To get the most from your article distribution efforts, you need to give your articles the best possible chance of being republished by other webmasters and ezine owners.It’s not just a case of getting backlinks and traffic from the main article directories. If you’re going to the effort of writing an article, you may as well go the extra yard and make it as appealing as possible to other publishers.Here are 5 tips for writing publisher friendly articles that will get a lot of reads:1. Use of keywordsDon’t go overboard with the use of keyword phrases in your articles. Fitting keyword phrases in to your content can spoil the natural flow of your article. Webmasters and ezine owners are searching for well written, educational articles to ensure their readers stay subscribed or revisit their sites. If you need to include a keyword phrase, include it in your article title if possible as this will carry the most ranking weight. But in general try and ensure that you include your keywords in a natural way, scattered through the content in appropriate places. Obviously the one place you will want to include your keywords, is in the anchor text of the links you include in your resource box pointing back to your site. The search engines place a lot of weight on anchor text links, so any you include with your article, need to reflect the keyword phrases you are targeting on the page you are linking to. Target different keywords with each article you write to ensure you generate a natural linking pattern.2. Closely align the content of your article with the content of the page you are linking toArticle marketing is not just about obtaining backlinks to your pages. When done right, you can generate a lot of direct traffic from your articles. For those visitors to convert in to new list subscribers or actual sales, you must ensure that the content on your landing page is targeted to the content they were reading in your article, and is in fact as promised when they clicked on your link in your author box!Therefore make sure you write compelling resource boxes that deliver your readers to the content they crave.3. Make the length of your article appeal to publishersTo appeal to ezine publishers and webmasters, your articles should ideally be between 500 and 800 words, not too long for ezine editors but long enough to provide webmasters with quality ranking material.4. Provide quality contentMake sure you provide useful information to your readers, information that delivers what is promised in your article title. Ideally you want to write content that will provide your reader with a quality learning experience so that they sub-consciously start to perceive you as an expert ready for when they land on your page. However, don’t share all of your knowledge in the article, make sure you leave something to promise the reader in your resource box. If they discover all the information they were searching for in your article, they will have no reason to click on your link! The better the information in your article, the more it will be published by ezine editors. Plus the more you become associated with quality writing, the more your content will be republished.5. Check with the main article directories to see what the most popular article titles areBefore you write an article, do some research. Go to some of the main article directories and take a look at what article titles are proving popular with readers. Then write your own similar titles based on those. If your title is attractive to people in your chosen niche, it should get read a lot of times!
Article writing for a living has become a way of life for more and more people. This is done in many ways and normally from a place of comfort. People from all walks, like stay at home mothers, unemployed, Internet marketers, can all use articles to earn a living. The Internet is becoming the main medium in which this is becoming popular, because of its cost effectiveness and ease of use. A wide range of demographic and geographic areas can be targeted on a global scale.Article writing from home can be done in a number of ways:1. There are a number of websites that facilitate, that are meeting points for both writer and people who need writing services (Elance is just one of them). A price is negotiated for each article written. These articles vary through a wide range of topics and applications. The good part is, these writing skills can be learnt, which improves with practice.2. Writing article reviews on products hosted on sites such as Amazon can earn you commission, if you sign on to become an affiliate. You interest customers on one of Amazon’s products and each sale that comes from you, earns a commission. This is just one site, there is a vast affiliate market out there waiting to be tapped.3. Descriptive, informative, educational articles and short stories are bought by businesses to be used as website and blog content. Article Alley is just one site that markets this material.4. Articles written to promote your own business website. Internet surfers are hungry for new material and information and articles are the ideal medium to give it to them. If you have a product, service or valuable information that you want to get spread, articles is a great way to do it. Just publish it on share sites to get it spread virally through the Internet.Article writing is a valuable marketing tool in earning a living from home and the more you know the easier it becomes.
Direct article marketing has changed. When you first started your article marketing maybe you were like me, and didn’t know much about website optimization and promotion to increase web page traffic and key words for articles marketing. Article marketing rules change, so it’s a lot of research to stay on top of which key words are best for each article. Since you don’t want to make some of the mistakes I made early on, use my experience to update your article marketing now.In the BeginningNine years ago, I learned about article marketing. I wrote business books and wanted to market them a natural way. I learned from a techie mentor how to submit them. And, my titles were good so they got my website in the first page of Google rankings. With “bookcoaching” I’m still number one. I submitted 20 articles to many sites, and within one month, was listed on 900 websites. As my articles grew to over 240, I was listed on 120,000 sites and more each two weeks. article marketing is viral marketing at its best.Being Consistent Makes a Difference.As long as I pumped good how to, educational articles out there, my Google status was great. When I took a year sabbatical from article marketing, my placement dropped accordingly. And today, I’m back at it full steam ahead. But since new rules and Web 2. 0 changes, Today, I’m editing most of my articles and all of my article writing and submitting books to help my clients get more webpage traffic.Key Words for Article OptimizationI started using Google Trends and put at least 10 keywords into those first article submitted to HubPages. I turned into a key word junkie!. I wove those key words into the copy with ease. Talk about overkill and clouded judgment. I didn’t realize my errors until my webmaster corrected me. We went back to optimize all the earlier titles so Google would love them.Better Article Key Word ResearchThen, using the free Google Keyword Tool. I learned how to comb through a general key word phrase, turn those into the long tailed low-competition specific key words people Google. We incorporate them into article titles and first lines of the article. With this method, you only use 3 keyword phrases in the whole article, after you do your key word research Now, my articles earn me a seat at the Big Boy’s table–my website URL went to top positions in Google page ranking.We tested the main key word phrases at Google Tools to see which phrase would get us the most action. We checked the monthly searches for each key word phrase and noticed higher is better such as 300+ and with # results on the web through putting the phrase in quotes and Googling it, that lower is better such as -3000. Thus, the higher ratio is better such as over.100+. The ratio is best at over.1.Today, the Goal is Balance Between the Best Long tailed Keywords and the Title that Will Attract Readers.If you please your readers and your article directory publishers with quality, useful articles, you’ll do well. Remember to answer your readers’ questions in your articles, even solve their challenges.
Article marketing is a great way to get leads for your membership website but you will need to do a few things in order to make it work. Keep reading to learn what you need to do in order to make article marketing work for you.
You need:1. A very strong knowledge of your topic.
Don’t attempt to use article marketing if you know a little bit about something. It will end up being a waste of your time, but if you have created a membership website, or are going to in the future it’s likely you are an expert on the topic in which case article marketing is a perfect fit.2. A squeeze page or landing page to collect contact information from interested prospects.
You can write a thousand captivating educational articles but if you have nowhere to send your leads where you can get their information then where will you go from there? You need to collect their name and e-mail (at the very minimal) so that you can develop a relationship with them and let them know about your membership website and other products and services you may have available.3. A reason for people to enter their contact information, like a free information gift.
You have a squeeze page (or landing page) to collect information, now you need a reason to motivate people to actually go there and enter their e-mail address. Since, they already went searching for information on your topic online then natural solution would be to offer them some more.4. An account at Ezine articles.
There are tons of article directories, but Ezine articles is the leader. If you are going to use article marketing to drive traffic you need to be a member there. The basic membership is free.5. Be be able to type relatively quickly or motivated to learn quickly.
If you can’t type this will be arduous process, get on it.6. To be able to break your main topic down into at least 10 categories and then 10 subcategories to create article topics.
The ability to organize your knowledge into categories and pre-write the titles makes life much easier.7. To be able to select relevant keywords that are popular enough that people use them, and small enough that they will find you among the search engine results.8. The tenacity to write several articles a day. To make a significant impact you will need to work up to at least 10 articles a day.9. To be able to write from your current knowledge without needing to stop to do research.
If you need to stop and do research for every article this will be a painstaking process. Write about what you know about.10. To be able to write in a way that your prospects are able to understand.
If your readers can’t understand you they won’t keep reading.11. The motivation to continue when you don’t get immediate results after your first 10 articles.
This part is frustrating, the first 10 articles are the hardest you’ll every write. You finally get them completed and guess what, odds are you won’t get much attention. Don’t worry it happens to most everyone, it takes a while before you will start seeing leads come in.12. Provide information in an easy to read entertaining format.
If you bore your readers to death they will never make it to the bottom of your article where you offer them more great info, so be careful not to take your writing too seriously.Now that you know what you will need to use article marketing to start getting qualified leads, don’t sit around, start writing.
Even though you’ve started article marketing to boost your search engine rankings and get more website traffic, you still need to write firstly with your human readers in mind and then secondly for search engines.It may seem like a narrow tightrope to walk, since humans respond to emotion, irony, humor and imagery, and whereas search engines are simply looking at keywords on a web page.You CAN write for both search engines and humans though, and when you follow these tips it’s actually not that hard:FOCUS ON YOUR TITLEYour article title should:=> Tell what your article is about=> Be interesting to readers, making them want to read your article=> Have your keywords towards the beginning of your title, preferably in the first 3 wordsSeriously put some thought into your title, and experiment with different keyword placements.USE LONG-TAIL KEYWORDS AS ARTICLE TOPICSYour basic keyphrases will consist of 1-2 words, but your long-tail keyphrases are 3-5 words long.For example:Keyword: running shoesLong-tail keywords: off trail running shoesThe basic keyword ‘running shoes’ is competitive–there are many people doing searches on that term, and there are also many website owners who are targeting those keyword terms.The long-tail keyword ‘off trail running shoes’ is more unique. There are not as many people doing searches on that term, and therefore not as many website owners who are targeting those terms.By writing some articles to satisfy the searches for ‘off trail running shoes’, the website owner can more easily rank highly for that search term.Build up a list of long tail keywords for your own niche, and write articles to satisfy those searches. Use the keywords in the title and in the article body.Before you know it you will have created a library of very niche specific content that covers all types of specific searches that your target readers are doing.USE KEYWORDS IN YOUR HTML RESOURCE BOXThe HTLM resource allows you to hyperlink anchor text to form a link to your website, and your anchor text should be your keywords.Supposedly Google pays special attention to hyperlinked words, so using an HTML resource box can be an effective attention grabber for a search engine.But be careful: Do not use the same keywords every article, but vary the keywords you target in your resource box. If you use the same keywords all the time, it could be interpreted as trying to be manipulative, and Google doesn’t appreciate that!USE YOUR KEYWORDS WISELYYour articles are a communication with your target readers, a way to provide them with useful information, show them your expertise, and build trust. Please don’t think of your articles as merely a vehicle for keywords.As you’re writing, remember that your first job is to appeal to your human readers. Your writing should sound natural and be easy to read and understand. It’s a good idea to limit your keyword density to no more than 3%–that will help keep your article from sounding contrived or written solely for a search engine.CONCLUSIONIt IS possible to write articles that are appealing to people and to Google. Figure out what your keywords are, and include long-tail keywords in your list as well. Write educational articles around those topics, and you’ll likely find that your keywords are naturally popping up in your articles.Spend extra time on your title and your HTML resource box, and use your keywords strategically in both of those spots.If you will focus on those 3 areas: Title, Topics, and HTML Resource box, you can create an article that grabs the attention of Google and human readers.
To be as effective as possible, an article should be distributed to as many pertinent locations as possible according to a strict timeline. Great article marketing is all about achieving the best exposure in as natural a fashion as possible. There is an unquenchable thirst for information on the Internet and those who are able to provide informative and educational articles will never run out of a place to publish them.When you are getting things together for an article marketing campaign, you need to have as many of your ducks in a row as possible. Assuming that you have adequately researched the content of the piece in relation to its subject and its primary keywords, then you should ensure that it is written in as natural a style as possible, with a meaningful flow to its composition.To enable you to achieve great article marketing results you will need to spend a lot of time doing thorough research and composing a great piece. By the time the reader gets to the end of the article they will want to get more information and this is where the resource box comes in. Within this resource box will be a hyperlink, coded around anchor text keywords, directly back to your site. At your site, try and make sure that the page that they land on is also optimized for those primary keywords.The best way to approach article distribution is to ensure that a unique article goes to each outlet. It is possible to achieve this without getting bogged down in the reconstruction of each article by hand. While there are certain methods that you should avoid, there are nevertheless options available enabling you to regenerate the articles in perfectly readable English by using paragraph management, multiple resource boxes and a variety of titles.Do not be tempted to distribute your article to hundreds of target sites in one go. It is far better to perform a trickle feed of something in the region of 50 articles per day. When establishing your marketing list try and ensure that as many of the directories or target sites as possible have a Page rank greater than three. The higher the Page rank of the site carrying your article and providing you with a back link, the higher the chance that you will receive some ranking benefit.Article marketing has several distinct benefits. Firstly, you can achieve back links to your site, resulting in direct visitors. Secondly, the back links can be viewed by the search engines in a positive light, enhancing your Page rank. Thirdly, your name will become synonymous with well-written articles and help to establish you as an expert in your niche.There a number of great article marketing businesses available online to help you if you’re not comfortable with taking on such a program by yourself. These organizations will be able to provide you with a complete service, from initial keyword research to the provision of back link reports.Article marketing must be viewed over a longer term. It will take several months to view some feedback assuming that you keep it going. Experts recommend a minimum of two articles per week for best effect.
Oftentimes, I see some awkward management of how people list their education on their résumé. Here are some tips and tricks to help effectively convey your investment into your educational career to prospective employers:1) Understand what constitutes education. The EDUCATION section of a resume actually is composed of two parts: your formal schooling (with an accredited institution), and then everything else, which should be listed under a separate subheader (not ‘training’, ‘coursework’ or ‘classes’) called “Professional Development.” “Professional Development” constitutes any kind of educational coursework that you’ve taken that enhances/updates your knowledge, hones your skills, and helps you do your job better. This can include workshops, trainings, classes, CEUs, industry certifications, conventions, conferences and the like. Many people can have a lot of listings under this area from years of being at conferences/workshops. Two dimensions that you want to use to cull this down to a shorter list include relevancy towards the job target you are pursuing, and going back no more than 5-7 years. Anything more than that is going to be fairly obsolete – we simply don’t do business now the way we did 10 years ago, and you definitely don’t want to look like an ancient dinosaur who hasn’t keep their knowledge up-to-date!2) Don’t be afraid to list degrees that weren’t completed. Many people hesitate when told it is okay to list educational degrees that they started but didn’t finish. “It makes me look like I can’t finish something,” is a common concern. Look at it this way: ANY type of learning beyond the high school/GED level shows initiative and an interest in bettering oneself. Give yourself credit for the time, effort and money you’ve invested!3) Beware the most common educational deception – a ‘perceived’ graduation date. Did you know that the EASIEST thing to check on backgrounds is education? Many people don’t realize this. Several clients of mine have come to me with résumés that, when in our consultation, turn out to be listing a school attended rather than a degree earned. “Bachelor of Science”, the document reads. When I probe a little further, the person clears their throat uncomfortably, and says, “Well… I didn’t REALLY graduate….” If you are playing this game, thinking you are smart, you need to stop. Human resource people are all over this little tactic. Either you graduated or you took program coursework. It’s just that black or white. And believe me, you’d rather hear it in this blog than not to hear that you didn’t get the job for ‘fibbing’ or inaccurately portraying your credentials.4) Don’t fall into the educational credibility trap. Unless you are seeking employment in an educational or highly technical field which requires constant educational commitments, avoid needlessly listing scholarships, honors, GPAs and for pete’s sake, what year you graduated. The harsh reality, unless you are pursuing the above-mentioned fields, is that employers only care about this: Did you graduate? Yes/No. They don’t care about the other details. And by listing a lot of irrelevant information, you appear desperate to justify yourself. Sure, if you graduated Magna cum laude or similar, you can list this, but the rest of the info just isn’t going to make or break you for the most part!5) List EDUCATION later in your résumé. Résumé writers and school career centers have a running battle going on about where to list EDUCATION on a résumé, believe it or not. Schools (including colleges, universities and institutes) tell students to put EDUCATION right near the top of their résumé. But again, most employers put more weight on experience versus education. Professional résumé writers advocate listing this section later in the document because you need to address the employer’s priorities first. My own humble opinion is that the school career centers are rather self-serving in that respect- OF COURSE they want the school front and center on that résumé! But is that what the employer really cares about? Not really- experience first, education second (except for educational/technical fields, of course).6) To include or not to include unrelated educational experience? Good question. The key is to know your audience. If the target company culture values education and adult learning, listing unrelated educational background might make sense. Other times, job seekers are shifting fields, and their formal educational field is incongrous from their new career direction. It’s acceptable to list just the degree (i.e. Bachelor of Science) only if the emphasis going to distract employers.7) Spell it out! There’s an alphabet soup out there of degree names, and you can’t assume that your intended audience is fluent in the language of academia. Spell out (not abbreviate) every degree.8) How MUCH education to list? Again, knowing your audience is important. There are lots of articles online that talk about ‘dumbing’ down your résumé, but the truth is, many employers are on a talent shopping spree. They are able to afford top industry talent they couldn’t have just five years ago. Sure, there’s the risk that you’ll jump ship as soon as the economy improves, but if they can hire you now at the top of your game, they stand to benefit. So at least do some research on what the corporate culture is like to find out how you should approach listing your educational background.
A retired teacher and principal with thirty-eight years of experience in public education, Renato C. Nicolai, Ed.D., taught 6th through 12th grade and was both an elementary and middle school principal. In education circles, he was known as Dr. Nicolai, which eventually was shortened to Dr. Nick, and has stuck ever since.Tyler: Thank you for joining me today, Dr. Nick. Obviously, the state of public education in the United States is of great concern to many people. To begin, will you tell us what you think is wrong with the public education system?Dr. Nick: Wow! What an opportunity! Yes, I would be pleased to tell you what I think is wrong with the public education system. My thoughts aren’t in any order of priority; I’m telling you about them as they come to mind.What I think of first is what I wrote about as the main emphasis in my book. Teachers desperately need to improve the quality of their teaching, so, specifically, what’s wrong is that too many teachers are either incompetent or mediocre instructors at best. Yes, if you had the opportunity to stand by my side in the hundreds of classrooms I’ve visited in my career, you would be both amazed and horrified at how much poor quality teaching there is in our public schools. If parents only knew how much more their children could be learning with instruction from superb teachers compared to what they are most likely learning now from incompetent teachers, they would be flabbergasted. That’s how bad it really is. This indictment of teachers, however, is not a major problem at the elementary school, but is a serious and rampant problem for sure at the middle school, junior high school, and especially the high school level of education. Parents, you’ll want to read about the eight essential qualities most teachers don’t possess. I’ve listed and described them in the first chapter of my book.Tenure is another critical problem. Once tenure is granted by a school district, an incompetent teacher is a teacher for life. It’s extremely difficult to dismiss a teacher who has tenure. What’s wrong with tenure is that it’s achievable so soon in a teacher’s career (after only three years in most cases), so final (once it’s granted it’s irrevocable), and so long lasting (the teacher keeps it for as long as he/she teaches). What happens is that some teachers work very hard during their first few years on the job, receive tenure, and then slack off in their performance because they know they can almost never lose their job. Instead of tenure, public education should promote a system of performance reviews that teachers are required to pass periodically in order to keep their teaching position for the next two or three years.The way a teacher is evaluated is all wrong within the education system. It’s basically a sham and a joke. Collective bargaining contracts and union involvement in teacher evaluations has watered down the process of teacher evaluations to the degree that practically nothing worthwhile results from the process. In my book, I have a chapter titled “What You Don’t Know Won’t Hurt You,” and the concept of teacher evaluation is discussed in that chapter. If parents and the public at large knew how ineffective and unproductive teacher evaluations are, they would demand a more efficient system. The system as it exists in most school districts today is a tactful process of saying the right words, doing what’s anticipated, and not ruffling anyone’s feelings. What it should do is help teachers improve the quality of their teaching to the degree that they help students learn better, but it doesn’t do that at all.The public education system is rooted in the false notion that all teachers are qualified educators who can be trusted to make good decisions, follow school district rules and regulations, work together in a spirit of collegiality, promote the welfare of students as a priority, and, generally, do what is just, moral, and professional. What’s wrong is that this description is simply not true; yet, school districts throughout the United States allow teachers the freedom to work unsupervised because they are assumed to be well-intentioned, professional persons who have the best interests of students at heart. Don’t misunderstand me, please. Of course, there are many conscientious teachers who do work well with each other and do have the best interests of students at heart, but I believe that there are many more who take advantage of academic freedom, collegiality, and lack of supervision to do whatever they want within the four walls of their classrooms. This is actually a very serious problem that is covered up by the educational hierarchy.Another very serious wrong is the way in which school districts manage the use of substitute teachers. Substitute teachers are rarely observed to determine their competence, frequently assigned to subject areas they have no qualifications to teach, and regularly subjected to unbelievable disrespect and insolence from students. When a substitute teacher is present in a middle school, junior high school, or high school classroom, little or no learning takes place. That class is a waste of instructional time, the students’ time, and the substitute’s time as well. The three most common activities that take place when a substitute takes over a regular teacher’s class are the showing of videos or DVDs, the administration of tests, and the supervision of long, boring written or reading assignments left by the regular teacher. The lesson plans left by most regular teachers for substitute teachers to follow are generally a set of instructions on how to occupy the time students have in class. The entire substitute teacher system needs to be completely overhauled. Students must be taught to respect substitute teachers, to assist them with the lesson, and to be responsible for their own learning. Expectations that students will cooperate with substitute teachers, that regular teachers will conscientiously prepare quality lesson plans, that substitutes will teach, and that administrators will monitor substitutes are so miserably low, currently, that the education system simply accepts the status quo of chaos, lack of learning, and disgraceful substitute teacher academic and professional performance.Tyler, the public education system in the United States is really in trouble. It’s inundated with problems; there are many things wrong with it. I could have written about lack of student discipline, emphasis on sports over academics, permissiveness throughout the culture of public schools, reticence about the problems that exist, and much more. I believe that it has deteriorated so much over the last fifty years, that mediocrity and incompetence are the status quo. Parents don’t even realize that the system is so bad. What they see and experience is what they think is how the system should be. They don’t understand how much better it could be and how their children could be receiving a more superior educational experience.Tyler: Dr. Nick, will you tell us a little bit about your background in education-where you taught and the subjects you taught, as well as your experience as a middle school principal. What personal experiences have led to your current viewpoints?Dr. Nick: My first full time position in public schools was as a 9th and 11th grade teacher of English at El Camino High School in South San Francisco, California (a city separate from San Francisco). After teaching two years, my assignment changed to teaching English half the school day and counseling the other half. In my third year as a teacher at this school, I was elected president of the local teachers’ union and the following year chairman of the School District Negotiating Council. In my fifth year, I was appointed Assistant Principal of Parkway Junior High School (7-9) in the same school district.During the seven years I held this position as assistant principal, I enrolled in a doctoral program at the University of Southern California, and from 1969-1972 I achieved a Doctor of Education degree in Educational Administration and Secondary Curriculum. My dissertation, which researched the administrative behavior of superintendents of schools, was the first dissertation sponsored by the newly formed Association of California School Administrators (ACSA).In 1974, I was selected Principal of Isaac Newton Graham Middle School (7-8) in Mountain View, California. You asked me to share my experience as a middle school principal, and I’m pleased to do so, but I want you to know that I could easily write another book about those experiences alone. So, I’ll try to give you an encapsulated answer. I think I could best describe my experiences as a middle school principal as a continuing five year roller coaster ride because I never knew when my feelings, emotions, and experiences would be up or down. On the up side, I was thrilled to see many students learn to their potential as a result of the excellent teaching of some superb teachers. After all, helping young people learn is what education is all about. I also observed some outstanding teachers whose skills and methods motivated students to excel beyond their own personal expectations. That was extremely exciting. As the leader of a neighborhood school, I grew personally as an educator because I had the opportunity to influence curriculum, work for the educational benefits of students, and associate often with community leaders in various agencies (fire department, police department, recreation department, mayor’s office, and so on). These experiences made me a better principal. On the down side, I learned quickly that many teachers should never have been allowed to enter a classroom to teach. They were not suited to interact with adolescents and teenagers; they didn’t have the skills needed to help young minds understand concepts and ideas; they failed to devote themselves to learning how to teach expertly; they didn’t know how to control and manage a class of thirty students. I also realized what some of the problems were that I had to deal with (incompetent teachers, low quality curriculum, collective bargaining contracts to name a few) but that I didn’t have the power to bring about effective change. That was frustrating to no end. Finally, the lowest possible experience for me was to meet so-called teachers who had literally given up; that is, they had decided to go through the motions of teaching only. They were no longer eager to teach, didn’t look forward to meeting their classes, and did as little as possible to meet their professional responsibilities. I left out so much that I feel my answer is inadequate. I can see the joy on the faces of students who won academic and sports awards, the enthusiasm of both staff and student body at our annual soft ball game, the annual parent club barbecue, and so much more.I remained at Graham for five years and then moved on to an opportunity in southern California as the Administrative Director (Superintendent/Principal) of Chatsworth Hills Academy, a private school in Chatsworth, California. I preferred serving in public education, so I returned to Graham as a 7th grade core teacher, teaching English and social studies (world history). In October of my second year back from southern California, I was asked by three Santa Clara County superintendents to head up a “joint powers” school named The Institute of Computer Technology as an on-loan school administrator. Along with an on-loan administrator from IBM (Ken Butler), I helped this new educational enterprise get its feet off the ground. It was exciting work and I enjoyed hiring teachers, meeting technology experts at Apple and IBM, developing curriculum, outfitting a school with security systems, working with school superintendents, learning how to protect valuable hardware and software, and a lot more. After doing what I was hired to do, I returned to Graham, teaching English, social studies, and geography to 7th and 8th graders, including the 8th Grade Honors English program. I remained at Graham for the next twenty years and retired in 2001.During my career, I’ve been a presenter at various conferences, in-service sessions, and conventions. My presentation topics were usually in the areas of teaching methods, literature-based instruction, discipline, and classroom management. I’ve also been a master teacher, chairman or member of numerous curriculum committees, and an adjunct professor in the teacher training program at National University.My current viewpoints and attitudes toward public education developed throughout my career based upon my personal experiences as a teacher and principal, what I saw other educators do and heard them say, what I read, what I learned best helped young people reach their learning potential, what political reforms failed, and what I learned about how young minds gain knowledge. For instance, there was a time when I opposed vouchers; I’m adamantly in favor of them now. The more choices parents have in the education of their children, the better. I was a staunch supporter of tenure at the beginning of my career until I witnessed how many deficient teachers hide their incompetence under the protection of this law. Tenure should be abolished. I’m sure you get the idea. I hold the views, attitudes, and feelings that I do about education as a result of a life-long career in schools. You know, children aren’t the only ones who learn while at school.Tyler: You mention that many teachers are not competent? What is the reason for this, and why does the school system allow them to remain in the classroom?Dr. Nick: Why are many teachers incompetent? Here are some reasons to contemplate:Because they don’t possess the personality needed to interact well with young people. If a person doesn’t like kids, doesn’t enjoy being with them all day long, doesn’t look forward to teaching them, doesn’t accept their immaturity and want to help them become more mature, can’t stand constantly answering questions, can’t accept individual differences (race, ethnicity, gender, religion, etc), can’t cope with special needs (hyperactivity, behavior problems, and so on), then that person will never be a competent teacher.Because they don’t possess, exhibit, use, and treasure enthusiasm, and, so, they are truly boring to most of their students. Ask any kid at a middle school, junior high school, or high school in your community what they dislike the most about their teachers, and, I guarantee you the answer will overwhelmingly be that they are boring. And you know something, Tyler; the kids are right. Most teachers are insufferably boring in how they teach. Enthusiasm is a sine qua non for all competent teachers.Because they don’t know how to get concepts and ideas across clearly to their students. They don’t possess the knowledge and skills needed to help students learn. They just don’t know what to do and end up quite often being frustrated and saying something like, “Oh, those kids just can’t learn this stuff.” That’s an expression equivalent to defeatism and incompetence. If the learning material is age appropriate and part of the accepted curriculum, of course a normal, healthy student can learn it. It isn’t the student who is at fault; it’s the teacher who doesn’t have the competence to design lessons, activities, and programs to help students learn. The reason for this is that many teachers tell students but don’t show and teach.Because they can’t manage and control student behavior. Teachers daily face challenging disciplinary and behavior problems. If a teacher can’t effectively handle these problems, that teacher will never be a competent instructor-never! In this case, the incompetence is in not knowing what to do when a disciplinary or behavior problem presents itself because the teacher hasn’t thought out a personal Educational Philosophy for Control of Student Behavior. Every teacher needs to do this to harmonize his/her personality with methods of discipline. I explain this in detail in my book.Because many teachers don’t manage classroom time efficiently. I devote an entire chapter to this topic: “Wasted Time – Inept Instruction (Euphemism: Teaching Mistakes). How can anyone consider a teacher competent when that teacher tries to teach over the noise of unruly students, doesn’t know how to quell effectively unnecessary noise at the change of a classroom activity, and allows students to talk whenever they want. This inability to control noise leads to as much as 25% of each class period being wasted. Many teachers can’t even control the time at the end of class when students get ready to leave and waste the ten or fifteen minutes left.Because many teachers can’t effectively control group learning. One of the most effective ways for students to learn is to interact with each other, allowing students to help each other learn in groups. Sometimes, students have just the right words and explanations to help a fellow student understand a lesson. However, most teachers don’t control student groups effectively and so waste tremendous amounts of instructional time.Because many teachers don’t have high enough academic and behavioral expectations and standards. In other words, many teachers don’t challenge their students enough academically and don’t expect them to learn to the level of their potential. Teachers must project an attitude of high expectations to motivate their charges adequately. Most teachers don’t even understand this concept and need to learn it themselves. Not putting it into effect in classrooms is indicative of ignorance and incompetence. In Chapter Three, I wrote a seven-page description of the most important strategies used by teachers who truly understand how to teach high academic and behavioral standards. Teachers, you’ve never seen anything come close to this practical list of how to teach standards.Because some teachers don’t have a sufficient knowledge of the subjects they teach. They don’t! They are assigned to teach a subject they don’t know adequately or they don’t even like. Many teachers are teaching subjects and they don’t have either a major in that field or a valid certificate to teach it.There are other reasons as well, but the few I mentioned are really significant ones, aren’t they? Now, what are the reasons for these incompetencies and why do school systems allow these incompetent teachers to remain in the classroom? Well, the first part of the question can be answered easily. Students learning how to teach are not being prepared adequately by schools of education. You know who should teach prospective teachers how to teach? Not education professors! No! Excellent, experienced, current and retired teachers who know what a classroom is all about and who have a love for kids and teaching in their hearts should teach candidates for teaching. Give me proven experts at teaching young people, a group of twenty teacher candidates for a year, and I know we could do a much better job of teaching them how to be good teachers than any school of education in the country.Answering the second part of the question leaves me with a heavy heart. The reason is that most school districts don’t effectively monitor and evaluate the progress, competence, and teaching skills of new teachers. The procedures to do this are woefully inadequate and rarely result in new teachers being dismissed if they are incompetent. Teachers new to the profession learn more about teaching from their own personal experiences the first three years on the job and from other, experienced teachers than they do from any program presented by the school district they work for. School districts don’t really know if a new teacher is mediocre or, worse yet, incompetent so they grant tenure because they need a body in the classroom. There is a tremendous shortage of teachers throughout our country today. Once tenure is granted, it is virtually impossible to dismiss a teacher on the basis of incompetence.(Due to space constraints a portion of this review was omitted — please see Reader Views website for the entire interview.)Dr. Nick: Parents must be involved in their children’s education from preschool right through high school and, perhaps, even into college. The tendency is for parents to step back from involvement when their teenagers start high school. This is a serious mistake. Parental involvement is critical during high school because the high schooler is under tremendous pressure from peers mainly to experiment in many different areas: drugs, alcohol, sex, ideology, cults, etc. That involvement should take the form of proactive participation, diligent observation, and ardent questioning. I recommend that parents do the following to ensure that their children receive a quality education:Parents must communicate regularly in person, over the phone, and via e-mail with the teacher throughout the school year about every aspect of their child’s learning by asking questions and seeking information about these and other important aspects of schooling:homeworkmath skillslanguage arts skills (reading, spelling, grammar, writing)testingbehaviorgradeslistening skillsattitudeparticipation and cooperationParents must frequently monitor the progress of their child’s learning at home and act as the most important teacher in their child’s life.Parents should observe their child’s teacher(s) to assess the teacher’s quality of instruction. My book is filled with tips for parents to do just that. It also contains lists of questions for parents to ask and what to look for in a classroom to determine if a classroom’s physical environment is organized as a valuable learning tool.Parents should participate in the life of the school, if possible:join the PTA or parent club and participate in its activities and governancevolunteer as an aide at schooloffer to assist the teacher with paperworkParents must attend school functions: Back-to-School Night, Open House, music programs, special events, sports contests, fund raisers.Parents must meet with the teacher at parent conferences and ask questions about their child’s educational progress.Parents should introduce themselves to the principal and other persons in key positions at the school to know who they are and to make sure these school personnel know who the parents are.Parents should communicate their ideas and opinions to their elected school board members, and, on occasion, attend a school board meeting.Parents must be sure their child is equipped to do the best possible work at school by providing:necessary school suppliesa nutritious and balanced dietenough sleep and resta positive attitude toward school and teachersa distraction-free place for homeworkTyler: Does the concern over public education have a place outside the school system? What about people who do not have children? Why should they care about things like millage elections, or want to pay more taxes, or support the school system?Dr. Nick: Yes, concern over public education does have a place outside the school system. Most people who don’t have children, are retired and have no contact with children, or whose children are now adults pay taxes and generally want a school system that produces an educated person. These people are automatically invested in the public school system as a result of their taxpayer status and expect to receive good value for their tax money. I know I do because 62% of my annual property taxes (nearly $3,800) goes to public schools in the community where I live.Tyler: Students often do not value the education they receive until years later. As a former college English professor, I taught many lazy students, and I was constantly in dismay that so many of them were even admitted to college when they could not write a complete sentence. I frequently wondered what they had done for thirteen years in the public schools? Do you think the college system is in any way responsible for the decline of public education in the elementary and high schools? Should entrance requirements into colleges be raised?Dr. Nick: I don’t blame our college system in any way at all for the decline of public education in the elementary and high schools. State colleges and universities, community colleges, private and religious colleges and universities-all provide opportunities for students who are qualified to pursue them. It’s the responsibility of the elementary and secondary schools to prepare students to take advantage of those opportunities and meet those qualifications. I do think these colleges and universities should regularly evaluate their entrance requirements, as I’m sure they do, to ensure that they maintain high standards of academic expectations.These colleges and universities have a responsibility to graduate well-educated and highly competent young people. Watering down the entrance requirements to fill classrooms would be a disgrace and morally reprehensible. Not all high school students should be expected to attend a four-year college, although that’s what many high school counselors and administrators tell them is possible. I do blame some schools of education, however, for the poorly prepared teachers they seem to turn out by the thousands each year. School of education reforms in recent years in teacher training programs, curriculum standards, course content, and subject matter proficiency have not produced quality teachers. If they had, our elementary and secondary school students would be exceptionally successful learners and you would not have asked this question. After all, teachers are supposed to help students learn to their capacity.Tyler: Dr. Nick, how long do you think the public school system has been declining? Do you believe it has affected the American job force and economy?Dr. Nick: The American public school system has been declining over the last fifty to sixty years. All you have to do is look at the statistics to see that the reforms attempted during the past half century have not resulted in significant changes in learning, test scores, and student achievement. In fact, in most curricular areas, there has been little or no change at all, and in math and English there has been decline.Perhaps your readers would be interested in an excellent article published in the September 2007 edition of Harper’s magazine. It’s titled “Schoolhouse Crock (Fifty years of blaming America’s educational system for our stupidity) and presents an excellent analysis of educational reform over the past fifty years.This decline continues to affect the American job force, businesses, and our national economy as well. Many businesses and corporations have instituted their own systems of internal education to train their work force properly to do the work expected of them because they can’t rely on the public schools.Tyler: The ones who suffer the most in this situation are the children, yet as children, students are unlikely to know what they are not learning and how it will be detrimental for them. Furthermore, they may be too intimidated by teachers to complain when they are given more free time or fruitless assignments or actual lessons. What if anything, can students do to improve the quality of their own education?Dr. Nick: At the elementary school, middle school, and junior high school levels of education, there is probably very little if anything the young people who attend these schools can do to improve the quality of their own education. They are too young, inexperienced, and immature. At the high school, however, some students are mature and serious enough about their own schooling to do something. I might add, though, that there are most likely very few who would actually challenge the powers that be (teachers, principals, superintendents, boards of education) for a variety of reasons. The two most significant ones, in my opinion, would be peer pressure and fear of retribution or retaliation on the part of teachers or administrators. Nonetheless, here are some actions mature, serious, intelligent, concerned high school students could do:Go to your principal and complain about the poor quality teaching you’re experiencing. Nothing will happen the first time, so go a second and third time. Bring other concerned students with you.Be polite but assertive, telling your principal that you have a right to quality instruction but aren’t receiving it. Clearly state your areas of complaint: too much classroom noise, inadequate instruction, lack of teacher interest, and so on.
Make an appointment with the superintendent to voice your concerns. Present a plan of how your grievances can be redressed. Bring other concerned students with you. Request permission to speak at a board meeting and present your complaints to these elected officials.Phone and/or e-mail board members.Form a committee of concerned students who weekly report to the principal about what is going on in your classrooms that should be improved or changed in the best interest of your education.Tyler: Thank you for joining me today, Dr. Nick. Before we go, will you tell us a little bit about your website and what additional information can be found there about “The Nightmare That is Public Education”?Dr. Nick: My website, http://www.drnickweb.com, is currently being updated. However, there is information about my book that your readers will enjoy, I’m sure, but I’m working on including much more.Tyler: Thank you, Dr. Nick. I hope you have many parents and educators visiting your website and reading “The Nightmare That is Public Education.”Today, Tyler R. Tichelaar of Reader Views is honored to speak with Renato C. Nicolai (Dr. Nick) about his new book “The Nightmare That is Public Education: An Expose of What Really Happens in Public Schools.”
1. There’s always one answer to a questionThroughout the process of partaking in systematized educational institutions, there’s always a criterion that applies to all the taught knowledge – That there’s an answer and it is absolute. Math shares the strongest characteristic of ability to freely choose how one goes about to arrive at the answer. Grammar rules have exceptions, but exceptions are also a form of indisputable truth. This does not mean that the questions, answers and methodologies change. They change to new answers that once again follow the criterion. Granted, they also change at a futilely slow rate.More importantly, the education would contain questions that are without definite, objectively true answers, but several different ones that make sense depending on the student’s subjective perspective. Why is this of importance? The students get programmed that these questions are irrelevant since they are not spoken of. Accordingly, they have trouble living a life guided by personal values, ethics and patterns that correlate with each person’s own, innate orientation. The challenge is simply to allow and present more answers to young aspirants of life so that they know of more answers to choose from, that they previously did not know existed. Therefore, it may sometimes be far more important to question where an answer derives from, instead of how to reach it.2. The search for proofStrongly linked to the previous challenge, scholastic education is in search of a proof, which then presents its scholars the belief that the proof is fact. This may give rise to the notion that all personal growth pursuits in life should follow this same pattern. However, in some fields of personal advancement, one should acknowledge that a certain belief or faith is the starting point, thus resulting in an expected or unexpected form of proof. The proof will then shape its possessor’s perspective on the matter in a positive way either through subscribing to the new belief because it is useful and productive, or discarding it with the personal upgrade of understanding, that it amounts to less or no value in life. By narrowing a person down to only accepting the condition of “Show me the proof, and then I believe.”, the individual is limiting oneself from higher understanding on the realms of spirituality, theism, metaphysics, intuition, varying levels of consciousness within and beyond the ego, and the function, progression and meaning of life and death.3. You should not cooperate in order to learnThis is a challenge that arises from how tests are conducted. I’m not saying it to be wrong for students to learn a sense of independence and responsibility from building a self referential database of knowledge. But ask any successful individual from any field of knowledge and they will state that especially in situations requiring crucial decisions, it is better to consult a mastermind council than to trust that the individual mind knows better or best. This goes for individuals who are aware of the power of mastermind councils that calibrate at an equal to higher level of consciousness, understanding and experience.4. Group think and conformityWhen all think alike, there’s not really any thinking going on. There’s an advantage behind everyone using the same grammar rules, scientific definitions and numeral base system. But that does not mean that the current grammar, definitions and decimal system are the most optimal ones to use. Additionally, this is a question not linked to the educational arena, but to the social one, creating an unhealthy norm of conformity regarding behaviour, looks, fashion, materialism and mind-sets. The educational setting should form a plaza with positive radiation where equality does not exclude diversity.5. Being afraid or embarrassed to ask questionsThis is a symptom of the previous challenge. Asking questions is a skill. The more you do it, the better questions you’re able to ask, producing knowledge of improved quality. The continuous loop of understanding and knowledge that is transferred in between people is the key foundation of future growth as a humanitarian, scientific, spiritual, wealthy and healthy society. Therefore, the courage and will to ask questions is an essential variable in this equation. That 13-year old, bullied girl with low self-esteem may not grasp this revelation because her understanding of herself is that she is mentally and intellectually defect compared to others and is supposed to adapt instead of break free from her internal chains of anxiety.6. The lack of financial educationThe processes of generating and allocating money may sound trifling and inessential, but this view is shared mostly by those not grasping the opposite, that it is a very prevalent and ubiquitous ability producing lifetime impacts. Educating the very basics of sound money management like leverage, delayed and instant gratification, assets and liabilities, good debt and bad debt, good income and bad income, good expenses and bad expenses, positive and negative compounding, cash flow and capital gains, the three vehicles of investments and how to measure wealth, to name a few, would foster productive results and a healthier perspective on money. It is the medium of exchange that has yet to see a better substitute, is the realization of provided value and by itself is inherently neither good nor bad. Simply put, what money is used for reveals each person’s appraised value of themselves. Only education has the power to shift financial ignorance into financial intelligence – whether done proactively or through painful lessons, which unfortunately may still keep the solutions obscured.7. The lack of consciousness and self-help educationClosely related to the first two topics, personal growth is not a one-solution-fits-all form of science or branch of investigation. But simply discussing the numerous variations and alternatives of how to improve ones self-acting, -assertion, -command, -confidence, -consciousness, -control, -criticism, -dependence, -determination, -esteem, -examination, -knowledge, -possession, -praise, -respect, -restraint, -sufficiency, -support, and -will has an impact, if not for the conscious mind of a young student, then in the subconscious mind waiting to flourish once reality starts to present itself as shades of gray instead of definite answers of black or white. This in turn raises the question of balance between service to self and service to others. People cannot serve others with a greater magnitude and understanding than they are aware and capable of serving themselves. This is why the size of self-growth is the bar for how well a person can serve society and humanity, and is the primary in this causality (if you think in terms of causality). What the raise of personal and universal consciousness does, is raise the whole underlying balance of service into higher levels of influential power.8. How not to diminish creativityAs it is now, the educational system favours left-brain measuring and analyzing over right-brain creativity and visualization. However, order and chaos in the mind ought to synergistically feed each other for improved input and output. As Bohm theorized there to be two universes, one hidden from our five sense and one distinguishable and definable by them, so does the right side of the brain use vision and creativity to imagine great architectural, musical, artistic, literary and cinematographic feats while the left brain uses the technicality, science, patterns and measures to materialize them into the tangible world. While one does not have to be completely ambidextrous in the mind, understanding of the interdependency of both sides of creation is of basic meaning. Thus, the current strong polarization of brain activity in schools is sub-optimal.9. The 9 to 5 mentalityWhile the majority of people are naturally inclined to do things right, as they are told and when they are told, the educational system nourishes this behaviour to everyone attending. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with this mentality. But as there are people strongly characterized by doing the right things, on their own accord, in level with their internal advancement, their orientation and meaning are clouded until the restraints of inefficient systematization are perceived as relatively weak enough to break free from – in order to create something new and improved. Again, equality and diversion can and are supposed to exist simultaneously and no human is worth more or less regardless of the point of observation.10. The will to learnThe greatest challenge of them all is, how does one increase the youth’s interest and will to learn? The improvement of results in this category influences the other nine topics more than the nine separately influence the others. The ability for teachers to inspire a student to become a lifelong learner has long been failing. Just measure the amount of knowledge that is still remembered after a month has passed from the point of learning. Even students themselves may come to the conclusions that in order to input knowledge, another portion of knowledge is automatically discarded. Or that at a given age, the intellectual capacity has reached a boundary, futile to try to expand.Conclusively, one cannot discuss the matter of education without bringing parenting into the equation. Therefore, I want to pinpoint the irony of parents fighting against a school system that would address greater effort in improving the 10 challenges discussed in this article, and yet not focus on delivering and discussing these issues of greater wisdom to and with the child themselves. This is why I wanted to write this article – to acknowledge the need that at least one of the sources of knowledge and understanding takes the responsibility of bringing forth the uniqueness and greatness that lies within every child that exists. There is no greater way for a child to express their gratitude towards both knowledge and their parents than to say out loud that they genuinely appreciate that at least one of these sources are and were present in partially creating and supporting their worldview and reality.
Financial literacy is the key to a brighter future. This is why it’s incredibly unfortunate that few Americans truly understand how to manage their finances. More than 50% of Americans do not have basic grasp of financial literacy; this simply means that people lack vital information that should help them budget, save, and invest their money properly.Without financial knowledge, people will simply go from pay check to pay check, unable to save for a rainy day or plan ahead for their retirement. It’s an altogether unfortunate scenario that can be altered only if financial education becomes a crucial part of the country’s education system.For adults who want to catch up, self-education is always an option. Apart from reading books and articles, the Internet now also offers a lot of very useful information and it could help you improve your financial knowledge at your own pace. These websites are regularly updated, have expert writers, and offer relevant insight that could definitely sustain your financial education.Here are five online resources to help increase your financial knowledge:iGradFor students and recent graduates, there simply is no better online resource than iGrad. Though the other resources are informative and range from practical to academic, iGrad was designed specifically by financial aid professionals to assist college students who are trying to make sense of their financial independence – and responsibilities – for the first time. The website covers not just personal finance, but also helps students make sense of their student loans (they offer entrance and exit loan counseling), find scholarships, handle credit and find jobs.Yahoo Finance ExpertsYahoo! Finance offers a wide range of articles on personal finance, investments, and financial news. The articles are interesting, easy to read, and very informative. More importantly, the articles contain practical advice that can be easily applied by even the greenest of financial rookies. What’s more, the website has so many articles that you can find multiple opinions and perspectives no matter what topic you choose to read about.Morningstar’s Investment ClassroomWhat’s the difference between investing in stocks and investing in mutual funds? Is there a difference? Morningstar’s Investment Classroom will teach you about these and more. It covers all the topics concerning investments in short, ten-minute courses that you can study at your own pace. For experienced investors, it’s possible to go straight to the advanced topics for tips; newbies can start from the very first and most basic course before moving up.CNN Money 101The best thing about CNN Money 101 is that it really is a thoroughly planned class that takes its “students” through easy all the way to advanced financial lessons. The website focuses on the practical application of financial knowledge. Though it doesn’t delve into theoretical or academic discussions of investments and personal finance, the lessons are very useful and can definitely help readers increase their financial knowledge as well as apply these lessons in real life.Investopedia UniversityThe website is a valuable resource; it works for both newcomers and advanced investors alike. For those who already have a working understanding of investing, they can move forward and take advantage of the more advanced tutorials on Investopedia University. The site covers in-depth topics such as trading stocks, bonds, Forex and more. The site also has very helpful and easy to understand tutorials for newcomers. In fact, one of the most invaluable tutorials on Investopedia would be its introduction to financial literacy for kids and teens.