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Nurturing your students’ emotional development. 

Teachers have a lot on their plates! Satisfying the rigours of curriculum and balancing the complexities (or chaos) of the school and classroom environments is vital to our jobs. It’s important, however, that we acknowledge the significance and influence of our role in society.

Every day we have the opportunity to guide, support, lead and shape the behaviour and development of children and teens. We can use this opportunity to nurture the emotional development of young people, giving them tools to live productive and satisfying lives in an often complicated and stressful world.  

An individual’s emotional Intelligence, or lack thereof, can have a huge impact on their work life, relationships, success and happiness. Our emotional intelligence included our ability to: exercising self-awareness, manage our emotions, motivate ourselves and others, empathise with others, and build and maintain meaningful relationships.

As teachers, we talk a lot about student development. There is curriculum to align, outcomes to match and work samples to analyse. Summative assessment, that is the evaluation of learning at the end of an instructional unit by comparing to a standard or benchmark, can be relatively straightforward. You have a piece of ‘evidence’ and you see if it shows that students are proficient in a  particular skill.

Formative assessment on the other hand can be slightly more troublesome. In this case, the assessment process is conducted during the learning process so that the teaching can be modified accordingly to improve student learning outcomes. Now, let’s take it a step further, into even more challenging and difficult terrain, that of emotional development.

In short, emotional development:

Involves learning what feelings and emotions are, understanding how and why they happen, recognising one’s own feelings and those of others, and developing effective ways of managing them. Kids Matter

How do we assess our students’ emotional development so that we can support them more thoroughly in class?

Develop your students’ sense of self

It is crucial that students develop an accurate sense of self. Allow students to develop an understanding of their individuality and a healthy perspective of their unique contribution to the world.

Provide opportunities for them to talk about their emotions

Giving students opportunities to communicate how they are feeling is fundamental to a child’s emotional development. You could consider using a colour scheme in your class and students could point to the colour or emotion that they are feeling.

Give them strategies to manage their emotions

Students must be given opportunities to manage their own emotions. Some strategies include giving students a relaxing area in your classroom in which they can pause and reflect on how they are feeling.

Teachers have the opportunities to make a difference in a young person’s life every day! Nurturing of emotional development in our students can help them to develop into productive citizens, parents, employees. leaders and more. You may have the privilege of teaching  thousands of students in your lifetime, paying attention to this area of development will help to equip to understand and navigate the bright and complex future they face. 

For more resources about emotional development, I highly recommend the Kids Matter website.

Posted by Mathew Green on November 21, 2016  /   Posted in student engagement

How to re-engineer your morning routine.

I had been trying for year, sometimes successfully and other times not so much, to become more of a morning person. I live in a beautiful part of the world, with lots of peace and quiet, and a short walk from the beach – I really have no excuse to not enjoy the morning! Mornings to me represent starting well. If I start the day well, eat a nutritious breakfast and have some time to myself, then the rest of the day tends to flow quite nicely.

I noticed the importance of my morning ritual, when I first started in my teaching career. For many years, I would go to bed late (due to marking), get up early and skip breakfast. By the time I arrived at school, I was rushed, unprepared, hungry and caffeine overloaded. I hadn’t even started the day and I’d be feeling stressed and desperate for a break.

It wasn’t until recently that I began to seriously look at and approach my morning routine strategically. One morning, when I was tired of being tired, I decide to write down everything that I did that morning.

My aim was to see where my time was being spent and what I could do better. This exercise was confronting and immediately highlighted areas that I could improve on.

Below are a few suggestions (in no particular order) of how I re-engineered my morning schedule:

Each morning I try to have time to myself, to think and reflect about the day ahead of me. It’s a great way to push pause and clear your mind of the clutter and stress buzzing around in there.

Each morning I try to exercise (either got to the gym or go for a walk). It helps me to focus and feel energised for the coming day.

Each morning I try to eat a wholesome and nutritious breakfast. Proper nutrition helps to keep you focused until recess. I tend not to eat breakfast at home because I leave quite early in the morning. Instead I keep a bag of oats at school.

Each morning I try to plan and prepare for the next day. Things in school change quickly; someone is sick, the photocopier breaks, or a myriad of other tings can happen. By planning ahead I can have contingency plans and remain flexible if I need to.

Starting the day feeling refreshed, well nourished and focused can have great positive effects on your teaching day. Remember if you don’t look after yourself you will not bring your best into the classroom.

Even if you’re a night owl, you can still benefit from doing mornings well. Your morning ritual can change your whole day, if you get a little deliberate about it.

Posted by Mathew Green on November 07, 2016  /   Posted in Uncategorized

‘I’m busy, really busy….’

We live in a full world. We rush, we run, we shuffle papers, we attempt to multitask and we are all over-committed. We have a lot on our plates and it can sometimes feel overwhelming trying to keep them all spinning simultaneously. I get it, I truly do. The other day I was on my way home from school and I called into my local shops to pick up something for dinner. When I had decided what to buy I walked to the checkout. There a young man, probably in late teens, served me. I asked him how his day had been and before I had finished my sentence he responded ‘busy, really busy, you have no idea how busy.’ I was taken aback. Nevertheless, I wished him well and proceeded to walk to the car and head home for dinner. As I was driving I couldn’t get his response out of my head ‘busy, really busy….’ I don’t mean to sound archaic or insensitive, but what would a young working casually (I assumed from his school logo that was visible under his nametag) know about being busy? I began to get defensive and thoughts like ‘…what would he know about being BUSY? I’ll give him one day…one day…in a classroom and see how he copes with being really busy!’

After I had returned home, and settled down, I began to be a bit more apathetic about what had happened at the checkout. I realised that when you ask people how their day is going quite often the first response is ‘busy’ or that they are ‘tied.’ It is a response that we can’t help giving, it is automatic and it is a response that is ingrained into our twenty-first-century lives

Now busyness and tiredness in the twenty-first century is a far greater topic than we have time for in this short post, but it did get me thinking. I decided that for  thirty days that I would try an experiment. For thirty days, when someone asked, despite how tired, overwhelmed and stressed out I felt, I would search for other adjectives that ‘busy’ or ‘tired’ to describe my mood and my day. As a result, some interesting things happened:

  1. I had to pause and think about how I was actually feeling – instead of just blurting out how I felt I actually took the time to stop and listen to how I was feeling.
  2. I had to expand my vocabulary further – I had to search deep into my reservoir of language and find more suitable descriptive words like complex, full, challenging and intense.
  3. I felt less tired or stressed the less that I used those words.
  4. I learnt that my the words that I used had a powerful influence on my mood.

The words that you use have a power influence  on your mood, your emotions, and your mental state. I encourage you all to take the Thirty Day Challenge and please let me know  how you go.

Posted by Mathew Green on June 06, 2016  /   Posted in looking after yourself, stress

What to do when you feel like you are slipping?

I’m sure no one ever sets out to become a bored, frustrated and mundane teacher. At some point, even the most out-dated and unmotivated professionals actually cared for the profession. The scary thing is that mediocrity seems to seep in slowly. Mediocrity seems to seep slowly into teaching practise – I know because I have experienced it in my own teaching.

Mediocrity is dangerous. It’s dangerous not only because a blasé approach to teaching directly impacts the students that you teach but also because it seem to creep in ever so slowly.

You have all been either subject to or affected by average teaching. I’m sure that no of the teacher started their teaching career feeling like they wanted to become frustrated with the profession. I recently took a new off-class position in a school. It was a wonderful opportunity and a great to further my professional development. Having said that, the adjustment hasn’t been easy. I have had to transfer to a new school (from one that I absolutely loved), leave my Kindergarten class half way through the year, learn a new set of rules and school protocols, meet new people, develop new programs and start afresh with a new group of students. In a funny kind of way, even though I have been teaching for a number of years, I have just had another experience that is not too dissimilar to that of new teachers!

In the first term or so of this new job I felt like I was starting to slip slightly. Despite writing extensively to new teachers and trying to inspire them with phrases like: excellence in teaching, initiating change in your school, passionate professionalism and don’t loose your spark I found myself slipping, slowly. I can honestly say that I truly enjoy and am passionate about the job that I am in, I have a renewed sense of excitement for teaching and I am a passionate as every about education. But this didn’t happen naturally, rather it was the result of a number of specific and intentional acts. So, how did I find my passion (again) for teaching?

I got honest with myself. I acknowledged that something had changed, I didn’t know what, but I knew that something wasn’t right. You cannot change what you don’t acknowledge.

I took responsibility. I decided not to blame anyone else, and I decided to figure it out.

I wrote down my priorities. I remaindered myself of what was important in my teaching profession.

I reread my teaching philosophy. I dug out the teaching philosophy that I used in my DET interview. I choose that one because I wrote it before I had set foot in the classroom, and before I knew what it was to be frustrated at teaching.

I made a plan. I decided that if I was going to do something I wanted to make it great. I wanted my department to be known for getting results.

I decided to take action. I instead of putting it off, I decided to take action and do something.

If you are like me and have questioned your role and wondered if you have chosen the right career don’t worry. It’s perfectly acceptable to feel overwhelmed and frustrated. You may have had a horrible day, a horrible week or a horrible year. The important thing is to not stay there. Failing to be honest with yourself and ignoring the situation will not fix it. Identifying that you are ‘slipping’ is really important. You have to recognise that something is not right, and you need to make some very intentional decisions to get your head in the right place. If you feel like you are slipping, don’t worry, acknowledge the situation, calm yourself and make a plan.

Posted by Mathew Green on March 17, 2016  /   Posted in Uncategorized

One of the greatest prac students I have ever met.

I wanted to congratulate you again for choosing such an admirable and rewarding career. Teaching is a fast paced and challenging profession and schools need dedicated and committed professionals now, more than ever. I have worked in schools for a number of years, and I have met many wonderful and inspiring teachers. I am so impressed by the standard and the commitment of the new teachers that I meet. I want to tell you a story – one about the greatest prac teacher I have ever met.

This prac teacher was completing her first prac and was quite nervous about implementing her first lesson in my class. She was shaking, hesitant but professional. She had handed me her program, a well planned, well structured, and well developed lesson on fractions. Her preparation was outstanding. As she walked to the front of the classroom to deliver her masterpiece, a student projectile vomited all over her shoes and proceeded to spray his classmates in a thick covering. I watched this poor prac student arrived at a cross road – she had the option of either taking the distraction in her stride and attending to the situation at hand, or, as I would have probably done on my first prac, cried and given up. This brilliant prac teacher, calmly and professionally, navigated through the situation. She cleaned up the child and ushered him off to the sick bay. She sent the children that had been vomited on to the toilets to get changed and somehow, miraculously, maintained the focus of the rest of the class. The good news is, the prac student delivered her lesson, and continued to grow and develop her teaching skills.

We can all take away lessons from this new teacher’s experience. She came fully prepared for the class, but demonstrated the ability to adapt to the situation as was needed. She led the class with confidence and ultimately completed the lesson she set out to deliver.

As educators we never really know what the next day will hold, but we can always face the joys and the challenges with confidence that what we are doing truly matters. Even on the tough days I try to keep in mind the privilege it is to teach and remind myself to always, always keep smiling and give my students my best.

Posted by Mathew Green on February 22, 2016  /   Posted in Uncategorized

Neil Gaiman, being yourself and making great art.

I can’t say that I have ever read any of Neil Gaiman’s work (although I most certainly will after listening to this speech). This speech spoke to me on so many levels; about following your passions, breaking rules and being yourself.

I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.

 

Posted by Mathew Green on February 16, 2016  /   Posted in Uncategorized

Convictions that drive us.

I have many convictions that help to shape my life. I have convictions about looking after my health, building a strong marriage and convictions about investing time and energy into my family and friends. The word ‘conviction’ is quite a traditional word that for some contains connotations of being restrictive. I see convictions as quite the opposite I see them as being deep principles that you can build your life around. I see them as anchors that give stability, even in the storms of life.

When I was seven we lived in quiet a remote village in the Peak District, in England.  it’s a beautiful area, covered in lush green paddocks but far from the water. When my parents told me that we were going on holiday on a boat I was thrilled! On our first night on the boat, a small rickety old thing, it was my father’s responsibility to anchor down for the night and secure our spot on the river. It was a calm night and there was no wind. After we had anchored down our family went to bed early. In the middle of the night, there was a terrifying crash. My father jumped up out of bed to investigate. We had drifted about three kilometers down stream and smashed into a wharf. We had done incredible damage to the boat and the neighbouring wharf all because we had not anchored down properly for the night.

Anchors are interesting things; they are not merely metal objects that moor a boat to the bottom of the river bed or the ocean. They provide stability or confidence in otherwise uncertain times.  As teachers we have to have an unwavering believe, a conviction in fact, that we are here to make a difference. Our convictions will anchor us during challenging times.

My convictions about teaching are:

For me:

  • I have a deep conviction that great teaching does make a difference
  • I have a deep conviction that I was born to teach.
  • I have a deep conviction that everyday I am closing the gap, little by little of educational disadvantage.
  • I have a deep conviction that all children deserve access to a world-class education system.

What are some of your convictions about education? What are your anchors?
Please leave your thoughts here.

 

Posted by Mathew Green on February 16, 2016  /   Posted in Uncategorized

Small actions, BIG results.

Small actions done consistently every day add up to big outcomes in the long term. A while ago I heard one of my favourite speakers, Robert Fergusson give a presentation titled ‘Mastering the Mundane.’ In his presentation Fergusson spoke convincingly about the importance of attaching significance to the small, seemingly insignificant, things that you do each day. His presentation got me thinking and it has stayed with me for many years. We often don’t see the compounding results, either positive or negative, of small decisions until much later in our lives.

Acts like brushing your teeth, daily exercise, kissing your spouse or being grateful may seem inconsequential but the truth is if you do these consistently they could have more significant outcomes than you can imagine.

Conversely, daily habits and actions that are unproductive can also have negative compounding results over the long haul. If you consistently work late, skip breakfast or neglecting time with your family you may find yourself heading down a road that you did not expect. When I was a student I never serviced my car. I was living out of home, had very little money and I just didn’t really see the point. I would drive my car all over the place, fill it up with the cheapest fuel possible, never change (let alone check) the oil and rarely check the tyres. I just assumed that it would keep going indefinitely. Of course it didn’t. The money that I had ‘saved’ from not servicing the car was quickly surpassed by the price of a new engine. Lesson learned. Small decisions like regularly servicing your car can save you lots later on.

If your health, life and career could be dramatically improved by the ‘small things’ that you decide to do or not do every day what would you do differently? What small things would you change today?

Here are a few small thing that, if done regularly, could have a huge impact on your teaching career:

  • Saying hello to the principal
  • Being courteous to you colleagues
  • Taking a deep breath and smiling before you walk into your classroom
  • Enjoying your lunch break
  • Returning phone calls
  • Building relationships with parents
  • Returning emails
  • Adhering to deadlines
  • Being present in meetings
  • Negotiating yourself out of over commitments
  • Walking slowly across the playground
  • Having a life outside of the classroom

It is so easy to neglect the small things that we (should) do each day. Amidst the busyness and chaos of the start of the school year these things can be easily forgotten. But these small things build up, so decide to build a reservoir of small decisions and do you best to minimise the poorer options.

What other actions would you add?

Posted by Mathew Green on February 04, 2016  /   Posted in Uncategorized

Stop and Think! What’s your Teaching Legacy going to be?

In the words of actress, director, and civil rights activist of Maya Angelou

People will forget what you said
People will forget what you did
But people will never forget how you made them feel’

How will your students feel and view themselves after you have finished teaching them?

We tend to remember the extremes: the amazing, and the horrible. If you think back to your childhood, it tends to be filled with these extremes. I remember the most horrific day of my schooling specifically Term 1, Year 4. I had a crush on a girl named Sarah. She had just arrived at our school, and within hours I had had enough time to plot our future together and was convinced that she felt the same. The truth is, I doubt that she even knew of my existence. I only spoke one sentence to her. I asked her ‘Could I sit with you at lunch?’ To which, in front of all of my friends, she laughed and turned away. Looking back, that wasn’t such a big deal, but then, as a slightly chubby Year 4 student, I wished the world would have opened up and swallowed me whole. Or the other time, the greatest day of my life, when in Year 6 I won a community award for my ‘engaging and entertaining’ acrostic poem on hot cross buns. Upon re-reading the poem many years later, I realised that there were a number of typos and strange rhyming sequences, including feast and treat, and Easter and minister.

If you’re reading this article I am going to assume that you want to leave a lasting teaching legacy.

  • I want to be remembered as a teacher that made students feel as though they could achieve anything that they set their minds to.
  • I want my students to leave my classroom with a sense of awe, wonder and appreciation for the world that they live in.
  • I want my students to be passionate lifelong learners.
  • I want my classroom to be a place where the words ‘hard’ ‘impossible’ and ‘boring’ are made redundant.
  • I want my students to see themselves as active citizens of the world in which they live.
  • I want my students to value individuality and value opinions that are different to their own.

One day your teaching time will come to an end. One day you will have taught your last lesson and all that will be left will be your teaching legacy.

How would you like to be remembered by your students?

Posted by Mathew Green on February 03, 2016  /   Posted in Uncategorized

Things that will just make your life easier.

Today I thought that I would share some ideas that will just make your teaching life easier. It’s not rocket science, nor do you need a master’s degree to implement them. They are just common sense ways that will make your day run smoothly.

Use your own mug. One casual teaching day I grabbed a mug from the staffroom and sat down to have a cup of tea. I wondered why one of the teachers was scowling at me. Doris was watching someone else drink out of the ‘Doris Mugs.’

Pay for your tea and coffee. If you use the tea, milk or coffee it’s a privilege. Make sure that you put money in to cover your cuppa.

Take notes in meetings. It’s important to take notes for two reasons: it helps you remember what has been said, and it makes your look like you are paying attention.

Be courteous with staff members. Just be nice. Say please, say thank you and show a smile. It doesn’t cost anything.

Thank people specifically. When your praise people, be specific. ‘I really appreciated the way that your spoke to Jane’s parents about the issue in class. Thank you’ is far more effective than ‘Good job with the assemble.’

Check your emails regularly. I check my emails each day at 8am and at 3:30PM when I finish. It’s just good practice to reply to emails and stay on top of your inbox.

Look at the duty roster. I am guilty of forgetting my duties. Each day, remind yourself of when and when your duties are.

If you jam the photocopier then fix it. It’s just bad manners. If your jam the copier, just fix it.

Say hi to the office staff. The office staff are the backbone of the school. Things that seem to just happen, don’t. Be appreciative.

Plan your day before it starts.  I write down everything that I need to do for that day. I keep a detailed daybook and I write down my to-do lists. If it is in your head it will distract you from teaching.

What can think of that will just make your day easier?

Posted by Mathew Green on January 31, 2016  /   Posted in looking after yourself
Whether you’re a casual teacher, permanently employed, working as a support teacher or on a temporary contract with your school, you are directly involved in educating, training and shaping some of the greatest minds that this world is yet to see.
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