NASA Lags in Shuttle Patch Development (AP). AP – When space shuttle flights resume, the astronauts will have putty and other filler to repair cracks and small gashes in the wings, but they will not be able to patch a hole as big as the one that doomed Columbia, NASA said. [Yahoo! News – Reader Ratings]

I’m glad NASA is working on some ideas to reestablish our presence in space.  As I read the above, I thought again of those daring astronauts of STS-107 who were only 16 minutes from home.  What great aspirations they had to tackle such a dangerous job!

Here’s something only a very few of you know about me:  after the Columbia’s final flight, I was so inspired by those heroes as to obtain application materials for the Educator Astronaut program.  It seemed to make sense.  I’m an educator.  I have a degree in physics.  I have a background in astronomy.  I know could execute the assigned tasks aboard the space shuttle and be a good ambassador for NASA’s programs.  I could make a difference in the wake of the Columbia mission.

As I waited for the application materials to come in, I continued to consider the pros and cons of the career shift.  I came the the conclusion that it wouldn’t necessarily be a promotion.   (more…)

The bad behavior trap

As a teacher, it can be easy to find yourself in “corrective mode” in your classroom, getting after students when they are misbehaving or not attending.  The very best teachers I know are the ones who add “catching students being good” to the mix.

Children will seek out attention, and it’s often easier to get it by being bad.  To many children, attention is attention.  The students who really struggle in the school setting (the ones who teachers can make the most profound difference to) are most likely to go the easy route and get attention from bad behaviors because it is that much harder for them to get the positive attention.

Teachers who reinforce students when they observe appropriate behavior show students there is another way, and make it attainable for the children to get attention from positive behaviors – a habit which can stick with them for a long time.

Positive Rewards. When trying to change the inappropriate behaviors of children, it pays to ‘catch them behaving appropriately’. Inappropriate behaviors are a method of ‘getting attention’ so give the attention for the appropriate behavior and use this list of incentives to keep… [About Special Education]

Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan

rreaganI was a teenager during the Reagan Revolution. I knew then that there was something extraordinary about our 40th president.

His policies were straightforward and completely consistent with his belief that people knew better how to run their lives than career politicians in Washington. His successes, the greatest economic expansion in our history and bringing an end to the Cold War, are nothing less than stellar. As a president, Ronald Reagan belongs alongside our greatest leaders.

As a man, Ronald Reagan was every bit as great. His relationship with Nancy exemplifies what it means to have a life-long love affair with your partner. And anyone who has met him seems to have a story about his graciousness, his simple kindnesses, and his disarming humor. But what always struck me most about Ronald Reagan was his infectious optimism.

It is time for us to realize that we’re too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams…. Let us begin an era of national renewal. Let us renew our determination, our courage, and our strength. And let us renew our faith and our hope…. The crisis we are facing today… [requires] our best effort and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds; to believe that together with God’s help we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us. And after all, why shouldn’t we beleve that? We are Americans.” – Ronald Reagan, First inagural address.

Thank you Ronald Reagan, for your terrific service to our country and for being a model of great character with your kindness and optimism.

Whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears, to your confidence rather than your doubts. My dream is that you will travel the road ahead with liberty’s lamp guiding your steps and opportunity’s arm steadying your way.” – Ronald Reagan

Sugar-water addiction

Okay, there are a lot of issues here:  generating funds for schools, nationwide obesity, teaching children nutrition, and more…

Taking Candy From Pupils? School Vending Bill Says Yes. The State Assembly has passed a bill that would severely limit what could be sold in school vending machines. By Marc Santora. [New York Times: Education]

Here’s my own experience with this.  In the school I started my teaching career at, there were vending machines that sold one of the more popular sugar-water “faux juice” drinks (5% juice).  These machines generated a lot of money for the school.  I was not the only teacher to note that many of middle school students who enjoyed those beverages at lunch were “bonkers” with attention problems and other behaviors that made it harder for them to learn in the afternoon.  It was a stark, “Jekyll and Hyde” difference for many of them, too.

Of course, to a sub-par administrator, behavior problems are easily dealt with by assigning a detention, ISS, or some other disciplinary action, but the cash those machines bring in is coveted.  Can this be thought of as exploiting pre-teens for their own good?