“Inside Out”: A Great Movie to Help with Emotional Identification

insideout Go See this Movie!

If you haven’t already done so, go see “Inside Out” because it’s a fantastic and accessible representation of how our emotions play into our everyday experiences individually and amongst each other.

Identifying Emotions Can Help Us Navigate the Emotional Health of Our Children & Families

“Inside Out” is the story of a family who moves from Minnesota to San Francisco and whose preteen daughter has a difficult time adjusting to her new school, new friends, and her new life.

Psychological research actually identifies Six Universal Emotions: Happy, Sad, Surprised, Afraid, Disgusted, Angry (although there is debate about combining some to create four recognized emotions instead). “Inside Out” does a great job making this research come to life.

This movie is funny while also being informative, and it doesn’t hold back with the hard stuff, like expressing sadness and experiencing depression.

American Culture Holds Us Back from Understanding Our Feelings

Our American Get-Up-and-Go culture really holds us back from acknowledging and talking about our underlying feelings. Even as I write that, I know some of you are rollin’ your eyes because you’re uncomfortable with just the thought of that “cheesy” word: feelings.

But it’s true!

Understanding our feelings is the backbone of navigating social, physical, and emotional trials. There are over half a million working Mental Health Professionals helping adults and children in the U.S. Someone’s keeping them in business. Maybe we’re all more open to seeking out help but just not talking about it with each other?

That’s why this movie was so eye-opening. It brought to light the fact that people of all ages struggle with how to appropriately deal with emotions and, instead, often stuff their feelings down deep inside until they burst out in unhealthy ways. It’s only when we recognize the underpinnings our emotional outburst that we can effectively deal with the real problems.

“Inside Out” is the first of its kind to showcase the importance of emotional identification. And it makes me feel pretty good to know that the kiddos I’m supporting are growing up in a generation that sees how important emotional learning is too.

Toys & Games to Help Your Child Learn to Identify Emotions

Current Emotional Response Visual Supports, Activities, and Products on the Market:

Feelings App
Expanding Expression Tool
All About Me Mirror Boards
MindWing Concepts
Social Thinking Books, Games, Posters
Feelings and Emotional Washable Dolls
How Are You Feeling Today Center

Know of any other good feelings apps or products that you like? Send ’em our way!

Christine Terry, J.D., is a Special Education Advocate & Founder of Terry Tutors. She created the One Wraparound Service for The Struggling Student, which includes Academic, Behavior, Special Education Advocacy, and School Placement services. Christine truly loves helping students realize their inner potential and the possibilities that await them: “To be a part of a student’s ‘ah ha’ moment is the best feeling in the world because I know I’m helping that student build foundational confidence that will lead to a successful path, not just in school but throughout life!”

Hey Kids, Look Up from Your Phones and Talk to Me!

cell phones and studentsI have a love-hate relationship with technology. I totally get that technology plays a HUGE role in our everyday lives and mostly for the good. I get it. I sincerely do. But ya know, sometimes I actually like using a real pen with real ink to write on real paper.

Born in ’79, I’m on the tail end of Gen X and the beginning stages of the Millennials. I kinda embrace technology but secretly despise it as well. I refuse to be pigeon-holed, just like my generation. And I tend to pass this mentality on to my students, where technology does not play a key role in our tutoring time.

Everyone’s Got their Nose in a Phone

The picture above is a common scene. The great art of life is around us, yet everyone’s got their nose in a phone. For all I know, these kids are looking up the history of the painting behind them or they’re just texting each other about what to do after the field trip is over.

Missing what’s right in front of us is not just the problem of today’s youth. It happens to adults too. For example, standing in line at Starbucks you’ll find that people would rather check their Instagram page instead of striking up a conversation with the stranger next to them, who, by the way, could actually be following their posts and they wouldn’t even know it. Oh, the irony.

In School, Less is More

In general, I’m from the school of less is more: less technology means more independent thinking. You’ve got a question? Great! I want to discuss it with you directly, strike up a conversation that could provoke a train-of-thought, which may lead to a new idea and connect us by thinking about an old topic in a new way.

For that reason, I do not allow cell phones during tutoring time. I think they hurt more than they help during a session. Even on silent, the distraction alone is squandered time and energy. And just like this teen, I’ve also got beef with the efficiency of Ed Tech in the classroom. Finally, let us not forget LAUSD’s Billion Dollar Bureaucratic iPad Debacle. Nine wasted zeros and one superintendent resignation later, the nation’s second largest public school district is still climbing out of this financially burdened technology sinkhole.

Having More Followers does not Mean Having More Friends

Perhaps my frustration as an educator (and even just a human-being living in modern tech-focused society today) stems from the fear that technology will inhibit the organic nature of everyday life.

Technology can aid, but it cannot take the place of real, live, face-to-face connection. I fear our students are missing out on cultivating real connections when we, as the adults in their lives, make technology a priority and rely on its computer savvy in place of our own discernment.

Having more followers does not mean having more friends. Cell phones, tablets, laptops, and whatever the latest and greatest version of these will be in three months does more harm in the classroom than we want to acknowledge. It slowly strips away the authenticity of debate.

Yes, technology is a part of our daily lives (until the digital dark age, of course) but it should not be our whole life, in or out of the classroom.

Christine Terry, J.D., is a Special Education Advocate & Founder of Terry Tutors. She created the One Wraparound Service for The Struggling Student, which includes Academic, Behavior, Special Education Advocacy, and School Placement services. Christine truly loves helping students realize their inner potential and the possibilities that await them: “To be a part of a student’s ‘ah ha’ moment is the best feeling in the world because I know I’m helping that student build foundational confidence that will lead to a successful path, not just in school but throughout life!”

If It Wasn’t Written, It Never Happened: Avoid This IEP Pitfall

emailThe #1 Advocacy Rule: If it wasn’t written down, it never happened.

Here are some pointers about why creating a written record of your verbal conversations with teachers, therapists, and administrators will help you avoid this major pitfall of the IEP system.

THE WHAT: Email

Email is the cleanest way to send timely communication to all parties involved in the IEP process.

  • Create a file folder in your email account dedicated to all communication concerning the IEP process.
  • Send weekly updates to providers and the school.
  • Cc all support team members on those emails so we can be on the same page. If your child was struggling with a concept during tutoring, then her teachers should know about that so he can be aware and provide additional help.
  • Remember to leave emotion out of it. When communicating with the school, you’re wearing your objective Advocate Hat right now, not your parent hat.

THE WHO: All Support Providers

Who is included on these emails? Every service provider that your child is working with, such as teachers, administrators, therapists, advocates or attorneys, tutors, behaviorists, any other support service providers who are familiar with your child’s needs and care.

THE WHY: Concise, Communicative and Congenial

The reason why we create a written record is not litigious but rather so that everyone can remain in the loop and be on the same page. Miscommunication is the downfall of so many good parent/school relationships. Your job is to build a working relationship with your child’s support team. That includes taking on the task of secretary. You are your child’s point person and in doing so you must be concise, communicative, and congenial.

E-MAIL EXAMPLE

Here’s a clear example of what your emails should look like:

To: IEP Coordinator/Point Person

Cc: Meeting Attendees (Advocate or Attorney, Teacher(s), Vice Principal, SLP/OT/PT Therapists, Resource Specialist) & Those who did not attend the meeting but are still important support providers (Private SLP/OT/PT Therapists, Psychologist or Counselor, Tutor, Behaviorist)

Subject: Meeting Recap 3/31/15 – Student A.J.

Dear Team Aiden*,

Thank you for meeting with me today to discuss my son, Aiden Johnson*, and his challenges and successes in school.  After reviewing my notes, I believe it is best to move forward with Speech Language Pathology (SLP) testing. I will be contacting the SLP on staff (she is also cc’d on this email) this week to set up a time to review Aiden’s speech challenges and my additional concerns. My goal is to help Aiden as best we can, and so I would also like to discuss how we can work with Aiden on his goals at home.

Thank you once again for your time. Looking forward to speaking with the SLP this week.

Jenny Johnson*, Aiden’s Mom

(c) 310.555.7126

(e) jennyj@email.com

*Not real name

Christine Terry, J.D., is a Special Education Advocate & Founder of Terry Tutors. She created the One Wraparound Service for The Struggling Student, which includes Academic, Behavior, Special Education Advocacy, and School Placement services. Christine truly loves helping students realize their inner potential and the possibilities that await them: “To be a part of a student’s ‘ah ha’ moment is the best feeling in the world because I know I’m helping that student build foundational confidence that will lead to a successful path, not just in school but throughout life!”

Gifted Students and The Fear of Failure

once upon a timeLast year, I started tutoring a gifted middle school student named Naomi*, a sweet-natured, lovely, young tween who was doing excellent in all of her subjects, except for writing. Now, it was not that Naomi was a bad student with poor grades or poor behavior. In fact, Naomi was getting by in English class but just not acing her tests and receiving B’s instead of A’s on her papers. I was called in as academic support simply because she didn’t like writing.

What’s the Problem with Not Liking Something?

Not liking writing was not a problem for Naomi but, rather, her teacher and her mom. Together, they each encouraged Naomi to “find her voice” through the written word but despite all of this encouragement, Naomi was still not living up to her potential. I could see after just one session that she clearly had the capability to do better but for some reason purposely chose not to. Why? Well, because when Naomi didn’t like something, she quit.

The problem doesn’t lie with disliking a class or an activity. We all have our preferences. Rather, the problem lies with how we address disliking a class or activity, especially when it’s something that we have to do, like school.

Gifted Students Often Give Up When Things Get Difficult

Gifted or high achieving students often have low self-esteem because they tend to be perfectionists. Many things come naturally to these students and when something suddenly doesn’t, they have to make a choice: power through or give up.

Oftentimes, they initially give up. If they give up enough times, they’ve unintentionally created a pattern of quitting, which leads to low confidence and low self-esteem — thinking that they can only be good at the things that they’re naturally good at and not the things that they must work hard for.

It’s also a question of failure. The student may reason that there’s a greater chance of failure if they embark on the journey of working hard on a subject matter that is not necessarily easy, like all of the rest of their classes. Will the risk be worth it?

Help Students See that Working Hard for Something is Worth It

The fact of the matter is that no one can be good at everything. It’s impossible. What’s funny about working with my logical and reasonable gifted students is that logic and reason doesn’t help them overcome their fear of failure. Logic and reason would tell you to take the easy way out. Grit would tell you to shoot for the stars, without a guarantee.

Also, for many students this may be the first time in their life that school is hard. Presented with this new challenge they have to decide to put more effort into something that may not reap the same reward. And that’s scary!

Now Naomi Wants to be a Writer

Even though Naomi presented with a dislike of writing, her real issue was that she was scared of failing because most everything had come so easily to her before this class. Once we got to the root of the problem, I began to help her see the value in working hard at something even though there was no guarantee of easy success.

Naomi did the work. She practiced. Her confidence slowly improved. And Just last week, she informed that she wants to be a professional writer. It’s clear that Naomi’s not scared of trying new things anymore.

*Not student’s real name

Christine Terry, J.D., is a Special Education Advocate & Founder of Terry Tutors. She created the One Wraparound Service for The Struggling Student, which includes Academic, Behavior, Special Education Advocacy, and School Placement services. Christine truly loves helping students realize their inner potential and the possibilities that await them: “To be a part of a student’s ‘ah ha’ moment is the best feeling in the world because I know I’m helping that student build foundational confidence that will lead to a successful path, not just in school but throughout life!”

Higher Education May Earn Your Child Middle Class Status, If It’s Still Around

majoring in debtIn light of President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union Address, I thought it appropriate to touch upon his proposal to do away with the 529 Higher Education Tax Free Savings Plan and replace it with comprehensive college cost reform, including making community college free. There are mixed feelings surrounding this idea but I for one agree that saddling our new grads with obscene amounts of student loan debt takes a toll not only on our young professionals but also on the economy, particularly the Middle Class.

Since the mid-1960’s, Baby Boomers began earning college degrees in droves for a fraction of the cost of their children, due to federal subsidies fueled by a national push to ensure college for all. Although a noble idea, there were so many students earning their Bachelor’s degrees that over time the four-year college achievement was watered down –some now consider it a mere extension of high school. But to work your way up to or maintain middle class status, it seems that you still must go to college.

To further discuss the impact a requisite college diploma has on America’s Middle Class and the future of such education necessities for our children, is Johanna Campbell, M.A. in Applied English Linguistics.

Every Parent Just Wants the Best for their Kid

As I am not a parent, I will avoid speaking as one.  Instead, I will tell you what I hear from my parents: their desire is always for their kids to have more, be more, do more than they did.

Perhaps this sounds familiar.  Perhaps it is true.  It’s certainly apparent that the desire comes from a place of love, because love is the only thing daft enough in this world for someone to slave away at a life of toil for someone else to reap the rewards.

Of course I jest.  A bit.  But there’s an undercurrent going on here, an economical phenomenon that at some point will implode from lack of sustainability.

The Stakes Keep Getting Higher

Most Americans self-classify as middle class.  This has been a category to which most Americans have assigned themselves for decades.  Distinction within the broad spectrum ranges from “lower middle” to “upper middle”, but the basic tenants remain the same: at the end of bill-paying, there’s enough left in the coffers to throw at retirement, plan a vacation, and still buy a latte.  Christie L. Owens, Executive Director of the National Employment Law Project, a research and advocacy group, says she considers “middle class to be people who can live comfortably on what they earn, can pay their bills, [and] can set aside something to save.”

Thus was she quoted in a January 26 article in the New York Times.  It used to be that movement within the classes was predominantly upward.  Now, apparently, middle class shrinkage is due to movement in quite the opposite direction.

Higher Education May Get You to Middle Class

It’s interesting to consider what role education has played in this retrogression.  Most middle-class adults, the article claims, reached their status through higher education.  Arguably, in a sea of economic swings moving ever-backward, forward mobility is happening.  Socioeconomic standing can improve because academics take focus.  How interesting that such ever-shrinking ground still has room to welcome more.  All that need happen is personal transfiguration, requiring nothing more than education.  But how can one accomplish this?  One is taught to pursue it.

Questioning Our Teachings – What’s Most Important?

Children don’t miss much.  They pay attention to the lessons adults don’t always know they’re teaching.  What is your curriculum focused around?  Spending time where it matters most?  Teaching kids the hard work behind the latest gadget and the newest gizmo?  Encouraging them in the education that it took – that it takes – to buy the stuff?  Really, what are we teaching our children?  What are we teaching them?  Because I assure you, they’re learning the lessons.  Every adult I know, including myself, carries the teachings of childhood that parents didn’t know they were imparting.

Education is what you put into it.  What you learn is what you work for, and what you work for is what’s important to you. It all comes full circle.

Guest Blogger Bio: Johanna Campbell, M.A. in Applied English Linguistics

The most recent addition to the IHS editing staff, Johanna Campbell brings over a decade of writing and editing experience to the team.  She has worked as an education consultant in the oil and gas industry for over seven years.  She previously taught at the University of Houston, where she also received her Master’s in Applied English Linguistics.

Christine Terry, J.D., is a Special Education Advocate & Founder of Terry Tutors. She created the One Wraparound Service for The Struggling Student, which includes Academic, Behavior, Special Education Advocacy, and School Placement services.  Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com.