This video was posted on my paper.li weekly magazine! To all teachers out there….enjoy!
This video was posted on my paper.li weekly magazine! To all teachers out there….enjoy!
Over the past week I have seen people taking down Christmas decorations or I have been asked when is it okay to take down your Christmas tree. It would appear that people are so eager to celebrate Christmas that when the day itself has come and gone they then pounce to take all their decorations down. Have we forgotten the Twelve Days of Christmas? Three Kings Day or the Epiphany is celebrated on the 6th of January. The 6th of January is the last time we turn on the Christmas lights and the tree before we take them down. In some countries around the world Three Kings Day is still a school holiday.
Why is the Epiphany so important?
The gospel of Matthew tries to explain to us that Jesus was recognized and worshipped as a King by wise and powerful men. The wise men were foreigners, they were not Jews. The story helped people to see that the coming of Jesus was a special event for the whole world. The three wise men also brought gifts of Gold Frankincense and Myrrh
As you return to school tomorrow keep Little Christmas/Three Kings Day alive and in the hearts of your students by trying out a short simple meditation. This meditation was inspired by one of my lecturers in college.
(Ask students to get comfortable in chairs or go to the school oratory)
I invite you to close your eyes. Concentrate on your breathing. Begin to listen to all the noises around you. The ticking of the clock, cars in the distance etc. Now focus on your own breathing. Has it slowed down? Slowly breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. On my count I would like you to breathe in throughout your nose and out through your mouth.
7/11 technique applied here (Breathe in counting to 7 and breath out counting to 11) this relaxes and helps focus the students.
Bring students into the manger ask them what they see around them and invite them to sit down in the manger. They look up and see a bright star and three wise men following the star they bring three gifts to the baby Jesus. Name the gifts. Ask each student to think of three people in their own lives that brought gifts into their lives. However, get them to think of different kind of gifts like love, friendship, trust, happiness, (perhaps the gifts we see on the Advent Wreath). Ask them to imagine themselves looking into a mirror and to look at themselves. What do they see? Are the happy with what they see? Tell them that they are all beautiful in the eyes of God. Tell them to pick one important person in their own lives who have given them certain gifts that has helped them become the person they are today. This person is now standing beside them in the mirror. Tell each student that they are beautiful in the eyes of this person. Ask God to bless this person.
Slowly invite the students to quietly open their eyes.
Class activity can follow this short mediation. Discussing each students ‘special’ person. Worksheets etc.
For a lot of Student Teacher’s January is the most daunting, terrifying and exciting time of the academic calendar. It’s Teaching Practice time. After sitting through month’s of lectures, essay writing, lesson planning, schemes of work ATP and FTP it is finally your chance to stand up in front of a class. Whilst it can be a very intimidating and frightening experience for a lot of us it is also a chance for you to experience some of the most memorable student teacher moments of your college life. I can guarantee you that a lot of your anecdotes and stories told over a cup of tea in the canteen will be of your teaching practice experience.
You will have students in your classroom who will test you, make you stronger and at times will have you fighting back the tears but the moments when a student says a simple ‘Thank you Miss’ when they open up and tell you about problems at home and with friends or when they look up at you with excitement and interest because finally you have discovered a methodology or resources that has grasped their interest. They are the moments you will never forget. They are the moments that make all the late nights, all the stressing and all the panicking worth it.
There are times when I sit back and think how did I manage to pull myself through every January for four years? A helping hand or a word of advice was always welcomed. In preparation for next Monday I decided to share some helpful hints and ideas that helped get me and other fellow student teachers through the terror of Teaching Practice.
1) Folders: During my first year of Teaching Practice I heaved around two heavy hardback folders along with a lot of other resources I needed throughout the day. They were heavy, huge and quite a nuisance. During my second year I decided to purchase two soft back folders each containing 200 poly pockets. They held everything I needed lesson plans, resources, worksheets, and timetables comfortably. So if you want to give your back, arms and bags a break I would definitely recommend ditching those hard back folders!
2) Relax and start simple – what is the learning objective? What is the best way for the students to learn this/achieve that objective – done. You can add decorations later if you’ve any time or energy.
3) Supervisors: Keep the lines of communicating open at all times! Keep thinking they are there to help you they want you to do well. If you have any questions ask them if you have any worries go to them.
4) Use Google Docs!! Afraid of forgetting your USB stick? Always have a back up ready on Google Docs. This allows you to prepare or upload power point presentations, worksheets, online quizes and polls and you can access them on any computer that has internet. Limiting the stress of loosing your USB stick. You can access google docs using your college email address. It is brilliant!!
5) Always make sure you have a class list for each of your classes. Getting to know your students names is essential! One tip I used was writing students names on lolly pop sticks and use them for question time! Ask the teachers for seating plan if they have one and always have it in front of you. I always like to take one class (Friday is a good day for this) and have a get to know each other class. Play a few icebreakers and write down one or two things about each student that will help you remember them. It also shows them you are interested in getting to know them individually.
6) Always try and be in your designated classroom 5-10 minutes before class begins. This gives you time to set up and be prepared before the students come in. This leaves no time for chatting or disruption.
7) Stand at the door as your class walks into the room. Trust me this really helps. If you have a particularly difficult class line them up outside the classroom and wait for them to be ready to enter your classroom. Students who are ready may proceed in those who aren’t will wait until they are. Any longer than 10 minutes…. Follow school rules for disrupting your class. Works like a charm! (for those students who were allowed enter your class have a short 5 minute exercise written on the whiteboard for them to begin whilst you wait for the other students to calm down and enter your classroom)
8) Learn from other teachers in your cooperating school. If you are lucky to have helpful cooperating teachers learn from them. Ask to observe their classes, ask them what works for them and what doesn’t. This is your chance to learn as much as you can from people who experience school life everyday. Don’t be afraid to ask.
9) Student teaching practice is exhausting! It can be a huge shock to the system. Eat. Sleep. Drink LOTS of water. Make time for friends to enjoy yourself. The world won’t fall apart if you make time for your favorite TV show or a night out with your friends, as long as you don’t totally blow off your responsibilities. The students can tell when you’re weary or ill at ease, so making sure that you’re happy is key.
10) If you’re a female teacher one tip is to wear low heals, gives you a bit of height if your small like myself and also allows the students to hear you as your approach so they know to be quiet.
11) Be mindful of the class group you have. While one lesson might work really well with class group A, the same lesson might not be as suitable/ successful with class group B. Just try and be a bit conscientious when it comes to planning lessons. If the group isn’t that strong academically you don’t want to and up giving a lesson on the catechism. If the class is rowdy and noisy maybe avoid methodologies such as role play or simulation that might over excite the students; it might be hard to bring them back under control. It might be better to use methodologies such as working with text, teacher exposition etc. As placement goes on and you grow more confident with the class and they become more receptive towards you, by all means go for it, take the risk and experiment. But bottom line, be aware of the group you are teaching, analyze the class dynamic and the situation.
12) Always have a back up in place when using IT, in case something doesn’t work.
13) Never shout; no matter how loud you think you are, they will always be louder. You loose control when you shout. If a student is misbehaving there is more than likely something going on outside of your classroom. If they are misbehaving or refusing to do the work leave any confrontation until the end of the class. Ask the student what is wrong, why are the acting out or why are they refusing to work? 90% of the time there is some outside factor at home or a fight with friends that is causing their outbursts or perhaps they just don’t understand what the lesson was about and act out in frustration. Talk to them. I can guarantee this works 100% better than shouting.
14) Take one day at a time. Try not to get too stressed. Enjoy the experience.
15) Classroom management: Check out my blog posts on Traffic light system and the Behaviour Card system for more information!
16) If your laptop crashes (which can happen) let your supervisors know and hand write your lessonplans for the following day.
17) Helper Student: If you notice there’s one or two pupils that are ‘noisy’ or chatty or even a bit cheeky or ‘bold’, they are probably being told off by most of their teahcers throughout the day. Instead of being ANOTHER teacher that keeps at them or whatever, go out of your way to make that student your ‘helper’. Ask them to distribute handouts, wipe off the board, give out copies etc. It’ll give them a sense of commraderie with you, rather then just seeing you as another teacher that gives out to them. This might make them want to keep you on their side and they’re more likely to behave.
18) School policies: some schools will give this to you, if they don’t, take a few minutes to look up the school policies with particular attention to classroom behaviour. Don’t wait until you have a behaviour problem to then ask another teacher, students will sense that you do not know the code and try push you further. Some schools give punishments for not having journals and some don’t allow written exercises without any learning benefit and some schools put students on report after three journal notes which you have to watch if you are the third teacher. It wont take long to read over and will make a big difference in your confidence and potential behaviour issues.
For resources and further ideas follow all the 5j2014 Master blogs. Links can be found on my blog page! I will continue to update this post with further helpful hints over the next few weeks.
Big thank you to all past MDI students who helped me compile this list. I hope this helps and best of luck to all student teachers. Enjoy it.
Edmodo is a social learning platform for teachers, students and parents. As educators we are constantly looking for new ways to bring technology into the classroom. Edmodo is a social networking site developed for teachers and students to bring social media into the classroom is a secure and educational way.
Our students are growing up in a society where social media sites such as Facebook are the hot topic of any social gathering and conversation. Edmodo is is very similiar to Facebook which immediately appeals to students however it is a controlled, secure and safe environment for all students.
One a the main concerns of any educator when introducing web based tools into the classroom is security and safety of our students. Edmodo has a number of features to ease the minds of all teachers and parents alike.
1) Passcode: In order to join a class, the student must have a passcode which can be provided by the teacher. This passcode can be changed by the teacher at any time. If a student shares the code outside the class, the teacher can change it, without affecting students already joined in the group. Parents can also be give a unqiue passcode that allows them to check on the work progress of their own child.
2) Anonymous posting is not possible.
3) Each edmodo class group is managed and controlled by the teacher.
4) Students can only communicate to the whole class or to the teacher – private messages between students are not possible.
5) Teachers can delete inappropriate posts.
Possible Issues may include:
Ways to use Edmodo in the classroom:
Quotes from teachers using Edmodo in the classroom:
“Students love the ability to turn in assignments that can be typed without the worry or frustration of handwriting pages that may inevitably get lost.”
“Edmodo helps Parents or guardians to monitor achievement the children in school and help them identify ways of collaborating with teachers and student to achieve learning objectives in school.”
“Students submit essays and I use the comment features to score and provide feedback – so much easier than dragging a stack of papers back and forth from school to home. It’s also a fantastic resource for group projects. The group feature allows me to assign students to reading groups or to project groups, which enables them to collaborate from home and asynchronously.”
“It also can be accessed with an app on most smartphones so students can keep up with discussions and assignments anywhere. I have found that my students are very engaged in class discussions when using the program and helps me to “hear” from those students who don’t participate that much in class.”
“It also has tons of teacher communities where you can collaborate with teachers around the world who are teaching the same thing you are. You can also collaborate with classrooms.”
Useful Video to watch on Edmodo:
I recently had the pleasure of meeting with a good college friend of mine and fellow teacher, Eoin Walshe. He recently took a full time teaching position in England teaching music, religion and humanities. Like endless newly qualified teachers in Ireland he had to search across the Irish Sea for any teaching opportunities. I took this opportunity to ask him a few questions about his experience so far. What does he enjoy? What does he miss? and what has he learnt? It is important to note that whilst this interview reflects the current issues in todays teaching climate all the information provided is based on personal opinion at this current time.
What made you decide to teach in England?
My original plan was to apply for Jobs in England for Interview experience and to get familiar with the interviewing process, which is something you don’t get to do in Ireland in today’s climate. The interviews in England however are easier to come by. I thought this would prepare me for any interviews that might come my way in Ireland.
What factors led to you accept a teaching post in England?
The opportunity to work full time in a vibrant part of south London was a big pulling factor. However getting the chance to teach both my subjects Music and Religious Education plus humanities in this particular school was the biggest incentive to go across the Irish Sea. The opportunity to teach all of my subjects in Ireland I believe is next to impossible. Also getting to teach all my subject areas so early in my career is a major advantage. Having a stable income was also important.
If given the opportunity would you go back and teach in Ireland?
Yes without question mainly for personal reasons, its home. There is a certain spirit and atmosphere within Irish schools that is unique to our emerald isle. However, professionally the educational system in England provides great opportunities for me at this stage in my career and it is more innovative and cutting edge compared to Ireland.
What do you enjoy about teaching in England?
I do enjoy teaching religious education in such a diverse culture. When teaching about world religions for example having students from multi faith backgrounds keeps me on my toes and this has ensured my continuous professional development and presents an ongoing welcomed challenge.
The positive aspect of teaching music is the endless resource available to both the students and myself. For example every student desk has a computer and midi keyboard, endless supply of instruments, multiple practice rooms and recording studio. Every music teachers dream. This also presents a unique challenge and gives me the opportunity to develop completely different classroom management skills when including all these resources in a lesson plan.
The opportunity to teach humanities is also enjoyable. Teaching humanities provides an opportunity to rekindle a subdued interest in subjects like history and geography and a canvas on which to paint strong cross-curricular links between history geography and religious education.
Do you think the Irish educational system can learn from our neighbours in the UK?
Whilst it is still early days for me to give a comprehensive appraisal there are certainly features of the UK educational system that could be incorporated into our system back home. However saying this there are also certain issues where the Irish system could avoid. For example Ireland at the moment are developing the new Junior Cycle. I would urge those who are responsible for the development and implementation of the new Junior Cycle to critically evaluate the positives and negatives of several corresponding features in the UK system.
A practical example of this would be instead of allowing time for the planning of creative and engaging lessons the vast majority of out of class time is spent uploading data and completing tedious paper work. While the concept of keeping the students and their parents involved in their own education progress is excellent -who the primary beneficiary of what often feels like a show/façade of data, statistics and lead table competition is questionable (The Student? Or the Gove?)
Would you miss the emotional support of family and friends when teaching in England, especially being a newly qualified teacher?
On a personal level of course I miss my fiancée, family and friends. However, professionally I am very lucky to have a strong support system within the school I work in. Also the benefits of online communication with my support system back home have been invaluable. It is a great test of character both professionally and personally. It has made the transition from dependant student to fully independent professional a lot easier.
As teacher’s we are seen as educators and leaders in society. If you ask any teacher why they decided to follow this particular career path a few will say “for the long holidays and short work day” but there are also those who decide to become teachers to make a difference in the world, the become role models, to inspire, to help and to care. These teachers make teaching a life mission and strive for greatness not solely in themselves but in their students. We dedicate or lives to serving our students.
Yet how can we as teachers provide an environment for our students to grow, mature and flourish? I believe it all stems from how we perceive and develop our leadership style. I believe that educators show many characteristics of the leadership style known as servant leadership.
A servant leader strives to devote themselves to the wellbeing of those he or she has chosen to serve. Servant Leadership was first introduced by Robert K. Greenleaf. He spent 40 years working for At&T as a manager of research, development and education. When he retired he spent his time pursing ways to create a more caring society. He himself describes leadership as “servant first…It begins with a natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first’. I believe since the role of any educational system is centered on serving the needs of their students and therefore promoting the model of servant leadership is the key to a successful school system.
We as teachers dedicate our lives to serving our students and are natural servant leaders who strive to make a deeper connection with our students.
In order to become successful servant leaders I believe teachers need to follow one simple term: Humility.
Servant leaders are humble in nature. We must push aside our own ego and provide an environment where the importance of others is placed above oneself. Yet do not feel this in an impossible task. As educators we do not enter our field of work to become world famous, have great power and great wealth. We become a teacher to help and serve children, a reason that highlights a clear humble character within all of us. Elevate you students with praise and admiration. Motivate them to learn with connections to their own lives and always be a model of the Golden Rule.
Servant leaders are devoted to serving others right to the point of personal sacrifice. As teacher’s I am sure many of us can relate to late nights correcting homework and planning lessons trying to create new and innovating ideas and resources. We are constantly looking to improve our teaching style to provide the best education for our students. However, although a servant leader will sacrifice a great deal in order to serve others, they do not seek gratitude for their service. Satisfying the needs our our students and becoming witness to their own development is satisfying enough.
We nurture and heal. As educators we operate on the premises that students’ needs always come first. Our mission is to use our knowledge and talents to serve children to help them create their best future. We nurture and heal by getting to know our students and building relationships, understanding their pain and finding ways to help them. A successful servant leader can therefore provide the building blocks for the next generation and therefore need to instill these values that improve relationships in our entire world.
We are visionaries. As educators we have great dreams for our students. These dreams provide direction and purpose for our leadership in the classroom. We guide our students through their school years. This is not an easy task but it can be accomplished through a positive outlook.
We empower students and we thrive to inspire students.
When trying to implement our role as a servant leader it is important to remember however that we are human. Human nature will always interfere when trying to strive to become the perfect teacher. Moods and spirits of us and our students are constantly changing. There are moments in the classroom when we feel a true connection with out students and there are moments when are students could not seem further away. There are moments in our own lives when we are more optimistic and open to this ideal vision of a servant leader.Servant leadership is a unique style of leadership ideology, which flows against the grain of self-interest human behavior. This quote highlights how servant leadership ‘flows against’ human nature. There are many who suggest that Greenleaf’s servant leadership model is too passive for today’s world and question whether it is a practical and applicable approach to leadership in real world scenarios.
It is important to remember that we are human and we do make mistakes. However simply dreaming and trying everyday to become a better person and a better teacher are constant steps in the right direction to becoming a servant leader.
Before reading this blog it is important to remember that not every child responds to every tactic. Choose the best strategy for the individual child. It is also important to realize that these ideas can be used with children who have other needs such as intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Here is a quick practical list of useful strategies for teachers wishing to work successfully with a student who has autism and other special needs:
Before Class Begins
The list I have provided is a quick insight into the range of possibilities you as a teacher can use when planning an inclusive learning environment. The information used is based on the guidelines provided by the National Catholic Partnership on Disability Autism Task Force. See http://www.ncpd.org.
As a teenager I was bullied. 3rd year in secondary school is one I do not remember with pleasant memories. I have found over the years being open about my own bullying experiences not only helps me move on from the experience but also helps me to help others. Today I have the unique opportunity to face my bullies. A reunion has been organized between old friends and amongst these are the girls who ‘bullied’ me.
All week I have been in a state of panic with a maze of questions running through my head, should I see these people and bring back all these negative feelings? Will they even remember what happened all those years ago? If I go do I rekindle old friendships or get some sort of closer?
All these questions then led me to think about all the teenagers and kids I will and have taught as a religion teacher. As a person who was bullied at just 16 years old I can relate to my students who have been or are being bullied. There is one difference….I got bullied in school. My home was my safe place. For students today home is not their safe place anymore. The internet with all its social networking sites provides teenagers with a constant battlefield for the bullies and victims alike. Bullying of young people is constant. This new wave of bullying is called Cyber Bullying.
How can we deal with this problem head on as teachers? How can we help each student to understand the impact cyber bullying has on their lives. How can we help our students understand that the bystander has a role to play too?
Recently I watched a movie called Cyber Bullying: A teenage girl (Emily Osment) falls prey to online bullying and retreats from spending time with her family and friends. Soon the tormenting pushes her toward the edge, and her mom (Kelly Rowan) takes the troubling issue to authorities. ~ Jennifer Sankowski, Rovi. This movie takes a realistic and thought provoking approach to online bullying. There is some strong language used throughout so I would recommend showing it to senior classes. Even though it deals with the harsh realities of online bullying it also carries a positive message about tolerance, standing up to peer pressure and turning the tables on adversity. It is a great jumping point to start conversations on the very real dangers that exist online.
In November I graduate from Mater Dei. It still seems so surreal. After more than 10 years as a student I will enter a new chapter in my life. Sometimes I find myself asking have a made the right decision? Have I chosen the right career path for me? Especially when you look at the current teaching climate in Ireland.
Picture the scene you are full excited standing with an empty bag in your hand staring at all these mouth watering sweets…Pick n’ mix weight watchers worst nightmare! You stand there desperately trying to decide which sweets go in your bag. Will you make the right decision? Yet this excitement is also mixed with some fear will you have enough money if you get just one more strawberry jelly? what if you don’t like the sweets you have chosen?
The same can be said for the way I feel right now. Now imagine those sweets are feelings and my bag is full of mixed emotions. I am happy, I have finally reached my dream of becoming a teacher, I am sad to be leaving such wonderful friends and I am nervous waiting to discover what the future holds for me.
However, amidst all this emotional upheaval I found this poem. It reminded me why I became a teacher and probably why a lot of my fellow classmates decided to follow the same career path as me. When I read this poem my worries disappear and I think of the day when hopefully one day I might have this impact on one of my students.
The child arrives like a mystery box…
with puzzle pieces inside
some of the pieces are broken or missing…
and others just seem to hide
But the HEART of a teacher can sort them out…
and help the child to see
the potential for greatness he has within…
a picture of what he can be
Her goal isn’t just to teach knowledge…
by filling the box with more parts
it’s putting the pieces together…
and creating a work of art
The process is painfully slow at times…
some need more help than others
each child is a work in progress…
with assorted shapes and colors
First she creates a classroom…
where the child can feel safe in school
where he never feels threatened or afraid to try…
and kindness is always the rule
She knows that a child
can achieve much more
when he feels secure inside
when he’s valued and loved…
and believes in himself
…and he has a sense of pride
She models and teaches good character…
and respect for one another
how to focus on strengths…not weaknesses
and how to encourage each other
She gives the child the freedom he needs…
to make choices on his own
so he learns to become more responsible…
and is able to stand alone
He’s taught to be strong and think for himself…
as his soul and spirit heal
and the puzzle that’s taking shape inside…
has a much more positive feel
The child discovers the joy that comes…
from learning something new…
and his vision grows as he begins
to see all the things that he can do
A picture is formed as more pieces fit…
an image of the child within
with greater strength and confidence…
and a belief that he can win!
All because a hero was there…
in the HEART of a teacher who cared
enabling the child to become much more…
than he ever imagined…or dared
A teacher with a HEART for her children…
knows what teaching is all about
she may not have all the answers…
but on this…she has no doubt
When asked which subjects she loved to teach,
she answered this way and smiled…
“It’s not the subjects that matter…
It’s all about teaching the CHILD.”
created by ms Keleghan
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