Do Students or You Know about Their Digital Footprints?
By National Hall of Fame Teacher Alan Haskvitz
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Do students know about their digital footprints or do you? The answer is most cases is no. Those caught up in the excitement of seeing their name or image on the screen forget that this isn’t just a passing fad, but forever. With technology altering the way we teach and the way students learn it is mandatory that educators take a look at what a digital footprint is and how students can limit it.
Even the term, digital footprint, means very little to some students. So the best place to start is to explain how people learned to track as a way of finding animals. Thus the term footprint means that they are, in fact, the animal being tracked. The digital term is easier for students to understand as it means anything that they do that requires the use of technology. In other words a digital footprint is the traces that they leave on the Internet.

The biggest mistake is that students and others don’t understand that hitting the delete button does not remove the image one it has been placed online. It remains there forever, including in their own computer. Just as the history of where you have gone is traceable so can the images and comments that appear on everything from Facebook to Twitter to emails and beyond. This leads us to the first rule: Don’t put your name on anything. Use pseudonymous.
Next, have students make a list of all their accounts and all the people that they communicate. They should make sure that all setting when talking with these individuals is on privacy in their security settings. Having the students use

should help in this regard. This will also show them sites that they no longer use and these should be deleted.

The next step is to have them check their passwords for each account and make sure they are not using the same one. This avoids having all their accounts compromised. As well, there should be an absolute promise that the materials sent are only to those on a need to know basis. Don’t send out mass mailings. Having a good username that is different for each account is also a help.
When sending pictures don’t send the names of the people in the photo or where it was taken. Those people who don’t know who in is the picture can ask.
Next, have an email for each account. They are free, in most cases, and although they make it more of a burden to handle passwords and user names, they can also serve to help you control what is going out and make it far easier to handle incoming messages as they go to specific accounts. Limit the email accounts to five or six so it is easier to check your messages.

It is important that you understand what cookies are and how they are used by companies. First, they make loading faster, but they also provide a history of where you went and what you were looking for and this information is kept to build a picture of you. This happens regardless of whether or not you are using a privacy setting and is used by most everyone such as YouTube and Google. It is not used by ReachEveryChild, which does not use cookies. Here is a list of search engines that don’t track your use and may be of value as an alternative to the more popular ones.

Indeed, the use of major tracking search engines can also impact your searches as they seek to provide you the information you may want first. It is almost impossible to limit this. This link explains that concept:

It is difficult to avoid this especially as some eduction sites require a log-in. Again, that is why is so unique as no log-in is required. To avoid cookies you can check out this site:

You may also want to download and others such sites to avoid such tracking.
Ultimately, it comes down to self control and making sure the student knows that the Internet can be used as a tool for good and evil. Even the IP address on the computer used can be tracked and so it is valuable that it is made clear that the simple act of placing a message and/or photo on the worldwide web could be used by potential employers and others to get a profile that may not be flattering and those who have ulterior motives may also be lurking.
The bottom line is make sure that all sites that are used and all messages are sent with caution and if you are using the Internet for searches.
Videos that explains the concept

Student/Parent education sites

Places where you can check some of your leavings
Don’t be surprised.

A lesson on digital footprints
Very complete

Statistics on digital footprints
Very important to show how few people actually check.

A large link site

Student’s willpower and its Impact on Student Learning: The Greeks had a Name for it
By Alan Haskvitz

National Teachers Hall of Fame

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Perhaps nothing is as frustrating for a teacher than to have to write, “Not working to potential” on a student’s report card based as much on the teachers’ inability to motivate the child as the student’s lack of willpower. To that end, there are methods that can help both parties once common values have been found and parents encouraged to develop the power of will.

This is not a modern phenomenon. The Greeks had a word for students who displayed such symptoms. They called it akrasia, which essentially means the weakness of will or the wasting of time. In fact, akrasia was called the Goddess of Distraction. The Greeks believed that it occurred when someone consciously make a choice that was considered wrong by society. Thus akraisa is the bases for the English word, crazy.

Basically, the factors that contribute to akrasia, such as the inability to visualize long term goals, not being able to delay gratification, impulsiveness, and emotional instability are also those that reflect a child’s home life. Thus the first step is for the teacher to work with the parent. The second step is to seek common values. The third step is to construct a reward structure to help inculcate the new values. The next episode is to take the elements of the curriculum and look for ways to make them more emotionally meaningful to the student. Next, the teacher needs to use small steps to build up willpower. Finally, the teacher must be prepared to accept failure.

One persistent falsity that remains in the education field is that the teacher is responsible when a student does not learn. This is simply not true and cannot be backed up by any research. Even the frequently quoted Piaget indicated that a child learns when they are ready to learn. As such, a teacher can only make the subject matter attractive; the decision to learn comes from within the child. The teacher can only hope to make it relevant. Thus the failure to learn, as every teacher knows, falls at the feet of the student. A teacher who tries to motivate by giving inflated grades or dumbing down the curriculum is not encouraging learning, but encouraging the student to use these reduced standards as the bases for continued reinforcement of the willpower that was rewarded.

It must be reminded that lack of willpower is not lack of motivation. Being motivated is the first step towards creating willpower, but it stands alone as a prod to accomplishment. Motivation must always come from inside or be intrinsic to having a lasting impact, although some people believe short-term stimulus can be extrinsic. The problem with motivation is that it can be seen as an end in itself. This happens frequently in the classroom when a teacher works hard with a student and the child starts to respond only to have child fall back when the attention is reduced. The motivation for the child is in the form of attention and since the teacher did not push the child into being more self-reliance, the next step, building the power of will, was not achieved.


To build willpower requires a pre-commitment to doing what is right. In other words, it is an acceptance of change. Before the students enters the classroom they must know what is expected and thus what is right. However, it is easy to know what is right, but it is far more difficult to do what is right, which is why obesity, illegal drugs, and cheating are prevalent despite overwhelming acknowledgment that they are wrong. So the first step for the teacher hoping to build willpower is to nourish a pre-commitment to a change in values in the student because they hopefully already know what is right. And, that is where the parent comes in.

Major elements of willpower are perseverance and self-control. This requires that the parent or guardian establish in their child the ability to not be distracted, the acquisition of a sense of purpose, the benefits of postponing rewards, and goal setting. Students who lack these basic life skills place the educator in the difficult position of having to teach both the mandated curriculum and promoting needed values. The results are usually less than satisfying for all concerned.

Meeting with parents is an essential part of building willpower in a student. To do so requires a portion of the interview to be set aside to learn about the family’s values. For example, How are rewards used, what goals do they have for the child and what goals does the child have, how much time does the child spent completing tasks, and how do they handle the child’s failure to finish tasks are vital questions for developing a willpower plan. Of course, as is the case many times, the parents who you would like to see most don’t show. Thus, a check list like the one below can be sent home or a phone interview arranged in an attempt to understand the child better and help develop a plan to build willpower in the child.

The teacher should have a checklist with them before they start the conversation.
Here are sample ideas to help structure such a list. The replies will provide insight into the expectations of the parents and values and should yield ideas on the extent of the student’s coachability and willpower.


The response to each of these questions reveals the values the parents have because everything listed here is a learned activity or value. When you are done with the interview you can get a much clearer portrait of what the child values, what they feel emotional about, and their level of willpower.

Let me provide an example. If a parent is not home when the child returns after school the teacher needs to find work assignments that can be completed in class. This is obvious, but by slowly requiring the student to do more and more work at home the teacher is helping to build willpower. On the top of the homework paper the teacher should ask the child to write down the time the lesson started and when the child completed it. This provides insights into the child’s pace, but more importantly, it is building time management skills in the child and this, again, helps with willpower development.

The real problem with willpower is that everybody has it, the problem is motivating its use in the right direction. The pain for educators is that some students use it to maintain goals that are not acceptable. It takes as much willpower not to do something as to do something. To ignore doing a homework assignment, knowing full well you are going to fail the class and have to repeat it during summer school, is a classic study of what akrasis is, and requires vast amounts of willpower. So teachers need to add something to the building of willpower and that it identifying shared values. Without this, there can’t be any progress towards the standards society has placed on the school system.

Since humans have the ability to choose their values and beliefs they are reluctant to leave this solid ground to pursue a different course because they feel have created a system that leaves them comfortable, if not satisfied. Indeed, the older, the more entrenched the values the more difficult they are to alter. It takes a notable shock to the system to reassess one’s habits because people are compelled to support those behaviors that are consistent with their beliefs. In fact, people have shown a williness to die for their most strongly held beliefs due to the strength of inculcated values. Just as strongly, people are unmotivated to support or validate the beliefs that they feel are contrary to their own. Thus a teacher must overcome two hurdles. First, that an established belief is not worth continuing, and secondly, that the new behavior is worthy of acquisition. The former is far more difficult, because it has been established and reaffirmed through the years. A teacher, at most, has less than 36 weeks to create change and even changing a habit takes more than 30 days of consistency. (1) So it is essential that those students who display a lack of willpower be motivated to change as soon as possible making early intervention, as usual, important.

It is to be remembered that one’s values were selected because they did not create harm or a feeling of imperfection. William James noted, “When the will and the emotions are in conflict, the emotions most often win.” So, unless a teacher can create an emotional appeal in the student the pressure to change may result in a feeling of distress as the student makes consistent efforts to change, but does so at the behest of others and not from the student’s values.

The Brain and willpower

Changing a student’s values and building willpower is further complicated by the way data is handled by the brain. Change comes from a conscious decision that is reinforced repeatedly and stored in the renin-angiotensin system or signaling protein. In other words, the more time a child hears something the more it becomes accepted and the more difficult it is for change to occur.

The Reticular Activating System, which is located near the top of the brain stem, compares incoming data with accepted values that have been stored in memory. The system notes what action is needed and sends an impulse to the amygdala, which is located near the center of the brain. Here, the information is dealt with in a friend or foe format. The amygdala produces the appropriate chemicals to initiate action. If the student’s values are significantly challenged, the data is blocked and cannot reach the conscious executive pre-frontal lobes. The result of such value-laden input could result in actions that have no logic and yet be in compliance with that individual’s strong belief about himself or herself. This manifests itself when a teacher confronts a student over an excuse. The child cannot accept the teacher’s values of good work ethics and perseverance since they have never been proven to be of value to the student in the past. This is why it is sometimes difficult for a well-meaning teacher to be successful with students from a different culture or social-economic background. There are simply not enough shared values. Telling a child whose role model may be a drug pusher that studying is the way to a better life finds the message shut-off by the student who makes $100 a day acting as a look out for police. A better way to improve willpower for this child would be to relate to their accepted values, which could be pride, the importance of identity, and peer acceptance.

Most evidence indicates that it requires at least one month of repetition for change to occur, but if the student’s held belief is strong and has been inculcated for years, it could take longer. A child who has failed several classes is going to take more repetition to promote the will to change. The more emotional a teacher can make the appeal, the quicker the change.

Let’s take for an example, the value altering strategies done on January 1st in the form of New Year resolutions. These resolutions take the form of trying to adopt new values and require willpower changes. Unless there is some emotional reason for the value change, the resolution simply will not be met. For example, losing weight and giving up smoking are standard resolutions. The problem is that even if both of these make sense for a longer, healthier life, they require the individual to change their values. This restructuring of their willpower will fail unless the emotion is enough to overpower the inculcated values. This usually involves the self-image which the brain strongly protects as it means the potential end of sugar and nicotine that provide it with good feelings without an undue expenditure of effort.


Of course, motivating a student to develop willpower requires positive emotional rewards. The difficult part is that a teacher cannot give these rewards without knowing the environment the student has experienced. To offer a good word to a child who has never had anything but kindness may not be as effective as offering a challenge as a reward. For example, “This is good work, but if you rewrite it your ideas will be more clear to others,” would be an appeal to strengthen willpower in such a child.

In the classroom, some teachers give out stars, post good work, and praise students to improve their willpower and change their work habits and values through emotion. Unfortunately, it is an often a failed strategy for those who need it most, the poor student. A star given to someone else is not seen as positive reinforcement for a child who did not get one. Posting good work is a good strategy for good students or for a teacher who wants to promote conformity. However, if a teacher wants to improve the willpower of all the students another method is necessary. The most positive one is for the teacher to ask all the students to look through their work and post their best effort. The pressure to produce something thus becomes emotional and the students strive harder to have a posting of significance. The teacher stays out of the selection process. Change must come from within the student if the process for willpower to become developed and the more meaningful the stronger the success rate.

A child’s identity, youthful as that student might be, is what he or she holds in the highest regard. Dr. Maxwell Maltz, stated that people would behave in accordance with their definition of themselves. A student who does not believe they are good at a subject simply avoids the subject or does not try. The reason why it takes remarkable willpower for a student to change this image is because a student’s values and identity are acquired unconsciously based on life experience. In other words, the student might not be aware of their behavior. A child who disrupts class probably does not have a clue as to why he or she does it, but they get satisfaction from the act and it makes them feel good. The fact that this acquired trait came from past experience at home where the loudest voice carried the argument is not part of the student’s conscious memory. To change it, thus means that the teacher must make the student feel uncomfortable when this loud behavior is exhibited. The program that rewards students when they do something right is valid, but it is nearly impossible for the teacher to know what caused the child’s value to manifest itself. So a standard reward is essentially spitting against the wind. It might work, and it might come back at you. Teachers need to individualize rewards based on the child.

Motivation and willpower

Consistency is the key to redeploying willpower. For unless this motivation is in place, there simply cannot be any positive student long-term improvement. Since the child spends just six hours a day in school, the majority of the consistency rests with the parents. That is why it is important to work with the interested parent in a partnership to promote and continue motivating the child.
Of course, the worst-case scenario is the child of a parent who has no willpower. These parents usually show up the last two weeks before the end of a term and challenge the teacher’s grades of their offspring. This is also reflected in the child who suddenly gets the message that for the majority of the school year numerous assignments have not been done and decides to hand in a couple assignments and expects to be passed. Such short-term “sudden” motivation indicates that the child may have mistaken the end as the means and that a brief burst of willpower can offset any negatives. It probably worked in the past, especially if previous teachers have allowed late work or extra-credit work to off-set deficiencies. What the teacher needs to ask is what I am trying to teach the child by allowing these changes to requirements?

Thus, it is important to note the difference between goal setting and willpower development. It is not the setting of the goal that counts; it is the process of setting the goal that a student needs to learn before changes in willpower can occur. However, that goal setting process must be a continuous betterment or improvement, which the Japanese call kaizen, before it becomes more than a series of dead end accomplishments. For example, a student is given a spelling list to learn. The student sets a goal of getting them all right by applying so many minutes a day to study. In the end, the goal is reached, the student feels good, the process is in place, but so what? There must be continuous improvement which means that the student must learn how to use these spelling words in their own life’s for there to be real learning. This goal of continuous improvement is essential to the deployment of willpower. This changing of goals fine tunes willpower.
Frequently there is confusion between self-control and willpower. A person displays self-control by foregoing immediate pleasure for long-term betterment. It requires a rational decision of the type Aristotle would approve. It is a type of willpower, but lacks a basic element and that is that self-control requires you to stop something, whereas willpower may include doing something as well. What this indicates to a teacher is that a student must preclude doing nothing as an ingredient in building willpower, and replace it with a goal of acceptable value.

To redevelop willpower in a student, you must start small, not necessarily young. The teacher needs to set objectives that stymie the child’s ego and compulsions until the deeds are accomplished. Remember that these assignments cannot be dead-ended. They must be going towards an elongation of willpower and the accumulation of an independent process of the extension of gratification. To make the goals realistic, there must be consistent motivation offered along the way. This is perhaps the most difficult task for a busy teacher because it has to tie in with the values the child cherishes and be fair to the others in the classroom. However, generally the best motivator is a comment from the teacher. These are especially motivating if the teacher makes such comments only when appropriate. Too frequently using terms like, “good job,” or “that’s wonderful” take the pride away from students who have to work much harder than others. Thus personalizing the message makes it more motivating.” Bill, you did this work much better than your paper on the canals. What was the most important thing you learned?” provides the student with stimuli and the motivating factor belongs strictly to that child.

Motivation can overcome laziness that feeds on discouragement and often arises from dwelling too much on the enormity of the task. The solution is to break down the task into manageable parts for the student to promote persistence. Once this is online, he or she can more easily develop self-reliance. Once these are present willpower evolves as it builds on the smaller achievements.

Contracts can help direct the persistence process. Giving a student a checklist requires them to redefine time management and provides a basis for developing stronger willpower. Students who do not meet the contractual obligation are difficult to motivate because they know they are not going to get a reward and a bad grade is meaningless when it is one of six on their report card. Having a student design his or her own contract is equally inadequate because it does not realistically challenge the student whose goal is to not be challenged. Parental involvement in such matters is essential? In some cases it is done for legal reasons, since the lack of parental intervention is probably what caused the continuation of the problem through the years. However, for the best results a contract is best written by a group of students for that student and with that student. Peer pressure is very good in these matters, and the student is much more likely to fulfill a contract and develop the willpower to do accomplish that by having to answer to his classmates rather than another adult.
Using Negative Reinforcement
Some students develop willpower more effectively when told they cannot do something especially if it creates passion in the student. Using this negative method can produce exceptional accomplishments that clearly require significant will. For example, Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute barrier. It was widely believed prior to this that it was physically impossible for man to run that far that fast. Thus Bannister was told that it was a physical impossibility. He worked against this belief, using his willpower to generate superb conditioning and prove that it was a mental barrier, not a physical one.
A negative challenge can help to motivate those students who are competitive. I tell students that I don’t think they can do a task in the time limit and they work harder to prove I am wrong. Why does this work? Most likely it is successful because students are not empowered in society. Adults make the rules and run the place. Giving an opportunity to prove themselves builds student acceptance of change and thus promotes the willpower needed to overcome other barriers. Some might call it reverse psychology, but regardless, it can prove to be a powerful tool when used correctly.
Although it is difficult to be mutually exclusive when discussing a topic such as the power of will, one element emerges clearly and that is that willpower is not wish power. Wishing is beyond one’s power. Willpower is something that an individual is capable of obtaining, albeit at a cost greater than a wish. Wishing to do well in school depends on external chance. It, by definition, relies on luck and waiting. Nothing can be done to encourage a wish to come true. As soon as there something that can be done by the individual, the wish flops over to the power of will column. However, a teacher can capitalize on student wishes by using them as a motivating initial step towards helping that student convert their wish into reality with willpower.
Conclusion: Restructuring a student’s power of will by working with the youth to change their values and promoting self-discipline is difficult to achieve in the classroom without significant parental help. It is most important that teachers make an attempt to improve a student’s ability to understand willpower and the advantage of being able to use it to reach a positive goal and to motivate them appropriately. Since each child is different, it would behoove the teacher to ask the parents for suggestions on what motivates their child and to see what values are encouraged in the home. Little by little, every student can be exposed to steps on how to reapply their willpower to obtain more viable goals and a more global self-image. The pre-commitment stage is the most important for without this acceptance the brain will simply dispatch any attempts at change to the discard pile. The good news is that when willpower becomes a habit new goals can be reached and maintained. The bad news is that the demands to prepare students for state testing based on the curriculum leaves little time to kindle student motivation to improve their power of will.

Where to Find Teaching Jobs
by National Hall of Fame teacher Alan Haskvitz

Finding a job isn’t easy. It took me two years of being a substitute until something came along and even that proved to be a deadend. Even when I was teaching I was constantly applying for jobs that I felt were more to my strengths. I taught in ten school districts before finding one with good administration and support. I went from Newfoundland to Ontario, Canada, to several districts in Southern California before I found a school where I felt at home. And even there I had to endure some of the worst administration imaginable. So never give up if you think you are in the right position.

If I would have had this list of resources when I started out I could have shortened my job hunting experience a great deal, but nothing really prepares you for a new job outside of asking others about the school and doing your homework.

Timing is very important. Most districts have hired by the start of the new year, but some find themselves in a great need for help due to staffing shortages, teachers moving away, or transfers. Don’t give up because the school year has started. I have also listed overseas teaching sites that might be of interest to those willing to travel and work under different conditions.

Be cautioned to look before you leap. There is no free lunch. For example, if you are teaching overseas and the job you get is not as planned you may not have recourse.

Due to the nature of job listing and the uneven quality and quantity of positions it is essential that you go through the process slowly and don’t deal with those that charge a fee unless you feel it is worth it. Some sites may ask you to register first and that information may be used by others so I suggest you have a separate email account for job searches in case spam comes a calling. Above all, your first choice should be to use the career center at the university where you completed your educational training program. This service is sometimes available online.

Jobs by state
A massive collection of links to every state

Government Link site


Job listing by state and subject

Jobs by subject, area, and more

More jobs listed by grade, subject

This site also offers you an opportunity to upload your resume’. Check details closely or you can just do a job search.

You can sign-up for job alerts and more

Education Week listings

Teaching overseas jobs

From US Government
Information and contact data.

Information on teaching overseas


Great Britain

Jaguar XJL Review
by The Car Family

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When is a Jaguar not a Jaguar? Trick question and the Jaguar XJL Portfolio has the answer. Simply put, Jaguar has drastically change the traditional Jag’s appearance and running gear. No longer is there wood trim everywhere and the sometimes reluctant engine has been replaced by a let’s play, supercharged V6 engine with an eight-speed automatic transmission that is willing and able to straighten your spine whenever the need arises. This Jaguar rocks.

The refined six-cylinder powerplant is a model of nobility, with just a touch of aggression when you call on the big cat’s 340 horsepower. Driving in a civil manner the fuel economy has a 16/24 mpg city/highway rating. We averaged 22 mpg in mixed driving in very hot weather. However, it is very difficult not to fall in love with the acceleration of this big cat and so your mileage will probably vary based on your mood. This is an agile vehicle that claws the road as few other sedans can. The brakes are excellent and you get the feeling that there is really nothing this vehicle can’t handle. The price starts around $85,000 for the five inch longer XJL Portfolio edition we tested, but if you can live without the cool rear seat and extra leg room you can save several thousand. Options can drive the price over $100,000 but once inside you are going to know what you paid for. It is elegant and as close to Architecture Digest as a car can be.


Mom’s view: In appearance, it is simple gorgeous. It makes one swoon and is definitely eye candy for the masses. Its price is competitive with any sophisticated luxury sedan and lease deals are attractive. The interior is sporty, clean, and a bit flashy. Some instrumentation is quite novel such as the round, chrome gear selector that pops out of the center console. Very novel and easy to master, but it can get very hot in the sun. Safety wise the Jaguar is loaded with intelligent airbags most everywhere, seats that have active whiplash protection, blind spot monitoring, electronic brake distribution, rear view camera, and more as befitting its price. Be warned that the large touch screen monitor runs the show so don’t leave the dealership without a run through. The trunk was large, but the opening was limited. The XJL has a panoramic, heat reflective glass roof that extends the length of the car. The night lighting was first rate with adaptive headlights that even illuminate corners. Bottom line for me was the workmanship, pride of ownership and, of course, the attention.


Dad’s view: Slovenly, hardly. This is a tidy, dynamic sedan with a back seat fit for the Queen. Driving at all times is lively and secure. We tested the supercharged, six cylinder version, which is the only engine you can get with the optional all-wheel drive, and it was plenty powerful. A 510 horsepower V8 version is available for those wanting to toast the tires with five second 0 to 60 times. The performance goes with the XJL’s contemporary styling and make it very appealing to those who want to stand apart from the ubiquitous German competition. The XJL version offers a plethora of features that include front seats that are heated, cooled and massage you. The use of aluminum and aircraft style materials and bonding techniques are just part of what you are paying for, but don’t forget the many unseen features such Cornering Brake Control, which helps in taking sharp corners, the automatic leveling control, or the stop-start feature that saves gas. The brake pedal feel was a little soft and the option list a little dear. My advise is do your homework so you know what features you want before you go to the dealer. I highly recommend the illumination and the entertainment packages. The Jaguar is unique in that incorporates class and performance and certainly a wonderful reward for a job well done.

Young working woman’s view: Portfolio is an appropriate name for this luxury convenience as it may require a look at your investments before you buy. On the other hand, you truly get what you pay for and this Jaguar is both distinct and heavily laden with features that coddle you. For example, you can get an 825 watt audio system and those in the back seats can be entertained with eight inch monitors and wireless headphones. This Jaguar is worth it and there is always the inner glow you get from driving a Jag.

Young son’s view: I’m still looking for work in the computer field, but still have time to assess a truly great technology systems, and this Jaguar has them. The GPS has traffic alerts and the optional Meridian is prime. There are also satellite radio, interactive voice control, Bluetooth, and a Media Hub with inputs for iPod and MP3 players. The sound quality is dynamic, thanks to 20 speakers, including two subwoofers. Some of the features require time to learn so don’t leave the showroom without a thorough tutorial. The XJL is class.

Family conference: In a world where luxury sedans are designed to show one’s appreciation for the better things in life as well as having the means to pay for it (most luxury cars are leased due to tax code attributes, the Jaguar stands alone as a bargain and a beauty.

Seven Vital Tips for the First Day of School
by National Hall of Fame Teacher Alan Haskvitz
for more free resources

You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.
— Will Rogers

That quote might not be accurate, but it won’t hurt to be prepared and let the students know you are prepared. To enable this to happen there are seven important steps that should be taken to get the most of this first impression.

First, be prepared. Have your first day well planned out including a seating chart for the students. It is important to have good discipline from the first day, but that does not mean you have to be mean. Raising a hand to ask a question, asking permission to leave the room, even where to pick-up or hand-in work should be explained as well as the late work policy. Above all spend time reviewing school safety rules. Where are the exits, the fire extinguisher and the emergency routes? You don’t have to make the students afraid of you, but they need to know what your expectations are and when they can get extra help.

Secondly, take control. This is their first day in your class. They need to know the rules and the expect ions. Posting them in the classroom is always a good idea. I recommend having a handout for each student with the discipline code, your contact numbers, materials that they may need to bring, and any other school information. You may not have time to go over the school handbook, but make sure that every student has one as well as any textbooks that are required.

Thirdly, take a long look at your classroom. The first code in your community, if it is like other towns, usually limits the number of flammable items to about 20 percent of the wall space. There cannot be anything hanging from the ceiling or blocking the doors. Sofas and other upholstered items may also be deemed a violation of the rules regardless of how good an idea it might be. I recommend you dedicate at least one board to posting of school related items. As for the other space, I recommend you have students design them based on what is being covered in class.

Fourth, Some of the students may not know each other and so an ice breaker may be of value. I don’t use them, but some teachers find them of value. One idea I sometimes use is to bring in a wolf or other stuffed animal and have the students submit names to name our classroom mascot.

Fifth, Get personal information. I give the students a card asking them for their home contact numbers as well as their interests and favorite hobbies. I even ask them to bring a paper that they did in previous years that they are proud of so they can show it to me later in the week as I get to know them better. And, I always try to contact the parents within the first couple weeks of school or at a Back to School night. Sometimes messages from a student’s get changed by the time they get home, if you know what I mean.

Sixth, be open to new ideas. I have posted a great many links here. Spend some time and maybe you can discover fresh ideas. Consider having the students write a short autobiography to get to know them.

Finally, be yourself. Whether your first day of class or your 40th, the most important message to leave with your students is that you are a caring teacher. Yes, you have rules, but that does not mean you or without compassion and understanding. Remember, you don’t want to mark Will Rodgers wrong.
Read up on classroom management

A list of great ideas for new and experience teachers.

Ice Breakers and Checklists from Education World

Planning for your first day of school

Establishing rules
Ten Ideas

Ideas for preparing to work with parents

Huge selection of ideas and links on everything.

Activities and sample handout forms

Middle and elementary school ideas including school tour

Back to school bulletin boards
Remember that decorating a door may be a fire code violation.
Mainly for elementary

Interesting collection

Lots of lesson planning sites
A good place to look for new ideas

Set up your classroom seating arrangement virtually

Bulletin Boards by Month

Kia K900: Kia Builds a King
by The Car Family
For more reviews go to

This is no ordinary Kia. This is a car designed to prove that this Korean company can build a car that can compete with the luxury brands at a bargain price and still provide leading edge technology. After a week evaluating this vehicle it becomes apparent that Kia has built a new King, a flagship that is elegant, loaded with features, and priced in the $60,000 range, undercutting the competition by tens of thousands of dollars, as is Kia’s forte.

The ride is plush, so don’t expect sports car drivers to be impressed with the handling, but a nudge of the accelerator brings out the 420 hp as the Kia V8 and that is up to the challenge of most any luxury sedan. Our mixed gas mileage was in the range of 21 mpg thanks to the smooth shifting eight speed transmission.

We have been testing vehicles for 20 years and this Kia has the best interior lighting of any model to date and that includes Rolls Royce, Bentley, and Cadillac. The exterior lighting is superior as well with adaptive 16 LED bulb headlights and LED daytime running lamps. And these aren’t the type that blind oncoming drivers, they provide a soft, almost natural illumination.

Mom’s view: This is a large sedan and still easy to park in a crowded mall parking lot. The interior has a number of redundant steering wheel controls so you can safely change settings without taking your eyes off the road. Our V8 K900 had white high grade Nappa leather with contrasting stitching and real walnut trim. The front seats had a myriad of adjustments and were heated and cooled. A welcome surprise is in store for the rear seat passengers with an armrest containing a panel so riders can control their own ventilation and operate the rear window sunshade. Okay, I was a bit smitten by the interior and exterior styling, but it was the safety features that I found most pleasing. Kia’s Advanced Vehicle Safety Management that brings together an Electronic Stability Control, a AVSM that alerts the driver three ways: an alarm, a visual warning and a cinching of the front seatbelts. There is also a lane-departure warning system, radar-based cruise control, and cameras that surround the car and warn of potential problems. This King Kia is most like the big Lexus LS 460 sedan in acceleration and comfort and ride. Only thousands less. A final note, when you come close to the Kia it senses your arrival and the outside mirrors open up to greet you. So cool.

Dad’s view: The Kia is 17 feet in length and that challenges the biggest Jaguars, BMW 7 Series and Lexus LS in this regard. The trunk is enormous, the acceleration linear and strong, and the rear seat spacious. The quiet and capable V8 engine and the transmission seamless. That being said, the handling is competent, but not inspiring. The fuel range isn’t great and the comfy sedan could use a bit more steering feel. This is a car that could challenge those taking the proposed high speed train to the San Francisco area. It is fast, smooth and relaxing. A hundred mile trip is almost too short for this long legged runner. The heads-up speedometer display needs to be checked often as the Kia is sneaky fast and goes about its task in silence. You can let the cruise control do the work and even to the point of stopping the car. That pesky mountian pass in your way, would a 0 to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds and 0-100 mph in about 13 seconds Kia V8 be of assistance? Suspension is all independent with the emphasis on comfort. At present, Kia’s only option is the $6,000 VIP package with heated and ventilated rear seats, an extendable cushion for the driver a huge monitor, active cruise control and more. Worth it? Well, the total price is still between $10,000 and $50,000 under the competition. Well played, Kia.

Young working woman’s view: It is not unusual to say that a Kia is a bargain, but at $60,000 plus? Well, yes. And for those willing to take the leap of faith the world-class 10-year/100,000-mile warranty provides a nice landing for those adverse to risk. One caveat is to make sure you spend a few hours with the sales person because the K900 has enough programs to challenge even a 12-year-old. For example, when the blind-spot warning beeper aggressive audio alarm goes off it isn’t just a warning, it is a threat. Stay put. Very noteworthy, pun intended.

Young working male’s view: The King Kia is loaded with interesting ideas. Sadly, I found that the GPS on this model was not as good as on the lesser Cadenza as it required the use of a BMW style control knob instead of a touch screen. There is also a head-up display that is extremely well thought out with speed, directions, and vehicle information. Entertainment comes from the 900-watt Lexicon high-fidelity audio system with a 12-channel amplifier, 17 speakers, and an inverted subwoofer. The K900 has Bluetooth, satellite programming, and AUX and USB ports. One feature that is clever is a Rear Cross Traffic Alert system that provides an audible warning to the driver if oncoming cross traffic is detected while backing. An option is the Surround View Monitor system that provides am image of what is next to the car in all directions. The Kia K900 is a tour de force and one early adopters should put on their list.

Family conference: The Kia K900’s stunning appearance belies its price. It provides elegance, oodles of features and quality attributes. If you are in the financial ballpark this is well worth a test drive. Long live the King.

Fire Safety and Bulletin Boards: What is the Law?
By Alan Haskvitz
National Teachers Hall of Fame
For more free education news go to

Sadly, one of the great traditions of most classrooms are paper decorations. Sometimes, these are even hung from the ceilings as well as available walls. The reason that it is sad is for two reasons. First, it is probably against the law. Secondly, teachers have probably spent a great deal of their time and own money to decorate the bulletin boards. Making the classroom meet fire regulations does not mean it has to be without decoration if the teacher uses fire retardant materials that meet the fire code. With the emphasis on quality the postings l should relate to the current topic or items used throughout the year such as steps to writing an essay, classroom rules, or how to solve an equation postings. Again, unless the student has done the work on fire resistant paper it must fall within the fire regulations in terms of space allowed for such postings.

Another area of concern is upholstered furniture in the classroom. It is not recommended unless it has been treated. Open flames are also a concern. I have seen many classrooms where the teacher has tried ot make the room more user friendly and placed sofas so that the students could have a more home-like atmosphere to read or work. Unless these have been teated these may be illegal, according to the fire code.

One of my most popular blogs was a listing of how to decorate bulletin boards with photos from teachers around the country. You can still see many teachers who have posted them on sites such as Instagram or Pinterest. Take a long look at these and you can see how talented teachers, but also remind yourself that a bulletin board must be legal. I am not telling you to tear down your bulletin boards, I am providing you with the law and you need to check with your administrator to see if it is the same in your community.

I don’t want to be a kill-joy about this issue and some teachers have voiced their concerns:

But the reality is that safety is the overriding concern and there is still space allowed for decorations. This district uses 20 percent as a legal figure

Here are some sites that I recommend you or your administrator check. Please note this posting:
“Flammable material coverage. No more than 25% of any wall in a classroom shall be covered with a flammable material. In a corridor there may be only a 4 foot by 8 foot section of a corridor wall covered, with a 50 foot separation of wall space between each section.”

Making it Acceptable

Despite this there may be a way to make your classroom acceptable to the Fire Marshall. It is called fire-retardant chemicals or paper. Of course, you need to check with an administrator who needs to check with the fire officials, but it could make your bulletin boards compliant. Naturally there is a cost which, hopefully, the district should absorb. There are also variety of fire retardant paper that can be used.

Or you can try and make fire resistant paper yourself.I have not done this so you are on your own.

Fire Restrictions on Classrooms

A school district site with a listing of fire rules

This is a listing of rules for various states and includes rules on door locking.
Most of these links are printable.

Warnings about upholstered furniture in classrooms and more

From North Carolina

Here is a list of ways to get most out of legal bulletin board space


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