Look for the Helpers

Recently, the idea of trauma sensitivity in schools has been a subject of interest in the Mid-State region. It seems timely, amid the constant state of uncertainty in our nation and in our world, to stop and think about the impact of stress, anxiety, and traumatic experience upon our students. We often see this impact in our schools. When exposed to adverse experiences, children often react with maladaptive behaviors for lack of a better strategy, to cope with feelings such as anger, fear and worry. Although we are not all trained in trauma intervention, we can strive to maintain sensitivity to those around us concerning the potential impact of adverse experiences. We can also, as nurturing and responsive professionals, begin to build up our repertoire of responses to our youngest learners when they experience fear, anxiety and sadness. Continue reading

OCM BOCES-Responsive Classroom® Blog: Trauma in the Souls of our Classrooms – Part 1 of 3

As a certified trainer for the Responsive Classroom I have to take part in professional development each spring with the developers of the Responsive Classroom approach, the Center for Responsive Schools. This year we were given an academic choice (a Responsive Classroom practice) to delve deeper into either the topic of Equity or Childhood Adversity. I decided I was most interested in the topic of childhood adversity. Ironically, the Winter 2017 issue of neaToday was devoted to “Trauma: The Effects on Children and Learning.

Now upon completion of this professional development, I now feel all educators need to learn more about this topic because through my own research I discovered that the problem is bigger than we might think! According to an article called How Teachers Help Students Who’ve Survived Trauma (Lehey, 2014) from The Atlantic “One in every four students currently sitting in American classrooms have experienced a traumatic event.”  This statistic was startling to me and learned too this statistic is even higher in impoverished communities. Continue reading

Scaffolding for Teachers: Becoming a Facilitator in PBL

person climbing stairs to their goalPerhaps one of the most challenging things for me to overcome while implementing Project Based Learning (PBL) was becoming the facilitator or “guide-on-the-side.”   I had developed a very traditional style of teaching with a touch of student collaborative group work. My 4th graders and I experienced PBL for the first time together. It was a new way of learning and a new way of teaching. It was my second year teaching 4th grade and I was looking for a meaningful way to tackle the New York State English Language Arts Modules while integrating Science and Social Studies. I jumped in with the support of my colleagues and hit the ground running, perhaps just a little too fast! Continue reading

Teaching Social Studies = Using the News (Part 1)

Over the next two blogs, I want to explore issues and ideas around using “the news” in the social studies classroom. Using current events has been a staple for many teachers, but it has taken on more importance and perhaps more risk in recent months as the clamor over fake news and the role of journalism in a democracy gets more strident. Over the next two blogs, I will present two “guests” who address the issues that are important to teachers. What problems does the news create for students and what can teachers do about it?

The first blog is from C3 Teachers, home of the Inquiry Design Model, and addresses the problems that using the news creates for our students.

What Should We Do About Fake News?
Written by Chloe Ford on March 5th, 2017

In our instant gratification, social media run world, fake news has become an epidemic plaguing the nation and our classrooms. Continue reading

Why are We Still Suspending Students?

Despite a lack of evidence that suspension from school has a positive impact on improving behavior, many schools continue to routinely use suspension as an exclusionary punishment. Additionally, current research widely supports the notion that students who are suspended from school are actually impacted negatively. Specifically, suspension often results in students’ continued misbehavior, as well as increasing the likelihood that they will repeat a grade or drop out of school.

And many even become involved in crime. It seems obvious that a call for change is on our doorsteps.

Altering the Pathway that Leads to “Suspension Likely” Behavior

So, when talking about suspension, we can’t just parachute in and land in the middle of a suspension without first examining the pathway that led to that suspension in the first place. Is it possible that by changing our reactions as educators to student behavior that we could actually alter the course of the student’s behavior so that the problem is resolved Continue reading

Working with Paraprofessionals (Part 2)

Communication between Teacher and Paraprofessional in General and Special Education Settings

Communication is something we need to be explicit about if we are indeed going to best meet the needs of our students.  That goes for all adults involved.  General education teachers, special education teachers, teacher assistants, and teacher aides all need to be able to communicate with one another efficiently and effectively. At times, however, speaking with others can be difficult.  That may be due to time constraints, personalities, uncomfortable feelings about having to tell someone else what you would like them to do, speaking up and advocating for a student or for oneself, having to clarify, or just being assertive in general. If there are issues with communication, then there are probably issues in the professional relationships as well. Continue reading

The Pledge


I am not an avid Facebook user but I do have an account, and I peruse the news from my “friends” every few days. Recently several friends posted the same video about 5th grade boys at Franklin Elementary School in Mankato, MN who have befriended a classmate. The story is so touching that I decided to post it to my own Facebook page and to also look more deeply into the issue, since bullying prevention is one of my professional and personal interests.  According to the video, five boys decided this year to look out for James, a student with special needs, who has been bullied in the past. As one of them says, “Why single out somebody who has special needs?” Continue reading