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Lead from the Start: November 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Finding NCLB

In my spare minute today, I set out to find one of my favorite and controversial bloggers, Alexander Russo. I found him at He has moved to from ed-week. He posted this quote of the week from a comment on one of his blogs.

"Our logic was explicit: creating loopholes to delay the damage until the Republican governors came to our rescue...Where we crossed a moral line was when districts adopted tricks that directly damaged children."

Then I found this awesome quote from the same comment:

"the Feds continued to go utopian on us"

This pretty much defines NCLB for me. I know it is an important law that has opened many eyes to the "unseen" subgroups from previous accountability reforms. But, to "go utopian" on educators and students contradicts what many see as the democratic foundations of education. It denies the real attention to real undeserved populations. Perfection is the enemy of progress.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Circle Time

It occurred to me after looking at my google analytics that most of my website hits were from people looking for information about how to "do" circle time in a preschool. So, I decided to give the people what they want. I will not focus on the details of the enterprise, like specific songs, finger plays, etc. although I will include those. I will talk about how and why we do circle time and the strategies, as opposed to activities that are most successful at reaching those ends.

So I will start like I start circle time. I just start.

That is the key for me to getting the learning ball rolling. I will take down my guitar or just start singing. When I first began teaching I would try to get all of the kids quiet before I started. I wanted to make sure I was the center of attention.

Over time though I have realized that teaching is not really about me although I am the instrument for what it is about, learning. I know I can't teach without engagement so I try to do something fun to start off. I also don't wait for every student to be in the circle before I start. In my school we come from breakfast and must go to the bathroom and wash our hands first thing. Getting all 18 students cycled through this can be time consuming so, I focus on making "circle time" THE place to be, as opposed to in the bathroom or playing in the water at the sink.
With the weight of interest in the circle it is much easier to get the entire class moving in the same direction. Right now my favorite way to start is with the song: I Like the Way that They Stack the Hay by Ella Jenkins from This A Way That Away.