Back to School!

Hello all!  It's Back to School time.  I know some do not return to school until after Labor Day, but for the rest of us on a traditional calendar, school is already in session.

I know I've been missing for a while, but if you recall, I mentioned that my middle school closed and I was relocated to an elementary school.  With that being said, I had to start over.  After I returned from Belize, I immediately had to return to work (off the clock).  Unfortunately, those two days I had, I was not feeling well and so I accomplished nothing.  The first Teacher Workday was on the following Monday and Open House was on the following Thursday, so in essence, I had four days to create a classroom learning environment.

I know there is a lot of empty space, but I prefer using more of my wall space to display anchor charts that aide instruction or student work.  Ready to see?  Oh, yes, I forgot to mention that now I'm teaching 5th Grade Science and I am so excited!

I took these photos on the afternoon of the first day of school.  This is my first time teaching in a 1:1 technology environment.  In other words, all students have access to their own computer.  We're using Chrome boxes for now.  So, I'm going to have to tweak my instructional practices a bit to incorporate cooperative learning opportunities, hands-on labs, and technology.  I accept the challenge!


5 Tips For Getting Kids To Clean Their Room {Guest Post}

Making your kids clean their room almost always turns into a war. You go through all the stages – from calmly reminding and bargaining to yelling and threatening. The result is frustrated parents, unhappy children and messy rooms. Obviously, the old method doesn’t work. Kids will be even more persistent to do the opposite to what they are told. So what can a parent do in such situation?

If you don’t want your kid’s room covered with dirty piles of laundry, food leftovers and garbage, then you need another strategy.

Understand Their Logic
As it happens with most kids, they don’t clean their room because they simply have more exciting things to do.  It can be anything from going out, pursuing a hobby or simply watching TV. Some children may get so involved in a certain activity that it’s the only thing they want to do, like video gaming for example. Consider the situation from their perspective. If you are faced with the choice to engage in something you like versus the boring cleaning chores, which one will you pick?
Sometimes the refusal to clean up their room is a matter of power struggle. Older children and teens tend to develop a more rebellious attitude. The more you try to control them, the more motivated they feel to resist than to clean.

Start Young
If you want to teach your child cleaning habits, then do it from the early age. Involve your kids in the cleaning chores. Choose tasks that are appropriate for their age. Toddlers and younger children can be very helpful. They can collect their toys and putting them in the box. While cleaning and organizing together, you also help them develop their motor skills.

Make It Fun
When it comes to kids, the key to fostering certain behaviour is by making it fun. Turn cleaning into a game. In this way you will establish positive association with these tasks. Instead of considering household chores dull and boring, they will find it entertaining. You can do this by turning domestic cleaning into a game. Be creative. Set a timer and see who will finish their tasks faster. You can go with the tried and tested method – positive reinforcement. For every job your kid completes, they will get a reward.

Give Them Some Autonomy
Kids, especially older ones value their private space. You need to respect that. Let them take care of their own place without intervening. This will make them feel more responsible for their room. If they are not cleaning their room, you should not do it for them, at least for a while. Most kids go through the messy phase and eventually overcome it. There is no need to overreact.

Take a Broader Look
Your child’s lack of cleanliness may be part of a larger problem.  If it is combined with other behavioural changes like low academic performance or socializing issues than you need to consult a professional.

Find more cleaning tips at: Useful Carpet Cleaning In Wimbledon

Guest post by Ella Andrews.

Belize: Day 9 - The Journey Home

While waiting in the International Airport a few hours before my flight arrived, I had the pleasure of talking to an older Creole woman who was escorting four young Belezian girls back to the states.  The girls revered her as they would their grandmother, although she was of no relation; merely a trusted friend of the family.  This woman classifies herself as Belezian, but still I noticed that although she never referred to herself specifically as being black, everything she discussed was in the context of being black.

This well-traveled woman has visited several countries in Africa, the UK, and of course the U.S.  As we discussed being able to connect with our ancestors, she made it clear that although in Belize, everyone is considered Belezian with no regards to which ethnic group you belong to, being Creole, she always knew she had a connection elsewhere, to Africa, and longed to travel there.  To her dismay, in all the countries she traveled to in Africa, she felt like an outcast, like she was not pure.  The problem, she said, was within our own people.  The Africans, she said, sold their own people into slavery.  It was not her fault that as a result she became of mixed blood.  Then when she traveled to the United States, she felt that same disconnect from African-American people.  Again, she was different.  No one reached out to help her.  She felt it was like every man for himself. 

She said that it was more painful to experience this negative attitude from people with her same descent that from anyone else.  From those experiences she learned that although she longed to feel a certain connection to her ancestral roots, she had learned to accept the fact that she is of African descent even if she is never accepted.  It is no longer important to her that she gains this external acceptance because in her heart she knows she belongs.  Her hope for me was that I was able to experience hospitality in her home country as she had wished to initially feel when she entered the United States.  Thankfully, I was able to inform her that I felt welcomed here in Belize.  I did not feel like an outsider, although clearly I was.  There was nothing but good feelings here.

On the flight home I had the chance to reflect upon what the woman in the airport discussed.  Why is it that my own people cannot always be more supportive of each other?  Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs tells us that all of us have a desire to belong.  But it is quite shameful that as a people we do not always help others, regardless of race or ethnicity, to help satisfy that sense of belonging.  Now as I welcome a new group of children this school year, I must make conscious efforts to make sure to include everyone; to ensure that no child feels less than or that he or she cannot establish his or her place in the class, in the school, and in society.  We all matter.

Gaining Awareness,