Please note that April is the “Month of the Military Child* Read on for a guest blog from Federal Education Association President Michael Priser and find resource links at the bottom of his blog.
When we think of words like “resilience” and “courage” we often think of the men and women of our armed forces, who demonstrate these qualities daily in their efforts to keep us safe.
But – I can tell you from years of experience – those same qualities run in their families, especially in the children of military personnel. At an early age, these children learn more about sacrifice and perseverance than most of us will ever know, and it is for that reason we honor them each April during the Month of the Military Child.
As a school psychologist in Department of Defense schools for over 20 years, I’ve seen military children deal with every imaginable situation.
Whether it’s the pain of separation that comes with a parent being deployed, the anxiety of worrying for an absent parent, or the horrible realization of fears with news that a parent has been killed, virtually every child of military personnel has faced such situations or has a close friend who has done so.
Even the strongest of adults could be overcome by any of these stresses, let alone a school age child. But time and again I have seen military children bravely face these fears and many more. With strength of character that can and should be called “heroic,” these children put aside their fears when they can, and confront them when they must, to carry on with their lives as students (and all the stresses, fears and anxieties that go along with that role).
These children bravely accept the sacrifice of lost time with their military parents, whose duty may send them to the other side of the world for months at a time. Even braver, they accept the silent but ever-present realization that runs throughout the military community that such a separation could become permanent with no warning.
The courage of these children does not go unrecognized. Their parents, of course, know and love them for it; we educators who work with them daily marvel at their ability to remain “normal” kids through all of it; and the children themselves are bound together forever in the solemn and unspoken sense of honor and sacrifice that comes with being a “military brat” – a term coined long ago amongst themselves and still worn with pride.
We must never forget and always honor the courage and sacrifice of our military personnel, their families and especially their children. April, as the Month of the Military Child, gives us a formal opportunity to do so, but it is a duty the rest of us carry throughout the year.
*In 1986 the U. S. Army began the "Month of the Military Child" (MOMC). Now MOMC includes military youth of all branches. During April, designated as the Month of the Military Child, military children are applauded for the daily sacrifices they make and the challenges they overcome by being a part of a military family. The Department of Education, the Department of Defense, the entire federal government and all sectors of our communities are asked to honor military children by providing a variety of resources, programs and opportunities to show their support.
There are numerous ways that schools and communities can honor military-connected students during the Month of the Military Child. The Department of Defense Education Activity’s (DoDEA) has resources that can be found at their website including the:
- Students at the Center guidebook; This Web site outlines the important policies, procedures, and best practices that will enable military families, military leaders, and school leaders to provide military-connected children the best possible support for success
- The DoDEA Grant Program; grants for research-based programs that aim to increase student achievement and ease the challenges that military children face due their parents military service.
- Special Education Professional Development Summer Seminars; The Educational Partnership Program, through a contract with Cambium Learning Group, has provided special education professional development for over 700 educators and administrators at LEAs serving military-connected students through nine face-to-face training opportunities around the country.
- School Liaison Program; A General description of School Liaison Program for military-connected local education agencies and school liaison(s) at each military location.
- Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children; These resources will help military-connected students with transition issues addressed by the Interstate Compact< > and other concerns.
Source: U.S. Department of Education
Texting and driving, a deadly combination. According to a recent survey, 97% of teens know that texting while driving is dangerous, but 43% admit to doing it! As we start a new school year, it’s the perfect time to think about what you can do to help keep our kids safe. Are you setting a good example or do you text while you drive…that includes sneaking a peek at that phone. NEA President Dennis Van Roekel spoke for all of us when he said:
When texting and driving, disaster can happen in the blink of an eye—so it is up to all of us to urge young drivers not to text from the moment they put a car key in the ignition. That’s why the National Education Association supports AT&T’s campaign, “It Can Wait.” Reflecting our members’ commitment to students, NEA encourages educators, parents, teens, and everyone to sign the It Can Wait pledge. A text can wait. The health and safety and lives of students cannot.
Find out more about what you can do to help keep the teens in your life. And don’t text and drive!
If you are planning on attending the 2012 NEA ESP Conference next week, we can't wait to see you. NEA HIN is pleased to once again be joining Education Support Professionals from around the country. We are looking forward to seeing many friends from past conferences and meeting new ones. As in the past, we will be in the exhibit area with resources and materials to help ESPs create safe, healthy, great public schools for all.
NEA HIN staff will also be presenting two workshops as part of the Skill-Based Learning Professional Development Track. On Saturday afternoon at 2:45 pm Lisa Creighton will be presenting Healthy Kids Learn Better: Why and How to Improve School Food. Making sure that kids have access to healthy, wholesome foods at school can impact both health and behavior. This highly interactive session will focus on the importance of nutrition for child health, programs to improve access to school meals (such as breakfast in the classroom) and the quality of school food (such as farm-to-school). The session will also cover some of the things being done at the local, state, and federal level to improve school food. The session will focus on the ways that ESPs can help students, while building strong community partnerships.
On Sunday morning at 8:15 am, NEA HIN Executive Director Jerry Newberry will present, School Security Officers:Making a Difference for At-Risk Students. Participants in this session will address the critical role of the school security officer in support of at-risk students. Through discussion and activities, participants will address the needs of at-risk students and discuss the unique challenges of the students they work with. The session will focus on building bridges with families and community resources to support student success.
We hope to see you at the conference and copies of the presentations will be available on our website after the conference.
I remember the first time I used a computer. I was working as the Development Director at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, NC and it was the mid-eighties. I was writing grant proposals on my beloved yellow pads, and the grants were getting funded. That was, after all, what I had been hired to do. Write proposals and get them funded. So when the VP to whom I reported equipped the office with computers and said he wanted me to use one in my writing, I declined. I told him that I wrote best using a yellow pad. He told me again that he wanted me to try using the computer. Again, I declined. Finally, he explained that he was my boss and he wanted me to use the computer, and, finally, I got it. So I tried, and after a week or so, I couldn't imagine writing any other way. Bye, bye yellow pad.
Well, my computer skills have never been that great, and I am still very nervous about using technology. So, when the Kindle was introduced, I had absolutely no interest in replacing my beloved books with such a thing. In fact, I have only touched one a time or two--it's rather like the tabloid newspapers in the checkout line at the grocery store. I feel OK about reading the headlines while I am waiting, but I never pick one up. It feels like something unpleasant will happen if I do. I know--weird.
So, when my husband asked if I would like a Kindle (or one of its relations) for a holiday gift, I declined. "I must touch a book and turn its pages," I explained. And I knew that many people felt that way--including my kid sister, Susan. (Doesn't matter how old we get, she will still be my kid sister.) She and I share a love of reading, and often are reading the same book at the same time without realizing it. Or she will have just finished one as I start it, and we can share some great conversations about our favorite fictional characters. So, imagine how shocked I was when she told me yesterday that she asked for a Kindle for Christmas. "It will never be the same," I thought. She then started to explain how long the wait is to get books for the Kindle from her library. Apparently, there are an awful lot of people using these things, and she is becoming one of them. Now, I'm wondering....
Kids are so tech-savvy that it is awesome. They seem to find using technology as easy as breathing. One of the things that this level of sophistication can bring, though, is vulnerability to people who don't have the kids' best interests at heart. In response to that challenge, NEA HIN has been offering a wonderful website for parents and educators in order to help them keep kids safer on line. The site is called bNetSavvy and I do commend it to your attention. If you have afew minutes over the holidays, please check it out. I think you will be glad you did.
So, that's it for now. Once again, happy holidays to all. And I'll let you know if I ever change my mind about the Kindle.
Recently, Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project came out with a report about the types of experiences teens are having online and how they are addressing negative behavior they see or experience. In this report, Pew Internet tries to navigate an important question concerning what makes a good or bad “digital citizen” in an increasingly technology-based world. According to the report, 95% of all teens ages 12-17 are now online and 80% of those online teens are users of social media sites.
Other findings include that the majority of social media-using teens say their peers are mostly kind to one another online, as opposed to social media-using adults whose views were less positive. Overall, 88% of teens who use social media have witnessed other people being mean or cruel on social media sites, while 69% of adults using social media witnessed cruel or mean behavior. With these high numbers, I feel our society could benefit from an Internet “time out” for users who misbehave online.
However, what is most fascinating about the statistics above is that of the 88% of teens and 69% of adults who witnessed mean behavior online, the majority of them ignore it! A majority of teens say their own reaction has been to ignore mean behavior that they see online. This issue of standing around and not taking action when someone is being teased or bullied needs to be addressed, especially when it is happening online. Teens need to feel empowered to do the right thing and be encouraged to not be bystanders. They need strong role models to look up to on how to act and trust that they have someone reliable to turn to when someone is being bullyed or cyberbullyed.
The Pew Internet report noted that teens need more guidance from parents, educators, and their peers about online behaviors and coping with challenging experiences. 95% of social media-using teens who have witnessed cruel behavior online have seen others ignore it. However, 84% of social media-using teens stated that they have also seen people defend the person being harassed and tell someone to stop. Despite the high likelihood of teens seeing bystanders responding positively by standing up for or defending the attacked individual, they are also likely to witness others joining in on the mean behavior.
This report drew attention to the fact that most teens depend a great deal on parents and peers for advice about online behaviors and coping with challenging experiences. 86% of online and cell phone using-teens say that they have received general advice about how to use the Internet responsibly and safely from their parents. 70% of online and cell phone using-teens say that they have gotten advice about internet safety from teachers or another adult at school. These statistics are high considering the number of teens who receive information about Internet safety but a notable number of teens still engage in online practices that may have the potential to compromise their safety online. Parents and educators need better guidance and information to know how to talk to and protect teens from online predators and cyberbullying.
The findings from this Pew Internet report are important to our work in empowering school professionals with the right information about health and safety issues. This report was presented at FOSI’s (Family Online Safety Institute) 2011 annual conference held in Washington, D.C., and was entitled “Strategies for Safe and Healthy Online Use.”
bNetS@vvy, a project of NEA HIN, is a comprehensive Internet safety website that provides tools for adults to help kids connect safely online. Recently, bNetS@vvy launched a brand new website that strives to help tweens better understand the risks and benefits associated with the Internet and educates guardians and educators about the power of Internet use. The website offers useful tools exploring the issues that confront families and educators, including topics like cyberbullying, sexting, consumer privacy, and social networking. Because it is written by experts, educators, parents, and kids, the information on bNetS@vvy provides multiple perspectives on very important issues.
Read the Pew Internet report, ask your child or students if they have ever witnessed mean or cruel behavior online and how they responded, and check out bNetS@vvy for practical tools and tips about how to be a good “digital citizen”.
For a summary of the Pew Internet report click here.
Since its inception, bNetS@vvy has been helping tweens better understand the risks and benefits associated with the Internet and educating guardians and educators regarding the power of Internet use. Now bNetS@vvy is proud to announce their new and improved website. This new website features Internet safety articles, access to become a guest blogger, and an “Ask the Expert” section.
Schools and educators need to know how to keep kids smart and safe when they are online. bNetS@vvy is a one-stop shop that offers tools exploring the issues that confront families and educators around topics like cyberbullying, sexting, consumer privacy, and social networking. Because it is written by experts, educators, parents, and kids the information on bNetS@vvy provides multiple perspectives on very important issues.
bNetS@vvy is a program run through NEA HIN and Sprint’s 4NetSafety program. Program Coordinator Jamila Boddie has been working with NEA HIN and its members for over five years, with the last two years focusing solely on online safety. Jamila has experience with the issue of Internet safety from a parental point of view and through her encounters and trainings with educators, parents, and students about the ways they view and use the Internet. Jamila believes that “communication is essential to ensure safe and smart Internet behaviors.”
Get involved with Internet safety in your community, ask questions, share your story, tell us what you think of the new website and above all don’t stop the conversation around Internet safety!
June is Internet Safety Month and in many places, the beginning of summer vacation. For us here at NEA HIN that means a renewed focus on helping kids be safe and smart online. That can be a challenge. I became a parent in the days before the Internet, but my children are digital natives. They have grown up with access to an online world that I could not have imagined 27 years ago. This world allows them and us to reach out to people all over the world. I have used it to build friendships with people five time-zones away.
But this world has its risks and part of our job as educators and parents it to help our children build the skills they need to be successful adults. This includes understanding and following the common sense safety tips that all of us should follow on the Internet, whether we get there by means of a desktop computer or the latest smart phone or tablet.
Over at our BNetS@vvy.org website, Summertime in Cyberspace, provides important tips for helping your child be safe this summer. My top tip is know what your child is doing and where she or he is going online. Have a happy summer.
In partnership with the Be A STAR Anti-bullying Campaign, the National Education Association Health Information Network is proud to introduce a new complimentary teaching resources for educators. The compelling new film, That's What I Am, touches on the problem of bullying in schools and communities. Staring Academy Award-nominated actor Ed Harris, the film presents a moving and thought provoking exploration of the ways that bullying can impact people of all ages. It also shows the courage of students and educators in the face of bullying.
The instructional activities presented in this resource guide help teach middle school students about bullying and cyberbullying, the pillars of good character, and social equality. Through self-reflection about the positive examples of moral character represented in the movie, students can begin to develop the skills and tools to prevent bullying, to not be a bystander. The program features:
- Free downloadable clips from That's What I Am for classroom use
- Free Educational Resource Guide with film synopsis, classroom lessons, and resource section
- Nine cross-references learning themes with instructions activities and student activity sheets
- That's What I Am reflective journal
- Suggested inter-disciplinary anti-bullying framework
- Tied to national education standards in Language Arts, Social Studies, and Health
- Suggested for grades 6-8
To access the Educational Resource Guide visit Be a STAR. To take a stand against bullying visit the NEA's campaign, Bully Free: It Starts With Me. More resource on cyberbullying and digital safety can be found at bNet@vvy.org