Opportunity follows kids who know how to negotiate

Opportunity follows kids who know how to negotiate

News Herald – Juliann Talkington


Negotiation is a part of the human experience whether someone is trying to come to common ground with a family member on who cleans the kitchen or an employer on salary. As a result, it is imperative for everyone to learn how to negotiate effectively.


It is impossible to become a good negotiator without practice. This means children need age appropriate opportunities to negotiate with siblings, peers, buyers and sellers, and people in positions of authority.


Early in life, most negotiations are related to peer and sibling interactions – who gets the ball first, who gets the colored pencils, etc. Fortunately, family structure and the early education system in the U.S. provide many opportunities for kids to practice these peer-to-peer and sibling negotiations.


By the time children enter middle school, they are ready to learn how to negotiate with buyers and sellers and people in positions of authority. Most U.S. children do not have many opportunities to practice these types of negotiations.


U.S. tweens and teens aren’t involved in many business transactions that require negotiation, however, they have plenty of opportunities to negotiate with people in positions of authority about issues with classroom assignments and grades, sports team and drama and music group tryouts, etc. The issue is parents handle most these negotiations for them.


There is some uncertainty about why parents handle these negotiations for their kids. Some people argue that college has become so expensive that parents want to ensure scholarship money is available. Others believe parents are living through their children.


I heard a story that adds perspective.


A girl wanted to join an advanced sports team that was well beyond her abilities. The girl and her mom discussed the requirements and the possible outcomes. Then the girl trained diligently, asked her current coach for a recommendation, arranged a tryout at the new team, practiced what she would say to the new coach, and went to the tryout by herself. She worked hard and improved at every practice. When the coach told her he was adding national level players to the team rather than her, she asked if she could stay and train.


He was so shocked with her work ethic and ability to advocate for herself that he agreed. Months later when she asked if she might be able to join the team, the coach agreed.


Perhaps parents should reconsider their approach. “Letting go” teaches more and often provides greater opportunity.


Tenth Grade Foreign Language Immersion Student makes Perfect Score on SAT Math

Tenth Grade Foreign Language Immersion Student makes Perfect Score on SAT Math

Outside the Box – Christy Johnson


Amelia Talkington, a Renascence School International tenth grader, obtained a perfect score (800) on the math part of the December 2015 SAT test, the standardized test that is used for admission to U.S. colleges and universities. Amelia is nearly trilingual, having studied math and science in Chinese and language arts in English, Chinese, and Spanish since she was in kindergarten. She is interested in art, engineering, and business and has been a guest researcher at the University of Arizona Plant Science Laboratory and is a marketing intern with an Ecuadorian foundation. In addition, she is a record holding club and high school swimmer who placed third in the 100 yard freestyle at the Florida 2A State High School Swim Meet and received All American consideration. She also plays varsity high school soccer and will be joining an Elite Club National League soccer team in the spring.

Third party, curriculum-based testing, the wave of the future?

Third party, curriculum-based testing, the wave of the future?

News Herald – Juliann Talkington


Studies suggest that the process of preparing for and taking a test can enhance learning and information retention. Research also confirms that testing can be a useful assessment tool.


Recently there has been a great deal of discussion of the pros and cons of various types of testing. Because money, college admissions, and careers are tied to testing, it is difficult to separate facts from marketing rhetoric.


There are three basic types of tests: 1) tests prepared by teachers, 2) curriculum-based tests prepared by others (third party, curriculum-based testing), and 3) standardized tests.


Tests prepared by teachers have little standardization. These tests can cover class lectures, material from books or learning aids, homework, projects, behavior, and other things. While this type of flexibility makes teaching interesting, it does not assure a student has mastered the required material. In fact, it is difficult for school management to know how much students have learned until they enter the next grade level.


For this model to work well good teachers must be retained for many years, since the consequences of poor teaching do not show up for at least a year (in some cases many years if a student has a string of underperforming teachers).


The second type of test is a curriculum-based test that is prepared and administered by a third party. These tests provide unbiased data on teacher and student performance. If these tests are administered quarterly, teachers can use the data to adjust lesson durations (spend more or less time on subjects) and identify students who need extra reinforcement on specific concepts. Early identification of student strengths and weaknesses means remediation can begin early. With targeted help and focused teaching, more students can master the required material by the end of the year. This data also helps school management coach and place teachers based on strengths and weaknesses.


The last type of testing is standardized testing. Standardized testing can provide information in baseline proficiency in some subjects. These tests are best used for topics with little ambiguity. For example, grammar and mathematics are easily tested using standardized methods. Unfortunately, standardized testing does not provide specific information that can be used to improve day-do-day classroom instruction or provide data on whether schools are building a foundation that prepares students for advanced learning.


While all types of testing are helpful, more focus on third party curriculum-based testing would be a way to improve learning outcomes quickly.


I gave my students iPads — then wished I could take them back

The Washington Post – Launa Hall

“Teachers striving to preserve precious space for conversation are not lazy, or afraid of change, or obstructionist. They believe that if our dining tables should be protected for in-depth discussion and focused attention, so, too, should our classrooms. They know that their young students live in the digital age, but the way children learn has not evolved so very fast. Kids still have to use their five senses, and, most of all, they have to talk to each other.”(more)

U.S. Losing Its Grip On Elite Higher Education, Rankings Show

Forbes – Nick Morrison

“New university rankings published today show that the U.S. is losing its grip on the global elite higher education market. While the U.S. still retains the top spot, in the form of California Institute of Technology, it now has fewer universities in both the top 10 and the top 100. And the seemingly unstoppable rise of China and the Far East appears to have come to a halt – at least temporarily…And instead it is Europe, a continent wracked by internal strife and seemingly a busted flush, that appears to be undergoing something of a resurgence. The rankings are based on 13 performance indicators, covering teaching, research, citations, international outlook and industry income. And they make sobering reading for nations that had taken their traditional dominance for granted.”(more)

Creating a successful adult

Creating a successful adult

News Herald – Juliann Talkington


The beginning of the school year is a period of transition, so it is the perfect time for parents to make changes in how they interact with their kids. One of the biggest challenges parents face is helping their children transition from dependent infants to independent adults. The process takes time, constant effort, and many adjustments. Here are a few things parents can do to make the process easier.


Encourage healthy risks
Kids learn by trying new things and build confidence when they successfully handle challenging tasks. The key is to pick tasks that are age appropriate and to coach children as they learn.


Rescue less
Most young people do not develop the same life skills kids did 30 years ago, because adults take care of problems for them. Rather than doing things for their kids, parent should teach them how to handle tasks, conversations, and assignments on their own.


Provide genuine complements
Self-confidence is earned. When parents offer undeserved kudos, kids often develop problems with self-esteem because they realize the complements are not real. As a result, it is better to find things that a child does well and praise them for those things.


Don’t be afraid to disappoint
A child does not have to “love” their parents every minute. Kids will get over disappointment, but they won’t get over being spoiled. Tell them “no” and let them earn what they want and need.


Share mistakes
Kids shouldn’t operate in a vacuum. When adults share their mistakes or the mistake of others it helps young people understand the difference between good and bad choices.


Remember giftedness does not equal maturity
Even the brightest children get into trouble when they do not have the skills to navigate complicated social situations. As a result, it is important to add responsibility gradually rather than all at once.


Practice what you preach
Honesty and integrity are valued traits. Parents should do their best to be good examples and acknowledge mistakes when they make them.


Encourage balance
Few athletes and performers reach a level where they can make a living on the athletic field or stage. As a result, it is critical for kids to excel in the classroom if they want to find meaningful employment.


Creating a successful adult is challenging, but manageable, when parents focus on coaching and empowering rather than protecting and doing.