I Did Something Scary a Few Weeks Ago

Screen Shot 2018-12-27 at 9.31.01 AMA few weeks ago, I did something scary.  I made myself vulnerable to our staff in a meeting.  I opened up about my adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).

In the late 1990’s, a doctor from the CDC and a doctor from Kaiser Permanente set out to find connections between childhood experiences and lifelong health.  They created a questionnaire and sent it to over 17,000 people in the Kaiser network.  The results were astounding.  The more adverse childhood experiences a person had, the more likely they were to have health issues.  Someone with an ACE score of 4 had twice the risk of heart disease and cancer.  Those with an ACE score of 6 or more, on average had 20 years lower life expectancy.

Of course, ACE scores don’t tally the positive experiences in early life that can help build resilience and protect a child from the effects of trauma.  Having a grandparent who loves the child or a teacher who understands and believes in the child may help mitigate the long-term effects of early trauma.

So why did I share this information with our staff?  Because many of our students are living with adverse childhood experiences right now.  How can the adults in the building help?  First, we need to be aware of the types of trauma that our students may be living with.  Then, we need to arm ourselves with strategies to help our students build resilience and coping skills.  If each staff member is “the one” for at least one student enduring trauma in the building, think about the impact we can make!

My ACE score is 4.  Thankfully, I had two teachers who took me under their wing and helped to mitigate the long-term effects of my early trauma.  I’m fully aware that my life could have gone in a different direction.  I’m also acutely sensitive to the trauma that our students endure, as a result of my own trauma.

Last week, I finally had a chance to sit down and read Hey, Kiddo: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt with Family Addiction by Jarrett J. Krosoczka.  This is a timely and profoundly important memoir, that unfortunately too many of our students will see themselves in.  But, that is exactly why it is a necessary book for our middle school and high school students.

Students who are living in a similar situation will see themselves in this graphic novel and will see how Jarrett was able to overcome his childhood trauma.  Other students will read Hey Kiddo! and will become aware of situations that some of their friends may be going through, perhaps building some empathy for their classmates.

Think about the students in your classroom or building.  Do you know them?  I mean really know them?  Do you know the trauma that some of them may endure in their homes?  As we close out 2018 and begin to edge into 2019, I will think about how I can “be the one” for the students in my building. I hope you will do the same.

©2018 by Dawn Little for My Learning Life. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Anything for Professional Development

img_0005I love to learn.  I love to teach, but, I really love to learn.  I think that’s why I’m constantly busy. . . I’m always trying new things, and want to learn new things.  I just completed my Administration and Supervision certification. Boy, did I learn from those classes and my internship!  When I began teaching I had no desire to go into administration.  I still don’t, but I sure did love taking the classes and learning about the many facets of administration.  Anything for professional development.

I tell you this about me, because I may be a little late to the party, but I just recently realized that podcasts are my “new classes.”  Over the course of my drive to and from the gym/school/home, I have listened to all of The Nerdy Bookcast (a part of The Nerdy Bookclub) and all of The Yarn (by librarian Travis Jonker and teacher Colby Sharp). While I’m anxiously awaiting the new seasons of both of these podcasts, I’m listening to the likes of Simon Sinek, Gretchen Rubin, and Daniel Pink.  See. . . constantly learning.  I’m soaking in all they have to offer on my commute each morning and evening.  And.  I.  Love.  It.

I’ve learned about new authors and their books to share with students and teachers at school.  I’ve learned about the inner workings of how a book is put together — the process, the artwork, the editorial pieces, the marketing.  All so interesting to me!  Just this morning, I learned about Gretchen Rubin’s work on habits and how to use habits to create your own happiness.  Hmm. . . Sounds a lot like living with intention to me.

So, as I drive to the gym tomorrow morning, I’m going to continue on this journey I’ve started of discovery both for myself and others.  Because I love to teach, but, I really love to learn.

Connecting Students to Books

I’m participating in the Book Love Foundation Podcast Summer Study Session and week 1 (which was last week, mind you!) was about connecting students to books.  I’m also participating in an online book club where a group of us are reading The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander.   In order to organize my thinking for both, I’m going to write more here at My Learning Life.  As you can see I’ve been a bit remiss in creating content consistently.  I hope to take some time every day to reflect on my learning life and share a little bit of it with you all.

Connecting Students to Books – Reflection on Week 1

In order to connect as humans, we need literature.  Literature helps us think, reflect, empathize, and see others’ perspectives.  So as educators, it is so important for us to share quality literature with our students; to immerse them in quality reading experiences.  I worked hard tokids reading do that when I was in the classroom.  The classroom library was the heart of our classroom.  I read aloud to students every day, we discussed books in small teacher facilitated groups every day, students participated in student facilitated literature circles every day, and students had an opportunity for choice, independent reading every day, though at that time (late 90’s) I did not confer with them about their reading, nor did I realize the importance of doing so.

Flash forward to my current position, Staff Development Teacher.  All of those books now have a home in my office.  I still have a classroom library, only this time the books are to connect with teachers (so that ultimately they connect them with students).  I am passionate about developing a passion within teachers and ultimately students.  I provide book talks at monthly staff meetings; when teachers are planning in my office, I suggest mentor texts they might want to consider.  Just the other day, we were working on our action steps for our School Improvement Plan in our Leadership meeting, and I suggested that one way we might monitor progress is by sitting side-by-side with our students as they read.

We have to make reading the center of every classroom.  This is where my work is still in progress.  What are some other ways I might be able to connect teachers with books so that they connect them with students?  While, it was the center of my classroom and I passionately believe that it should be the center of every classroom in a school, it is now my job to model and coach teachers around this idea.  So, as we embark on a new school year in a few weeks, I plan to make that one of my goals for the school year.

My core belief. . .

I believe that students need access to high quality literature every day, so I will coach and model the importance of a classroom library, the importance of the read aloud, and the importance of connecting students with books. 

©2016 by Dawn Little for My Learning Life. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.