Thursday, 16 April 2020

Engaging Students From Afar!

Last night I attended a webinar called Supporting student motivation and engagement when learning from home, facilitated by The Education Hub and Harry Fletcher-Wood. If you are wanting to watch the recording of this webinar, you can access it here. This webinar was good timing for two reasons; I'd already been looking into motivation and engagement (see blogpost here), and we are back into online learning after one week before the holidays. The two things I left thinking more about, and two things I could put into action immediately, was that less is more, and to use the chat box to encourage students to share - give them opportunities to respond

We are using Google Meet with our classes. For the most part, I'm keeping myself available at the beginning of lessons for 10-15 minutes to give instructions and answer questions and then again for the last 10-15 minutes if students need further help or to have a debrief. This morning though, I wanted to have some deep 'discussion' with my Year 12s, in an attempt to replicate what we'd do if we were at school.

We started to discuss gender and sexuality stereotypes. I would ask a question such as when you think of male or masculine occupations, what do you think? Then students would post into the chat box what they were thinking, and as their comments came through I would read it, and then ask follow up questions. Even though I was the only one talking, the students were actively engaging in 'discussion' through this chat box - it gave everyone a voice, and to be honest there were WAY more voices heard (obviously not literally) than if we were in the classroom!

Secondly, we keep getting reminded that less is more, that we can't expect students to be able to meet the same expectations and complete the same amount of tasks as if we were at school, that we need to prioritise key learning we want the students to retain. After the stereotypes discussion, showing them a prerecorded video I'd made (which included reading a picture book!), and then an adaptation of a human continuum (displaying numbers on their video (could have just used fingers) to represent their opinions on a statement I gave, such as it's embarrassing for males to cry in public), I'd had 26 students actively involved for an hour. I was absolutely stoked!!! So, even though there was still half an hour left, and I had another activity planned, there had already been rich 'discussions' and I felt the students had learnt a lot, so I called it there and told them to go and have a cuppa! I decided to stay on if anyone wanted a general chat, and for half an hour 6 students stayed and conversed with me and each other about their isolation experiences so far!

As we navigate this unusual time, we are learning a lot as teachers, as partners, as colleagues and a lot about ourselves. In addition to these two considerations, remember to maintain your connections and relationships with your students, don't try to recreate the wheel, and help the students to develop study habits/ a routine!

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Teacher Wellbeing & Manaaki Orewa

During the holidays I was involved in an online wellbeing workshop facilitated by PPTA and Worksafe Reps. The overall aims of the workshop were to develop greater understanding of how to increase positive workplaces and what bullying and harassment actually is. To sign up to one of these workshops, as there are several more, please see more info here.

I created the alongside sketchnote throughout the workshop, summarising some of the key things I took away from the session. The things that left me thinking. Overall, I was naturally left pondering my own teacher wellbeing. More specifically, what am I doing to balance my own bucket? How am I helping my colleagues to balance theirs? Is there any more I can be doing to show the importance of teacher wellbeing? 

I feel that taha tinana/physical wellbeing is generally considered to be a more significant risk within health and safety policies, especially for employees. However, it is positive to note how there is a clear shift towards a greater focus on the other dimensions of Hāuora in NZ (and globally), particularly taha hinengaro/mental & emotional wellbeing. This was evident in the Positive Education conference I attended last year, and lately in the national budget from our government. 

At the end of the workshop we were asked what action we were going to take, after learning and reflecting throughout the day. Because I was thinking frequently throughout the day about our school values, Manaaki Orewa, and how these support student wellbeing, I thought I could create a visual to be shared with the staff related to the values and teacher wellbeing. Manaaki Orewa (Respect Myself, Respect Others & Respect the Environment) is embedded within the school culture of Orewa College, but is often discussed more specifically around how the students can display Manaaki. Hopefully this is shared around our staff and can become a print that is displayed in teacher spaces as a small reminder!

Clearly, putting up this visual around school, and implementing some of these strategies for teacher wellbeing won't be able to happen until we are back at school though. During this time of uncertainty, the lines of work and home are even more blurred than usual. Maintaining our own wellbeing is incredibly important for the safety and welfare of ourselves, our whānau and our students. 

If you would like to read more about self care and wellbeing whilst at home (and some general tips), see some of the below microblogs shared by Andy Milne for #microblogweek.

Three Tips for Self-Care as an Educator (Pran Patel)

Looking For Sticks (Mel Hamada)

Managing Your Self-Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic (Mary Jo Geddes)

Shoot For The Moon (Andy Milne)

Making Lemonade (Brenda Carbery-Tang)

Don't forget - be kind to each other, but be kind to yourself too!