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Friday, June 15, 2018

WHY KIDS CAN’T STOP MOVING: THE NEUROSCIENCE BEHIND A STUDENT’S NEED TO MOVE



Suzanne Cresswell in the Top 10-Minute Teacher Show of 2018 (so far)

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Students have reasons for how they behave, particularly if they have learning differences and learn in unique ways. Occupational and physical therapist, Suzanne Cresswell, helps us understand children and why some of them just can’t stop moving. We’re counting them down! This is the #1 Episode of Season 3 of the 10-Minute Teacher.

 

Sponsor: Advancement Courses has more than 200 graduate level online professional development courses for K-12 teachers. You can take these courses for continuing education, salary advancement, or recertification. They are practical courses that have teachers developing tangible resources to use in their classrooms immediately. Go to advancementcourses.com/coolcat and use the code COOL20 at checkout to get 20% off any course. With this coupon, a 3 grad credit course is only $359.


The #1 Show of Season 3 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

This week we’re counting down the top shows of the season! Enjoy!

Want to know how to make your own podcast? Check out Podcasting Equipment Setup and Software I use on the 10-Minute Teacher for help!

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. 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 WHY KIDS CAN’T STOP MOVING: THE NEUROSCIENCE BEHIND A STUDENT’S NEED TO MOVE appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!



From http://www.coolcatteacher.com/e335/
via Vicki Davis at coolcatteacher.com. Please also check out my show for busy teachers, Every Classroom Matters and my Free teaching tutorials on YouTube.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Free Virtual Mentorship for Emerging Leaders #AspiringLeaders



Jodie Pierpoint in the #2 Episode of 2018

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Emerging administrator leaders and administrators are participating in an emerging leadership virtual mentorship program created by Jodie Pierpoint and many volunteers. Learn about this program, how you can join in, and how you can become a better mentor. We’re counting them down! This is the #2 Episode of Season 3 of the 10-Minute Teacher.

334 Jodie Pierpoint virtual mentorship emerging leaders

334 Jodie Pierpoint virtual mentorship emerging leaders

Sponsor: Advancement Courses has more than 200 graduate level online professional development courses for K-12 teachers. You can take these courses for continuing education, salary advancement, or recertification. They are practical courses that have teachers developing tangible resources to use in their classrooms immediately. Go to advancementcourses.com/coolcat and use the code COOL20 at checkout to get 20% off any course. With this coupon, a 3 grad credit course is only $359.


The #2 Show of Season 3 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

This week we’re counting down the top shows of the season! Enjoy!

Want to know how to make your own podcast? Check out Podcasting Equipment Setup and Software I use on the 10-Minute Teacher for help!

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. 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 Free Virtual Mentorship for Emerging Leaders #AspiringLeaders appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!



From http://www.coolcatteacher.com/e334/
via Vicki Davis at coolcatteacher.com. Please also check out my show for busy teachers, Every Classroom Matters and my Free teaching tutorials on YouTube.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

5 Free Tech Tools to Try in Your Social Studies Lessons (#3 Episode of Season 3)



Richard Byrne from Free Technology for Teachers

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Richard Byrne, author of Free Technology for Teachers, was a history teacher. It shows. In today’s show, he talks about top free tech tools to try in social studies lessons. This is one to share with your history department. We’re counting them down! This is the #3 Episode of Season 3 of the 10-Minute Teacher.

333 richard byrne tech lessons social studies (1)

Sponsor: Advancement Courses has more than 200 graduate level online professional development courses for K-12 teachers. You can take these courses for continuing education, salary advancement, or recertification. They are practical courses that have teachers developing tangible resources to use in their classrooms immediately.

Go to advancementcourses.com/coolcat and use the code COOL20 at checkout to get 20% off any course. With this coupon, a 3 grad credit course is only $359.


The #3 Show of Season 3 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

This week we’re counting down the top shows of the season! Enjoy!

Want to know how to make your own podcast? Check out Podcasting Equipment Setup and Software I use on the 10-Minute Teacher for help!

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. 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 Free Tech Tools to Try in Your Social Studies Lessons (#3 Episode of Season 3) appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!



From http://www.coolcatteacher.com/e333/
via Vicki Davis at coolcatteacher.com. Please also check out my show for busy teachers, Every Classroom Matters and my Free teaching tutorials on YouTube.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

5 Ideas for Writing with Technology (#4 episode of Season 3)



Jacqui Murray in the #4 episode of the year so far

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Jacqui Murray shares how we can encourage an improvement in writing using technology. These creative ways will help you think about how to help children, particularly those who struggle with handwriting and typing. We’re counting them down! This is the #4 Episode of Season 3 of the 10-Minute Teacher.

Sponsor: Advancement Courses has more than 200 graduate level online professional development courses for K-12 teachers. You can take these courses for continuing education, salary advancement, or recertification. They are practical courses that have teachers developing tangible resources to use in their classrooms immediately. Go to advancementcourses.com/coolcat and use the code COOL20 at checkout to get 20% off any course. With this coupon, a 3 grad credit course is only $359.


The #4 Show of Season 3 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

This week we’re counting down the top shows of the season! Enjoy!

Want to know how to make your own podcast? Check out Podcasting Equipment Setup and Software I use on the 10-Minute Teacher for help!

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. 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 Ideas for Writing with Technology (#4 episode of Season 3) appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!



From http://www.coolcatteacher.com/e332/
via Vicki Davis at coolcatteacher.com. Please also check out my show for busy teachers, Every Classroom Matters and my Free teaching tutorials on YouTube.

Monday, June 11, 2018

5 Formative Assessment Strategies to Help with Classroom Management



The #5 Show of Season 3 with Mike Roberts

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

We need more strategies than fist to five or thumbs up thumbs down. Teacher Mike Roberts give five strategies that can help us with formative assessment AND classroom management. We’re counting them down! This is the #5 Episode of Season 3 of the 10-Minute Teacher.

Sponsor: Advancement Courses has more than 200 graduate level online professional development courses for K-12 teachers. You can take these courses for continuing education, salary advancement, or recertification. They are practical courses that have teachers developing tangible resources to use in their classrooms immediately. Go to advancementcourses.com/coolcat and use the code COOL20 at checkout to get 20% off any course. With this coupon, a 3 grad credit course is only $359.


The #5 Show of Season 3 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

This week we’re counting down the top shows of the season! Enjoy!

Want to know how to make your own podcast? Check out Podcasting Equipment Setup and Software I use on the 10-Minute Teacher for help!

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. 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 Formative Assessment Strategies to Help with Classroom Management appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!



From http://www.coolcatteacher.com/e331/
via Vicki Davis at coolcatteacher.com. Please also check out my show for busy teachers, Every Classroom Matters and my Free teaching tutorials on YouTube.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

IT Coaches Leading Change in the Classroom



Deb Ramm on episode 329 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Instructional Technology Coaches can be helpful advisors for teachers if they learn strategies of encouragement and empowerment. Deb Ramm helps us learn the techniques to help powerful improvement happen in classrooms.

it coaches leading change in the classroom
Advancement Courses has more than 200 graduate level online PD courses for K-12 teachers. Go to advancementcourses.com/coolcat and use the code COOL20 at checkout for 20% off any course.

Listen Now

***

Enhanced Transcript

IT Coaches Leading Change in the Classroom

Link to show: www.coolcatteacher.com/e329
Date: June 7, 2018

Vicki: So today we’re talking with Deb Ramm from Rhode Island about leading change.

Now, Deb, you work with implementing lighthouse classrooms, but you’ve also recently moved into instructional technology.

What kind of things did you have to do to shift from classroom teacher to instructional technology leader? How did that work for you?

Ramm: I think the change happened pretty organically. Being in a classroom for the past twenty years teaching the same grade gave me the comfort to really explore a lot of the ed-tech tools and have the liberty to really explore that with my students and then just start to share that with colleagues.

I think becoming a leader was one of the things that I worked at probably through doing a lot of the external pieces like being a ??? Fellow. We have this amazing fellowship in Rhode Island with the Highlander Institute that really works to develop leaders.

Working with that group, I really found my tribe, and I really worked to explore and expand myself in a leadership role and helping other teachers in other districts build their own blended-learning capacities. So I think I developed myself as a leader through some of my external pieces.

Vicki: But how do you keep your classroom focused? I’m sure you’ve seen it, sometimes, when people leave the classroom, they forget what it really feels like to be in the classroom. It’s hard to be relevant teachers in that way.

Ramm: For sure. In the past couple of years, I’ve been in my brand-new role. I think one amazing thing that I’ve started to work on with teachers since I’ve left the classroom is to really help manage complex change and to also help them to build their growth mindset around really just working for this change.

Really, we’re changing the landscape of education in our classrooms, and so we’re moving from being teachers in a classroom to really moving toward that blended environment – what does it look like?

I think helping teachers to understand the vision and helping them to develop their skills and their competence and providing them with some incentives and resources along with an action plan really helps to build in how they can manage that change and also how I can remain relevant in their classroom.

For them, what I do much of the time is to really model lessons for them or to work directly with their students and even offer them some kind of embedded supports within their classroom.

That helps me to see at a consistent level what they’re doing in their classrooms and then how I can support them in that work so that I’m constantly having a leg into what’s happening in the classrooms on a daily basis.

Vicki: Now do you find that you need conversations around these? When you do a model lesson, are you going to spend time ahead of time talking to the teacher about what they’re trying to do? Is there a time when you hand over the lesson to them? How does that work?

Ramm: Yes, it’s a very scaffolded approach.

I really do build classroom cohort so that we meet outside of the classroom as groups where we can really collaborate together and plan together.

Then there’s a lot of time where I can sit with each individual teacher and really build a more personalized coaching experience for them, so that I can kind of elevate what they’re doing in the classroom and celebrate what’s happening with their students and then just really challenge them to the next level so that they can see what’s working really well and then consider that problem of practice and how they can kind of push themselves up from that point forward using blended learning and personalization within their own classrooms.

Vicki: Deb, have you ever made a mistake in trying to help someone change and thought, “That was a disaster, I’m never going to do that again?” What was it?

Ramm: Yeah, and I think that’s the really great learning piece of all of this. I think there’s no one-size-fits-all for the teachers that we work with.

I think really appreciating them for who they are and what they have to offer and helping them to see that they do have something to offer regardless of their desire to change.

I think that teachers are pretty amazing people, and we are resilient as a group, but I think when teachers are trying something new, we constantly see ourselves as being that sage on the stage and reaching out for help and trying to get support from other people is sometimes an awkward thing.

I think letting my own guard down and kind of letting people know that I don’t have all the answers, either, and let’s learn this together, and kind of build this together. I think that’s really important.

I think there’s much to be said about a nod and a smile when you’re working with someone, to really just be a listener and hear how they’re doing something in the classroom and really engage them in developing and searching out their problem of practice so that, when they’re exploring a solution, it becomes something that they’re buying into and not something that I’ve just sold them. I think that’s a really important piece.

Vicki: What do you think about this statement, agree or disagree: “The greatest software for innovation in the world is the human brain.”

Ramm: Completely agree. Nothing can happen without real thoughtful consideration of everything that we do.

I think a lot of teachers nowadays, when they’re thinking about using technology in their classrooms, will consider that technology as the end-all and be-all. Quite honestly, as much as I’m helping people to bring blended into their classrooms, there are just certain times where using a computer and pulling in that technology is not the best way.

I think that’s the most empowering piece, to show teachers how technology can make something better, and when doing something with paper and pencil, or just a regular book, or a board game is just the most empowering way to do it.

I think, when people see that there really, truly is a blend, an empowerment, of how we can utilize our resources – that’s when they’re going to make that change: when they see it working for them and know that it’s not everything that you’re pushing for and you’re celebrating what they’re doing on a daily basis regardless of where it’s going in the classroom.

Vicki: So, Deb, I’ve given you a statement that I think and you agreed with it. Why don’t you give me one that you believe about helping teachers change?

Ramm: Oh, boy. I think, when we’re helping teachers to change, I think the most empowering thing we can do to them, and I know I’ve said it, is simply help them to find their tribe.

I know when I first was an early adopter of bringing technology into my classroom I really felt alone. I felt as if I was a silo.

When you’re practicing something and you’re all alone and doing that, it is very hard to find people to share your ideas with so that they can question you in a valuable way and spur you on when you need to be uplifted.

We all know that using technology, we’re going to have lots of instances where we fail. For some people, failing is really a let-down. For others, and the science-minded person in me says, “Failing is that first attempt in learning. We really need to see failure as just a way to find the good in something, switch the bad, and tweak it a little bit.

I think when you find your tribe, when you find the group of people that are going to celebrate the things in you that have challenged yourself with, when you find that group of people who’s willing to support you and give you some of that helpful hints or little suggestions, that’s how you’re going to excel.

So I say to people, “Come out of your silo, find the people that you can work with and that can push you on, and find the people that are going to elevate and celebrate what you’re doing in and out of the classroom, because doing it alone is never going to push you or anything else forward. In order to scale and replicate this, you need to share it and share it with people who are like-minded and can be your thought partners in this.”

Vicki: Oh, we need thought-partners. What a great way to finish up a Thought Leader Thursday, just to challenge all of us: do you have a thought partner, and how do you exchange ideas? How do you discuss ideas, and are you willing to change and level up? Thanks, Deb!

Ramm: Thanks so much!

Contact us about the show: https://ift.tt/1jailTy

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford kymberlimulford@gmail.com

Bio as submitted


Debra Turchetti-Ramm is a 1992 graduate of Rhode Island College. She had been a fourth grade teacher for the Johnston Public School System in Rhode Island since 1997, though now serves as the JPS Instructional Technology Coordinator. She is a National Board Certified Teacher who has done a significant amount of professional development in the areas of science, math, and technology. She is President of the RI Association for Supervision, Curriculum Development and also serves as their Communications Coordinator.

In 2014, she became a state finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science and was recently recognized as a National PAEMST Finalist for Science. She created a STREAM (Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts, and Math) program for her fourth grade students, has presented at RI Science Teachers Association, and attended several summer institutes including the Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy, the American Geoscience Institute, and the Honeywell Space Academy.

In 2015 Deb was selected as a PBS Lead Digital Innovator and in 2018 she was selected as a PBS All Star. She has been both a participant and trainer for Rhode Island Teachers and Technology Initiative since 1998. Deb transformed her classroom into a blended learning environment using her class website as a launchpad, as well as laptops and iPads with her students daily. Her work with students enabled her classroom to be recognized as a Blended Learning Lighthouse Classroom, which provided personalized instruction for her students. She has presented digital storytelling and creation workshops highlighting the work of her students (often with her students) at various local forums, including the Learning First Alliance, RI Department of Education’s Innovation Powered by Technology, and the Highlander’s Blended Learning Conferences. She continues to share her technology expertise at local and national conference.

In 2016, Debra was Johnston’s District Teacher of the Year, and was a finalist for state Teacher of the Year for Rhode Island. Her new role as Instructional Technology Coordinator has her working with K-12 teachers to support the blended learning initiative within the district. Her primary focus is establishing Lighthouse Classrooms to increase the quality of teaching and learning for kindergarten through grade five classrooms. Her work was recently acknowledged in a Getting Smart podcast entitled “Network Effects Fuels Personalized Learning in Rhode Island.”

Debra is a founding member of EdUnderground, a hands-on laboratory where teachers can discover, explore, create and experiment with technology integration strategies, blended learning models, and other innovative tactics using hardware platforms and software programs to support the diverse needs of students. She is a Fuse RI Fellow, working to collaborate with the state’s districts to assess readiness, analyze data, and help disseminate best blended learning practices based on each district’s specific needs. She continues to provide support for the state’s educators as a Coach/Consultant for Highlander Institute.

Deb has appeared as a guest on the Meet Education Project Podcast and in a segment for PBS RI Classrooms. She is an advocate for personalization through blended learning, has opened her doors as a lighthouse classroom and continues to showcase JPS teachers and students as lighthouse classrooms for districts throughout the state. You can follow Deb on Twitter @Deb_Ramm.

https://ift.tt/2xMVXRT

https://ift.tt/2hOeH6r

https://ift.tt/2xZMHdp

Current

https://www.paemst.org/finalist_profile/4537

https://riascd.weebly.com/

Blog: http://jpsinstructionaltechnology.weebly.com/

Twitter: @Deb_Ramm

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. 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.” This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.

The post IT Coaches Leading Change in the Classroom appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!



From http://www.coolcatteacher.com/e329/
via Vicki Davis at coolcatteacher.com. Please also check out my show for busy teachers, Every Classroom Matters and my Free teaching tutorials on YouTube.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Helping Kids Cope with Tragedy: A Story from a Middle School Jazz Band



Meredith O'Brien on episode 328 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

One middle school had to cope with the tragic death of a classmate. This story features how one remarkable teacher and his jazz band helped a whole school cope. Author Meredith O’Brien tells the story behind her book, Mr. Clark’s Big Band: A Year of Laughter, Tears, and Jazz in a Middle School Band Room, a finalist for the Foreword INDIES book competition.

helping kids cope with tragedy meredith o'brien

Advancement Courses has more than 200 graduate level online PD courses for K-12 teachers. Go to advancementcourses.com/coolcat and use the code COOL20 at checkout for 20% off any course.

Listen Now

***

Enhanced Transcript

Helping Kids Cope with Tragedy

Link to show: www.coolcatteacher.com/e328
Date: Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Vicki: So today we’re talking with Meredith O’Brien, author of Mr. Clark’s Big Band: A Year of Laughter, Tears, and Jazz in a Middle School Band Room.

Now, Meredith, in this book you actually tackle a little bit of a difficult issue. What is the difficult topic that you’re addressing in this book?

What is the difficult topic that you’re addressing in this book?

Meredith: The difficult topic is the loss of a classmate, of a student, unexpectedly and how a school and a teacher deal with that. Unfortunately, this is something that schools have to deal with really sadly often. They have someone pass away and their students react in various ways.

In this particular case, I followed a small-town Massachusetts music teacher in the year after one of the band members in the jazz band passed away in his sleep. He had an undiagnosed heart ailment that they didn’t know was there until after he had passed away, so it’s about how the school, how a risk-taking teacher, how they helped these kids get through a difficult time of grief.

Vicki: Is this a true story?

So it’s a true story.

Meredith: It is. It is. Actually, my son was a friend of the boy, Eric Green, who passed away when my son was in seventh grade, and I followed his band, his jazz band, for my son’s eighth grade year and it’s in my hometown. It’s a true story and I spent a year shadowing these middle-school kids during their rehearsals and all their performances.

Vicki: So obviously, this is a book that could be used if a school was struggling with this?

So this could be used as a resource for other schools?

Meredith: Yes, I think so. The story of Mr. Clarke, the name of the book, focuses on this one band director. It’s where he takes tremendous emotional risks with his kids, and throughout the year, he struggled with how to get the students to not just open up and get past survivor’s guilt, but also kind of feel comfortable enough with their feelings to play their music enough in an authentic way.

It was a difficult trick for him to try to get these students through and be able to access their emotions at the same time. By the end of the year, the students told me they felt ready to go on. They still were sad about the loss of their friend, but they were ready to go on to high school, go on to their next milestone — as opposed to just feeling being bereft with survivor’s guilt, which they had had beforehand.

Vicki: You know, it’s just so difficult because some folks say “Oh, let’s just bring in counselors, it’s a once-and-done thing.”

It’s not a once-and-done thing. It is a long process, isn’t it?

Meredith: It is. It takes obviously every child… Every student is different, but for this community in particular, it took a long time. In fact, students are still coping with this loss.

Every student is different, and so is their grief.

The students who are featured in this book just finished their freshman year of college. They still get teary-eyed when we talk about the book or talk about Eric, but now at least it’s tinged with fond memories as opposed to just the pure grief that it was.

Vicki: Do you think that teachers who read this book will find strategies and advice of what works and what doesn’t?

Meredith: Absolutely. Not only did Mr. Clarke go out on a limb by, for example, letting his students see his grief, letting his students see his anger at the senseless loss of a child, but the principal of the school allowed the students to grieve in ways that maybe he didn’t feel comfortable with, but he felt that they needed.

He once told me, “If you give your students what they need, you’re never going to fail.”

“If you give your students what they need, you’re never going to fail.”

Vicki: Wow. But even educators sometimes, I think, want to pretend like things don’t happen, don’t they?

Meredith: Yeah, it’s easier that way to focus on the assignments, but the students are still in a different emotional space.

Middle school itself is an emotional roller coaster of a ride anyway, but when they’re trying to cope with grief, it just adds another layer of complexity to the whole experience.

Vicki: So, Meredith, what do you hope to accomplish with this book? I mean, it’s obviously been painful and difficult for all those you interviewed. Do you feel like it was sort of cathartic or helpful as they processed these emotions?

Was this process cathartic?

Meredith: Absolutely. I think that this is a ringing endorsement of the power of teachers who really, really care about their kids and really want to help them in any way the kids need to be helped.

I also think that, prior to this project — I still don’t play any instruments, I’m not a musician — but I learned by watching these students about the camaraderie in a band room and how much being a team member helped these particular students feel as though they were in it together.

They were in it as a team, almost like a football team or a soccer team, but they were a team of musicians. They were doing it, getting the win for their friend when they were performing this piece in honor of their friend.

Vicki: Meredith, I’m sure as people read this book they’re reaching out to you and telling you their stories. Is there anything that Mr. Clarke and those in this book do right that you wish more students would understand and do perhaps better in these circumstances? I’m sure you’re getting all types of stories of things that have gone well and maybe not so well.

Meredith: I think being honest with the students and that seems very basic, but a lot of schools and a lot of teachers are afraid to be honest just about what’s happening, what’s actually happening.

In the absence of real information, the students fill in the gaps with rumors and inaccuracies that might make them even more anxious.

In the absence of real information, students fill in the gaps
with rumors and inaccuracies

I think that listening to them and telling them the truth about what’s happening, about what the school can and cannot let them do, really just being honest and being true to them, and with them, has done wonders for these kids to get through a difficult period of time.

Vicki: Could you just give a thirty-second piece of encouragement to educators who may be dealing with this issue now or have dealt with it recently?

Meredith: The first few months are wrenching

I didn’t even start following this group of students until almost nine months after the boy passed away. The first months were just wrenching. You just have to let it be that way.

Lesson plans are going to get interrupted. Things are not going to go the way you want them to. The students may not read the assigned pages in To Kill A Mockingbird because they’re off in their own mental space thinking about their friend or thinking about the impact of this loss.

Lesson plans are going to get interrupted

Just being gentle and allowing them to feel their feelings instead of just saying, “Ope! We’re done with that,” or “Let’s fill up the student’s locker with something.”

In this particular school they allowed students to put pictures on the locker. They put up a big piece of paper where the students could write notes to him. Students were allowed to also write notes and put them in the locker, that went on for a year. So that’s a process.

I think letting the process happen organically really is a helpful thing for students going through loss.

Vicki: Well, this is a difficult topic, remarkable educators, but it is something — a lot of us included — have had to deal with. And it’s difficult.

But it is important that we realize that, as I often say, we have to relate before we educate. It’s all about that relationship.

We’re not just learning together, we’re living life together. As we live life together, tragedies do happen. It is part of teaching and part of learning and part of living, and dying is part of living.

We’re not just learning together, we’re living life together.

It’s something that we do have to help kids process and grieve and work through. So, to those of you who are struggling with this, you are loved. You’re not alone. Others have gone through it.

Again, thank you, Meredith, for coming on. The book is Mr. Clarke’s Big Band: A Year of Laughter, Tears, and Jazz in A Middle School Band Room. I very much appreciate that Mr. Clarke and all the kids were willing to be transparent and share the journey to try to help others.

Thanks, Meredith.

Meredith: Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it.

Contact us about the show: http://www.coolcatteacher.com/contact/

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford kymberlimulford@gmail.com

Bio as submitted


Meredith O’Brien is a Boston area writer and author of three books, the latest of which is Mr. Clark’s Big Band: A Year of Laughter, Tears and Jazz in a Middle School Band Room. The book — which won an Independent Publishers Book Award and is a finalist for the Foreword INDIES book competition — follows a real-life Massachusetts middle school jazz band in the year after one of the students unexpectedly passed away. Throughout the school year, the risk-taking and heart-on-his-sleeve band director, Mr. Clark, guides his students, including the author’s son, to the other side of their grief.

Mr. Clark’s Big Band has been called “endearing and inspiring” and “a timeless story, one that underlines in gold the power of the unsung heroes all around us.”

O’Brien, a former journalist and blogger, teaches journalism at Northeastern University in Boston.

Blog: mereditheobrien.com

Twitter: @MeredithOBrien

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. 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.” This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.

The post Helping Kids Cope with Tragedy: A Story from a Middle School Jazz Band appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!



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