Note: February 5-9, 2018 is National School Counseling Week.
Vicarious or secondary trauma invades our classrooms and leaks into the hearts of educators who carry the emotional burdens of their students. If we can honor our educators and their work by giving them the skills and space for their own self-care, then we help them stay whole and enjoy long, healthy careers being present for students and their learning.
As a school counselor, I help teachers understand the most important thing they can do for children is to keep their own mood stable. When I come into their classrooms to teach students about breathing strategies, mindfulness, yoga and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), it is not just for the students but also to offer time for teachers to connect with their own breath.
“We need to question everything; to look for ways in which we can improve, and embrace the imperative of change. At the end of the day, success shouldn’t be measured by how much ivy is on the wall,” said U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. “It should be determined by how you’re educating and preparing students for today’s and tomorrow’s challenges.”
Setting this tone of innovation, Secretary DeVos welcomed over 20 education leaders from across the nation to the Education Innovation Summit on Higher Education, held recently at the U.S. Department of Education’s headquarters in Washington. The agenda included general discussion as well as several featured presentations.
“There are a number of challenges and opportunities facing American students,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. “And Washington, D.C. does not have all the answers. But government can be good at bringing people together to highlight their creative thinking and new approaches.”
Secretary DeVos welcomed nearly 20 education leaders and entrepreneurs from Maine to California to the Education Innovation Summit on K-12 learning, held recently at the U.S. Department of Education’s headquarters in Washington.
School choice is not about picking this building or that classroom – it’s much bigger than that. It’s about freedom to find the best way to learn and grow. Learning can, should, and will look different for each unique child, and we should celebrate that!
During the week, ED highlighted success stories of students who were able to find the right fit for their educations.
Did you know that game-based learning is gaining popularity in education as more young people and adults learn from games in and out of the classroom? Well-designed games can motivate students to actively engage in content that relates to coursework, and to master challenging tasks designed to sharpen critical thinking and problem solving, as well as employment and life skills.
On January 8, 2018, the 5th annual ED Games Expo occurred at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. The event was organized in collaboration between the Department of Education’s (ED) Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and the Kennedy Center’s Education team. The event showcased more than 100 learning games, most developed with funding from 17 different government programs within and outside ED. The games were for students of all ages in education and special education and covered topics across STEM, reading, social studies and social development. Many incorporated emerging technologies, such as virtual reality, augmented reality and maker spaces with 3D printing stations, as well as engaging approaches to learning, such as narrative adventures and puzzle games.
This past fall I had the opportunity to visit the U.S. Virgin Islands, twice — first, in October, and two weeks later, in the company of Secretary DeVos. There, I saw firsthand the wholesale destruction left by back-to-back hurricanes. The experience was both humbling and uplifting.
During my first visit, I joined the Commissioner of Education for the U.S. Virgin Islands, Dr. Sharon McCollum, on a car trip around the Islands. On our way, she noticed the owner of a damaged wholesale club store — he was outside, combing through inventory, trying to salvage any goods that Hurricanes Maria and Irma had spared.
Pausing our scheduled tour, Dr. McCollum stopped the car in front of the store. She began negotiating the sale of cleaning supplies to be used in some of the many schools under her care. Simply getting students physically back to school is a monumental undertaking, she said: they shouldn’t have to fear getting sick from mold and the like once they’ve returned to the classroom.
We, teachers, change the mindsets of self-doubters, instill a lifelong love of learning for many, care for the children of others as if they’re our own, and play a major role in creating all other professions. Yet, despite those superpowers, many of us have heard or uttered the phrase ourselves, “But I’m just a teacher,” when we’ve been encouraged to pursue leadership opportunities beyond our classrooms, schools or districts.
I’ll confess that I’ve used that phrase at various points during my career as an educator. While it might be difficult to determine why educators are often less confident in the value of their input, the self-doubt is real.
When that experience is disrupted, getting back to school can mean everything to students. And the adults who care for them — parents, educators and civic leaders — feel a special urgency.
For our fellow Americans in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, including more than 410,000 students in grades K-12, the 2017 hurricane season severely disrupted those reliable routines. First Irma hit, leaving more than one million people — nearly a third of the population on an island the size of Connecticut — without power. Two weeks later, María followed: one meteorologist likened its impact to a tornado, 50 miles wide, cutting a path of devastation through cities, towns and countryside.
In a three-week period, I travelled twice to visit Puerto Rico — the second time with U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.
It took me a while to feel comfortable with Twitter. I opened a personal account years ago, but I just didn’t see what all the buzz was about.
Once my district started encouraging teachers to build their Professional Learning Networks, however, I reluctantly created a professional account. I was a little skeptical that it would be more of a distraction and less of a genuine resource, but it didn’t take long to convince me otherwise. I only spend an average of five minutes a day on Twitter, and in that short time, I find new ideas, get the most recent news in education, research the latest best practices, discover the most cutting-edge apps and read inspirational quotes that remind me why our job is so important.
For several years our kindergarten and third grade students were accustomed to pairing up as reading buddies to improve their literacy skills through a mentee/mentor relationship. As a result of that success we decided to use a similar model to encourage our kids to collaboratively explore coding.
SUMMARY: In accordance with section 5005 of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the Secretary seeks information from the public regarding actions the Department of Education (Department) can take to improve how it considers the unique needs of rural schools and local educational agencies (LEAs) as it develops and implements its policies and programs. The Secretary intends to use this information in issuing a final report, required under section 5005, describing the actions it will take to increase the consideration and participation of rural schools and LEAs in the development and execution of the Department’s processes, procedures, policies, and regulations. (Preliminary report in pdf format)
DATES: We must receive your comments no later than February 20, 2018.
Human trafficking, exploiting people through forced labor and commercial sex, is modern-day slavery. ED’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students maintains that schools can and should be safe places where students can thrive. Unfortunately, the trafficking of America’s students, both for labor and for commercial sex, is a dark presence in our nation’s schools, jeopardizing the health, safety, and the very lives of students.