Posts Tagged ‘Spectrum’

Education New Year’s Resolutions 2020

January 1, 2020

 

Below are some New Year’s resolutions I suggest the broader Education sector should take on for 2020 based on an article I wrote a few years ago:

1. Schools Should Become More Involved With Cyberbullying –  At present many schools have opted to turn a blind-eye to cyberbullying.  As the offence occurs out of school hours, a growing number of schools have been only too happy to handball the problem to the parents of the bully. Whilst I believe that parents are ultimately responsible for the actions of their children, I ask that schools do more to help deal with this ongoing problem.

The reason why I feel schools should involve themselves more actively with this issue is that most cyberbullying cases result from pre-existing schoolyard bullying.  Having started in the playground and classroom, the bullying then gets transferred online. Whilst the school isn’t liable for what goes on after school, the problem is often a result of what started during school hours.

To me, the best schools are the ones that work with the parents in a partnership for the wellbeing of their students.  For a school to excel it needs to show that it cares about its students beyond its working hours. That is why a teacher or staff member that is aware of cyberbullying must be able to do more than discuss the issue with the class.  They must be able to contact parents, impose sanctions and actively change the situation at hand.

2. Schools Should Address Mental Health Issues from a Young Age – Youth suicide has become an epidemic, and now that we are more familiar with the problem, schools should make children aware of the pressures they may face before facing them. They should be made aware of the options they may encounter should they fall on hard times, and the places they can go to discuss issues affecting them. Some will argue that teaching children about depression makes them more likely to become depressed. “Don’t give them ideas,” they may say. Well, those people clearly haven’t lost someone to suicide.

3. Schools Should Teach Climate Change Very Differently – This is loosely connected to the previous point. It is quite apparent that a growing percentage of children are feeling extremely anxious about predictions concerning our planet. This is harming our kids. I would like to see climate change taught as an opportunity to motivate children to make good personal decisions and inspire them to lessen their own carbon footprint. I don’t think it’s helpful to have them lie awake at night fearful about what politicians are doing or failing to do. Just like we would never teach young impressionable children about the dangers caused by regularly consuming the treats in their own lunchboxes, I don’t think it’s helpful to make them fearful about what a Government’s environmental policies.

4. It’s Time To Stop Blaming Teachers For Everything – Education is supposed to be a team effort.  All parts of the system are supposed to work with each other and for each other.  Yet, it always seems to be that the teachers get singled out for blame.  Poor testing results – blame the teachers, a bullying problem – blame the teachers, lack of classroom control – yep, let’s blame the teachers for that too.

The question has to be asked: At what point do we focus our attention on the administrators when handing out the blame? It seems to me that whilst there is always going to be poor teachers in the system, nowhere near enough focus is directed to policymakers as well as those in management positions and on school counsels.

5. More support for kids floundering in the classroom – Differentiation is an essential practice in a modern classroom, but it doesn’t completely address the issues at hand. When a child is 3 class levels below their peers, what does one do? If the school can’t get funding for that child, what then? The same goes for children on the spectrum. They require a more controlled and traditional classroom set-up. The new, more chaotic and interactional style of teaching and learning doesn’t seem to be doing them wonders. How does a teacher give them what they need without stifling other learners who are embracing group learning and creative and engaging lesson planning? These issues need to be dealt with to support teachers.

 

I must stress that these resolutions don’t necessarily apply to my own workplace, but from what I am discovering, are very big issues that should be considered over the course of the year.

 

Michael Grossman is the author of the hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

Stricken With Self-Doubt

January 31, 2012

It’s the first day of a new school year tomorrow and I’m suffering from my annual bout of self-doubt. I get very anxious before a school year starts. I worry about whether or not I will succeed at helping my students. I worry about whether my style of teaching will work on a new bunch of kids.

The week leading up to the start of the school year doesn’t help. It’s a week that is set aside for preparing the classroom. This involves displays, fancy name tags and innovative ways to use a small space to enhance learning. The female teachers I work with put a lot of emphasis on the look of their classrooms. Borders are replaced around noticeboards, name tags are put on everything (and I mean everything!) and the fear of death is reserved for the poor laminator who cops the brunt of all this activity.

When it comes to developing fun lessons, I am very comfortable. When it comes to decorating a classroom, I am completely out of my league! I have been getting comments ever since I started about the plainness of my classroom compared to the other teachers. My bosses have pointed out that my classroom looks far less inviting and colourful. This year I put up a beautiful piece of red material to cover my noticeboard, before being told that children don’t learn well in a room of red. Apparently the colour red has a negative effect on concentration and creativity. The comments certainly made me see red!

Then there’s the endless diatribe from those in charge about new responsibilities and expectations that all staff need to adhere to. These usually involve devoting a great deal of extra time. If there is something all teachers have in common, it is the absence of any extra time.

Handover isn’t much fun either. As the previous teacher reads each name from the class list, every child is presented as difficult to teach. There’s behavioural issues, Aspergers, ADHD, ADD, Oppositional disorder, social issues, anger management issues, language disorders etc. What is it with psychologists today? They have turned every personality type into a disorder. Why is every second child on a spectrum? What is this spectrum, and how did it get to be so big? In today’s age, the one kid who can’t manage to get on the spectrum of any modern psychological condition probably ends up feeling left out and abnormal.

All this makes me very uneasy. I get very frightened. I desperately don’t want to let my students down.


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