Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Take Care of Yourself

School is out and all the stress seems far away. In another week or two you may even feel somewhat rested and human again. And as you feel better, you will wonder how and why you ever got into that cycle of tired > cranky > behind in grading > just doing what you have to do today and not looking for new ways to do things > “I think I’m coming down with a cold” > really tired > “how much longer to vacation?”

And yes, some place in there you had a couple of days off or you went to a training or conference and got hyped up and vowed you would tackle things differently. But then Johnny got on your nerves and you got behind in grading again or three parents just had to have conferences this week and that meant you lost your free period. Does this sound familiar? We’ve all been there!

But now it is summer and you got your school things put away for another year and maybe even got outdoors for some fresh air. I talked to a teacher last week who said she feels so much better with her flowerbeds weeded!

What new habits can you start this summer that will carry over into the new school year and help you feel better and more on top of all those tasks? Start by assessing the six areas of your health: Emotional, Physical, Intellectual, Social, Occupational, and Spiritual. Each assessment is only a few questions and will tell you a lot about yourself.

 Use the Attending to My Wellness planning sheet to start some changes for the better. Taking good care of yourself is a necessity, not a luxury. Each day take time to relax, time to connect with those important to you, and time to do something you enjoy. And don’t forget to nurture your sense of humor.

For more help in planning for better health:
      • Check the Web sites in the Stress and Wellness topic of the Facilitate Resilience course
      • Use the key words “nutrition,” “stress,” and “health” on 3 Things to Try
      • Click on the Wellness tip on the KDP Connect home page

Aim for balance. A balanced approach includes personal care and the healthy management of your responsibilities.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Twitter in Education

Do you tweet? With the Twitter explosion around the world, more and more educators are wondering what--if any--benefit Twitter can bring to the classroom. Check out this video of Dr. Monica Rankin, a professor of History at UT Dallas, who was looking for a way to involve more students in her large class in classroom discussion.

Click here to read the notes of Dr. Rankin's experiment, and here to read the blog post from Kim Smith, the graduate student who created the video.

We'd love to hear your comments about this emerging and popular technology. Do you use Twitter in the classroom? Tell us more. :)

Friday, April 24, 2009

International Ed: How Teachers and Principals Can Get Involved

Just a few years ago, it might have been unusual for a third-grade classroom in the small town of Fortville, Indiana to include students from another country. Today it’s not unusual at all—in fact, families from a variety of cultures, speaking 226 different native languages, are now an important and growing part of Indiana schools.

In KDP’s continuing interview with Caterina Cregor Blitzer, Director of International Education for the Indiana Department of Education, said that international education isn’t just something “out there” that needs to be considered eventually; rather, “it’s in our backyard and on our main street and in our schools.” What used to be an unusual experience—meeting face to face with someone from another culture—is now an everyday event. That’s why a compelling aspect of the International Education message is that “international education starts at home.” Parents, grandparents, schools, churches, communities, businesses, and civic groups all have a share in creating a sense of welcome, an aura of hospitality, for international families.

Indiana attracts many international families because of the reasonable cost of living, the variety of industry, and the quality of life, and this creates new considerations for teachers in the classroom. In order to provide a quality education for each child, educators must be able to understand, relate, teach, and assess the learning of international students. Creating an atmosphere of international learning in the classroom requires educators to expand their own horizons beyond just learning the simple basics of day-to-day communication. When teachers and administrations travel, experiencing for themselves what it means to be “global citizens,” they return with changed perspectives and rich experiences that bring the world--naturally and organically--into the classroom as they teach.

Part of Ms. Blitzer’s role as Director of International Education in Indiana involves developing partnerships to help facilitate these kinds of international experiences for educators. Because educating for a global economy is a vital part of creating a vibrant, highly skilled workforce, the best businesses in the state share a passion for International Education and want to hire employees with true 21st century skills that include knowledge of world regions, skill in communicating using world languages, and experience in working respectfully with people from other cultures. Through multiple collaborative projects, International Education helps educators take advantage of opportunities to travel abroad, studying and teaching in different cultures.

Many Indiana schools are already participating in international school-to-school partnerships with schools in China, France, Germany, Spain, and Taiwan. These partnerships provide great opportunities for schools in different cultures to develop real relationships that build over time. The relationships might begin with simple e-mail correspondence between students and teachers and then move to shared classroom projects and videoconferences. As the relationship develops, opportunities for hosting and traveling—for students, teachers, and administrators—can develop between the partnering schools.

To find out more about International Education on a national level, visit the U.S. Department of Education International Affairs Office site. For more about International Education, International Exchange and School-to-school Partnership opportunities available to Indiana school communities, see the DOE international education site: http://www.doe.in.gov/internationaleducation/. The Indiana Education Goes Global: 2009 Guide to International Education and Exchange for Indiana Schools will be available online upon publication.

Next segment: The Future of International Education

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Global Education: Starting Where We Are

Today, in the United States and around the world, interacting with people from different backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives is more the rule than the exception. As Caterina Cregor Blitzer, Director of International Education for the Indiana State Department of Education said in a recent interview with Kappa Delta Pi, “The world is here!”

Ms. Blitzer brings personal experience in global citizenship to her role at the Indiana DOE. Born in Italy, Ms. Blitzer discovered that her parents, her village (“in the broadest sense of the term”), and then her new home of New York all helped create just the right atmosphere for her to learn what it means to be American, first and foremost, and Italian American as well. During her 10-year span as the Executive Director of the International Center of Indianapolis, Ms. Blitzer often worked with individuals from Indiana industry who were about to embark on opportunities abroad—and she realized how rare it was for people to have had any kind of educational preparation for global fluency. “I began to wonder what experience they might have had in K-12 to set the stage and help prepare them,” she said. “And that triggered in me a desire to be a cultural and communication bridge, to work to foster understanding and bring the benefits that are available through global competencies.”

When Indiana created the Directorship for International Education, the state became one of only 10 in the nation to have a position solely dedicated to global education. The goals for International Education at the state level involve creating and supporting opportunities for Indiana educators and students to expand their global competency in a variety of ways—through creative school partnerships, international exchange programs (for teachers and students), and by providing comprehensive resources that help make it all possible.

Ms. Blitzer brings a whole-system approach to her view of international education and seeks not only to provide information and involvement opportunities for educators, but also to facilitate the links and funding that make the opportunities possible. She believes the time is right for increased awareness and investment in global education. Because of the priorities of the new U.S. administration, she says, “We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to articulate goals on par with the best countries in the world.” Developing global competencies is more important—and more possible—than ever before, and preparing our students with 21st Century Skills means new models for international education are needed through the entire K-12 spectrum.

Working in partnership with a number of organizations and funders, which includes support from the Longview Foundation, the Asia Society, and local partners, the International Education division of the Indiana DOE is able to provide public forums and workshops on global education. In addition, a grant from the Longview Foundation made possible the soon-to-be-released Indiana Education Goes Global, a resource guide for schools that provides model programs, best practices, and other resources for international education and exchange. (We will post a link to the guide as soon as it is available.)

Next segment: How Teachers and Principals Can Get involved

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Focus on International Education

As an international honor society, Kappa Delta Pi cares about educators all over the world. We are working actively to grow our membership internationally, and we envision a world in which teachers and students on every continent share the vision and value of a world working together peacefully for the betterment of all.

In recent months, KDP’s international initiatives have been receiving a lot of attention! For several months, we have been working to establish a partnership with the United Nations (more about this in an upcoming post). Here is an update on our international efforts:

  • KDP signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Taipei in Taiwan. This year we will have a new international chapter at the Taipei Municipal University of Education. Welcome new KDP members!

  • Faye Snodgress, Executive Director of KDP, recently attended the Teaching Human Rights: Global to Local conference at the Carter Center in Atlanta, GA, in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

  • We have a new International Initiatives section on our recently redesigned Web site, where educational organizations outside the United States can review the benefits, requirements, guidelines, and process for starting an international KDP chapter.

  • KDP has a new International Initiative Ad Hoc committee, chaired by Dr. Nathan Bond (Texas State University) and including Dr. Mary Clement (Berry College), Dr. Charles Webber (University of Calgary) , and Dr. Gouli Liang (University of Wisconsin-Whitewater) as committee members.

  • The Educational Forum, KDP’s scholarly, doubly masked peer-reviewed journal, is receiving more international submissions than ever before, with recent articles from authors in Australia, Malaya, Mexico, Pakistan, Russia, Sweden, and Turkey.

Over the course of the next few weeks, you will see a number of posts from an interview with Caterina Cregor Blitzer, Director of International Education for the Indiana Department of Education. Indiana is one of 10 states in the United States to have a state-level focus dedicated to growing and supporting international education initiatives, and we are pleased to be able to provide some insight into what’s happening at the state level in global education. As Ms. Cregor Blitzer so aptly said in the interview, “The world is here!”

Please explore our international resources on the KDP site and check back for the first installment of the three-part interview coming soon!

We would also love to hear what your state, district, school, or class is doing to increase global awareness and cultural fluency! Click Comments below to add your thoughts, or come to the KDP Discussion Board and join this thread!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Meet the authors!

Here at Kappa Delta Pi we are celebrating the release of our new book, The ABC's of Wellness for Teachers. It's a timely and important topic for educators at all levels and in all stages of their careers. We recently interviewed authors Teena Ruark Gorrow and Susan Muller so that we could share with you their vision and hope for the book. National Teacher Appreciation Week is coming soon (May 4-9, 2009); consider getting a copy of the book for a teacher you know and love!

KDP: You are both very successful in your respective fields. What was it that sparked your desire to write a book?
    Gorrow: Because teachers are tremendously busy people with lives and families outside of school, and because teaching is such a time-consuming profession, staying in balance poses a serious challenge. Teacher retention data shows that a surprising percentage of teachers exit the profession even before earning tenure status. In fact, an alarming percentage of beginning teachers do not even finish their first year. We believe that there is a direct link between teacher wellness and teacher retention. Although our literature search revealed articles on wellness and a wealth of fitness information, we could not identify a single resource to address all six dimensions of wellness with teachers in mind.
KDP: What was your favorite part of the book-writing process? Was there anything you learned that really surprised you? What was the most challenging aspect of developing this guide?
    Gorrow: I am truly blessed to have had the opportunity to work closely with awesome colleagues--coauthor Susan Muller and KDP Editor Karen Allen--and I felt inspired by imagining the ways in which teachers might one day apply our ideas to positively influence their lives. Perhaps the most challenging aspect of this project for me was the amount of time required to complete all of the steps from developing a proposal, to creating the initial draft for review, to revising the final proof, to layout. Friends might say that Susan and I have Type-A personalities, so waiting for anything is a challenge for us. Yet, this project actually helped both of us develop patience and we concluded that staying in balance really is critical to living a happy life.

    Muller: I was most pleased with the time I spent working with Teena. We worked very well together generating ideas and figuring out ways to express and present these concepts within the confines of the ABC structure for the book. The process involved compiling and writing information on each of the wellness topics, then reworking each area in a manner that would apply directly to teachers. As we progressed and the book began to take shape it seemed to come together very nicely despite those moments when connecting the various concepts posed a challenge. We were able to resolve the issue of connecting the ABCs by reviewing the dimensions of wellness, refocusing on the idea of balance, then creating the surveys and mobiles in an attempt to pull it all together.
KDP: Who do you hope to reach with this publication?
    Gorrow and Muller: We hope that the contents of this book will be of interest to
    • Teacher interns
    • Preservice teachers
    • Beginning teachers
    • Veteran teachers
    • School administrators
    • College professors in the teacher education field, instructing classroom management courses and other methods courses

    KDP: The ABC’s of Wellness specifically discusses the importance of teachers and educators leading a healthy lifestyle. Why is it important for teachers to monitor their health and make sure they are living a balanced life?

      Muller: Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is vital for everyone regardless of their profession. We each have distinct personalities and areas of interest. These interests and personality characteristics often drive our behaviors, including our health behaviors. For most people it does not come naturally to attend equally to each of the dimensions of wellness. It is far more common to focus on the two or three areas that bring us the most immediate satisfaction. This tendency to focus on some areas and neglect other areas leads to imbalance. Sooner or later the inattention to specific dimensions of wellness comes back to haunt us. We develop signs and symptoms of poor levels of well-being (e.g. overweight, insomnia, depression, loneliness, anxiety over poor job performance). The chances of becoming imbalanced is high for teachers as evidenced by the many who report feeling isolated, depressed, overwhelmed by a variety of responsibilities, and eventually leave the profession in search of an occupation that will provide better opportunities for happiness and contentment. This book is designed to help teachers achieve and maintain high levels of well-being despite the many demands associated with being an educator. Maintaining high levels of wellness might ultimately improve their odds of remaining in the teaching profession as active, engaged, life-long learners.

    KDP: As seasoned experts in the education field, what general advice would you give to new teachers just starting out?

      Muller: It is the little things in life that add up to the sum of a person. Therefore, I would advise all teachers to get up every day and give life your best effort. If you take time to do things the right way, with good intentions for others, you will find that the journey becomes much more enjoyable. Once you make your classroom a warm, welcoming environment, you will be rewarded by students who will reciprocate and make your day-to-day interactions much more meaningful. Being a teacher is not limited to imparting your knowledge of the subject matter, but extends to sharing your life with your students and colleagues. Keeping each aspect of your life in balance is essential to overall well-being and to career satisfaction and success.

      Gorrow: I agree with Susan's comments. Also, remember why you wanted to become a teacher and keep your passion alive. Decide now that your attitude is a choice that affects you and others around you. When you are disappointed or tired, avoid the temptation to complain, gossip, or criticize. Instead, look for the good in yourself, your students, and your colleagues. Keep in mind that your wellness is a series of decisions, so strive to balance your personal needs and work responsibilities.

    Teena Ruark Gorrow, Associate Professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Salisbury University in Maryland, is a former public school teacher, principal, and central office administrator.

    Susan Marie Muller, Professor of Exercise Science at Salisbury University, is a Certified Health Education Specialist and a Certified Health-Fitness Instructor through the American College of Sports Medicine.

    Thank you, Teena and Susan, for writing a great book and taking the time to do this interview! To find out more about The ABC's of Wellness for Teachers, please visit http://www.kdp.org/kdpdk/publications/kdpbooks.php.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Oak Ridge educators pass on raises

In education news this morning, an uplifting story of the decision by Oak Ridge, Tennessee educators to forgo a request for an annual salary increase because of the risk the increase might place on other educators. Willow Brook Elementary principal Mardee Miller told the board of education that school principals and vice principals “cannot ask for raises at the expense of others who may lose their jobs. We need more staff to meet the expectations, not less.” Oak Ridge Education Association President Steve Reddick delivered a similar message on behalf of educators, saying he “cannot in good conscience stand here and make a salary increase request tonight.”

Here's the link to the full story in yesterday's issue of the Oak Ridger.

What's happening in your district in relation to these challenging economic times? Post a comment here or come to the KDP Discussion Board and share what's going on in your area.