Innovative Teaching

6 Things We Need to Teach in Our Classrooms

K-12 Teaching

Subjects like English, Science, and Mathematics are commonplace in American classrooms. These traditional subjects are important, but many of them don’t offer any value when it comes to life’s most useful lessons. Many people believe the classroom should incorporate some more practical subjects that can be employed long-term. Here are some topics that many students wish they had learned while in school:

Basic Finance

Most American K-12 schools don’t provide students with training in financial literacy. Unfortunately, according to CrediReady, many Americans don’t understand the basics about building credit scores, homeownership, investments, savings, insurance, or retirement and how these issues can impact their overall health and well-being. Many schools are advocating for more personal finance coursework and training to help curb some of these issues and ensure Americans are well-equipped to take control of their own financial destiny.

Tax Codes

Taxes are an inevitable part of life, but you’d be surprised to learn that the average American misses out on several thousand dollars of tax credits each year. Many Americans are uneducated when it comes to tax codes, and many can’t do their taxes without the aid of technology. As a result, most Americans won’t claim their full refund unless they enlist the assistance of a tax professional. A little training in this area can save great heartache and distress in the future.

Mental Health

Mental health issues have been a taboo topic for decades, especially in large parts of the black community. Unfortunately, the hush-hush nature of this subject has led to a debilitated society where those in need of help fail to seek it. Schools should invest in training that assists students with healthy coping mechanisms and encourages them to seek help when needed. According to Connections Academy, it’s important to encourage teachers and school counselors’ support in case students have issues with bullying, communication skills, or questions about their futures.

Time Management Techniques

Time management is important in both work and play. Many employers are looking for students who can balance the demands of home and work with ease. In today’s structured society, many students enter the real world with no concept of how to manage their own time. Courses in time management can be quite useful in curbing anxiety and propelling students to the next level.


It’s great to make friends and it’s great to keep them, but you also want to keep in touch with certain people you never really got to know. Why? They might just be that references you need to land a job, or to be introduced to a great employment opportunity. If you’re a senior in high school, you might want to add your friends and peers on a variety of sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, as you never know what opportunities they can open up for you. Additionally, plenty of groups and forums exist that are useful when looking for a job or internship. Perhaps the more valuable lesson to learn from this is not exactly to specifically network with people, but to be open to meeting and befriending new people.

Self-Defense Techniques

Self-defense techniques can be taught in a physical education class or a special elective and can be beneficial in the long-term. Physical safety is a no-brainer when it comes to an educational package, and many schools are opting to include this kind of coursework in their curriculum.

Today’s children have the most benefit in learning these principles early, and yet we are severely hindering them from being prepared for the future. Our education system should reinforce the skills and knowledge pertinent to a successful life, such as mental health awareness, cultural sensitivity, and financial stability. We owe it to our future generations to have all of the tools available to them from the beginning, not wait until it’s already too late.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

BYOD in Public Schools? 3 Top Benefits of Implementing a BYOD Program for Teens

Educational Technology

(Photo Credit: Reuters)

Should middle and high school students be allowed to bring their own smartphones or tablets to school?  Until recently, most teachers and parents would have said no.  An increasing number of public schools around the country are implementing “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) programs for their students and are finding the educational benefits of such programs to be outstanding, according to Education Week.  This piece offers a list of the top 3 reasons many teachers love BYOD.

1. BYOD Engages Students More than Traditional Teaching

Cite World explained that teachers who have had direct experience with BYOD programs at their schools in Kentucky have divulged that students become more engaged in learning and participate more in class when they can use their own mobile devices.  Today’s students are generally excited about new technologies.  When they own the technology on which they are doing their school work, they become more interested and invested in the material and show a greater desire to do well in class.  Student success rates are high at schools that employ BYOD programs.  BYOD is also a good selling point in attracting top students from outside the district or in getting parents to enroll their children in new charter schools.

2. BYOD Use Can Be Controlled by Teachers and School Administrators

Every school that has a BYOD program can also lay out clear rules for students regarding the use of their devices in class.  Social media sites are almost always banned during class time.  The use of other websites and even apps may also be banned, depending on the particular school and its needs.  Use of devices may be restricted to only certain times during class as well.  Most students have to sign agreements saying they will follow the rules, and may be suspended or barred from the BYOD program if they habitually break those rules.

While the whole concept of BYOD is still relatively new to public schools, those that are using it are adapting well.  Some schools are even taking a page from the BYOD policies governing students as well as staff at colleges and universities and are implementing mobile device management (MDM), according to Alberta Education’s “Bring Your Own Device: A Guide for Schools.”  This allows teachers or school administrators to control what software and apps are installed on students’ devices, block certain websites while on campus, and even delete unauthorized apps remotely.  Some companies like MDM by Blackberry offer this service to schools and give them the ability to control every brand and type of device from one platform. This ensures all students are in compliance with school BYOD rules.

3. BYOD Saves Money that Schools Can Use to Invest in New Teaching Technologies

BYOD saves schools precious dollars.  By allowing students to bring their own devices, schools can avoid the huge expense of having to provide every student with an identical device.  The New York Times disclosed that schools may still set aside funds to supply devices for students whose families can’t afford them, or let students borrow devices.  The money a school saves by implementing BYOD can be used to invest in other teaching technologies, such as innovative software, interactive whiteboards, 3-D printers and more.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison