Stop! Sit! Go! Do! Eat! Don’t!

We were fortunate to have ‘Teacher Tom‘ at our school last weekend for an Early Years Conference. I  believe that everything we talked about that weekend applies to all ages. A topic that left a lasting impression on all of us was ‘The power of language.’

Imagine you spouse/partner/parent/child/friend commanding you : “Vacuum the carpet!” “Wash the dishes!” “Mow the lawn!” “Make dinner!” “Sit down.” “Eat your food now.” My reaction to that would be to turn around and walk away. You are not my boss! Stop commanding me.

Tom Hobson (aka ‘Teacher Tom’) told us that 80% of what we say to our students are commands. We are constantly directing them, “Do this. Now do that. Go there. Stop. Sit. Eat. Don’t.” etc. We say we want to raise responsible children that can think for themselves, but do we give them an opportunity to do so? It seems like we are always telling them what to do.

Here is something we can do to help us reflect on our own choice of language. Put four pieces of masking tape on your arm labeled “Directive” “Informative” “Questions” “Social Statements.” Throughout the teaching day, tally everything you say to the students.

Directive Statements: when you tell someone what to do.

Informative Statements: factual information (e.g. “It is Music class.” “John is sitting on the carpet.” “We all agreed to be kind to each other.” “We will use our Math notebooks today.”)

Questions: “What do you think?” “Where is your book?” “I wonder…?”

Social Statements:  e.g. How are you? Good morning! Thank you!

 

Reflect on what you are saying and how you are saying it. Can your directive statements be turned into informative statements?

Teacher Tom writes about the Language of Command  here.  It’s a good read.

Innovation…First steps

learning from experts

Paul Johnson, G4 teacher at our school, is modeling being an innovator during his class Genius Day. He wanted to learn how to make tortillas better. So he invited the experts in – a parent from a different class and her daughter – to teach him the secret to making better tortillas. While he did that, his students enthusiastically continued their own projects.

“The first step in teaching students to innovate is making sure that educators have opportunities to be innovators themselves.” -Suzie Boss, Bringing Innovation to School: Empowering Students to Thrive in a Changing World

George Couros, in his book The Innovator’s Mindset, defines innovation as “a way of thinking that creates something new and better.”

Don Wettrick, in his book, Pure Genius: Building a Culture of Innovation and Taking 20% Time to the Next Level has created an Innovation Class in his school and he did it by being an innovator himself. He insists that his students each have a mentor to help guide them through their projects. Learning from experts outside of the classroom is a key to success.

As teachers we need to facilitate the connections between students and experts – those who share the same passions.

How might we burst the bubble and create collaborative learning opportunities between students and experts?

 

wood cutting

movie makingpaper folding

Olympics vs NIS

Learning from Looking Closely at Experts

Olympic vs NIS.JPG

Developing skills, checking with experts, trying again, improving skills, trying new ways, checking with experts…the cycle continues.

Our primary PE teacher, Jo Andrew,  posted powerful images. Look how the young athletes are well on their way to acquiring the skills of experts.

Whether it’s athletics, science, writing, the arts, or anything, learning from studying experts is influential.

LEARNING TO LOOK SLOWLY

Slow Looking = Deep Learning

Slow eating, slow reading, slow looking, slow learning. Children do this naturally.

Paul Salopek, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, started a seven year around the world walk in 2013. Slow journalism was introduced.

Harvard’s Project Zero created an online learning community to accompany Paul Solopek’s walk around the world. It is called Out of Eden.  (Youtube channel: Out of Eden Learn Project Zero). Check it out.

Their goals:

  • To connect young people with other young people from around the globe.
  • To expose young people to new cultures and perspective.
  • To encourage young people to slow down to observe the world around them.

Children have it figured out. Slow looking = Deep learning.

Close your eyes and imagine the school you would build.

Last week I was fortunate to meet and listen to Takaharu Tezuka who was an architect for the World’s Best Kindergarten. The reasons behind the circular building are many, including, physical activity (running in circles), a sense of family and belonging, equality: no segregation, simplicity, visibility, indoor/outdoor and creating relationships.

Other speakers at the conference compared school buildings to prisons. Square. Hallways. Classrooms with square furniture. Routines. Bells. Timetabled outdoor time. Fenced in.

In reference to the title of this blog, we were challenged by one speaker to ask ourselves, “Should we build a school? Are schools (as we know them) the best way to learn?”

I’m Back!

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Throughout the year I write different quotations up on the white board in my office which relate to what I am thinking of at the moment. These words from Maya Angelou have been up there twice this year.

I am returning to this blog after a long hiatus. I have decided to try something different – quick snapshots of what I am learning or thinking about.

Let’s see how it plays out!

Marina