Friday, 27 May 2016

speaking your mind from

Speaking your mind doesn’t mean being a…

Anatomy of Atherosclerosis
There is a misconception in life, and particularly in schools, that “speaking my mind” – or honesty – is a euphemism for being a bit of an arse – a very polarised approach. Either I don’t “speak my mind”, which must mean that I bottle everything up, conceal my true thoughts and never share what I genuinely think or believe, or, I feel like I can just go around being rude to people and make “speaking my mind” a kind of license to make all interactions highly personal and confrontational.
Both of these dichotomous positions are damaging to a school culture, and people who adopt them can be equally toxic in different ways.
Person A, the type who never “speaks their mind”, usually makes it clear to everyone that they have made a conscious decision never to “speak their mind”. With this constant declaration of self-censorship comes an implicit declaration of disapproval, judgment and criticism. It translates, basically, as “if I could speak my my mind it would be negative and I would tell you how useless thisthat and they are”. The dangers of people like this are:
  • They do actually “speak their minds” in small circles of people, sharing their bottled up negativity with those people they have decided they can confide in, and forming little clots of people in the organisational flow. These clots, like real clots, cause all kinds of awful things to happen – others become wary or paranoid of them, good ideas or initiatives get blocked or people who excel at their jobs have their confidence chipped away at until they leave but the clot remains.
  • At times, opportunities arise for Person A to express themselves with anonymity, and this is like a dream-come-true for them. They feel liberated to “speak their mind” and unleash their thoughts onto people with no fear of having to take responsibility for their words or actually talk about or think it through with another human being.
  • Person A may often also just go about their business, interacting  only rarely with other people, but still walking around with their dark cloud hanging over them. People avoid them for fear of being caught in the storm –  dragged into a negative conversation that has the potential to ruin their day or forced to listen to toxic gossip. This sort of isolation does nobody any good… particularly as Person A is responsible for the education of young people.
Then, there’s Person Z, the one who has taken it upon themselves to educate everyone else by just being an a$#@%$#e. They shoot people down, they belittle people, they interrupt, they opt out of conversations that need to be had, they refuse to take part in any positive initiatives, they make the discussion of ideas personal, they see things only from their perspective, they struggle to focus on student needs rather than their own, they talk when people are trying to address a group, they criticize meetings or workshops that don’t quite live up to their high standards (which are rarely reflected in the way they teach!), they have stopped learning, they get angry about things that don’t really matter, they write people off and give them no chance of redemption… the list goes on.
Fortunately, schools are also full of People C, D, E, F, G, H… the people who occupy the grey areas. These people:
  • understand the value of exchanging thoughts, opinions and ideas
  • are able to discuss things without making it personal
  • are able to remain free of judgment
  • value open and positive relationships
  • are conscious of the effect of their attitude on others
  • can see the big picture by “zooming out” of situations
  • feel uncomfortable in gossipy situations
  • try to get along with everyone in a way that is not artificial, becxause they know it matters
  • give people the benefit of the doubt
  • are respectful listeners
  • are open-minded and ready to learn from any source
  • don’t sulk
I know these are all generalisations, so please don’t comment and tell me that! Instead, please think about whether Person A and Person Z exist where you work, how they affect your school culture and how we can move beyond such polarised behaviours. Until that happens, the potential for the evolution of schools may well remain in their hands.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

What to do with early finishers? From Practicing, practicing, practicing

From the BLOG Practicing, practicing, practicing

What to do with early finishers?

I read a Question on the Primary Teacher's Facebook page the other day and it asked "what do you do with early finishers?" This got me thinking why do we have early finishers? What is it that we do in the classroom that creates a culture of early and late finishers?

So I've been reflecting...

Teachers, we need to change our mindsets here because children learn at their own rate. Sometimes we need to mould to the learner and not the reverse. 

At the same time I am checking through my students ePortfolios to provide feedback and feedforward about our current science understandings about the earth, moon and sun systems.  Because of how we are set up in Poutama (our collaborative and innovative learning space) we have limited time to model all of the different tasks and activities to complete. I flicking through, in awe of the amazing videos and creations being made.  And I think the point I am trying to make is this, if we always model exactly what we want the students to do, then we are taking away their ability to interpret the task, and create something that is unique to where they are at.

If we painstakingly model what the students should do, and they don't do it then we get 'angsty' that they didn't do it. 

So like Simon Cowel says on Idol or Brittain's Got Talent, choose a song and make it your own. Let's allow our learners to choose a task and make it their own.

I've been pretty impressed with some of the learning activities our 10.11 students have been involved in  ..... Blog posts are starting to be more interactive, students are choosing to make videos to teach others. WE have less and less control ..our kids are not wanting so much of this and with all that is happening we have to lessen our control.
Can others imagine students taking ideas, some there's and just doing it?
This statement rings a bell ..If we painstakingly model what the students should do, and they don't do it then we get 'angsty' that they didn't do it. 

If they choose and they don't have have to all do the same .....This is something I wish to explore further.