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Teacher Shortages Aren’t Going Away

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The new school year is in full swing, but many districts across the country are facing a teacher shortage crisis. Both rural and urban schools are struggling to fill open positions as existing teachers retire or change careers. And with fewer college students choosing education as their major, shortages are only expected to grow. By next year the nationwide teacher shortage could easily exceed 100,000 positions.

According to the US Department of Education, science, math, foreign language and special education are the hardest hit. More than 40 states reported teacher shortages in these areas.
Salary and workload are the driving forces behind this trend. Math and science teacher pay has remained relatively flat over the past 20 years. Many of these educators leave to make more money in the private sector. Special education teacher turnover, on the other hand, is being fueled by increasing class sizes, work demands and stress.

As teachers retire or leave the field early, there are fewer new educators to replace them. North Carolina’s public university system saw a 27% enrollment decline in undergraduate and graduate teaching programs from 2010 to 2014. There was a 24% decline in Colorado during that same time. Nationally, the number of students who plan to major in education has reached its lowest point in nearly five decades.

As school districts move forward with few teachers, the problem isn’t expected to resolve any time soon. Until teachers see a measurable increase in pay and classroom support, the number of them will continue to decrease.

Care Package Ideas for College Students

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If you have been teaching several years, chances are, some of your favorite students are now in college. Why not surprise them with a care package?

Here are some ideas that can help college students settle in and feel at home.

Baked Goods
Nothing says love like homemade cookies or other treats. Be sure to include enough for them to share with their dormmates!

Water Bottle
Most college classrooms allow water bottles, and since college students are always on the go, hydration is a must. Consider a stainless steel bottle that will keep drinks cool throughout a day full of classes.

Scent Diffusers
Shared spaces can get smelly pretty quickly, so a diffuser is the perfect answer to combatting the odor. Most dorms do not allow candles, making diffusers a safe alternative.

Portable Chargers
Some days, college students spend the entire day on campus, leaving no time to charge electronics. A portable charger is an easy way to bring a dead battery back to life.

Restaurant Gift Cards
A break from dining hall food is welcomed by any student.

Prepackaged Food
Send healthy snacks like nuts, granola bars and trail mix that can be grabbed on the go.

Easing Kindergarten Jitters

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The first day of kindergarten is a huge milestone in a child’s life and often a pretty nerve-wracking one. Even the most confident kids may be a little hesitant to leave their parents’ side and venture into such a big and new world.

Here are some tips that can help make the transition a bit easier:

Get to Know Them – If possible, mail out information sheets to your new students a week or two before school starts. Ask them about their favorite things and tell them your favorites, too.

We are a Team! – Send each child an inexpensive yarn bracelet, backpack clip or special sticker to wear on the first day. Seeing other kids wearing the same items can help nervous kindergartners feel like they are all in this together.

Kiss and Good-Bye – Encourage parents to make good-byes short and sweet. Lingering parents often make the transition even tougher on the student.

Pick a Classroom Theme – Find a fun classroom theme and embrace it! Finding their name printed on a bright flower or sports ball is more fun for kids than a plain white notecard.

Set Up a Photo Booth – Have each child pose with their name tag and other themed accessories. Kids will enjoy seeing their silly poses and the pictures will help you remember names.

Time’s Up – From the first day, set expectations on how long it should take for cleanup, to line up for lunch and to get a drink from the water fountain. A short song is a good audio cue that lets students know to keep things moving.

Dismissal – Most schools require parents to provide a transportation plan before the school year begins. Provide each student with a lanyard at the end of the day that lists whether or not they are a pick up, bus number and name. It might be tough for a little one to remember something like a bus number on the first day, but the lanyard will allow other teachers and bus aides to point them in the right direction.

Have a great school year!

Back-to-School Spending Increasing

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Parents, open your wallets. Back-to-school costs are expected to ramp up this year.

The National Retail Federation projects that back-to-college spending will hit a record $54.1 billion this year, due in part to increasing enrollment size and greater consumer confidence. The numbers are a 10 percent increase over last year’s spending.

“Families are now in a state of mind where they feel a lot more confident about the economy,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. “With stronger employment levels and a continued increase in wages, consumers are spending more, and we are optimistic that they will continue to do so throughout the rest of the year.”

According to the NRF, parents of college students do most of their shopping online and spend an average of $969.88 per student. Much of that cost includes books and electronics.

Parents of children in elementary through high school plan are projected to spend an average of $687.72 for each child. Most of their shopping is in department stores and goes towards clothing.

What are your thoughts on back-to-school spending?

Quick Ship to the Rescue!

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The start of school is just days away – is your classroom ready?

Fear not, our SCHOOLSin Quick Ship program is here to help! All of our Quick Ship products are guaranteed to ship out from the manufacturer in 48 hours or less. Thousands of products from your favorite brands are a part of the program, so it’s easy to get the school furniture and equipment you need fast.

The Quick Ship program is available anywhere in the contiguous United States. To ensure speedy delivery, order by noon Eastern time. Some colors and larger quantities may be excluded.

Click here to shop our Quick Ship selection today.

Nature is Blooming in our Schools

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Education about the environment has taken a more hands-on approach in schools across the country.

Even in the most urban areas, it is becoming more and more common to see student-maintained gardens, nature habitats and wildlife sanctuaries right on school grounds.

In an attempt to reconnect today’s children with the outdoors, the National Wildlife offers the Schoolyard Habitats program. The NWF partners with over 5,000 schools nationwide and provides tips on how to install, maintain and use a schoolyard garden.

The new outdoor spaces offer a relaxing break from the hectic school day and allow students to observe and take pride in their hard work. For schools that grow food in their garden, there is an added bonus. Studies have shown that children are five times more likely to eat food that they have grown.

Does your school have a garden or wildlife habitat?

Take-Home Laptops Help Curve the Summer Slide

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Summer slide sounds like a fun hot-weather adventure, but it is a real learning condition that teachers know all too well.

The Colorado Department of Education describes the summer slide as, “The tendency for students, especially those from low-income families, to lose some of the achievement gains they made during the previous school year.”

Researchers from John Hopkins University tracked a group of students from 1st grade until they were 22 years old. They concluded that most of the 9th grade reading achievement gap could be attributed to the lack of summer learning opportunities during elementary school.

Some schools are hoping to lessen the blow of the summer slide by allowing students to take home school-assigned laptop computers during the summer months. Having a computer available, something that low-income students may not have access to otherwise, allowed students to complete summer studies and stay connected through school-related emails.

As is the case during the school year, students are responsible for lost or damaged computers.

Does your school allow students to take home school-issued laptops during the summer?

Food for Thought

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The food choices you make could help you earn a college scholarship, as reported in the U.S. News and World Report.

Each year, the Vegetarian Resource Group offers one $10,000 and two $5,000 scholarships to graduating U.S. high school students who promote vegetarianism in their schools or communities. Interested students are required to submit an application and essay before February 20, 2018.

Other scholarships are available based on eating challenges and illnesses. For example, the Diabetes Scholars Foundation awards several scholarships to high school seniors who have Type 1 diabetes. Additional organizations offer scholarships to students with food allergies, Crohn’s Disease and more.

What food-themed scholarships would you like to see?

Carpet Squares Keep Kids Focused

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“Floor time” can be two of the most daunting words for teachers of young students. When kids leave their typical desks and tables, boundaries disappear and the fidgets often come out in full force.

Carpet squares are a great way to define spaces while still allowing students to enjoy the freedom of sitting on the floor. In addition, carpet squares brighten the room and can even help absorb the sounds of a busy classroom.

We are happy to offer Lytle Kids Carpet Squares, made exclusively for SCHOOLSin. The squares are sold in packs of 24 and come packaged in an easy-carry clear vinyl bag (the bag has ventilation holes, too, so it’s safe to use around little ones!).

The carpet squares have finished edges (also known as serging) and a special Action Bac that keeps them from sliding across hard floors. The colors are vibrant and the material is surprisingly soft and thick. As a matter of fact, we have a set of the carpet squares in our SCHOOLSin office and it’s funny to see how many people are tempted to touch them as they pass by.

Lytle Kids Carpet Squares are easy to order online or over the phone. Call us today at (877) 839-3330 for assistance.

Teens are Spending Their Summer Studying Rather Than Working

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Landing that first summer job was once considered a rite of passage for American teens. Now it appears this tradition may be fading. During the 1970s and 80s, nearly 70% of 16- to 19-year-olds held a summer job. Last year it was less than 40%. Instead of lifeguarding or babysitting, many high schoolers are now spending their summers in the classroom.

College selectivity appears to be driving this trend. As more students pursue a four-year degree, colleges and universities have tightened up admission standards and lowered acceptance rates. To compete against their peers, students are choosing summer school over a summer job. In fact, there were four times as many students enrolled in summer school last year than in 1985.

Teens are also taking more challenging classes than they were 30 years ago. Calculus, foreign language and computer science courses are more popular than ever. Advanced placement (AP) enrollment is up nearly 40%. Students are studying harder and longer to keep up, leaving little time for work.

There’s no doubt that summer jobs provide their own type of educational experience. Teens learn how to handle responsibility, manage money and get along with bosses and co-workers. But evidence touting the lifelong benefits of a college degree is simply more compelling. For now, those summer jobs will have to wait.

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