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Archive for the ‘Child Development’ Category

Celebrating Our Mistakes

March 30, 2015

 

 

oops

We all make mistakes. The idea is to own them and celebrate them in the classroom. That way our students can see that mistakes are OK, and they often help the learning process.

 

Click on the link to read Is Guilt a Motivator of Children?

Click on the link to read What Kids Think About Love (Video)

Click on the link to read 5 Games that Make Kids Smarter

Click on the link to read Try Sitting Still as Much as the Average Student Has To

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Is Guilt a Motivator of Children?

March 15, 2015

guilt

Guilt, especially religious guilt has often been used as a way to get children to act a certain way. But does it work?

I don’t think it does.

Others must disagree because they quite clearly depend on it.

 

A CATHOLIC primary school head is facing dismissal for telling naughty kids to lie face down as she “phoned God’ about their bad behaviour.

Parents of St Joseph’s Roman Catholic primary school in the town of Devizes in Wiltshire, south west England, told Wiltshire Gazette and Herald that headmistress Shelia Jones should reign or be sacked for “humiliating” their children.

Ms Jones made four boys lie face down on the floor in the prayer room before telling them she was telephoning God on her mobile phone to tell him of their misbehaviour. She also has allegedly told naughty kids to lie down face first on the floor on other occasions.

Tammy Brimble claims her 11-year-old son Cyrus was among four boys threatened by Ms Jones with a “phone call to God”.

“I didn’t find out about it when we got home. Cyrus was very quiet and I could tell something was bothering him,” she said.

“When he told me what had happened to him and three other boys, I was upset and I wanted to find out why she did it.”

Another mother, Alexandra Jones, who worked as a lunchtime supervisor at the school, told how the children had been talking among themselves “and then it came out that Sheila had made some of them lie face down in the prayer room while she pretended to ring God on her mobile phone.”

The school’s governors dismissed the complaints against Ms Jones and that decision led the group of parents to contact the school watchdog, Ofsted, which is investigating.

“You should be well aware now that the current head has irretrievably lost the support, confidence and trust of the overwhelming majority of parents, as well as from teaching and support staff,” parents said an email sent to the governors.

“Her remaining in post will continue to damage the school’s formerly good reputation and is causing the school to fall further and further into disrepute. It also damages the good name of the church.”

“I don’t think what she did was appropriate at all,” said Ms Brimble.

“We are not Roman Catholics, but it was still distressing for my child.”

Ofsted said the complaint raised concerns about the children’s safety.

“Ofsted has shared your concerns with the local authority (Wiltshire Council) so they can progress these safeguarding concerns as they consider appropriate,” Ofsted said to a parent who complained.

 

Click on the link to read What Kids Think About Love (Video)

Click on the link to read 5 Games that Make Kids Smarter

Click on the link to read Try Sitting Still as Much as the Average Student Has To

Click on the link to read Things Middle School Students Wish We Knew

What Kids Think About Love (Video)

February 18, 2015

 

Children are so funny and perceptive.

 

Click on the link to read 5 Games that Make Kids Smarter

Click on the link to read Try Sitting Still as Much as the Average Student Has To

Click on the link to read Things Middle School Students Wish We Knew

Click on the link to read Watch a Classic Argument in Action (Video)

5 Games that Make Kids Smarter

January 31, 2015

hopscotch-educational

I love playing games with my students. I am always looking to use a game to help teach a math or language skill. Below are 5 games said to make children smarter courtesy of Sasha Brown-Worsham:

 

Battleship: In Battleship, “you are thinking about space,” Jirout says. “You need to figure out which direction their ship is in and how you can use effective questioning to get there.” It’s not a game one might immediately jump to when you think of STEM skills, but those are precisely the skills it builds.

Hopscotch: Although, not in the category of blocks, board games, and puzzles, this very physical game also involves numbers and spatial orientation, says Geralyn Bywater McLaughlin, Director of Defending the Early Years, an organization dedicated to helping educators fight testing and all the things that take away from the way children truly learn. “Children practice large and small motor skills and spatial relationships as they draw the game with chalk, McLaughlin says. “And then toss their pebbles and jump along the numbered spaces. There is so much to figure out and do.”

Chutes and Ladders: Many parents probably have fond memories of this game and of rolling the dice and climbing to the top only to shoot back down the slide. But this game is more than just luck and chance and fun. “The board itself is made up of a grid,” Jirout says. There is a counting, math component to it all, but also a strong sense of spatial orientation. Where is my opponent compared to me? How can I catch him? What number do I need to get to get there?

Jenga: There was no game more exciting — or more simple — than Jenga. Simply pull a block from the tower and hope and pray it doesn’t fall. But there is so much more to it, says McLaughlin. “Children develop eye-hand coordination and experiment with gravity as well as cause and effect,” she says. “They will learn that the blocks are more stable on some surfaces than others. The sounds that travel from the falling blocks will very depending on how high the tower gets, and the surface they are playing on.”

Blocks: Give a child an old-fashioned stack of blocks and let them go to town. There are so many varieties — cardboard, wooden, Legos, Bristle, and more — but they all have one thing in common: Children are manipulating in three dimensions. They are feeling the weight of the blocks in their hands. They are imagining something in their head and making it real. Blocks help children learn how to manipulate and change the world around them.

Click on the link to read Try Sitting Still as Much as the Average Student Has To

Click on the link to read Things Middle School Students Wish We Knew

Click on the link to read Watch a Classic Argument in Action (Video)

Click on the link to read 7 Things a Quiet Student Wishes Their Teacher Knew

Try Sitting Still as Much as the Average Student Has To

January 19, 2015

chair

If you want to improve the behaviour of the classroom you could do worse than treat your students the same way as you wish to be treated. Just like I find sitting on the mat utterly uncomfortable I try to minimise the amount of time they are on the mat. Just like I can’t sit still for too long before feeling under duress, so too I allow my students to experience active lessons that mixes learning with some movement.

The truth of the matter is that kids are bound to their seats or the mat for way too long. It is unhealthy and bad for the brain. Don’t take my word for it. Read this wonderful piece by pediatric occupational therapist Angela Hanscom:

 

Except for brief periods of getting up and switching classrooms, I’ve been sitting for the past 90 excruciating minutes. I look down at my leg and notice it is bouncing. Great, I think to myself, now I’m fidgeting! I’m doing anything I can to pay attention – even contorting my body into awkward positions to keep from daydreaming. It is useless, I checked out about forty-five minutes ago. I’m no longer registering anything the teacher is saying. I look around the room to see how the children a few decades younger than me are doing.

I’m immersed in a local middle-school classroom environment. I quickly realize I’m not the only one having a hard time paying attention. About 50 percent of the children are fidgeting and most of the remaining children are either slouched in the most unnatural positions imaginable or slumped over their desks. A child suddenly gets up to sharpen their pencil. A few minutes later, another child raises their hand and asks to go to the bathroom. In fact, at least three children have asked to go to the bathroom in the past twenty minutes. I’m mentally exhausted and the day has just begun. I was planning on observing the whole day. I just can’t do it. I decide to leave right after lunch.

There is no way I could tolerate six hours of sitting even just one day, never mind every day – day after day. How on Earth do these children tolerate sitting this long? Well, the short answer is they don’t. Their bodies aren’t designed for extended periods of sitting. In fact, none of our bodies are made to stay sedentary for lengths of time. This lack of movement and unrelenting sitting routine, are wreaking havoc on their bodies and minds. Bodies start to succumb to these unnatural positions and sedentary lifestyle through atrophy of the muscles, tightness of ligaments (where there shouldn’t be tightness), and underdeveloped sensory systems – setting them up for weak bodies, poor posturing, and inefficient sensory processing of the world around them.

If most of the classroom is fidgeting and struggling to even hold their bodies upright, in desperation to stay engaged – this is a really good indicator that they need to move more. In fact, it doesn’t matter how great of a teacher you are. If children have to learn by staying in their seats most of the day, their brains will naturally tune out after a while – wasting the time of everyone.

Are these teachers clueless to the benefits of movement? No. Most teachers know that movement is important. And many would report that they are downright and overwhelmingly frustrated by their inability to let children move more throughout the day. “We are expected to cram more and more information down their throats,” gripes one middle school teacher. “It is insane! We can no longer teach according to what we feel is developmentally appropriate.” Another teacher explains, “due to the high-stakes testing, even project-based learning opportunities are no longer feasible. Too many regulations, not enough time.”

They go on to explain that recess has been lost due to lack of space and time as well as fear that children will get injured. “Too many children were getting hurt,” says a teacher. “Parents were calling and complaining about scrapped knees and elbows – the rest was history.” Even their brief break from instruction during snack time is no longer a reality. These few minutes of freedom are now replaced with a “working snack” in order to pack in a quick vocabulary lesson. Physical education is held only every sixth day, so technically this isn’t even a weekly affair.

The children line up for lunchtime. “Come watch this,” a teacher yells over to me. The children line up in pairs and are told to be quiet. Once everyone is quiet, two teachers (one in front of the line and one in back) escort the children down to the cafeteria. The thought of prison inmates quickly comes to mind, as I watch the children walk silently, side by side down the corridors of the school hallway. I’m told they are to remain quiet and seated throughout the lunch period. “I feel so bad for them,” exclaims the teacher. “They are so ready for down time during lunch, but are still required to sit and be silent!”

Many parents are also becoming increasingly unsatisfied with the lack of recess and movement their children are getting in middle school. One mother states, “Middle school kids in particular are just coming out of the elementary school environment, consisting of multiple breaks throughout the day. These kids are still young, and depending on the district, could be just 10-years-old going into middle school. They are experiencing a great change already in the transition alone. A break during the day is what they need to re-group.”

This same parent contacted the district’s school board members who ultimately make many of the decisions regarding school policies. She also met with the principal and deans and created an online petition consisting of a strong parent community advocating for more movement in school. The results? A brief five to ten-minute walk outdoors after lunch, which the teachers explain is really half a lap around the building and back indoors they go. “It may not be recess–but it’s a good start,” this mother states. “However, I still believe it’s necessary to make it school policy that all kids get a longer break.”

I ask the teachers what kids do when they get home from school. “About 60 percent of them are over-scheduled. The other 40 percent have no one home, so they do what they want – which often relates to playing video games,” a teacher complains. “I’d say we have only a handful of children that go home and find time to play.” Both teachers try to keep homework meaningful and under an hour, knowing kids need time to release after a long day of school.

Even middle-school children need opportunities to play. This past summer, a teacher at one of our TimberNook camps brought along his 12-year-old daughter, Sarah as a “co-counselor.” Sarah was excited about being a counselor alongside a college student for their small group of five children. In the past, she had simply been a camper. However, as soon as the group set out into the deep woods, dispersed, and started to play,  she quickly switched roles. She instantly forgot about her new status and jumped wholeheartedly into the pretend world, alongside the younger children. What took place next, was quite remarkable.

Sarah climbed high onto a fallen log that ascended to the very top of their newly designed teepee, donned with fresh ferns to camouflage their rustic “living quarters.” She wore a brightly colored feathered mask on top of her forehead. “Listen,” she said to the group of children gathered around her. “We need to get ready for the opposing team’s attack.” She took the time to look each of the children in the eye. “You,” she said to one of the bigger kids in the group. “You are now appointed as top commander.” “Julie,” she said to a girl that is known to be one of the fastest runners in the group. “You are going to be our top spy.” She proceeded to roles for each of the children to play.

Her age, strength, and intelligence made her their natural chosen leader and the children respected her decisions. She played just as hard as the other children. She forgot about her new role as co-counselor for the rest of the week, except to occasionally lead a group song or chant during morning meeting. The fun of being a camper and free play trumped all responsibility. She was still a child. She was not ready to give up her right to free play. Who could blame her?

Why do we assume that children don’t need time to move or play once they reach sixth grade, or even fifth grade? They are only children! In fact, I would argue that we all could benefit from opportunities to play, even up through adulthood. Everyone needs downtime. Time to move our bodies. Time to get creative and escape the rigors of reality.

What can we do for our middle-school children? I asked Jessica Lahey, a middle school teacher, contributing writer at The Atlantic, and author of the upcoming book, “The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed,” to give her opinion on the matter.

“Teachers are often afraid that if they let children move, it will be hard to get them to settle back down again. This shouldn’t stop us from providing them with the necessary movement children need in order to learn. Middle-school children can always benefit from recess! Also, when I taught for Crossroads Academy, we had some great nature trails behind our school through the woods. I would often take my whole English class for walks. I’d give them a topic to ponder and then we’d walk for ten minutes to think about the question. We’d huddle and discuss the topic. Then, I’d throw out another question and we’d start to walk again.”

Jessica explains that this is also true for schools in urban regions. Children can walk to museums or local parks to explore and learn. They can bring along their writing journals and assess the world and culture around them. Learning doesn’t have to be done in a chair. Jessica goes on to tell me that one time, she had her middle-school children practice public speaking by taking turns standing on a small bridge over a rumbling brook. They had to learn to project their voice over the babbling brook in order to be heard by the rest of class. “It was a good practical lesson and there is something about nature that grounds the child, taking away the anxiety that typically comes with public-speaking,” Jessica reports.

All people in decision-making positions for school policies should be required to sit through at least one school day and experience first-hand what is required of children today. Then they will have a better idea of what is appropriate and what isn’t. Then they will start to think about what their decisions mean for real children in real schools. Maybe then, they will begin to value children’s need to move, need to play, and the need to be respected as the human beings that they are.

Middle school-age children need to move – just like everyone else!

 

The Skills They Think We Don’t Teach, But Actually Do

December 30, 2014

skills

I have attached an article listing 15 life skills that teachers apparently don’t teach.  I certainly cover most of these and I would be surprised if many teachers do as well:

 

1. Basic financial management

I’m not talking about stocks and portfolios (but, okay, those too), I just mean the very simple, very necessary art of budgeting and making household finance decisions. This is one area that kids could use some expert guidance, considering most parents weren’t taught properly themselves.

2. Understanding credit and student loans

A class on interest rates alone would have saved me from a few mega financial blunders.

3. Relationship counseling

We take classes and a test before getting a driver’s license. We take lord knows how many exams before getting into college. We’re even offered a variety of parenting/birthing/breastfeeding classes before having a baby. And yet I could walk into a courthouse with a simple registration and some makeshift rings and call it a marriage. How can something so complicated and important — something that affects everything from our money to our health to our happiness — have next-to-no training or instructions?

This is another thing that should be learned at home in theory, except many kids have really crappy relationship role models because their parents had crappy role models because THERE’S NO EDUCATION ON MAINTAINING RELATIONSHIPS.

4. Personal communication skills

Children are being born into a world of silent communication (texting, emailing, messengering, etc.), and so their personal communication skills — how to engage and connect with other people — might need a boost. Considering our ability to effectively communicate will affect every single aspect of life, it’s astounding how little attention it’s given in school.

5. The power of negotiation

Unless we had the insight to join a debate team, we probably never learned the art of negotiation — something all adults will need at some point, whether negotiating with a boss, a bank, or a spouse.

6. Emotional awareness/intelligence

We learn plenty about our physical health, but what about our emotional and mental health? What about our inner worlds? Could there be any topic more relevant to students and young adults than understanding and managing their stress, anxiety, and emotions? If mindfulness and emotional awareness was as essential to the public school curriculum as Common Core math strategies, we just might raise a healthier generation of humans.

7. Digital etiquette

‘Tis the time to teach selfie regulation, Internet kindness, and social oversharing. Our kids are inheriting a digital world, and so they’ll need to know how to exist in it.

8. Coding

You know what? Take the cursive out of my kid’s curriculum, whatever. I’d much rather him learn modern skills like coding, computer science, and search engine techniques. If we want our kids to have solid life skills, they’ll need to understand their digital environment. THIS is their life.

According to LifeHack, “Not knowing how to program will soon become synonymous to being illiterate … If you don’t know how to program, you’re merely consuming the whole world around you, which is programmed.” Yet 9 out of 10 schools aren’t teaching coding classes, and computer science doesn’t count toward high school graduation requirements in 25 out of 50 states.

9. Focus

Scientists are now realizing that the newest crop of humans have an unprecedented ability to multitask, probably due to neuroplasticity (our brains ability to adapt and change to the environment). New York magazine reported that kids can “[conduct] 34 conversations simultaneously across six different media, or pay attention to switching between attentional targets in a way that’s been considered impossible.”

But with the give comes the take, and studies show that these kids have less of an attention span than ever before. Perhaps the best thing we can teach these kids is to single-task, and to really listen and focus, rather than succumb to every distraction like a dog in a field of squirrels.

10. Identifying our passions

Marc Mason’s “7 Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life Purpose” should be required reading.

11. The art of failing

Students are chronically rewarded for succeeding and punished for failing — but what kind of lesson does that send? Some of our most important lessons in life come from the biggest failures.

12. Time management

Learning how to stay organized, on task, and productive is something that virtually every human, in every career, will need.

13. The basics of cooking

No student should be allowed to graduate college without mastering at least one dish beyond microwavable dinners and instant oatmeal.

14. Household repairs and maintenance

I’ve been alive for almost 30 years now, and I have no idea how to fix a leaky pipe or why my car makes that rattling sound.

15. Survival skills/basic first aid

Our kids can take a test and memorize facts, but would they know how to find water if they were stranded? Can they fish? Stop a bleed? Perform CPR? Correctly lift heavy objects? Follow a map sans GPS? I understand that these are skills learned over a lifetime, but shouldn’t we have at least one class on the basics of human survival?

Click on the link to read Things Middle School Students Wish We Knew

Click on the link to read Watch a Classic Argument in Action (Video)

Click on the link to read 7 Things a Quiet Student Wishes Their Teacher Knew

Click on the link to read Skills That Aren’t Taught But Should Be: #1 People Skills

Click on the link to read Top 10 Most Unusual School Bans

Things Middle School Students Wish We Knew

December 15, 2014

middle

Courtesy of weareteachers.com via  :

 

1. I was not trying to get attention by falling off the chair. I am approximately infinity inches bigger than I was yesterday and I just lost track of how to balance. I felt like an idiot so I made falling into a joke. Crying was the other choice. And I’d rather cut off my arm than cry in school.

2. I did that homework. I am almost positive I did it. Getting it from done to folder to backpack to school to you is like seven extra homeworks. That is too many. It’s also possible I forgot to do the homework. I honestly have no idea where my planner is. Or maybe the homework was completely confusing and if I asked for help people might think I am stupid now when that used to be my best subject.

3. That time I called you Mom was the most humiliating moment of my life. It’s one thing in second grade but middle school? Ugh. How does this stuff still happen to me?

4. When you force us to get up—do stuff, act it out, test our ideas—it wakes us up and makes the lesson so much more fun and easy to remember.

5. Sometimes I just can’t focus. I’m buzzy, jumpy, pumped with electricity. Somebody suddenly looks distractingly attractive, across the room, which is fully that other person’s fault, not mine. Or I don’t get what we’re discussing and the pain of not understanding is so excruciating I just have to take a break from paying attention.

6. It feels awesome when you notice something special about me. When you value a skill or interest of mine, you give me a route in to subjects I didn’t think I’d like—and make me feel like I have something worth sharing.

7. What you tell me about myself matters way more than I hope you know. When you tell me I am something—smart, brave, kind, stupid, a trouble-maker, creative, a writer, a mathematician, funny, hard-working—I believe you.

8. I like it when you’re sarcastic but not when you’re harsh. When you say something ironically and I get it, I feel smart and mature. But when you’re mocking in a sharper way, it feels mean and a little scary.

9. Respect me. There are lots of things I already know about myself. Some I want to talk about, A LOT, and it means so much to me when you find time to include me (and it) in class. But lots of other things about me, I’m not ready to discuss, and especially not in class.

10. If you call on me and I am flat-out wrong, please don’t humiliate me. I’m already praying for a hole to open up in the floor and swallow me. It’s hard for me to believe that not knowing isn’t shameful but is instead a good starting point for learning. Help me.

And one bonus extra thing: You are suddenly one of the most important adults in my whole world. How you respond to me affects everything. Please be tough. Please be gentle. Especially when I am neither.

 

Click on the link to read Watch a Classic Argument in Action (Video)

Click on the link to read 7 Things a Quiet Student Wishes Their Teacher Knew

Click on the link to read Skills That Aren’t Taught But Should Be: #1 People Skills

Click on the link to read Top 10 Most Unusual School Bans

Click on the link to read Rules that Restrict the Teacher and Enslave the Student

Watch a Classic Argument in Action (Video)

September 29, 2014

 

One child claims it’s sprinkling another that’s it’s raining. Both refuse to concede. My favourite is the girl in the middle that does her best to stay impartial and act as peacemaker.

 

Click on the link to read 7 Things a Quiet Student Wishes Their Teacher Knew

Click on the link to read Skills That Aren’t Taught But Should Be: #1 People Skills

Click on the link to read Top 10 Most Unusual School Bans

Click on the link to read Rules that Restrict the Teacher and Enslave the Student

Click on the link to read This is What I Think of the No Hugging Rule at Schools

7 Things a Quiet Student Wishes Their Teacher Knew

August 26, 2014

quiet

A brilliant list courtesy of the extraordinarily talented teenager. Marsha Pinto:

 

1. Being quiet doesn’t make us any less smart

Teachers don’t understand how frustrating it can get reading the comment, ” _____ is a great student but he/she doesn’t participate in class.”

Remember that still waters run deep. I know that some teachers like to base grades on participation, but if you could only hear all the great ideas we have inside our head, you’d learn that we have some great ideas to share. In fact, we are practically masters of brainstorming.

However, it’s difficult for us to master the art of jumping in to a conversation or interrupting. We may not raise our hands as quickly as you want us to or say as much as you wanted us to, but honestly we just like to take our time to process our ideas. Does it even make a difference if we write more than we speak?

2. We are not a problem that you need to solve.

So, we may not have participated on the first day, or the second day or the first three months of school but please don’t keep pestering us about when we’re going to talk. Sometimes there isn’t a reason why we are so quiet, it’s just part of who we are. Many people tend to assume that quiet people are stuck in this quiet prison and need to be rescued so that we can enjoy life. I can assure that this is not always the case. We quiet students are quite content with the way we are… until you start pointing out our faults. We often do not need the “help” you are suggesting, we just need your patience and understanding.

3. The feeling that comes with the hearing the phrase, “Speak up! I can’t hear you.”

It was daunting enough when you caught us off-guard and put us on the spot to answer that question in front of the entire class, so please don’t embarrass us any further. We wish you only knew how much effort we put into taking the initiative to speak up.

If you can’t hear something we said please help us out, come closer and listen carefully to what we are trying to say. Please don’t belittle us in front of a crowd of people because that will do more harm than help.

4. Group projects can get really stressful for us:

Sometimes we’re in a class where we don’t have any friends and other times you assign us to a group of people whom we do not even know. There’s nothing wrong with group work and the benefits are no doubt important for our future, however quiet students are often taken advantage of in group projects. To prevent this from happening, teachers need to assign each person in the group a role, rather than allowing students to assign each other’s role.

5. We are not going to speak when we have nothing to say.

Teachers don’t understand that quiet students believe that it’s not necessary to talk when you have nothing to say. No we are not being rude, it’s just that we believe that there’s no need to force out a couple of words just for the sake of doing so. You have no idea how much time we spend trying to formulate our speech before we actually say it out loud.

We like taking our time to formulate our thoughts rather than rushing to speak. We hope someday you will understand this.

6. We have a personality.

Teachers, we know you don’t see us as the quote and quote ideal student, but if you really came to look beyond our quiet ways you’d come to realize that there’s much more to us than meets the eye. We are writers, dreamers, creators and a lot of other things you may think we never could be. We’d like to love ourselves for who we are and not grow-up to hate ourselves. Do not treat us any differently. We’re normally people who laugh, cry, have crazy obsessions, dislikes and embarrassing moments. Who knows? Maybe we even have more in common with you than you think.

7. Just because we’re quiet, doesn’t’ mean you have to give up on us.

Teachers often assume that it’s not worth talking to or getting to know the quiet students because they don’t have anything to say hence they don’t have potential. However, there are a few teachers, who will take those few extra steps to the back of the classroom to connect with the quiet student rather than judge them from a distance. We quiet students may not say much at first, but trust me we do appreciate you taking the effort.

Teachers and students may not see eye to eye when it comes to most things, but what both sides don’t realize is that they could learn a lot from each other. You may ask yourself, ” What can I learn from someone who hardly speaks?”

Well, you can learn the importance of active listening. A quality slowly going instinct when so many distractions keep us from being in the moment and truly listening to what someone has to say.

Quiet students hope that someday teachers everywhere will be able to appreciate the uniqueness we bring to the classroom and not make assumptions without really getting to know us.

The word “teacher” is a verb, not a noun. Hence this year, I encourage all teachers to break the barriers that separate them and their students and to create an inviting atmosphere where no student should hold back being themselves for fear of rejection. Teachers should aim to bring an accommodating atmosphere to the classroom where both extroverts and introverts can share their ideas and reach their potential without feeling pressurized. Your students might not thank you in- person, or write it in a card or note, but some day they may express their gratitude in an acceptance speech and thank you for giving the wallflower a chance to shine.

 

Click on the link to read Skills That Aren’t Taught But Should Be: #1 People Skills

Click on the link to read Top 10 Most Unusual School Bans

Click on the link to read Rules that Restrict the Teacher and Enslave the Student

Click on the link to read This is What I Think of the No Hugging Rule at Schools

Click on the link to read Political Correctness at School

Click on the link to read What Are We Doing to Our Kids?

Skills That Aren’t Taught But Should Be: #1 People Skills

August 19, 2014

crash

 

Is it just me or are people afraid of human interaction nowadays? It’s almost as if people go around with an invisible shell that protects them from the outside world.

There was once a time where it was considered rude if you didn’t make an effort to get to know your next door neighbors. Now it’s hardly novel for people to admit that they have never once uttered a word to those living next door.

Today I visited my local supermarket. I make a point of avoiding the self service checkout and go to a regular register instead. I feel bad that machines are taking the place of people and make sure I support the check-out personnel, even if it involves a longer wait. This afternoon I noticed that the regular aisles were empty but the self-service area was banked up. I can understand that people use the self-service machines for convenience, but it seems they also like it because it gives them yet another opportunity to avoid human interaction.

I remember in my early days of teaching, I was having a general discussion with my Grade 3 students. They were talking about the size of their homes. One pointed out that she has 2 homes because her parents are divorced. Her friends were in shock.

“I didn’t know your parents were divorced” one of the said. “So are mine.”

“Really?”

“Mine are too” said another

“So are mine” said another.

Now I know that children are reluctant to freely open up about such things, but it surprised me that classmates would take 3-5 years of being around each other on a daily basis before finding that out.

There is often reports in the media of a religion or culture that claims to be misunderstood or isolated, and you can understand why. There just isn’t enough effort on the part of society to leave the cocoon and start interacting with others. Especially those who are seemingly different from them. It’s just like in the brilliant Academy Award winning movie, Crash – people only deal with others when they literally crash into them. And of course by then, the interaction is never going to be healthy.

You would think that the schoolyard is the best place to address this issue. After all, schools don’t play favourites, they don’t seek to isolate and they try to encourage positive social interactions.

Or, maybe not ….

Some of the playground rules I have covered over the past few years do anything but that which I have just expressed. Take the school which has banned its students from having best friends. That’s right, banning best friends! In other words, to teach children not to exclude the school steps in and excludes for them.

And then there are the schools following this insane trend of outlawing touching. This includes not just hugging and holding hands but also high-fiving.  Just crazy!

So the very institution that can set a strong and purposeful platform for inclusion, unity and human interaction is actually, at least in some cases, preaching the opposite. They would rather see each child on their own instead of in friendship groups embracing one another.

I feel like we are missing an extraordinarily important opportunity. I see it as vital that we help our students to break the shackles and help them to want to connect with others in a meaningful way.

 

Click on the link to read Top 10 Most Unusual School Bans

Click on the link to read Rules that Restrict the Teacher and Enslave the Student

Click on the link to read This is What I Think of the No Hugging Rule at Schools

Click on the link to read Political Correctness at School

Click on the link to read What Are We Doing to Our Kids?

Click on the link to read Stop Banning Our Kids From Being Kids


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