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Saturday, August 31, 2019

Back-to-School Interview With Educational Specialist of 35 Years on Learning Issues


National Parent & Teacher Choice Award
                                     And
The National Parenting Product Awards

                     

The ABCs of Learning Issues is a critically acclaimed resource    for parents, educators, and service providers. This book describes how to identify, recognize, and rectify learning issues

“The ABCs of Learning Issues provides parents with a valuable tool that increases their understanding of learning issues, offers a framework in which to identify and incorporate effective strategies when helping their children, and assists them in learning how to work directly with their school in a cooperative and collaborative manner.

“As an educational diagnostician for more than three decades, I work with families to help them to fully understand the results and interpretations of formal evaluations.  I also help children to develop their academic skill set preparing them for their next educational crossroad. With an in-depth background in learning disabilities, I provide a wide array of academic recommendations and interventions to parents and professionals.”
--Dana Stahl, M. Ed.


In the United States, as many as 1 in 5 children experience learning issues. Learning, attention, and anxiety issues adversely affect students from reaching their social-emotional and academic potential. The ABCs of Learning Issues, explores 24 learning issues providing clinical and educator’s definitions, behaviors parents may observe at home, effective strategies for both the home and school, and a list of professionals that can help students feel successful.

The ABCs of Learning Issues: A Practical Guide for Parents, by Dana Stahl., M.Ed. (Palmiche Press, Trade Paper, $39.99, 172 pages, ISBN: 978-0-9968461-0-7), is an educational consultant and learning specialist of 35 years. Her practice focuses on educational advice, advocacy, and school placements. Dana helps parents to further their understanding of various learning issues that parents observe at home, and educators observe at school.

Here is an interview with Stahl, a client for the public relations firm that I work for:

1.      Dana, what inspired your writing of The ABCs of Learning Issues: A Practical Guide for parents? I wrote this book to help parents understand the behaviors that their children with identified learning issues may experience in school and at home. Every industry has a specific language. The language of learning issues that educators use is specific to the world of teachers, educational administrators, child psychologists and psychiatrists, social workers, speech and language pathologists, pediatric neurologists, and occupational and physical therapists.  Without understanding the precise terminology common to these professionals and to this industry, parents are at a disadvantage in grasping key components of specific clinical definitions, effective teaching strategies, and techniques they can incorporate at home to help them accept and support their children who experience learning issues.

2.      How would a parent know if his or her child has a learning or behavioral issue? For first- time parents, it is difficult for them to understand if their child has a learning or behavioral issue. Most parents however, have friends and family to which they can observe how their children are doing comparative to their peers. Pediatricians, teachers, and daycare providers can also help parents to view their children with a more observant lens. The ABCs of Learning Issues, will help parents further their understanding of various learning issues and behaviors they observe at home and hear about from their children’s teachers. The information presented empowers parents to identify, recognize, and deal with specific learning issues that are described in formal evaluations on standardized tests, and within school environments.

3.      What should a parent do to properly diagnose and assess a child’s abilities or shortcomings? Parents can develop a more efficient relationship with their child’s teacher by securing a home-school partnership. This partnership can be developed by reinforcing what is being presented in school, and in knowing what is going on in class. Continued contact with your child’s teacher regarding parental observations in homework, test preparation, social interactions with peers, or difficulty in attention, learning or academic anxiety all help to foster a close home-school relationship. The ABCs of Learning Issues provides parents with a valuable tool that increases their understanding of learning issues, offers a framework in which to identify and incorporate effective strategies, and assists them in learning how to work directly with their school in a cooperative and collaborative manner.

4.      What challenges do most parents experience when dealing with academically challenged students? There are numerous challenges parents face when dealing with academically challenged students. They span the gamete from repositioning their academic expectations of their children’s school experience, production and performance to learning to negotiate and navigate their way through the legal and educational side of being parent advocates. This requires maintaining an open line of communication with the schools, learning the language special education, the process by which children are formally evaluated and diagnosed, as well as what are their children’s rights once they receive a diagnosis. Terms such as a 504 Plans or IEP’s (Individual Education Plan) may be foreign, as well as push-in and pull-out services. But understanding how to be an effective parent advocate is invaluable.

5.      How do teachers need to help parents to rectify or address social behavior problems? Teachers can help parents to rectify or address social behavior problems by providing them with some concrete strategies. These strategies are most effective when they are implemented and coordinated at home and at school. Consistency is crucial for children, and while they understand that every action has a reaction, the response from the adults in their world needs to be anticipated and reliable. Home-school communication is imperative to partnering together to help children. Parent-Teacher conferences, and or Child Study Team meetings are the perfect venue to address social behavior problems, create a plan that includes intervention (including professionals that can help), monitoring progress (behavior charts, written observations), and revisiting stated concerns in follow up meetings.

6.      Is there agreement amongst educators, therapists, doctors, and parents on how to treat specific learning issues – or is there disagreement, confusion, and a misunderstanding of things?  Fortunately, children with disabilities are guaranteed specific interventions and accommodations under the Individual and Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This Act provides assistance for all children with disabilities. Part B includes provisions related to formal grants that assist states in providing a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment for children with disabilities ages three through 21. There are 14 stated disabilities that schools on a federal level are required to abide by. Once children are identified with a specific disability, schools work as a team with service providers and parents help these children succeed to their full social-emotional and academic potential. In this venue, professionals agree upon the implementation of IDEA and FAPE.

 

7.      What are some of the more common learning issues and how can steps be taken early on to combat them? Early intervention is the key to steps being taken to combat common learning issues. Learning, attention, and anxiety issues exhibited by students are what educators experience in their classrooms and parents observe from their children in their homes. Some common learning issues include areas of reading writing and math. Others include areas of academic anxiety or attention issues. And some, center on executive functioning, processing, and memory. But, whatever the issues are, early intervention is essential in taking steps to identify, recognize, and rectify specific learning issues. Once learning issues are brought to the parents or school’s attention, the Child Study Team (CST) meets to formally discuss their observations and put a plan in place.


8.      What steps can be taken to improve a child’s reading rate? Reading rate is the speed at which a person reads a written text during a specific unit of time. It is generally calculated by the number of words read per minute, but is influenced by a number of factors, such as a reader’s purpose, level of expertise, and the relative difficulty of the text. Effective teaching strategies that can be taken to improve a child’s reading rate include:
·         Partner with your child to read books and plays. Select characters and increase reading rate and expression with short passages.
·         Select reading material that is easy. Focus on developing automaticity, appropriate phrasing, and intonation.
·         Expand your child’s vocabulary and increase their reading rate by fostering familiarity with the text.

9.      What can be done to address students who struggle with academic anxiety? Anxiety may be a normal part of life, and it can also be maladaptive if excessive feelings of fear, worry, or nervousness interfere with everyday life. Anxiety levels are linked to interval pressure that students may place on themselves, as well as how they perceive their family members’ and teachers’ expectations. For students who exhibit academic anxiety with regard to performance, steps can be taken to help them feel less anxious. Create learning environments that encourage students to independently negotiate and navigate their work. Teach students to ‘smash the task,’ or break it down into manageable components. Students develop a sense of ownership in accomplishing small segments of assignments, which lowers their anxiety and allows for successful completion.


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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2019. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.

Reflecting On My First Book PR Job -- 30 Years Ago




You never forget your first job.  It was 30 years ago, on 8-7-89, that I  was hired for my first full-time, post-school job.  And so began my career in publishing and book publicity.

It was at a small indie press that I discovered a career in books.  

The office was a dump, sprawled across an entire floor that had no interior offices or barriers between desks.  It was more of a warehouse. Desks clustered on one side. Bookcases and stacks of books covered more than two-thirds of the joint.  

The stairs leading to the four-story walk-up smelled musty and their chipped, uneven look symbolized the wear and tear the book industry can have on its participants.

The building was cared for by a fall-down drunk.  When he was sober, meaning filled with booze but able to stand, he’d tell me about long-ago days when he was a boxer.  His worn face and thick fingers certainly have weathered many battles, in and beyond the ring.  He had an infectious laugh and seemed like he could be a part of society if he was just willing to lay off the “medicine.’  But all too often he was blitzed.  

On more than one occasion he would tumble down the stairs, only to come up again the way a knocked-down boxer finds his legs to stumble up before the referee counts him out.  

Sometimes my boss, the owner of the company, would have to shoo him out of the office.  He’d make a Kramer-like entrance, pop open the metal door quickly, and start mumbling some unintelligible stuff and then say, in a slower flow of slurred words,” Why don’t you put all this shit on microfiche” and then laugh himself hard.  You’d find him passed out at the bottom of the stairs, reeking from cheap alcohol and urine.

The people I worked with were all characters in a play that flowed with humor, excitement, and often times cruelty.  Let’s start with my boss.

He came from a family of money but was the svrew-up of the brood.  He’d told me he used to be a stock broker but it sounded like he got kicked out.  He was unethical in his treatment of his employees and authors. He spewed negative comments but covered them with jokes, hoping he could get away with verbally abusing others. He later went bankrupt and a Publishers Weekly story said he owed people millions of dollars to printers, authors, vendors, and workers. 

His fiance worked side by side with him, a brusk, tough-talking woman who used to air her dirty laundry right in front of everyone.  They’d argue loudly, right there, the way divorcing couples would at home.  She called him names and cried while he verbally abused her. 

My first job was a great learning experience, though most of my success came as a result of my natural drive and ability to self-teach.  I started with a vague title – assistant to the publisher. But within four months they fired the publicity director, who constantly argued with the owner and acted like a guy who thought everyone was after him, and thrust me into the position.

I ended up securing as many as 180 radio interviews for individual authors.  We had promotable books, ones that covered Hollywood, politics, sex, and scandal.  I got authors on the TV talk shows of the day, such as Geraldo, Montel, Maury, and Sonya Live.  The media – and the book industry – were different back then. It was a lot of fun.

Some of my colleagues were terrific.  One guy, a book editor also had a bunch of books published and I was happy to promote them.  

Another colleague, a nice older woman, dealt with selling Judaica books to the Jewish book market, and she was very sweet.  


Oh, and I can’t forget about Reverend Peter.  This guy was some type of preacher in Jamaica and here in the U.S.  his “church” was limited to him sharing moral reminders to colleagues while they endured the verbal mistreatment of the owner.  He was a gentle man with a good heart and an infectious laugh. I loved that guy.

The back office crew who handled shipping, accounting, and supplies were great to joke around with.

I always tell people not to stick around at their first job for too long because the only way to make more money is to go elsewhere.  You leave – get a higher position – learn new things and move up in the world.  Well, that decision was made for me.  My crooked boss fired me on the anniversary of working there two years.  He didn’t want to meet my request for a raise of a dollar an hour.  I was vastly underpaid.  My starting salary was $15,600 in NYC.  Back then college grads didn't make less than $20,000 at a first job in any industry. You can’t do anything with that, but it was a great experience.


“…THINGS that draws writers to writing is that they can get things right that they go wrong in real life…”  
--Tobias Wolff


“…DON’T write because you want to say something, you write because you’ve got something to say.” --F. Scott Fitzgerald


“…DON’T give people what they want.  You give them what they don’t yet know they want.”  --Mo Willems


“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”  --George Eliot


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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2019. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Inspiring Book Helps Us Grieve



On National Grief Awareness Day, A Poignant Book by A Mother Who Lost Her Teen Daughter, Shares Guidance on Grieving

                                          

Any loss, of life is a burden to survivors, but to lose one’s child is the greatest loss of all.  Kim Peacock, after many tears shed and wounds salted, is giving something back to the millions of people each year who lose a loved one – and to the tens of millions who seek to comfort those who suffer a loss.  Her new book, Victorious Heart:  Finding Hope and Healing after a Devastating Loss (Morgan James Publishers), honors her teen daughter’s life, Nicole, while sharing useful advice, guidance, and support for those in the throes of grieving. It is a perfect contribution for National Grief Awareness Day, August 30th.

Kim says she suffers from a grief PTSD.  And who would expect her not to?  Not only did she suffer the loss of her daughter, she witnessed it, a horrific ATV accident while on a family vacation two decades ago.

“Even though you never ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one,” says Kim, “you are honoring them by living well and not forgetting them.  You can live victoriously in the midst of your grief.  Victorious Heart was written to help those in the valley of sorrow to know that they are not alone and they will make it through the heartbreak of losing a loved one.”

Kim’s book is a beautiful story of hope and healing.  It helps provide answers to questions about surviving a deep pain, how one finds joy again, and how to navigate challenging moments months and years later. Her advice to those grieving includes these insights:

Here’s an interview with Kim, a client for the public relations firm that I work for:


1.      Kim, you witnessed your teenager daughter, Nicole, die in an accident while on vacation, seeing her drive an ATV off the road and plunging to her death.  How did you find the strength and courage to live with such a devastating loss?  Nicole’s accident is forever imprinted on my mind.  When I allow my thoughts to dwell there I struggle to find strength and courage.  In the days leading up to Nicole’s service we found a verse that stood out to us. Joshua 1:9 reminded us to be strong and courageous because God is with us.  I didn’t feel courageous, but those words reminded me that I could be because He was with me.  The word Be implied that I had a choice to be strong and brave.  So, every moment I had to be intentional about being brave, and sometimes that meant just getting out of bed in the morning.  I still have to remind myself that I have to choose to be brave.  Brave doesn’t just happen.

2.      It’s been 21 years since that fateful day in December.  Does it seem like yesterday?  In many ways it does feel like it was just yesterday.  There are times that the sorrow still overwhelms me like a wave and the pain is raw and fresh.  Some days it feels like she was just here and seems strange that everyone else has moved on and grown up.  Nicole would have turned 38 this year, but she will always be 17 years old to me.  Her littlest sister, whom she always spoiled rotten is married and has 4 kids.  It is hard for my brain to absorb that she has never seen her nieces and nephew.  On the other hand, it seems like a life time since I’ve been able to hug my girl, hear her sweet voice and infectious laugh. 

3.      What inspired you to write not only your story but a helpful guidebook for those suffering a loss – and those who support the people who have lost a loved one?   When Nicole passed away we weren’t prepared for the pain that entered our lives. Our family was thrust into another dimension.  The world still looked the same, but nothing was the same.  As we tried to find our footing in our new world, survival didn’t feel possible.  We had amazing people around us who loved us, yet it felt as if no one could relate to the intensity of our pain.  We began to seek out other parents who had lost children.  Somehow to look at their faces and see their existence gave us courage to keep going.  I want Victorious Heart to be a beacon of light to show others it is possible to not only survive, but to have hope and healing in the midst of their loss.        

4.      What should people understand about the grieving process?  Grief is not a linear journey.  There are many layers to sorrow and it is deeply personal.  No two people experience pain in the same way.  It is important to give yourself space to grieve in the way that brings the most healing to you.  Don’t allow the expectations of our culture press you into a place that doesn’t do that.  Also, once you experience the loss of someone you love dearly, you don’t “get over it”.  Even though I have experienced a large measure of healing, my heart will never be “fixed” and return to the way I was prior to December 28, 1998.  Grief is a part of my life and it has forever changed me, but that’s okay.  It has brought a deep appreciation for life.

5.      What advice do you have for friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues who want to help one in their grief but don’t know what to do or say?  What do you say to a devastated, grieving family?  The truth is, there is often nothing to be said, no magical words that will make it all better. But for us, the actions and care of the community around us acted as a salve to our wounded hearts.  Women from our church just showed up with bottled water, food and cards.  They quietly took care of what was needed.  Our animals were fed, the trash was taken out and the counters were wiped down.  Some of the greatest comfort we received came from those who said little, but just showed up. The acts of kindness from the those who expected nothing from us in return.  They loved us without expectations or judgement 

6.      You have a blended family – a step-daughter, a daughter you share with your husband, and three adopted children.  It looks like you have a huge capacity to love.  How has Nicole’s passing influenced how you raised your children and now, several grandchildren?  I realize how precious life is.  My favorite memories of Nicole are the ordinary days.  It is in those days in which we just did life. Watching her practice horsemanship for her next horse show or even the road trip to the next horse show. Those were the precious times. So, I try to be intentional about slowing down and savoring every ordinary moment with my kids and grandkids.  I’m not guaranteed one more moment with them, so I have to remember to be present in every single moment I am in.  I don’t always do it.  It is very easy to get caught up in the striving, to get more and to do more.  But it something that I try to always be aware of. 

7.      Where does the title of your Book, Victorious Heart, come from?  Shortly after Nicole’s death a close family friend gave us a book mark.  The top bore Nicole’s name and underneath was the meaning of her name.  “Victorious Heart”.  Those were perfect words to describe our girl.  I began to think about what that would look like in my own life.  I sure didn’t feel victorious, but a little seed was planted in my heart.  I knew instantly that I wanted to live with a Victorious Heart.  Those words became a sort of mantra and the theme of my life.  In some ways it was a way for me to honor Nicole’s memory, but because of those words I found an unexpected conduit to the healing of my heart. 

8.      Tell us about Nicole.  What kind of person was she?  Wild and Free are the words that come to mind.  Nicole gave love freely and without judgement.  Her heart was always soft toward the hurting and she seemed to see a struggling person when no one else did.  When she was young, she hated to lose and was frankly a sore loser.  However, because she showed horses, she learned the importance of losing well.  She worked hard and was a fierce competitor at every horse show.  Yet, she decided early on that it was more important to her to make it her goal to make friends at every horse show she participated in.  Her wild, free spirit showed through in her sparkly blue eyes and beautiful smile.  She truly lived up to the meaning of her name.  Victorious Heart.

9.      How did prayer and your faith help you put Nicole’s death into perspective?  When Nicole was being transported to the hospital a ranger offered to give me a ride.  On that ride he said, “Don’t quit praying”.  At the time I believed if I prayed, Nicole’s earthly life would be spared.  What I came to understand was prayer would save my life.  In Chapter 2 of the book I talk about how those prayers literally sustained me.  I also struggled with visions of Nicole plunging off the sand dune repeatedly.  During that time, I had to ask myself if what I believed about God and Heaven still held true in my pain. If it was true, then I believed that because of Nicole’s faith in God she was in Heaven and she was more alive than I was here on this earth. 

10.  You wrote, “Hope is not fragile; just hard to find when the lights go out.”  What gave you hope?   For me it is a matter of focus or said another way – perspective. When I look around at what I see, to the visible circumstances around me, that is when hope is hard to find.  My focus is on my pain or the sad things of this world. However, when I step back and remind myself that what I see is not all there is, then I find hope.  I have to rely on what I know, not on how I feel.  What I know, what I believe is that there is a Heaven and our time on this earth is ever so brief, then there will be eternity.  I do have a choice on how I spend my time --and where my focus lies.


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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2019. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.



Thursday, August 29, 2019

Authors, Have You Written Your Brand Statement?


Image result for brand images

Authors spend a lot of time and effort to get others excited about their books.  They speak before groups, promote themselves to the news media, and live on social media.  But what exactly is it that you say or do that draws people to you and clearly defines why you are someone to be flowered with attention?

I guess what I am asking you is this:  What is your brand, your core message, your voice, your image, your area of expertise, your essence?

Ok, now answer that in a 20-second elevator speech or even better, a one-sentence tagline.

You need a mantra, one that defines you and inspires others.  But it can’t be bland or fill-in-the-blanks generic.  If your tagline or mantra sound like that of everyone else you will not stick out, be memorable, or even alluring.  You will blend in with the trees and be lost in a forest of competing voices.

Start by listing  -- in no particular order -- with no fancy verbiage attached, all of the things you’ve accomplished.  First look at what you have done as it relates to what your book is about and your perceived area of expertise.  Next, think about your qualifications for penning this book.  Exactly what authenticates you as an authority?  Lastly, think of interesting parts of your personal life, some of which might fit well with your brand recipe.  Maybe you have an interesting hobby or do something unusual outside of your professional life that people would want to cling to.

Your tagline or mantra needs to sound good.  It lifts you and others up.  It distinguishes you from the pack.  It’s your moment to influence and impact others in an empowering way.  This is your chance to shape how people view you.  Give them optimism, success, humor, intelligence, and power. You want to sound professional and personable, accomplished but relatable, innovative but grounded.

So who gets to hear your branded message?  Everyone.

How?  Every time you speak, brand yourself. Put it on your letterhead, website, business card, email signature, social media profile, and everything that you do.  Express it in your clothes and accessories.  Let it be seen in your visual – videos, photos, illustrations.  Let it be apparent in your choice of words, your voice, and your body language.  Always be you and let others know just who you are.

Oh, and one more thing:  believe what you are saying.  If this message doesn’t sound legitimate, feel pure, or truly represent your ideas, values, skills, and experiences, don’t use it.  Toss it or tweak it, but make sure what you come up with is not only effective and believable but reflective of your truth.

In publishing, there are a million brands running loose, each one reflecting an author’s accomplishments and hopes, each one with insecurities and fears propping it up.  Discover who you really are and then tell everyone.  Don’t just brand yourself – be a brand that represents who you really are.


“What is originality?  Undetected plagiarism.”
--William Ralph Inge

“Everything that needs to be said has already been said.  But, since no one was listening, everything must be said again.”
--Andre Gide, Fresh writer

“Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.”
--Salvador Dali


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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2019. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.