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How Society Encourages Bullying

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Bullying is no longer in the mass media and has taken a back seat to other issues plaguing the United States, like Teacher Evaluations and Standardized Testing. Kids of all ages are now left to fend for themselves. As America changes its focus to what ever the mass media chooses, more young kids will have to wake up to a another day of being a victim. Sadly, it is our American Society that continues to fail our children. The opportunity was there to help. The push from celebrities and politicians, the coverage from mass media, and even an emotional movie to show the damage that is being done. So what happened?

America happened. After hearing about bullying for over a year, America’s lack of focus to support its children, its future, kicked in. We became immune to the stories, and emotionless to the suffering these kids go through. We are a society that talks big about helping, volunteering, and sacrificing for those who need help, but behind closed doors we truly are a society that refuses to help those in need! We are the greatest country at immediately stepping up to the plate and contributing to a recognized need with help, but it only takes time for us Americans to simply lose focus, and simply forget those in need.

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Here in NJ, Superstorm Sandy caused devastation throughout the state, and there was a great outpouring of support. By the one year anniversary, funds had dried up, and people here have been begging for support and help to get back on their feet. Today, just a year and a half later, the victims of Superstorm Sandy are nothing but a memory to most unless you live in an area still under the effects of the damage, or know someone affected. What about the folks and areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina? If you tour the areas, you will find the same devastation. Sadly, it is the American way. As devastating events happen around the world, America is a leader in providing help, however, we are also the leader in leaving places to fend for themselves soon there after.

Even worse, as the same type of disasters repeatedly happen, we become immune to the devastation. Remember Columbine back in 1999? How many school shootings have there been in the US since then? According to Wikipedia, since 2010, there have been over 80 shootings. How many did you hear about? Still think we are not immune? In 2014 alone, US school shootings are over 30 so far! These are our children who are being killed and who are even doing the killing.

Bullying is an issue that touches everyone. Please talk to your kids every chance you get about the issue and how to solve it. I am not talking about your kid being the bully, nor am I talking about your kid being the victim. I am talking to everyone who has kids! The best way to defeat Bullying is to inspire the BYSTANDERS to speak up! EVERY kid has witnessed Bullying, however, very few have spoken up to help end it. One of the greatest attributes about growing up in America is our immediate leadership in helping those in need. All it takes is ONE PERSON to speak up and the rest will follow. Recently a boy near Pittsburgh has been brought up on criminal charges because he recorded his bullies planning their next attack?! Unfortunately we, as adults, continue to fail our kids, so it will be up to the children themselves to be the ones who change society. They have the will and the power, we just need to empower them to take the leadership role!

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An Open Letter to My Son on World Autism Awareness Day

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This letter was written by a friend, Jerry Turning, and posted to his FaceBook Page.  It is with his permission that I pass his words of wisdom on. On this day of World Autism Awareness, his words encompass a message needed for all sons.

 

An open letter to my son on World Autism Awareness Day:

Hi handsome. I’m not quite sure when you will read this, but there is so much I want to teach you, sometimes I get scared that I’ll forget some things or leave something out. So I decided to make a short list of some life lessons I want to teach you. They are in no particular order, but if you use them as a guide when life gets challenging, I think you’ll find your way:

Jerry T

1) You have Autism. That means you are special. You have been given an amazing gift to see the world differently than other people.

2) I spent a little while feeling sorry for you… for me… for us. I was wrong for that. You have made me a better person and you are absolutely perfect exactly how you are.

3) But that doesn’t mean you don’t face challenges. The world is not always as patient and understanding as we would like. I’ll do my best to change the world for you, but in the mean time you will have to learn to cope in this wacky world.

4) I will not allow you to use “Autism” as an excuse or a crutch. You are capable of anything.

5) Be open-minded. Learn to compromise.

6) But stand for something. Defend it ferociously.

7) Respect women. They are a more perfect creature than we are.

8) If you hurt someone… apologize (and mean it)

9) If someone hurts you… forgive (and mean it)

10) If you have to choose between popularity and loyalty… choose loyalty.

11) Trust… but only after they earn it.

12) Find something you love to do… get really good at it… and then convince somebody to pay you to do it.

13) One good friend beats 10,000 so-so friends.

14) Learn the difference ^^^^^

15) Be humble. Just when you think you have it all figured out, Life will teach you how wrong you are.

16) Talk to God.

17) Learn baseball. It is the perfect game.

18) Your Dad is just a man trying to figure it all out… just like you.

19) Your Dad will have your back… always.

20) You are your Dad’s hero.

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“To This Day”= Powerful

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To This Day by Shane Koyzcan

By far one of the most powerful pieces made on Bullying. It has slowly faded out of the main stream media, but it is something everyone needs to see.

More importantly, Everyone needs to TRULY LISTEN!

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5 Wrong Statements Teachers Make

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For the purposes of this Blog: Johnny is the “A” student who doesn’t need to study, Sally is your average to below average student who struggles.

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1. The highest score on the test belongs to Johnny!

So what? The highest score does not relate to the best performance. As a matter of fact, the highest test score usually belongs to Johnny, who just happens to find the Elementary Curriculum easy, and puts forth little to no effort to prepare for the test. So you reinforce that Johnny needs to not worry about his study skills, and also disregard the efforts put in by Sally who only wishes one day to get the highest score and be recognized. Recognition and celebration of an individual performance in front of the class needs to be centered on the effort given.  Struggling Sally who earns a B, promotes a better message than Johnny’s mediocre A. Simply, you have celebrated and reinforced that Johnny and his lack of effort is great!

2. It’s your own fault, you obviously didn’t work hard enough at home!

The same can be said for you as a teacher. How exactly is Sally supposed to “work harder”? A low-grade does not always correlate with a lack of effort. What if Sally has been putting in hours of studying by flashcards as you told her? Could it be that using flashcards hinders Sally? Maybe Sally never removes cards she understands, thus studying all 50 cards over and over? Did you inform her on how to properly use flash cards? There are many options to studying and learning, but very few teachers will offer them to their students because they themselves are limited to what worked for them. The focus needs to be on what Sally is currently doing, and what options or changes are needed to help.  Students don’t wake up every day and hope they struggle again. There is no fault to struggling, so why plant a message in their heads that they themselves are not good enough?

3. If you had listened to me, and did things my way, you wouldn’t be struggling!

When all else fails, the teacher knows best, Right? It is so easy to tell Sally that the only way to succeed is to do it your way, but do you give the same message to Johnny when he obviously has no study skills? By telling Sally this, you are confirming that her thoughts, ideas, and work ethic are failures. Sadly, when you stop and think about it, all students look up to their teachers and hold them on a pedestal, yet you are telling Sally she will never be good enough using their own thoughts and ideas. In the right atmosphere, Sally will always try impress her teacher for inspiring and supporting her through her struggles. Inspire them to be a great individual, not a copy of you.

4. You need to study more! You didn’t study enough!

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” -Albert Einstein. Studying more is simply not the answer for most, like Sally. Along with #2, 3, and 4, the biggest issue is that we pass the blame by using the word “YOU”. Yes, we all understand that it is up to the individual child, however, these are not adults. They are children in the process of learning. We talk about being a supporting partner throughout their education, but are quick to shovel all of the blame onto their shoulders with statements like these. Make sure your message to Sally starts with “YOU” in times of success, but make sure to start with “WE” can do better in times of failure.

5. It’s ok, you tried your best!

If you consistently set high standards for you students, it’s NEVER “ok” when a student does not do well. You are contradicting yourself to Sally who believes in your message of setting the bar high! Sally has been told every year that “It’s ok”, and “Things will get better” to no avail. Sally has invested herself in your message, and now you tell her what every other teacher and adult has said. She has raised her levels of expectations, and needs someone who will reinforce that a below average grade is “NOT OK”! She needs someone to invest in her, and help her become the best she can be. What can she do differently, what habits are not helping, or what improvements can be seen?- Are some of the questions Sally wants answers to, so save the meaningless pat on the back. ALWAYS praise the effort when it’s there, and let her know that “WE” will not give up!

Kids today are being raised into a society stressing that everyone is a winner, irrelevant of effort and ability. While I believe there is an age appropriate relation (5-6 years old), we are setting up our children for failure when we continually hold their hands. Every individual has a desire to succeed and out perform others. As we grow up, we look for individuals who can be our inspiration, our role models. People who stand out of the crowd that continually tells us how great we are. Those individuals who hold us to higher standards and make us believe we can reach the unreachable stars. We need teachers to be those individuals……Tell Sally that she CAN, show her different ways to improve, celebrate every victory, and be truthful but support her in every step backwards….Tell Johnny that his 95 should NOT be acceptable, talk with him about his lack of study habits, challenge him to see the future, and be truthful but support him with his weaknesses. It is never about what you as a teacher say, but rather what exactly the student hears! It is human nature to invest in someone who is invested in you. Make sure your message consistently rings true that effort and improvement, not grades, will earn your respect!

Don’t forget to Follow, Like, and Share the message! Thanks!  If there are any topics you would like me to cover, let me know!

Who Suffers Most in Education Today

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Education in America is in a fight for survival. Whether its Common Core, Technology, or Bullying, Education is at the forefront of many discussions. Visit your nearest water cooler, or turn on the 24 hour News channels, sit back and enjoy the experts discuss what is wrong, and what would be their solution. You just might hear, “Bill Gates built an enterprise like no other, we should listen to the group he has formed to help education.” “Common Core is a mess and asks students to show abilities that are above their developmental level.” “Digital technology is the best avenue for our student success”, and yet “it is also the worst.” “Our attack on Bullying is weakening this country by raising sissies.” Heard any of this?

One of the hottest topics is how American students have “fallen” behind our international competitors. You will hear some say they believe we led the world in education when they were growing up in the 50′s, 60′s and 70′s. Really? You will hear how our students are ranking in the range of 20-30 and how China now ranks #1 in the world! Sadly, the facts are all being taken out of context. Do you know that International Testing (PISA) was initiated in 1997 with the first test being given in 2000 and every 3 years after? Would it change your view to know that we have ranked around 20-30 every year? Even as more countries join the testing? Would it help to know that China only lets certain kids in Shanghai who prep for the test to take it, and first joined testing in 2009? Does it really matter?

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Ladies and gentlemen, let’s make one thing perfectly clear, Education around the world is changing. Our mentality of being scared of change has opened a huge door for critics to attack our educational system. Unfortunately, it may lead to the false claims becoming true. The ones who have been able to keep our Educational System afloat are being attacked from the flanks and it is quickly weakening their positions. As a teacher of 15+ years experience, I have seen, first hand, the damage that these attacks are having on the profession. The negativity has relations from teachers to parents, students, and community strained and continues to force the very best of educators to leave the profession they truly love. More importantly, it is tearing down the structural integrity of the classroom and the control a teacher can have. History has shown that the most damaging of attacks take place silently without detection. We must be very conscious of the damage that the wave of adult negativity can cause in the structure of the educational system, especially in the classroom, as it eventually filters into the eyes of the students.

We are undermining every teacher’s effort in the classroom and thus weakening the educational system. The true power of our Educational system lies in the influence our teachers can have on our students. The so-called experts don’t understand this. Bill Gates and any other “non-experienced” expert can talk about studies and research, but there are instincts and factors to teaching that just can’t be measured. Yet, we listen to these experts tell us that our teachers are failing? In reality, it is THEY who are failing our teachers! Mr. Gates and his committee have produced the Common Core State Standards (they may be a great step forward), but did they train and equip the classrooms and teachers to perform to these new standards and way of learning? NO. Did he follow the same “business plan” with Microsoft by setting new standards of work for his employees, but never equipping them with proper training and material to do so? Did he tell his Secretary to produce documents in Microsoft Word by giving her a user’s guide, however keeping her on a typewriter? Of course not. 

Education is changing around the world. The difference is that the rest of the world continues to show respect for their teachers. The best of the best are known to openly respect all teachers on the same level we respect doctors and lawyers. So while they also go through the shift with technology, their framework around the classroom is solid and supported by the surrounding community, parents, and students. We, the American community, must not continue to damage the structural integrity of our classroom, for a collapse will be on our teachers, leaving our students alone to fend for themselves. Be careful America, when we begin to listen to experts in the field of business on Education,you must ask, What is more important: My child’s education, or the Bottom Line?

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Why Won’t My Son Listen?

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Why Won’t My Son Listen?

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There I am, in the middle of lecturing my son with raised voice, when I see the tears welling up in his eyes. I wonder why it has to come to this again- why he simply won’t listen to me. One minute he is frustrated about homework and the next minute he’s annoying his sisters. How can he ask for my help, then turn around and tell me that I don’t know what I’m talking about? Why did he go upstairs to bother his sisters when I just told him to leave them alone? Obviously he refuses to just listen!

Tonight he is Bo Jackson in “The Wax Museum”, a school project based upon famous people for his fourth grade class. He is so excited, but I am extremely frustrated as he procrastinated on his research and speech, then argued with everyone about how to prepare his costume. With every piece of advice, he did not want to listen. Between his school bag, lunch, helmet, bat, football, and the rest of his costume, there was just too much to carry, so I told him I would drop his costume and extras off later to the school. Instead of listening, he makes life hard on himself and struggles to drag everything in this morning.

So there I am listening to Bo Jackson talk about growing up and not being proud to have been a bully. I am happy to see him standing in front of all these parents speaking loudly and clearly, but wondering why things had to be so hard. When is he going to listen to what we as parents say?

As the show ends, I am walking a couple feet behind my son down the hallway when my son begins to run ahead. I am left thinking I told him not to run in the hallway at school. He stops at Betsy Ross, who is struggling to carry a heavy chair and knitted American flag. He proceeds to ask if he can help her, takes the chair, and walks it back to her class for her! In that split second, it becomes clear that he is listening and watching. “Be an Individual…, never give up when things are hard…, think for yourself and be a leader…, always be considerate of others…”

It is clear that I should not be frustrated with him, but rather with my own way of thinking. I can only advise him on ways that worked best for me, but who am I to think that my way is the best way? Why should I tell him to “Be a Leader”, but expect him to follow what every adult says? Why do I expect him to do something my way, yet tell him to “work through adversity”? It is clear that he is listening, and even though I am giving him mixed messages, he is clearly making great decisions to make himself the best he can be!

Upon tucking him into bed, I mention how happy I was seeing him as Bo Jackson, but more importantly, I make it clear how PROUD I am to see him, as Jake, help out his classmate! As I go to bed, I wonder how long it will be before I forget what my son has “told” me with his actions tonight. It is clear he is listening, and it is I who needs to listen more. I am holding him to high standards, but must be willing to allow him to learn on his journey. As for today, with one simple action, I know he is clearly listening!

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End of the Year: A Teacher’s Message to Students

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BYOD

The following is what I would hand out to my 4th and 5th grade students on the last day of school. As many teachers believe, once in my class, every student gained a permanent spot in my heart. Learning the core subject matter is important, however, true teaching is about preparing each student for life. With that being said, below is my final message as students left my class- feel free to use in your classroom if you have the same beliefs……

As you begin to mature, always remember……(from Mr. Lowe)

  1. You can only control what YOU do.
  2. Respect is EARNED! not demanded.
  3. Adults are NOT your friend, so don’t treat them as such.
  4. You can’t quit on others, ONLY YOURSELF.  **Remember, You are not allowed to quit!
  5. If your friends say you are annoying, listen to them. They are not lying, they are your friends.
  6. These are the toughest years in your life. They will also be very rewarding.
  7. Most don’t “grow-up” until they are 25 years old, so if they are picking on you, take it as a compliment, because they are jealous of you for something.
  8. In the end, it is YOU and your ATTITUDE.
  9. Yes, those whom you hang out with ARE a reflection of you. People will judge you by them.
  10. If you feel like your carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders and no one seems to care, call me.  Even though you will deny it, there is ALWAYS someone who loves and supports you.

**Respect your parents.  Yes, they are going to stop you from having fun.  It is for your own good!  You won’t understand until you have kids of your own, so just live with it.  They love you.  Count on that!

I am now letting you go with hopes and wishes for nothing but the best for you.  If you are EVER in need, you know you can call me (732) ***-****.

Or email me just to update: FaceBook me when you graduate from HS, if it’s still around.

Thank you for giving me your best efforts, I appreciate it and I Love You!

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