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Virginia Journal of Education

Your Classroom

Music to Their Ears

The sweet sounds your students need to hear.

The education research and advocacy organization Edutopia ( recently asked educators who visited its Facebook page to share their ideas about what students most need to hear from the adults who work with them in school. Here are some of the words of wisdom that came back:

• I genuinely like each and every one of you. You're just some of the coolest people I've ever met!

• It's OK to be different.

• You did a kind thing.

• I'm here for you. I'm listening.

• I'm proud of you!

• I see you. I hear you.

• You matter.

• Trust me, you can do this.

• It's tough, I know, but you can do it. You'll get through it.

• I love how much effort you are putting into this.

• Are you OK?

• I missed you! Is everything OK?

• Mistakes happen; let's try to fix it!

• I believe in you, but I want you to believe in you.

• You are in a safe place to share your thoughts and ideas.

• Look how much progress you've made!

• I learn as much from you/with you as you learn from/with me.

• Great job!

• It's good to see you!

• You are important and are meant for great things!

• I want you to be you.

• What do you need? I can help you.

• What happens to you, matters to me.

• You are such a quick learner!

• You are irreplaceable. (Then I make them look it up and give me three synonyms.)

• You’re amazing—there’s a depth to you that is truly remarkable for someone your age.

• What do you want to do in life? What is important to you?

• You are capable of greatness!

• You are not alone. I’m here for you.

• I'm sorry.

• I tell my students three things: You matter; you have a purpose; and you are not an accident.

• Every day is a new day.

• No homework today!

• I understand.

• That (whatever they have done well) was amazing!

• I need your help.

• You have excellent ideas. What do you think we should do?

• If anyone can do it, kid, it's you.


A ‘Direct’ Route to Help

If you’re looking for information and resources about teaching Virginia’s Standards of Learning, you may find help at Teacher Direct, a new section of the state’s Department of Education website.

At Teacher Direct, you’ll get weekly updates about instructional resources and professional development events. You’ll also be able to access DOE SOL resources, including videos and PowerPoint presentations, as well as a calendar of conferences and webinars.

To learn more, visit


A Hop, Skip and a Jump Can Go a Long Way

While [childhood obesity] rates have flat-lined they are still at alarming rates. A colleague likens it to smoking. If you saw a kid smoking a cigarette we would act swiftly to manage that. Yet we have kids who sit down at school all day and then come home and sit in front of their video games and we don't have as much of a problem with that. What we're finding out is the long term consequences of physical inactivity, especially lack of motor skills and conditioning, yet we don't act with the same rigor or vigor with these kids.

We are not integrating movements into other classes. I'm telling you, that kid who's been up texting all night and is half asleep, if we made him get up and do five minutes of activity before he sat down at that desk for the next hour, you're probably going to get 15 to 20 more minutes of focused attention out of him. That five minutes is going to be well spent.

But we are cutting resources. We don't have enough physical education teachers and they don't have enough time with the kids. Often kids are getting [PE] once a week now. That's unbelievable to me. There's evidence to indicate that the kids who are physically active do better in school.

 --Dr. Gregory D. Myer, director of the Human Performance Lab and director of research at the Division of Sports Medicine at Cincinnati Children's Hospital


Rocks, Maps and More

Water, geography, biology, geology and map-making—you can find scoop on all these topics and more at the U.S. Geological Survey website, designed for all K-12 students. Resources there include videos and animations, 3-D simulations, a GIS lab and fact sheets.

 Find it all at


Poor Families, Poor Futures?

For the first time in recent history, over half of the children in America’s public schools are from low-income families, according to the Southern Education Foundation. Growing up in poverty comes with a host of obstacles to success in school. Here are a few examples:

• Fewer than half of children in poverty are ready for school at age 5, leaving them behind in critical academic areas such as early math and reading skills, and frequently burdened with learning and behavior problems.

• Schools with at least 75 percent students living in poverty offer only one-third as many AP courses as wealthier schools do.

• Children in poverty deal with chronic stress at higher rates than their peers from more affluent families.

• Difficult issues such as bullying and high absenteeism and truancy are more likely at high-poverty schools.


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