Changing the Design: Different Schools for a Different Age

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It’s time to change the way we teach our children. It’s time to change the schools…

My wife recently pointed me to an amazing video the other day about changing the way our schools are modeled, thus changing the way we educate our children. This video is so valid in its presentation and raises a lot of questions. Specifically, Since we already know that regular school models aren’t working, why haven’t we turned the ship around yet? Not only does this video answer the question, it provides some practical answers. These answers are ones that EBO is prepared to face and implement in the future… Stay tuned.

Enjoy and don’t accept the way things are just because they are set by a lengthy precedence. Things are meant to be changed.

Changing Educational Paradigms by Sir Ken Robinson
Animated by The RSA

Why Good Teachers Leave the Classroom: A Call for Reform

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Why Good Teachers Leave the Classroom: A Call for Reform

This article was posted by a fellow educator and Facebook friend, Edward J. Kirkland and it is absolutely amazing. Why? Because it completely describes why I myself left the classroom. Good to know that other teachers are seeing the light… Sad to see how students will be losing another awesome teacher. This teacher won “Teacher of the Year” for his district this past school year, then he decided to leave the classroom for good. Look at his reasons, and see why school needs reform… Enjoy.

Teacher who left the classroom

The Needs

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How do we stop this?

How do we stop this?

After a little over four years of operating EBO, after almost eleven years of being an educator in and out of the classroom, after talking to teachers, parents, and students alike and different in many ways, and after helping many students, parents, and educators reach their educational goals, I feel safe saying what many in the educational field avoid saying: Education in America is in drastic need of reform. Whether it be private or public, there is an overwhelming, growing dissatisfaction in how students are learning and competing in the academic realm.

Many highly-degreed educators have written and spoken about various solutions: The schools need more money, the schools need better technology, the schools need better teachers… All of these solutions have made a few improvements, but are mere band-aids to a bigger problem. Far too many school systems have pumped money into their schools to no avail — just more expensive failure rates. Tablets and smart boards in the classroom mean nothing when a teacher can’t teach well. Hiring better teachers does work  (better teachers, not necessarily younger), but the immediate damage is overwhelming because the teachers who have invested so much time and gained so much experience in their craft are often thrown to the wayside for the sake of getting new, inexperienced teachers which keep the pass rates in a constant flux.  Standardized test scores are dropping, students are becoming increasingly disengaged, and sadly enough, teachers are becoming disenchanted with their jobs. What has happened? What seems to be the problem? Or, the better question is, what is the answer?

The answers don’t lie so much in the material and how it is being instructed as they do in the parties involved. Namely, the answers lie in the students, the educators, and the parents. The way we are all engaged in the process of education has changed drastically, and it is the afore mentioned’s attitudes towards education that have been the issue. We can come up with a million different instructional methods, create as many “new maths” (a term I still find funny) as we want, but it will not change the intellect of our students until we change the cultural attitude of education as a whole. We live in a society that places entertainment, money, and sports above education on all fronts. And God has been taken out of our schools. No wonder we are having problems.

Education will not improve until the following happens:

  1. Parents need to actually become a part of the educational process. – Yes, we have heard this one a million times, but how many times must one hear something before it is actually done? I have known too many parents who complain about their child’s performance, yet they don’t show up to conferences, they invest no time at home in their child’s learning (but their child always has the latest Xbox game), and they make sure their child makes every sports game, but step foot in their child’s classroom maybe twice a year. Sorry to gripe, but just because you pay $1000 a month in tuition, doesn’t mean your child will get the best education or do well in school. It takes an active parent that reinforces what is happening in the school at home. It takes a parent that is in constant contact with (even to the point of harassing) their child’s teachers and administrators to safe guard their child’s best interests. Finally, it takes a parent that is not trying to be their child’s friend, one that will not let their child play them against their teacher (and vice versa), and one that will hold their child accountable (and discipline them accordingly) for their own child’s shortcomings.
  2. We need to teach students how to be students. – We spend thousands of dollars every year in new ways to teach students math, science, and social studies, yet we are missing the mark. We should be spending the most money on something that will improve all subjects across the board: Student Skills. Study skills, note taking, organizing, and prioritizing information, listening and communication, these are all skills that students are expected to know and do well, but don’t. These subjects are not taught in school, the one place where students would benefit from them the most. Teach students how to be students first, and the performance will follow.
  3. We need real educators to stand up. – We need real educators that are obsessed with the improvement of children and their parents, not their occupations or a paycheck. Yes obsessed… I have actually had teachers who have called me or my wife with their numbers blocked and refused to email because they did not want us, or any other parent, to reach them unless they allowed it. Meanwhile, our child suffered. We were kept in the dark about everything, and the only reason we made any kind of headway with the teacher was because we went up there at least once every other week to harass her. Oftentimes, we were met with an attitude. It seems like the teacher just gave up on our child, and overall, gave up on us. This type of behavior is not being a real educator that realizes that a healthy communication relationship with a parent and a student makes all the difference. Teachers, if you are hiding from (or have an attitude with) your parents, I invite you to think about changing your profession, because you are missing the point. You are a servant of the the very people you are having an issue with.
  4. We need better communication. – When I taught middle school, I had an email and phone number list for all my students. I sent home all my assignments, projects, permission slips, and progress reports via email. It took nothing for me to send a short group email once a week with attachments of created or scanned papers. Parents who checked their emails were pleased because they stayed informed. They knew about assignments and expectations before their child did, so they were able to hold their child accountable. Forms weren’t lost due to lack of responsibility.  Email also doubled as a way for me to address behavior issues and classroom concerns either from me or from parents. It made my job easier as a teacher because parents didn’t have to come after me, and when they did, I had a dated paper trail to cover me. Plus, once the kids realized nothing was able to slip through the cracks, they had to straighten up too.

These observations are just the start of what needs to be done to change the educating of our future society for the better, and I will be expounding on these issues again at a later date.

Until changes are made in these areas, academic performance won’t be improved. We can’t keep throwing money at a problem when funds are fundamentally not the problem. Putting lipstick on a pig, buying it an expensive dress, and giving it a smart phone will not make a pig conduct business better… We need to see improvement in the areas mentioned above, or nothing about education will change much. Except of course, bringing God back into the schools… but that is another matter altogether.

If you agree or disagree, please give a comment below.  Your feedback is always appreciated and learned from.

– Jamal L. Burt
CEO of EBO Educational Services, LLC
Concerned Parent






Solving the Math Epidemic

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Math Issues

Out of the myriad of students that come through our doors, it seems that the biggest problem facing our clients is mastering math. Why is math such a huge problem, and why are so many failing? From what I’ve seen, it isn’t so much the subject itself, but the preparation that students receive in the subject.  They are basically missing the fundamentals.  For example, there is no reason why any student above grade 4 shouldn’t know their times tables, yet I regularly sit in front of high schoolers that flinch or reach for calculators when I ask them what 8 x 9 is.  Wow.  This is definitely an epidemic that needs to be fixed, but seems to be happening more, and more, and more…

There are key methods in math that must be used in order to become proficient:

  • Memorization is unavoidable. – There’s just no way around this one. Students must spend the time to memorize their multiplication tables and number families.  They must learn to add and subtract positive and negative integers. Just those two skills alone would prove invaluable to students in the elementary, middle, and high school levels.
  • The goal is algebra. – Remember having to fill in the blank to finish 3 + __ = 5?  This is not any different than 3 + x = 5… but for some reason, students see letters and freeze up.  The bottom line: mastering addition, subtraction, multiplication, division are all preparation for learning and being successful in Algebra.  Mastering algebra is the key to understanding all the higher math areas such as geometry, trigonometry, precalculus, and the higher sciences.  Put the math focus on solving algebraic problems, and you are setting the student up for success.
  • Repetition is not lost. – Problem, after problem, after problem… I don’t care how much your child complains, repetition will make it stick.  Checking for speed and accuracy, print out worksheets that have 10 to 20 problems and time your child to see how fast they can complete them. Have them strive to beat their time and accuracy score on each attempt.

These are just a few things to help your child perform better in math and to prepare them for future math classes. For more tips on this subject, contact me using the info below. Study hard, and God bless!

Jamal L. Burt
EBO Educational Services, LLC

Helping the Back-to-School Blues

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Yes! Let’s get back into the classroom!

It’s official!  School is back for the year, and many students get ready to enter their halls of learning to expand their knowledge base and grow to be contributing members of society… Wait, doesn’t sound like your child?  You are not the only one.  Most children dread going back into the classroom after getting such a long mental break.

What seems to be the lack of enthusiasm?  Is it the fact that many schools have lost the ability to treat learning as an adventure and treat learning more like task-based testing factories?  Maybe.  Is it that teachers are more interested in making it through the year than helping your child make the grade?  Could be.  Or, is your child more concerned with their social status than they are with their GPA?  There are so many reasons why children have an issue with going back to school.  How can we as concerned parents and educators ease the thorn of the back-to-school season?  Here are a few ideas.

For Parents:

  • Throw a back-to-school celebration – If you make going back to school look like a celebration, it may not seem so bad.  This is a time where you can celebrate their past accomplishments and help them set new goals for the year.  By making it a small party, it makes school appear like a place to succeed, and not just a place that sucks.
  • Be concerned (not obsessed) with their first few weeks – Yes, you have a lot on your schedule.  But, if you simply use the first few days as a conversation piece, you may see that your child likes the extra attention and interest you are showing in their lives.  Don’t go overboard!  Make it a conversation, not an interrogation.  Many people like good conversation; I don’t know too many people who like to get the third degree.
  •  Let them be with their friends – Just because the summer is over doesn’t mean that they are on lock down.  It’s still warm outside, the sun is still shining, let them play.  This gives them a chance to let go of the summer gradually and ease into a regimented schedule. Yes, they need to do all homework first, but if they’ve been doing any summer bridge work over the summer like they’re supposed to, they’ll be no stranger to the concept of work before play.

For Teachers:

  • Ice Breaker Activities – Yes, the beginning of the year is to set the climate for the rest of the year, but don’t use the entire first week of school as a boot camp to set the norms of your class.  There is a time for setting class norms, and a time for breaking the ice in a new classroom.  Play some group games, get the class involved in a group activity early.  Of course you have to set tone of the year, but from my experience, the year always went smoother after easing the students in to the year, not slapping them with a lot of procedures or tests in the first few days. If you need some more ideas, try this link from Scholastic
  • Get an email list of all your parents (and use it) – This is a no-brainer.  Sending a welcome email to all the parents welcoming them into the year opens the lines of communication among you and your parents.  Now, you can send assignments home, get feedback, report discipline issues, get permission slips, and a host of other advantages.  Do I have to mention instant documentation? This takes some of the pressure off of you as a teacher to be accountable and transparent to your parents.  It also makes it easier to teach your students (and parents) accountability (ask me how) .  Lastly, It enables trust between you and your parents… priceless.  Many teachers say they don’t have time for all that.  I say:  Better over-inform them and be left alone than be untouchable and hounded by parents when they are already frustrated.  I learned that the hard way.
  • Schools should organize a back to school rally (with actual fun things to do) – Kids would love coming back to school if they know that they get to have fun during the first day/week.  I know it goes against the entire philosophy of setting a demure atmosphere of learning and rules, but if some time is set aside for a communal celebration about education and school, it will create the school wide-climate that school is actually a fun place to be —  at least for a little while.  Organize a pep rally about education and get everyone involved.

School is a serious undertaking, but if we keep painting it as a horrible place to be, the negative stigma will continue.  If we want education to improve, we must show students that education is a privilege, not a jail sentence.  Get them to enjoy the process now before they grow into adults and have to conform into a mundane 9 to 5 later and get no such thing as a summer break (unless they become educators themselves… lol) .

– J.L.Burt

Teach Them To Give

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In the upcoming holiday seasons, many parents will now give thought to planning special events, family get-togethers, gift-giving, and many other traditions that can get a little stressful.  There’s so much to do!

When it comes to my wife and I, trying to balance getting our children the things they want for Thanksgiving and Christmas while teaching them the spirit of giving and love, can be quite difficult.  This season, we’ve decided to change the agenda a little.  Instead of entertaining our children’s pleas for the things they desire, we told them we were going to be givers this season.  Mind you, when we first told them this, we thought we were going to be met with cries and pangs of opposition, but we were quite shocked when we saw how receptive they were to it.  The idea of putting together baskets for the community and dropping them off to families in need appealed to them immensely.  Our daughter even gave out a little cheer knowing that she would have the chance to something nice for someone else.

This season, introduce the idea of sharing time with your children.  Having them experience putting smiles on peoples’ faces and showing love to others is one way way we can cultivate a culture of giving instead of getting.  Please remember that education not only has to do with teaching your child academic subjects, it is how we instruct our children to be model citizens in society.  Teaching them compassion and humility for other’s needs is part of the educational process.

Teachers, Parents, & Students: The Trinity of Education

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The Trinity of Academic Excellence

For thousands of years we have understood the purpose of education is to prepare a person to be ready for society.  We also understand a person who is ready mentally, physically, and spiritually, is a person that is well balanced with enough stability survive and often succeed in their goals.  The three facets of mind, body, and soul are represented in many areas of life as they often demonstrate a sense of completion and wholeness of being.  For example, in the tenets of the Christian faith, having an awareness of the Holy Trinity of God (mind), Jesus (body), and the Holy Spirit (soul) provides the way to a complete faith, a complete salvation.  Although the understanding of the balance of the mind, body, and soul is a basic, universal concept, the world of education often forgets this simple idea.  The truth is, the concept of mind, body, and soul needs to become a staple for education to be effective.  The trinity of education should be: teacher (the mind), student (the body), and parent (the soul).  This concept is not new in the world of education, but its practice seems to have decayed in public (and sometimes private) education abroad.  The connection of teacher, student, and parent is necessary for education to be worth the value everyone wants it to be.

The teacher, or educator, is the mind of the whole education process.  As early as primary and elementary education, they provide the materials and information to be processed, dissected, and learned by the students. They are the crafters of the intellectual training and create the world where learning can take place effectively.  This world often mirrors actual society on a smaller scale all the way up until college, the last formal level of a student’s learning.

Students represent the body of the trinity.  They are the vessels that carry the knowledge given by the teacher like the way the body follows the commands of the mind.  How the mind interprets the information and perceives the situation, the body sets the parameters of how the information can be carried out.  The body houses the mind and soul; whatever the body does is an outward manifestation of what has been put into the mind and soul.

The parent (which could also be seen as the family), the final part of the trinity, puts the soul of the student in place.  The spirit of a student comes into play before they ever step foot in a classroom.  A child’s temperament, stability, and emotional well being are all set by how the parents or guardians run the household from the time of the child’s birth.  Plus, since a child is the product of their parent, the spirit of a child often mirrors the spirit of the parent.  The child is an extension of the family’s bloodline into the future, carrying the spirit of the family with them.

In order for an education to be an optimal situation for a student, all parts of the trinity should be strong and in place.  The best case scenario is a student that has a keen mind and a strong spirit.  Such a student is able to meet challenges whether they are intellectual or physical, and their spirit should be strong enough to help them persevere and help their fellow man in the process.  The problem is that either one or more of these three facets are not as strong as they should be to provide for our students’ best interests.  Either the teacher or administrators are disconnected from the student and/or parent, so the parent has no clear idea of the academic issue with their student until it is too late.  Parents who are left out of the loop begin to mistrust the educational process because they feel they can’t rely on the school to inform them of problems that arise in their child’s learning.  When students already have a disconnection with the teacher in addition to seeing the disconnection their parent has with the school, most students will take advantage of the miscommunication and bask in the lack of being held to accountability of proper performance.  The result, students often misbehave and/or assignments don’t get completed.  Many of these types of problems exist nowadays in education; however they can be avoided.

Here are a few ways to improve teacher, parent, and student relations:

  • Communication of Expectations:  Teachers must continually communicate expectations of assignments, behavior, and assessments to parents.  Parents must be receptive and in tune of what’s expected.  Both teachers and parents must convey the expectations to the student and demand they be carried out.  Teachers and parents have to be a united front for students to be accountable.  Email & texting should make this easy.  Teachers, compile an email list for all of your parents at the beginning of the year.  Then, use the list regularly.
  • Conferences w/ Student Present:  What better way to impress upon a student that they have to be accountable than to have them face the teacher and parent together?  Any disconnect between the three will be brought to light if this is done enough.
  • Parent Appearances at the School:  This one keeps teachers accountable.  If a teacher knows that they can be watched or seen at any time by parents, they will be more apt to run a tighter ship.  In addition, your child will tighten up if you make random, regular guest appearances.   Parents, become involved and volunteer your time at a school.  Your presence makes a difference.
  • Study, Study, Study:  Do not fall for the “I don’t have any homework” line.  Just because they aren’t bringing books home doesn’t mean they can’t study or do an assignment to help them learn.  Google has information and free worksheets on ANY subject.  Put them online and make them study what they are learning in school.  The main job of a student is to study.  They should be doing it more than anything else.

There are many more ways to improve the relationships of teachers, parents, and students to turn around academic performance.  A few resource links are Parent-Teacher Communication, Keeping Parents Informed and Involved All Year Long (Great creative ways to keep the lines of communication open), and Effective Parent-Teacher Communication (a printable handout for teachers and parents with great bulletpoints).

We owe it to our community to be invested in education.  If you are interested in finding out more, contact me at, or contact EBO:

Jamal L. Burt, M.Ed.

EBO Educational Services, LLC

Office:    770-288-8595

Fax:        404-393-5128