How do you measure the growth of an idea?

 

Growth is good for us. We need to grow. Teachers want to grow. I want to grow. Students (sometimes reluctantly) want to grow.

BUT

WHAT DOES GROWTH LOOK LIKE? HOW DO WE MEASURE IT?

Which then leads me to think what impact will my growth as a person have on me as a teacher? What will this impact of me changing my teaching based on my own personal growth have on my students? How will it help them grow?

In my world, I measure growth at the end of the school year with a number. It is one of MANY things teachers do in a school year and it is not my favourite. One number does not encompass the challenge, the struggles, the victories and the new found talents of the students. One number does not show growth in academics, AND social skills AND confidence, AND resiliency. One number does not truly measure student growth.

This Saturday, I was pushed to grow more. No number associated with it, but I know I grew. I know I’ve grown as I was challenged to think more deeply about issues I have been wanting to explore in my own teaching. This growth is going to lead to a change in practice. It might be awesome. It might not be. Most likely it will be somewhere in between and require many iterations. Possibly more than the action plan had us complete.

This coming week, thanks to #cohort21, I was able to take my idea that was creativity (see September version), to resilience (see October version) to now looking at using students the confidence to give and accept feedback as one aspect of increasing resilience within my middle school students (current November version).

I look forward to seeing where my idea grows. It’s a small seedling at the moment, but it too will grow.

 

 

 

 

 

What do my students need from me?

I have spent the last few weeks at suppers sitting with teachers/staff and talking to them about creativity – I’ve been researching a lot about creativity, creative endeavours and students academic success tied to creativity as part of some personal goals and really wanted to tie this into my #cohort21 goals for this year. In talking with students, and teachers, they all feel that we are able to be quite creative here, they feel supported in taking risks, trying new things and really, they do not feel that creativity is lacking as you walk around our campus.

After feeling like the helium was let out of my balloon, I started to think about what my students really need from me. They need lots of things like love and kindness, guidance and support, and occasionally a good dose of reality. In the past few weeks, I have had students email me about things that I really expect that middle school students should be able to take care of on their own: missing items, forgotten items, missed deadlines because I did not send a reminder email (i.e. they didn’t check their portal, or write things down in their agenda).  It got me thinking – what they need from me in addition to love and guidance is resilience.

Resilience as I see it is the ability to accept constructive criticism and grow from it, manage yourself, your belongings and your deadlines, as well as learn how to agree and disagree with others in a way that is civil. I’m still formulating what this might look like for my students in a practical sense, as we already are involved in some growth mindset initiatives that I put in place at the start of the year – although I often find these are set aside when push comes to shove in the world of balancing all the commitments. Perhaps conversations around the growth mindset and resilience need to play a bigger part in my advisory group, or perhaps I need to change my teaching so that the idea of resilience is more at the forefront.

Maybe my project does not involve teaching resilience as a skill but instead giving me the opportunity to teach with more emphasis on how to give and receive constructive feedback. It is a skill that I find students in middle school struggle with as they always want to give their peers top marks, which in the end does nothing to help either student learn more about their own, and others, learning processes.

Maybe #cohort21 will help me look at teaching skills to manage to have classroom discussions in a polite and civilized way? I feel like my students could use some help on how to agree to disagree in class, how to support their ideas with evidence from a source and how to really incorporate science into their opinions (i.e. on the environment and ethics).

Maybe the project I look at with #chort21 is a one on teaching students, and myself, how to make a decision and go with it?  Where ever my project takes me over the next few days, I know I am going to learn and be challenged and in the end be a much better educator for having taken the time to reflect.

 

You can’t pour from an empty cup

 

 

Today we kicked off our second year “This is Me, This is Us” campaign (https://www.thelordmayorsappeal.org/a-healthy-city/this-is-me/), which was started in our location by one of our Associate Faculty last year. She is currently away working towards her BEd.

This year, I want to do more to discuss mental health with my whanau (family group/advisor). My grade 7’s. I’ve created this poster as a talking point for us today. I hope that students will be able to come up with ways that they currently take care of themselves so they can take care of others, and hopefully, each student will pick up a new method to try. It’s not perfect, it’s not a cure, it’s not a fix all, but it is starting the conversation, normalizing the vocabulary, and reminding us all to take care of ourselves – especially in an environment that often demands excellence.

We’ll pick up the discussion on Monday, looking at all the suggestions and how we might apply them to our own lives. Then we’ll look at what mental health care looks like at RNS with some posters that some lovely staff have put together (i.e. who to turn to, how to access help).

How do you help your students with their mental health?