25May/18

“Way to be!”

“Way to be!”

How do we teach RESPONSIBILITY?

As teachers, we often complain about students who do not take responsibility for their learning. It seems difficult for them to make good choices e.g. as to where they sit and they have a bad habit of side conversations. We worry about these students and their progress.

As teachers, we work very hard to make lessons compelling and spend time scaffolding and planning. And sometimes it seems we work harder than our students! We sometimes say to ourselves at points of frustration, “Well, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”

What if there was a way to teach responsibility?

Responsibility at Home
On parent teacher nights, I quickly learned that students who do not take ownership for their learning at school, in most cases, do not have responsibilities at home. Click here for a blueprint on the steps I use with parents and students to learn the important skill of responsibility.

 

Responsibility in the Classroom
Last week my students experienced an “ah ha” moment. “So, to do well in this unit, we have to do all these things. Then we will have all those things. But none of that can happen unless we come to class being all these things.”

This student was saying that the middle list (see photo,) called the “Do” list, is the success criteria. As teachers, most of us develop the success criteria at the beginning of a lesson or unit of work. That enable students to know what they need to do to be successful. I like to boil the success criteria down to a list of verbs.

Students know that if they do those things they will have certain results. We brainstorm those results in the third column.

However, what students don’t realize is how they have to show up in class in order to have success. The way they show up is their way of being and it precedes doing and having. Their way of being will allow students to do what is needed to in order to have the results. A discussion pursues and students become very present to their responsibility for their learning. They also begin to hold each other to account.

(The “Be Do Have” activity is adapted from a conversation at Landmark Worldwide.)

“Way to Be!” is a new program which includes responsibility training. I am launching these student workshops now for the fall. These workshops teach responsibility and other skills required to thrive, such as,
Critical Thinking
Complex Problem Solving
Creativity
People Management
Emotional Intelligence
Coordinating with Others
Negotiation
Judgment and Decision Making
Cognitive Flexibility

Service Orientation

Embedded P.D. for teachers with a comprehensive handout enables you to continue the learning with your students. Click to check out the programs and program descriptions and book your workshops today.
Call Margaret at 647 881-6958

Email mb@margaretboersma.com

Yours in partnership,

Margaret Boersma

Create a empowering school climate with practical social and emotional skills. Book your “Way to Be!” programs today for the fall. Email: mb@margaretboersma.com or call 647 881-6958 to book.

14May/18

Connection is Everything – Building a Culture of Connectedness Part 2 of 2

Connection is Everything – Building a Culture of Connectedness Part 2 of 2

In Part 1, we discussed the critical importance of nurturing relationships, both inside and outside a school, to support student growth. We learned about the “Make it Right” formula for restoring relationships that don’t work or don’t work as well as one would like. And we considered the importance of role modeling so students learn how to restore relationships and move forward.
What is the one critical thing we need to do before problem solving with someone? We must lower the emotions before we can start problem solving. Here is a strategy that will do just that.
Through Your Lenses:
Perspective training allows people to understand and reflect back someone’s emotional state so they feel heard and understood. With the exercise “Through Your Lenses,” participants learn how to respond rather than react. When one can genuinely see a situation from another point of view and express that through language, the emotional temperature in the listener drops. Then a space is created for the speaker to state his/her point of view. From there solutions can be created.
For example, when an upset teacher approaches another teacher with a problem they want solved, the listener needs to view the request through the lens of the upset person and reflect back what they hear, their concern and/or their commitment, until they feel understood and calm down. That creates a space for the listener/reflector to communicate their point of view. Only then can problem solving begin.
Just like in a very hot classroom at a point where the teacher and students can’t think anymore because of the heat, when the emotional temperature is too high, people can’t problem solve. When people are emotionally upset the thinking part of the brain, the frontal cortex, is out of commission. This is because the survival part of the brain, the amygdala, is in full gear. Bring the emotional temperature down first, then seek to solve the problem.
Nurture the soil (relationships) at your school. Make the soil rich for raising strong, healthy students so they can reach their potential and soar!
If you are interested in learning simple but radical ways to restore relationships and bring down emotional states, as well as an approach to teach your students essential social and emotional skills, email or call us today. Let’s see if a workshop is right for your staff or for your students.
Transform your school with a couple of simple but powerful social/emotional strategies! Email: mb@margaretboersma.com or call 647 881-6958.

 

 

14May/18

Connection is Everything – Building a Culture of Connectedness Part 1 of 2

Connection is Everything – Building a Culture of Connectedness Part 1 of 2

In the same way that the soil has to be rich and fertile to grow strong, healthy plants, so do the relationships in students’ lives need to be fertile to raise strong, contributing human beings in society.
It is critical to have relationships that work inside and outside of school. Administrators and teachers, caretakers and teachers, caretakers and students, parents and staff are all critical for nurturing young minds and setting examples.
Mirror neurons, in the minds of our students, are noticing all interactions and students are mimicking what they see. Children do not just mimic what they see on the media or on their devices but what they see adults doing and saying. They also mimic our way of being. We are their role models. As adults inside a school, most children see more of us than of their families in the run of a day. So, our role modeling is critical!
Children are also inventing what they don’t see but need to see modeled such as restoring hard feelings. We all have experienced hard feelings inside a relationship. And we need to model for children how we restore those relationships.
I can imagine the moments teachers spend problem solving recess feuds would be a lot less with a few simple but life-changing tools.
“Make it Right Formula”

It is best for these social and emotional skills to be learned in a workshop. For example, in our workshops, with the “Make it Right” formula, participants learn four steps to powerfully restore relationships that are not working as well as they could be. Weather they are caused from a simple misunderstanding, an intentional or unintentional comment, a slight or something more severe such as public humiliation, this formula works.

For students this might involve bullying, humiliating, alienating, fighting, tattling and more. Recently, a grade 3 student learning the “Make it Right Formula” said, “You mean we can be friends again after making a mistake?” This is revolutionary work both for children and adults!
If you are interested in learning simple but radical ways to restore relationships and bring down emotional states, as well as an approach to teach your students essential social and emotional skills, email or call us today. Let’s see if a workshop is right for your staff or for your students.
Transform your school with a couple of simple but powerful social/emotional strategies! Email: mb@margaretboersma.com or call 647 881-6958.

 

14May/18

Well-Being: How Do We Grow Communities of Wellness? Part 3 of 3

How Do We Grow Communities of Wellness Going Forward? How do we Address Transformation in Public Education? Well-Being Part 3 of 3

Consider a Structure for Transformation

It is a well-known fact that our school system is not structured to produce the outcomes we need in our current society. The system was formed when industries employed most workers. Assembly line workers were needed to make our economy work and people who were creative innovators could upset the economy.

But, in the 21st century, innovative, creative thinkers are what can set us apart as a
society and keep us on the cusp of an evolving world of constant change. How do we
develop innovative, creative thinkers inside the public-school system? In “The
Surprising Truth about what Motivates Us,” Daniel H. Pink states “For artists, scientists,inventors, schoolchildren, and the rest of us, intrinsic motivation—the drive to do something because it is interesting, challenging, and absorbing—is essential for high levels of creativity.” Pink is not saying that creativity is developed in isolation. However,the school system must encourage individual growth challenging students to develop their thinking and creative abilities fully. This will allow them to make the greatest contribution to a constantly changing society. It is essential that a new structure for a transformed school system is focused on developing leaders that are innovative,creative, critical thinkers. These leaders must have outstanding communication skills and be able to collaborate with others, benefiting from the synergy created.

What would it take to transform the school system?

One school at a time? One community at a time? If people are to buy into the changes, the process should be organic. The community must be totally involved. That would include businesses, parents, educators, community centers, people in religious institutions, anywhere there are people in the community.

We must come together and generate discussions through town halls, social media and everywhere people gather. When each individual experiences a sense of contribution, they also have a sense of ownership. And that is powerful! The school would be recognized as the hub of the community, the place of refuge, the gathering place for community meetings and events. A safe place for all community members to learn and grow. During weekends and all times of the day, the school would be used and a real sense of shared experiences, exploration of ideas, and creative projects would begin and be nurtured in this hub.

Who will transform the schools?

Maybe it is up to entrepreneurs who have such a passion for education that they become experts and thought leaders…thought leaders who are action oriented. Brave thought leaders who are visionaries willing and open to create organically, asking thought-provoking questions, fielding conversations, making sure there is buy-in from every level in a community. There could be educational thought leaders who educate and train, facilitate, coach and mentor. They will use these modes to inspire transformation. Most of all, they will listen and be open to consider the views, opinions and ideas of others and bring them back to the community for next steps. And they must be supported by a community of experienced educational thought-leaders at the national and/or global level.

Utilizing the Unemployed Teachers

Recently an education specialist, Iyad Abualrub from University of Oslo, Norway,
contacted me. He has a vision to support the thousands of wonderfully gifted teachers graduating from the Faculty of Education who can’t get jobs as teachers. What if they received training in an area of education in which they are passionate i.e. communication skills, team-building, facilitating, creativity training? What if they were supported in gaining experience in their niche? They could be paired with experienced educational thought leaders and go about the globe listening, facilitating and instigating change from the ground up. These bright, young leaders could be entrepreneurs making a tremendous difference in education. Right now, our graduates are a huge resource not being tapped.

Another resource is recently retired teachers who still have a burning passion to make a difference, have a growth mindset and have decades of experience to draw on. You might be interested in listening to this TEDTalk about the untapped masters doing what they feel called to do. Iyad Abualrub and I would like to instigate a conversation with other educational leaders. We are seeking leaders who have a desire to support graduates in using their skills and passions to support the educational transformation,which is so overdue.

I invite you to contact me at mb@margaretboersma.com if this is of interest to you.

 

14May/18

Well-Being: How Do We Grow a Community of Wellness? Part 2 of 3

Well-Being: How Do We Grow a Community of Wellness? Will it Take a Transformation in Education? Part 2 of 3

Educators Discuss Health and Wellness at School

VoicEd Radio is a Canadian based, international radio station dedicated to educators. This particular podcast is “OnEdMentors.” On this podcast, passionate educators connect weekly with teacher candidates, address their questions and explore their perspectives as they prepare to enter the profession. Lots of practical ideas were shared to support teachers with mental wellness. I invite you to listen here.

Structure for Implementing Well-Being

Allow me to indulge you in a vision. Why not have leaders in social and emotional learning leverage school-wide cultural change. Each community could have an educational consultant with an expertise in social and emotional skills, based in the school. That person could also work inside the community creating a movement for community-wide cultural wellness. The school would be the hub of the community with experts offering training. The training would be for students and for adults at the school and in the community i.e. leaders of businesses, organizations and parents.

Before long, people listen to each other and communicate their listening to the speaker; no more emotional reactions; only generated responses. Imagine people having the tools to lower the stress thermometer when others come to them upset. And once the stress is lowered, only then can problem solving really begin. Wellness everywhere!

A Culture of Well-being Right Now

Create a climate of acceptance, compassion and problem solving. Build healthy
relationships inside the school, teachers with students, teachers with teachers,
administrators with teachers, caretakers with students. At the Canadian Association of Principals (CAP) conference in Saskatoon, the metaphor was healthy relationships
create the fertile ground needed to grow healthy students. Do this and your students
can soar. Your staff will feel energized while they work together as a powerful team to
achieve your collective goals!

Creating healthy working relationships requires skill in social and emotional realms. If
you would like a workshop in specific strategies you can implement right away with staff and with your students, have a look at Part 1 “Trust and Perspective” of a workshop series called, “SmArts of Well-Being.” You can find the workshop description under Cross-Curricular Workshops at www.margaretboersma.com Also, download a story that transforms with strategies to internalize the learning. That is found on the home page at www.margaretboersma.com

I welcome your comments and thoughts. If you are interested in forming a team to
forward the ideas in this blog, let’s talk. You can email me at
Mb@margaretboersma.com.

14May/18

Well-Being in Our Relationships Part 1 of 3

Well-Being in Our Relationships Part 1 of 3

One of my grade 3 students said recently, “You mean we can be friends again after we make a mistake?” She was sorry for bullying another child on the playground. She longed to be friends again and thought that would never be possible.

How many of us do that? We make a mistake in our communication and feel like it can never be restored.

At school, administrators and teachers experience on-going stress and overload as we strive to meet the needs of every student. At report card time, we can walk into a staff room and physically sense the tension. It seems that most administrators and teachers experience stress from the end of August to the end of June.

Chronic stress inhibits change. Yet, we must change with our students, with the
digital age, with meeting educational expectations. Sometimes it feels like two plates on a fault line pushing up against one another, the pressure is so intense for so long. Then suddenly everything changes. What or who can we count on when the circumstances seem dire?

Imagine a staff with well-developed social and emotional skills. Did you know…
We can lower the stress thermometer? We must arm teachers with tools that
lower stress and make teaching fun again.

Social and emotional learning skills must address the educator first. Teacher wellness is the key to student success.

Imagine if our relationships worked. Not just amicably but relationships that are uplifting and genuinely caring and supportive.

What if there is a way to disappear hard feelings? To be totally understood by another? Coming from a neutral and open place where one is free to listen and understand? Where one could respond and not react?

These are social and emotional skills that can be taught. Imagine if we all learned these core skills? What would the workplace be like? What would our classrooms be like?

Maybe our students would build each other up, rather than put each other down.
Maybe they wouldn’t abuse drugs and alcohol. Perhaps they would be able to look at
another point of view and really “get” the other person. How amazing would that be?
On the side of the recipient, what would it be like to be totally understood by someone, even though they might not agree with you?

And maybe both students and adults would learn how to make things right because we know, life doesn’t work without trust. What if we could regain trust with another person using a simple strategy? That would be liberating!

My grade 3 students wrote a song with their music teacher during our unit together. I
think it would make a powerful school song. I am thrilled that it was shared at our Quest Conference. Listen to the song here.

It is critical that students understand we are all capable of making mistakes and
that “failure” is a wonderful teacher. And we can all recover from our
failures/mistakes by making it right. People are always changing and their
behavior is not who they are…we must make that distinction for our students.

Let’s equip our teachers in how to address interpersonal issues. Problem solving can
only occur in a clearing. Did you know you can eliminate the emotional reaction?

Then teach these practical skills to students. Everyone feels empowered and validated. A school-wide sense of connectedness provides a culture ripe for learning. The world would be a better place with these lessons learned.

Transform your school with a couple of simple but powerful social/emotional strategies! Email: mb@margaretboersma.com or call 647 881-6958.

11May/18

Happy Reader Activity

Fun Ways to Get Students Reading

Do you want a fresh start? Here, the students are reading a difficult passage. But every reader is engaged and supported. Create your own rubric with reading, oral expression and drama expectations when doing the Happy Readers Activity below.

Happy Readers Activity 1-9 & Drama Activity 9-20 

      1. Hand out the passage (this works well if you want them to memorize or know the passage well e.g. for an assembly, a play or facts. I like using a passage from the Frog and Toad series as there are two characters and this is a partner activity.)
      2. Start by having each student reading the passage silently. (For readers who find  this step challenging, ask them to look for the words they know and get as much meaning from the text as possible.)
      3. After a few minutes, read the passage to the students as they follow along.
      4. Partner them off and have them take turns reading short sections to each other. Once they have read the passage one time, ask them to start again at the top.
      5. Have partners walk around the room taking turns reading.
      6. Have them emphasize the meaning with intonation and punctuation in their voices.
      7. Have partner A walk in front of B and take turns reading the passage (work on projection.) Then B in front of A.
      8. Have partners switch reading parts frequently.
      9. Partners stand apart from each other (could have a line of A’s standing opposite a line of B’s. They will project and be physically animated to be heard, which is great for expressing meaning.)
      10. Have partners decide on their particular parts. E.g. who is Frog and who is Toad.
      11. Have them read their lines only looking into their partner’s eyes (and maintain the meaning.)
      12. Have everyone do up their shoes and undo their shoes while saying their lines. (this gets them away from the passage/script and makes the tone and flow more natural.)
      13. Have everyone do jumping jacks or another vigorous action while saying their lines. (notice what happens to their tone, expression, eye contact.)
      14. Each pair creates actions that bring out the meaning of the text, while saying their lines.
      15. Arrange furniture in the classroom to create a set (other props may be used or must be mimed.)
      16. Partners make final decisions to bring the passage to life.
      17. Encourage students to put their scripts away and rehearse their parts once more.
      18. Share with the class.
      19. Have the class give feedback according to the rubric. I like to use Stars and Wishes e.g. What did you like about the piece (referring to specific rubric items) and what would you wish could be different.
      20. Rework the piece and present again.

Transform your school with a couple of simple but powerful strategies! Email: mb@margaretboersma.com or call 647 881-6958 today for student or teacher workshops.

31Jan/18

With Hope in Her Heart and Grounded in Faith- Margaret Boersma’s P3

With Hope in Her Heart and Grounded in Faith- Margaret Boersma’s P3

By: Noa Daniel

Original Radio Broadcast here.

Margaret Boersma and I were at TEDxKitchenerEd in front of the iconic sign when we asked each other to take the picture. Our grateful salutations turned to warm hellos when we realized that we had already met as panelists on ONedMentors. Margaret is a creative educational consultant, coach, teaching artist, curriculum writer, thought leader and speaker. With over 30 years experience teaching Kindergarten to Grade 8, Margaret has honed her craft. She engages learners in a process of learning that incorporates powerful personal expression, enhancing teacher-student communication synergy. Her work sets out to reach and teach the whole child through arts-based workshops and professional development.

On a recent ONedMentors, our topic was Mental Health and Wellness. Margaret spoke about a new program of hers that, like all of her work, embeds social and emotional skills.  She mentioned SmArts for Well-Being, so I asked her a bit about it (a little abruptly for the first question out of the gate- my apologies, Margaret).  She explained her interest and concern for both teacher and student well-being. In combining an understanding of how children learning best and the most recent brain research, she has developed a workshop

focusing on trust and perspective. This is the first in a series on Well-Being. She explained that, “Teacher wellness is the key to student success…We need to teach the educators first, and then the educators will teach the tools to the students.” Margaret explained some of the reasons for and results of her program. She sees the ripple effect going home to parents and echoing through the school climate. She added that, “A school-wide sense of connectedness provides a culture ripe for learning.” The chart below explains more:

 

Margaret pulled out her wedding box in preparation for her appearance on the Personal Playlist Podcast. It was there that she located the lyrics of her nostalgic song. She hadn’t looked in this box of keepsakes for 25 years. In it, she found the words for an old tune called The Ash Grove, but different people have added their own lyrics over the years. She first heard the tune at her sister’s wedding, so she incorporated into her wedding, as well. While it is a religious hymn, she sees it as a song reflective of universal truths. She connects this to the social emotional realities that so many people have in common, noting a shared experience of cause and effect. Straight from a church handbook, a hymn composed by Katherine Davis, sung in the video by Lebanon County Youth Chorus, here is Let All Things Now Living:

Margaret’s identity song is one I had heard before. She reflected, “ I chose this for my identity song because it wraps up what I think I’m about.  In the lyrics, in what I try to do in schools and what I have a passion to do…its my life-passion to give…what I know to be successful…not just teaching strategies but ways of life…to be able to enter into deep conversations with students and teachers alike…to bring out those aha moments. I just love the lyrics that came out of this. ” It’s a heartwarming reflection of what she most often does in schools. Not long ago, she was working with teachers and students at Hartman P.S to build the social and emotional skills of the students.  She was working with the Grade 2’s and 3’s and several of their teachers, Stewart Wallace, their music teacher, composed the music out of the student-generated learning from Margaret’s work with them. You can read more about the process here. The song resonated enough to be shared in multiple ways, including at this year’s YRDSB Quest Conference for Well Being. Here is Be Kind taken from the video at that event:

Margaret feels she has found solutions to essential problems for students and teachers. All she wants to do is give all of what she knows.  In terms of music. she loves the songs that can go faster and faster, like her description of Klezmer Jewish music that is often expressed through a circle dance called The Hora. She quotes the biblical lyrics but adds her love of the dancing element as key. “I am a dancer at heart. I have taken years of dancing lessons. Even if I’m not moving, my heart is dancing.” She has studied with the great Marcel Marceau and shared how much she loves to communicate through movement. “I actually danced a solo at my own wedding,” shared our guest, “inviting God to come into the ceremony.” She connected her pick-me up song choice to children to whom she refers as innate movers. “Most of us don’t know how to teach them in one of their primal expression forms.” Margaret can help us learn to teach through movement and provides several examples of how kinaesthetic approaches can be integrated into teaching curriculum at different grade levels. Her final song choice is a whole body experience for her and lifts her up. Here is You Are My God; Sing Unto the Lord, Trees of the Field by Jeff Hamlin

In many ways, all of Margaret’s work is grounded in faith. Beyond the religious aspects of her calling, her belief in respect, community and the possibility created through social emotional learning has supported and motivated her throughout her years of formal teaching and in the development of her practice. This shined through in all aspects of her P3. When asked what was missing from her playlist, she mentioned a song from the musical Carousel. This song, reminds her of her time in Holland where she was exploring her roots. It helped her feel less alone as she would sing, “When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high and don’t be afraid of the dark.” She had performed in that musical and many others, as well. Margaret’s conviction and devotion to her craft has led her to contribute her work across North America and Hong Kong. You can find her through her website and on Twitter. Here are the lyrics from Carousel that light her up:

08Dec/17

Kindness is the Cure


Kindness is the Cure

For published article, click here. See page 12-13.

A grade 3 student says, “You mean we can be friends again after we make a mistake?” Students learn the “Make it Right Formula” and ah ha moments are visible in their eyes.

The thrill of those ah ha moments gives me great joy!  And it doesn’t matter if that is with children or adults, the thrill is the same.

Principals often want me to address the theme of bullying when I come into a school. I have come to realize that every school struggles with students who need lessons in how to deal with their feelings.  In fact, social/emotional learning is a popular term in education now.  And applying social and emotional intelligence has become more important than academic and technical competence to be “job ready.”  According to the Carnegie Institute of Technology, 85% of your success is due to your personality and ability to communicate, negotiate and lead.  Shockingly, only 15% is due to technical skills.”

A Project with a Social/Emotional Learning Focus

Recently, I worked with a school creating an experiential, cross-curricular unit addressing negative student behavior.  The purpose was to make students aware of the impact of their inappropriate behavior.  But I like to be pro-active.  Rather than accepting mediocrity and teaching what was appropriate and inappropriate behavior, the team of teachers and I decided to reach for a more positive goal and outcome.  We created a unit called, “Be Kind.”

The consulting project, included 4 parts, providing a scaffolded approach.  There were 2 classes and 4 teachers participating.

  1. First the teachers participated in a professional development session learning powerful strategies, part of a new methodology, while “living inside a story.” We used a story as an analogy making it safe to explore inside of the story, trying out different responses and learning from the reactions of other characters.
  2. Then demonstration lessons were taught to students while teachers observed and participated. Both teachers and students were engrossed in the process.
  3. Later, teachers worked with students while being mentored.
  4. The cross-curricular unit concluded with a school assembly where the students in the unit shared the learning which they had experienced: dance and drama activities, oral language and singing. Teachers also learned the value and simplicity of sharing the learning process with the rest of the school.

Examples of Activities

Using a powerful story, which acts like an analogy to life, students discover their learning through role play.  This story and some process drama activities are available as a download on my website.

A powerful activity which is prepared before the unit starts and used later in role, is “Showing Appreciation.”  Students write a genuine compliment to a few other students in the class.  They are only a couple of sentences but stem from observation and experience. E.g. “Patrick, I love the way you dive into new topics.  You are not afraid to try new things.  You help people in the class when they look like they need it and you are a great team worker.”  The teacher must make sure that everyone in the class is being written about.  Later in the drama, each student is given one compliment, that they wrote, to read at a ceremony.

  1. Ceremony/Ritual: Students organize a symbolic ritual to remind the community of their values e.g. dances/gestures/giving and receiving compliments (warm fuzzies.)  Students write, draw, create meaningful compliments (warm fuzzies) for each other and present them at the ceremony.  The ceremony can include a chant written by the villagers to remind them of their history with warm fuzzies and the importance to their health.

Relationships Breed Well-Being

Students participate in empowering strategies and learning games that allow them to experience different perspectives, learn to rebuild trust and to repair relationships.  They learn to take responsibility for their actions, inactions and words.  We debrief each experience relating to other texts and real life.  Students learn to speak of real life experiences without pointing fingers at specific individuals.  This allows students an opportunity to learn from community. Students who have played the role of victims, bullies and by-standers benefit from this type of community learning.

We explore the power of the by-stander and call them “up-standers” (a person who stands up for another.)  We explore attitudes and actions of upstanders and students realize how powerful they can be and the difference they can make.

Speaking, Writing, Drawing, Reading, Math, Drama, Dance and Music are included in the unit.  The learning is deep as students’ emotions are engaged.

The homeroom teachers are part of the project as are the Drama/Dance teacher and the Music teacher.  All of us are learners on a journey.  We are teachers for each other and we recognize the students as teachers too.  We are community.  The culture is enriched.  Trust is built.  We experience healthy relationships and that breeds a sense of well-being.

The Impact of the Work Continues…Be Kind

During the unit, Mr. Wallace, the Music teacher, spun his magic.  He created a song with the students.  It was a very catchy song where students sang and played their recorders. The song was part of the sharing assembly.  And months later, it was shared at an international conference, Quest 2017.  Have a look and listen here.

The impact of the work we did together in that school continues in another way as well.  While students entered the gym for an assembly months later, they were asked, “What do I do to be kind?”  Their responses were written on a piece of wide, coloured duct tape which they stuck on a large outline on the gym wall.  It is a permanent reminder of the school pulling together to remember the lessons to be bold “upstanders,” to “make it right” and to “be kind.”

 

 

 

Blog by Margaret Boersma

www.margaretboersma.com

 

15Nov/17

Well-Being: How do We Grow a Community of Wellness?

Well-Being: How Do We Grow a Community of Wellness? Will it Take a Transformation in Education? Part 1 of 2 A

Case for Well-Being  

“Ms Boersma, can you help me with this Math problem?” “Tommy, please sit down and get to work.” “Stop it! I’m telling on you!” “Go to the office and get a bandage.” “Please take the attendance down.” “Who has money for the field trip?” “Put your projects on the shelf over there.”

Public School teachers are experts at multi-tasking, and by that, I mean keeping a lot of things in our minds at the same time and having eyes all around us. Elementary teachers are generalists in that we do many things, seemingly all at once, and we teach multiple subjects. But, we are specialists because we are nurturing, inspiring, engaging all the time while we deal with many children all at once. We have eyes and ears all around us, plus we are teachers, parents, nurses, bankers, police, psychologists, social workers, guidance counsellors and coaches to these children.

On the side, we are learners in education, plan lessons late at night and in our sleep. We are always thinking about how we can turn something into a valuable lesson for our students. Now I am an entrepreneur, educator, artist, global communicator, inventor, connector, life-long learner and thought leader. Even though my role in education has changed slightly, I still find myself wearing many hats. And, in some projects, I need all the hats.

Well-being as a Pillar  One thing I think about is a transformed education system. Well-being would be the pillar of the new system. Imagine what would it look like? Would we still need skills in multiple areas? I think so. I imagine a day as a teacher in, say, grade 4. Students work independently, they are well nourished, happy, self-confident and come ready to learn. They learn with the best pedagogical strategies neuroscience has discovered. What would that look like?

Bring Joy to Learning  Perhaps we would learn through play, not just in Kindergarten. Even adults love to play. Perhaps it would include free-structured play. Or perhaps the students and the teacher would enter a pretend world…an “as if” world. They would live inside it for a while, then come out to reflect and make connections to their own lives, the lives of others they know about through other texts and the world around them. Living and learning inside an imaginary world allows us to explore, to try things out, to see what works and what doesn’t work and to learn deeply. We get to learn real life lessons without real-life consequences. How great would that be?

Well-Being in Our Relationships  Maybe our students would build each other up, rather than put each other down. Possibly they wouldn’t abuse drugs and alcohol. Perhaps they would be able to look at another point of view and really “get” the other person. How amazing would that be? On the side of the recipient, what would it be like to be totally understood by someone, even though they might not agree with you.

And maybe both students and adults would learn how to make things right because we know, life doesn’t work without trust. That would be liberating! One of my grade 3 students said recently, “You mean we can be friends again after we make a mistake?” They wrote a song with their music teacher during our unit together. I think it would make a powerful school song.

Chronic stress inhibits change.  Did you know you can lower the stress thermometer? Problem solving can only occur in a clearing. Did you know you can eliminate the emotional reaction? These are topics for training in well-being. Teachers can learn and then teach them. The world would be a better place with these lessons learned.
 
 
Blog by Margaret Boersma, OCT

www.margaretboersma.com