Wow! What a Year that was.
It has been a long time since I sat down and wrote a blog post but today has left me empowered, positive and passionate and I just had to share.
I am now in my probationary year of teaching and suffice to say I am soooooooo glad university is now over.
Don’t misunderstand me with that statement but as a mature student with a family of four… that was a tough four years.
Woo hoo! I made it !
I am so pleased and grateful that I have landed a wonderful job in a great school that has THE BEST staff team .They are welcoming, funny, sometimes nuts and most importantly of all … supportive. From My mentor right through to the support staff, cleaning team and the Janitor I feel like they are extended family and I actually look forward to going to work.
This isn’t a post about how wonderful my school is (although it is !!) its a post about how wonderful we all could be and a celebration of a wondrous shared learning experience that has prompted me to write today.
Today I had the privilege of listening to Andy Vass and he left me inspired.
Inspired to reflect critically on myself and my practice
Inspired to engage in shared learning
Inspired to BLOG !
and inspired to become the best version of me that I possibly can.
Let me tell you about why he has inspired me in these ways.
It wasn’t the fact that nearly all teachers can be classed as clinically insane by psychological definition it was this……
Andy Vass is an education coach and mentor, and today he did what it says on the tin … he coached. Not only a great motivational speaker but actually a highly amusing individual in his deliverance. I certainly laughed heartily today which, unfortunately, I am sure all newbies will agree is rare in the first few weeks of a new term. Particularly when you are in that heightened state of … plan this , plan that , did I make time for the milk, when is the fire drill, where do I line up AFTER the fire drill, where do we get the polywallets , which reading group should x be in. All very valid questions and all of which you have the answers to but you are so overwhelmed that you cant quite remember where you put your carefully picked out new set of highlighters never mind retain all that information. This is all very normal. It became very clear that every single person in that room today was experiencing the very same things as each other and you know what … That’s OK!
Whilst the main focus was quite clearly on behaviour management, I was pleasantly surprised that actually the focus wasn’t on managing children’s behaviour it was more a shift on looking at our own behaviour and how that impacts on the children’s behaviour (Yes….SIGH, it really is all our fault)
How many times have you said to a disruptive child to stop portraying an unwanted behaviour? For example:- ” Johnny, stop talking and pay attention”.
I have said it several times and after today I am slightly embarrassed by it. Knowing what I know now I will never again tell a child to stop doing something… What Andy Vass has given me is a deeper understanding of the importance of the choice of words we use and an appreciation of a positive response but with dignity! ( more on that later!)
Would we appreciate having attention drawn to ourselves when we were doing something we shouldn’t be ? Think about the last time you were being observed and you knew something was going wrong and then the observer stops, stands up and calls across the room ” Stop that, its not what you are supposed to do!” It would be humiliating and would elicit one of several responses (for purpose of less words I’m plumping for three)
1: you have a meltdown and run out the room to curl in a ball in the library corner hoping you will miraculously time travel back in time to sort it …
2: you carry on but internally you are seething and have instantly developed a loathing for that observer akin to the loathing of having to eat that mountain of brussels back on the Christmas of 1988.
3: you take it on the chin and afterwards at the catch up ask for advice.
Take a second to think about that…
Frankly we know one is highly unlikely to happen and we know that two is the most probable reaction of someone visibly critiquing you in front of the children and three well good for you but you may be in the bottom 1% and may likely be suffering from some form of delusional disconnect.
The point I am trying to make is that as adults we would not accept being shamed publicly, so why would we do that to children?
The notion of “correcting with dignity” really is very simple concept. Often, we react in a situation without really thinking but we should be responding in a way that does not draw attention away from the learning, not easy when instinct is to react . He discussed why stating to the children what you need them to be doing rather telling them what they should be doing is empowering the children to take ownership of their own behaviours and choices.
CHOICES>>>>> ALL ABOUT THE CHOICES!
Now in regard to being a better version of me … I had my eyes opened today. If I am not willing to take risks and try and better myself how can I teach children what I don’t have myself? Ambition , challenge willingness to change…
Be the change for you AND for your children!
I am very aware I have blabbered on about change , change, change, but it really does just boil down to that!
A lot of what Andy talked about today can also be found in the Paul Dix book ” When the adults change, everything changes” . I would highly recommend getting your hands on a copy along with a copy of Andys latest book , which is a toolkit of strategies to use. This can be found on his website.
So in conclusion I have made a decision…
On Monday I will:-
- offer to shake each child’s hand as I welcome them into our classroom
- I will respond with dignity and offer them a chance to change in a safe way
- I will actively change my own behaviours to be more attuned to the needs of my learners
and I will use positive praise in a non judgemental way to encourage a shift in culture !
No I don’t think so. I am capable of these minor adjustments, I am capable of reflecting on my own behaviours and practice and most importantly I am willing.
From the initial opening to all of us newbies trying to catch each others fingers the whole day was a hoot! I’m very proud of my honorary status as part of the velocity club!
But guess what…
I was learning…
we were learning…
We were changing.
Those of us of a certain age will likely remember our granny saying ” your face will stay like that if the wind changes” Newsflash everything can change .All you need to do is make your own wind!
Be the best version of you.