Tag Archives: school

Combating Bullying…

Cyber bullyWhile admitting it’s very easy to over-simplify the “national epidemic” referred to as “bullying,” I do want to encourage those with an interest in the topic to read at least this one article. October is National Bullying Prevention Month–a program first introduced in 2006. In spite of all the attention we are giving the problem, most sources will concur the problem is actually increasing. The article will explain that bullying is now the “leading form of child abuse.”

Clearly, becoming more aware of the problem is not having an impact on reducing it. I’m forced to speculate that’s because we are focusing on the problem instead of solutions. One of the things I like about this article is that it is solution-oriented and the solutions proposed are both realistic and achievable.

I’d love to tell you more, but don’t want to be a “spoiler.” Read the article for yourself!

 

 

Avast ye, Matey!

teacher_colaberation_pc_400_clr_3388Okay, so I’m not especially good at “pirate talk.” (“Avast” means “get a load of this!”)

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a new page on the site called “PCSS Pirate Specials.” The page is designed to give you a cursory glance at what is truly an awesome program. If you’re ready to just jump right into some specifics, read on!

The program is actually underway and the second series starts Oct. 15th. One of the sessions is Career Exploration for sophomores. There are currently 19 students enrolled.

What’s needed right now are “guest speakers.” I put that in quotes because you don’t have to be a polished presenter. You just have to be willing to talk with these kids. (You are paired with teacher.)

The program is designed to get these kids thinking about their future careers/aspirations so they can plan more appropriately when they sign up for classes in high school. You get to talk with the kids for about a half hour on topics like what you studied in high school that helped prepare you, the kinds of summer work you looked for, what you wish you had done differently in high school to get better prepared,  and the kinds of decisions you had to make about schooling after high school.

As long as it’s legal, any career or job is fair game. What’s it like to be a carpenter? Is there a future in banking? Have you started your own business? Do you work in the woods?

I’m sure you can talk about it for thirty minutes. I’m even more sure the kids will have some questions for you and I can guarantee you’ll enjoy it and feel good after! Teaching skills aren’t required. A little sense of adventure would perhaps help, but mostly you just need to be willing to share your experience with some kids. When you’re ready to invest a half hour in some kids call or email MSAD 4 Curriculum Director Elaine Bartley at ebartley@sad4.org or call 876-4378 to see what times are available. Most of the slots are around lunch time so you can do it during your break! I can certainly nag, encourage, and beg. Just let me know what it takes to get you involved!

“We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.”

– Stacia Tauscher

Five Minutes — Can you focus?

Well, actually it’s a little under five minutes. Most regular followers of my brain leaks and musings know that I’m a pretty big fan of Sir Kenneth Robinson. I’m going to ask you to spend five minutes with him–particularly if you’re an educator or involved in some way with the development of children.

Of late we’ve been hearing lots of discussion about things like “Core Curriculum” in public schools. Our governor recently issued an executive order “affirming Maine’s commitment to protecting local education control and student privacy rights.” It just may be healthy that we’re giving some thought to who “controls” what students learn.

At the other end of the spectrum, I encountered a man with what he thinks is a wonderful concept he calls “unschooling.” His solution to what he thinks are the fundamental problems with public education is to homeschool. Homeschooling is not a bad concept of itself, but in his home school there are no standards and kids (starting as young as preschool) only learn with they feel like learning. At a minimum, I think that he and his followers are at a doing a terrible disservice to their children. (Don’t get me started on this one… How rational is it to tell a five year old “just learn whatever you like, dear!” A “teacher” using that approach is only demonstrating what a poor teacher he or she is!)

My point is supposed to be that before we join the fray with firm opinions and too often a “don’t confuse me with the facts” approach to how and what we teach, we might spend five minutes trying to focus on this Ken Robinson video. In the interest of full disclosure and proper credit, I first received this from the blog http://classroomsandstaffrooms.com.

(Due to some technical challenges, I’ve removed the embedded video… you can find on site given above.)

Don’t Pass The Chocolate!

As I prepare the Substitute Teacher Course, I’ve struggled a bit with the traditional recommendation that subs include in their “sub pack” rewards for well-mannered students. There are suggestions for stickers, extra recess time, and candy. I occasionally use stickers, but avoid recess time (today’s curriculum doesn’t allow much flexibility) and candy (not healthy and who wants to deal with 20 kids on a sugar high).

Then I stumbled on to Ron Gutman and a very simple solution–smile! This is definitely worth seven and a half minutes of watching… don’t miss the part about why most people like being around kids!

Mr. Boomsma, You Need To Focus!

pay_attention3_PA_300_clr_5004
Picture a second grader with a scholarly look–glasses that tilt as kids’ often do; an appropriate lack of front teeth revealed by a smile reflecting a sense of accomplishment. We’d just finished reading a book together. She’d read flawlessly.

When we stood to return to her classroom, another class of young scholars entered the library. They were calling out greetings as they passed and this served as a distraction as I attempted to push my chair under the table. I didn’t notice that I wasn’t succeeding because the chair simply didn’t fit.

After watching me in frustration for a while, she placed her hands on either side of her face mimicking the blinders horses wear. “Mr. Boomsma, you need to focus!”

I chuckled at the maturity with which she attempted to resolve my problem and teach me a lesson. I thought I was busy. She rightly recognized I wasn’t  busy. I just wasn’t doing such a good job of handling multiple priorities-priorities that I had actually selected unconsciously.

It’s at least interesting that a seven-year old had that insight. Many people observing the situation would have thought I looked busy. But  had I focused on any one of the tasks at hand I would most certainly have succeeded. All I was really trying to do was push in my chair, keep track of my reader friend and acknowledge some other friends arriving on the scene. Like walking and chewing gum at the same time, these were manageable tasks.

It’s been several years since she taught me the lesson and I still use her gesture to remind myself I need to focus. Occasionally I use it with others. She is, after all, correct. Most people who complain about being busy just need to focus.

The flip side of this is the claim, “Be patient! I can only do one thing at a time.”

Really?

Let’s see. I’m usually doing lots of things at a time. I’m thinking, writing, breathing… My heart is pumping. I’m somewhat aware of some folks nearby talking… I didn’t really think about it, but I’m really quite busy. Fortunately I’m also fairly focused. If not, I could become very stressed over everything I am handling. What if I forget to breath? Now I need to sneeze. I’m so busy! I can’t take on another thing!

Having told on myself (and had some fun), I can perhaps reveal that I suspect a lot of people who complain about “busy” just aren’t focusing. Our wonderful brains do take care of a lot of this for us, but we also have the ability to manage our attention. When we don’t use that ability not only does our stress increase, but our “situational awareness” decreases.  I didn’t notice my chair didn’t fit because I was stressed. I was stressed because I wasn’t focused. It became about everything and that meant it was actually about nothing.

Note, however, there’s an opposite problem when we become too focused. I wouldn’t call it obsessive compulsive. I think it’s more about target fixation. During WW II pilots would sometimes become so focused on their target they’d forget to release the bomb and pull out of the dive. They’d lose perspective and crash into the target.

Somewhere between focusing and being aware of one’s surroundings there’s a sweet spot with a balance. But you don’t find it without looking. It might be under the table where the chair doesn’t fit!