Sunday, March 8, 2015

Principal's Suggestion Box Letter #5

These letters are absolutely fictional (to protect the innocent and not-so-innocent.) But, with the hint of truth, maybe we can make some adjustments. Principals have the best chance to do that.

Dear Principal,


Thank you, thank you, thank you for this school year. My daughter Yolanda had the best year ever. Mr. --- ran such a fun, interesting class, her Fifth Grade couldn't be better. Her grades were up and her IEP goals met. We are so grateful.

Yolanda loves to help, and Mr. --'s style of classroom management gave her lots of chances to be busy, up and about, not just in her desk. She loved the projects in class and activities outside. The school garden was heaven to her. And she was so excited to meet the PE goal in the fifth grade mile.

Her previous teacher (in another district)  felt that the active kids needed to learn to be quiet and controlled, and Yolanda's desk was lined up facing out the window with about six other students. When she told me, I wasn't sure if that was really happening until I brought treats for the holiday party, and there there they were, segregated from the class, and couldn't even see the board. It wasn't just the Resource kids, or the bad kids, either. Just the talkative ones who had trouble focusing on the workbooks. I am so relieved to have found your school.

I hear great things about the Sixth grade teachers--projects, PE, afterschool clubs. Yolanda is interested in computers (her older brother has a computer business.) I understand the kids learn to code.

Thank you again, from the bottom of my heart. I will volunteer as I can. Yolanda's brother, Angel--the computer guy--is interested in helping also.

Your Truly,
Yolanda's Mom


Why Is Project-Based Learning Important?


http://www.edutopia.org/project-based-learning-guide-importance 


Teaching Techniques for Inattentive and Overactive Children 

http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Teaching_Techniques/ 


Physical activity may help kids do better in school, studies say 


http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/physical-activity-may-help-kids-do-better-in-school-studies-say/2013/10/21/e7f86306-2b87-11e3-97a3-ff2758228523_story.html 



My suggestion: Creating a well-balanced class is crucial for kids, they are like Renaissance learners and need daily experience in STEM, ELA, the Arts, PE, and throw in a school garden while you're at it. All learners (IEP or not) deserve a well-rounded, healthy experience. A sedentary, punitive classroom does them harm.


If a teacher has active kids, diagnosed ADHD or not, the classroom management needs to match the need. The very opposite of what active kids needs is isolation--it makes matters worse as their brains crave activity. Teachers can collaborate by grade level or subject to provide resources for the classroom all kids need. Special education teachers have important strategic input for kids with ADHD as well.


Principals must be aware of the functioning of all classrooms. That is surely part of  leadership. I have observed both classroom scenarios described above. The brilliant classroom outcome was a direct result of staff working hard together under the leadership of a good principal. The other was the isolation not only of the kids, but the teacher from schoolwide and district resources to aid in the design of a better schedule of activities for this specific group of kids. The principal didn't have a clue what was happening.

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