Staying Rooted in Education

As a KDP Youth Representative, I had the opportunity to attend a briefing at the UN titled, “A Grassroots Approach to Education for All.”

The moderator, Alexander Wiseman, and speaker Lisa Damaschke-Deitrick were from Lehigh University’s education program. Their fellow speakers were Anwar Sayed from the Dayemi Foundation, Taylor Viens from Caring for Cambodia, and Jadayah Spencer representing the International Youth Leadership Institute.

As each person shared their experience with grassroots organizations, they connected to the importance of health and wellness. Health screenings and access to meals can transform the culture of learning to be responsive to the needs of students.

Furthermore, research presented at the briefing proved that funding new educational approaches results in shifts in curriculum and assists in combating poverty.

With political and religious turmoil displacing refugees, it is imperative that they receive a quality education that is inclusive and sensitive to their knowledge and cultural backgrounds.

As expressed by the speakers, partnering with local organizations within communities such as religious centers and non-governmental agencies can offer real-world experiences for our youth, as well as promote positive learning environments.

My Tips for This Approach

1. Know Your Neighbors

Get to know the people in your community. Seek out local businesses and organizations that are interested in helping us achieve our goal of providing an equitable education for all.

2. Brainstorm

Think of ways that you can support a student’s hygiene and diet at your school, such as items like toothbrushes and soap. A resource such as a school-wide food pantry would also be effective.

3. Be Active!

Encourage students to be problem solvers in their own communities. Simple tasks such as cleaning up parks and recycling can prepare them for bigger roles in society.

Happy Teaching,
Clairetza Felix

Clairetza Felix is a senior at St. Francis College, with a major in Childhood Education and a concentration in English. Currently, she serves as the Co-Event Coordinator for the Xi Rho Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi. As an aspiring Literacy Specialist, she chose to become a UN Youth Representative to offer a unique approach to education.

Children matter! Read our UN youth rep’s recap from the briefing

Anum Khan is a member of Alpha Alpha Delta Chapter at Saint Peter’s University. She is Kappa Delta Pi’s Youth Representative to the United Nations.

Anum Khan

Anum Khan, far right middle row, attended the November 20 UN briefing.

On November 20, I attended a United Nations briefing titled “Children’s Voices in Creating a World Fit for All: Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.” You can watch a recording of the briefing on the UN’s Web TV channel.

This briefing was very beneficial because it raised some very important questions, the most important of which was, “Are we listening?” Most adults do not take what children say seriously, which is wrong because children have the ability to make a difference. Their voice matters! As adults we have an obligation to consider the rights of children.

Dr. Roseanne Flores, an associate professor of psychology at Hunter College, gave an informing presentation on how adults can support and encourage children’s participation, including:

  • Make eye contact;
  • Communicate at eye level;
  • Show patience when a child is trying to communicate;
  • Ask open-ended questions to engage children and encourage a response;
  • Provide encouragement so children will speak, participate, and learn to make decisions;
  • Develop activities that will allow children to develop a sense of empowerment and leadership skills;
  • Ask children their opinion on matters that affect them; and
  • Give children age appropriate control and responsibility for their personal care.
Briefing Room

Khan’s view from the briefing room.

These points are extremely useful for educators to apply in their classrooms. It is important for children to know that they are being listened to and what they say matters.

You can read more about KDP’s affiliation with the UN on the KDP website.

* The Convention on the Rights of the Child is a human rights treaty, which establishes the civil, social, political, and economical rights of children.

**Note the Convention on the Rights of the Child has not been ratified in the United States, South Sudan, and Somalia. (Somalia and the United States have signed the document, but have not ratified it)

World Teachers’ Day: Invest in the Future, Invest in Teachers

Sally Rushmore edits the New Teacher Advocate. She formerly taught secondary science and computer applications at a community college.

Picture of World Teachers Day poster 2014The fifth of October each year marks World Teachers’ Day. This day of recognition is devoted to appreciating, assessing, and improving the educators of the world. The theme for this year Day is “Invest in the Future, Invest in Teachers.” Teachers are an investment for the future of all countries. What today’s children will face in adult life cannot be predicted; therefore, the teachers of today and tomorrow need the skills, knowledge, and support that will enable them to meet the diverse learning needs of every girl and boy.

On October 5, 1994, the first World Teachers’ Day was held. This event has been organized on the same date each year since then. However, local events may be on some other date close to October 5, so that they do not fall during fall (northern hemisphere) or spring (southern hemisphere) school vacations. In 2002, Canada Post issued a postage stamp to commemorate World Teachers’ Day.

World Teachers’ Day is a global observance. In some areas posters are displayed and pupils and ex-pupils are encouraged to send e-cards or letters of appreciation to teachers who made a special or memorable contribution to their education. Trade unions or other professional organizations that represent teachers play an important role in organizing World Teachers’ Day events in many countries, including Australia, Canada, India, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

There are three purposes to World Teachers’ Day and you can be involved in all three:

  • Appreciate those who have taught you by sending a card, ecard, or email to thank them. Appreciate your teaching colleagues and mentors. Let them know! As teachers and future teachers ourselves, we can often pinpoint particular teachers who impacted our lives. Share your stories of on KDP Global.
  • Assess the effectiveness of teachers presently in the profession. The essentials for supporting teachers’ effectiveness are (a) good conditions of employment, including appropriate contracts and salaries, and prospects for career progression and promotion; (b) good conditions in the work environment, based on creating school contexts that are conducive to teaching; (c) high-quality pre-and in-service training for teachers, based on respect for human rights and the principles of inclusive education; and (d) effective management, including teacher recruitment and induction and mentoring. If one of these is missing where you are, work to upgrade the conditions.
  • Improve the quality of teaching in your local schools, in your state, and around the world. KDP members are the best teachers; you are needed. Consider teaching in an urban area. By 2018, more than half the world’s people will live in cities. Urban schools are in dire need of good teachers. Consider teaching in another country for a year, two years, or five years to help alleviate the shortages of teachers. Your students could become pen pals to students in a school in a different state, province, or country. Your class could do fund raisers to support a school in a third world country.

As teachers, we have invested our lives in teaching; we are investing our money and time in becoming better teachers. We feel that what we do every day (and evenings and weekends usually) is investing in the future through the students we teach.

Happy Peace Day!

Sarah Zike is director of membership at Kappa Delta Pi.

poster_smSince 1981, the United Nations have observed International Day of Peace by calling for nations to drop their weapons and observe peace for one day. This year the theme of the day is “Right of Peoples to Peace.” Today, as in years past, they will ring the bell of peace at the UN headquarters, which was crafted with coins from children all over the world. The nightly news will tell us if arms were truly dropped and conflict was set aside for the day, but we can, individually, do our best to honor it.

In thinking about what peace means and how it can be a scaffold for our teaching and in our personal efforts, I found some wisdom from John F. Kennedy. He said: “Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.” This sounds a lot like the process of educating and of becoming educated throughout our lives. So, how do we teach to bring about peace—to ensure that peace is the fulcrum upon which our children turn throughout their lives?

A classroom is a small society in and of itself. There are students—individual nations—with insecurities and rivals, access to more resources and less, and personal belief structures that may not match. Then, there is the teacher—not a dictator, per se, but more of a god who oversees all behavior and either punishes or rewards it.

In this role, teachers have tremendous responsibility and power for good or bad. I’m reminded of two events in my education that informed my approach and, unfortunately, began the development of my insecurities. In preschool, around Halloween, I stood in front of my teacher and was asked for my phone number. It was easy—888-0999. As I told her, standing there in my Snow White costume, she dismissed me, told me she didn’t believe me, and asked my mom later in the day. When vindicated, I might have felt better, but it never occurred to me to lie, especially to my teacher! Then in kindergarten, I had a little trouble tying my shoes the way we were instructed to, so I devised my own way. The shoes were tied. Job done, right? In school the next day, when demonstrating my achievement of the task, I was informed that I wasn’t tying them correctly and needed to try again. Enter insecurity two–the end does not matter if the means to achieve it aren’t correct, as instructed.

Peace in the little society of your classroom requires two things (in addition to many others, I’m sure): trust and openness to alternative perspectives and approaches. Extend trust to your students. Celebrate their creativities. Have faith that with gentle guidance and belief in their fundamental goodness as children, they may move to places closer to peace within themselves and may be more willing to extend that generosity and tolerance into other areas of their lives. Let them tie their shoes the way they can, and they will be less inclined to fight. They might surprise you with their creativity, too.

UN Report Shows Need for Wider Access to Education in Africa

William Merriman is Professor and Dean of the School of Education & Health at Manhattan College. He is one of KDP’s representatives to the United Nations.

William Merriman 05On April 11, Mr. Carlos Lopes, UN Under Secretary-General, gave a report on the 2014 economic status of Africa. The overall theme of the report was that African countries are growing, but their growth has been non-inclusive and there is a need for a new industrial policy framework.

The report indicates that there is a need for wider access to basic services, including education. The Report (pp. 23-28) gives some indicators of the present status of education in Africa:

  • Attending primary school is becoming the norm with most countries having achieved universal primary enrollment (above 90 percent).
  • Nearly half of African countries have achieved gender parity in primary school but there is still bias toward male access over female access.
  • Children and adolescents from the poorest households are at least three times as likely to be out of school as children from the richest households.
  • Secondary school enrollment is at 40 percent in Africa.
  • Even with an increase in teachers of 59 percent between 1999 and 2010, the number of new teachers needed in Africa to achieve just universal primary education has been calculated at more than 2 million.
  • In many countries, the proportion of teachers trained to national standards is very low, and teachers may often lack the necessary subject knowledge and ability to deliver instruction effectively.

United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (2014), Economic Report on Africa 2014 – Dynamic Industrial Policy in Africa: Innovative Institutions, Effective Processes and Flexible Mechanisms, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: UNECA.