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Back-to-School: A New Take on the Traditional 'Teacher' Gift

Back-to-School: A New Take on the Traditional 'Teacher' Gift

With just a blink, summer is coming to an end and fall is right around the corner. Students of all ages are preparing for a new year; they’re picturing their new teachers, new friends and the experiences they will be a part of during this new school year.

When back-to-school time rolls around, breaking the ice with new teachers can be a tough experience for not only students but for parents as well. After all, you want to be on good terms with the person supplying your child with an entire year of education. This is why we created a simple and nice gesture to give to your child’s new or existing teacher to show appreciation for their hard work, passion and dedication.

The “Helping You Grow” arrangement is a new take on the traditional “teacher’s apple.” Featured in a terracotta pot or similar styled vessel we give you all the necessary tools for you and your child to create a beautiful gesture that not only helps their teacher feel appreciated but also plays a big role in getting your child excited for the new year. Within each pot come multiple baggies — one featuring the perfect amount of soil to fill your pot, another with a variation of succulent plants, and one with decorative rocks. Additionally, a small chalkboard frame with the words “Thank you for helping me grow” will be included with raffia and a pick to either wrap around your pot or stick straight into your little succulent garden. Each garden is different and you can always purchase additional succulent bags, rocks (available in white, brown, and black) as well as fresh floral and more.

Spread the importance of education and show your children how valuable a great teacher is with this simple gesture.

Kristin Slavick, Executive Assistant and Event Coordinator of Flora Couture by Floral 2000 in Las Vegas, NV and Florist on BloomNation.com

Flora Couture by Floral 2000 Bio

For over 16 years, Flora Couture by Floral 2000 has been unquestionably the most prestigious floral design studio in the Las Vegas Valley. As a family owned and operated business, they take great pride in ensuring each arrangement is designed fresh and tailored to the customer’s individual desires. Throughout the city they have been showcased in many of the amazing casinos on the Las Vegas Strip and have been the florist of choice by the "Who's Who of the Valley." They use only the finest product available, thereby guaranteeing superior quality, allowing their unique and artistic designs to be like none other.

BloomNation Bio

The "Etsy for flowers," BloomNation features more than 2,500 top local artisan florists who hand deliver to more than 3,000 cities nationwide. Customers can now shop directly with top florists without having to go through the middlemen sites, such as 1-800-Flowers, all while receiving unique and one-of-a-kind arrangements. Each customer also receives a "BloomSnap," which is a photo of the completed arrangement before it's delivered so the customer is ensured that what was ordered is what will be received.


The Ultimate Back-to-School Shopping Lists (From Kindergarten to College)

We pre-made these school supplies lists to make your back-to-school experience easier (no matter what it looks like this year).

Before your kids go back to school (or enter college!), make a school supply list and check it twice. Even if they're doing homeschooling or virtual learning this fall, it's still important that each student is properly equipped to have a successful school year. Whether you're starting from scratch or sorting through supplies of year's past, use these checklists, which are broken down by grade from &mdash elementary to college &mdash as a guide. If you really want a stress-free summer, print out the list that fits your needs and bring it with you to the store, so you can get in and get out fast. Or, do your school shopping online &mdash pens, backpacks, mini fridges, and more &mdash so you can enjoy your final days of the season.


Reader Interactions

Comments

this list is really awesome for home learning for kids…
you may find more coloring pages about last day of school coloring pages on internet

Great cards, my children love them!

Great! Here is my shop with printables! Maybe you’ll like it!
https://www.etsy.com/shop/ArtValeria

Hi! Here is nice coloring pages for the school topic http://coloring-4kids.com/en/misc/

I want t print the backpack snack labels but I can’t because its unlinked. I hope you can help me thanks

These free printables are wonderful! Very cute and well executed…thanks a million!

Diane Castro Hudspeth says

I would love to add myself to the list. Every school morning I post free printable lunch notes on my site http://littlelunchnotes.com/. Illustrated jokes, fun facts, etc. – please take a look.

Thanks so very much for the great free printables. So generous of you to share. My kids are going to love the Star Wars tags and the School is Sweet tags.

amazing round up of printables! everything you can think of, is right here!

thanks for including mine.
kellie

Some amazing free printables for kids – I love the morning routine cards and the after school conversation cards!… http://t.co/S2GsBEg

Great for #backtoschool, especially the morning routine cards. RT @livinglocurto: Back to School Free Printable Round-Up http://t.co/UHdKNnT

http://ow.ly/67mUA Lots of printables that look like they are geared more for parents, but I can see how many of them could also be used…

THE BEST roundup of FREE School printables over at Living Locurto!… http://fb.me/Nr3At1Bv

So many great printables for our Red Carpet teachers and moms! Happy Back to School time! (Hard to imagine with… http://fb.me/IGMlHJBy

Check out these adorable and FREE Back to School printables on Living Locurto! http://fb.me/wAJpgS4m

THE BEST roundup of FREE School printables over at Living Locurto!… http://fb.me/Nr3At1Bv

Amy, this is great! Thank you! Your morning routine cards have helped our fam soooo much. I give my kids their cards and they GO. Amazing.

Free back to school printables, some really neat ideas too! http://fb.me/GCmcHIL2

Living Locurto has a nice round-up of FREE printables for Back-to-School. So many cute things!! http://fb.me/1cvHZgjwH

These are all so fun! RT @livinglocurto Appreciate your teacher with great ideas from this Free Printable Round-Up http://bit.ly/fSk5Ro

The BEST roundup of free school printables from Living Locurto–over 30 printables! Just in time for teacher… http://fb.me/WSQSQMHM

Back to School Free Printables | Living Locurto – FREE Printables, recipes, party ideas and crafts. http://t.co/whYaby3 via @AddThis

These are adorable! Makes me wish my kids were small again so they would appreciate them. I shared them on FB instead!

What an awesome round-up, thank you!

#Free #backtoschool printables from @livinglocurto http://bit.ly/bICIos

Great roundup! Here’s another for your consideration. My daughters and I made apple-print cupcake toppers, then baked a batch of back-to-school cupcakes for their cousins.
You can download a PDF of our apple prints here:
http://pennycarnival.typepad.com/penny_carnival/2010/08/a-is-for-apple.html

Wow! Thanks for putting this together and a big thanks to all the creative people who contributed to the round-up! I kept busy all morning saving many of these for future use and planning just how I want to use them!

Amy! These are just so wonderful…all of them, so thanks much for sharing (and not making me do any of the work). A number of them are REALLY helpful to me.

These are too cute! Planning on making for preschool graduation cupcakes tonight-they start kindergarten NEXT week! http://bit.ly/dfK7I3 #fb

RT @lwinphotography I just love all these back to school printables from Amy over at Living Locurto! http://fb.me/Avphq3Wq

I just love all these back to school printables from Amy over at Living Locurto! She always has the best round-up… http://fb.me/Avphq3Wq

Printing some cute things from this Back to School Free Printable Roundup http://su.pr/1hez2I via @livinglocurto

Just wanted to let you know I included this fantastic resource in my blog’s weekly Reading Roundup. Thank you for sharing!


40 Positive Back to School Messages, Quotes and Images

Going back to school after a long summer break or even a short vacation can be a time of excitement, anxiety and even a bit of sadness for students of all ages. The new school year is full of many unknowns and that can feel a little scary at first. Also, saying goodbye to a vacation of relaxation and fun isn’t exactly something most kids, even many college kids, look forward to. You can support your favorite student by sending them a positive note to let them know you care. No matter whether you send it in a card or online, a message can let students feel supported and take away some of the fear or melancholy about making the transition from vacation break to a new school semester. Here are 40 back to school messages and quotes to pick from. Each is positive, heartfelt and honest and lets your favorite student, whether he or she is your child or friend, know you understand the importance of this time.


LAUSD’s slow, cautious reopening shows the influence of the teachers union, but it has critics

The Los Angeles school district is set to unfold a gradual and partial reopening plan on Tuesday, one that was heavily influenced by teachers union demands that led to a delayed start date and limited live instructional time — and also by strict safety imperatives shared by both the district and union.

L.A. schools Supt. Austin Beutner has hailed the reopening as a nation-leading model for school safety that is sensitive to families in low-income communities hardest hit by illness and death during the pandemic. But the approach has also generated criticism from those who say the quantity and quality of instruction for 465,000 students have been sacrificed this year as a result of union concerns.

The key safety provisions — including mandatory coronavirus testing for students and staff as well as six-foot distancing between desks — go beyond what health authorities require. The distancing policy has resulted in a half-time on-campus classroom schedule. The timing of reopening — about two months after elementary campuses were eligible to reopen — was set to allow teachers and other district staff to achieve maximum vaccine immunity.

These decisions have defenders, including many parents who live in neighborhoods devastated by COVID-19 and who are still undecided about whether it is safe enough to send their children back to school. But the choices of Beutner and the school board have come with tradeoffs.

“LAUSD’s plans for reopening continue to limit access to in-person learning in ways that fall far short of what many other school districts across the state, including Long Beach, are providing,” said Pedro Noguera, dean of USC Rossier School of Education.

The format launching Tuesday provides two options for parents: a half-time learning schedule on campus that still includes remote instruction or a remote-only option. Based on survey results, about 39% of elementary school students will be returning, 25% for middle schools and 17% for high schools.

The deal is good news for working parents of elementary school children, who can remain on campus all day. Union members will vote next week.

It could turn out that the emphasis on safety will pay off in building confidence among wary parents and families who have endured deadly coronavirus surges — some favor a phased-in return while other are not yet ready to send their children back under any circumstances. Moreover, the union agreements have avoided the labor acrimony that has played out at times in other cities, including New York City and Chicago.

However, other parents have become impatient, blaming the district or union or both, for the education deficits and harms of isolation suffered by their children. This discontent has surfaced in three lawsuits against the district — two of them also name the union as a defendant. All target various aspects of the district’s pandemic learning plan and claim teachers union agreements are a root of the problem. In court documents, the union and district have defended their actions.

The court documents — connected to a September lawsuit over distance-learning — offer insights on how union negotiators, through an August agreement with the district, shaped instruction for the current school year. About 70% of students are likely to remain online as their campuses reopen.

The documents show that district negotiators wanted a distance-learning program that more closely resembled a traditional school-day schedule. The union pushed back: Too much screen time would be detrimental to students. Student and teachers would benefit more from a flexible schedule, which, to the union, meant a shorter school day and less required live online instruction.

A group of parents is seeking a court order to pressure the L.A. school district to reopen full time, five days a week for all students.

The final pact resulted in L.A. Unified requiring the fewest live instructional minutes among the five largest school systems in California, according to research released last month from the advocacy group Great Public Schools Now — although there is little question that many district teachers have far exceeded the minimums set in the agreement.

Under the agreement, the minimum live online instructional time for L.A. Unified elementary students was set at 114 minutes. For neighboring Long Beach Unified, the state’s fourth-largest school system, the figure is 255. For middle and high schools, it’s 138 minutes in L.A. Unified and 300 in Long Beach.

The back and forth of the negotiations are laid out in meeting minutes, emails and proposals filed with the court.

High school students recall their year at home as they prepare to return to campus for the first time since the pandemic began.

Entering into the negotiations, L.A. Unified had come under criticism, in the spring of 2020, for not requiring teachers to provide live online instruction amid the emergency response to close down campuses.

“Don’t want to lose our parents,” said Chief Academic Officer Alison Yoshimoto-Towery, according to meeting minutes for July 16, 2020, which are not word-for-word transcriptions. “They want to know we are committing to a full day. That their $ are going to really support kids.”

“We got beat up pretty good by parents,” said district Director of Labor Relations Tony DiGrazia on July 23. “Biggest concern, teachers getting full pay and not putting in full day I am tryin[g] to address if it appears it is same way it is going to be a problem.”

“We got so much heat in the spring, and continue to get heat now about 4 hours,” added Yoshimoto-Towery, referring to the required length of the teacher work day in the spring of 2020.

A traditional teacher workday would include six hours on campus with students plus about two additional hours for supplementary work on or off campus.

Union negotiators countered that the district should not give in to misguided public pressure — either from the media or from more privileged parents who, they said, did not represent the views of most families, court documents showed.

Los Angeles parents filed a class action lawsuit against Los Angeles Unified, saying the district is failing to provide students with their constitutional right to an education during distance learning.

The union team emphasized that their members had been talking to Spanish-speaking parents — who don’t “make over 100K,” said Grace Regullano, the union’s strategic research and analytics director in the minutes. “That needs to be taken into consideration when talking about equity, who is being heard we are hearing guardians in Spanish, [who] are in lower income said they are satisfied” with what teachers had been providing.

District officials asserted the importance of maintaining familiar schedules and providing adequate instructional time.

“We see a need for live video, need a defined school day, and would like to see the work day mirror or parallel a regular work day,” DiGrazia said on July 16. “Can’t shortchange the students.”

The union team countered that the district was taking too narrow a view of instruction, asserting that excessive screen time would be detrimental. “It’s hard for adults to be on Zoom for 3 hours a day,” said Julie Van Winkle, the union’s vice president for secondary schools. The union team also objected to any insinuation that teachers would not work beyond the required minimum.

“Our teachers have been making themselves available 18-20 hours a day” Gloria Martinez, the union’s elementary vice president said on July 31. “It’s a little bit insulting to assume we will not do what is best.”

The union gave some ground, but well short of what the district team said it wanted. The union also prevailed on reducing the school day: The revised schedule ran from 9 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. rather than from about 8 a.m. to about 3 p.m. Union negotiators insisted that students and families needed the flexibility as well as teachers.

“Some high school students are working to support their families, and won’t be able to make (class time),” said Van Winkle.

‘My parents’ worries became my own.’ L.A. students have taken on grueling work to support their families during the pandemic.

In a statement last week, the union said that the parent plaintiffs in the distance-learning suit have failed to acknowledge that an online day should not be compared directly to a traditional school day.

“The virtual day is necessarily different from one spent on campus, where there are longer breaks for lunch, recess, class changes, and time to answer individual questions while students complete assignments in the classroom,” the statement said. “The in-person school day has never been eight or even six hours of nonstop lecturing (and students generally do not spend eight hours a day on campus), but includes various modes of learning and that variety has been adapted into the remote models.”

When it comes to safety issues — such as distancing, improved air filtration and coronavirus testing — the court records show substantial agreement from the outset even though there were important details to work out, including how school safety committees would operate.

As the distance learning agreement took hold, negotiations continued — although details of those talks have not been made public. However, the terms of various union side agreements that gradually emerged played a role in L.A. Unified lagging behind many other school systems in providing in-person services to students with special needs, such as those with disabilities and students learning English. Tutoring and other help for students reached fewer than 1% of district enrollment before officials shut down all in-person contact during the deadly fall and winter coronavirus surge.

The district declined to respond for this article. In a public letter to the editor of The Times, responding to the latest lawsuit, a district official noted that elementary students will have five days on campus with the addition of child care to cover the span of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. — more than some other districts are offering.

The union, in its statement, asserted that the labor pacts comply with state law and there is support for this.

The county education office confirmed that the state did not require any particular amount of live online instruction for this school year. The only “live” requirement is for a daily check-in.

“UTLA educators have unapologetically prioritized community, student, and staff safety during the uncertainty and dynamic environment of the worst pandemic of our lifetimes,” union President Cecily Myart-Cruz said in the statement. “Educators in L.A. have worked harder and longer hours than any other time in our careers.”

The perils of parenting through a pandemic

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For the Urban Apartment Dweller

Red Lacquer Ballpoint Pen

A perfect gift for the rising young executive, this elegant Parker Sonnet ballpoint pen combines the Chinese red and gold colors for luck and prosperity. Hand assembled and packaged in a premium gift box.

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Chinese Food Magnets

Liven up the refrigerator in any downtown apartment with these adorable magnets featuring a feast of classic Chinese foods like Lion’s Head Meatballs, noodle soup, red bean soup, black sesame dumplings and steamed rice.

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Double Happiness Pulls

Add a little joy to your living space with these brass cabinet door pulls in the shape of the Chinese characters for “double happiness.” The Chinese Brass Hardware collection also includes many other clasps, locks and hinges in both traditional and contemporary Chinese designs.

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Baijiu: The Essential Guide to Chinese Spirits

Baijiu is simultaneously the world’s most consumed liquor by volume and still relatively unknown outside of China. Travel the final frontier of great world alcohols with this comprehensive and practical guide from author Derek Sandhaus.

» Read Reviews and Buy at Amazon.com


Going back to school: The good, the bad and the ugly

Going back to school during the coronavirus pandemic has elicited a jumble of emotions for teachers, students and parents, who have both wanted to see kids back in school buildings but also have feared the risk of contracting covid-19.

This post reports on the experiences of people who have returned to school for the 2020-2021 school year in various school districts. It was written by Carol Burris, an award-winning former principal and now executive director of the Network for Public Education, a nonprofit advocacy organization that supports traditional public school districts.

The organization has been tracking 37 school districts in Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania, representing more than 195,000 students plus thousands of staff in areas with county covid-19 rates ranging from 0 percent to 5.9 percent. All school districts require the wearing of masks, and Pennsylvania schools have active sports programs. The districts studied were in counties that had low coronavirus rates and required wearing masks.

Burris was the long-serving principal of South Side High School in New York’s Rockville Centre School District the high school is mentioned in her report below. In 2010, she was recognized by the School Administrators Association of New York State as its outstanding educator of the year, and in 2013, she was recognized as the New York state high school principal of the year.

By Carol Burris

No one could have been happier than Cooper Knorr when he returned to school this September. Cooper, who bravely battles osteogenesis imperfecta, commonly known as brittle bone disease, had just recovered from his 10th major surgery following his 90th broken bone when his school shut down last spring. “My eyes would hurt from looking at the computer screen,” he said. “In school, it is so much easier to learn.”

“School is his life,” his mother told me. “He is so excited to be back.”

At the same time that she was delighted for him, however, Christine Brown was battling anxiety about returning to the high school where she teaches English. “I was worried. I wished I could stay home,” she said. … I’m not a frontline worker. But seeing the excitement of my own children going back and how grateful they are, my opinion shifted.”

Brown and Cooper Knorr were among the 15 teachers, administrators, parents and students I interviewed about returning to in-person schooling. Their school districts were in New York or Pennsylvania in areas where covid-19 is low, and as one superintendent told me, “We have a fighting chance.”

Unsurprisingly, feelings about the return to in-person teaching are complicated. Tamara Sommers teaches third-graders in Long Beach, New York. She and her special education co-teacher are back five days a week.

“I am normally a germaphobe. The rest of the world is now catching up to me,” she said with a laugh, admitting that she was initially frightened by the thought of return. “We began the week feeling nervous, but every day got better and better. We are solving the problems that arise.”

In rural New York, a middle school principal who requested anonymity opened his school in Columbia County, where there have been few cases. Nevertheless, a few of his teachers were terrified to come back. That changed, he told me, when the students arrived.

“Everyone was relieved. The kids are great at masks, although I sometimes need to remind the adults after school ends to keep them on,” he said. “We just have to work on our social distancing.”

Thom Hessel, a physics teacher at Rockville Centre’s South Side High School, is married to an intensive care doctor who worked through covid-19′s darkest days in New York this past spring. “I saw amazing ICU [intensive care unit] doctors nearly broken last spring,” he said.

Still, Hessel said, he felt cautiously optimistic about sending his own children back, as well as returning to his high school classroom. “I don’t trust the federal government right now, but I trust the state and the county. The other alternative is to hide under your bed.”

The educators in New York and Pennsylvania with whom I spoke reported that students were cooperative regarding wearing masks and following other safety rules. “The kids are really well behaved and excited to be in school,” Sommers told me. All attributed it to the appreciation that students feel for the chance to learn in person once again.

One of those grateful students is Kirill Kilfoyle, a senior at Wellington C. Mepham High School in Bellmore, N.Y. Although he could have remained on remote learning, he said, he wanted to return to school, and his parents agreed.

Kirill’s mother, Marla, was initially frightened at the thought of sending her son back but decided that the district, whose leaders and teachers she trusted, would make sure that safety measures were followed.

“My son has been back to work since July and has been wearing a face mask and understanding and following the safety protocols I put in place,” she said. “As time went on and the district began to share the protocols they plan to follow, I became more comfortable sending him back. I trust the teachers and the district.”

Being with friends was important to Kirill however, he primarily based his decision on his remote learning experience last spring. “I don’t like online learning,” he said. “When I need it, I can get help in class. When I am home, it is too easy to get distracted.” Although he began with a hybrid schedule, he jumped at the chance when he was allowed to go back full time. “I am trying to have a normal day.”

Cristi Tursi, science director of the Long Beach School District, said she chose to send her two daughters back to their local parochial school full time. She told me she did so despite “twangs of fear and concern.” “Long Beach has guidelines for districtwide administrators, but I will still be in every school, so it didn’t make sense to keep my own children home,” she said. “We are a healthy family. We have confidence that if we were to get the virus, in the end, we would be fine.”

Not every parent feels as secure.

There are differences among the confidence levels of parents among districts, as reflected in the percentages of students who return. In the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District, an affluent and overwhelmingly white district on Long Island, 93 percent of the students made the same decision as Kirill. In Long Beach, where 36 percent of the students are Black or Latinx, and 37 percent of all students receive free or reduced-price lunch, 83 percent decided to return.

The Network for Public Education is following 37 districts in New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut that reopened — either hybrid or full time. Of the 23 districts that responded to our inquiry regarding remote learners, the average rate of students who opted to not attend in person was 21 percent. Percentages ranged from 6 percent of the school population to 50 percent. Larger percentages of students of color are associated with higher remote rates.

Superintendent Joe Roy said he has been carefully examining patterns among the 25 percent of students whose families chose remote learning in his district in Bethlehem, Pa.

For the most part, they are students from affluent families who have academic supports for learning at home, or conversely, are from the least affluent homes. The families of his district’s students of color, many of whom work in local warehouses, were hit harder by the pandemic and, therefore, are more reticent to send their children back to school.

Roy’s neighboring district, Allentown, where 86 percent of the students are Black or Latinx, decided to go all virtual after a parent survey showed a majority were not ready for in-person learning. One middle school teacher with whom I spoke, who requested anonymity, said he hopes that the schools open soon. Technology for remote learning has been an issue he told me — from hardware to poor connections.

“We are losing kids,” he said. “Our kindergarten enrollment is much lower than it has been in previous years. Of a class of 19, maybe 17 of my students log on to my early morning class. When I meet them later in the day, 12 or fewer show up. A 6½-hour day on Zoom is brutal. Some are keeping their cameras off, and others don’t respond. Many of my students can’t work independently.”

The challenges of in-person learning

Over half of the 37 districts we are following now bring some or all students back full time. Those schools that are using hybrid typically split students into two small cohorts that share the same teacher. Some bring those cohorts back three days one week and two days the following week. Others bring the cohorts back only two days a week — on consecutive days or staggered days with a fifth day when all stay home.

Although those I spoke with are glad to be back, school is certainly not the same as before the pandemic.

Kirill said he finds it difficult to see through the plexiglass barrier surrounding his desk, and Cooper said he misses sitting and talking with his friends. Sommers told me how her first day of school jokes fell flat because her mask hid her facial expressions. Other teachers told me how tiring it was to speak while wearing a mask.

Teaching students on their at-home days is challenging as well. Some schools are live-streaming classes to students at home, while others provide instruction asynchronously via worksheets, videos and assignments.

Jenn Wolfe, the 2021 New York state teacher of the year, teaches social studies in Oceanside High School. She teaches students in class while streaming instruction to those at home — and it can be difficult, she said.

For one thing, she said, it takes time to get all students logged in, and Internet connections sometimes drop. And it is difficult to pay enough attention to students in the class while dealing with distracting noises or behaviors arising from students at home.

“For me, the time I have with kids in the class is golden and I want to maximize that time,” she said. Because her district permits teachers to alternate between streaming and asynchronous instruction, she said she plans to experiment with having students log in for a few moments and then move to asynchronous, posted instruction to see which is more effective.

Educator Christine Brown in neighboring Rockville Centre also described the difficulties of teaching in-person and remote students simultaneously. “The work would be easier if I were staying home and only teaching remotely,” she admitted. She described the experience of teaching in-person and remote as “plates spinning in the air.”

“Reaching the kids at home is especially hard,” she said. “Some are school-ready, sitting up and ready to work. Others have hoodies up, or they are in their bedrooms.”

Brown’s colleague, math teacher Mary Coleman, agreed. “It’s a lot. I use my iPad to take attendance, my desktop computer to project the lesson and my laptop to keep an eye on the kids at home,” she said. Nevertheless, Coleman said she likes the idea of streaming. “I am learning how to use breakout rooms for real and virtual learners to help them socialize and be a part of the class.”

Even with her best streaming efforts, however, her students find it more challenging when at home. Coleman asked her students for feedback on how it was going. “Two-thirds reported that on the days they are home learning virtually, it is harder to learn. It is harder to focus and more difficult to process new material,” she said. Coleman concluded that there is “something about that body-to-body connection that somehow helps learning.”

And then there is the question of the teacher’s willingness to make the remote student a part of the class. One Port Washington, N.Y., parent, who spoke with me on the condition of anonymity, chose full-time remote instruction for her elementary school son. He is streamed into a class in a district where teachers had strongly objected to cameras in the class. “I am not sure I made the right decision,” she said. “He is like a fly on the wall in his class.”

Streamed instruction raises additional complications. Teachers acknowledged the inhibiting effect of teaching when others in the household might listen in. As a social studies teacher, Wolfe would naturally include discussions of the presidential election as part of her classes. She said she now worries that the robust discussions and debates she usually includes might lead to parent complaints.

“Sensitive topics like the election require preestablishing class norms and relationships with students in order to build the skills necessary for living in a democracy,” Wolfe said. “As parents walk through rooms, however, they might hear something they do not agree with and mistake healthy debate for electioneering.”

Brown said that this past spring, a parent in the district where she lives recorded and posted a class on social media.

As a high school English teacher, she said she knows literature can bring up sensitive issues in class discussions. “I teach Romeo and Juliet. In many ways, it is a play about bad parenting. … It ends with teenage suicide. We grapple with young people who hate because they are taught by adults to hate. For adolescents, school is a safe place where they can freely express their ideas. That dynamic changes when parents are listening in.”

Still, the other option, asynchronous learning on at-home days, has its drawbacks as well.

Lori Rusack, a fifth-grade teacher in Pennsylvania, told me that she is thrilled to be back in the classroom.

“I felt I lost so many kids in the spring,” she said. “I am much happier to be with children. I like our workflow of every other day in person-instruction. We call those days onstage days. The difficulty occurs on the offstage days, when students must independently do the work. It is hard to get all of the assignments in.”

Rusack said there were haves and have-nots in terms of parental supervision and support, depending upon family resources and work. She has resorted to giving out certificates for hybrid heroes, even giving one boy a quarter every time he hands in his work.

Discussing the pros and cons of all of the hybrid models, Superintendent Roy commented, “none of this is our preferred model.” However, he believes that hybrid learning with small groups of students has helped the contact tracing needed in order to keep everyone safe.

What we know so far about safety

The Bethlehem Area School District, which opened in August, serves 13,600 students educated in 22 schools. Over half are Black or Latinx, and 60 percent receive free or reduced-price lunch. The district has a website that keeps the public up to date on coronavirus data. There have been 19 students or staff members who have tested positive, but no outbreaks in the schools.

The city of Bethlehem, which has its own health department, advises the superintendent how to proceed. Some cases require no action — such as second-shift workers who had no contact with others. In other cases, there has been contact tracing and small group quarantine.

So far, infections have resulted from activities outside the school, including carpools, flag football and a Bible study class. “Because we know that the cases are not coming from in-school spread, we can quarantine small groups but not shut down,” Roy said.

To date, we have not seen reports of in-school spread in any of the districts we are following. While some have experienced cases of covid-19 that resulted in short closures for contact tracing and cleaning, most cases have resulted in small group quarantine. All of the schools we are following require students and staff to wear masks.

That, however, is not always the case. A southern Illinois teacher, who asked to remain anonymous, told me of the absolute terror she feels each day because some of her colleagues are casual about wearing their masks and even allow students to take them off, despite a state mandate that masks must be worn except when students are eating or playing an instrument. “I teach in Trump country,” she said. “Some teachers don’t think masks are needed.”

Red states can be especially problematic. In Florida, there is no state mandate for masks. Other Republican-led states, however, are more responsible when it comes to safety measures. Despite pushback from the state’s attorney general, masks in schools were mandated in the state of Louisiana by the Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards.

That mandate makes all the difference to teacher Mercedes Schneider. “I teach in a red state with a blue governor, and let me tell you, the presence of that blue governor has given me confidence that I would not be sacrificed to a politically rushed return to a packed classroom of non-masked high school students,” she said. “Three weeks in, both mask-wearing and hybrid-schedule-enabled social distancing have been critical factors in stabilizing our in-person learning at my school.”

Despite all of the challenges of teaching in the time of covid-19, teachers found some silver linings. Tamara Sommers said she believes that many families are now more involved. Fifth-grade teacher Lori Rusack told me she enjoys working with some of the new technology options she now has.

Thom Hessel hopes there will be long-term benefits for children. “Maybe it’s building a level of resilience in kids. Perhaps they will have a greater appreciation of everything they have when this is over.”

And Jenn Wolfe said she saw long-term benefits for teachers as well. “Everyone has to rethink their teaching,” she said. “Old lesson plans are out the window. There is much more talk about instruction, and teacher-to-teacher collaboration has become the norm in the faculty room. We are constantly reevaluating what we do and how we do it and then enhancing what we do.”

Forty-year veteran teacher Mary Coleman could have applied for a medical exemption but declined. For her, coming back was itself the silver lining.

“With masks, social distancing, staggered class dismissal and hand sanitizer in class, I feel very safe, safer than in some other places I have been,” she said. “Frankly, I needed to be back for my own psyche. I need the kids as much as they need me.”


First-Day-of-School Surveys: Get to Know Students

Faced with a sea of fresh faces each fall, teachers need to be able to get to know their new students quickly. Break the ice with the following back-to-school questionnaires created or recommended by EducationWorld.

With these tools, educators can start building a positive classroom climate on day one. Student surveys get teachers up to speed quickly regarding young people’s learning preferences, strengths and needs. Questionnaires also can provide a sense of students as individuals.

Use or adapt the survey questions below to suit your grade-level and classroom needs:

Lower Grades

  • Elementary-level students can complete a Student Profile Form Template with help from their parents or guardians.
  • Perfect for the primary grades, the My Favorite Things worksheet can be filled out by younger learners.

Upper Grades

  • EducationWorld’s 10-question Back-to-School Survey is great for students in grades 3-8.
  • The two surveys below, from I Want to Teach Forever’s Tom DeRosa, were created for an algebra class but can be adapted for other high-school classes:
  • From California State University Science Education Professor Norman Herr, this student questionnaire could be adapted for all grades.
  • See pages 30-38 of Macomb (MI) Intermediate School District’s New Teacher Academy Handbook [archived version] for elementary-, middle- and high-school surveys.
  • Prefer a conversation/class discussion to a survey? See Suite 101’s First Day of School Introduction Activities [archived version]. These conversation-starters can be adapted for various grades.

Article by Celine Provini, EducationWorld Editor
Education World®
Copyright © 2013, 2017 Education World


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Contents

The definition of traditional education varies greatly with geography and by historical period.

The primary purpose of traditional education is to transmit to a next generation those skills, facts, and standards of moral and social conduct that adults consider to be necessary for the next generation's material and social success. [2] As beneficiaries of this plan, which educational progressivist John Dewey described as being "imposed from above and from outside", the students are expected to docilely and obediently receive and believe these fixed answers. Teachers are the instruments by which this knowledge is communicated and these standards of behaviour are enforced. [2]

Historically, the primary educational technique of traditional education was simple oral recitation: [1] In a typical approach, students sat quietly at their places and listened to one student after another recite his or her lesson, until each had been called upon. The teacher's primary activity was assigning and listening to these recitations students studied and memorized the assignments at home. A test or oral examination might be given at the end of a unit, and the process, which was called "assignment–study–recitation–test", was repeated. In addition to its overemphasis on verbal answers, reliance on rote memorisation (memorization with no effort at understanding the meaning), and disconnected, unrelated assignments, it was also an extremely inefficient use of students' and teachers' time. [ according to whom? ] This traditional approach also insisted that all students be taught the same materials at the same point students that did not learn quickly enough failed, rather than being allowed to succeed at their natural speeds. This approach, which had been imported from Europe, dominated American education until the end of the 19th century, when the education reform movement imported progressive education techniques from Europe. [1]

Traditional education is associated with much stronger elements of coercion than seems acceptable now in most cultures. [ citation needed ] It has sometimes included: the use of corporal punishment to maintain classroom discipline or punish errors inculcating the dominant religion and language separating students according to gender, race, and social class, [ citation needed ] as well as teaching different subjects to girls and boys. In terms of curriculum there was and still is a high level of attention paid to time-honoured academic knowledge.

In the present [ when? ] it varies enormously from culture to culture, but still tends to be characterised by a much higher level of coercion than alternative education. Traditional schooling in Britain and its possessions and former colonies tends to follow the English Public School style of strictly enforced uniforms and a militaristic style of discipline. This can be contrasted with South African, US and Australian schools, which can have a much higher tolerance for spontaneous student-to-teacher communication. [ citation needed ]

    and lectures
  • Students learn through listening and observation [4]
  • Hands-on activities
  • Student-led discovery
  • Group activities

Little connection between topics [3]

Focus on independent learning. Socialising largely discouraged except for extracurricular activities and teamwork-based projects.

  • A single, unified curriculum for all students, regardless of ability or interest.
  • Diverse class offerings without tracking, so that students receive a custom-tailored education.
  • Regarding the school-to-work transition, academically weak students must take some advanced classes, while the college-bound may have to spend half-days job shadowing at local businesses.

Students choose (or are encouraged to choose) different kinds of classes according to their perceived abilities or career plans.

Decisions made early in education may preclude changes later, as a student on a vo-tech track may not have completed necessary prerequisite classes to switch to a university-preparation program.

  • Presentation and testing methods favour students who have prior exposure to the material or exposure in multiple contexts.
  • Requirements to study or memorise outside school inadvertently tests homes, not students.
  • Students from homes where tested subjects are used in common conversation, or homes where students are routinely given individual help to gain context beyond memorisation, score on tests at significantly higher levels.
  • Context learning integrates personal knowledge within the school environment.
  • Individualised expectations simplifies individual supports and keeps focus student-based.
  • Community study settings include multiple cultures and expose all students to diversity.
Topic Traditional approach Alternative approaches
Communicating with parents A few numbers, letters, or words are used to summarise overall achievement in each class. Marks may be assigned according to objective individual performance (usually the number of correct answers) or compared to other students (best students get the best grades, worst students get poor grades).

A passing grade may or may not signify mastery: a failing student may know the material but not complete homework assignments, and a passing student may turn in all homework but still not understand the material.