2016

The joy of learning something new everyday.

My wife and I are HUGE nerds. We love reading, discovering new things and discussing ideas. We have more books (both physical, electronic and audio ones) than we will every read in a lifetime. Our evenings are often spent sharing the latest news or information we’ve picked up or the newest productivity hacks we want to try out. We love outlining the premise of articles or books that have challenged or inspired us.

We often laugh at how intense and exhilarating our “nerd chats” can get! We’re learners and it’s probably why we’re so compatible despite being polar opposites in every other personality trait!

I’ve found that most passionate teachers are first passionate learners! They actually enjoy learning with their students, which is why their classes are always the most fun to be a part of. They view the world as a wonderfully complex and multifaceted place, they find opportunities to learn in every experience.

If you want to create an engaging environment that encourages your students to learn, you need to stoke the flames of your learner spirit. Here’s how:

Start fresh each day.

Each day is new beginning, a fresh start which presents a myriad of opportunities. Try to approach each day with fresh anticipation. Think from the perspective of a student. The day is filled with interesting things, sometimes you just have listen and open your eyes.

Keep an open mind

Being open-minded means that you enter into conversations and interactions as one who doesn’t know-it-all! Instead, think of yourself as a learner; one who is always trying to ask more questions rather than trying to dish out all the answers. When you enter a conversation from a position of humility you’ll find that you do in fact learn something new. You don’t have to agree with everything you learn, but you can be grateful for the information as it may help you somewhere down the track!

Listening attentively to others 

Active listening is hard, very hard. It’s hard to maintain focus on the person and not think about all the other places you have to be. The hardest part is to listen to someone without formulating a response or rebuttal to his or her comment.  As challenging as it is, active listening is essential when working with students and colleagues. Next time you find yourself in a conversation, whether with a student, a fellow teacher or a supervisor, instead of trying to get your opinion across why not practice asking more questions to ensure you understand what they are trying to communicate.

Make time for personal reflection

This year I wanted to focus on reflecting on what happens in my day-to-day life. This has meant developing a daily journaling habit. To help with this, I started using the journaling software DayOne. Each day I answer three questions:

1) What thing(s) did I do well today?
2) What thing(s) could I have done better?
3) What interesting thing did I read?
It’s quick and simple, but it forces me to pause and review each day. Over time I can start to see what really matters to me, what challenges come up again and again and what changes I need to get serious about if I want to move forward.

There is so much joy in learning something new each day. It is important for your personal life and your professional life to be someone who models self-reflection and a teachable attitude.

For those that are interested here are some of this week’s ‘nerd finds.’

20 Really Cool Google Features You Probably Don’t Know About

Why the Problem with Learning Is Unlearning

What motivates us to work? by behavioral economist Dan Ariely

10 Sites to Learn Something New in 10 Minutes a Day

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman an animated book review

What will you do this week to fuel the learner in you? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the commnents below.

 

Posted by Mathew Green on February 27, 2017  /   Posted in student engagement, working with others

‘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

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

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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