Friday, February 22, 2008

Teaching Preschool - Patience, Expectations, and Fun

"Not While I'm Wearing the Hat"

Teaching preschool is never a walk in the park. One moment you're trying to sooth a crying child while tearing apart two others who are fighting over the last black pipe cleaner for their art project. For this reason, teaching preschool requires a never-ending supply of patience balanced with enough authority to get the kids to listen.

One great way to keep from being interrupted when teaching preschool is to use a visual focal point to remind the children not to speak, such as a hat. Unless children are bleeding, they cannot speak while the teacher is wearing the hat, even to ask a question.

This helps to teach restraint and patience, as well as the value of listening to others. The hat could even coincide with the theme of the month, such as a Santa hat around the holidays and a baseball cap in the spring.

Great Expectations... but not too great

When teaching preschool, remember to develop expectations specific to each child as opposed to the notion of where they should be developmentally. Some children are able to wait five minutes for something whereas others can only sustain one minute of waiting before their attention wanders. Similarly, some children are out like a light during nap time while others simply will be unable to fall asleep, especially at the beginning of the school year.

When a child succeeds in meeting or exceeding their own set of expectations, always make sure to reward them with positive reinforcement, which is the key to both behavior guidance and the prevention of negative behaviors. And positive reinforcement doesn't just have to be kind words either.

For example, the child could be rewarded by being allowed to sit at the teacher's desk for the remainder of the class. Or they could be permitted to bring their favorite classroom toy or game home for the night. This teaches the child a sense of responsibility in remembering to bring the toy back the next day.

Another great reward for good behavior can be that the child gets to choose which story is read during story time, or what craft everyone gets to do after lunch. By being allowed to make choices for the entire grow, the child is endowed with a sense of group responsibility.

Finally, another great reward for positive behavior is to phone the child's parents, preferably in front of the child just to let them know what a great kid they have. This will make the child feel special since the teacher is taking time from their busy day just to deliver a compliment to the person which most children are trying hardest to impress.

The Golden Rule: Have Fun!

Speaking of delivering compliments, make sure not to forget about supporting the other members of the teaching staff and parental volunteers. A little thank you now and then will go a long way. And at the end of the day, the most important thing to remember when teaching preschool is to have fun. When the children can sense that the teacher is having fun, they too will share in this sense of amusement.

Mary Robinson has been teaching preschool for well over a decade. You can get instant access to her preschool activities, crafts, and lesson plans by visiting her website:

For a limited time, all visitors to Mary's site will also get a free copy of her special report: "The 7 Biggest Mistakes Preschool Teachers and Parents Make". Go get your free copy today!

Orlando Schools Sue Parent for Blog Postings

Orlando schools have been a victim of the information age. In a recent news item, it was revealed that the New School of Orlando is suing a parent for comments posted on the parent's blog about her daughter's treatment while attending kindergarten there. The school is alleging that the parent's statements caused enrollment to drop and that the school should be compensated for damage to its reputation. This one case raises the questions of how personal opinions on the Orlando schools can and should be shared.

Can One Person's Blog Make a Difference at Orlando Schools?

If enrollment at this school dropped because of statements made by this parent, how can the school prove it? Or how could any Orlando schools if it happened to them? It's almost impossible to track how and why parents choose to enroll or pull their children from various Orlando schools. But the pressing question is really whether parents should be prohibited from sharing opinions of Orlando schools online.

By its very nature, a blog is someone's personal observations and opinions posted on a website. Please note that I said "personal." I have no way of knowing if what this parent posted on her blog was true or not. But she believed it. I would hope that no child attending the Orlando schools would be treated with a lack of respect, as was stated on the blog in question. I also hope that no person working at the Orlando schools would think it was appropriate in any way to threaten a parent who had something to say about the school that officials didn't agree with. But reality is that when you have as many families in an area as there are in Orlando schools, someone's going to be unhappy.

Freedom of Speech and Orlando Schools

One idea is that students at Orlando schools (and elsewhere) have the freedom of speech to express their opinions. They should also be discussing the concept of censorship and at what point it is appropriate to tell someone that they can't express their opinion, or if this is ever appropriate.

If what this parent wrote in her blog is not simply giving her opinion about her child's treatment at this Orlando school and her allegations are true, then shouldn't the public be informed of these facts? The institution involved in this case was a private school not part of the public Orlando schools. Yet whether she is or not, her opinion may be helpful to other parents, and my even force Orlando schools to improve.

I don't know whether this blog simply listed this parent's experience with the school or whether she actively discouraged other parents from enrolling their children at this particular school. Maybe she lambasted Orlando schools in general. No matter what, she has a right to her opinion. And as an Orlando schools parent, I want to know what other parents have to say.

Other parents may send their children to this same Orlando school and be quite happy with how the place is run. This woman has the right to express her opinion about any topic she chooses, whether online or elsewhere. Anything else is censorship and has no place in a democracy.

Patricia Hawke is a staff writer for Schools K-12, providing free, in-depth reports on all U.S. public and private K-12 schools. For more information please visit Orange County Florida Public Schools

Public School Teachers - A Lesson in Mediocrity

If the American Public School system were a corporation it would be sued, and then closed for bankruptcy. Its product is crap, its bureaucracy is bloated, and its rank and file is more concerned about their benefits, seniority and pension than excelling. The teachers make the average united auto worker of the eighties look like employee of the year. And while the UAW worker is now paying for their lackadaisical attitude the teacher can go on, thanks in no large part to their own union, indefinitely. But that is not surprising when you look at the make up of your average public school teacher. As a student they went through school with the lone talent of being able to regurgitate the teacher's lesson, never a creative thought in their head. Their idea of human achievement was earning the perfect attendance record for the semester so they could hang it on their wall. They were ignored by their fellow students who enjoyed pranks, challenging authority, dreaming of leaving school, and pursuing careers with passion and dedication. When looking for careers, future teachers had to look no farther then those under achieving adults that patted them on the head like a faithful dog, thier current teachers. Where else could such mediocre clods have power over thirty individuals at once? Certainly not in a boardroom, or leading a seminar, that would be facing adults that have achieved things in their life. Instead these poster children of mediocity discover rather early in life they have nothing to offer their classmates, in fact their fellow man. They do not possess original ideas, they do not posses an ability to make life long friends, and they do not posses the ability to be a constructive teammate. So they seek out others who are lacking in these areas that make people human, public school teachers. Many times forming improper but usually relationships.

The public school teacher is a sanctuary for the mediocre. It does not require any effort, it does not require any talent, it does not require any vision. The requirements are to stay one page ahead of the students, most of whom have no interest in the subject being taught because it in no way relates to anything in their life. And it requires them to reward the kids that fit neatly inside the bell curve of average. Kids that learn differently, have different interests, act out, are to be identified, isolated, and labeled. In short any kid that demonstrates abilities that might become future leaders, are to be ostracized, and/or medicated. If you are bored or disruptive sitting in class, then there will be meetings, diagnostic exams, and you will be classified with A.D.D. or some other disorder. It is never a requirement of the school to change their direction. They are stamping out Model T's only.

For the mediocre these youngsters are a challenge to their authority, and that will not be tolerated. They are the same kids that taunted them back when they were in school, made fun of their joy when receiving that gold star, that pat on the head, for making the teacher smile.

There are a few teachers that do have something to offer. Generally these folks went out to achieve something in the adult world, and then returned to share their knowledge with the kids. They themselves have learned something in their life, and want to share this knowledge, and inspire today's youth. Their efforts while just a drop in the bucket should be commended. It is a decent and proper thing to do, and it shows today's youth well rounded adults do exist.

The mediocre teacher left high school, straight for an under achieving state college, that offers education as a major, and then quickly returns back to high school, this time at the front of the class. What do these people have to teach? What do they have to offer high school students? Nothing? They have no life experience, they have not challenged themselves. They have nothing, except one page ahead in the book.

And the only students they relate to? Those just like them, oh the joy of that perfect attendance record. You know who you are you pathetic dolts.

Mac McMann writes from the male point of view at

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Teacher Next Door Program

Good Neighbor Next Door Program or the Teacher Next Door Program is a unique federal government sponsored home loan program applicable to state-certified classroom teachers in grade K-12. The teacher should be a full-time employee at a public school, private school or a federal, state, county or city educational agency.

Under this program, HUD-acquired single-family homes are offered to teachers at half the purchase price. Homes offered under this program are located in HUD-designated Revitalization Areas and are typically in low and moderate-income neighborhoods. Single-family detached homes, condominiums and townhouses are also included under this program. The loan amount should be utilized for purchasing a home located in these revitalization areas. A teacher should purchase one that is located around the school in the same district or jurisdiction in which he/she is employed.

Revitalization areas contain many vacant homes that were previously insured through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and then foreclosed due to the inability of borrowers to make mortgage payments. In most cases, these are the homes that are offered to customers under the Teacher Next Door Program. These houses come at a discounted price and require a minimal down payment equivalent to $100. Interest rates on the mortgage loans are low and repayment terms are flexible. HUD contains a list of such houses. Hence, there is no need for real estate brokers and agents.

However, there are certain restrictions under this home loan program. The applicants must be citizens of the US and should be the primary resident in the purchased home for at least 3 years. Till that period, the teacher must be employed in the same school. Once the 3-year period is complete, the teacher has the option of selling the property and keeping the profit after clearing the loan.


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