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Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Teacher-Student Relationship Epidemic

It's an embarrassing epidemic that no one wants to talk about--teacher-student relationships. Unfortunately, the numbers continue to rise, and so much so that the statistics are alarming! 

A 2015 study, "Have Teacher-Student Sex Crimes Become a National Crisis?"  quoted Terry Abbot, a public relations executive and former chief of staff for the U.S. Department of Education, who said, "School districts need to take this issue seriously,” Abbott says over the phone from an education conference in Austin, Texas. “They need to understand that this is a real issue, a crisis, and they need to attack it as such.” 

Since there is no state or national reporting system for teacher-student relationships, it is hard to track and stop abusers. Often times, local news media stations air reports of misconduct, but a teacher moves on to another district or state and begins a pattern of abuse all over again. A proper state and federal tracking system needs to implemented and enforced. 

In order for a state and national tracking system to work, however, administrators and districts must be willing to report teacher-student relationships as crimes. Since such incidents give districts black marks, this step is often skipped. Also, these crimes may not make it to courts for prosecution. Proving misconduct can be costly, difficult, and time consuming to all parties involved. Guidelines need to be established that properly define levels and punishments of teacher-student relationships. 

An article, "State Officials Open Up About the Increase in Inappropriate Student-Teacher Relationships" by KFOR News Channel 4 in Oklahoma City offers parents a list of warning signs:

  • studying with a teacher late in the evening
  • teacher asks student to come over to her/his house to get help
  • student wants to hang out with a teacher more than other adults
  • getting gifts from a teacher
Social media is making it harder for administrators and districts to catch offenders. According to the Channel 4 report, more than "91% of students" are online. Teachers and students are using programs that go undetected or messages suddenly disappear after being read. Laura Callahan, with Teachers Education Association in Texas, said in an article titled, "State Agency Wants Help Preventing Student, Teacher Relationships", that "Probably 99% of cases that come across the investigators desks, of an inappropriate relationships, have something to do with social media or electronic media." Better social media school policies and enforcement appears to be piece of the puzzle when it comes to solving teacher-student relationships. 

It is hard to combat an epidemic when no one is talking about the problem. Until administrators and districts agree to take the issue seriously, there is little hope the teacher-student relationship epidemic will decline. 

Help become part of the solution to the teacher-student relationship by educating students and teachers about the epidemic.

"5,000 teens a year end up in abuse of power relationships" and stories from teens were weaved into the fictional tale of Natalie: Diary of a Senior Year. The book is a coming-of-age mystery that addresses today's teenage social issues of abortion, addiction, love, and revenge.

Senior year was supposed to be Natalie’s best with prom, high school graduation, and plans for college taking place. Then unexpectedly, the senior’s death shocked the community. Was it murder or suicide? When fifteen-year-old Tallie finds her cousin’s hidden diary, the investigation heats up, and summer vacation provides the perfect opportunity to uncover the mysterious death. But Tallie soon realizes her cousin is not the person the family thought she was. The secrets that are discovered may haunt the community for the rest of its life. 

A sensual coming-of-age novel written in chapter and diary format, Natalie: Diary of a Senior Year explores the inner turmoil young women often face in today’s society.

Be sure to apply age appropriate guidelines when reading this novel.


This week's Educator Helper TpT FREEBIE:

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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Halloween Writing Freebies Abound

Happy Halloween!
Educator Helper

Click here to preview all of Educator Helper's Halloween lessons and activities:

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Set the Mood for Halloween Writings

Let creativity flourish this Halloween with some fun individual and group writings! To get students in the mood to create spooky stories, decorate your classroom with these fun ideas:

1. Let students decorate--set a theme for each class wall then let students do the work. Pre-plan by having students envision their final wall scenes then draw these on plain paper. Have lots of Halloween themed handouts on hand for students to make and display. 

2. Dim the lights--opt for flashlights, battery operated tealights, glow in the dark sticks, and desk lamps to help students get in the Halloween mood. Students love using alternative lighting, so place plenty of these on desks, rugs, and tables.

3. Ditch traditional seating--bring in blankets, rugs, and large towels for students to lounge on while they do their eerie writings. 

4. Music is a must! YouTube has plenty of eerie Halloween writing music. Choose one with lots of different sounds then have students listen and write down as many sounds as possible. Next, have students choose ten words from their lists to include in their writings. A Halloween word bank will keep students' writings focused on the holiday theme. 

5. Add edibles--include snacks that are healthy yet Halloween themed, such as apples, popcorn, pretzels, and pumpkin seeds. Many schools have banned outside foods, so check policies, be aware of allergies, and play it safe. Your school's cafeteria manager can help when it comes to setting up special food displays. 

6. Fog machine and LCD projector scenes--these easy to set-up and use machines can change an ordinary classroom into an extraordinary holiday setting. These are in high demand, so purchase your fog machine or projector early in the season. 

Now that your classroom is ready, it's time to find great writing prompts for Halloween. Educator Helper has what you need to get students' creative storywriting skills flowing!

Happy Halloween!
Educator Helper

Halloween Activities:

Halloween Coloring Sheets
Eerie Writing Prompts
Write a Halloween Story with Word Bank
Get Fit Action Story: Frank N. Stein's Haunted House
Wacky Wayne's Halloween I-Spy
Halloween Count, Color, and Match

FREE Halloween Handouts:

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Fall Festivals Abound in October

Do you know where to find the best fall festivals? If not, then Educator Helper can help you with lots of free fall activities for kids and adults! 

Here are some links to help you sort out fall fun:

1. Country Living magazine--okay, so it's really for adults, but the list is full of large festivals across the U.S. 

2. Travel Channel is ready to give a complete fall holiday fun list if you are in the mood to do some driving or flying.

3. Fodor's--the focus is on food! You can't go wrong with this list...

4. 10 Best--it's a list of the top 10 fall festivals from 2015, so browse and find your favorite.

5. Children's Fall Festivals--there's no link here because you need to check your local Chamber of Commerce, schools, and religious institutions to get the best in your area. Check out churches, daycares, schools, hospitals, and your community/neighborhood centers to find the best fall festival in your local area. 

Fall is full of fun for all, so make the best of it by visiting a fall festival near and far!

Educator Helper

FREE TpT Fall Product:

Falling Leaf Spelling Activity

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Three Things to Know about Changing Jobs from ISD to Higher Ed

Are you thinking of making a teaching change from a public independent school district to a higher education setting? Before you do so, let's take a look at some important information:

1. Education
Did you know you need 18 hours of masters or higher level courses in the discipline you want to teach? For example, if you would like to teach math then you need 18 graduate hours in that specific area. Education courses (listed under EDUC) do not count as discipline specific unless you are teaching in the School of Education. A mistake I almost made was getting my masters degree in English education rather than in English Composition and Rhetoric. If my English courses fell under EDUC, I would not qualify to teach college level composition courses under higher education regulations. This is a costly career error made by many public school teachers who are under the impression EDUC courses will suffice when applying for a college level job.

2. Pay
There's a myth that pay is much higher at the college level. While this may be true in many regions of the United States, it is not true in Oklahoma or Texas where I currently teach. In fact, my pay cut from the ISD was about $3,000.00 while a new employee sitting next to me also coming from an independent school district took a $10,000.00 pay cut! Why the differences? Perhaps in Oklahoma and Texas it is the classification of employees from district to state that make the difference. State benefits packages are vastly different, and better, under state guidelines. Yet, it will take years for me to recoup the losses from my monthly ISD paycheck. Also, at the college I am employed at, we are paid once per month versus twice per month at the ISD I worked at. Pay raises, so far over the last eight years at the college I work at, have only offset increases in health insurance, retirement contributions, and federal taxes. "Going Backwards" is the best way to describe my last seven years paychecks--so, weigh your pay options carefully!

3. Time
It's true--I have more time to spend on creating critical thinking, high-interest
lesson plans! My first year at the college level was an adjustment after teaching middle school. No parents to deal with, no high stakes testing, no classroom behavior issues, no sick kids, no fights to break up, no before and after school duties, no IEPs... Need I go on? I work a four day work week, teach five classes, do 7 1/2 hours of office time per week, and enjoy my time off. Of course, there are meetings and professional development days, but compare this to the daily grind of ISD teaching and yearly teaching requirements!

There are lots of differences between teaching at an ISD and college, so be sure to thoroughly do your homework before making a career change.

Happy Transitioning!
Educator Helper

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