Professional Development Reflections Term 3, 2022.
Tuesday 7th June, 2022. 3:45-5:00pm
On the 7th of June, 2022, the staff at St Andrew’s were given time to explore the ways in which other staff are making Indigenous Australian cultures and perspectives visually represented in our school. We were able to take our own school tour to showcase ways in which we are implementing our school’s RAP (Reconciliation Action Plan).
We were asked to reflect on the following:
How do we show we RESPECT First Nations histories and cultures?
How do we show we provide OPPORTUNITIES for learning about First Nations histories and cultures?
How do we show we engage the wider community and create RELATIONSHIPS with First Nations people in our community?
Here is a slideshow of some of the photos of the spaces at St Andrew’s School, which I took to document and reflect on.
Here is a copy of our RAP Book for Children, it has so many wonderful resources and guiding questions and reflections to use during inquiry in the classroom.
I am very proud to work at a school with professionals who make so much effort to ensure cultures are represented and respected and that students feel comfortable to ask questions, be respectful and inclusive of others.
Recently the Year 6 students have spent time and effort creating a Reconciliation Garden. They were supported by their teacher, Cerys Phillips and Learning Assistant, Lorena Mortimer. Here are some photos of the garden, the signage went up over the school holidays. Very proud of the actions our staff and students are taking at St Andrews.
A lot of credit can be given to Cerys Phillips, one of our Year 6 teachers, and the current Coordinator of Diversity and Equity at St Andrew’s. She is constantly sharing resources, awareness, key dates and creating content for staff and students to use in the classroom. I thank her for her passion in this area of the school. What we do and how we do it, matters. Thankful to work in a culturally inclusive school.
Today we began our St Andrew’s inquiry journey with Kath Murdoch! To say I am excited is an understatement! I wrote five pages worth of notes (sadly, I’m not kidding!). Here is a summary of the day and my key take aways that I think are worth sharing.
Cannot wait to continue the process together as a staff. There were so many wonderful moments from today’s PD, it is impossible to document them all. I will say that it felt like having professional conversations with a friend, everyone was open minded, eager to contribute and passionate about the topic at hand. Aren’t we lucky to have such a great opportunity to work with great minds.
What is Inquiry?
Kath described inquiry as such, “The essence of inquiry is absolutely about wonder, curiosity and seeking answers to our questions”. Inquiry is a way of being, a stance. It is not a subject or a lesson. Inquiry is a sustained, perpetual curiosity. Cultivate this curiosity.
What does inquiry based learning mean to you? (my reflection)
Discovering answers to our questions
Exploring ideas, questions and concepts
Forming understandings through an inquiry process
Lessons from today’s session:
These were four of the practices for inquiry teaching and learning that we focussed on today. These come from Kath Murdoch’s The Art of Inquiry cards.
Cultivating Curiosity: When do we give children the opportunity to share their curiosity and wonderings? Not just classroom topical wonderings, their life wonderings.What materials and opportunities do we provide in our classrooms to spark that curiosity? Try to be that genuine person who shows interest in their curiosities and share your own curiosities.
Notice: The practice of noticing, it is such a significant part of the inquiry teachers repertoire. If I stay curious I am better at noticing. What helps us to notice? Slowing down, observing, taking time to have individual conversations with students. Have space to get inside student thinking.
What gets in the way? Over planning, noticing but not having time to dig deeper or address this.
Grow Learning Assets:Changing the word “work” to “learning”. “We need to finish our work: becomes “We need to continue with our learning”. Creating an awareness of building a learning toolkit, developing skills for learning and focusing on those Approaches to Learning in our inquiry journey. Using the What & How Method (see below)
Release: We need to release responsibility, give students the opportunity to do the heavy lifting themselves. Who owns the learning? Children have the right to own their own learning. Be responsive to those moment in your classroom. Give yourself permission to go with the flow. What can I release myself from? What do I leave behind and how can I move forward? What will best serve my students? I owe it to myself and my students to release.Flipping the gradual release model to rapid release.
The practice I will be focussing on first is “Grow Learning Assets” but I was also very much drawn to “Release”. One step at a time! Slow down.
Grow Learning Assets and the What? & How? Method.
The what is what we are learning about, the how is an approach to learning skill.
Eg. What: What can we do to help others belong? How: As thinkers, how can we analyse information to understand it better.
I will use the What and How method to actively engage my students in their awareness in their learning and inquiry process.
I work in small groups or 1:1 with EAL/D students. I wonder, in a classroom setting is it easier to release? When working in small groups for language intervention and support, we have goals for our non-English speaking learners, based on their lack of language and communication skills, we need to assist and model a lot of the language and learning. How can I employ more of my inquiry based teaching skills in what I do?
I already use a play-based approach. Usually I set up a provocation or something to play with that will naturally encourage conversations and play. These playful scenes usually mirror their own classroom settings, or units of inquiry to help front load some vocabulary. From here we introduce new vocabulary and practise saying new words, sentences and phrases that accompany that type of play. I play alongside the learner and model the language. This is a starting point and I am eager to explore this further in our future sessions with Kath.
Our school community has faced quite a few family losses over the years. It is vital that we find ways to support the families in our community. Teachers are often on the front line to support children and families after the loss of a loved one. This presentation by Kat Brown outlined the grief process for adults and children of different ages. This presentation was obviously a sensitive topic for all involved who have experienced loss and grief. This post has some of my notes and some resources that were shared with us. I want to thank Kat for sharing her story as a bereaved parent and the insight into the process of grief from her professional and personal experience.
As adults we process grief and loss in different ways, depending on the circumstances, the relationships, the individual experience, we all grieve in our own way. There are stages or processes in grief, but they are not linear, they are usually a mess of emotions that can happen at any given time or day.
So, this evening we have been presented with Professional Development by Kat Brown around grief and loss for children. We discussed if their experience of grief and loss is different to that of an adult? Yes and no. Depending on the stage of development a child is and what their circumstances were in their loss. It is important that educators and schools are ready to support families and especially their students through their grief and loss journey.
“Death neither obeys the school timetable nor appears on it…it enters the classroom without knocking”. Author unknown.
It is important to understand that sometimes the loss of family structure is not just from a death in a family, family break ups, divorce/ separations also hold grief and sense of loss, which we need to me mindful and supportive of.
Please see the link below to learn about the different reactions of children at different ages to the grief process.
Bereavement Reactions Of Children & Young People By Age Group:
Some notes that I took away from this PD tonight that I felt important to document include:
Give our students the grace to grieve in their way.
Communicate with your student, give them choices and options for inclusion.
Be aware of triggers and “Firsts” to assist in supporting them through their grief. We cannot control the “triggers” like them hearing a song that reminds them of their loved one, or someone saying a phrase used by their loved one etc. But we can give students time to work through their triggers and come back to a place of calm. “Firsts” include events like birthdays, Christmas’, Easters, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day etc the first time having those events without their loved one. Be mindful of those first events and support the students through them.
I loved the idea of a School Memorial Garden for community members who have passed. Something to consider in our school setting.
What You (Teachers/ Staff) Can Do:
Offer your sincere condolences, don’t say “I’m sorry” but “I’m sorry for your loss” or if you don’t know what to say: “I don’t know what to say, I’m sorry, I am thinking of you”
Offer reassurance. You are safe and you are cared for today. Offer them a safe place in your classroom, your classroom is a place of security, consistency and safety. You are not alone here. Children often experience fear after a loss of someone they love, fear that it may happen again, or something will happen to them. Remind them that they are safe with you.
Maintain routines. School, co-curricular activities, play dates etc Try to maintain some sort of normality in a time when everything else appears to have fallen apart for them.
Answer their questions simply and directly. If you don’t know the answer that is fine, talk to their family members, seek advice from your school counsellor.
Normalise feelings of grief. Talk about grief. Read books about grief, loss, death. Give them resources to assist them with making sense of this process.
Give your students space but also be available. Read their mood, offer assistance, be open and approachable.
I attended this PD on the 12th of August as I am currently working with Reception EALD (English as Additional Language or Dialect) students who are developing their English language skills. This PD gave me some insights into the progressions of language and literacy development, as well as the opportunity to engage with other professionals and share resources.
These are my notes from the PD, I wrote these as a record of my own learning but also to share with colleagues, teachers and parents who wish to understand more about how students learn and what we can do to support them.
Expressive Language vs Receptive Language:
Receptive language means the ability to understand information. It involves understanding the words, sentences and meaning of what others say or what is read. Expressive language means being able to put thoughts into words and sentences, in a way that makes sense and is grammatically accurate.
Language & Literacy rich environments: What can we see/ hear in these environments?
Conversations between teachers and students, students with their peers.
Sharing of ideas, verbally, visually.
Vocabulary, opportunities for new words to be used and displayed in multiple languages
Curiosity around language, exploring languages through play, inquiry methods
Student voice, how do children contribute to the language rich environment, when are their voices heard? Class meetings, sharing time, student storytelling time, role plays and performance, audio recordings etc.
Setting Goals in these key areas? Form, Content & Use
I found it interesting to note that the main reasons for language delay are middle ear infections in early childhood that have gone untreated or a family history of learning difficulties.
How can we create flexibility in the use of vocabulary in the classroom? Routines in the classroom can sometimes be limiting as we tend to have repeated dialogue, which leaves less opportunity for the use of new vocabulary. The same language, same instructions, same responses from students continue. So, let’s try to change our routines a little, change the guiding questions during sharing times, use different vocabulary each week to begin your sharing times. Story times could be read by the teacher, an audio book, by a student or visitor/ parent.
The Screen Debate:
It’s important for families to spend time together, parents are the first people in a child’s life who influence their lives. When we talk about children developing receptive and expressive language skills, this starts at home. Every interaction, conversation, instruction, routine etc impacts this development. As we know, parents and their children are using screens more often than before (television, iPads, tablets, phones, laptops, computer games etc). This has meant that families are having less interactions and conversations, children are not developing those receptive and expressive language skills to meet milestones as they are having less opportunities to do so.
I am a parent, my son is almost 3 years old and he will watch videos on my phone or iPad, he also watches television and movies. Sometimes I will watch these with him and talk about what we have watched. I also like to watch a show or film that relates to a book we have read and then we role play and play games related to that book afterwards. I am fortunate to be working part-time this year, so I have the time to create activities and play with my son. I am not Early Childhood trained, but have been an educator of young children for 16 years now, and I know the importance of play with children and how much learning occurs through play. I believe it’s a balancing act, we will have screens in our lives and it’s how we use them, when we use them and how often this occurs that matters.
To give you some perspective on my experience, I woke up this morning at 6:30am with my son bright eyed and ready to play. He has played with his toys, we have read 2 books, eaten breakfast, which he helped me to make (banana pancakes, yummy). Now I am blogging at 8:30am whilst my son is watching nursery rhymes on my phone! It has given me 20-30 minutes of uninterrupted working time; I am guilty of using a screen/device to babysit so I can get some work done. I won’t finish this blog post today, it’s likely I will post it in a week’s time after 3 attempts to complete this post (EDIT: On my third attempt I finally finished)! Parents face this battle of finding a balance and sometimes screens help us to find some balance. There is no such thing as a perfect parent, but I think being aware, mindful and balanced when it comes to our use of screens is extremely important. We don’t have screens at the dinner table, we have outdoor play times, inside play times and varied activities to keep my son engaged. I do worry about my son’s obsession with the iPad and my phone, I limit his time as he gets really upset when I take it away, I use a timer and verbal warnings so he knows that his time on the screen is almost over, this helps. This could be a whole blog post on its own, to be continued… drop me a comment if you feel this needs to be explored further.
What are Language Development Tasks?
Tasks that assist and encourage language development. You need to know the stages of Language Development to know where to begin and what stage to teach for your child/ student. Stephi was reluctant to use age-based milestones to show the stages of speech and language development, as this varies so much for students, however, as a parent and an educator, I like to know what typically should be achieved at a certain age. I found this website with a graphic that I think is useful:
I need more hours in my day to explore these hierarchy graphics. I want to understand them in more specific detail and how I am prompting my students through their learning. I am also interested in the language processing hierarchy, starting from the bottom, I understand the stages but would like to provide examples of how students do these things and demonstrate where they sit on this graphic.
The Essential Ingredients to ensure student language and literacy development:
Relationship, building connections with your learners
Fundamental Skills of Communication
Bloom and Lahey’s model:
Zone of Proximal Development: pitching learning at the right level for that child’s learning ability and progression.
Intent and Motivation for learners
Other personal notes of interest:
As educators we need to be careful not to assume the prior knowledge of our students.
Fine motor skills are not assessed or found in the curriculum, it’s an assumed skill, not being able to use scissors, draw a circle, use of screens, not knowing how to draw or hold a pencil etc. If a child cannot do these things they cannot begin writing, they need to develop their fine motor skills, pre-writing skills.
Learning to read and then reading to learn. Focus on comprehension, purposes of reading, for enjoyment, finding information, learning a skill, history, art appreciation etc. Too often we are focusing on word recognition, decoding strategies and reading words on a page instead of our purpose for reading. There is a place for both, obviously, but we need to teach all skills to assist with students seeing themselves as readers.
Early years. Spend time exploring our reality/ our environment. What can you see, hear, smell? Talk to me about what you can hear, see, smell? Etc. Model and provide alternative vocabulary when describing what you can see, hear and smell etc.
Language is not just about what we say. Explicitly teaching body language, eye contact, facial expressions, body gestures, hand gestures, posture. Awareness of self, then awareness of others. Social stories.
Resources to explore further:
Casey Caterpillar for fine motor development, kinaesthetic process.
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 ran 3 Professional Development training sessions about the use of Seesaw Activities.
I became a Seesaw Ambassador in 2017, and have just updated 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 for my workshops. 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.