Jan Iwase

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A Teacher’s Influence

Here in Hawaii, we celebrate and cheer for those who have brought honor and pride to our state. We are a close-knit and proud community, which is why we are especially proud of people like President Obama, Michelle Wie, Marcus Mariota, or Little League world champions. Jennifer Doudna, who recently won the Nobel Prize for…

These Aren’t Normal Times for Schools

I remember when I was a teacher and our staff voted for a calendar that started earlier in August but included a Fall Break between quarters 1 and 2. That was such a nice break for all of us, and a few years later, the State Department of Education decided that all schools would be…

Effective School Leaders

This is a critical time to be a school leader. So much has changed in our world in the last few months, and leaders have had to adapt. These are perhaps the most challenging time for our nation’s educators;  Covid-19 has disrupted our school systems for six months and counting. Therefore, an effective school leader…

Standardized Testing during a Pandemic?

U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos recently announced that schools would be not be granted waivers from annual high-stakes testing although states and school districts rail against that decision. DeVos has said it’s part of the agreement of the Every Student Succeeds Act and schools need to comply. Some members of Congress are saying that tests…

Virtual Learning Challenges

 When the pandemic first started and we were hunkered down at home, my tennis lessons were cancelled. My coach asked if I wanted to purchase a license for a virtual tennis site where I could watch videos to learn from instructors and practice drills on my own at home. It sounded like a good idea,…

Leadership in Challenging Times

 Those who know me are aware that politics is part of my personal life. My parents taught us kids about the importance of voting, and we saw it as a civic responsibility. We helped candidates doing things like knocking on doors and dropping off brochures at houses or helping at coffee hours. After I got…

Getting Out of Our Comfort Zone

With this pandemic still raging, I’ve been observing from the sidelines as the public weighs in on the safety of opening schools and as educators prepare for the new school year. I empathize with my fellow educators who are navigating uncharted waters that could change at any time. It is during these uncertain times when…

Empathy and a Book Worth Re-Reading

I’ve been thinking a lot about empathy recently. Empathy is so crucial especially for someone in a leadership position. We cannot know exactly what someone else is thinking or feeling, but we can try to understand, to listen, and to empathize without being condescending. It is said that President Franklin D. Roosevelt was a “blue…

Choices, Choices

I know that I appreciate having choices, and as a teacher, I found that providing choices to my students was an effective way of engaging them in their own learning. Rather than giving everyone the same assignment at the same time, students could choose from an array of activities that were designed to address skills…

What Should Schools Be Teaching in These Turbulent Times?

As a retired school principal, I don’t have the worries right now that many school leaders are facing. Yet, I am very concerned as I read comments on social media as well as articles about schools opening for the next school year. Teachers and parents want to know what the plan is, and so far,…