Choosing a School: 5 Must Haves

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Choosing a School: 5 Must Haves
Whether you are just beginning the process of choosing a private school or several months into it, make sure that you keep these five 'must haves' front and center in your thinking.
Perhaps you are just starting to think about private high school for your middle schooler. Or perhaps you have started the process of choosing the right private school and have some questions about how to proceed. These five 'must haves' will hopefully help you focus on the things which are really important when it comes to choosing a private school.
 
1. The best fit
 
Always number one on my list is the fit. Fit trumps everything else simply because fit is all about how your child and the school mesh. If they are not in synch, the result will be an unhappy child. Keep this in mind as you visit schools on your short list. Your child will know instinctively whether or not she likes the school.
 
Now, having pointed out how important fit is, it makes good sense to engineer the visits so that she likes all the schools on your short list. How do you do that? You hire an educational consultant who will identify schools which will be a good fit. That's what an educational consultant does. Consultants take time to get to know you and your child. They know their schools too. As a result the list of schools which a consultant presents you will be on target. Any or all of the schools will potentially be a good fit. One will be the best fit. Visiting schools on a list of schools carefully selected with your needs and requirements in mind will be a pleasure because almost...
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Why Ranking Schools Makes No Sense
Journalists love to create lists because you and I love lists. But lists such as top ten private schools can be deceptive.
You have seen the articles in major publications such as Forbes and Chicago Magazine. "Top 10 Prep Schools" or "Best Private Schools in ____" These lists invariably contain the names of schools which are familiar. But are these schools the right ones for you? Let me explain why I believe that ranking private schools makes no sense for parents like us who are looking for the right school for our children.
 
A flawed premise
Ranking private schools is intrinsically flawed from get go. Why? Because each private school is a unique entity. The essence of being a private school is that it does its own thing. It accepts the students it wants to accept. It teaches the curriculum it wants to teach. It teaches that curriculum the way it wants to teach. Each private school has its own mission statement, philosophy, code of conduct, programs and traditions.

Yes, you can compare things like the number of AP courses, varsity sports, extracurricular activities and so on. But you normally will make those comparisons when you are developing a short list of schools which meet your requirements. You see, schools which meet your requirements are the only ones which matter. Those articles ranking schools are not relevant to what you need to do, namely, to find a school in which your child will be happy.

Schools not on a top ten list are not second rate.
Schools which don't appear on top ten lists are not also rans. Far from it. But you...
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Has Technology Improved Educational Outcomes?
We have spent tens of billions on educational technology since the 1990s. Has all this spending improved educational outcomes?
K-12 educational technology spending is currently running at approximately $30 billion* a year. So the question is a fair one. Has technology in fact improved educational outcomes?

Pros

Technology has freed up administrative time.

Electronic grade books save time for teachers. Electronic tests and quizzes save more time. Software which allows students to master skills in maths, sciences and languages are huge time savers. Email and blogs make communications with parents and administration instantaneous and very efficient. And the tools just keep getting better and better.  The less time a teacher has to spend on administrative tasks, the more time she theoretically can spend on lesson preparation and other purely teaching-related tasks.

Technology has opened new worlds.
iPads and wireless networks have literally liberated teaching. We can teach anywhere, any time. That flexibility is what makes teaching exciting and relevant. Decades ago you livened up your class by taking them outside on a nice day to sit under a tree and teach your lesson. The lesson was usually successful because you had your students' undivided attention. You piqued their interest with the change of venue.  Exposing young people to the world around them both locally, nationally and abroad is an important part of a teacher's job.

Technology performs that function instantly and without creating logistics issues like taking a class outdoors does. Your history lessons come alive as you make virtual visits to places which were probably just names up until then. The pictures and photographs, videos and sound tracks really flatten the world ,...
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5 Things Never to Put in Your Job Application
Make sure that your job application and resume present you in the best possible light.
At some point in your job search process you created a resume. This article asks you to examine that resume with a dispassionate, clinical eye in order to present you and your qualifications in the best possible light.

Meaningless awards and affiliations

The badges you earned while you were a Boy Scout meant a great deal at the time. But they are not relevant in an employment application. On the other hand if you were a National Merit Scholar, that deserves a line. Put that right before the entry about your Fulbright Scholarship or Rhodes Scholarship. Ok, you get the point. Anything to do with academic achievement is something to be proud of. On a private school employment application academic achievement trumps just about everything else. At a minimum it should get you an interview. Remember: you will be teaching young people who want to learn. Your strong academic performance can and will inspire your students.

Outlandish hobbies and interests
Everything in your job application should support the impression which you are trying to create in the reader's mind. "This is somebody we need to interview." You will be teaching young people. They will have enough off the wall influences of their own. The school would rather hire adults who can be exemplars and role models of steadiness and resolve. Their clientele, i.e., parents, expect that and much more. Mainstream hobbies and interests will not raise red flags. Include one or two on your application. Since you are being interviewed for a teaching...
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Starting a Private School
Thinking about starting your own school? Here's an outline of what's involved.
Who in their right mind starts a private school? Parents and teachers do. Why do they start a school? Because they are passionate about teaching a certain way or adhering to a certain philosophy or sometimes because they simply want to run their own school and do things their way.

No matter what the genesis of the idea might be, the recipe for bringing a school into existence is straight-forward enough. It requires equal parts persistence, business acumen and patience. To those basic ingredients you add huge lashings of money. Mix thoroughly. As you do, you discover that you will have to add more money regularly as the other ingredients soak up gobs of money.

Here is a template for planning and opening your own school. Good luck! I did it. Lived through the experience. I still recall it as one of the best things I ever did.

24 months before your projected opening date
Most school academic years begin in September or thereabouts. So you want to start the project at least 2 years out. You may need an extra year or two. The size and scope of the project and the funding resources at your disposal will determine how early you should start.

Determine what kind of school the local market needs. You may know what you want. But does the market affirm your vision of the kind of school you are planning?

18-24 months
Form a small steering committee of talented supporters to begin the preliminary work. Include parents with financial, legal and...
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