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Volume 4 Number 8
New teacher induction . . . what does that have to do with me, a veteran educator?
It Takes a Community
to Induct a Teacher
When the Teacher Becomes the Student by Joe A. Martin, Ed.D.
Treating All Students With Dignity by Laura Dombrosky
Working with Emotionally Disabled Students by Susan Rismiller
Considering Writer's Workshop by Judy Mazur
Create Language Arts Success at Every Grade Level By Using TEACH Observe Publish by Jacqueline Rhoades
Teacher Resource Book Reviews from the Teachers.Net Community
Creation vs. Evolution - How Do Teachers Respond? from the Science Teachers' Chatboard
Common Mistakes Made by New Teachers from the Teachers.Net Chatboard
Tips for Nervous New Teacher from the Teachers.Net Chatboard
Math & Literacy Learning Centers for Upper Grades from the Teachers.Net Learning Centers Chatboard
Weekly Tests by P R Guruprasad
Editor's epicks for August by Kathleen Alape Carpenter
Journal Writing in Pre-K by Vanessa Levin
Beginning of School Letter from the Teachers.Net Early Childhood Mailring
The Kindergarten Center by Kathleen Carpenter
What to Do About Biters from National Association for the Education of Young Children
Batik - Lesson & Rubric for Grades 10-12 by Carolann Tebbetts
Healthy Living Tips from the Teachers.Net Chatboard
Create the Sounds of a Thunderstorm in the Classroom submitted by Virginia in Idaho
Good Football Fight Music, Cavalcade of Mascots Site, Football Organizations Online from the High School Chatboard
August Columns
August Regular Features
August Informational Items
Gazette Home Delivery:

About Susan Rismiller...
As an advocate for rigorous teacher training, Susan Rismiller has mentored 10 pre-service teachers, several in conjunction with George Mason University's unique yearlong internship program. This distinctive graduate level, field-based program places interns in classroom settings as instructional assistants (IAs) for the duration of one school year. A graduate of James Madison University, Susan completed her masters degree in 2001 through George Mason University's Initiatives in Educational Transformation (IET), and was awarded its Program Award for outstanding achievement and academic excellence. Information about GMU's IET program can be found at

Teacher Feature...

Working with Emotionally Disabled Students

by Susan Rismiller

"Why do you work with kids with emotional disabilities?"

After 14 years teaching at a public school program for children with severe behavioral and emotional disabilities, I am often asked this very question. After all, the pay is nominal, the stress is ridiculously ever-present, and the responsibilities often feel overwhelming. Why do I do it?

Bottom line, our unique students (like all students) deserve a positive learning community in which to grow. I commit myself every day so that some of them will leave my class smarter, some will leave calmer, and some will leave to get more intensive help elsewhere. With their complicated barriers to learning, I know too many leave with little to show, but that is just on the surface. We can never really know the impact that our daily dose of consistent caring, attention, and quality instruction will have on a child.

Of course, teachers of all disciplines face daunting challenges and choose to persevere for the good of their students. Still, ours is a unique culture, in part because of our daily exposure to intense hostility and violent acting-out. We have to develop a mindset that "welcomes" rather than shies away from negative behavior. As a former colleague often reminded me, if we don't see the behavior, we can't address it. We meet the learning and behavior problems head on, with an eye toward academic progress and social skills improvement. A cycle of positive change begins as students respond to our expert behavior management and therapeutic teaching strategies. Then, as students begin to develop strategies for handling their often-overwhelming feelings, their availability for learning is increased. As classroom behavior improves, specific social skills instruction focuses on areas of need, including relationships with peers and adults. This cycle continues, a complex set of higher expectations balanced against students' particular emotional/behavioral needs.

It comes down to solving the puzzle: what are the obstacles to learning faced by my students, and how can I help them overcome? Succinctly, in the words of English author Margaret Drabble: "When nothing is sure, everything is possible."

In an effort to support new ED teachers, I created this list of important goals for surviving the negativity that leads to teacher burnout.

  1. Keep a cool head when students are in crisis.
  2. Develop a thick skin so insults and sassy talk aren't personally devastating.
  3. Think on your feet: be ready for anything that is thrown your way (sometimes literally!).
  4. Weed through the advice and suggestions of colleagues to find what works for you.
  5. Unwind and untangle your mind and soul at days' end.
  6. Remember the adage "Everyone Makes Mistakes".
  7. Forgive yourself when you make mistakes.
  8. Remember that the pain a child creates is never more than the pain they are feeling.
  9. Keep asking for help.
  10. Listen…really listen to your students.

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