Head of Poughkeepsie Day School . She is a wonderfully thoughtful educator, with great opinions and experience in independent schools. Though most of you are not new teachers, I like to think we all begin anew each year.
Advice (random and very incomplete) for new teachers:
1. Sign on to Twitter. Follow the smartest people you can find in your areas of interest. Build a great PLN – personal learning network – of the wisest and most helpful people you can find. Follow people with whom you agree and those who challenge your assumptions. Follow people like you; follow people not like you. One place to start looking: Twitter for Teachers wiki.
2. Expand your PLN with colleagues in your school, in other schools and elsewhere from whom you know you can learn.
3. Assume that your older colleagues want to be helpful and see you succeed. This includes administrators. Invite them to your classroom. Ask their opinion. Ask to see them teach – or whatever it is they do. See if you can find a project of theirs in which you can participate.
4. Understand that you are going to fail. Don’t be afraid of failing. The ratio of success to failure is about equal so fail fast and frequently and try again.
5. Read and understand the mission of your school. Talk about it with colleagues. Find out what it means to people and how they strive to live by it.
6. Keep working on your own educational philosophy. How do children learn? What does that mean for how you conduct yourself in the classroom and your routines, policies and practices? Which educational theorists make the most sense? Learning is serious stuff so take it seriously and have fun doing it.
7. The hardest part about working with children can be keeping your face straight. Laugh with your students and at yourself. Learning is disorderly and messy and is taking place whether it’s what you planned or not.
8. Think about the forces of change and disruptive innovation. What do they mean now and what might they mean for the world your students will inherit as they move out into the world? What do they need most to be educated citizens and thrive in that world? How can the tools of technology help you collaborate with other learners to do creative good work?
9. Remember that every child is a learner, deserves a great education and to be respected and cherished and that very few of them are like you. Saving face is the number one priority for most children in school – so work to preserve the sense of self worth and dignity however trying the circumstances.
10. Seek out colleagues and learn with them and from them. Appreciate the wisdom of veteran teachers. Avoid at all costs those who are cynical about children, have stopping learning and are nodes of negativity about the school. This may means avoiding the faculty room. Seek out colleagues who share your commitment to learning. Hang out with them and do something fun.
11. If you and the school are not a good match, work to contribute and stay mission consistent and positive but be prepared to change schools. One size does not fit all goes for shoes, lesson planning and finding the school that is a place where you can be a positive contributor to the lives of children.
12. Take advantage of professional development opportunities
13. Take advantage of the opportunity to work with students outside the classroom – clubs, teams, school trips.
14. Learn from failure, learn from practice, learn from collaboration with colleagues, learn from theory. Most of all – stay a learner. (And staying a learner is the number one reason for being active on Twitter.) And here is Cybrary Man’s website of resources for new teachers. He is Jerry Blumengarten and twitters @cybraryman1
15. Eat well, don’t live and breathe school, wash your hands and get lots of sleep

Sunday, August 22, 2010

If you have not read Nurtureshock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, do. Very interesting take on how we should be parenting.
Amazing. Texting in a post right now...

Summer's almost over...

It has been a wonderful summer for my kids. My son Ben got on a surfboard in Far Rockaway, found hermit crabs in Gloucester, made many friends while away at Armenian camp and got to kayak in Lake Placid. Sarah Rose, rode swan boats in Boston, was the dancing queen at my cousins wedding in Connecticut and dug endlessly on the beaches of the Adirondacks, Finger Lakes, and Massachusetts. What a wonderful way for them to spend their days - unhurried, investigating, trying new things, greeting new friends. Then I thought, why can't experiences conntinue once school starts? Can't schools be places where children do these things - play, explore, team - in an environment that is tolerent of a child's need for time in order to reach discovery?