11 ways to gather online reviews for your school

This is  the second in the series of my posts on importance of  online reviews to your school enrollment strategy. I outlined some reasons why you may want to embrace online reviews in my last post.

 

Getting online reviews for your school is not a rocket science but you have to make conscious efforts to achieve real success in it. The alternative to it which most school owners do is to leave it and do nothing about it – the consequence is grave and the risk is high.

For those who want to give it a try, here are 11 tips for achieving it.

1. Ask, Ask, and Ask: The truth is that if you don’t ask, you are not likely to get it. Customers are more prone to writing negative reviews about products than writing negative reviews. When last did you go online to tell the world how great this dress you bought looks on you? It is just natural.

Cultivate the habit of asking parents to review your service. You’ll be surprised by their willingness to do so.

2. Make it simple and seamless: If you are requesting your parents to drop a review for your school, be sure that you don’t make it complex – send them an email or SMS and make sure the message contains a link to the exact place where to write the review with clear instructions. Avoid a situation where they have to navigate there themselves or figure out what to do.

 3. Tell them what to expect: Unfortunately, most review sites require users to log in before they can write reviews. This is to prevent ‘spamming’ or any other automated and unwanted inputs but most users detest it.

If users are required to login before reviews are made, let the users know beforehand so they expect it and psychologically prepare for it. It is OK to manage such expectation, otherwise, it could be a roadblock that could get them irritated and leave the sites without writing any.

Photo Credit: Treasure Chest Place, Ajah

Take advantage of happy their moments:  When they come to you telling you how their children have improved academically under your tutelage and singing praises of your school. Take advantage of that moment, ask them to prove it by writing a review for your school.

Photo Credit: Blooming Green, Yaba

4. Don’t ask for positive feedback/review, ask them for honest feedback/review: Asking parents directly for positive reviews has automatically defeated the purpose of asking in the first place. There is a huge difference between ‘Positive’ and ‘Honest’ feedbacks in the mind of your customers. ’ You don’t want to come across as being forcefully or telling them that, ‘I know I don’t merit it, but do it for me’. That alone is negative, be careful with your choice of words.

 

5. Send email reminders to willing parents ONLY: It is very possible that some busy parents genuinely forget to write the review as promised, take time to check online to see if they have not done so and sent them a gentle reminder or SMS to nudge them to do so. In order not to appear intrusive, make sure you send to only parents you have had a conversation with before.

 

6. Start with your circle of friends: A good place to start your request for online reviews is your good friends among the parents who are not likely to say NO. This is called ‘low hanging fruits’. With this, you know what works in your approach and also what does not work. Perfect your strategy of reaching out and then launch it to other parents.

Photo Credit: Rainbow College Boarding

7. Take advantage of special events: Get a series of internet-ready devices on your special event days like PTA, inter-house sports and all that and politely asking parents to OPTIONALLY drop a review the same way you ask them to register their arrival. You may not get all of them to oblige but remember that reviews are not a game of numbers. One or two positive reviews could be all you need.

You may also decide to go ‘manual’ and offline to achieve the same purpose if you don’t have the resources. ’

8. Create a memorable and newsworthy event or scintillating performance:  According to James Hadley Chase, Goldfish have no hiding place‘. Try to organize a newsworthy event that attracts the attention of everyone in the space- even the government. This would definitely trend and fetch your school some ‘Accolades’. ’

Imagine one of your pupils wins N1M on ‘who wants to be a millionaire’ programme or had A1 in all his/her external examination.

Naturally, every parent of your school would like to identify with it, they likely go online themselves telling the whole world that they also have children in your school that are doing great – This give credence to the fact the success has many families but failure is an orphan. Take a deliberate effort to be extra successful and innovative and watch the magic!

10. Introduce incentives: Many parents see an online review as stressful that they don’t want to go through or make time for. As a school owner, putting yourself in their shoes will also have the same feeling running through your mind.

Naturally, customers behave like children and creating a review and reward promo in any of the school events by offering incentives such as simple chocolates, sweet, biscuit, tickets to watch films etc to parents can ease that stressed feeling and make reviewing your school sound exciting and simple to parents.

11. Be honest with it: Let parents know that this is to your benefit and it is just a favour you are asking from them. Don’t package it as if they are also benefiting from reviews when they are not.

 

 

 

8 Fun Ways To Keep Math Learning Alive Through the Summer

Summer is a time for play and rest, family time and adventures. But there’s compelling research to show that kids forget a lot of what they learned during the school year if they don’t have opportunities to continue reading, using their mathematical thinking skills and exploring the world around them.

It’s also been well-documented that the gaps between kids from high and low socioeconomic statuses grow over the summer. Affluent kids often have access to enriching experiences like travel, summer camp and visits to museums. Summer may be one of the most unequal times of the year, and that makes it hard on teachers in the fall. But there are plenty of low-cost ways to keep kids learning through the summer without sitting them down to do worksheets or drilling them on a math app.

Valorie Salimpoor is a trained neuroscientist who consults for the educational gaming company Cognition and has insight into helping kids who struggle with fractions. She also has two young kids of her own. She has been using her knowledge of the learning brain and her fascination with brain development to infuse her kids’ play time with math that’s fun and that sticks. Based on what she has seen work with her own kids, she’s pulled out some basic principles of fun activities parents can do with kids of many ages after school, on weekends, and during the summer.

“We know from a lot of research that there is a summer loss, and it seems to be more significant for math than it is for reading,” Salimpoor said. She thinks that could be because many adults are math anxious themselves, so when they imagine math activities for their kids they think about counting activities or doing math facts, while they enjoy reading to their children. Those activities are boring and don’t leverage what scientists have discovered about “sticky” learning.

Salimpoor has found good results utilizing eight traits of the learning brain to her advantage.

1. Engage intrinsic motivation

Intrinsic motivation is a powerful force for learning. People are most often intrinsically motivated when they have control over what they’re learning and have a sense of competence while engaging in the learning. The activity isn’t too hard or too easy; it’s just the right amount of challenging to keep the mind engaged.

“If you do a task when you have intrinsic motivation it significantly increases your performance and what you learn,” Salimpoor said. Because the activity itself is highly engaging to the learner, he pays more attention and the brain records the information better. “Any time there is more dopamine flowing in your reward systems, you are much more likely to consolidate the information better,” Salimpoor said.

She has found the easiest way to recreate that sense of “flow” with her children is to infuse math into activities they already love. For examples, her son loves Legos, so in addition to letting him build whatever he wants, she sometimes encourages him to make blueprints of what he’s planning to build. She asks him to predict how many blocks he’ll need and to think about scale, perimeter and area. She’s essentially infusing spatial awareness into an activity he’s already excited to do.

“This only works for people who are big fans of Lego. That’s sort of the whole point of this,” Salimpoor said.

Another example might work for kids who are passionate about Minecraft. With just a few small tweaks like planning what to build ahead of time, playing Minecraft can be mathematical. And Salimpoor said practising a little math every day is all it takes to keep skills sharp.

2. Engage emotional arousal

Emotion is an incredibly powerful part of learning that can easily get overlooked. “We can do a boring task over and over and not remember it, but you can experience an emotional moment once and remember it forever,” Salimpoor said. Emotion centres are tightly tied to memory centres, so when possible try to build emotion into summer activities.

It can be relatively simple to do. Even a project like building a kite together involves some climactic moments of heightened suspense that will be memorable. Making a stellar kite will require research, planning, measuring, sketches and probably some trial and error. The first time the child throws the kite in the air to see if it flies will be an emotional moment filled with suspense. And it’s more than likely the design will require more tinkering, and hence more math.

“The whole idea here is you’re thinking about it and revising your strategy,” Salimpoor said.

It could take all summer to build the perfect kite, but along the way will be several climactic moments, along with more learning, revising and planning. The math is embedded in a fun activity that has an emotional payoff.

3. Use extrinsic rewards wisely

Using extrinsic rewards to get kids to do things is a controversial, though common, practice. Some research indicates that when kids are rewarded for doing things they already like, they lose interest in the activity. That’s one reason some experts don’t recommend rewards for reading — it implies that reading is work, not fun, and must be rewarded.

However, Salimpoor points out that there are some parts of math that just aren’t as fun as others. Practice is an important part of math and is perhaps the best candidate for gamification and careful use of extrinsic rewards. This is where understanding how the brain responds to different reward schedules is important.

“Knowing that a desirable reward is coming, but not knowing when it will come or what it will be is the highest output,” Salimpoor said.

She compares this kind of reward to the dopamine rush adults experience when playing the slot machines. The player knows it’s possible to win, but has no idea whether the win will come on the first try or 100th try. And, the size of the reward is also unknown. That makes winning even sweeter.

“Releasing dopamine is really good because it makes you want to continue and has the double effect of helping you consolidate the information,” Salimpoor said. “Knowing what situations are likely to release dopamine might be all you need” to make a dull task more exciting.

She has found that if she can build excitement and unpredictability into an activity, it creates a fertile ground for learning. She might reward her kids with tokens that can be exchanged for something they want after they’ve completed some number of problems or tasks. But the key, she says, is to vary when she gives them out and how many. It may seem counterintuitive, but this variability actually makes kids want to continue because they don’t know how much they’ll get.

Salimpoor said often parents try to be consistent with extrinsic rewards because that’s what they’ve learned works for moderating a child’s behaviour. But the opposite is true with learning; variability primes the brain.

Salimpoor emphasizes that extrinsic rewards should be used sparingly and only for the kinds of tasks kids don’t really want to do. Gamifying them makes it more fun, and thus more memorable.

4. Engage the brain’s predictive power

Part of being human is making predictions based on the schema we hold in our brains. And when the prediction leads to an exciting result the brain releases dopamine, which helps cement learning. Parents can harness this tendency by encouraging kids to predict things that have some significance to them.

Salimpoor says these strategies work well with things that regularly update and that a child can check daily. A parent might give the child a hundred imaginary dollars to buy stocks, for example. It takes some calculating and watching patterns to pick investments, and then together parent and child can check the stock prices every day.

“The idea is you’re getting excited to check this every day,” Salimpoor said. “You want to do the math to see how much you won or lost. And because you’re thinking about it every day, you’re calculating percentages and decimals.”

Maybe parents even give kids the interest on their stocks in real money, once they’ve calculated it. Another, less financially focused option, is to do the same thing with sports statistics — updating and calculating averages and percentages.

5. Provide a larger goal

Stories and books inherently come with the bigger picture of a narrative, making them attractive to many kinds of learners. Often math isn’t taught with that bigger goal in mind, but it could be.

“Take math and make it more like reading a storybook,” Salimpoor said. She does projects with her sons that have a beginning, middle and end. Kitchen projects are often good for this type of longer-term project. For example, she and her sons did an experiment where they left different kinds of fruit in the sun and weighed them each day to calculate the water loss.

“It’s also great for the brain because you’re starting out by planning a framework of what you want to do, and how you’re going to do it, and that establishes a storyboard in your head,” Salimpoor said. Then every day of the project, the child has to review the information learned and add more to it. “This is the best method of learning because you’re taking synapses that you’ve already formed and strengthening them.”

She even had her sons graph the fruit’s water loss as another way of adding math to this project. Another time they set up an experiment to see which kitchen containers preserved food the best. Each day they checked for mould, graphing the percentage of mould each day.

“It’s kind of fun to see and you look forward to seeing it because you want to see how your experiment has changed on a daily basis.”

6. Use math as a secondary element of a project

There are tons of ways to involve math in a project where the main purpose isn’t mathematical, like baking. The point is the cookies (obviously), but it doesn’t hurt to figure out the fractions and ratios together along the way. This method has the added advantage of taking math anxiety — a real phenomenon for many kids — out of the picture.

“The reason this is my favourite is it helps you realize how math applies in the real world,” Salimpoor said. She has watched her sons begin to notice math throughout their lives and become more interested in it.

Other ideas Salimpoor has tried in order to infuse math into other activities :

  • Make a spectrum of colour using different ratios of colour dyes and water.
  • Calculate density with different solutions of water, sugar and dye. Try to get different densities for different colours.
  • Calculate a summer budget. Have kids think about how much money they’ll need for summer expenses daily, weekly and monthly.
  • When driving somewhere, ask kids to calculate the best route based on gas consumption, distance and time.

7. Use visual-spatial tasks

One of the difficult things about math is that it requires the ability to manipulate abstract concepts in one’s mind. Adults have established pathways for this type of abstract thinking built up over time, so it’s easy to forget how complicated that is for someone learning a math concept for the first time.

“For someone just learning these, it’s very important to take abstract ideas and connect them to visual or spatial concepts,” Salimpoor said. “The more we can do this the stronger the foundations will become.”

That’s one reason early elementary classrooms are filled with math manipulatives. Salimpoor says this is crucial, especially when kids are young because it helps to develop a more complete neural network connected to different senses. The abstract becomes concrete when it’s connected to experiences kids can see and touch.

“If all the systems link together to form a concept, that’s a great situation to be in because activating any part of this system activates the rest of the system as well,” Salimpoor said.

Once again Legos are a great toy to make abstract math concepts concrete. Salimpoor has also tried geometric bubble makers, encouraging her kids to play around with different shapes to see what kind of bubbles they make.

She has also had a lot of fun playing with music and math — filling cups with different ratios of water, banging on them and talking about patterns in the sounds.

“Give them the activity to play around with,” she said. It’s tempting to tell kids how the ratios relate to sounds, or how different wand shapes affect bubbles, but kids will learn more if they discover it on their own.

8. Consider the cognitive load

Cognitive load refers to the amount of information one can keep in one’s head, manipulate and process at any given time. It’s often related to working memory, and is easy to overtax and is often overlooked. Sometimes kids experience math anxiety because they don’t have good working memory, not because they don’t understand the concepts.

“There’s a large difference in children’s working memory even if they’re the same age,” Salimpoor said. “If their working memory is overloaded they can’t process new information as well.”

Taking detailed notes or using manipulatives are ways to free up working memory as a child is learning something new. Parents can spot cognitive overload if a child was engaged but suddenly starts staring blankly. It’s also helpful to make new concepts as concrete as possible so they don’t require so much working memory.

Neuroscientists are still trying to understand working memory better. There’s consensus that it’s very difficult to generalize working memory, but why and how to improve it is less well understood. If the goal is to improve working memory on math tasks, the practice has to be on math tasks. Doing “brain games” will improve working memory only on those specific tasks, not all tasks.

“All of these things are very established things about how the brain works in humans and animals,” Salimpoor said.

It takes a little extra work to think about how math could fit into an activity a child is already excited about, but the more seamlessly it can be infused, the more kids will begin to see mathematical thinking as an integral part of life and play. Salimpoor intentionally tries to use to her advantage what she knows about how her sons’ brains work, but she has also reaped the benefit of spending fun quality time with them.

First published by Mindshift

 

 

 

 

 

What Makes a Good School Culture?

Most principals have an instinctive awareness that organizational culture is a key element of school success. They might say their school has a “good culture” when teachers are expressing a shared vision and students are succeeding — or that they need to “work on school culture” when several teachers resign or student discipline rates rise.

But like many organizational leaders, principals may get stymied when they actually try to describe the elements that create a positive culture. It’s tricky to define, and parsing its components can be challenging. Amid the push for tangible outcomes like higher test scores and graduation rates, it can be tempting to think that school culture is just too vague or “soft” to prioritize.

That would be a mistake, according to Ebony Bridwell-Mitchell, an expert in education leadership and management. As she explains, researchers who have studied culture have tracked and demonstrated a strong and significant correlation between organizational culture and an organization’s performance. Once principals understand what constitutes culture — once they learn to see it not as a hazy mass of intangibles, but as something that can be pinpointed and designed — they can start to execute a cultural vision.

At a recent session of the National Institute for Urban School Leaders at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Bridwell-Mitchell took a deep dive into “culture,” describing the building blocks of an organization’s character and fundamentally how it feels to work there.

Culture Is Connections

A culture will be strong or weak depending on the interactions between the people in the organization, she said. In a strong culture, there are many, overlapping, and cohesive interactions among all members of the organization.  As a result, knowledge about the organization’s distinctive character — and what it takes to thrive in it — is widely spread and reinforced. In a weak culture, sparse interactions make it difficult for people to learn the organization’s culture, so its character is barely noticeable and the commitment to it is scarce or sporadic.

Beliefs, values, and actions will spread the farthest and be tightly reinforced when everyone is communicating with everyone else. In a strong school culture, leaders communicate directly with teachers, administrators, counsellors, and families, who also all communicate directly with each other.
A culture is weaker when communications are limited and there are fewer connections. For example, if certain teachers never hear directly from their principal, an administrator is continually excluded from communications, or any groups of staff members are operating in isolation from others, it will be difficult for messages about shared beliefs and commitments to spread.
Culture Is Core Beliefs and Behaviors

Within that weak or strong structure, what exactly people believe and how they act depends on the messages — both direct and indirect — that the leaders and others in the organization send. A good culture arises from messages that promote traits like collaboration, honesty and hard work.

Culture is shaped by five interwoven elements, each of which principals have the power to influence: 

Fundamental beliefs and assumptions, or the things that people at your school consider to be true. For example: “All students have the potential to succeed,” or “Teaching is a team sport.”
Shared values or the judgments people at your school make about those belief and assumptions — whether they are right or wrong, good or bad, just or unjust. For example: “It’s wrong that some of our kindergarteners may not receive the same opportunity to graduate from a four-year college,” or “The right thing is for our teachers to be collaborating with colleagues every step of the way.”
Norms, or how members believe they should act and behave, or what they think is expected of them. For example: “We should talk often and early to parents of young students about what it will take for their children to attend college.” “We all should be present and engaged at our weekly grade-level meetings.”
Patterns and behaviours, or the way people actually act and behave in your school. For example, There are regularly-scheduled parent engagement nights around college; there is active participation at weekly team curriculum meetings. (But in a weak culture, these patterns and behaviours can be different than the norms.)
Tangible evidence, or the physical, visual, auditory, or other sensory signs that demonstrate the behaviours of the people in your school. For example, Prominently displayed posters showcasing the district’s college enrollment, or a full parking lot an hour before school begins on the mornings when curriculum teams meet.
Each of these components influences and drives the others, forming a circle of reinforcing beliefs and actions, Bridwell-Mitchell says; strong connections among every member of the school community reinforce the circle at every point.

First published by Mindshift

 

 

Over 30 Educational Websites for Teachers

Here is one of the popular infographics we published in the past. It features over 30 educational web tools teachers can use in their teaching and professional development. This visual is based on our  Ultimate EdTech Chart. “We arranged these websites into 8 different categories and for each of these categories we came up with four websites that best represent the selected content area. The categories we have included are websites for language arts teachers, websites for math teachers, websites for science teachers, websites for physics teachers, websites for history teachers,  websites for social studies teachers, websites for art teachers, and websites for music teachers.  You can find links to the websites in this chart”.

Enjoy!

First published by Educators Technology

 

 

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Internet and Social Media in Education

Quality Education has been identified and determined through educational resources, learning and teaching processes, adequate and current materials etc. Accessibility to quality education and its importance in the society cannot be overemphasized. The 21st century has provided us with the greatest tool in achieving a quality education. Social Media is not only a means to increase participation but to develop and attract possible means of making education well worth the time and effort. From awareness to learning opportunities to better interaction to getting projects done easily, social media has been a great means to achieve the main objectives of quality education. It is a known fact that Social Media is here to stay as all spheres of life have been influenced with its use. Communication is easier, faster and more convenient with social media, the transaction is stress-free, discovering opportunities and developing creative ideas has been given a boost by Social Media. Education is not left out as schools and their administrators have keyed into the world wide web in improving the quality of education provided. Just like every other thing, the internet and Social Media has its advantages and disadvantages. We outline them in the article below.

ADVANTAGES

Increased Learning Participation and Collaboration

Statistics have shown that the number of participants in the educational system has increased over the years since the creation of Social Media. More Students are willing to school as we can see through the use of online distance learning. There are teachers who are strictly E-teachers and help to increase learning opportunities. Researchers have also contributed their quota through easy access to their research and articles on various topics via the internet and Social Media platforms. Stakeholders in the Educational system are able to participate more and get the best through the incorporation of Social Media. There is increased collaboration of education with technology, health, finance, governance etc. This is seen through adequately published researches and articles, production of materials to enhance the quality of education, easy financial transactions, health education and promotion, increase in political participation by students etc. Students are able to interact more with their fellow students across the globe, teachers and have access to a wide range of academic materials. This interaction gives a boost to learning opportunities and participation.

Improved quality of Educational services

Thanks to the Internet, educational services are of better quality and greater resourcefulness. This quality is achieved as schools are able to benchmark their offerings with globally accepted standards across the world, through a simple google search. Students have easy access to materials and can embark on projects with convenience. Students can learn more, know more and share more. Conferences are easily attended as Video and Online Conferences are making waves. Students gain more especially those that are really active on Social Media and e-forums. Networking is easier and more productive, this way quality of educational services improve. Exams are now conducted online and are graded as well. All these help to improve the quality of Education especially now that the world revolves around technology.

DISADVANTAGES

Everything that has advantages must have disadvantages. Social Media and e-learning despite its numerous benefits also have drawbacks. As much as it is useful, it can be a huge source of distraction for students whose attention is difficult to keep sustained on school work. Most of these students end up using the internet, e-learning platforms and social media to connect with people for the sole purpose of socializing. Statistics have shown that a large percentage of people are constantly active on Social Media platforms just for the sake of socializing. Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, Instagram have no closing time, it gives access to a 24/7 activity. If students are not properly monitored, they can neglect the reasons for using Social Media in Education and focus on distracting and time-wasting activities. This monitoring should also be extended to the type of contents viewed by Students on Social Media. All sorts of contents are available on Social Media and only strict monitoring is the adequate filter in ensuring students do not stumble on inappropriate contents.

Conclusion

The Internet and Social Media has been established to be a great tool in Education. It has served as a means to improving the quality of education. Just has it has its advantages, it has its disadvantages. Proper use and positive acknowledgement of these platforms would help enhance quality Education, while every participant makes the best out of it. What have you benefited from the use of the Internet and Social Media in Education? Comment below.

 

5 tips to increase your enrollment this September

According to a recent research conducted by SchoolsCompass, an average parent changes school once every three years. And most of these changes take place at the beginning of every session- September . Top on the list of their reasons or change is unsatisfactory academic performance, relocation and economic reality.

Photo credit: Blooming greens School

As your schools wind up for the session, the race for September admission gets more intense. Yes, a lot of prospective parents could find their way into your admission office for inquiry. Chances are that they are also considering other schools making the competition tougher.

 

If you’re just hanging on and doing everything the way you did it last year and the one before simply because of busyness – or maybe just because you don’t feel like anything needs changing – then you could be missing plenty of opportunities for reaching and enrolling new families.

 

Here are 5 things you should do to take advantage of this peak season:

1. Insist on initial commitment before any negotiation/consensus 

Photo credit: Naija Going Abroad

This is probably the litmus test to know how committed prospective parents are. Most of the times, it is masked in ‘Application Form’.  The idea behind this is not to force parents to enroll their wards but to extract a little commitment, avoid time wasters and enables you to focus all your strategies and energy on ‘Serious People ONLY’ for optimal performance.

2. Push the Panic Button 

Photo credit: First Things

Encourage parents who enroll in say less than say 15 days from the day of their first inquiry or visit.  Give a little discount say 5% of tuition fee to push the panic button could go a long way to sway a decision in your favor. You may end up spending more-  in time and other resources if you have to follow up on them just because it takes them a longer time to decide.

 

3. Help them complete the admission form

Photo credit: Albesta Academy

Where possible, go through and complete the application form with them to understand and address possible reservations and roadblocks in your questions. If they don’t have instant answers to these questions while completing it at home, it may cause other rounds of decision making which may or may not favor your school.

 

4. Give them something to remember about your school

Photo credit: Concordia Junior Academy, Yola

A simple branded pen or exercise book, when taken home after visiting your school could create a ‘top of the mind’ awareness about your school. When it is time to make a decision, the name of your school will always come to mind.  Call it a souvenir, you are on track.

 

5. Connect with them outside business

Photo credit: Rainbow College

Let prospective parents know that you also value the relationship with them beyond enrolling their ward in your school. Remember, they left their businesses to visit your business premises, show them you also care about their businesses as well. Take pictures with them and connect them on social media where necessary. With this, you are not just a prospective client, you are a friend and most people buy from friends.

 

 

WHY STUDENTS CHEAT AND WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT IT

Dubbing, Scopes, Expo, Giraffing, –if you have passed through the Nigerian school system you are sure to have come across these slangs being thrown around or you might have even used them yourself. Cheating, as we have witnessed in schools, encompasses homework, class tests, school exams and government board exams; and with the internet making things a lot faster and easier for everyone, plagiarism and electronic cheating can easily be done without the educator even realizing the act has been perpetuated. As cheating in schools grows to epidemic proportions, Nigerian private schools are not spared from its onslaught. In fact, in their own warped form of parent-teacher association, there have been many reported incidences of parents and teachers colluding to help students gain the unfair advantage on tests and exams. So why do students cheat? What can you as a school administrator do to prevent cheating in your school? Read on, as we analyze this pressing issue and outline the three major reasons why students cheat and methods you can adopt to prevent and curb this now.

 

All the Accolades, None of the Effort
Most students want all the credit that comes with having good grades without actually putting in the work. When it comes to homework or projects, students are typically caught plagiarizing by lifting whole pages of text from guidebooks or even going online to copy and rephrase other people’s work. The average student today is lethargic when it comes to doing any sort of work –

Source: The White Dove Schools

homework, school work, housework, you name it. Growing up in the internet age where years of manual labour have been reduced and automated to a single click of a button has helped reinforce this mentality in their minds. And so when it comes to tests and exams, their thoughts are focused erroneously on how to get the most results – good grades, in the shortest amount of time without putting in the work – studying and practising. Cheating to get ahead is the best route for this students.

 

What’s in it for me?
With the likes of Big Brother Nigeria and fast-to-fame musicians gracing their television screens, students are gradually losing faith and trust in the traditional and academic route to success. Students in this age have idolized celebrities who make it to the limelight without passing through the traditional route of academics and respectable careers, or without having put in substantial amount of academic work to gain success. The typical student has now accepted that academic excellence does not equate to success in the future and has set his mind to do whatever it takes to rush through the system and start working on other routes to success. So while in school, they cheat because they do not see the overall value of the system, and want to “fulfil all righteousness” to please their parents, educators and school/government boards.

All A+, no A-

Source: The Bells Comprehensive Secondary School.

Unrealistic expectations from parents and educators, also contribute to the high rate of cheating in schools. Students typically feel pressured to achieve academic feats that are beyond their cognitive capacity. Parents are the number one source of this pressure, which they pile on by verbally and sometimes physically assaulting their children or by unfairly comparing them to their mates. This negatively affects the child’s self-esteem and puts them under undue pressure to perform in order to maintain a peaceful state at home. Teachers are also not spared from this as they are constantly being pressured by school administrators to deliver top-performing students consistently every year. This pressure trickles down from the teachers to the students again and adds to the overwhelming pressure faced by students. Students end up cheating in order to please both parties in such a situation.

 

So, what can be done about this?

 

 

First and foremost, schools must develop and enforce zero tolerance policies for cheating and ensure that teachers are at the forefront of enforcement. Schools must stay vigilant and updated on all the new forms of cheating especially electronic cheating and online plagiarism as students now have unlimited and unsupervised access to mobile phones and the internet. Weave ethical behaviour lessons into the curriculum thereby inspiring students to act ethically when it comes to cheating and plagiarism,

Source: Grenville Schools

not just in class and in the here and now, but also in the future in their careers and businesses. Teachers also, must make the whole learning experience and curriculum exciting and engaging while teaching real-life value and application of every topic taught in the classroom. Students must be counselled to understand the important role academics and education plays in the lives and future career paths.

 

Conclusion
While strong and effective disciplinary actions are necessary, it is imperative that school administrators properly understand the problem of cheating in their schools and what motivates students to perpetuate these acts. In so doing you will be able to properly address the situation with any of our suggested approaches or any other method that you feel will suit your school. How are you dealing with cheating in your school? Let us know in the comment below.

First published by Allprotech

 

 

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT GETTING PARENTS INVOLVED IN SCHOOL

Increasing workloads….
Longer working hours….

Parents these days are faced with the challenge of finding spare time to be actively involved in their child’s education. As a school administrator, you can easily detect dwindling levels of parental involvement with obvious signs such as the low parent turn out at parent-teacher meetings and other school events, and subtle signs such as homework not being done and low student attendance rates. In an ideal situation, there is active and constant parent involvement where parents help with homework, contribute at school meetings, and communicate regularly with the school.
In this article, we cover the immense benefits of parental involvement and steps you can take today to get parents more involved in school.

Benefits of Parent Involvement

Source: Rainbow College

Parental involvement is a win-win situation for everyone –students, teachers and parents themselves. Students’ scholarly achievement improves as parents are more attentive to their wards ensuring homework is completed on time and accurately, further study is carried out at home as well as supplementary guidance and counselling. These students get better grades, pay more attention in the classroom and have a clearer understanding of the direction their education is taking them towards the development of their career and future.
Teachers communicate better with parents who are actively involved and partner with these parents in the successful development of the child. Unusual behaviours, commendable actions and other matters relating to the child’s welfare are communicated swiftly between both parties for any necessary action to be taken.
Parents have a better understanding of school objectives and are able to develop meaningful relationships with teachers and administrative staff. They also gain insight into the school curriculum, school activities and supplementary programs offered by the school and available to their children.

 

How to Get Parents Involved

Communicate Often

Source: Kaztal Kiddies Academy-Montessori

 

It is important to maintain the flow of information between your school, teachers and the parents. The amount of effort put into disseminating information to the parents must also be directed at receiving and processing feedback from these parents. Parents that perceive that their opinions are actively being solicited and employed are more eager and likely to be actively involved in school affairs. So what means of communication can you adopt? Emails, newsletters and forums are some of the most convenient and effective means of communication for both parties – school and parent.

Information regarding the individual child’s behaviour, grades and overall performance can be communicated promptly to the parents via email where the parent is able to review and respond within minutes. Newsletters can contain relevant information regarding upcoming school activities, special teaching practices and curriculum information, thereby keeping the parents abreast of all that is going on within the school premises. Forums can be online on the school’s website portal, mobile on the school’s official WhatsApp group or offline through meetings and events; all these avenues create a friendly and open ground for parents, teachers and administrative staff to openly discuss matters and receive feedback in real-time.

Involve Parents in the Classroom

Source: The Bells Comprehensive Secondary School

Get students and parents excited about involvement through direct interactions in the classrooms. Schools that report high levels of parent involvement have achieved this by arranging special programs that require parent’s presence in the classroom. You can replicate these programs by organizing career days where each parent prepares a brief presentation to their child’s class about what they do and the steps they took with their education to achieve their current positions, and possibly offer short consultation time after the presentation for students that have similar aspirations. Another special program can be culture days where students and parents adorn themselves in their cultural attires and educate the class about their traditions, practices and history. Parents can also be encouraged to go the extra mile by preparing snacks of their local delicacies to be shared amongst the students.

Encourage Volunteering

Source: Ash Merlyn International School

With school activities and programs scheduled round the clock, it is easy to create volunteering opportunities for parents in multiple areas that could get them excited about getting involved in school activities. School events such as end-of-year parties are a hotbed of volunteering opportunities where parents can volunteer as event hosts, coordinators, servers, security and more. This laid-back scene allows the parents to interact socially with each other as well as have an overview of the ecosystem in which their child is groomed. They get to meet their child’s schoolmates and observe their social skills and behaviour. Parents can also volunteer to manage sporting events within the school, where they can take on the supervisory role of coordinator or a more active role of referee or coach. Other volunteering opportunities include attending and supervising field trips, directing drama clubs and much more. Volunteering helps form a bond between the students, parents and teachers where a more communal relationship is developed.

Conclusion

Parents are the most important players in the holistic development of a child and schools can benefit immensely from their direct and indirect support. Schools should ensure that significant amount of effort and resources are committed to the creation of productive, meaningful and sustainable relationships with the parents.

First published by Allprotech

 

 

3 IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF INTERNET SAFETY YOU MUST TEACH STUDENTS

Whether we like to admit to it or not, the internet as we know it is an addictive portal that has sucked us all in, Yes! Through our desktops, laptops, tablets and mobile phones we are connected 24/7 with people, stories, news and rapid content constantly at our reach. On any regular school day, take a brief stroll down the school corridor and you will find that you are brushed past a group of students chattering about Tweets and Snaps posted by their friends or celebrities online the night before.
A large and growing percentage of internet users are made up of school students of all ages, and with parents becoming laxer their children are granted unrestricted access to the internet and its social media platforms. This poses huge safety issues for these children who are unprepared for the vices lurking on the internet. It has, therefore, become increasingly evident that internet safety must be taught to these students in order to protect and properly prepare them to handle common safety issues that occur on the internet.
Do you have school programs or lessons targeted at teaching students internet safety at your school? Are you planning to introduce these lessons to your classrooms? If so read on, we have identified three core aspects of internet safety you can teach your students today.

Personal Safety

Source: Standard Bearers School

The status update has got us all. There are the short and sweet ones, the long passionate rants, the breakfast posts and many others that keep our followers updated on our progress through our daily routines. However innocent these may be, some of these status updates could be feeding miscreants with critical information to be used against the poster. Students often post status updates regarding their current location, where they live as well as specifics about their travel plans – where they are going, how long they will be there and if they are travelling alone. This is vital information for potential kidnappers or sex offenders who then draw up their plans with information gathered from the victim’s status updates.
Students must be taught to censor the information they share on social media and must try as much as possible to post about their travels or places visited after the visit, never before or during. They can support this by changing automatic location settings on their social media accounts. They can also adjust their social media settings to ensure that it is only specific trusted friends on their followers’ list that are able to view their information and sensitive updates.
Also as we teach these students in the real world not to talk to strangers, these same rules should apply online where they are advised not to accept friend requests from strangers and to try to verify suspicious accounts before accepting requests.

Identity Protection

Source: Grenville Schools

At one point or the other, we have all been greeted by malicious pop-ups that show up on our web pages. These pop-ups usually offer freebies and discounts that require submission of personal details in order to access them. If you are unfortunate enough to fall victim and you end up sharing your private information such as name, address, date of birth, passwords or even credit card details, you have opened yourself up to identity theft. This sensitive information can be used to access your private email, your social media accounts and most importantly your bank accounts.
Most students do not understand the gravity of the repercussions that come with identity theft and are usually naïve when it comes to assessing safe websites and their enticing. When left to their own devices they freely give up not only their personal information but that of their parents and family members as well.
To prevent this from happening, it is important that students are taught the difference between sensitive private information and public shareable information. They must also know how to identify secured connections and only perform financial transactions through these secured sites. They must also be taught how to craft secure passwords that are not created out of obvious sources such as date of birth, pet names and personal names.

Cyber Bullying

Source: The Bells Comprehensive Secondary School

Bullying in all forms has been around since the beginning of human relations, and it spreads across all age brackets extending even to adults! Once an act that was confined to break rooms and playgrounds, bullying has found its way online with children attacking and demeaning each other on social media platforms. With the wide reach of the internet, these acts are shared rapidly at the click of a button with students and complete strangers in multiple locations, thereby exposing the victim to an onslaught of attacks from multiple bullies. This affects student behaviour negatively in many ways and has led to withdrawal from school, depression and worse, suicide.
In this internet age, it is important that schools educate students on the extreme consequences of cyber-bullying; and though it is almost impossible to police and supervise students online, it is important that teachers keep communication doors open to students who complain or show signs of bullying. Students must also be taught and encouraged to report cyber-bullies to the website or social media admin pages, to ensure that miscreants are banned and their pages deactivated. Students must also be taught not to promote, like or share any act of cyber-bullying online.

Internet safety is an important area that must be addressed by caregivers in this digital world that we find ourselves and our students in. School administrators can adopt any of the discussed solutions and also go the extra mile by designing posters and educative materials to keep these safety rules in constant reach of their students. How is your school tackling internet safety? Let us know in the comments below.

First published by Allprotech

 

WHAT A WELL RUN SCHOOL LOOKS LIKE

Everywhere you look in Nigeria there is a private school, either new and bubbling or old and struggling. Most educators dive into this field without truly understanding what it means to run a school successfully. When selecting a school for their wards, parents have an uncanny ability to spot a well-run school out of the large pool of viable options.
As a school administrator, the way you run the school determines the success of your students and your school as a whole. Is your goal to be the leading school in your area, community or state? Then your focus must be on fine-tuning all the components of your school to make sure they all work together seamlessly to achieve that goal. There are certain things to take into consideration while running a school. The aims, objectives, vision, mission, and values of the school. All these will be your guiding principles to running the school.

Benefits of a Well Run School

source: Crane college.

Looking at the big picture, a well-run school becomes an integral part of a better society in the future. It is said that the school is one of the most important basic social institutions that can either make or break a society. Yes, you believe in the society and making it a better place, but what does this mean for your bottom-line?
Improved teacher welfare, better learning environment, and quality education project an image of success in the eyes of the parents. Pro-student and Pro-teacher policies made in the school become evident in the overall performance of your students, and this helps maintain positive student retention rates in your school.

Source: Concordia junior academy, Yola.

Key Components of a Well-Run School
Teachers’ Welfare
Teachers’ welfare is paramount in a well-run school. The teachers are vital assets to the well-being of the school, hence, must be adequately taken care of. To evaluate how a school is properly run, there is a need to assess how the teachers are doing on the job and in their career advancement. The teachers that are well motivated and trained are encouraged to give nothing less than their best. A well-run school provides a conducive teaching environment and, encourages innovative teaching practices. The teachers are well paid and, consistently so. The teachers are also given autonomy over their students to an extent. A well-run school definitely makes the Teachers’ Welfare a top priority.

Source: the white dove schools

Students’ Performance
Parents look forward to the excellent performance of their wards. A well-run school is sure to produce excellent students. This occurs as a result of the conducive environment for learning the school has put in place. The academic curriculum and extra-curricular activities are also not left out. Students are exposed to a great learning experience in a well-run school. They are encouraged to go on excursions, competitions, outdoor activities, all in a bid to enhance their learning process. The students are also duly assessed to determine their level of academic performance. Counselors are available to the students for career counseling or issues relating to their social or mental health.

source : The bells comprehensive secondary school

Parents’ Participation
Parents Participation is evident in good and quality schools. A complete learning process involves the Students, Teachers, and Parents. Parents are encouraged to participate in the decision-making process for the benefits of their wards, through Parents, Teachers Association (PTA). Parents are also involved in the learning process of their wards through volunteering, visiting day etc. Forums, both online and offline are established and active, and parents are free to express their views, opinions, and recommendations to the school regarding set policies or proposed policies.

Source: Chrisland Predegree college

Quality Education
A well-run school stands for quality education which leads to a better society. The administrators of a well-run school prioritize quality education over profit making. They see to the adequate and necessary facilities needed to make the school a standard one. They instill leadership skills into the Students and Teachers. Teachers are constantly being trained and updated on innovated and effective methods of teaching. Students are guided and given a real-life application of the lessons they learn on campus.

Conclusion
A well-run school is the pride of every school administrator. While having good leadership experience is key, you must also have the integrity, diligence and a strategic mind to run a school well. Identify your priorities and, carry every stakeholder (Students, Teachers and Parents) involved along. With all these, you are sure to produce the school of your dreams.

 

First published by Allprotech

 

 

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