Institute Day gets teachers ready for school

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 2, 2000

Staff Writer

Educators in Pike County should be ready for the first day of school after the pep talk they got Tuesday morning.

Stephen Barkley, executive vice president of Performance Learning Systems, was the speaker for the joint city-county schools’ Institute Day.

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Whether new teachers or veterans of the classroom, everyone seemed to have garnered new knowledge during Barkley’s speech.

The education consultant said teachers should always do two things in the classroom ­ celebrate and look at options.

"The most important thing is for educators to celebrate so they can persevere," Barkley said.

But, the students aren’t the only ones who need to celebrate the victories, Barkley said, adding every school "should have champagne on ice," even if it contains no alcohol.

As any teacher knows, victories on the first attempt are the exception instead of the norm.

Students, he said, need a teacher who is willing "to go back and back to the drawing board" when teaching methods don’t work.

"What makes educators great is options," Barkley said. "Great teachers aren’t great because they know what to do. They are great because they continue to try."

Successful teachers should have "an endless list of options" they use to teach children who learn by different methods.

For example, Barkley categorizes students under three forms of trust under which learning occurs: "totally safe, safety net and push them off the cliff." Some learn to ride a bike only when they know they won’t get hurt; some know there’s a chance to a scraped knee, but learn better when someone’s there to catch them and reduce the chance and others need to be pushed and sent off peddling on their own.

But, knowing how they learn takes getting to know the child.

In an effort to start school on a positive note, teachers should figure out if their students are visual, auditory or tactile/kinesthetic learners, Barkley said, adding the students should also be taught to understand how they learn best.

To get the school year started right, Barkley offered some advice.

"How much time will you spend talking about ‘have-tos’ and ‘gonnas,’" Barkley said of those first-day year breakdowns.

For example, Barkley recommends not talking about that term paper due in the spring on the first day of school.

"What you do is establish the environment for the year in the next few days," Barkley said.