Category Archives: Goals

Book Recommendation #1: How To Talk So Kids Can Learn

How To Talk So Kids Can LearnI am writing a series of blog posts recommending quality books that I have read in order to energise and inform my teaching practise. Hopefully, I will inspire you to do the same.

“In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.” – Mortimer J Adler

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” – Joseph Addison

How To Talk So Kids Can Learn by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish is a very practical and helpful book for all teachers. The Washington Post stated ‘if you’re a teacher or parent, you simply can’t get along without this book’ and I couldn’t agree more. Each chapter provided me with a simple yet valuable tool that I could use the very next day with my students. I found myself immediately applying what I had learnt to so many interactions with my students and I saw the benefits instantly.  I became more aware of what I was saying to my students and the impact it had on the students was astounding.

The book provides very specific scenarios that teachers experience on a daily basis with very detailed examples of appropriate responses teachers can use with their students in order to truly solve the problem. The book not only provides detailed reasons as to why these responses are so effective and beneficial, but practical questions and stories from parents and teachers. Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish discuss scenarios involving the following;

  • Feelings that interfere with learning
  • Inviting kids to cooperate
  • Punishment and self-discipline
  • Solving problems
  • Praise
  • Children and roles
  • Parent-teacher partnership

You can purchase the book here.

Join in on the discussion! Have you read this book?

Do you have other books you would like to recommend?

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Filed under Book Recommendation, Goals, Professional Development

Teaching With a Vision

photo 2I recently wrote an article for ACEL e-Publications about the importance of teachers having a vision and 10 questions teachers should ask themselves in order to continually reflect on themselves as teachers.

Click here to subscribe ACEL e-Publications.

Teachers should have their own vision statement in order to continue working towards their main purpose and to stay present in each moment. I came up with the following vision statement for myself.

“As a teacher, I aim to create an atmosphere that encourages curiosity and sheer determination. Our classroom is a place where students feel important, respected, cared for and believed in. I am a teacher who makes it possible for her students to reach their full potential, ask questions, learn from their mistakes, give and receive feedback, create and try their best. In our classroom, real world problems are solved and each student believes that they can make a difference in this world. Together, we celebrate each other’s success and inspire each other to be the best person that we can be.”

Take the time to come up with your own vision statement and feel free to share it below.

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The Happiness Project

The Happiness Project‘The Happiness Project’ is a book by Gretchen Rubin which I received for my birthday in January this year.

If you are looking for a new book to read – I strongly suggest this one (if you generally steer clear of the stereotypical self-help books, don’t worry, this is not one of them).

Since the moment I began  to read this book, it  motivated me, not only in my personal life, but also in my professional life.

Being happy is something that is really important to me. When we are happy we are better friends, parents, daughters, sons, wives, husbands, teachers and ultimately better people. There are so many quotes about happiness, below is a list of my top five:

  • “Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions” – Dalai Lama.
  • “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be” – Abraham Lincoln.
  • “ I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For  I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our disposition” – Martha Washington
  • “The purpose of our lives is to be happy” – Dalai Lama
  • “Don’t wait around for other people to be happy for you. Any happiness you get you’ve got to make yourself” – Alice Walker.

While genetics and life circumstances play a large role in our level of happiness, how a person thinks and acts can make a big difference. So how does this relate to teaching, you might ask? Well, I’d like you to think about how you act and think while you’re at work.

In her book, Gretchen Rubin helps you to achieve the following (and much more):

  • Do you greet your work colleagues in a friendly and upbeat manner each morning?
  • Do you smile at others as you pass them in the hall?
  • Do you act energetic even when you feel exhausted?
  • Do you complain a lot?
  • Do you expect praise or appreciation?
  • Do you ask for help?
  • Do you work smart?
  • Are you afraid of failure?
  • Do you enjoy the moment?
  • Do you find time to be silly?
  • Do you find time for fun?
  • Are you generous?
  • Are you grateful?
  • Do you laugh out loud?
  • Do you use good manners?
  • Are you positive?

The list is full of simple ideas. This year, Gretchen Rubin, has inspired me to work on many things, however these are my top three:

  1. Not expecting praise or appreciation – I have come to the realisation that, like Gretchen  Rubin, I like to receive gold stars, a pat on the back, for my good efforts. This year I’m going to try to not rely on or want a gold star, I want to feel the satisfaction from the task itself and not rely on others for my happiness – happiness is going to come from myself!
  2. Acting more energetic – I am going to strive to act energetic even on those days when I feel as though I don’t have the energy to get out of bed in the morning. ‘We often feel because of the way we act’ – Gretchen Rubin.
  3. Tackle nagging tasks – We so often put nagging or annoying tasks that need to be done to the side and they then cause us more worry than they actually should. I want to tackle those tasks as soon as I can, instead of putting them in a ‘do later’ pile.

As a new school year is drawing nearer, think about how you can be a happier person, and therefore, the best teacher you can be.

Less and More

What will you work on in 2014 to be happier?

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A New Year

It’s a common tradition for people to come up with a new year’s resolution regarding their personal lives, but have you ever thought about creating a resolution for yourself as a teacher?

For me, 2013 has been a year filled with learning – more than I could ever have imagined! Someone once told me that once you think you know everything as a teacher – you should retire. On that note, I hope that 2014 teaches me even more than 2013 has. It wasn’t until the very end of this year that I truly realised how much of an impact I had on my students. The little comments they wrote in their Christmas cards and their notes revealed the difference that I made in their lives without truly realising it. Written in their Christmas cards were the small words of encouragement that I said to them or my small actions throughout the year which I had long forgotten.

My goal is to create a classroom where students can feel free to learn and take risks, feel inspired, confident, safe, heard, welcome and happy. I ultimately want my students to want to come to school and to enjoy being in their classroom.

Inspired by this post by Mathew Green, below are 5 things that I aim to achieve in 2014.

1.       Radiate Positivity

I want to be a positive teacher. It is really important to me that I begin and end the day on a positive note. I want to make my students smile and enjoy learning. My students will feel welcome and safe within their learning space and they will know that I believe in them with all of my heart. I would like to remember to have more patience and remember how much they look up to me and the difference I am making in their lives.

2.       Be a Facilitator

I want to be more of a facilitator and let the students jump into the driver’s seat. Inspired by Thoughtful Learning, I want to be continually thinking about how the students can question, plan, research, create, improve and present. I don’t want to lecture and provide the students with the information they need, instead I want to be a collaborator and encourage the students to help themselves gain the information and skills they need to succeed.

Facilitator3.       Encourage Students to Take More Responsibility For Their Own Learning

I want my students to feel responsible for their own learning. I am going to set up a Google Site which clearly outlines the expectations at the beginning of each term. The students will then be expected to access their homework from the site and upload assessments and tasks by the provided dates. The students will not be spoon fed and they will be continually encouraged to find the answers to their questions through research and not by simply asking a teacher. They will also be encouraged to ask non-Googleable questions and think outside the box. Their curiosity and creativity will be fostered, not squashed.

4.       Encourage Students to Learn From Their Mistakes

I want my students to know that making mistakes is a good thing and encourage them to learn from their mistakes. I really love the acronym below.

FAILI want my students to know that just because they made a mistake, it doesn’t mean that they are stupid; it simply means they made a mistake. I won’t be afraid to show them that I make mistakes, too.

5.       Cater to the Variety of Students  

I want to ensure that the students who need assistance don’t feel worried, anxious or stressed. I want them to feel supported and know that I believe in them. I want to encourage them to take risks and believe in themselves.

I also want the gifted students to be challenged in creative and purposeful ways so they do not become bored and both, use and develop their strengths.

Eleanor Roosevelt

I’m so lucky to work in a school where students are inspired and encouraged to dream. I couldn’t agree more with Mathew Green as he stated “classrooms are wonderful places … they provide a place of refuge and encouragement, which they may not have elsewhere … places of unlimited possibilities … that should encourage students to dream and be more than they could have ever imagined.” I really believe this also applies to all who work within schools and within education.

With that thought, I wish you a very happy new year and ask – in 2014, what dreams will you believe in?

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Filed under Classroom, Creativity, Goals, Teaching