Sunday, October 30, 2016

"Children learn more from what you ARE than what you TEACH." W. E. B. DuBois

I have been spending some serious time thinking about all of the inappropriate behavior that American children see in screens every single day.  Depending on the parental television controls at your house, they could be watching Jerry Springer, violent movies, news stories about sex trafficking, music videos with X-rated lyrics, dancing (and, yes, even "twerking"). Who knows what they are watching when they are at a friend's house? Even on the mainstream news, both candidates for the great office of President of the United States have said some inappropriate words and lines; they have called names, and overall, they have made the election look more like a schoolyard fight between children than two adults running for the same high elected office.

What can parents and teachers do?

The answer is surprisingly simple: parents and teachers can model the best behavior - the behavior you want your children or students to emulate. Teachers have about 8 hours of classroom time each day to influence appropriate conduct and performance.  During those hours, students are observing every detail of their classroom teachers: the clothes, jewelry, demeanor, patience or lack thereof, body language, interactions with professional staff and students, manners, control of self, sense of humor - EVERYTHING!  I know this because I was in the classroom for 37 years, and kids do not miss a thing.  I am reminded of a section about a teacher in Harper Lee's novel TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, which my 10th graders picked up on and wanted to discuss.  The situation involved Miss Gates, whom Jem heard say something that bothered him, as the kids were leaving the courthouse after the Tom Robinson trial. Jem heard her say "The next thing you know, they'll be wanting to marry us", and as I recall, something else about "Keeping them in their place."  Scout tells the reader that Miss Gates presented a lesson against Hitler in the classroom several days before, and she emphasized that the killing of Jews and others was wrong, because people should be equal in a democracy. Jem is quick to notice the hypocrisy of the teacher when she is not in the classroom. Unfair as it may be, our jobs as teachers always require us to be on our best behavior, because students are always watching. 

Parents can discuss inappropriate behavior that their children have observed. They can point out that even adults sometimes act like children (we have seen lots of that), and they can say that they do not endorse that behavior. Like teachers, kids are always watching parents in diverse situations: driving the car and behind the wheel, the way they deal with clerks and cashiers, their interactions with other parents and other children, and the kinds of things they discuss about their friends, colleagues, and workplace. 

We want our children to have self-control and react to situations with appropriate conduct. With so many bad examples of poor behavior in the world for children to see, modeling suitable behavior is the best way to teach kids what is proper in our world.

You just never know who is watching you, and the impact your conduct will have on others.

"Children learn more from what you ARE than what you TEACH." W. E. B. DuBois

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

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 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! 

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  The website now has plush Grady bunnies for sale!

Please like Dede's new page Grady Gets Glasses for updates about her children's book. 

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