How to Understand Cyberbullying: From a Teen’s Experience

Are You a Teacher Kids Can Tell?

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

When bad things happen – do kids have someone they trust? Are you that someone? It breaks my heart when today’s brave teenager Sarah Beeghley speaks out about her bouts with bullying. Now a high school senior, Sarah talks about the heartbreaking journey she experienced. For this reason, I’m asking that you listen and discuss — she’s using her pain to help improve the world.

what cyberbullying looks like from a teen's perspective

Listen to this show on BAM Radio Network | iTunes 

I hope that we’ll all understand what it is like to be bullied so we can better help those who struggle. Sure, there are two sides to the story. But I lived this for five years. I know what it is like to be made fun of the moment you walk on campus. I cannot imagine the terror and heartache I would have lived if my taunters could have gotten to me at home or in my private time. It took me time away from school just to get up the strength to go back.

It is tough to empathize unless you, your child, or your grandchild or someone you love dearly has experienced this sort of thing. But there are times we can get a glimpse. Today’s show is one of those glimpses into the life of someone who struggled and is coming out for the better.

Children are petty and hurtful. I don’t see everything, but I can be like Gandalf the wizard and put my staff in the ground and say, “you shall not pass” to bullying behavior. My room is a safe place. No bullying. No “picking on.” No unkind words. Now, will I miss stuff? Of course. Like when I sift flour to make biscuits – somehow unsifted pieces make through. No matter how hard I try, there will be things I am oblivious to and miss. However, I will not let the impossibility of the task keep me from clearly stating what my class will be. My class will be safe. Students can come to me and trust me.

May we all be more sensitive. Is there a “Sarah Beeghley” that you know? Is there a child struggling? Take the time to have a conversation. Trust your gut instinct on this. Just show you care today. Please.

Today’s Sponsor Bloomz

Bloomz is your one-stop solution for parent-teacher communications. More than just connecting with their cell phones, you can send long or short messages. You can share pictures and links. You can even coordinate volunteer schedules, donations, and parent-teacher conferences. I’m using Bloomz in my classroom.

Get the Bloomz App

Show Notes:

  • I didn’t trust my teachers enough to go to them because I knew they would laugh it off.
  • It got to the point where I didn’t want to go to school anymore.
  • [The school had] no policy on bullying or cyberbullying at the time.
  • Through  @The_Geeky_Girl , I’m making teachers, parents, and students aware of cyberbullying and bullying that’s happening in the classroom.
Show notes by Lisa Durff.

http://www.bamradionetwork.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&layout=embed&tmpl=component&id=4140&catid=91&Itemid=1181

Who is Sarah Beeghley?

Sarah Beeghley@the_geeky_girl is a high school senior looking to educate teachers, parents, and students on the effects of cyberbullying inside and outside the classroom.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. If this show meant something to you, will you leave a review?button-itunes

The post How to Understand Cyberbullying: From a Teen’s Experience appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/student-tells-look-inside-cyberbullying/

How Do We Teach Kids to Use Smartphones Safely?

Digital Citizenship Spotlight

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Most students use smartphones with unfiltered access to the Internet. Even worse, many students have no filter when they consider what they should share. Schools and parents need to get smart about how they talk to kids about smartphones.

how-do-we-teach-kids-to-use-smartphones-safely-1

Listen to this show on: BAM Radio Network | iTunes 

In today’s show, we talk with digital citizenship pioneer, Dr. Mike Ribble, about a cutting-edge issue: student smartphone use. How should we talk about them with kids? How do we open lines of communication? Let’s focus on smartphones and get educated about what we should do to help keep kids safe from the world and from their own childish irresponsibility.

Today’s Sponsor: Bloomz

Bloomz is your one-stop solution for parent-teacher communications. More than just connecting with their cell phones, you can send long or short messages. You can share pictures and links. You can even coordinate volunteer schedules, donations, and parent-teacher conferences. I’m using Bloomz in my classroom.

Learn More About Bloomz

Show Notes:

  • A lot of times teachers become one of the last ones that know what is really going on.
  • As teachers, we should really talk about what is appropriate, what should we be doing, how should we be doing it, and if there are problems — how do we talk about that?
  • We need to show them….we want you to do this in the right way
  • Respecting others….there are private things we don’t need to share about other people.
  • We need to help kids know that what they do online can hurt people in the real world.
Show notes by Lisa Durff.

http://www.bamradionetwork.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&layout=embed&tmpl=component&id=4141&catid=91&Itemid=1181

Who is Mike Ribble?

Dr. Mike Ribble @digcitizen , author of the books Digital Citizenship in Schools (3rd Ed.) and Raising a Digital Child, has worked within the education field his entire career. He serves as a Technology Director for a school district in Kansas. Mike is also the co-chair of the ISTE Digital Citizenship PLN.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. If this show meant something to you, will you leave a review?button-itunes

The post How Do We Teach Kids to Use Smartphones Safely? appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/teach-kids-use-smartphones-safely/

How to Teach Students Who Struggle with Self Control

Research Spotlight

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Misbehavior happens in the classroom. From time to time, it happens to every teacher or principal. You can get angry, or you can make progress.

how to teach students who struggle with self control

With this in mind, Dr. Reggie Melrose explains a reason for some of the most difficult behavior. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, emotional dysregulation occurs in around 5% of students in the United States. Furthermore, 8% of kids with emotional dysregulation are from lower income or disadvantaged homes.

Emotional dysregulation impacts not only the child and you as the teacher. If you don’t know how to respond, it can negatively affect your entire classroom. We must remember that when we interact with students, our entire class watches.

Listen to this show on: BAM Radio Network | iTunes

Dr. Reggie points out that many times we teachers just focus only on changing student behavior. Understandably, we just try to relieve the problem. If we’re going to make progress, however, we must move past just changing behavior.

For example, instead of focusing on the “to do” list with misbehaving students, we have to concentrate on the “to be” list. This tip is one of many pointers that Dr. Reggie Melrose gives in today’s show. If you’re struggling with behavior in your classroom, today’s show can help.

Today’s Sponsor, Bloomz

Bloomz is your one-stop solution for parent-teacher communications. More than just connecting with their cell phones, you can send long or short messages. You can share pictures and links. You can even coordinate volunteer schedules, donations, and parent-teacher conferences. I’m using Bloomz in my classroom.

Check out the Bloomz App

Show Notes:

  • We are meant to develop a capacity to regulate emotional state. For some children this eludes them.
  • The nervous system that is dysregulated does need space and time
  • When [children] are experiencing stress and trauma, they need more space and time, they need our compassion, much more than they need our punishment
  • Rather than being a perfect storm, it is a perfect opportunity for Brain Charge
  • It only takes 60 seconds of space and time at the beginning of each day
  • We recognize that we are living in a very stressful time
  • We teach the brain how to regulate itself by taking 60 seconds each day.
Show notes by Lisa Durff. 

http://www.bamradionetwork.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&layout=embed&tmpl=component&id=4132&catid=91&Itemid=1181

Who is Dr. Reggie Melrose?

Psychologist Dr. Reggie Melrose @drmelrose is the best-selling author of The 60 Seconds Fix and creator of Brain Charge™: The K-12 Curriculum. She has authored several other noteworthy resources including the groundbreaking books, You Can Heal Your Child and Why Students Underachieve. She is a well-known international speaker and consultant specializing in the application of current neuroscience to educational practice and parenting.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. If this show meant something to you, will you leave a review?button-itunes

The post How to Teach Students Who Struggle with Self Control appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/emotional-dysregulation-teach-self-control/

What Does Supportive Teacher Centered Professional Development Look Like?

Research Spotlight with Dr. Matthew Kraft

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

When a teacher first starts teaching, we know that their learning improves dramatically. Learning to be a good teacher will happen in just about any school during those first few years. But, over time there are schools where teachers keep learning. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen in most schools. In this episode, we will study some important research that shows us the type of schools where teachers continue to learn how to be a better teacher. This is a very important show for curriculum directors, professional developers, and especially principals.

what-does-supportive-teacher-centered-professional-development-look-like-1

Listen to this show on: BAM Radio Network | iTunes 

However, don’t think that teachers have no control. When we teachers begin to think differently and connect with other teachers who have a can-do attitude, we can change things. Remember, teachers, you can decide to learn. Just by banding together and supporting each other, we can make a huge difference, as you’ll learn.

Today’s Sponsor: Bloomz

Bloomz is your one-stop solution for parent-teacher communications. More than just connecting with their cell phones, you can send long or short messages. You can share pictures and links. You can even coordinate volunteer schedules, donations, and parent-teacher conferences. I’m using Bloomz in my classroom.

Get the Bloomz App

Show Notes: Dr. Matthew Kraft

  • Put simply, the research found that teachers improve at much faster rates when they work in school that provide supportive professional environments.
  • 6 dimensions of strong professional work environments
    1. Schools that had orderly and clear discipline rules
    2. Schools that had frequent and high quality peer collaboration
    3. Schools that had supportive and responsive school leadership
    4. Schools were there were sustained and context specific professional development opportunities
    5. Schools that had strong cultures characterized by mutual trust and respect
    6. Schools where evaluations provided meaningful feedback that teachers could use to improvie their practice
  • Not only do individual teachers matter, but the school context in which those teachers work also matters … for student learning.
  • Without these supportive professional environments, teachers are not able to deliver the most effective instruction and improve on the job as well as they might be able to otherwise.
Today’s notes were compiled by my research assistant, Lisa Durff. Thank you, Lisa!

http://www.bamradionetwork.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&layout=embed&tmpl=component&id=4133&catid=91&Itemid=1181

Who is Matthew Kraft?

Matthew Kraft @MatthewAKraftis an Assistant Professor of Education and Economics at Brown University. He studies human capital policies in education with a focus on teacher effectiveness and organizational change in K-12 urban public schools.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. If this show meant something to you, will you leave a review?button-itunes

The post What Does Supportive Teacher Centered Professional Development Look Like? appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/supportive-teacher-centered-professional-development/

FREE WEBINAR: Best Practices for a Top-Notch Blended Learning Classroom

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Blended Learning is a method of learning where online classrooms blend with the face to face classroom. During this month’s free webinar I’ll be taking you inside my blended learning classroom with a practical view on what works.  Register nowFREE Blended Learning Best Practices Webinar Wednesday, November 30, 20164:30 pm – 5:30 pm EST​ / […]

The post FREE WEBINAR: Best Practices for a Top-Notch Blended Learning Classroom appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


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5 Essential Effective Blended Learning Best Practices

Tips and Tricks I’ve Learned from Experience

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Online and face-to-face spaces blend to create a today’s classroom. Most schools have physical buildings. For purposes of this article, we’ll call these “the bricks.” Also, schools also have online spaces where students work and collaborate. We’ll call these, “the clicks.” When bricks and clicks combine into a powerful learning experience for students, we have an effective blended classroom.

effective best practices for blended learning

This blog post is sponsored by PowerSchool Learning. All thoughts and opinions are my own. We’ll also be hosting a free webinar where I give you a behind-the-scenes look at how I set up my Learning Management System on November 30 at 4:30 EST. Register here.

In the final analysis, don’t think that blending doesn’t apply to your classroom. As an illustration, this summer at ISTE, I facilitated a panel of blended learning experts. As they presented, it became clear: most classrooms are already blended classrooms, whether they realize it or not. For this reason, let’s explore the essential elements of effective blended learning so we can all level up.

Blended Learning: PowerSchool Learning

PowerSchool Learning is my classroom’s Learning Management System (LMS). This is the startup page for one of my classes

Blended Learning Tip #1: Use Videos To Supplement Face-to-Face Instruction

In flipped learning, students watch videos at home. Typically, these videos contain information that would be in a teacher’s lecture. Then, in the classroom, students do activities they typically would do for homework.

Why I Use In-Flip Teaching.

The in-flip method is similar except students watch the videos a during class. In this technique, I take the software tutorials and “point and click” instructions into videos. At the present time, I prefer the in-flip method for several reasons:

  • Help when they need it. Students can get help from me whether they are watching videos or doing work. (Just like some kids don’t listen in class, some will tune out videos too!)
  • Learning while watching tutorials. Students often pause software videos and work on the software. (I’ve found that for software, it is best to pause and learn at that moment.)
  • I become a better teacher. Students can give me feedback to improve the online classroom so other students won’t have the same problem.
Effective blended Learning In flip learning with videos

Video tutorials help students work at their own pace. They can back up or forward whatever I’ve shared. I post these tutorials on my YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/coolcatteacher if you wish to see some of the tutorials.

Personalize Learning and Save Time.

This method of teaching is like I’ve given a copy of myself to every single student.

There’s an old movie, “Click,” with Adam Sandler. The character played by Adam Sandler was able to rewind and replay important scenes of his life. Now, my students can replay me — their teacher — any time it suits them.

It’s a compelling method of learning. In addition, I can also go around the classroom and help everybody with what they’re doing.

Select a Simple Video Creation Tool.

I have found that videos and items created for student use, should have my voice in them. I like to use Office Mix, to create these quick videos but have used several tools with good results:

  • Screen-cast-o-matic – This tool runs in a web browser. As a free tool, it is the one my students use. (PC, Mac)
  • Explain Everything – This tool is perfect for iPads. Math teachers make quick “explainer” videos about how to work math problems. This tool is perfect when you want to hand write in your video. (iPad)
  • Screenflow – Tony Vincent shared this tool with me. I use it to capture my iPhone and iPad and more. (Mac)
  • Office Mix for Powerpoint  – Office Mix is a plugin that you add to PowerPoint 2013. This tool is the easiest video creation tool. I’m convinced any teacher can learn to make a quick video in minutes. (PC only)
  • My Simple Show – This tool makes a quick “explainer video” with nice graphics. All you need is a simple script, this easy, free tool does the rest. (Runs in a web browser.)

Blended Learning Tip #2: Select a Flexible Learning Management System

I could not teach without my learning management system any more than I could teach without my physical classroom. I need both of them to nurture and create a successful learning environment for my students. Understanding how to use them both successfully is part of being a great teacher, in my opinion.

Why I Chose an LMS.

A Learning Management System (LMS) is not required. However, several years ago I moved to an LMS for several reasons:

  • We use lots of apps and tools and needed one place for the links and assignments.
  • Students needed one place to turn in work.
  • We needed a simple system to assess student work including built-in rubrics.
  • College and virtual high schools use learning management systems. My students need to be ready.
  • We needed a streamlined place to hold videos and their accompanying essential questions.
  • Class discussion boards needed to be easier to find.
  • We just needed to make it all simple!

We assembled a team to evaluate a variety of websites. Haiku Learning was our highest-ranked LMS. Recently, PowerSchool purchased Haiku Learning and rebranded it PowerSchool Learning. Even better, the grade book was integrated with PowerSchool. Now, when I enter grades in my LMS, they go straight to my PowerTeacher grade book. After entering assignments, I just open PowerSchool and click “publish” so parents can see the grades. This saves me so much time!

Whatever LMS you select, look for one with many features. If you can save time with entry, great, but it isn’t required. (I know of teachers who use PowerSchool Learning but have a different Gradebook system.)

Blended Learning Tip #3: Consistently Layout the Screen

Could you imagine a classroom where the inbox for student work moved every week? Would you do that to students?

blended learning standard layout of screen

I consistently put essential questions above each video so students can prepare to take notes. Also, I clearly mark assignments. Each year, I make small additions to make my online classroom easier to use.

In the first place, teachers who constantly change how students turn in online work are confusing their students. Secondly, I have found that a consistent layout of the screen lets students focus on the content. Finally, I teach students how to use the LMS in order to learn the content.

Tips on LMS Layout

Essential items in the layout of my online classroom include:

  • Essential questions – I list these for each video. Students make sure they look for answers to these questions as they watch videos. I have students use these to take notes in OneNote and submit a link to the notebook page to me when finished.
  • Videos – Videos have lesson numbers. I also use custom YouTube thumbnails for the videos so they are clearly labeled.
  • Assignments – Each assignment has a number. That way, students can easily find an assignment if they need to get work done. I also embed assignments on the page so students can see them and if they’ve submitted work.
  • Simple, repeated graphics – I have consistent graphics for Step 1, Step 2, Step 3 that I now use. This helps beginners learn to move through the assignment without getting confused.
Join the Blended Learning Webinar. I’ll go into these more during the free blended learning webinar I’ll be hosting on November 30, 2016 at 4:30 pm EST. Register here. 

Blended Learning Tip #4: Create 2-Way Communications with Your Students

Effective communication with students comes in several forms. Understandably, an important part of beginning a course is practicing successful LMS habits.

Give Feedback on Assignments.

Giving students feedback so they can improve is essential to learning. We want our students to understand their mistakes so they can correct them.

Currently, I give online feedback in our LMS several ways:

  • Annotation. If it is a Word, Excel, PDF, or PowerPoint files, I just click and type on the file. In the LMS, I click “return files” and students get them.
  • Rubrics. Build-in rubrics let me mark the rubrics. I print them as PDF’s and give them back to students for re-work and feedback.
  • Messages. I send students messages to clarify instructions or let them know what they’ve done wrong. I can send messages on assignments or to a group of students.
  • Grades. Grades on the assignment go directly to the gradebook. Students can use the assignment number to look them up in the LMS. The assignment is also included in the gradebook.

How to Review Feedback.

Students often know how to turn in work but not how to improve the work they’ve already done. Feedback is not effective if students don’t know how to read it, download it, correct it and return it.  At the same time, you have to teach students this valuable skill. So, I teach students how to read their messages, how to look up assignments and review rubrics, and even how to ask questions before turning work back in. Communication must be two-way to work.

Assignment and Communication Notifications.

You also want to make sure that students understand how to notify themselves of important activity.  While many more options are available, I recommend that students set up their cell phone to receive text notifications when:

  • work is handed back,
  • they receive a message in their inbox, and
  • when they successfully turn in an assignment.

These notifications help students stay “on top” of their work and prevent procrastination.

Grade Notifications.

Students also set up notifications inside our gradebook student information system (SIS.) The PowerSchool App also works with their Apple Watch or email. Students should set up notifications to come to them in the way that they will check. Whatever method they choose, students if students handle the grades promptly, we both remember and can teach.

5. Blended Learning Tip #5: Promote Student Professionalism

I’m the oldest daughter of a south Georgia farmer. So, when school was out, my sisters and I worked on the farm. During school, however, my Dad told us that our profession was that of “student.” Since being a student was our “job,” he expected us to do it well.

Understandably, I teach my students the same thing. Here are a few ways I teach my students to be professional scholars:

IM Speak. In discussion forums, many students use IM speak. Sometimes they’ll interact in 140 characters like they would on Twitter. Other times, they have no capitalization like they would on Snapchat. Interestingly, students also do this when communicating with me. IM Speak is not allowed.

Commenting. Also, students struggle to have discussion that is much past “good job” or “I like this.” Students have to learn how to respond to other student work in meaningful ways. Many don’t know how.

Following Instructions. Recently I had a student turn in random screeenshots because I asked for a screenshot. However, I asked for a screenshot of a specific item, not just a screenshot. I’ve found that students often don’t pay attention to assignment requirements when they are online. Part of being a professional is learning how to turn in excellent work that meets or exceeds requirements.

Blended Learning Is Here to Stay

The biggest shift is helping students understand the online classroom is as important as the face-to-face one. It’s easy to put the virtual aside and think the physical classroom is all there is. But, in today’s interconnected world the bricks and the clicks both matter. Helping students succeed in our blended classroom is a high priority for me. Online learning is here to stay and every classroom is becoming blended.

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to edit and post it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.) 

The post 5 Essential Effective Blended Learning Best Practices appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


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How to Talk to Kids about Terrorism, Politics, and Unrest in the World Today

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Scary things happen. Kids can be traumatized by news media, for example. (I’ve interviewed Dr. Steven Berkowitz who proved just this point. ) However, when students are most upset is when that scary world out there invades the real world “in here.” When students fear that their future is threatened, they will start losing sleep and getting very upset. As educators, we need to understand some ways we can respond. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers that will work in every situation.

how-to-talk-to-kids-about

Today’s post is in response to this month’s question from the Cathy Rubin’s Global Search for Education “How do you as a teacher support students who have confusing things going on in their world? I’ve decided to write this like a conversation I have with my students. Maybe it will help some of you.

I remember when the Paris bombings happened my students were getting ready to go on a trip to Washington DC. There were discussions about Washington being “shut down.” And, many of my students were afraid for their life. Some students were crying, and other students were losing sleep

In this post, I’m going to share with you portions of the conversations I have had relating to unrest. Sometimes it has been terrorism — lately, it has been political unrest.

I hope these narratives help you as you work to help children (and adults) move past fear into productive uses of their time. As Gandalf says,

We cannot help the times in which we live, on the way in which we live the times.

Let’s live them well.

1. The Adults in Your Life Will Do Their Best to Keep You Safe

I was preparing to take students to Dubai. Unknown to them, I have some well-connected people I call to see if certain locations are safe. So, the week before each trip, I make that phone call to double check. I received a callback that went like this:

“If you’re going to Dubai to this event, you’re probably safer than you would be on the streets of your own city.”

So, I made the final “go ahead, well wishers” and we were going to go.

But I had grandparents and well-wishers” calling me crying begging us not to go. They saw things “on the news” that showed that the “Middle East” wasn’t safe. (Some people say Georgia “isn’t safe” because Atlanta has some scary places. We live 4 hours outside Atlanta, and that would be a false assumption. I use this with those who don’t understand how big some countries are.)

2. We See What See What We Look for in the World

Your Personal Filter.

When you look for something to fear you find what you look for. It’s just like looking for the color red of the color blue or the color green. If I ask you to look for color suddenly you can find all kinds of things that affect color. It’s just how we’re wired. If were playing Where’s Waldo we look for Waldo.

If we are playing look for danger where were going, then we find danger where were going. It’s just in our nature. So, were constantly looking for danger where we see it.

So those who are disappointed at the loss of Hillary Clinton, are going to look at danger for Clinton supporters. And those who supported Donald Trump, are going to search for threats for Donald Trump supporters. That is how we are wired.

You see, every time I’m going on a trip that location is in the front of mind of those who are in my circles. So, they are more “in tune” to the news from Ireland, India, the Middle East, China, or wherever it is I’m heading traveling. There’s always something bad happening everywhere (and good), but the way the world works is that the news media likes to report bad things, so we’ll watch more TV and they can sell more ads. You have to look for the good to find it.

The Social Media Filter Bubble

Then, you have Facebook, which has algorithms designed specifically to give us what we like. So the more we like something, the more it gives us of that same thing. So, we have a filter that looks for things that are threats in the areas that were looking for, but we also use a social media service that amplifies that filter and gives us more of what were seeking. So, it is easy to go on Facebook and think the world is coming to an end. Even Google may use that somewhat based on sites we’ve been to before.

So, I think we have to talk to kids openly and honestly about filter bubbles. The filter bubbles we create in the filter bubbles our world creates for us to ” help us” may feed our paranoia and hatred if we’re not careful.

3. Risk Is Everywhere You Go

Ironically, the day I said “yes, we’re going to Dubai” – I walked out of the front door of the school to my car. A Mom on her cell phone sped by and didn’t see me. If I hadn’t been paying attention, I would have died four feet from the front door of the school where I teach every day. I could have reached out my pinky finger and smudged the dust off her car if I had wanted. She was so close that I wondered how she didn’t run over my toes.

To this day she has no idea that she almost ran me over. She was clueless.

So, when my students were traveling to Washington, DC after the Paris attacks, I told them the story of the filters we have and also how parents work to keep them safe and finished up with how risk is everywhere.

Do These Conversations Make a Difference?

I had no idea what an impact this would have on my students. Talking about the Paris attacks and the attacks in general did make a difference.

And of course, I was shaped by several people I had interviewed on my podcast. Dr. Steven Berkowitz was probably one of the most helpful I’ve ever interviewed.

But it was the phone call I got the next day that made a real difference. A mom called me. She said,

I so appreciate the conversation you had with the class yesterday about the trip. Before you talked to her, my daughter was crying all the time. She just knew that she was going to die on the trip to Washington DC. And she would watch the news and every time she saw anything about the Paris attacks, she would start crying again because she said it was can happen to her. But, whatever you said made a difference.

What You Can’t Say

I notice I never told the kids that it was going to be safe and that there were not going to be any issues. I merely pointed out that there’s danger everywhere and that there were adults committed to protecting them. That’s all I really could say.

Parents and those who say “I’ll never let anything bad happen” —  you’re setting yourself up for failure. Sadly, something bad happens to many of us at some point in our lives. You can’t say “I’ll never let anything bad happen to you.” You can say, the other adults in your life and I will do everything in our power to keep you safe.

What We Can Say

  • We can reassure children that we are with them and that we will work and do our very best to keep them safe.
  • We can also ask them to keep vigilant and keep their eyes open and use good common sense when they travel.
  • We can remind them to take the advice of those who are around them and to be wise as they travel. As one who is taking kids around the world, it is something that you have to tell kids it’s not enough for the adults to give advice, the kids have to take it themselves.

Fear of Our Country’s Political Situation

But, now kids are afraid of a different thing. They’re afraid of their own country. I think this quote from Dr. Eugene Griessman and Pat Williams’s book Lincoln Speaks to Leaders is a powerful one. They say,

The world today seems different from the world I left in April of 1865. Yet in many ways, not that much has changed. Today’s plays have the same plots as those performed in the 1800s. Only the names have been changed. The human condition remains the same.

When I read today’s newspapers, the crime, the politics and the scandals, sound remarkably like those from the newspapers of the 1800s. Individuals — and nations — still pursue their own interests. People still love and hate, are generous and petty, trusting and suspcious, tolerant and judgmental, honest and crooked, kind and vicious.

Rulers still send their young people off to war. Both sides still believe that they fight for a good cause — for God and country and lofty principles — just as they always have… History’s story is often a sad one, but not always, History tells us people can be deceived, but not all the people all the time. For me, that’s a hopeful lesson from history.

Do not believe that our time and generation gets an exemption. There often times of unrest. There are times of fear.

4. Perspective on the Times in Which We Live

The One Thing You CAN Control.

If you’ve heard one of my keynotes, there is something I repeat:

The only thing I can control is ME.

The only thing you can control is YOU. The most debilitating disease that plagues our world is the lie that

“I am helpless.”

followed by

“I can do nothing.”

I can control me, my classroom, and myself far more than I think. Consequently, I am at the center of my Att-I-tude.

Meet “Tough” Charlie

Recently, I met a man named Charlie in the Atlanta airport. Surprisingly, at age 92, he has worked in education his whole life except for some time in the military. I asked about his greatest accomplishment. He said:

“It was when I led my district in Arkansas to integrate. I got death threats and the FBI had to watch my house because the KKK threatened to bomb it. It was a hard time, but that was the best contribution to the world that I made in my whole life.”

Impressively, Charlie was one of the first on the beach at D-Day and one of the first to land in Japan in World War 2. Out of curiosity, I asked him, “how did you make it through these times.” He said:

“I had to be tough because times were tough.”

In my experience, tough people don’t complain or spend their time in pointless conversation, they take action and do positive things to move the world forward one step at a time.

Do You Make the World Better Where You Are?

Know what you believe and act on it. Make a choice. You don’t drift into port; you steer there. We become what we think about every day. Do you know who you want to be?

Related to this season in the US, one of my favorite aspirations is that I want to:

Be a person “whose singular praise it is to have done the best things in the worst times.” Sir Robert Shirley Banorott

Do Things to Make the World a Better Place

I tell my students not to get distracted by the people who are long on words and short on action. As for me, I will try to be an individual who inspires others to use their power to make the world a better place.

I also commit to being a woman of great action, love, and persistence. As for me, I will continue to be a person who inspires others to use their power actually to DO something to make the world a better place.

I’d rather spend my energy preventing future tragedies and sparking future triumphs in the lives of those in my circle of influence. You can too.

As We Move Forward

These are not easy times. Facebook is full of people full of hatred of one another. Blaming each other for the world’s ills and professing that they and their side are truly the noblest.

Those who claim to be supporting a noble cause while dropping profanity and insults have just contradicted their cause.

I see lots of hate and filter ignorance at work.

As for me, I’m praying for this:

Morality. Kindness. Love. Service. Prayer. Faith. Hard work. Truth. Wisdom. Religious freedom. An unbiased press. Public servants. May these be things that become fashionable again.

In the meantime, have conversations with students that count. They need you to be the adults and help them reflect. They do not need you to use them as pawns or to program more hatred into their minds.

And the saddest thing is that what I have just written will be interpreted by both “sides” in the recently US political election as an endorsement of their own thinking when in reality, the person who is most wrong in the world is the one who claims perfection and perfect nobility. For life is short and we are all flawed and prone to stumble and hurt our fellow human being.

There’s a reason that Abraham Lincoln put his most scathing letters in a drawer to determine if he’d mail them later. He knew that in the heat of fury and anger that he was less than the president he was called to be. For when unrighteous anger rules your heart, goodness cannot rule your soul.

And yes, dear friends, I’ve just shared with you some of the things I’ve been talking about recently with my students relating to politics. This is our watch and our time and it makes me furious that grown adults have lost the ability to see the world through the eyes of their brother and sister. We all wear suits of skin and life will end far too soon. May we not be the kind of person that when we’re gone, people are glad.

The post How to Talk to Kids about Terrorism, Politics, and Unrest in the World Today appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


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