Love and Loss Through COVID-19

Although we all share a global experience with COVID-19, we all have different beginnings in that chapter, and we will all have different endings. Mine began as my colleagues, scholars, and I entered Spring Break. As I mentioned in my previous post, From Trauma-Impacted to Trauma-Responsive, my school is one of the lowest performing schools in the state; last year, it was the lowest. A tremendous amount of work has been done by staff and scholars to turn around the school, improve its reputation, and to meet the unique needs of our scholars. Our outlook was promising as we were projected to make a significant improvement in our overall school grade. Our school became a place where scholars and staff wanted to be; it became a safe haven, a loving “family.” On most days, the work was exhausting yet rewarding. Spring Break was Continue reading

From Trauma-Impacted to Trauma-Responsive

Last school year, I embarked on an unexpected journey. I accepted an assignment at the lowest performing school in our district and in the state. It had a poor reputation. I knew it would be challenging. What I didn’t know was the volume of students who had been impacted by trauma I would encounter and come to love. It wasn’t long before my colleagues (social worker and counselor) — who were also new to the school– and I became overwhelmed by our work. We felt an urgency to do something to address our students’ needs. And so we did…..

We learned about the Attachment and Trauma Network’s (ATN) 2019 National Conference for Creating Trauma Sensitive Schools and gained approval and support from our administration to attend. We absorbed every bit of information we could and came back with a zeal to make a difference in our school. Since then, we have networked, trained, collaborated, and planned. The result: our school began a voyage this school year to become a fully Trauma-Responsive School. Our goal is to develop a model that can be emulated in similar schools in our district and, hopefully, in every school in our district. We are only in our infancy of this initiative but we have seen encouraging results. Also, we have the honor of sharing our voyage so far at the same conference where this all began! We will be presenting at the ATN’s 2020 Conference in Atlanta, GA (check out the link here: https://creatingtraumasensitiveschools.org/conference/

This post will be the first of many to educate others on the topic of trauma and what can be done to address it. My next post will be to introduce what trauma is and how it impacts development and learning. Stay tuned!

Thank you for reading! ~Rebecca

180 Days of Kindness: Educating students on kindness and cultural competence

Kindness, empathy, acceptance: things we expect students to know and understand, yet we don’t always take the time to teach. At one of my schools there is a multicultural committee, which has taken on an initiative this school year to promote kindness every day in school in a creative way. They have challenged the students, staff, parents, and families to 180 days of kindness. Here is an introduction:

“There are 180 days of school each year and we are challenging you to be kind each and every day. Each day you will learn about a new way to be kind, you will learn about different customs from around the world, and/or you will learn something new each day about how to be kind. How to be kind to yourself, how to be kind to others, and even how to be kind to our world. WE hope that you take us up on our challenge and tht by the end of our 180 days together, this school and community will be the kindest ever! Some days it may be easy, some days could be a bit more challenging, but either way, it is so worth it–love and kindness need to win! So, let’s begin….”

Power point slides are shared so that teachers can promote it in their classes and handouts are sent home for parents to promote at home. Here are a few of my personal favorites…

Day 2: Make new Friends There is a Jewish sayig that says, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other is gold.” A good way to make a new friend is by smiling at someone and saying, “My name is ___. What is yours?” Then, you can look for similarities between you.

Day 6: Dance for Joy— The continent of Africa practically shakes form the rhythm of dancing feet! The Ga people of Ghana dance during a month-long festival called Homowo (how-MOH-woh_. Long ago, the Ga suffered from hunger during a famine. The following year when the harvest was in, they recalled the hard times by mocking them with dance. Who knows, maybe dance can help people get over rough spots! Try dancing to let off steam when you’re angry, or to relax before you have something difficult to do. And, when the worst is over, you can dance for joy!
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Teacher Appreciation Week

This week is National Teacher Appreciation Week and I want to recognize those who have one of the most important jobs in the world. In my opinion, it’s 2nd in importance to parenting. If you are a teacher, thank you! Thank you for the time you invest to make sure your students learn. Thank you for making sure the distracted student doesn’t sit next to the talker. Thank you for the extra hours you spend making sure your lessons are prepared and your students will be engaged. Thank you for spending money you probably can’t afford to buy supplies your students need or classroom materials to make your lessons interesting. Thank you for teaching the students with special needs and the ones who challenge you every day. They need to know you care and that you believe in them. Thank you for all you do!
If you are a parent, guardian, or student yourself, make sure to let teachers know you appreciate them. Not only this week but every opportunity you get.
Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

Memory Jar: Ideas for Parents and Teachers

I’ve seen this idea posted on social media sites as the new year approached and I really like it! If you’re not familiar with it, the idea is to have a jar at home and when you have a good memory, you jot it down on a note and drop it in the jar. Then, at the end of the year as you are bringing in the new year, you read all the notes in the jar to reflect on the memories your family created. When I saw this, I thought it was a porject worthy of trying, but then I thought about how parents could use a variation of this idea for their children, especially if they are struggling learners.

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Special Thanks

It has been about a year since I started this blog. My, how time flies! I thought I would repost my first blog in light of the season of thanks.

Reposted from 2014:

During the past month, a number of things have transpired in my life. My baby boy (my firstborn) celebrated his 21st birthday; on that day, he also heard from his Air Force recruiter that he was leaving in 7 days for basic training. Also, on that day, he announced that he would be proposing marriage to his girlfriend. Since that day, I underwent major surgery and I am currently recovering. What a whirlwind of thoughts, emotions, and events!
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Down Syndrome Awareness Month

October is Down Syndrome Awareness month. Over the years, I have had the pleasure to work with many individuals with Down Syndrome and I have learned so much from them. Among the most important things is the fact that they are more like us than not. One young lady, Rachel, has found a special place in my heart. She and her mother are advocates of inclusion for individuals with Down Syndrome. Check out this video that Rachel was in:

Also, be sure to check out Rachel’s mom’s blog, The Sassy Southern Gal.

Thanks for reading!

~Rebecca

Learning Disabilities Awareness Month

October is Learning Disabilities Awareness Month. Perhaps your life has been touched in some way by a learning disability. If so, there are some amazing resources for you, whether a parent, a student, or educator. LD Online is one of them, which provides guides for educators and parents. One I would like to highlight is an article outlining very useful information for parents of students with learning disabilities and how to help them experience success. It is based on longitudinal research and identifies 6 success attributes that really make a difference and are more important than IQ and grades: Continue reading