Monday, 28 January 2013

Problem Solvers Not Complainers

As I sit at home nursing my sick self, in between sleeping I have read  my Twitter feed (since that is all my brain can take in in small chunks). I came across a series of tweets by Dr. Justin Tarte out of St. Louis, Missouri (the link is to his blog).His twitter handle is @justintarte.  He talked about the need to create a culture where staff become problem solvers rather than complainers.  He would be a great person to follow on twitter. 
Back to his thoughts. . .  once you get into the habit of complaining about your students, your parents, your colleagues or even your administrator, it becomes easier to do so.  Rather than looking for solutions, you begin to only see the problems.  Your included students only make you have to do "more work."  They just "don't get it" even though you taught it how you "always have."  Why don't your colleagues "understand your needs?"  Why does your administrator give you "the hardest students?"  And the best complaint ever: "this is the worst class I have ever had!"  Once you find yourself complaining and complaining, you either need a HUGE paradigm shift because you have been in attendance at the Pity Party for too many days or you need a NEW CAREER because you can't dig out of the pit of despair. 
Our students (exceptional in any way) deserve our best selves.  They deserve adults who will collaborate and problem solve to create an equitable learning situation for all.  

Recently, we talked, yet again, about common assessments.  Despite all of the research we have read, the discussions we have had, we are having trouble wrapping our heads around the fact the the COMMON ASSESSMENT needs to be common and related to a specific essential learning outcome.  It can't be easier or less because you think your kids "can't do it."  You have already said this element was essential. Why is it less essential for one group of kids?  It isn't.  If your kids still don't meet proficient in this outcome, you have some problem solving to do as colleagues on a team. Something has to change: how you taught it is the most likely change that needs to be made.  WE are smart people.  Why can't we solve this problem?  I look forward to seeing the common assessments that will be completed this week and then what we will do with them.  Will we complain about the missing skills of our students?  Will we complain about their parents lack of help?  OR will we look deep and find the solution to our problem in ourselves AS A TEAM? 

Thursday, 17 January 2013

My Office

I read Peter DeWitt's blog post about the Principal's Office today.  He was talking about the fear of going to the Principal's office in the past and how that needs to change.  I remember that fear.  My parents told me if I "ended up" in the principal's office in trouble, I would get in double trouble at home.  No wonder there was such fear about going there.  What a difference today.  I had a discussion with a grade 4 student who has Tourette's.  Lots of times, his "leaky brakes" cause him to say things he shouldn't say or do things he doesn't really want to do.  We talked about how my office is his safe place.  How he can come to the office anytime, even if I am not there.  We talked about the tools he can use in my office which include a heavy ball for proprioception, a body sock for deep pressure and fidgets.  He has used the chairs to blockade a space to curl up in.  He is learning to use my office as a tool.  This has proven effective for him.
Another student in grade one who is Autistic often visits my office as a reward.  He loves to come and give me a hug, or a "zerbet" on the cheek.  We play catch with the yoga ball I keep for him there.  I welcome his visits as a wonderful break if I am doing heavy paperwork. Sure a change from the past. 
I love to meet with students who are working on projects and need a space to discuss their project.  OR when I need help with a piece of technology that I am just not getting.  I have invited students to come and show me how to do things.
Finally, my office is a place of refuge for staff who need to talk, or need to catch their breath.  I hope that coming to my office is not scary for my students or parents in my school.  I work hard to make it a warm  and inviting space for collaboration between many different people.  Most of all, I would like to spend way less time in my office doing paperwork!!