The iMessage

Teachers who care show concern for students’ emotional and academic well-being. They develop supportive, personalized relationships with students, cultivate an emotionally safe environment, and respond consistently to students’ social, emotional, and academic learning needs.

Just before Kevin Kooienga left ISB he shared this resource with me. The iMessage. It has been a game-changer.

When students find that their peers don’t behave according to their expectations, the emotions can take over. Feelings of upset can be overwhelming and then it is difficult to be motivated to do school work.

For a teacher faced with upset students coming back from recess, there are two lose/lose choices to make.

  1. help students to deal with the issue which eats into class time and forces the rest of the class to wait
  2. ignore the issue (and hopefully get to it later) and find that the lesson is undermined

OR

use the iMessage.

BENEFITS: The iMessage supports students in finding the language to articulate their emotions. They own and share their feelings and their voice is heard. It is empowering and helps them to shed victimhood. And the offending party (who is listening to the iMessage) begins to see how their words and actions have affected another person.

PLUS: It’s very quick. There is usually never a need to talk beyond the iMessage.

3 EXAMPLES:

I feel sad when you take my highlighters without asking because I couldn’t find them. I want you to ask next time.

I feel angry when you bossed everyone in the game because I don’t like being told what to do. I want you to listen to other people.

I feel bad when you called me an idiot because that’s really rude. I want you to apologize.

The first time a student uses the iMessage, it can feel a little strange but they do get the hang of it. I have heard students say to other students, you need to do the iMessage. They see the iMessage as a useful strategy to work through an issue. I keep thinking that at some point in time, students are going to get sick of the iMessage but at the moment, it is working for me and it is working for them.

 

CARE

Teachers who care show concern for students’ emotional and academic well-being. They develop supportive, personalized relationships with students, cultivate an emotionally safe environment and respond consistently to students’ social, emotional, and academic learning needs.

CARE is such an important 7C. When I think back to my own teachers, the ones who had the most impact on me were the ones who developed supportive, personalized relationships with students.  I surely remember the ones who developed supportive, personalized relationships with me but it didn’t have to be with me to have an impact. When I saw teachers noticing other individuals and responding to their needs, it was beneficial to me. A reminder that we are all individuals.

I remember teaching one student. Let’s call him Greg. Greg was the kind of kid that rubbed people the wrong way and left people feeling annoyed in his presence. Nobody looked forward to working with this boy – students or teachers. He acted like he knew everything and the other kids needed to be told what to do, by him. I sensed that he put himself under a lot of pressure and I knew already that his parents were putting him under a lot of pressure. Plus, he was lonely.

The area that he loved and relished were computers. He loved figuring things out and I would call upon him to help me when I was having tech troubles. I could see that there wasn’t much that he couldn’t do and wondered how this could be used to his advantage.

Each class took turns to run whole school assemblies in the school hall. Powerpoint presentations with attachments (music, video etc) were an important, yet troublesome part of assemblies. The technology in the school hall was not intuitive. When lower elementary classes were running assemblies, the boy in my class would sit next to the equipment whilst the classroom teacher was busy supporting her students to present the assembly. The boy in my class was needed and appreciated and he responded sensitively when helping classes to run the assembly.

I began to see Greg in a new light with new potential. I wanted other students to also see past his typical grating, obnoxious behaviour.  An opportunity arose. Many students were having trouble using the plethora of technology that is available to them and it was slowing them down. But there was no room in the schedule to stop and upskill. I asked Greg how he would feel running tech lessons once a week during lunchtime for interested students. I didn’t need to ask him twice. He came to me later with a schedule for 8 lessons and lots of kids (thankfully) signed up for the lunchtime lessons in the computer lab.

The first lesson was basically Greg yelling the set of instructions but I’m happy to say that with some coaching he became a great little teacher for a 9 year old. Most importantly, there was a shift in attitude towards Greg from his classmates. Whilst children were still annoyed with Greg at times, they were receptive to working with Greg and would seek him out. A connection had been made and we understood Greg better and he understood us better.

Is it possible to always invest in a student to this degree? No.

A lot of work? Yes.

Worth it for Greg? Yes.

2019 – 2020 Initial Goal

I will focus on CARE because meeting a student’s social, emotional and academic needs directly affect a student’s ability to learn and be successful long term. 

Can consolidation occur at the beginning of a lesson?

It’s dawned on me that consolidation doesn’t always have to happen at the very end of a lesson. It doesn’t always have to be ‘stop and look back and review’ just before you walk out the door.  It was a mistake of mine to view it as the final stop in a lesson because it’s just not that linear. And that is a limiting view. Whilst it is a great habit to consolidate at the end, it is also ok to consolidate at the beginning and middle of a lesson as well, because:

To paraphrase what it says on Tripod: Consolidation is about integrating and synthesizing key ideas, as well as seeing connections across lessons. It’s about seeing relationships, remembering ideas and building understanding.

For example, we could start a writing lesson reviewing the things we know already about opinion writing and remembering key ideas previously discussed and this could be considered an opportunity for consolidation. Then students could be asked to apply all that they know to a new topic or prompt. Most of the lesson can then be spent writing, where students are integrating and synthesizing key ideas within a new context. This can also be considered another opportunity for consolidation. If students are writing well and making good progress then it doesn’t make sense to interrupt them. At the beginning of the next lesson they can bring out their writing and look for places where they have shown growth and applied the things they have learned. Which is another consolidation opportunity.

I do think the end of a lesson is the logical place to look for consolidation opportunities. But after writing this blog post, I’m also going to see the beginning and middle of a class as potential places too.

Goal: Consolidate

Pre-student survey, I initially thought the 7C that resonated with me was ‘clarify’. I’m not sure if kids always know the reasons for what they have to do in class. I had wanted to find ways for students to have a clear understanding about each unit of study in a way that doesn’t burden them and hopefully excites them. I wanted to give them the tools to see the big picture, and to see the end destination, as well as the stepping stones along the way. I believe that is one way to help put students in charge of their own learning. If students know what the goals are in each unit of study, then there is more room for them to be creative and there is more opportunity for personalized learning.

I have been trying something in maths: providing unit checklists which we revisit at the end of every lesson. What I noticed is that students are able to articulate their learning better to each other, to me and to their parents (on seesaw) and they seemed more purposeful in how they went about their activities. The checklists also gave them the language to talk about their learning which is so important when English is the second language for so many students. I will continue to build on this line of thinking but I would like to respond to the student survey and make a professional learning goal that is responsive to what students have indicated.

First up: a strength. The strongest area for me in the survey is ‘confer’. Confer means that I want my students to share their ideas about class work. One way that I do this is using Learning Partners. Every 2 or 3 weeks I assign students a partner to sit next to and work with. They can bounce ideas off each other and give feedback on work. This is not always an easy thing because they often don’t end up with their friends but we reflect on things that are going well and things that partners need to work on together. As the year is going on, students are getting better at collaborating and talking about their learning together.

The weakest area for me in the survey was consolidate. This means to review and summarize lessons to help make learning coherent and memorable. I’m not surprised because I often find that I’m squeezed for time to get through everything and then reviewing and summarizing is the first thing to get missed out and I want to get the kids packed up and on to the next thing. But I can see just how important it is.  It’s the last stitch on the quilt.

I’m going to ponder more about this and find techniques for consolidation. I also plan to keep working on the ‘learning checklists’ mentioned above because I believe they help with both clarification, as well as consolidation.

Looking through the 7Cs Framework

On 12th September, the Professional Growth Pilot Group met for the first time and looked at the 7Cs Framework of Effective Teaching.

The 7Cs will be the standards used to guide reflection and professional growth this year.

As I read through the 7Cs, the one that resonated with me was CLARIFY.  The first sentence is, “Teachers who clarify help students understand and resolve confusion.” And to break it down further, teachers who clarify do these things:

  • explain ideas and concepts in a variety of ways
  • check for understanding
  • address misconceptions
  • provide feedback
  • provide models / exemplars
  • share success criteria
  • break down complex tasks (if needed)

My goal is to teach in such a way that students are really clear, articulate and confident about what they are learning. I’m looking forward to seeing the results of the student survey! I will revise and finalise my goal after the survey comes back.

 

Welcome!

Welcome to your Professional Learning Blog! This is a place for you to post your goals, and reflect on them throughout the year.

  • Decide on your goal, perhaps in consultation with your colleagues or principal, and create a post to share with this online professional learning community that you are now a part of! Categorise this post in Goal Setting. Set your goal by considering:
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