To assist St Andrew’s Staff with current world events and dealing with the very likely possibility of remote or distance learning, I was asked to present information for teachers about how to explore, set and create learning activities that their students can access from home. I became a Seesaw Ambassador in 2017, and am currently in the process of updating my Seesaw Ambassador Training. I have been given great resources that I am sharing with you now.
Please note, our school setting has been using Seesaw for the last 4-5 years, this is a platform that is already familiar to our teachers, students and families, (the whole school community), which is why we have chosen to continue utilising this platform. We have mainly used Seesaw as a means to showcase student learning, like a digital portfolio.
I am aware that other online resources are being used to suit the needs of our teachers and students such as Edmodo, Showbie, Google Classrooms etc. Use what works for you.
Here is my PD Powerpoint presentation in a PDF format from the workshop today. You can access all of the video links to assist you with exploring, assigning and creating your own Seesaw activities: Seesaw Activities PD 25:03:20
Schools are People Places: Building Trust is Essential
By Steve Francis
Today we had a staff professional development day about the importance of building trust in our work place and finding a good work life satisfaction and balance. I really enjoyed today’s PD and found it quite useful to have time to reflect on our current skills and what we could do to improve our individual situations. We also spent time unpacking effective teams and how to work efficiently and collaboratively.
Here are some of my notes and take aways from today’s session:
People Skills vs Technical Skills. In our profession you require people skills to be successful.
How do we build trust relationships?
Having credibility in other people’s eyes. 4 Cores: Character & Competence
Integrity (Do you do what you say you’re going to do?),
Intention (What they think our intentions are, assumptions about our intentions),
Results (Do we deliver, do we follow through with what we plan to do?)
Building Trust Relationships, 13 Behaviours
Talking straight- balance between sugar coating and addressing issues
Create transparency- no hidden agendas
Confront reality- address issues
Rights wrongs- when we make mistakes, own it, apologise
Listen first-be a good listener and understand what other people’s concerns are
Get better- strive to be our best and improve
Keep commitments- delivering on the promises we make, following through
Show loyalty- talk about people as if they were present
Deliver results- do the things that matter, that make a difference
Extend trust- trust others, we are a team
Parents see moments of truth and base their trust about ourselves and school in these moments of truth. These can be simple things like the way your classroom looks, the atmosphere in the yard before school, how a teacher greets people in the morning, what their children say about their day at pick up time etc.
Why work as a team? Lightens workload, shared experience, develops relationships, working to our strengths, feels good to be part of a team and feel trusted and to trust others.
Efficient, Effective and Consistency of good practise. Gives people a sense of connection and belonging.
Challenge others and ask them if they are living above the line of life. Below the line, we see blame, excuses and denial. Above the line we own our decisions, are accountable for our own actions and take responsibility in the role we play in our lives. I found this quite useful, and thought about applying this concept to student thinking. I have discussed the “Blame Game” with my students before, this could link in nicely.
How to respond to change: 3 choices
head in the sand
complain and deny
Stages of Change/ Concern
Information: What is the change, what do I need to know?
Personal impact: how will this impact me and my workload?
How to implement this change: what will we need to do to get this going?
Impact concerns: What impact have happened since the changes have occurred?
Collaboration: How do we work together to manage the change?
Refinement: Redo something that we didn’t do before, tweak and refine things.
You get to choose your attitude!
Attitudes are contagious. Is your attitude worth catching?
I loved this. It’s all a state of mind and how we deal in any given situation. I find that when I get into a negative headspace, feel pressured or stressed, my class picks up on my mood and we end up having a more challenging day. I want to bring this to my students’ attention. All of our attitudes are contagious, act with kindness, be treated kindly, act with anger, receive anger etc. Something to think about.
7 Steps to Successful Change
What would I need to accomplish today to feel good about the day?What is the most important thing for me to do now?
Email warning: Email Survival Rules
4 D’s: Delete, Delegate, Do it Now Or Decline. Deal with it, Decide and move on.
7 Tips to Increase Work Life Satisfaction
Monitor your self talk
Stop Feeling guilty about what you haven’t done
Stick to your golden rules (Own family rules that suit needs of all, create with partners)
Use your time well
Keep perspective: in a year from now, will this matter?
Look after yourself: self care routines
Avoid DHS (Deferred Happiness Syndrome)
Overall, I had a great day. I had time to reflect on my personal work life balance and satisfaction and identify the areas I need to be more mindful of. In particular, I need to think about self care, exercising and having some me time. All very well and good however, I find excuses or busy myself, especially when I’m working/ teaching full time, have a 2 year old and two teenagers at home, am planning our wedding (happening this Saturday!) and running a household cooking, cleaning, etc. Luckily I have a great partner at home and we support one another. Both of us being teachers, we understand the pressure, workload and needs required to be successful and manage.
The point from today is, we are all busy and we need to prioritise what’s important, address what needs to be done first and don’t sweat the small stuff. Make time for the important things and use systems to be efficient with our time. Teaching is a demanding and highly rewarding profession. I get great work satisfaction as this is my passion, however it can also be draining and mentally challenging. Finding a healthy balance is key.
Here’s to a positive start to Term 4, starting refreshed after a holiday, excited about our wedding this weekend and looking forward to a strong and rewarding finish to a wonderful year back with my Year 3’s.
Professional Development Monday 16th September 2019
My team and I attended this professional development today with the intention to learn, develop and build positive mindsets in our students and in our school community. Here are a few of my notes from today and the key messages I am taking back with me.
Healthy Relationships: Essential Goodness, every person is born with goodness, try to see this and harness it in every child. No one is going to learn from being constantly criticised. We build connections, see the child for who they are and their essential goodness, then build from there. Children won’t learn from people they don’t like. Developing good, trusting and healthy relationships is key.
Emotions are contagious. Be mindful of the emotions you bring to the room. Talk about this with your students, be aware of the moods we bring to the classroom.
Compassion: In moments of sadness, you are not alone. Building communities that want to care for each other. Compassion is crucial for the thread of society. Compassion starts with Self-Compassion. Self care and self forgiveness. Compassion doesn’t come naturally to everybody and this can be learnt.
What are the things that you do for yourself that make you feel good?
Empathy: It isn’t all about you! How are other people feeling? Can we care about other’s feelings and put ourselves in their shoes? We teach this by being empathetic beings ourselves, model this for our students.
App suggestion for meditation, gratification practise and set an intention for living: Buddhify: https://buddhify.com/
Taming the Inner Critic: What does our inner critic say? Is this true? How can we challenge that inner critic? Write down 5 nice things you can say about yourself. Inner Critic vs Inner Hero get into the healthy habit, don’t believe every thought that comes into your head. Reflect on your inner critic comments. Are those thoughts true, are they helpful, would you say it or think it about someone else?
Using EQ and Disagreeing Gracefully: It is hard to disagree with others, and usually when we disagree we have big emotions, so our thinking is low.
The Fixed Position: Letting go of the need to be right. Meeting people half way.
Respectful disagreements framework.
Win-win:The art of compromise.
Optimism: Rational Optimism. Try to find something good and rational. We are born with a negative bias. Brains were designed to look out for problems or dangers, the fight, flight or freeze mode. These are good indicators of how we are feeling. If you don’t feel right, it’s probably not right. Trust your gut instincts. Tune into your own feelings, are they rational or irrational feelings?
Top 3 things to be happier and more resilient:
1. Gratitude Practice
2. Identify 3 things that went well in your day/ life (This improves levels of optimism)
3. Swapping the phrase “Have to” to “Get to”. “Do we have to do this?” to “Do we get to do this?” I have to go to school today, I have to clean my room, I have to eat my dinner, I have to do my homework, I have to hang out the washing etc These are negative mindsets about our day and the jobs we need to do. But if we changed the dialogue to “I get to” then it becomes “I get to clean my room, because I have so many toys to play with, I get to eat dinner, some children don’t have food to eat, I get to do my homework because I’m lucky to receive an education, I get to hang out the washing because I have clean clothes to wear” Etc.
Being productive and capable in hardship. Children need to feel capable, because it’s the opposite of feeling insecure, less confident and hopeless. Is there anything you can do to turn this around? What actions could you take to make things right again? Moving past the victim mentality. Teaching children to think: I am hopeful, powerful and capable.
Problem Solving and Decision Making through Agency and Self-Efficacy:
Strengths. Self-Efficacy and Poise. How to weigh things up. Every time we tell our children what to do or solve their problems for them we do not allow them to wire up their thinking to solve problems for themselves. What are you going to do to solve your problem? Give them ownership, don’t jump in to solve their problem. We won’t be there to solve their problems in all situations, we need to let them feel disappointment, be upset, experience pain, so we can learn how to sit in those feelings and be okay, and then work out how we could solve or work on the problem for next time. To become a good decision maker as an adult you need to have experiences, make mistakes when they are little to learn from them.
Poise: If you are angry, upset, overwhelmed etc the BEST thing you can do is to not do or say anything at all! Wait until you are calm and can think clearly.
Group Meetings, Family Meetings, the importance of getting your group together regularly to meet and discuss how things are going. Structured and safe opportunity to catch up and discuss how your group is functioning. All groups/ families have problems, normalising this and giving everyone the opportunity to enter a discussion to address these problems. Once a week is ideal. Give children the opportunity to share their opinions and suggest ways to solve their own problems. Student voice, we all function at our best when we have a voice. The goal is to solve the problems together, we don’t solve their problems for them. Student ownership.
Challenging Feelings: Emotional regulation, in order to get good at handling your feelings you have to know yourself well and you have to be compassionate towards others. Acknowledge the feelings, name them. What is it you’re feeling? Accept that feeling. Do not resist that feeling. Key lessons to help us manage and deal with our challenging feelings: Gratitude Practice, Movement, Laughter, Music, Acts of Kindness, Watch what you watch (video games, social media, television programmes and movies that desensitise us to violence, negativity, it will leave negativity within you and decrease your empathy), Mindfulness, breathing & presence.
What can we do to help you with your wellbeing? Always ask the students what they want/ need to feel okay.
Meaning and purpose in everyday things and life. Help children to tune in to who they are, what is your purpose?
Fun for the sake of fun. Flow, knowing how to enjoy your life and lose yourself in the moment.
Choose who you spend time with, sleep, fire to wire.
Turning on your happy hormones:
Dopamine. Set small achievable goals. When we set a goal we give ourselves a sense of achievement, a reward.
Endorphins: Movement, exercise.
Oxytocin: Trust and receive trust, improve your social bonds.
Serotonin: The “one up” feeling. Have an awareness of this, self-confidence and self-esteem is impacted by this. Comparing ourselves to others and feeling we are “better” than others.
Here are a couple of videos from today I thought were worth sharing with students about their minds and acts of kindness.
Sentis: Neuroplasticity Clip: Our brains change based on our choices of behaviour and what we feed it.
Random Acts of Kindness: Colour Your World With Kindness
Smiles are contagious. Activity 1 minute smile with a partner, try not to smile. I will be doing this with my class. I found it so challenging not to smile when someone was smiling at me. Smiling is contagious and so are our moods. Come to school with a positive mindset.
I often remind my students that I do not have all of the answers. Teachers are not the keepers of knowledge and we are also learners. A good teacher learns with their students, demonstrating the traits of a good learner. I thought I should blog about my recent learning journey and what I feel are traits of a good learner.
As I’ve been on school holidays, I’ve had the opportunity to put myself in the shoes of the learner in an area of personal interest. My wonderful partner (Andy Peartree) gave me the BEST Christmas present, it was a full day Watercolour Art Class, taught by Karan Hudson (http://cmla.org.au/pdf/Karan_Hudson_Artist_Bio.pdf )
Before the class I was quite nervous, especially as I hadn’t been to an art class in many years and I wondered if I still possessed any relevant skills. This helped me to remember that my students this year may be feeling rather nervous on their first day of school or at the start of a new lesson. I will keep this in mind and try my best to put their minds at ease.
Karan Hudson is also a primary school art teacher and she believes in play based learning and inquiry methods, something I also believe and practice in my own teaching. Karan began by sharing her knowledge and experiences, directed us to gather the tools we required, and then allowed us time to set up, explore and play with the watercolour paints, various papers and brushes. I loved having the time to play and explore.
At first I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to paint, but I didn’t feel pressured, I was given some guidance along the way and then it all just happened. Before I knew it the day was over, I felt completely relaxed and in the pocket of learning. I was applying new techniques, seeking guidance from my teacher when I was unsure, experimenting, making mistakes and learning from them to enhance my next attempt. It was such a wonderful day and I left with a sense of real achievement, reconnected to my love of painting and creating.
Here are some of my paintings from the day:
My pear, for my partner Mr Peartree. I wet the page without paint, outlining the pear first so that the colour wouldn’t run, then I added the colour gradually, blending all of the different tones. The Poppy painting was created using leaves to print with. I quite liked the effect.
Landscape experiments, I loved how the paint moved and spread on the paper, it created wonderful natural lines.
The rock salt creates an effect on the paint, drawing the colour to the salt creating darker, grainy patches. I used the splatter effect by flicking the bristles of a brush on the page for the crashing of waves on the rocks. I also loved learning how to use glad wrap to create the lines on the rocks.
Glad wrap method.
A photo of the class at work. Everybody was so engaged and busy creating. I loved the opportunity to stop and wander around to look at what everybody else was doing. Not one painting was the same, we were all using the techniques taught but we were all creating our own uniques pieces. I often saw what someone else was doing and became inspired to try what they had done. I have used this technique in class with my students, it is a great strategy, especially for those who are a bit lost, need inspiration or if I want to share something that someone in the class has done as a good example.
Enough about my lovely art class!
Here are my Top 5 Traits of a Good Learner:
Curiosity/ Inquirer: Someone who likes to explore their world, asks questions, tries new things, plays and investigates.
Risk- Taker: Someone who is willing to learn, make mistakes and learn from them.
Persistence: Someone who isn’t afraid to experiment with learning. Someone who tries something, fails, learns from their mistakes, then tries again.
Open Minded: Someone who has an open mindset and is willing to try new things. Being willing to have a go, even if it’s something you’re not feeling confident about.
Reflective: Someone who thinks about their own learning. What’s the point in learning something if we don’t reflect on what it has taught us? Share what you have learnt with others, teach somebody else a new skill, take the time to appreciate your own efforts. Most importantly, use what you have learnt to make connections with new learning.
Before I finish, I want to point out that I am aware that my Top 5 Traits of a Good Learner are some of the IB Learner Profiles. I believe in the IB Philosophy and have seen these traits in my students. I like to help my students identify these traits in themselves throughout our year together.
Also, if you haven’t put yourself in the position of a learner in a while, I challenge you to take a class, be a risk taker and enjoy the ride. Lifelong learning makes living worthwhile.
Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope you found it interesting.
Waldorf School frowns upon the use of computers and screens within classroom environments and discourages home use.
I had to go back and check the dates of this article and was amazed that this was only written in 2011… if you read the article you would understand my confusion.
The article goes on to explain that children do not need computers in education, instead this school is “focused on physical activity and learning through creative, hands-on tasks. Those who endorse this approach say computers inhibit creative thinking, movement, human interaction and attention spans”.
My experience is polar opposite to this mindset.
Other points to note in summary of this article:
The debate comes down to subjectivity, parental choice and a difference of opinion over a single word: engagement.
Advocates for equipping schools with technology say computers can hold students’ attention and, in fact, that young people who have been weaned on electronic devices will not tune in without them.
“Teaching is a human experience,” he said. “Technology is a distraction when we need literacy, numeracy and critical thinking.”
And where advocates for stocking classrooms with technology say children need computer time to compete in the modern world, Waldorf parents counter: what’s the rush, given how easy it is to pick up those skills?
My thoughts on these points:
The word engagement is key. Student engagement should not be centred around the use of technology. I believe hands on, visual and human based interactions in learning are of the upmost importance. Technology should be used to enhance the learning experience, using the tech is not the learning experience. We are not teaching technology for the sake of the tools, we are using technology to support the learning process. If we are just using the technology for the sake of learning about a new tool we need to seriously rethink our approaches to teaching and learning.
The whole notion of working with children who have been raised with a dependence on electronic devices to maintain attention and engagement is frankly a scary thought! I believe that balance with devices is important and children require boundaries with the amount of screen time they have day to day. It seems that it has become socially acceptable/ tolerated for people to look at their devices at ‘inappropriate’ times, adults are just as guilty of this offence as children. What happened to the good old days of eye contact and having a lunch with a friend, or listening in a staff meeting, a friendly interaction at the grocery store with the checkout attendant, without the interruption of a mobile phone notification? I’m thinking that people need to be taught digital manners as well as digital citizenship! Working in Junior Primary I’m constantly reminding and supporting children with eye contact, body language cues, reading people’s reactions, emotions and expressions. Look up and engage with others around you! There is no need to use a device to engage a student, sometimes the tech does that but it is not the reason we use it.
Human interactions are of vital importance. We are more capable of connecting and collaborating with people from all around the world than ever before. We can learn from others, critically reflect on content that we are sharing and question how we could solve problems. Critical thinking and problem solving is a big part of digital interactions. We can do this in person, face to face and we can also do this digitally. Some children are better at communicating online than in person, I personally find that I’m a better communicator whilst online too! Not that I don’t enjoy speaking with people, it’s simply that I’m capable of clearly communicating my points of view after reflection and consideration whilst typing on my blog rather than in real time conversation. I’m a slow processor and appreciate time to think things over before expressing my opinion.
Students are not born with tech knowledge and they need to be taught how to navigate through a digital world. So much of what they will need in their lives revolves around being a digital citizen and learning the skills required to collaborate, create and critically analyse things that are online.
Another great video to watch after todays session to get this point across:
Enjoyed the reading and looking forward to sharing this post for further discussion in tomorrow’s workshop.
Presentor: Dino Mennillo: Occupational Therapy for Children
On the 10th of August I attended a sensory needs training session with a colleague, as we have a few students in our classes who require sensory stimulation and output.
Here are some of the notes taken and areas that I will be implementing in my teaching practice.
What is it, how do we recognise it?
Sensory integration therapy, can we offer this in the classroom? Yes. How?
Restless students, movement and fidgeting.
Sensory preferences: There are different types of sensory needs in students.
1. Under sensitive: these are the students who love sand, messy play, seeks lots of movement.
2. Over sensitive: avoids noisy, messy play activities, doesn’t like to be touched.
3. Tactile: Deeper firmer touch is more tolerable, use putty, shaving cream, beans
There was a huge focus on this point and I was pleased to hear it.
It is the parent’s job to get the foundations right. Your child’s body learns when they fall, we need to let them fall, play, climb etc. We are seeing too many children who are not being given the opportunity to play, take risks, climb trees etc. So their bodies are not learning movements and developing the core strength, coordination and balance they need. Get your children involved in sports, playing games outdoors, give them time to play and move.
Parent Questions: What time does your child go to sleep at night? Sleep patterns, ask the basic questions. Screen time before bed? Activities before bed? Limit screen time before bed and first thing in the morning. It is recommended that school age children from Reception to Year 7 get 12 hours of sleep per night. This should be brought up at Parent information evenings.
Classroom Strategies to Implement:
Provide regular movement breaks. Get this happening before they get restless, short spouts of movement. Get up walk to drink taps, do a small lap of the yard, 5 star jumps on the spot. Get them moving, it will help with their concentration and physical need for movement. I have been implementing brain breaks in my class with students and have noticed improvements in focus, concentration levels and quality of work.
Bum bags for fidget toys. This strategy allows the sensory need to be fulfilled but does not distract the student from the learning. Keep the sensory toy in the bum bag, if it comes out of the bum bag it gets taken away.
Sensory Diet: The Key to Sensory Success
Intensity (when they have the physical activity make sure it is intense so that it last for the period of time to aid focus),
Duration (Short breaks for 2-5 minutes),
Frequency (Have the breaks every 15-20 minutes). Get the pattern for sensory breaks right.
Discussions and Questions at the end:
Handwriting and Pencil grip. This can’t change after age of 5 years old. You can try but unlikely to change it. When writing your left hand is the helper, one side of the brain switches off. 2 minutes a day colouring in on a vertical surface will improve handwriting/ pencil grip.
Develop typing skills instead. To be typing both sides of the brain need to be working.
PAC: Wednesday 14th to Friday 16th of January 2015
Presenter: Jo Fahey & Workshop Facilitator: Heather O’Hara
It’s only a couple of weeks until the children come back to school and I’m trying to get my junior primary headset back and what better way to do that than to engage with play-based learning!
For the last three years I’ve been teaching in Year 6 in the MYP, prior to that I was teaching Year 2’s in the PYP and now I’m back! Very excited to be back too. My colleagues in year 6 would often say to me, “You’re such a JP teacher”, usually as I sat on the floor with my students, materials sprawled across the floor. I am generally a visual and hands on learner and I believe this way of learning is natural for myself and many children. This is also known as exploratory learning or play-based learning. Using materials, props, resources to make meaning and sense of our world.
We listened to Jo Fahey about the importance of socio-dramatic play. Research has shown that students are highly engaged and participate in an authentic and mature way whilst role-playing. These play experiences help students to make sense of their world and how it works. It also allows students to take on roles and responsibilities as global citizens.
We then went to our workshop with Heather O’Hara. As part of this course we explored the definition of play:
We then looked at the image of the child and what was at the core of what we do as educators to meet the needs of children. Why do we teach? What is the purpose behind what we do? What do we as educators do to support and develop the child?
Great read: Your Image of the Child: Where Teaching Begins by Loris Malaguzzi
We had some interesting discussions about the words inquiry, play and learning. Are these words interchangeable? We couldn’t come to an agreement but it was agreed that playing is inquiry and learning is a product of both.
I loved exploring learning spaces at PAC. We visited the ELC and Reception rooms. In particular I enjoyed looking at this writing space pictured below. It showed intention and purpose, involved sensory elements and tied in students prior knowledge and resources to further develop their understandings. It was an inviting and engaging learning space to assist playing with writing.
I have also been inspired by Reggio classrooms. Something I have been researching and trying to work on in my own learning spaces for the last few years.
Here are some links to my Pinterest boards regarding Reggio and Play-Based Learning:
These images were in the PAC Early Learning Centre. I particularly liked the grass mat and wooden blocks and tree stumps. Things I have been on the look out for and am acquiring soon 🙂
We explored this Central Idea:
Respectful and careful consideration of space, materials and relationships infuse all aspects of early childhood instruction.
From here my group came up with these lines of inquiry:
•Developing Learning Spaces
Why is it important to change and develop learning spaces?
How can spaces be utilised effectively?
How can spaces be a provocation for learning?
•Materials for Engagement & Exploration
How important are materials and resources for learning?
What types of materials engage the learner?
How do we select appropriate materials for learning?
•Forming Positive Relationships
What does a positive relationship look like?
Why are positive relationships important to student well-being and their development?
How do we know that we are encouraging positive connections with self, peers, environment and the community/ wider-world?
It was great to listen to and discuss our own beliefs and experiences around these. We also had time to do our own research about each of these areas. Some other groups took us outside to explore how nature and the outdoor spaces around us can be learning spaces that engage students and activate inquiry and play-based learning. Visiting other learning spaces at PAC and this group time was probably the most enjoyable part of the course. I was also able to look at my current planners and think about how to set up my class as a provocation for our first inquiry. This was useful reflective time.
I’m looking forward to setting up my classroom for 2015.
Stay tuned for pictures of playful, intentional and purposeful learning spaces on my blog.
Thanks Heather O’Hara for running the course for the last three days. It has given me time to get my JP headset back and explore ideas for including more play in my learning space.
Lets start 2015!
1. Set up my classroom with the ideas I’ve accumulated over the last 3 days. Post pictures on my blog.
2. Share these play-based ideas with my staff and encourage this to be resourced and funded by the school.
3. Keep contact with the group to share our play-based learning strategies. Do this via Twitter, Pinterest and the Wiki.
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.
I also found this website, which is a good read about how we can connect and bridge the gap between parents and teachers. I personally like “Have a Blast or a Blog” section. Check it out:
Embedding a Cyber Smart program into the curriculum.
Presenter: Greg Gebhart
National Curriculum: Standard 4
4.4 Maintain Student Safety
Provide learning opportunities on cyber bullying and how to report
Provide students with the information on safe use of social media.
4.5 Use ICT Safely, responsibility and ethically
Provide lessons to students on plagiarism
Provide students with the curriculum that identifies key online risks and issues.
How do we embed Cyber Safety within current programs in the curriculum?
There is no doubt that we, as educators see the importance of raising student awareness about issues regarding online safety. There are constant changes, risks and obstacles we face online and it is our responsibility to equip our students with the tools and strategies to safely engage with the online world. In my teaching experience I have created a Digital Citizenship Unit of Inquiry with my Year 6 students to address such issues.
I found this statistic fascinating: The average number of student personal digital devices is 4 or more each! This includes devices such as iPad’s, phones, laptops, gaming consoles, iPods etc. It was also interesting to note that whilst the number of mobile phones for students hasn’t really changed, they have instead progressed from standard mobile phones to Smart Phones, allowing further access to online activities.
Less than 5% of Primary Schools students are on Facebook. There has been a shift away from Facebook and a move towards other social networking sites and apps such as Instagram and Kik. This is due to Facebook becoming an increasingly adult world where students are being friended by their parents, family members etc. We need to remind our students about the security settings within each app and site. For example many students are using Instagram to upload their personal pics, not realising that even though they are sharing these pictures with their friends lists, the pictures themselves become property of Google images and can be used on Google and found by strangers if searched. I have students in Year 6 who are currently using Instagram and I wonder if they realise this…note to self: remind my class about this in our next Digital Citizenship lesson.
Here are some Sites/ Apps which are popular amongst students ranging from primary to high school age:
KIK: Kik has limited security settings, it is meant for young adults (17+), we find many offenders on this app, searching for young people. Do not recommend KIK to students, talk about the lack of safety and how to change the settings to not allow strangers to connect with you.
YouTube (13+): So many students have YouTube accounts and upload videos of themselves to share with others. Again there are privacy settings and choices of who you share your videos with. Golden rule of if you wouldn’t share this with your grandma, don’t share it online.
Vine (17+) (6 second videos) Risky behaviours are being displayed here, students dare each other to do things to get their 6 seconds of fame online. We need to warn students about these risky behaviours and what impact 6 seconds can have on your digital reputation.
Tumbler (13+) (majority of kids not using this now)
askFM (13+) ask.com has recently purchased this site and have promised to clean the site up and restructure it. It is not one to recommend to children.
Whisper. This site has been linked to teenage suicides, it allows people to comment and be completely anonymous, which is why students like it, but also allows for some terrible posting and behaviours.
SnapChat: This app is being used by some of my students. The idea is that students can share a photo and set a time limit for that photo and then it “disappears”. The issue is that these images are being shared but then captured and stored and shared again! There are Snap Chat cheats to collect the images without the sender realising their photo has been captured. The names of the cheats are: Snap Save, Snap-Hack Pro, Snap Capture. I wonder if my students are aware of this???
It is so important for us to create an awareness of the importance of Security Settings. We need to not only tell students to change their settings but also show them where they are and how to activate them. Sometimes it is simply one setting that can take you from high risk to low risk.
We need to develop the idea of Digital Identities and how they are your real identity too. Teaching the whole person and developing their well-being. Cyber safety is viewed negatively in the eyes of students, there is the “been there done that” mentality. However, the Digital Citizenship topic is seen in a positive light, looking at who you are as a person online and the values and behaviours you display that project who you are as a person.
Resources to investigate:
CyberSmart Website: Some great resources for teachers, parents and students
Towards the end of a term I find that many students are feeling a little run down and tired (as are the teachers!). The result of this tends to be students who are a little less tolerant of others. Small things that usually wouldn’t bother them before now really irritate them. So towards the end of the term I like to do a confidence building activity to boost the confidence of students and assists in developing an awareness of how they are interacting with each other.
Here is an example of the brainstorm the Year 6’s did today:
Students were then given this template and asked to write a Confidence Booster on everybody else’s page in their class.
The Confidence Booster needed to be specific, genuine and considerate. We discussed what each of these meant before allowing students to start the task.
I posted the following instructions on Edmodo for my students to direct them in the process.
Once each child had commented on each other’s pages they could decorate their image and post a reflection on their personal learning blogs. Some lovely examples:
The reactions from my students have always been positive ones. Faces light up when they read the comments made by their peers. Each comment is genuine, specific and considerate. It makes a real difference in attitudes towards each other at the end of a busy term. I noticed students being a lot kinder towards one another after this task.
I also think it is important to participate in this task as their teacher and comment on each page. I created a page and had my students give me some feedback too. Gave me what I like to call “Warm Fuzzies” meaning a happy feeling in my heart. I too hope my students experienced this feeling today.
So if you’re looking for something to do with your class to boost their confidence and build on positive attitiudes and interactions, you might like to give this one a go.