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Down Syndrome – Three Tips for Educating Your Down Syndrome Child – Education

One of the most daunting questions about having a child with Down syndrome is how to best educate them. A child with Down syndrome will have more specific educational needs than a typical child.Mental retardation is the general rule for kids with Down syndrome, so you will be entering a whole new world of special education. But don’t despair! There are many systems set up to make sure that your Down syndrome child receives the best education possible, tailored to his or her needs.Laws Guarantee Your Down Syndrome Child’s EducationThe first thing you should know about Down syndrome education is that every child in the U.S. is entitled to what is called a free and appropriate education. That means that your child will be educated in the public school system in a way that fits his or needs, and this is guaranteed by law.When your child enters school, testing will be done to see what kind of services your child needs. An IEP, or Individualized Education Plan, will be written to address your child’s unique needs. If the school is not able to provide for your child’s needs, there is a process by which you may be able to get the school to pay for a special school that can.There are many different therapies and accommodations that the school can provide for your Down syndrome child. The specifics, in terms of which services are appropriate for your child, will be decided at your first IEP meeting.An IEP does the following:Identifies your child’s disability, and lays out how it affects their ability to be educated.
Lists goals that the child should be able to accomplish during the school year – both academic and functional, such as life skills goals.
Provides a mechanism for how these goals will be measured and assessed.
Specifies the specific aids and services that will be needed to meet these goals – for instance, tape recorders, sensory aids, note takers, aides, a modified curriculum and so on.A helpful website to learn more about IEP meetings is http://www.wrightslaw.com. IEP meetings are usually conducted once a year so adjustments can be made to your child’s services as he or she changes, if needed.Three Things to Look for in Your Child’s SchoolMost kids with Down syndrome are educated in public schools and receive special services. If you have a choice between public schools, or want to choose a private school instead, here are some things to think about.1. Will your child be educated in an inclusive environment or a self-contained classroom?A lot of schools these days educate Down syndrome kids in the same classes as other kids, pulling them out for specialty services like speech and occupational therapy. They have an aide to help them navigate the mainstream environment. This helps them learn better how to interact with their typical peers, and their peers how to better interact with people who have disabilities. Some still use self-contained classrooms, where people with disabilities are grouped together. Some use a mixture of both.Look into what transition support services the school offers for making the move from high school to beyond high school. This will become important later on.2. Supports Your Child May Need in SchoolThere are several different areas that your Down syndrome child may need support in once he or she enters school, and you will want to be aware of all of these.Academic support is an obvious one, but you will also want to make sure your child has support out on the playground.
He will need help interacting and feeling integrated with his classmates, and you will want someone there to make sure that no bullying is going on.
Some kids with Down syndrome will still need help in the bathroom, using the toilet, at least at the very beginning of their school years.Other areas of support can be added once you observe how your child is doing in school.3. Another Option – Private Schools for Down Syndrome ChildrenIf you feel your child cannot cope or thrive in a regular educational setting, there are private special education schools just for kids with Down syndrome. There are not a whole lot of them, and it is not the most common way to do things, but they do exist. (There are a lot of special education schools that accept kids with all sorts of disabilities, but fewer dedicated to only Down syndrome.) One example of a school dedicated to the education of Down syndrome kids is Pathfinder Village in Edmeston, New York.Education for Down syndrome kids can seem confusing and overwhelming at first, but you’ll get the hang of it. There are many resources available to guide you: books, websites, teachers, and other parents who have been there. This is where a support group with other Down syndrome parents will come in handy to share experiences with what works. With a little legwork, you will be well on your way to ensuring a wonderful educational experience for your Down syndrome child.

Do You Know How to Be an Engaging and Highly Effective Educator? – Education

Anyone can teach. We teach each other every day. For example, we give instructions to each other for such things as cooking, putting together furniture, and completing household other tasks. However, teaching someone is different than the process of educating someone. Consider the difference between informal learning and formal learning. An example of informal learning would be following a recipe to learn how to cook. In contrast, formal learning occurs within a classroom and usually is accompanied by evaluation and assessment. It may seem that teaching and educating are the same thing; however, the difference has to do with the place or context for learning.This is the same distinction can be made for teaching informally (giving instructions) and teaching students in a formal classroom environment. A person enters the field of education as a profession – either full time in traditional academic institutions or as an adjunct (or part time) instructor. The reasons vary for why someone would choose to be in the classroom. A traditional full time professor may likely be responsible for conducting research, teaching, and publishing scholarly work. An adjunct instructor may teach in a community college, traditional college, or an online school. When someone teaches students in higher education he or she may be called a facilitator, instructor, or professor. This is important as there isn’t a job with the word educator in the title.The questions I would like to answer include: What then does it mean to be an educator? Does it signify something different than the assigned job title? What I have learned through my work in higher education is that becoming an educator is not an automatic process. Everyone who is teaching adult students is not functioning as an engaging and highly effective educator. However, it is possible to learn how to educate rather than teach and that requires making a commitment to the profession.What Does It Mean to Teach?Consider teaching as part of the system of traditional, primary education. Those classes are teacher-led and children as students are taught what and how to learn. The teacher is considered to be the expert and directs the learning process. A teacher is someone who is highly trained and works to engage the minds of his or her students. This style of teacher-led instructional continues into higher education, specifically traditional college classrooms. The teacher still stands at the front and center of the class delivering information, and students are used to this format because of their experience in primary education. The instructor disseminates knowledge through a lecture and students study to pass the required examinations or complete other required learning activities.Within higher education, teachers may be called instructors and they are hired as subject matter experts with advanced content knowledge. The job requirements usually include holding a specific number of degree hours in the subject being taught. Teachers may also be called professors in traditional college classes, and those positions require a terminal degree with additional research requirements. For all of these roles, teaching is meant to signify someone who is guiding the learning process by directing, telling, and instructing students. The instructor or professor is in charge, and the students must comply and follow as directed. Here is something to consider: If that is the essence of teaching, is there a difference between that and educating students? Is the role of a teacher the same as that of an educator?What Does It Mean to be an Educator?Consider some basic definitions to begin with as a means of understanding the role of an educator. The word “education” refers to giving instruction; “educator” refers to the person who provides instruction and is someone who is skilled in teaching; and teaching is aligned with providing explanations. I have expanded upon these definitions so that the word “educator” includes someone who is skilled with instruction, possesses highly developed academic skills, and holds both subject matter knowledge and knowledge of adult education principles.Skilled with Instruction: An educator is someone who should be skilled in the art of classroom instruction, knowing what instructional strategies are effective and the areas of facilitation that need further development. An experienced educator develops methods that will bring course materials to life by adding relevant context and prompting students to learn through class discussions and other learning activities. Instruction also includes all of the interactions held with students, including all forms of communication, as every interaction provides an opportunity for teaching.Highly Developed Academic Skills: An educator must also have strong academic skills and at the top of that list are writing skills. This requires strong attention to detail on the part of the educator and in all forms of messages communicated, including anything written, presented, and sent via email. The ability to demonstrate strong academic skills is especially important for anyone who is teaching online classes as words represent the instructor.The use of proper formatting guidelines, according to the style prescribed by the school, is also included in the list of critical academic skills. For example, many schools have implemented APA formatting guidelines as the standard for formatting papers and working with sources. An educator cannot adequately guide students and provide meaningful feedback if the writing style has not been mastered.Strong Knowledge Base: An educator needs to develop a knowledge base that contains subject matter expertise, as related to the course or courses they are teaching, along with knowledge of adult education principles. I know of many educators who have the required credit hours on their degree transcripts, yet they may not have extensive experience in the field they teach. This will still allow these educators to teach the course, provided that they take time to read the course textbook and find methods of applying it to current practices within the field.Many schools hire adjuncts with extensive work experience as the primary criteria, rather than knowledge of adult learning principles. Those instructors I have worked with who do have a strong adult education knowledge base generally acquired it through ongoing professional development. That was my goal, when I decided on a major for my doctoral degree, to understand how adults learn so that I could transform from an instructor to an educator.Becoming an Engaging and Highly Effective EducatorI do not believe that many instructors intentionally consider the need to make a transformation from working as an instructor to functioning as an educator. When someone is hired to teach a class, someone other than a traditional college professor, they often learn through practice and time what works well in the classroom. There will likely be classroom audits and recommendations made for ongoing professional development. Gradually the typical instructor will become an educator as they seek out resources to help improve their teaching practices. However, I have worked with many adjunct online instructors who rely on their subject matter expertise alone and do not believe there is a reason to grow as an educator. For anyone who would like to make the transformation and become an engaging and highly effective educator, there are steps that can be taken and practices that can be implemented.Step One: Continue to Develop Your Instructional PracticeWhile any educator can learn through time on the job, it is possible to become intentional about this growth. There are numerous online resources, publications, workshops, webinars, and professional groups that would allow you to learn new methods, strategies, and practices. There are also social media websites such as LinkedIn and Twitter that allow for the exchange of ideas and resources within a global community of educators.You can also utilize self-reflection as a means of gauging your effectiveness. I have found that the best time to review my instructional practice occurs immediately after a class concludes. That is a time when I can assess the strategies I have used and determine if those methods were effective. Even reviewing end of course student surveys may provide insight into the perspective of my students.Step Two: Continue to Develop Your Academic SkillsI know from my work with online faculty development that this is an area of development that many educators could use. However, it is often viewed as a low priority – until it is noted in classroom audits. If an educator has weak academic writing skills, it will interfere with their ability to provide comprehensive feedback for students. For online instructors, that has an even greater impact when posted messages contain errors with spelling, grammar, and formatting. The development of academic skills can be done through the use of online resources or workshops. Many online schools I have worked for offer faculty workshops and this is a valuable self-development resource.Step Three: Continue to Develop Your Subject Matter ExpertiseEvery educator has subject matter expertise that they can draw upon. However, the challenge is keeping that knowledge current as you continue to teach for several years. The best advice I can offer is to find resources that allow you to read and learn about current thinking, research, and best practices in your chosen field. This is essential to your instructional practice as students can ascertain whether you appear to be current in your knowledge, or outdated and seemingly out of touch. Even the use of required textbooks does not ensure that you are utilizing the most current information as knowledge evolves quickly in many fields.Step Four: Continue to Develop Your Knowledge of Adult LearningThe last step or strategy that I can recommend is to gain knowledge about adult learning theories, principles, and practices. If you are not familiar with the basics there are concepts you can research and include critical thinking, andragogy, self-directed learning, transformational learning, learning styles, motivation, and cognition. My suggestion is to find and read online sources related to higher education and then find a subject that interests you to research further. I have found that the more I read about topics I enjoy, the more I am cultivating my interest in ongoing professional development. What you will likely find is that what you learn will have a positive influence on your work as an educator and will enhance all areas of your instructional practice.Working as an educator, or someone who is highly engaged in the process of helping students learn, starts with a commitment to make this a career rather than a job. I have developed a vision related to how I want to be involved in each class I teach and I recommend the same strategy for you. You may find it useful to develop teaching goals for your career and link your classroom performance to those goals. For example, do you want to complete the required facilitation tasks or would you rather put in the additional time necessary to create nurturing class conditions?After developing a vision and teaching goals, you can create a professional development plan to prompt your learning and growth in all of the areas I have addressed above. While this strategy may require an investment of time, it is helpful to remember that we always make time for whatever we believe is most important. Being an educator is not sustaining a focus on job functions, rather it is cultivating a love of what you do and learning how to excel for the benefit of your students. Becoming an engaging and highly effective educator occurs when you decide that teaching students is only part of the learning process, and you work to transform who you are and how you function, while working and interacting with your students.

Diversifying Revenue Needed for Institutions of Higher Education – Education

Diversifying RevenueToday, institutions of higher education are being encouraged and challenged to think creatively about expanding and developing new revenue sources to support the their short-term and long-term goals. Moody’s Investors Services has outlined in its published reports how every traditional revenue stream for colleges and universities is facing some sort of pressure.Unfortunately, the pressure on all revenue streams and sources is the result of macro-level economic, technological and public opinion shifts, and these changes are largely beyond the control of institutions.The Moody analysts have cautioned that revenue streams will never flow as robustly as they did before 2008. It’s been stated the change will require a fundamental shift in how colleges and universities operate; one that will require more strategic thinking.In their studies, Moody’s notes that colleges and universities will have to rely on strategic leaders that are willing to address these challenges through better use of technology to cut costs, create efficiency in their operations, demonstrate value, reach out to new markets, and prioritize its programs. However, in doing so, many of these efforts may create disputes with faculty members or other institutional constituents, unless they are able to get the collective buy-in that has been the staple of higher education governance. But with goals being established and the evolution taking place as part of the process, hopefully, there will be a more widespread understanding on all sides.Major revenue constraints can be attributed to larger changes in the economic landscape, including lower household incomes, changes and fluctuations in the economic and federal government picture, declines in the number of high school graduates, the emergence of new technologies, and a growing interest in getting the most out of a college education – particularly as it pertains to employment after graduation. A stable fiscal picture and outlook would require improved pricing power, a sustained and truly measured decrease in the unemployment rate, improvements in the housing market, and several years of consistent stock market returns.The traditional higher education model has been disrupted by the ability of massive open online courses, particularly by the legitimization of online education and other technological innovations. In many ways, this has signaled a fundamental shift in strategy by industry leaders to embrace these technological changes that threaten to destabilize the residential college and university’s business model over the long run.There are other related challenges facing higher education: the growing profile of student debt, which has topped $1 trillion nationally, and default rates, and pressure on politicians and accreditation agencies to ensure the value of degrees. In addition, an alarm continues to sound over a potential student loan bubble and the diminishing affordability of higher education.One way for colleges and universities to get students, and their parents, to pay for higher tuition is by demonstrating that the outcomes – including their campus experience, postgraduate employment, graduate school enrollment, and long-term success and happiness – are well worth the tuition and future job pay. Students and their parents want to know, “What am I getting for my investment?” As a result, recruiters have a tougher job “selling” a traditional education with the cost of education continuing to escalate.But the on campus education and living and learning experience are the “door openers.” As I like to say, “We are a product of our environment.” Making the right friends, building relationships with influential professors, administrators, parents and relatives of friends, and fraternity brothers or sorority sisters all get added into the equation of the student’s environment. In retrospect, students may forget or never use half of what they learn, but the connections and friends they make and the experiences they have while in college are priceless.Over 1/3 of the colleges and universities in the nation are experiencing some sort of financial crisis. Many have gone from operating full operating budgets to a comfortable black to a severely red. And cash reserves have dropped, as well as endowments.Without a doubt, the university must find new revenue sources. Attracting more out-of-state and international students is one additional source of revenue for these institutions.We must never lose sight of the fact of the importance of investing in higher education. Educating the young is of primary importance. Devising ways to maximize time and money, such as integrating class projects and research that might result in publication is another alternative to consider.Allowing and/or expanding commercialism on the campus may provide added sources of revenue. Examples could include allowing corporate naming rights to athletic facilities or increased advertising signage inside arenas and stadiums. This may seem drastic and some may even say, “You have to pick your poison” in being creative to increase your revenue streams.Attempting to reduce the university’s “discount rate,” the percentage of the total tuition bill for the entire student body that the university waives to grant financial aid to its students is one possibility. But that can be risky business. Any move to reduce the discount rate potentially upsets an exceedingly delicate balance. Looking to attract families that are able and willing to pay full or near full tuition, while simultaneously making the school accessible to less wealthy students, and hitting the right mark, granting merit aid to lure high-potential students who might later benefit the school and broader community, may be one possibility to work in achieving a better balance among the many factors that feed enrollment. Additionally, stepping-up the fundraising efforts to offset any potential rising discount rate may also be helpful.Another factor to think about is the amount of construction the institution may be having on campus, especially during campus tours, to determine the effect, it may or has caused in any dips in the recruiting process. Even though construction on campus is a sign of growth and improvement, in the short-term it is not always the most attractive thing for students to see and hear on campus, or experience during a campus tour with their parents.Institutions of higher education must also anticipate any approaching demographic shifts. They may have to grapple with an economic and social environment in which more families bargain for the best deals among different schools. If this is the case, the institutions should consider making their best offers up-front first and try to avoid drawn-out negotiations.Students are creating more choices for themselves and they have more access to more choices. The internet makes it easier for students to research and apply to more schools.Some of the private institutions have held back from the tuition-hiking trend, and some have even cut tuition costs in an effort to attract more students. Other schools have taken more unconventional measures, such as freezing tuition, offering three-year degree programs, or giving students four-year graduation guarantees. They are doing this with the goal of increasing enrollment levels that will more than offset the reductions being made, thereby providing more overall revenue without sacrificing the student’s education.But also since the economic downturn, private colleges and universities across the nation have redoubled efforts to cut their operating costs, improve their efficiency, and enhance their affordability in order to stay within reach of families from all backgrounds. You cannot lose sight of that. Making it work has to be done on both ends; cutting costs and increasing revenues.Other strategies that could be considered to increase the enrollment and revenue streams at institutions of higher education could include the following:
Segmenting search to target upper profile students with different messages;
Increasing scholarship levels (while still maintaining net revenue needs);
Targeting out-of-state students or students outside of traditional markets;
Targeting high school honors programs;
Holding a scholarship recognition day;
Stressing off-campus opportunities such as internships and study abroad;
Promoting graduate school placements and outcomes; and
Developing high profile academic majors, pre-professional programs, or new majors and programs to support enrollment growth.
Additional considerations for increasing revenue streams might include:
Review the individual educational programs in-place and revenues provided by each and coverage of direct costs and determine what changes should be made, if any;
Acceleration of the 4 year degree programs into 3 to 3 ½ year programs to save on tuition and utilize it as a marketing tool for recruiting, but do so without short changing the student’s education;
Providing an automatic 2-year graduate scholarship at the university for students who enroll in a 4 year undergrad program and meet and maintain a defined GPA level and other pre-defined standards and goals of the university. Use as a tool for marketing and recruitment;
Having a full-time grant application aid/seeker for the university searching for state and federal funds, as well as working with faculty and staff to develop research projects for funding and using as educational programs for the students;
Establishing joint and cooperative programs with other universities in the US and abroad for recruiting;
Consider an overall re-evaluation of the recruiting process for identifying and “going after” potential students, thereby expanding the horizons and outreach;
Obtaining more exposure on a “national and multi-state” level;
Determine if any new programs should be added, programs dropped, or enhanced and/or expanded;
Develop tools for “presenting a plan” and a “comprehensively designed package” for financing and paying the cost for education;
Reaching-out to alumni and friends for enhanced ways to provide for contributions to the university through annuities, insurance, and other charitable giving techniques and products; and
Developing relationships with corporate sponsors for grants and contributions and placements for graduating students.
ConclusionFor the suggestions mentioned about possible new revenue source considerations to support the institution’s short-term and long-term goals, it will be important to develop predictive financial modeling tools for testing the proposed changes and outcomes to the enrollment levels and the projected effects on the revenue streams and the overall bottom line.In doing all of this we must never lose sight of the fact that education prepares graduates to lead lives of achievement, contribution and meaning. And, as I like to say, “The Students will become a Product of their Environment.”