Tuesday, September 29, 2009

New Study Identifies Self-Control
As One Key to Student Success

A study published in the July issue of Developmental Psychology confirms what you and all other educators already know: a child’s ability to exercise self-control is a determining factor in his or her success in school.

Indeed, self-control can be more important when it comes to ensuring student achievement than IQ or a host of other factors.

As a principal, you can walk into any classroom on any day and identify right away those students who are exercising self-control. You can see it in their ability to listen. You can see it in their focus. You can see it in their level of on-task behavior…

Your classroom observations -- and the recent study -- make the topic of self-control a perfect one for your next school-to-home “Principal’s Message” for parents.


It used to be that students learned self-control at home. They learned the skills both directly and indirectly from parents and siblings, says Martin Henley, a professor of education at Westfield (Massachusetts) State College. But today, Henley adds, most teachers recognize that they play a large role in developing students' social skills, sense of responsibility, cooperative learning skills, and organizational abilities.

Can a teacher really teach the skills of self-control? Yes, says Henley, who helped identify a list of 20 social skills that comprise a student’s ability to exhibit self-control.

Just as there are reasons why some kids demonstrate self-control, there are reasons why others demonstrate deficiencies in self-control, added Henley. The fact that they were never taught the skills -- and never given opportunities to practice them -- are two of the main reasons. That’s why Henley developed Teaching Self-Control: A Curriculum for Responsible Behavior. His K-12 classroom curriculum provides specific activities for teaching all 20 social skills across the grades.

Parents still play a large role in teaching and reinforcing skills of self-control. For parents, the National Association of School Psychologists says it is important to select age-appropriate goals for children who are learning self-control. The key lies in setting simple, easily attained goals.


If you take advantage of the release of this study as an opportunity to write about self-control in your next school-to-home newsletter, you might draw upon or share with parents these two fine resources:

Teaching Self-Control: Strategies for Parents
The National Association of School Psychologists offers strategies to help parents teach self-control and to help them deal with their child’s feelings as they teach the skills.

Teaching Your Child Self-Control
This KidsHealth.org article offers suggestions to help parents teach their children to control their behavior. Tips are provided for kids from infancy to adolescence.


Teaching Self-Control: A Curriculum for Responsible Behavior
Education World chats with Martin Henley, creator of the Teaching Self-Control curriculum. Included: Twenty self-control skills all children need.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

'Tips for Teachers' Cards:
Free for the Asking

Long gone are the days when teachers simply taught reading, writing, and 'rithematic. Today’s educators are tasked with so much more. "Indeed," says Craig Gilman, "educators today are often held accountable not only for the academic progress of a growing diversity of students, but also for their students’ welfare and well-being."

That's one of the reasons that American Public University is offering educators four fabulous resources, adds Gilman, who is the university's manager of education markets. Each of APU's four complimentary "Tips for Teachers" cards stands as a handy 6- x 8-inch laminated reference tool that any teacher will find to be a valuable resource in meeting the needs of students.


If you're looking for something useful to give your teachers during November's American Education Week celebrations or for any other reason, take a look at these cards. As a principal, you can order sets of one or all of the cards so that every teacher can benefit from these practical classroom tools.

The Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in the Classroom card provides tips for recognizing students who may have ADD/ADHD. It also provides “best practices” for teaching students with the disorders and classroom accommodations to encourage better learning.

The Bullying Intervention card defines bullying and recommends immediate intervention and follow-up strategies to support the victim. The card includes tips for modifying the behavior of the student who is bullying to foster a bully-free environment.

The Recognizing Child Abuse and Neglect card highlights the major types of abuse, including physical, sexual, and emotional maltreatment and neglect. It also describes behavioral and other changes that may indicate abuse.

The Teen Depression and Suicide card summarizes the signs and symptoms of depression in teens and how it differs from adult depression. It also describes how to talk to teens who are depressed – and the dangers of untreated depression.


Complimentary "Tips for Teachers" Cards
American Public University’s Tips for Teachers cards provide easy-to-reference recognition signs of child welfare concerns as well as strategies and techniques that help teachers be more effective in the classroom and support the well-being of students. Click the familiar Adobe PDF symbol next to each card description to view the card in detail. While you are at it, take a quick look at APU's programs for educators.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Flu in School:
Tools You Can Use

The news is full of dire predictions about the current flu season. But with a little prevention education, you can help fend off its impact in your school.

In Maricopa County, Arizona, Dr. Bob England and his public health team are using video and other cool tools to help educators teach students about the flu and reinforce flu fighting tips. One example is this county-produced video about the proper way to sneeze. This Sneezing 101 video is must-see TV for your students.

"There are things we can all do to help fewer of us get sick," England told kids in his a K-8 flu message video. Among England's tips that you should share -- and frequently reinforce with the students in your school -- are:
  • Always cover your cough or sneeze, but don't use your hands. Use a tissue if you have one, or you can sneeze into your elbow so that you don't spray your germs around.
  • Wash your hands alot. Sing yourself the ABC song or the Happy Birthday song while you do it. That way, you'll wash your hands long enough to kill all those germs.
  • If you don't have soap and water and a sink nearby, then hand disinfectent works well too. Just put it on your hands and rub it around. Keep your hands away from your face -- especially your mouth, your nose, and your eyes where the germs can get in.
  • Stay home when you're sick. If you come to school, you'll only spread your germs around to your friends, and then a lot more people will get sick.

    Maricopa County has produced some more valuable resources:

    The Flu and Your Family (in English - in Spanish)
    Tuck this little flyer into the next packet you send home.

    The Flu: A Guide (in English - in Spanish)
    Use this handout if you want to provide your staff or your students' families with more information about the symptoms and care of the flu.

    Flu Public Service Announcement (in English - in Spanish)
    Share this video school-wide during your morning announcements or school news program.

    Handwashing Stickers
    Print out these stickers on a sheet of Avery labels and recognize students when you see them "stopping the spread" by washing their hands.


    Preparing for the Flu: A Communication Toolkit for Schools (Grades K-12)
    Basic information and communciation resources for school administrators. This includes Action Steps for Schools to Prevent the Spread of Flu.
  • Wednesday, September 9, 2009

    Video PD Spurs Engagement Through Humor

    When administrators in the Mesquite (Texas) Independent School District wanted principals to complete 100 classroom walkthroughs before spring break, they employed many tools to keep principals focused on that goal. A humorous video featuring three dancing principals was one effort that grabbed a lot of attention. As it made clear the goal, this video parody of the popular Nextel Dance commercials also modeled the value of technology that is available to the principals. (Click the > below to play the video.)

    When administrators introduced a district-wide goal of raising TAKS [state test] scores by 10 percent, the video parody below of Sonic restaurant commercials was one tool they employed to drive home their goal with a little humor. (Click the > below to play the video.)

    “We’ve been doing these videos since 2006,” Jeannie Stone, a district administrator who works with the videos, told the Dallas News (see the Dallas News article.) "This way of delivering a message has more appeal."

    Staff Meeting Idea

    Another series of videos created by Mesquite ISD staff members spotlights two teachers who have two very different classroom approaches. These hilarious videos compare today’s students to students of the past as they gently nudge teachers to use technology and employ more variety and individualization in their classroom instruction. You might share one or two of the five video links below with your own staff. After viewing the videos, let your staff discuss the important underlying messages. These videos are sure to inspire a lively discussion!

    Clipboard Video

    Counseling Video

    Touche Video

    Better Video

    Fun Stuff Video