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Stay informed of the latest company news, product releases, and musings on education policy and technology by subscribing to the MyloWrites blog.

 

Filtering by Tag: teachers

Hard Conversations

Alice Mangan, Ph.D.

When we recognize that a student is struggling with some aspect of learning, we know that we are facing a complicated road ahead.  Given the high numbers of children and adolescents diagnosed with learning disabilities, many psychologists, school personnel and other service providers currently do or inevitably will treat and/or evaluate such children and their parents.

Beyond questions of assessment, differentiation, modifications and accommodations, the conversations we must have with the parents of these students is arguably the more difficult to do well and the more anxiety-provoking.  In the context of a struggling student, the parent/teacher and home/school relationship and dynamic is undeniably taxed, and requires even more effort on our part as people in the business of helping children learn.  

When we strive to understand and respond to parents in empathic, supportive and constructive ways—even in the context of tremendous struggle—they are, in turn, generally better able to respond sensitively to their child.  Conversely, adversarial relationships and interactions with professionals become yet another source of stress for parents, diminishing the reserve of emotional energy necessary to adequately mobilize in the face of their child’s LD.  Investing in the relationships we have with the parents of the students with whom we work is essential to actually serving the child. 

In their efforts to build strong and sustainable collaborations with parents of children with LDs,

School Communities:

•       Intentionally foster a sense of connection among parents, teachers, administrators and students.

•       Thoughtfully increase community awareness of and sensitivity toward the diverse range and manifestations of LDs, and the influences of LDs on family systems. Further, they attend to the range of culturally influenced meanings families give to LDs.

•       Invest in ongoing professional development and resources that support all teachers in identifying and meeting the needs of the range of learners in their care.

 

Educators:

•       Prioritize the health of the relationship with parents above all and view the relationship as a continuous and ever-evolving process.

•       Nurture empathic, validating, transparent and accessible relationships with parents, knowing that these elements breed trust and confidence and lead to greater chance of success for the child. In moments of conflict, engage a reflective stance and focus on repair.

•       View parents as experts on their child and as partners in the process of supporting the child.

•       Represent the child’s strengths and vulnerabilities in an authentic and sensitive manner, supplying carefully chosen examples of the child’s profile. 

•       Take care not to undermine the strategies that parents may employ to cope with their feelings and with their child’s struggles.

•       Over time introduce new skills and strategies while reinforcing existing adaptive approaches employed by parents.

•       Feel confident in their knowledge and skills, while ever-mindful of the areas that they are continuing to develop as educators. 

•       Reach out to colleagues and supervisors for support in developing their craft.  Recognize when they don’t know how to address an issue, and seek support. 

 

The centrality of the educator and school community in the lives of parents of children with learning disabilities cannot be overstated.  As such, we who work with these families must strive to create, nurture and sustain relationships that buoy an arguably vulnerable group.  We must keep in mind that these kinds of connections and relationships serve as sources of strength and respite throughout the years of ups and downs in the lives of these families. 

 

 

In The News: The Water Crisis in Flint, MI

Virginia Pavlick

At MyloWrites, we are strong advocates of bringing quality education and learning resources to students across the globe. The recent water crisis in Flint, MI has severely impacted the lives of Flint students and brought disturbing topics to light that deserve our attention.

The Effects of Lead Contamination

In brief, residents in the rustbelt city have been drinking contaminated water for nearly two years following a decision meant to save money for the financially depressed town. A switch in the source of water supply brought lead and iron contamination into the water and introduced a storm of harmful effects on the city’s population, particularly on infants and children.

A recent EdWeek article, found here, addresses the well-known link between elevated blood-lead concentrations and delays in brain development, IQ loss, and symptoms of learning disabilities. The article mentions research that ties high level of lead in blood to “poor classroom performance, impaired growth, and even hearing loss”. In another article published by U.S. News, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, director of pediatric residency at a local children’s hospital and site of over 2,000 lead tests, says of the contamination, “It has such damning, lifelong and generational consequences”.

In an already low-income and struggling town, such consequences could be detrimental. EdWeek emphasizes the associated costs of increased special education services for those developmentally delayed students. Adding such financial stress to Flint presents a disturbing picture. Quoted from EdWeek,       

“Districtwide, nearly a quarter of (Flint’s) students drop out of high school before graduating, and poverty is pervasive. More than 80 percent of students quality for free or reduced-price lunches, an indicator of poverty in K-12 education.”

U.S. News mentions that Flint has become “a symbol of the decline of the U.S. auto industry”, a true statement for Midwesterners familiar with the area. With 41% of the population falling below the poverty line, the cost of increased special education resources will be near impossible to manage for many families, especially given that special education funding within school districts is often given low priority nationwide. Coupled with rising health bills, parents and educators face a troubling future.

Horrible School Conditions

Perhaps even more disturbing, however, are the school conditions currently present in both Flint and Detroit that the contamination news has brought to light. NewsOne reports on frustrations of Detroit public school educators, who have been sharing photos of the hazardous conditions in an effort to force officials to step in. The article includes photos and video that expose mold, dead rodents, and indoor fungus growth. A counselor at one elementary school  provides a video tour of the neglected classrooms and scarce resources. The gymnasium has been declared off-limits due to water damage, and children spend winter recess walking through the hallways. The music room has been abandoned, and dusty instruments sit locked away. In one particular classroom, a teacher hands out thin packets of reading that she spent hours preparing herself, as the school budget no longer allows for books.

As we process the Flint crisis and attempt to understand how such negligence could allow a disaster to come about, we hope that the media continues to bring attention to the school conditions that were already a reality for poor Michigan students. MyloWrites will continue to seek partnerships and collaborations with learning disability organizations in order to help those affected, and we encourage everyone to do what they can to help bring an end to the crisis.