Thursday, October 17, 2019

"I believe empathy is the most essential quality of civilization." Roger Ebert

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In its simplest terms, empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. It seems to me that the ability to have empathy for others should be innate, but I would be wrong.  I do know that after teaching English and theater for 37 years, students can be taught how to feel empathy, and I am not the only one who believes that to be true. 

ROOTS OF EMPATHY is a program that happens in a fourth grade classroom every three weeks.  Baby Merritt is taken into the classroom, and through their interaction with a baby, students are learning to be kinder toward each other. Sounds crazy, right?  The prescribed curriculum teaches the kids how to treat each other by teaching them how to interact appropriately with a baby.  

The program ROOTS OF EMPATHY began in Canada 23 years ago, and the program is now used in 14 countries. Studies conclude that the program increases empathy and kindness and lowers aggression by a significant percentage.  Studies also suggest that the effects of the program can be seen years after the participants concluded the program. Mary Gordon, creator of the ROOTS OF EMPATHY Program, says that bullies lack the ability to feel what others are feeling, and her program changes that. The curriculum begins with asking students questions about the baby - and turns those questions into reflective questions that promote empathy.  For example, a question might be, "Why do you think the baby is crying?  Do you think it 's because you are all new to him and he feels afraid?  Have YOU ever been the new person in the room?  How did you feel?  How do you think kids feel when they come to a new school in the middle of the year?"  These questions help the students to put themselves into the shoes of another, and empathy appears.

I am a huge fan of this program.  I think the approach of using a baby as the teacher is pure genius.  

Here is the link to the TODAY Show story - and it is well worth your time!  https://www.today.com/video/how-baby-teachers-in-classrooms-are-teaching-older-kids-empathy-71468101773 

It seems to me that this is a very real and simple approach to teaching anti-bullying, in a manner that students can really understand. Teaching empathy can eradicate bullying. 

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


Please invite Grady Gets Glasses (and me) into your school.  if you are not in the Pittsburgh area, we do virtual field trips with a group called Field Trip Zoom. www.Fieldtripzoom.com  and a company called www.StreamableLearning.com GRADY GETS GLASSES was the winner of Best New Children's Book 2016 and 2018 (new edition) from The Authors' Zone.Grady also won a 2018 prestigious Moonbeam Award for Best Children's Book with Merchandise.




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  and Gradygetsglasses

Pinterest   Rittman Publishing, LLC ® 










Thursday, October 10, 2019

"Civility is not a sign of weakness." John F. Kennedy






Ellen DeGeneres sat in a box watching a Dallas Cowboys football game with former President George W. Bush sitting next to her.  The Left and the LGBTQ communities were outraged and lashed out at Ellen for sitting with a conservative Republican because he does not share her political views. Ellen said that she was his friend, and friends don't necessarily have to agree on every topic.

When did Americans become this way? When did people become so narrow minded that they cannot share a friendship with a person whose politics are different from theirs?

This story struck me in the heart this week, because someone whom I believed was a friend has been sending me messages and articles and mean memes regarding my personal choices in politics. I did not initiate any of the one-sided attacks, and I have not responded to them as of now. However, I am sad that someone I thought was a friend for the past 12 years could be so smug and self-righteous, as well as cruel and demeaning to me as a person, simply because we do not see eye to eye on Republicans and Democrats. 

I am thinking of the 35 years I taught TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Scout tells the reader that as acrimonious and heated as the prosecution and the defense were in the courtroom, folks were often surprised to see Atticus and his opponent walk out of the courthouse arm in arm. It was all about civility and respect.

I often play golf with former US Congresswoman Melissa A. Hart, and she has regaled me with stories about the way Congress used to be.  Melissa said discussions on the floor were heated, but those discussions did not carry over to the end of the day, where the opposing sides enjoyed dinner and drinks together as friends. Once again, they treated each other with civility and respect, even though they did not agree. I feel quite certain that tradition is no longer the norm in our divided Congress, but I am glad that Melissa was a part of Congress when people were civil to each other.

When Ellen DeGeneres was attacked on social media following the release of a picture on Ellen and President Bush, Ellen spoke about her friendship with George Bush.  More importantly, she spoke about respect and  KINDNESS.  Ellen said, "Just because I don't agree with someone on everything doesn't mean that I'm not going to be friends with them. When I say, 'Be kind to one another.' I don't mean only the people that think the same way you do.  I mean be kind to everyone. Doesn't matter." 

Who knew that Ellen DeGeneres would become the teacher to our country, presenting kindness, respect, and civility as if they were new concepts. Thank you, Ellen. 

So many people have lost or ended friendships because of the political divide in our country. Whole families have been affected, as well.  Isn't it time to put political differences aside and treat each other with respect and civility?  I think it is.  Friends could set up guidelines that include no political discussions. Remember that we live in America, where choice is a freedom, and we do not all have to agree. Also remember that "Civility is not a sign of weakness." John F. Kennedy 

Here is the clip of Ellen speaking out about her friendship with Mr. Bush  https://www.cbsnews.com/video/ellen-degeneres-defends-friendship-with-george-w-bush/ 

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


Please invite Grady Gets Glasses (and me) into your school.  if you are not in the Pittsburgh area, we do virtual field trips with a group called Field Trip Zoom. www.Fieldtripzoom.com  and a company called www.StreamableLearning.com GRADY GETS GLASSES was the winner of Best New Children's Book 2016 and 2018 (new edition) from The Authors' Zone.Grady also won a 2018 prestigious Moonbeam Award for Best Children's Book with Merchandise.




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  and Gradygetsglasses
Pinterest   Rittman Publishing, LLC ® 



Friday, October 4, 2019

"I'm so thankful I had a childhood before technology took over."

I saw a video this past week about what people over 40 remember about their childhoods.  It was fun to watch as people recalled their favorite outdoor activities.  

What do YOU remember about childhood activities? I can list so many!

Riding bikes all day in the neighborhood
Playing in the creek for hours
Hide and seek at dusk, then trudging home when the street lights turned on
Jumping rope, then hopscotch, then playing 7 Up, then rollerskating - the kind with a key (no helmets or knee pads)
Playing stick ball in the street
Hula-hooping, followed by doing tricks with a yo-yo
Playing baseball in the cemetery open area
Walking to and from the Bookmobile
Strolling through the Heights Plaza, and spending 10 cents on a chocolate chip skyscraper ice cream cone at Isaly's
Walking to and from the community swimming pool with my brother
Playing army in a nearby small wooded area
Rolling down the neighbors hill with 6 kids inside a refrigerator box
Playing board games on the front porch on rainy days
Picking apples or cherries or raspberries to eat fresh or to make into a pie
Sleeping overnight at a friend's house, or having the friend at my house

Quite a list, right?  And I was hardly trying!  I am sure you could add some more of your own, but this list is a great start. 

Sadly, at the end of this video, kids were asked what they thought would be most memorable about their childhoods.  The answer was PLAYING VIDEO GAMES. 

Not a single kid said anything about participating in an outside activity. 

This is so wrong, but we have all been watching it happen for years.  Drive through any suburban neighborhood, and you will see no kids playing outside.  In fact, many do not know how to make up creative and imaginary games. Parents organize "play dates" at a playground instead. Kids are not riding bikes and playing ball, nor are they participating in anything remotely physical.  Is it any wonder that childhood obesity has skyrocketed? 

I have no children, but I am glad to see my great nieces and nephews outside playing and running and swimming.  I do not want their childhood memories to be "playing video games."  

Sorry - I have looked and looked, but I can't find the video that created this topic.



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


Please invite Grady Gets Glasses (and me) into your school.  if you are not in the Pittsburgh area, we do virtual field trips with a group called Field Trip Zoom. www.Fieldtripzoom.com  and a company called www.StreamableLearning.com GRADY GETS GLASSES was the winner of Best New Children's Book 2016 and 2018 (new edition) from The Authors' Zone.Grady also won a 2018 prestigious Moonbeam Award for Best Children's Book with Merchandise.




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  and Gradygetsglasses
Pinterest   Rittman Publishing, LLC ®