In my holidays I have a lot more time to think and reflect on myself as an educator. A thought occurred to me whilst I was reviewing some parent feedback from 2014. I was discussing my experiences and feedback with a colleague these holidays and I questioned how educators use records and anecdotal notes to their benefit?
I don’t know about you, but I keep quite a lot of notes and records about my students each and every year. These involve individual goals, incidents, behavioural observations, records of achievements to track progress, records of meetings, conversations with parents etc. Usually these are all taken to provide evidence for reporting purposes and parent meetings and discussions, and to track student progress both academically and emotionally. But it occurred to me that I was lacking something…
Where are my positive notes about the interactions I have with my students, parents and colleagues? How am I showing that I am building healthy relationships with those I work with? Where is my evidence of this?
After reading lovely letters, emails and Christmas cards at the end of the year, educators are often given that feedback from parents. I also like to make sure that my students have a voice in this process, but I have never had these things written down or recorded.
Should educators be recording these positive moments? And if so how can this be managed on top of everything else we do? Is there a real need for this?
Well, I think there is. My perceptions of my relationships with my students and parents vary for each individual and when faced with difficulties, I’d like to be able to have evidence of the efforts and positive interactions I have had with my students, parents and fellow educators.
There have been times where I have received some negative feedback about myself as an educator, (I know it’s hard to believe!) It may sound easy to say, “You can’t please everybody, I’m learning and I’ll try this next time”, but quite honestly it isn’t. I receive more positive feedback and praise than negative, yet I still focus on that one negative statement or nasty email… I question my practises and think, where is the evidence that shows how I made the effort to resolve this issue? Was I doing everything from my end to make this experience a positive one for whoever was involved? Educators need to be backing themselves by recording those positive interactions and efforts.
Too often we play the record of negative feedback over and over in our heads, trying to figure out if we could have played the situation better… lets play the positive record and balance it out.
Three Positive Interaction Record Goals for 2015:
- Start a positive interactions notebook/ file. This can be as simple as Date/ Time/ Name and Positive Interaction. These can be kept as my own personal records and used for interactions with students, parents and colleagues. I will aim to do one per week for each. This could also be used with students too, as a reflection tool about the positive interactions they’ve had with others in the week.
- Give students a voice in positive feedback. Maybe a video message on the class iPad, or a letterbox of nice things to say to one another in class. This could work for everyone in the class, so one positive comment for each person, including the teacher, probably once a week. Or the idea of a positive interactions reflection journal.
- An opportunity for positive parent feedback at frequent intervals throughout the year, not just those sentimental end of year letters and cards. This can be done via email, sharing blog posts with parents, communication books in class, or simply my taking notes of the verbal feedback given to me by parents etc.
Not bad for my first blog post for 2015! Lets start to play positive records for a positive start to a new year. All the best to all of my fellow educators.