Saturday, March 18, 2017

"Your child is capable of things NO ONE can predict." Natan Gendelman, D.O.M.P.



I was fortunate to be invited to a PNC women's event to hear Dr. Dana Suskind, renowned cochlear implant surgeon, speak about the 30 Million Word Gap, a program with which I was unfamiliar. PNC partners with DR. suskind and the Thirty Million Words initiative. (Please see  http://thirtymillionwords.org or more information.) This initiative encourages parents to speak more words to their babies and children; a good analogy is to compare new words going into the child's brain with coins being deposited into a child's piggy bank. Both are enriching the child and helping to shape the child's future. This initiative comes after a study  by Hart and Ridley, which shows that children from professional families hear approximately 30 million more words by age 3 than children from welfare families. This information is STUNNING. (Please see http://literacy.rice.edu/thirty-million-word-gap for more information about this study.)   

In the program Dr. Suskind presented, she discussed parents' use of the "Three T's" - Tune in, Talk more, and Take turns. According to Dr. Suskind, "Tuning in" asks you to notice what a child is doing, and get involved, including cooing to your child and answering when a baby or child communicates.  "Talking more" requires you to talk about what you are doing, even if you are changing a diaper! "Taking turns", Dr. Suskind said, means looking at your child as a conversational partner, and to take turns talking, and even responding to gestures and sounds from your baby. Dr. Dana Suskind noticed this: n her surgically implanted cochlear patients,  she noted that the cochlear implants did not truly benefit the child unless they were learning new words. The child's brain power is dependent on how many words the parents speak to the child. This was a very compelling presentation, and I was so inspired! Dr. Suskind even authored a book about the subject, titled THIRTY MILLION WORDS - BUILDING A CHILD'S BRAIN.

I was an English teacher for 37 years, and through the years, I noticed deficiencies in the general vocabulary of some students in my classes.  By the time a student is in the 10th grade, it is impossible to pinpoint how long and at what age that student began to fall behind. Teaching students who are behind is always a push to "make up" for deficiencies, and to try to have the student learn more and learn faster to close that gap. Students with a better command of the English language performed better in class and made better grades, for the most part.  I can tell you that owning and using a large vocabulary, as a student or as an adult, is a gift that propels a person forward in school, college, and in the job market.

Many teachers read my weekly posts, which is why I chose the Thirty Million Words as my subject this week.  I am so impressed with the Thirty Million Words initiative to close the gap that I wanted to share this information with all of you.  Child caregivers, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors, and siblings all have the ability to improve a child's vocabulary and intelligence from the day the child is born!  For me, as a teacher, as one who enjoys learning, and as a person who identifies as a lifelong learner, I am inspired by this initiative! Please share the news about The Thirty Million Words with others in your circle so we can help to make today's babies and toddlers smarter and more successful students and adults!   

To learn more, please visit http://thirtymillionwords.org.

Here is a link to an interesting article about Dr. Suskind's book in USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/2015/10/18/baby-talk-brain-programs/73808670/

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. Rittman Publishing, LLC ®

You can find many strategies for teaching in Dede's book. Visit Dede's webpage for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER. Many colleges have made the book required readingSigned copies are available  www.dederittman.com or on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Student-Teaching-Inside-Master-Teacher/dp/1633850102 

Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics. 

I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books.  Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self.  However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired! 

GRADY GETS GLASSES was the winner of Best New Children's Book 2016 from The Authors' Zone. For more information about The Authors' Zone, please visit http://www.theauthorszone.com/submissions/  


Elementary teachers in Western Pennsylvania and beyond - I am willing to come into your classroom in person or as a virtual field trip through a group called Field Trip Zoom.  Check them out!  http://www.fieldtripzoom.com/ 

Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book.  I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading.  Please email me at dederittman@gmail.com  The website www.gradygetsglasses.com now has plush Grady bunnies for sale!

Please like Dede's new page Grady Gets Glasses for updates about her children's book. https://www.facebook.com/gradygetsglasses?ref=hl 

Connect with Dede!

Twitter       @dederittman
Periscope   @dederittman
Facebook   Dede Faltot Rittman; Grady Gets Glasses; Student Teaching: The Inside Scoop from a Master Teacher 
LinkedIn   Dede Rittman
Google +   Dede Rittman
Tumblr      The Bunny Teacher
Instagram   dede_rittman and Gradygetsglasses 
Pinterest   Rittman Publishing, LLC ® 









Sunday, March 12, 2017

"Passionate hearts committed to a shared vision can accomplish the impossible." Paul Chucks





I was listening to a talk show on the radio last week, and the topic was our broken educational system.  Statistics were quoted that a significant percent of students who graduate from the Pittsburgh Public Schools need remediation before enrolling in classes at Community College of Allegheny County, which means they need help with reading and writing. I find that to be unacceptable. 

Many people speak about the differences in dollars spent on students and "blame" failing districts for not spending enough money on the kids. Throwing money at this problem will not work, because the problem is not about money; it is about strong leadership, involvement, taking ownership, and an investment in the school. 

I was a teacher for 37 years; 2 years in the Penn Hills School district, and 35 years in the nationally ranked North Allegheny School District.  I enjoyed both positions, and I knew excellent teachers and terrific students at each one, but the two districts had different cultures.The radio show host asked people to call in and discuss how to improve education. I was on my way to a meeting and could not call in, but I have put together a few thoughts from those 37 years of experiences.

First, schools are the microcosms of society.  As society and rules have changed and become more laxed, schools have changed. To make schools better, leaders must be strong and institute changes, and let the students and the community know that the "norm" is no longer the "norm"; because the school wants to be better than that- they are raising their standards! 

A school district must be headed by a leader who believes in high standards for both students and teachers.  The leader must be able to articulate these standards, and provide a method for educating the staff for implementing these standards. A strategic vision and plan must be in place, so that everyone is onboard the same train and headed in the same direction. Professional Development for teachers must be provided, so the teachers feel confident to share and discuss the strategic plan of the leader and the district with students, parents, and colleagues. Without a plan, the district is a boat in the water being tossed in a storm; with no compass, no sail, and no defined destination, the boat will never arrive, and students will not meet with success.

Each individual school building must have a principal who can follow the strategic plan of the district, and lead his staff to success using his own methods.  The principal must outline his high expectations for the staff and the students, and encourage teachers to create a syllabus with their requirements for student success.  I know from teaching 37 years that students will meet the teacher's expectations- regardless of how high or how low those expectations are.  Expect more- and students will perform their best.  Of course, teachers are going to have to work very hard and give their best, as well. Confidence, communication, and creativity must be the components that drive the lessons, engaging every learner every time. I suggest teacher collaboration, sharing lessons and ideas to spark the imagination, and teach with such passion and excitement that students will begin to love learning. 

Education works best when the teacher, the school, the student, and the parent(s) all work together.  The school should hold informal coffees; invite parents into the school; send home communiques about the exciting things happening in the school, and ask for parental input. Keep communication lines with parents open and positive. Administrators should do everything they can to connect with parents, including offering child care during parent meetings. many single parents want to help their children, but they can't because of younger children. Perhaps the principal and the superintendent could meet parents informally at a local coffee shop. Schools MUST get the parents involved with the school! Teachers should try to put themselves in the parents' shoes, and remember something my former principal, John Schwoebel, told our staff many years ago:  "The parents are sending us the best children they have to send."  Puts everything into perspective, does it not?  All parents love their children and want them to be treated with respect and kindness.  I have yet to meet a parent who does not want more for his children than what he has been able to achieve. When teachers set high standards, they are actually appealing to parents' wishes and dreams. I watched this work for 37 years.

Teachers must be given time to collaborate on lessons and curriculum, and they must be provided with real professional development classes that make them better at their craft, not development classes that are so boring and offer no substance. Teaching is a lonely profession, and collaboration, sharing materials and ideas, offering and accepting assistance, and team teaching are all ways to avoid teacher burnout. Teaching for me is both a passion and a calling, and throughout my teaching career, and even in my new career as author, speaker, teacher, I work to become better at my craft. Districts must help their teachers to become the best teachers they can be, which will improve the student grades, attitudes and test scores.

Students who are identified as below grade level must receive remediation immediately, so they can get to the expected grade level, rather than being passed along year after year.  I suggest getting the parents involved immediately, and asking for their help and support. No parent really wants his child to be behind; consequences of deficiency must be explained to both the child and the parent, and addressed immediately.  

No student can learn on an empty stomach.  Schools must provide for the kids who are not getting enough to eat at home, and the government provides many programs for this assistance. Students need to be nurtured by a caring staff; they must feel safe and comfortable and wanted. Students must learn to trust teachers and view them as guides for their futures; this trust must be earned by the teachers.  Teachers must treat students with respect, caring, and compassion, and feel and show empathy for their students. Teaching is all about relationships, and student performance will increase when students feel that the teacher 'likes" them.  Trust will help students who are victims of abuse and poor parenting to ask for needed help; teachers will never know how many lives they may save because of the trust factor.

Schools can improve, but only with a huge investment of personal and professional time, passion, collaboration, non-threatening meetings, solid and positive leadership, the creation of positive relationships among teachers, students, parents, and administrators, and a belief in a shared goal. 


As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. Rittman Publishing, LLC ®

You can find many strategies for teaching in Dede's book. Visit Dede's webpage for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER. Many colleges have made the book required readingSigned copies are available  www.dederittman.com or on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Student-Teaching-Inside-Master-Teacher/dp/1633850102 

Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics. 

I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books.  Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self.  However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired! 

GRADY GETS GLASSES was the winner of Best New Children's Book 2016 from The Authors' Zone. For more information about The Authors' Zone, please visit http://www.theauthorszone.com/submissions/  


Elementary teachers in Western Pennsylvania and beyond - I am willing to come into your classroom in person or as a virtual field trip through a group called Field Trip Zoom.  Check them out!  http://www.fieldtripzoom.com/ 

Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book.  I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading.  Please email me at dederittman@gmail.com  The website www.gradygetsglasses.com now has plush Grady bunnies for sale!

Please like Dede's new page Grady Gets Glasses for updates about her children's book. https://www.facebook.com/gradygetsglasses?ref=hl 

Connect with Dede!

Twitter       @dederittman
Periscope   @dederittman
Facebook   Dede Faltot Rittman or Rittman Rules
LinkedIn   Dede Rittman
Google +   Dede Rittman
Tumblr      The Bunny Teacher
Instagram   dede_rittman 
Pinterest   Rittman Publishing, LLC ® 




















Saturday, March 4, 2017

"Prejudice is a learned trait. You're not born prejudiced; you're taught it." Charles R. Swindoll




As you know, I was a classroom teacher for 37 years, and I worked with students in grades 9,10,11, and 12.  Presenting to students in grades K, 1, 2, and 3 with my children's book, GRADY GETS GLASSES has been a real eye-opener!  (Also- I am glad I taught high school all those years- the youngest students are so much work!)

Something I have noticed at every school where I have presented is the overall acceptance of the students:  for Grady, for me, for my presentation, and for each other. The children I have seen are friendly, inclusive, and caring. I have never seen any signs of bullying or discrimination in the year or so I have been presenting at elementary schools.  

You might remember a song from Rodgers and Hammerstein's SOUTH PACIFIC called "You've Got to Be Taught."   Lt. Cable sings the song in the show, and the message is that prejudice is taught, and not inborn.  I believe that is true.  

Here are the words to the song, from https://genius.com/Richard-rodgers-youve-got-to-be-carefully-taught-lyrics


You've got to be taught to hate and fear
You've got to be taught from year to year
It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade
You've got to be carefully taught

You've got to be taught before it's too late
Before you are six or seven or eight
To hate all the people your relatives hate
You've got to be carefully taught

To hear the song from the show, click here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diYlHI8Ghkg

This week on the news, two dear little best-friend 5 year old boys, one black and one white, decided to "trick" their teacher.  The white boy got his hair cut very short-so that he would look "just like" his best friend, and the teacher would not be able to tell them apart!  Such innocence is so refreshing that this story has gone viral!  If you have not seen the clip, please take a minute to watch it.  I promise this clip will be the best thing you see all day. http://www.today.com/parents/boy-wants-haircut-look-his-friend-trick-teacher-t108795 

As teachers and parents, we model the behavior for our children to learn.  How wonderful that these two friends have no preconceived notions about prejudice, and that their innocence and friendship can teach the rest of the world about getting along!

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. Rittman Publishing, LLC ®

You can find many strategies for teaching in Dede's book. Visit Dede's webpage for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER. Many colleges have made the book required readingSigned copies are available  www.dederittman.com or on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Student-Teaching-Inside-Master-Teacher/dp/1633850102 

Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics. 

I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books.  Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self.  However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired! 

GRADY GETS GLASSES was the winner of Best New Children's Book 2016 from The Authors' Zone. For more information about The Authors' Zone, please visit http://www.theauthorszone.com/submissions/  


Elementary teachers in Western Pennsylvania and beyond - I am willing to come into your classroom in person or as a virtual field trip through a group called Field Trip Zoom.  Check them out!  http://www.fieldtripzoom.com/ 

Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book.  I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading.  Please email me at dederittman@gmail.com  The website www.gradygetsglasses.com now has plush Grady bunnies for sale!

Please like Dede's new page Grady Gets Glasses for updates about her children's book. https://www.facebook.com/gradygetsglasses?ref=hl 

Connect with Dede!

Twitter       @dederittman
Periscope   @dederittman
Facebook   Dede Faltot Rittman or Rittman Rules
LinkedIn   Dede Rittman
Google +   Dede Rittman
Tumblr      The Bunny Teacher
Instagram   dede_rittman 
Pinterest   Rittman Publishing, LLC ® 











Saturday, February 25, 2017

What is the climate in your classroom?

Graphic by The Innovative Instructor 


Although February is the shortest month of the year, February usually seems like the longest and snowiest month to live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Schools normally have a day or two off for inclement weather, along with some two-hour delays.  Pittsburghers mostly loathe February.  

But not this year. We have just experienced a weather miracle in Pittsburgh!  For over a week, our daily highs have been between 60 and a record-breaking 76 - which is our average temperature for June 3!  Golf courses are open; the park is full of bicycles and joggers; no one is wearing a light jacket, let alone a winter coat!  And the people are rejuvenated!  Passing strangers make small talk about the weather, and everyone is smiling.  It seems as though the good weather has provided people with a positive attitude adjustment! 

All of this good weather has made me think about classroom weather. Every classroom has a climate, created by the teacher.  It is the teacher who decides upon rain clouds or sunshine; windstorms or beautiful sunsets. Since everyone likes sunny and favorable weather the best, teachers must strive to make their classroom climate welcoming and appealing, and a place where students want to be.

What can teachers do to affect their classroom climates?  Teachers can stand at the door and welcome students as they enter. They can make small talk about the big game, or give a compliment for a new shirt or haircut. Teachers can look students in the eyes, and really listen when a student is talking. Teachers can encourage all students, especially those who seem to have given up.  Teachers can set high standards for students, and applaud their efforts when students meet those expectations.  Teachers can be organized and prepared, have good control, and enjoy a give and take with the class, to make sure everyone feels important.  Teachers can be sure that every learner is included, and provide extra effort to include those who seem to want to be on the periphery. Teachers can get to know their students as people, not just as students, and those positive relationships will make the classroom climate even sunnier.

Teaching is a difficult job, to be sure, as teachers work so hard to meet the needs of every student. I can say for sure, however, that if teachers can create a positive classroom climate, tardiness and absenteeism will diminish, and grades will improve.  I urge all teachers to give a little more effort toward improving the disposition of their classrooms, because when it's sunny in class, the day flies by, and everyone is happier.  

I would love to know your results, should you try to make your classroom even sunnier.  I know the strategies above worked for me for the 37 years I was a classroom teacher.  

Here's to sunshine in your classroom!

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. Rittman Publishing, LLC ®

You can find many strategies for teaching in Dede's book. Visit Dede's webpage for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER. Many colleges have made the book required readingSigned copies are available  www.dederittman.com or on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Student-Teaching-Inside-Master-Teacher/dp/1633850102 

Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics. 

I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books.  Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self.  However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired! 

GRADY GETS GLASSES was the winner of Best New Children's Book 2016 from The Authors' Zone. For more information about The Authors' Zone, please visit http://www.theauthorszone.com/submissions/  


Elementary teachers in Western Pennsylvania and beyond - I am willing to come into your classroom in person or as a virtual field trip through a group called Field Trip Zoom.  Check them out!  http://www.fieldtripzoom.com/ 

Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book.  I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading.  Please email me at dederittman@gmail.com  The website www.gradygetsglasses.com now has plush Grady bunnies for sale!

Please like Dede's new page Grady Gets Glasses for updates about her children's book. https://www.facebook.com/gradygetsglasses?ref=hl 

Connect with Dede!

Twitter       @dederittman
Periscope   @dederittman
Facebook   Dede Faltot Rittman or Rittman Rules
LinkedIn   Dede Rittman
Google +   Dede Rittman
Tumblr      The Bunny Teacher
Instagram   dede_rittman 
Pinterest   Rittman Publishing, LLC ® 








Saturday, February 18, 2017

"Their goal wasn't to stand out because of their differences; it was to fit in because of their talent." Margot Lee Shetterly, "Hidden Figures"


I saw the film HIDDEN FIGURES last week, and the lessons in that film are so numerous that my mind is still spinning, filled with flashback images and lines from the movie.  I may even return to see it for a second time! 

I was living in Natrona Heights, PA, and I was just 9 years old in 1961, when the film opens. The racial divide was great, and it hurt my heart to see the manner in which white people treated others who were not white.  Pennsylvania did not have the signs that read "White Only" and "Colored."  I remember seeing such images on television on the national news,  and asking my mother about why all people were not treated equally.  Mom believed everyone was the same - she would say, "We all bleed red and we are all the same inside-. the outside doesn't matter."  I agreed then, and I agree now.  She never could come up with another answer, except to say that, "Some people don't think the way that we think.  I don't know why."  I agreed them, and I agree now.

HIDDEN FIGURES offers so many lessons about life! The film is about a strong work ethic and believing in oneself; and doing the best job possible under the worst of circumstances. This movie shows people doing extraordinary things, and standing up for their beliefs, helping to set the example for the next generation. The movie transcends race and time and gender, with positive and uplifting messages. (I MUST see it again!)  

I believe that this film should be shown in every high school.  Social Studies classes could examine and discuss the great racial divide portrayed in the movie all those years ago, and maybe that discussion would promote better understanding of events in today's world. Supporters of STEM could use the three lady mathematicians as examples of the importance of education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, and point to their contributions to put a man in space. Indeed, the film provides endless possibilities for discussions, research, and writing assignments in English class!  In fact, the kids will love this movie so much that they will suggest topics for discussion and writing that the teachers will never think about!

If you not yet seen the film, treat yourself and go to the movies. In the theater where I watched the film,  the audience applauded at the end!  That hasn't happened in a movie theater for me in years! 

Teachers- use this film! Always use a teachable moment or movie! Life lessons are at stake! 

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. Rittman Publishing, LLC ®



GRADY GETS GLASSES was the winner of Best New Children's Book 2016 from The Authors' Zone. For more information about The Authors' Zone, please visit http://www.theauthorszone.com/submissions/  


Visit Dede's webpage for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER. Many colleges have made the book required readingSigned copies are available  www.dederittman.com Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics. 

I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books.  Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self.  However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired! 

Elementary teachers in Western Pennsylvania and beyond - I am willing to come into your classroom in person or as a virtual field trip through a group called Field Trip Zoom.  Check them out!  http://www.fieldtripzoom.com/ 

Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book.  I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading.  Please email me at dederittman@gmail.com  The website www.gradygetsglasses.com now has plush Grady bunnies for sale!

Please like Dede's new page Grady Gets Glasses for updates about her children's book. https://www.facebook.com/gradygetsglasses?ref=hl 

Connect with Dede!

Twitter       @dederittman
Periscope   @dederittman
Facebook   Dede Faltot Rittman or Rittman Rules
LinkedIn   Dede Rittman
Google +   Dede Rittman
Tumblr      The Bunny Teacher
Instagram   dede_rittman 

Pinterest   Rittman Publishing, LLC ® 






Sunday, February 12, 2017

"Inclusion is about creating a better world for everyone." - Diana Richler



I saw a story on the news about inclusion that I must write about! In the Seneca Valley School District, a new student-run coffee shop called "Grounds for Thought"  has just opened. Students enjoy congregating and ordering their favorite coffee libations, and they enjoy just "hanging out" together.  This coffee shop is unlike other coffee shops; it is special because of who manages the shop!

The coffee shop is staffed and run by students in the Life Skills program. Their work in the school shop  has provided these students with special needs with a plethora of learning experiences! They are interacting with others in a different kind of social situation beyond the classroom, and they are making new acquaintances and friends.  Additionally, they are learning responsibility to themselves and others, new social skills, and self-reliance. Moreover, they are totally included in the school community, especially when they say "I work at the coffee shop."

The goal of educational inclusion is so much more than having students with special needs sit in a classroom.  The workings of a school coffee shop unify the student body in ways students may not even recognize. The "regular" education students learn to engage with students who have special needs, and they have the opportunity to get to know those students by creating a casual friendship at the shop. The contributions of the students with special needs show that through appropriate activities for inclusion, every student can play an important part in the school system. From the television report on the story, the Life Skills students are thrilled to make new friends and to "be known."  Students have a new appreciation for each other, and in schools, as in life, appreciation leads to mutual respect. 

In my 37 years as a teacher, my goal for inclusion was to have students participate and belong as members of the class and citizens of the school. With help from my  "regular" education students, we tried to help each of our "special" students to learn and develop to the best of his/her ability, and we tried to include them as important and contributing members of our classroom and our school.

I think this program in the Seneca Valley School District is terrific! I am sharing the link to the story in the hope that some of my  loyal readers will share and use this idea!  True inclusion is so important- for the entire school population. 

Link to the television story: 

http://www.wpxi.com/news/grounds-for-thought-student-coffee-shop-helps-students-with-special-needs-help-others/492617862 

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. Rittman Publishing, LLC ®



GRADY GETS GLASSES was the winner of Best New Children's Book 2016 from The Authors' Zone. For more information about The Authors' Zone, please visit http://www.theauthorszone.com/submissions/  


Visit Dede's webpage for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER. Many colleges have made the book required readingSigned copies are available  www.dederittman.com Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics. 

I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books.  Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self.  However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired! 

Elementary teachers in Western Pennsylvania and beyond - I am willing to come into your classroom in person or as a virtual field trip through a group called Field Trip Zoom.  Check them out!  http://www.fieldtripzoom.com/ 

Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book.  I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading.  Please email me at dederittman@gmail.com  The website www.gradygetsglasses.com now has plush Grady bunnies for sale!

Please like Dede's new page Grady Gets Glasses for updates about her children's book. https://www.facebook.com/gradygetsglasses?ref=hl 

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