Monthly Archives: October 2014

What is success?

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In my Year 4 class, we have been using the F.R.I.E.N.D.S. For Life program. It’s a program based on resilience in children and I have found it fantastic so far (we’re just over half-way through the 10 week program…which has turned into 14 weeks based on time/excursions/absences…etc).

This post isn’t about the program exactly, but about certain components that trickle through into adult life.  

The ‘R’ in F.R.I.E.N.D.S. stands for “Remember to Relax” and to introduce this to the students, one of the activities we did in class (and the teachers did at their facilitator training day) was ‘Milkshake Breathing‘. It’s all about recognising the emotional responses that your body can have and how to best deal with them.

Today I had a student come to me after lunch asking me “What can I do when my milkshake breathing isn’t working?”  He’d had a fairly rough day – brought about by his low self-esteem and equally low resilience – and I was so proud of him for seeking help and sharing his feelings with me.

We talked over a few things and I sent him home with some strategies and had a chat to his dad at the end of the day. It was when I was talking to his dad, he mentioned a trait he had seen in his son:

“He wants to be perfect at something the first time he tries. He doesn’t realise that that is impossible.”

How often do we as adults give up the first time we try something? Through Art Costa’s Habits of Mind and our F.R.I.E.N.D.S. program, I feel that my class is understanding the value of persistence and attitude towards learning.  

But that’s what happens in the classroom.

What happens outside the classroom is that teachers search for something on the Internet – can’t find it and give up. Other teachers have a difficult child and can’t seem to get through to them to make improvement – and then they give up. Over the last two years, I have witnessed many staff plan an amazing lesson using technology, only to have the server go down, the power go out, a website is blocked, or the students “don’t get it” – and they give up.

If I gave up every time the technology in my lesson failed, I wouldn’t be a good role model to my students. I have asked students to chat to their partner while I fiddle with a cord, email for tech support, find another website that does the same thing… it doesn’t mean that I wasn’t prepared for my lesson – it means that I was able to be flexible. There have been countless times when I have quickly Googled how to export work that a student has done from one place to another, or asked a student in my class how to un-invert the colours on an iPad screen! Yes, I’ve planned my entire lesson around a video clip that we needed to watch at the start of a lesson…that was taken down by Youtube. We survived – I talked, the students listened and then we found another way around it, without the video clip.

There should still be something to talk about in your lesson without technology. Always.

success elevator
http://www.coachingconfidence.co.uk/the-elevator-to

I showed the image above to my students (remember, they’re only in year 4) the other day and we talked a lot about what it meant. We talked about working in pairs, with one student treating the other as the ‘elevator’ and just going along for the ride. We talked about how when you take the stairs, a task takes longer – you don’t instantly get to the ‘top’.

How do you get to the ‘top’? Do you require instant success?

Mirror, mirror, on the wall – self reflections to start Term 4

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This coming term, my students have set 3 goals for themselves – a Literacy goal, a Maths goal and a Habits of Mind goal. As we all know, goal setting is a useless exercise unless there is some sort of constant reflection.

Throughout this year I set some goals for myself. I set 14 goals as part of the #nurture1314 challenge as I blogged about earlier. Some were personal, some were professional, but they were all important to me. I achieved some of them quite easily – I moved house, which saw me walk to school regularly, I committed to a sport (aerial yoga) once a week and I researched a variety of classroom practices which I hadn’t heard much about before.

There are still a few that I feel I haven’t quite achieved yet. As we are about to begin the last term of the school year, it seemed like a suitable time to reflect upon them and see what I need to focus on.

#nurture1314 goals still to be achieved:
3. I wish to be more of a presence in the classroom – I wish to inspire students to lead – hopefully by helping to run the Primary SRC in 2014. I’ve come up with some great new ideas and projects that I hope to launch with the support of the students and my colleagues, such as a Christmas stall with handmade items, where students can purchase gifts for their family members.

4. I wish to share my experiences about disabilities with my students. In 2011, my 23 year old autistic brother visited my classroom, and my students talked about it for weeks. I don’t think my family will be coming to visit, but there’s always opportunities to share stories.

9. I wish to read more. For business and for pleasure. Small goal, but I think one book per term and one book per holidays is achievable. I have managed to read a few books this year, but often never get to finish it, or lose interest.

11. I wish to clear my mind of what other people think. To hold my head high, knowing that I’m doing my best is something I owe myself.

14. I wish for regular visits to friends. One of the biggest challenges of living in Mildura is the isolation from friends and family. I’ve realised that physically visiting my friends isn’t always the logical option, so…Skype. I must try and use it more!

Last, but not least, I tried to ‘switch off’ as written in this blog post,

“I have opted for this…switching off from technology outside of school hours for two days per week – Monday and Friday…”

To be honest, I wasn’t successful at all in doing this. I found that Friday was my downtime, my weekend – where I wanted to scroll aimlessly through Pinterest for new recipes to try, or crafts that I’d love to, but will probably never start. I think I’ll have to redefine this last goal.

And on that note, I’m switching off for the night!