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From student to educator, Director Amy Ko talks teacher appreciation
During National Teacher Appreciation Week, JEI Learning Center wants to show appreciation for the hardworking educators who have dedicated themselves to our Self-Learning Method and unstoppable students. Today, we put the spotlight on a special member of our community. Director Amy Ko of the JEI Learning Center of Merrick, New York was once herself a student of the JEI Self-Learning Method from second grade up to freshman year of high school, the final grade for which we offer programs. However, that was not to be the end of her involvement in the JEI community. Under the guidance of Hane, her Instructor who became the Bayside Director, Amy flourished under the Self-Learning Method and she became so appreciative of the Instructors before her that she took the mantle herself, joining them in their ranks at age 20. As an Instructor, she assisted children like herself to realize their full potential under the leadership of Directors Hane at Bayside and Joy at Great Neck, two JEI educators who continued to be positive influences long after she was a student. “Those two Directors have been a great impact on my life,” Amy told JEI Learning Center after we reached out to her for National Teacher Appreciation Week. “After being an Instructor for 8 years, Joy gave me insight about the Center in Merrick and has helped me become a Director.” Her unique experience transitioning from a student to Instructor to Director is why JEI wanted to put the spotlight on Amy this week. As an educator, she excitedly spoke about her most rewarding experience: My most rewarding experience as a JEI Instructor [is] having students come in and say I helped them ace their tests. Also, they [are] so much happier due to their grades improving and their school teachers praising them. JEI’s mission is to help children realize their infinite potential. This is a shared passion of Amy, which is why she has spent so many years dedicating herself to the supplemental education of JEI: It brings me joy to help them bring their inner potential to the surface. To be able to help the future generation and bring a smile to both [the students’ and parents’] faces helped me realize I wanted to continue in this [industry]. As rewarding as the experience is, being an educator also has its challenges that put her to the test. After all, self-learning in essential to every aspect of life. Amy practiced self-learning herself throughout her entire undergraduate career and reinforced that knowledge during her career as an Instructor: Everyone learns and comprehends material differently. So, I’ve learned to be more patient and understanding and less strict. I want to be there for the students and have them enjoy their time of learning instead of pushing and stressing them out. As a teacher, I need to make sure my students are understanding the material and going about it at their pace. When asked for tips and words of wisdom to pass onto students, parents, and educators alike, Amy revealed her secrets to success: I think the most common tip I try to give my students is to take their time reading and understanding the material. Also, to stop feeling rushed while they are completing their work or test. For problem-solving questions, I teach them to take each sentence apart as they go, and if they need to sketch a picture, they should. In addition to this, always ask questions because a question can never be wrong. Answers just differentiate from the way it is asked. Knowledge empowers you is what I would like to pass onto my students. She also recalled the quote, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” from educator Thomas H. Palmer’s ‘Teacher Manual,’ noting grit as an important trait to teach children: “I think a person who tries their hardest to reach their highest potential is more admirable than someone who doesn’t try at all.” Amy says that giving up and quitting should not be the first response anyone, especially a student, should think of, which is why Instructors play an important role: they encourage students to feel more confident and always keep trying. JEI Learning Center wants to thank Amy for always doing just that and for being an important member of our community. We look forward to working with her for many more years to come and witnessing the great wisdom she relays to her pupils, present and future. Her passion and dedication to students prove that National Teacher Appreciation Week should be celebrated year-round.
Getting students motivated: gamification in the classroom
One of the most difficult aspects of education is keeping students motivated. Within the past decade, researchers have been exploring gamification of the classroom. Gamification turns the learning experience into a game with rewards to keep students motivated. Information technology researcher Fiona Fui-Hoon Nah and her team define gamification as “the application of game-design elements to non-game activities.” In traditional learning environments, students are reprimanded for their shortcomings. This makes learning appear punitive to the student, incentivizing them to do the bare minimum required to avoid reprimand. Gamification, on the other hand, provides positive reinforcement, rewarding good behavior. The success of gamification lies in providing instant gratification for learning. It not only makes learning fun but also makes doing the bare minimum seem less appealing. At JEI, we incorporate elements of gamification into our program. Many of our Centers use a reward system that involves prizes. Ruma Varshney, the Director of our Hillsborough Center, uses what we call “JEI Money” to incentivize students to develop good study skills. “[Students] get JEI money in every class based on their performance, homework, tests, and focus in that class, which they can use to buy things from our prize cabinet,” Varshney explains. “If anything is not 100%, they don’t get the expected amount of money in that class.” At Varshney’s Center, the prize cabinet is filled with toys, games, art supplies which students can buy for $20-$1000 in JEI money. She even offers gift items for parents around Mother’s and Father’s Day. Many of our locations, including Hillsborough, also award a student of the month. Varshney explains that the student of the month is awarded for showing a positive attitude towards learning. Criteria include focus, willingness to learn, consistently completed homework, and classroom engagement. “They are given a trophy, and we put their picture in our lobby for the entire year,” Varshney told us. “This has been a great motivator, and introduces a positive competition among students.” And this competition pays dividends. A research team led by Anthony Brewer showed in a lab experiment that gamification using a scoring system and prizes increased task completion from 73% to 97%. We see similar results in our JEI Learning Centers. “Both of these things have really helped us to keep the children motivated and get the best out of them,” says Varshney. Our scientific approach to learning is what makes JEI the leading provider of supplemental education worldwide. To get started with our program, find a JEI center near you today!
How writing haikus can benefit your child
In the twilight rain these brilliant-hued hibiscus . . . A lovely sunset - Matsuo Basho Poetry can be overwhelming for young children, with its flowery writing and loose structure, but if you want them to move on from Dr. Seuss’s fun rhymes, you know what makes the perfect stepping stone? Haikus, the concise form of poetry created by the Japanese. Traditional haikus follow a rigid set of rules. Each one is composed of three lines. The first and third lines must include exactly five syllables while the second line must have seven. Introduce your child to the unique art form this month to celebrate National Haiku Poetry Day on National Poetry Month! There are many benefits to doing so... Can be therapeutic Fight anxiety and fear with haikus! Haikus are about the here and now; they ask you to view your situation objectively. The focus on the present and “what is” rather than “ what ifs” is a great way for your child to practice mindfulness instead of regretting the past or worrying about the future. Maybe before they take an important test, they can write a haiku first! Fosters an appreciation for nature Haikus are not only about the present moment but also nature, from flowing rivers and towering mountains to blossoming flowers and iridescent moons. This asks children to observe their surroundings and grow more interested in their home, the earth. Having children dedicate these poetic homages to nature will get them to see the beauty of their natural surroundings. Provides a fun challenge The set rules of structure for haikus enable children to improve their language skills and gain confidence in expression. Children face the challenge of fitting what they want to say within the 5-7-5 syllable format. This experimentation with syllables should inspire children to look up new words or synonyms and stretch their creative minds. Helps ease them into poetry Writing haikus allow children to express themselves creatively, yet in a more cut-and-dry fashion than more complex forms of poetry may allow. The set rules for the structures of haikus make them great stepping stones into forms of poetry with much looser structures, which could initially be overwhelming for children. Start with haikus, and then give your child free rein to experiment with all different forms! #JEIHaikuChallenge If you are you up for a challenge, this weekend, take your child into nature, whether it is your favorite hiking trail or the backyard, with a pen and paper. Then, share what s/he wrote on social media using hashtag #JEIHaikuChallenge! We look forward to reading your child’s masterpiece! If you want to further your child’s study of poetry, literature, vocabulary, language, and writing skills, JEI Learning Center provides great programs that will do just that! Visit a center near you to find out more about the JEI English and JEI Reading & Writing programs.