September 21

Assessment: A Stool Metaphor

assessment
Many people have the same question when it comes to discussing education: What is assessment and what value does it hold? Christopher R. Gareis and Leslie W. Grant, authors of “Teacher Made Assessment”, speak to the value of assessment and why it has merit in the education system. Curriculum is an important part of teaching, in that it outlines the specific learning expectations per subject in grade-level increments. Instruction is where the teaching comes to life. Teachers take the curriculum topics and provide opportunities for students to learn this knowledge. But how do we know that the students have truly learned from these lessons? To what degree have they learned the topic? This is where assessment comes in.

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Figure 1.1 displays the three components of student learning (curriculum, instruction, assessment) in a simple metaphor: a stool. Curriculum is what information is being taught, instruction is how we teach this knowledge, and assessment is the nature and degree of student learning. The imagery of the stool metaphor speaks volumes in that student learning can only be stable when all three components are present. Without assessment, education becomes a one-way, teacher-to-student transfer of information with no expectation or accountability of actually learning.

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In my experience as a student, I always feared assessment, but understood its value. Assessment typically becomes a grade, which can be intimidating and stress-provoking for many students. Without assessment, though, how does a teacher know we’ve learned? Also, what is the point of learning if we don’t put it into action? Assessment provides us with that opportunity to use our learning to complete a task.

Now, as a teacher, I find myself spending a lot of brain power into creating the assessment component of any lesson or unit. What do I actually want my students to get out of this? How are they going to show me that they’ve learned the information? How can I assess my students without scaring the you-know-what out of them? Assessment serves an important purpose. Let’s continue to explore assessment so that our students learning remains as stable as a stool.

September 19

The Seven Fundamental Principles

As I enter into the second year of my Bachelor of Education, we are further deepening our understanding of curriculum and assessment. Curriculum and assessment are at the core of the teaching profession; without competency in this realm, students will not have the most fruitful education. Growing Success, a document released by the Ministry of Education, outlines seven fundamental principles of assessment. In our class of Teacher Candidates, we explored the possibilities of these principles and shared our experiences relating to each principle in our own teaching.

Principle

Teachers use practices and procedures that…

Evidence

What are the possibilities?

Evaluation

What did you see in the classroom?

Are fair, transparent, and equitable for all students · Fair does not necessarily mean equal

· Differentiation  is key

· Criteria-based assessment, both for- and of-

· Supporting students

· IEPs

· Learning goals and assessment criteria

· Student-made expectations (displayed in an anchor chart)

· Examples of past work that students will be working towards

· Graffiti activity for Catholic Graduate Expectations and how students will achieve these

Support all students, including those with special education needs, those who are learning the language of instruction (English or French), and those who are First Nation, Metis, or Inuit · Providing additional support

· Additional time to complete tasks

· Create diverse learning spaces

· Modified curriculum and tasks

· Varied teaching practices and assessment

· Speech-to-text learning

· Centre-based learning

· Environment: Seating charts and modifications (exercise balls, body breaks)

· Tools: Diagnostic (PM Benchmarks) and reading IEPs

Are carefully planned to relate to the curriculum expectations and learning goals and, as much as possible, to the interests, learning styles and preferences, needs, and experiences of all students · Backwards design, well-prepared lessons

· Knowing your curriculum

· Student-driven learning

· Relate Geography lessons to the locations that the students are from

· Class shows a strength in Language, use to advantage in subjects like Math

· Cross-curricular lessons and activities

· Writing on topics related to students that ties in literacy concepts

· Providing manipulatives and various ways to solve a problem, while also providing extensions for the students that  can take their solutions further

Are communicated clearly to students and parents at the beginning of the school year or course and at other appropriate points throughout the school year or course · Open communication

· Feedback

· Good rapport with parents (leads to ongoing communication)

· Remind App to communicate directly with the students’ parents

· Google Classroom, Calendar, and Mail that the students and parents both have access too

· Regular use of agenda

· Use of school board personnel that can translate during conversations with parents who do not speak English

· Family Math activities that are sent home to build learning environment with family

Are ongoing, varied in nature, and administered over a period of time to provide multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate the full range of their learning · Variety of teaching methods

· Staggered units and assessment to avoid overwhelming students

· Seeing the student’s work change with further instruction during unit (structures changing based on concepts discussed, i.e. use of triangles)
Provide ongoing descriptive feedback that is clear, specific, meaningful, and timely to support improved learning and achievement · Anecdotal records

· Self-assessment

· Preparing students for the summative assessment

· Success Criteria (met/not met yet feedback)

· Gradual Release Model

· Comments on work that students turn in (strengths, next steps)

· Being aware of the students’ learning process and how they came to their end product, rather than just evaluating their final assessment

Develop students’ self-assessment skills to enable them to assess their own learning, set specific goals, and plan next steps for their learning · Student-centred learning · Class Survey: Thumbs up if the student understands

· Refer back to anchor charts for the learning processes

· Students editing or critiquing each other’s work

· Students building off of each other’s ideas during class discussions

September 11

Year 2 Practicum Reflection: Week #1

“For most of us, teaching is not just what earns our paycheck. Teaching is what we were put on earth to do.”

~ Robert John Meehan

Tuesday marked Mr. Burton’s return to the classroom, as I officially started my second year practicum! I am beyond fortunate to have the opportunity to be at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Elementary School, teaching alongside two incredible teachers. In the mornings, I will be teaching in a Grade 5 class, and I’ll have a Grade 5/6 class in the afternoons. From the moment I walked into OLMC, I was blown away by the positivity and faith-filled atmosphere that the school emits. This school and its staff are committed to faith-based education and creating a safe place for students to be.

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For my first week of practicum, I had 3 goals outlined for myself:

  1. LEARN about classroom routine formation from my associate teachers
  2. Begin making meaningful CONNECTIONS with my students
  3. Experience a MEMORABLE moment

I knew my first goal would be achieved during the first week, given how important establishing structure and routines are for classroom management and, ultimately, student success. Morning circles, icebreaker activities, team-building challenges, and student-involved guidelines were all important aspects of the first few days of the school year. When it came to curriculum, the teachers eased into the subject matter, while also establishing some routines (notebooks for each subject, participating in group work, etc.). The first few days of school are truly a unique time of the year, and very valuable for a teacher candidate like myself to experience.

olmc4In a matter of days, I realized that the teachers at OLMC are so creative with their lessons and they display a willingness to try new things, the latter being so important after teaching the same grades/subjects for prolonged periods of time. When it comes to teaching, I’ve already seen knowledge-building circles, placemat activities, turn-and-talks, Number Talks, and think-pair-shares. The thing that I am really fascinated by is the school-wide Brain Breakfast initiative. Every morning, students are given a grade-appropriate word problem, either in Mathematics or Literacy, to jump-start their thinking and learning. This serves as a great introduction to the day’s lesson, or just as a stand-alone critical thinking question. I am very interested to see how this initiative progresses throughout the year and how the students’ learning develops overtime.

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This placement also marks my return to the Catholic Education system. I only ever attended Catholic school growing up and I really appreciated my experience. I missed the prayers on the announcements. I missed the prayers before lunch. Most importantly, I missed continual attention to teaching morals, ethics, and the Catholic faith. Already this week, our students brainstormed way that they could fulfill the Catholic Graduate Expectations. A graduate of the Catholic school system is expected to be:

  • A discerning believer formed in the Catholic Faith community who celebrates the signs and sacred mystery of God’s presence through word, sacrament, prayer, forgiveness, reflection and moral living.
  • An effective communicator who speaks, writes and listens honestly and sensitively, responding critically in light of gospel values.
  • A reflective, creative and holistic thinker who solves problems and makes responsible decisions with an informed moral conscience for the common good.
  • A self-directed, responsible, lifelong learner who develops and demonstrates their God-given potential.
  • A collaborative contributor who finds meaning, dignity and vocation in work which respects the rights of all and contributes to the common good.
  • A caring family member who attends to family, school, parish, and the wider community.
  • A responsible citizen who gives witness to Catholic social teaching by promoting peace, justice and the sacredness of human life.

I am excited to immerse myself in the Catholic curriculum and teach a few Religion lessons of my own!

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I was able to make connections with a few students throughout the week, and I am proud to say that I know all of their names (which always seems to be a challenge for me at first). I’ve had students ask if I am Superman, if I am my associate teacher’s younger brother, and if I am a scientist – all of which are false, but it made for interesting conversations nonetheless! Through establishing theses connections, I was able to experience a memorable moment this week. On the first day of school, we had a new student that had moved from the Philippines two months prior. He was scared, crying, and latched on to his family. I had a conversation with him about how it was my first day at a new school and that I was scared too, but that we would both have a great year and meet so many new friends. Seeing the progression in this young boy from crying with his family on Tuesday to joking around with friends on Friday was truly a testament to how important a safe and positive educational environment is.

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There was so much learning in week #1 and I am looking forward to the learning that is to come!

September 6

Books Are a Teacher’s Best Friend

Books
Last year, I took a course called Teaching Language and The Arts in the Junior Division and our professor expressed her adoration for using picture books in the classroom. The wonderful combination of visuals and textual stories that picture books offer is a valuable literary experience. However, picture books do not have to be used exclusively during literacy; they provide valuable learning opportunities in a number of disciplines.

Our professor asked us to explore the world of picture books, in addition to novels that could be used cross-curriculum, and create an annotated document containing information about three different books. Together with those provided by classmates, a resource bank of picture books and novels was created! Below is information about the three books I happened upon:


Book2
Title: The Other Side

Author: Jacqueline Woodson

Illustrator: E. B. Lewis

Genre: Picture Book

Subject Area(s): Language, History (Social Studies), Art

Grade(s): 4 – 8

Summary: The Other Side is a story of friendship across a racial divide. Clover is a young, African American girl who lives beside a fence that separates her town into a white section and a black section. Her mother tells her that she is not allowed to climb over the fence because it is unsafe on the other side. Clover regularly plays with a group of friends, in view of a lonely white girl. Eventually, Clover starts a conversation with the other girl, Annie, thus initiating their friendship. They both recognize that they can’t cross the fence, but they get around the rules by sitting on top of the fence together, an area deemed no man’s land.

Significance: This book is a great resource when it comes to introducing complex subject matters in an engaging and creative way. The Other Side presents the history of racism, yet it takes a positive approach to a heavy topic. This story can be used in a number of different subject areas, including Language, History, and Art. The pictures can spark a Visual Arts lesson focused on analyzing the images (What types of images were used? Why did the illustrator use that type of art?), and exploring the cultural contexts of the art. Many discussion topics can be explored after reading the book, such as the history of racism and the role of each character in portraying the significance of the subject matter, among others. These discussions can lead to assessments that fall under a number of Language and History overall expectations.


Book3
Title: My Life as a Smashed Burrito with Extra Hot Sauce

Author: Bill Myers

Illustrator: n/a

Genre: Novel

Subject Area(s): Language, Religion

Grade(s): 4 – 8

Summary: As the first novel in the Incredible Worlds of Wally McDoogle series, we are introduced to twelve-year-old Wally McDoogle. Wally dreams of being a writer, being a superhero, and most importantly, writing about a superhero. His father registers Wally for camp, insisting it will make him a “real man”. Wally’s fears come true before he even makes it to Camp Wahkah Wahkah: he gets picked up and thrown against the roof of the bus by Gary the Gorilla, a humongous bully. As Wally continually gets bullied for being dork-oid, how he writes a story about a superhero defeating a villain, closely resembling the situations he is facing in real life.

Significance: This novel is a great resource for teachers in the Catholic school board that are looking for an age-appropriate story that teaches valuable life-lessons. Written with a comedic approach, Wally is a relatable character for many students in elementary school. He references God and the values and morals used to overcome tough situations. This provides a way to introduce students to morality, consciousness, and religion. Wally also dreams of becoming a writer and is in the process of writing his own superhero story. This concept alone presents many opportunities for further study, such as writing their own life stories in the creative outlook of a superhero character. There are 27 books in the series, which presents an interesting opportunity for group collaboration: if each student is able to read a different book in the series, the class can engage in Knowledge-Building Circles discussing the similarities and differences among the lessons learned in each of the novels.


Book4
Title: The Giving Tree

Author: Shel Silverstein

Illustrator: Shel Silverstein

Genre: Picture book

Subject Area(s): Language, Religion, Art, Social Studies

Grade(s): 1 – 8

Summary: The book tells the story of a boy and an apple tree who are able to communicate with one another.  As a child, the boy enjoys playing with the tree, climbing her trunk, swinging from her branches, and eating her apples. As the boy grows older, he uses the tree for purposes other than play. As a teenager, he picks and sells the tree’s apples to make money. In adulthood, the boy cuts the branches off of the tree and takes them away to build a house. When the middle aged boy wants a boat, the tree allows him to cut its trunk to make a boat. The boy returns to the tree as an elderly man, however, the tree tells him that it has nothing left to give. Surprisingly, the boy only wants “a quiet place to sit and rest,” which the tree’s remaining stump can provide. After every occurrence of giving throughout the entire story, the story reads: “And the tree was happy.”

Significance: As both the author and illustrator of The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein serves as an example of cross-curricular connections. This story at its very essence details a relationship built on selflessly giving what we have to others and not expecting anything in return. In the upper elementary grades, this relationship can be interpreted and explored in many different ways: a parent and their child, God and humanity, the environment and humans, and two friends. Whether the picture book is treated as an introductory hook to a lesson or the basis of a lesson, these relationships can lead to discussions in a number of different subject areas, such as Language, Religion, and Social Studies. The simplicity of the illustrations allows the reader to internalize the story without being distracted by the images. The connection of the images to the plot of the story would make for a great Visual Arts discussion, and the lessons gathered from the story can lead into other areas of The Arts (Music, Drama, and Dance).

September 2

Extend-A-Family Summer Program 2016: A Review

Extend-A-Family LogoIt’s that time of year again where we wrap up our summer program! 2016 was a year filled with excitement, friendship, and fun!

Before we get into all of the exciting details about the program itself, we’d like to first introduce you to the team that brought all of the magic to life! This year our team was led by two time On-Site Director Spencer, who never failed to bring out the excellence in the rest of the team members. Josh held the position of Assistant On-Site Director, who rejuvenated the Peer Leader system by bringing mentorship and goal setting to the forefront. Returning for his third year, and introducing the Summer Program Leaders, Gryphon brought his strong relationship building back to the program, and gave the rest of a team an example to follow. Our resident cheerleader Sabrina brought enormous amounts of energy and spirit to everyone she interacted with. Patience and an aura of peace and tranquility came from our leader Marissa, who made strong and lasting one to one connections with many of the participants. Evan, our jack of all trades, brought a great sense of humour and well roundedness to the team and the participants. Where’s our last leader you ask? Not to fear, Emily is here! Emily met every challenge with a positive energy and with a unique intuition, which helped the team strive for greater success.

Staff
Sticking with tradition, we began our summer program by traveling the globe in “All Around the World” week. We focused on bringing different cultures to life, by creating maracas and dancing to music from different countries, we had the chance to meet some ‘very cute’ exotic animals from Little Rays Reptiles, and ended our week touring the animals of the world by visiting the African Lion Safari!

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We learned a lot about each other in our “Hidden Talents” week. Marissa brought her dad in to give an educational and interactive lesson in Karate, our minds were blown thanks to the magical talents of Five the Magician, and we found out what our personal super powers are by creating super hero models! Finally, we wrapped the week up by showcasing our hidden talents in a talent show, which had everything from lifting weights and arm wrestling, to beautiful singing and dancing.

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In our third week of program, we managed to get out into the community and give something back by being “Vibrant Volunteers”. We began the week by focusing on our futures and learning how to write a successful resume. We created goals for ourselves and put them in jars as a reminder of what we want to achieve, and took steps towards many of those goals by volunteering in small groups at the Victoria Hills and Forest Heights community centers. We took everyone to the Family Center and spent the full day learning about the positive experiences that can arise from being a volunteer. We ended our week taking a bit of a break at the Mountsberg Conservation Centre, where we learned all about different birds and how important they are to maintaining a healthy environment.

After a week of volunteering, it was time to bring out a bit of competition by “Getting our Game on!” We channeled our inner Tom Cruise by planning mission impossible, broke into teams and played our hearts out in a sports circuit, and gave er’ a go with some Australian sports taught to us by X-Movement. We finished off the week with an awards ceremony, followed by hitting those strikes bowling and splashing around at the Waterloo Rec Center.

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After a busy, hot summer, we wrapped up our day program getting wet and refreshed at our “Wacky Water Week”! We tapped into our inner artist and created some amazing paintings using water guns, got soaked running relays and capturing the flag, had a fiery time in the gym when Drumfit came to burn some calories, and relaxed afterwards by creating some tie dye shirts. After spraying the participants with water all week, it was time for them to get some revenge in reverse paintball, where everyone got the chance to paint the program leaders from head to toe, and wash all of the paint off using water guns, sponges, pails, and eventually the buckets that held all of the water.  We capped off our week with a trip to Wild Water Works, where we slayed the slides, laid back in the lazy river, and went wild in the wave pool.

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We said goodbye to the day program and hello to the overnight program by travelling to Camp Impeesa, located in Ayr. For the next two weeks, we spent our days playing cards, board games, going on hikes, making bracelets and paintings, swimming, and even a little bit of rock climbing. We celebrated the nights by singing around the campfire and making s’mores, watching movies and eating popcorn. We partied with a dance, topping off the night with ice cream sundaes.

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Just like that, summer program came to a close. All of the excitement and fun of the summer came to a wrap. The friendships and relationships built this summer brought everyone closer, and the sense of unity and closeness extended out to everyone who came into contact with the summer program. The staff at St. Dominic Savio did an amazing job at accommodating the needs of a constantly changing program, the peer leaders jumped right into their role and quickly became members of the team, the coordinators who connected all of the participants to the program, our fantastic guests and trip locations who provided memories that will never be forgotten, and the one on one support workers who did an outstanding job in insuring that everyone felt welcomed and supported at the summer program, we would like send a great big thank you to all of you for becoming a part of the summer program, and making this summer one to remember.

We want to send a big shout out to Mitch Bewick, whose 6 years involved in the summer program is coming to a close. His amazing contributions and guidance in that time has lead the program to new heights and success, and he has helped set the bar higher each year for the next team to reach. We want to wish Mitch all of the best in his future endeavors, and look forward to seeing his continued success.

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Until next time, Summer Program!

Written by: Summer Program Staff 2016

August 29

Start Living Acceptance

This summer, while working at Extend-A-Family Waterloo Region, I had the pleasure of meeting a wonderful gentleman by the name of Ryan McTavish. Ryan and I immediately recognized each other, and it wasn’t until a few days later that Ryan found the link – we had been babysat by the same babysitter years and years ago! Here is a little bit about Ryan:

My name is Ryan McTavish and I am a 23-year old musician and Autism activist. I was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 5. Last year in 2015, I hosted my very first show to raise awareness for Autism called Rock For Autism Waterloo, with special guest, Canadian music legend Fred Penner.

This year, to continue my advocacy career, I created a video called “Start Living Acceptance”…and my coined phrase, “Stop talking awareness…Start LIVING Acceptance” began to spread.

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… And this exactly what blew me away about Ryan. He stood in front of a room of support people, each with their own views about what it means to support someone with autism, and shook our mindset about awareness. Yes, awareness is important when it comes to individuals with varying abilities, but it is not enough. We must learn to accept others for who they are and display this mindset through our every day interactions with others.

Here is Ryan’s message:

Ryan has now created a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to create promotional mechandise, which will begin to be printed, if enough funding, by the fall or winter. These T-Shirts will contain the phrase “Stop talking awareness…Start LIVING acceptance” in some way, and the distribution of these shirts will help give Ryan’s advocacy campaign a boost to spread further. The shirts will be sold to numerous supporters, including friends, families, organizations, and any place I will speak or perform. PLEASE go support Ryan’s message here.

In the words of Ryan himself:

Thank you for all your support, and START LIVING ACCEPTANCE!

June 6

SEEDS Conference: A Credo for Support

Dreams are the SEEDS of hope: Nothing ever grows without a seed, and nothing ever changes without a dream.

On Thursday, June 2nd, I attended the 4th annual SEEDS Conference, hosted by Community Living Cambridge. This conference explored emerging evidence-based approaches to providing direct support, focusing on making us the best support providers for those individuals that we work with. With talks from medical professionals and social workers, and a keynote address from Norman Kunc and Emma Van der Klift, the day was full of information, inspiration, and motivation.

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The day began with the keynote address from Norman Kunc and his wife Emma Van der Klift. They titled their talk “Being Realistic Isn’t Realistic”. Norman, being someone with a disability, explained how throughout his life he was told to “be realistic”, like when he wanted to get his driver’s license. As a licensed driver today, Norman explained that when we say something is “not realistic”, we are actually changing “I don’t know how to do it” into “it’s impossible”. This stops us from looking for solutions to the challenges we deem “unrealistic”. If at first you don’t succeed, rather than trying the same way again, try another way! This allows us to revert “unrealistic” back into “realistic”.

Norman and Emma continued their talk with a parable about a man who was speaking to a wise man. He says to the wise man, “I feel like there are two dogs inside me. One dog is positive, loving, kind and optimistic and then I have this fearful, pessimistic, angry and negative dog and they fight all the time. I don’t know who is going to win.” The wise man thinks for a moment and responds, “I know who is going to win. The one you feed the most. So feed the positive dog.” By choosing to live a more positive life, despite the situation at hand, we will be enlightened with the possibilities to overcome any challenge.

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Many individuals in the field of social work have heard Norman and Emma’s Credo for Support. This is a must read for anyone who knows or works with an individual living with a disability.

Throughout history, people with physical and mental disabilities have been abandoned at birth, banished from society, used as court jesters, drowned and burned during The Inquisition, gassed in Nazi Germany, and still continue to be segregated, institutionalized, tortured in the name of behavior management, abused, raped, euthanized, and murdered.

Now, for the first time, people with disabilities are taking their rightful place as fully contributing citizens.

The danger is that we will respond with remediation and benevolence rather than equity and respect. And so, we offer you:

A Credo for Support

Do not see my disability as the problem.
Recognize that my disability is an attribute.

Do not see my disability as a deficit.
It is you who see me as deviant and helpless.

Do not try to fix me because I am not broken.
Support me. I can make my contribution to the community in my own way.

Do not see me as your client.
I am your fellow citizen.

See me as your neighbour.
Remember, none of us can be self-sufficient.

Do not try to modify my behavior.
Be still & listen. What you define as inappropriate may be my attempt to communicate with you in the only way I can.

Do not try to change me, you have no right.
Help me learn what I want to know.

Do not hide your uncertainty behind “professional” distance.
Be a person who listens and does not take my struggle away from me by trying to make it all better.

Do not use theories and strategies on me.
Be with me. And when we struggle with each other, let that give use to self-reflection.

Do not try to control me. I have a right to my power as a person.
What you call non-compliance or manipulation may actually be the only way I can exert some control over my life.

Do not teach me to be obedient, submissive and polite.
I need to feel entitled to say No if I am to protect myself.

Do not be charitable towards me.
The last thing the world needs is another Jerry Lewis.

Do not try to be my friend. I deserve more than that.
Get to know me, we may become friends.

Do not help me, even if it does make you feel good.
Ask me if I need your help. Let me show you how you can assist me.

Do not admire me.
A desire to live a full life does not warrant adoration. Respect me, for respect presumes equality.

Do not tell, correct, and lead.
Listen, support, and follow.

Do not work on me.
Work with me!

As we go through life, we must recognize the value and gifts that every person possesses. We are all special, we are all unique, and we are all able to achieve anything we want in life.

June 2

Servant Leadership

“The servantleader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first.” – Robert K. Greenleaf

Working at Extend-A-Family has brought to my attention many different theories and philosophies of leading and working with others. One of the main philosophies that we incorporate into all of our interactions with the people we support or our teammates is called servant leadership. Servant leadership is a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world. The themes present within this philosophy often remind me of the type of characteristics I hope to emulate as a teacher within the classroom.

Servant LeadershipThe following are 10 themes that are present within servant leadership:

  1. Listened
    • Actively listening and being present with the person who is speaking to you. Listening to everything – not just the words
  2. Empathized
    • Understanding and empathizing. Seeing everyone as someone who deserved respect and appreciation
  3. Encouraged
    • Healing yourself and others. Helping people solve problems and encourage growth and development
  4. Aware
    • Awareness of yourself and others. Helps to see the big picture
  5. Persuaded
    • Convincing those you work with, rather than using labels of authority, to persuade people into a course of action
  6. Saw Possibilities
    • Conceptualizing helps in thinking beyond the day to day realities
  7. Saw It Coming
    • Foresight helps to see an outcome of a situation. Learning from the past helps to identify possibilities for the future
  8. Experienced a Growth Opportunity
    • Committed to the growth (personal and professional) of others
  9. Took Care Of
    • We hold Extend-A-Family in stewardship for the families and individuals we support
  10. Built Community
    • Building a strong community, both in and outside of our walls

These themes are so important when working with anyone. We must always conduct ourselves in a way that is respectable and self-less when working with others, whether it be peers or students. By constantly conducting ourselves in this manner, we remind ourselves of exactly who our work is for: others.

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May 26

The Empty Pickle Jar

I first came across this story on my Facebook timeline, and since then, it has been viewed by people all over the world. It’s a very inspirational and thought-provoking story, and one that I will definitely share with my students one day! Check out the story below:

There’s an inspiring, thought-provoking message here. After watching the video, ask yourself: Have you made enough room for the golf balls? Can you let some of that sand slip through your fingers?

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May 17

“Get Through The Week” Advice

Work can be a stressful place sometimes. Due dates, timelines, tasks… Things are constantly running through our mind, forcing us to over-think everything, making us feel that the things we are working on are way bigger than they actually are. But work isn’t the only place this happens.

Often as adults, we overlook the stressful lives that children in this day and age are living. The strange part is, many of the stressors that adults experience are the same as students in the classroom are experiencing. Students have deadlines. Students have work. Students have social pressures. And yet, we as teachers do not always do an adequate job of preparing students for these stressors that they will most likely experience for the rest of their lives.

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There is a movement in the world of education to break down the stigma of mental health by explaining exactly what it is to be depressed or anxious. We also explain to them the importance of seeking help and we provide them with different resources they can contact. On a day-to-day basis, students experience a number of different stressors, but does this make them depressed? In the short-term, no. So, shouldn’t we also prepare them for the daily stress they’ll inevitably encounter?

This video from Dr. Mike Evans explains (using an awesome visual aid) the various ways that you can get through a “crap” day or week. Here is a brief summary of his “get through the week” advice:

  • Stick to the basics:
    • Sleep
    • Activity
    • Get perspective
    • Eat
    • Go on a date
    • Clean up your space

Self-Care
In its very essence, his advice explains the basics of self-care. This is something that is of great importance to all people, students included. Each of these little topics can be used to start a class discussion about mental health, self-care, and realistic and achievable methods of dealing with stress. Even a 20-minute discussion once a week could provide students with an understanding of their own stress and how to cope with it, so that they can continue to reach their highest potential.

Self-Care3

For your viewing pleasure, here is Dr. Mike Evans’s video: