Tag Archives: relationships in school

School Culture and Mental Health #BellLetsTalk

The #BellLetsTalk hashtag has been a great initiative to not only raise money for mental health initiatives in Canada, but to promote conversations about the topic amongst individuals.  Our understanding of mental health has come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.

Today, I am working with a group on how we can help improve mental health of our world through our schools.  My caution to the group is that we have to be really weary of creating another initiative that eventually causes more work and anxiety for teachers, but to think about how to do things differently.  It is not about doing more, but doing things different and better.

Simply though. school culture is huge in mental wellness and there are a lot of things school can do that are not “programs” but just become a part of our every day world in schools.

Here are some ideas that I think are crucial to not only improving mental health, but to also promoting creativity and innovation in schools.  The more comfortable I feel in my environment, the better I will do.

  • If you are a principal, start every morning welcoming kids at the front of the school.  If you are a teacher, welcome kids when they come to their class.
  • Never pass a student or an adult in a hallway without acknowledging them in some way.  Every person in that school is important and should be treated accordingly.
  • See supervision as not “more work”, but an opportunity to get to know students that aren’t in your classroom.  We need “school teachers” not “classroom teachers”.
  • Invest time in conversations with kids that have nothing to do with school.  10 minutes showing you care about another human being will often lead to them moving mountains.
  • Focus on strengths, not weaknesses.  People will always get better when they know they are valued first.
  • If a student is having an issue, sending them to another adult tells them that a) you don’t value them enough to spend the time with them or b) you are not able to deal with it.  Severing this relationship has a long term impact.
  • Laugh and have fun.  It is contagious.

Think about this practice…if your boss walks into your classroom, do you get out of your desk to greet them? If you do, is it because you consider them important?  We should treat kids with the same response.  Every person that walks into a school should feel that they are highly valued.

If we are wanting to improve mental health in schools, we can make a huge impact by treating school as a place of, as Dean Shareski would say, a place of joy.  If people want to be there and are happy, comfortable, and feel safe, schools will move a lot further than if these things were absent.

As Rita Pierson stated, “every kid needs a champion.” So does every adult.

You Should Read…(August 18, 2010)

cc licensed flickr photo by schani

One of my favourite activities is going through tweet and my RSS reader to catch up on what others wrote.  This week I wanted to share stories on everything to technology, testing, and ultimately what is most important in our schools.

Books “are not the shape of knowledge,” he says. “They’re a limitation on knowledge.” The idea of a single author presenting her ideas “was born of the limitations of paper publishing. It’s not necessarily the only way or the best way to think and to write.”

  • It took an offer to appear on a national TV show for Wade Warren to reluctantly give up what he calls his “technology” for a week.  That was the only way, his mother says, that he would ever pack his 2006 MacBook (with some recent upgrades, he’ll tell you), his iPad tablet computer, and, most regretfully, his Nexus One smart phone into a cardboard box and watch them be hustled out the door of his room to a secret hiding place.
  • Wade is a “digital native” whose world – half in cyberspace, half on terra firma – is breeding what might be called a new species of thinkers. The early 21st century may be a watershed moment in how humans learn and communicate, a change perhaps not equaled since the invention of the printing press nearly six centuries ago.
  • “As we practice these very busy modes of skimming and juggling tasks, we think we’re being productive and, you know, sometimes it can be quite entertaining and quite fulfilling,” he says in a Monitor interview. “But what I don’t think we fully realize is that we’re altering in a deep way our ability to pay attention, our ability to be contemplative, to be reflective – the things that we might be losing.”
  • McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: After a Thorough Battery of Tests We Can Now Recommend “The Newspaper” As the Best e-Reader On the Market. A satirical look at E-Readers. This article has no relevance to education but is meant for nothing more than a laugh. Enjoy
    • Each device had its strengths. For some it was speed; for others it was capacity. Some were better with shorter articles; others with longer works. And cost, as always, was a factor. But in the end, one e-reader stood out. (And the winner is!?!?!?)
  • Pupils do better at school if teachers are not fixated on test results | Education | The GuardianAn interesting article that talks about how students better when they do not feel so pressured regarding test results.  Some of you may not agree with the article, but it definitely has an interesting viewpoint.
    • Children perform best in exams when teachers are not overly concerned about their test results, according to research published today.
    • Pupils show greater motivation, are better behaved and are more likely to be independent and strategic thinkers when teachers are not obsessed by grades, the study by the Institute of Education found.
    • “Nowhere is this more apparent than in science learning where relentless preparation for tests and exams drives out the important and engaging aspects, especially the practical work,” he said. “All the evidence suggests that ‘teaching to the test’ results in superficial learning and a level of boredom that can turn pupils away from science.”
  • Weekend Essay by Jonah Lehrer: How Power Affects Us – WSJ.comParaphrasing a quote from Spiderman, “with great power comes great responsibility.”  It is important that as people gain leverage in the organizations they work, they continue to be respectful, kind, and moral.  A very interesting article from the Wall Street Journal.
    • There is no easy cure for the paradox of power. Mr. Keltner argues that the best treatment is transparency, and that the worst abuses of power can be prevented when people know they’re being monitored.
  • Blogging through the Fourth Dimension: Love Them Before You Know ThemI was so glad that someone who I have recently come to know wrote her first blog post and shared a story regarding her own education.  Greta Sandler (who I always refer to as Great!) touched many with her personal story about the importance of connecting with students.  The response to her post was absolutely amazing and proved to me that educators know that connecting and building a school on the foundation of relationships is key to continuous improvement.  All of the initiatives that we want to happen in our school will fail  if we have not connected to our students, staff, and community.  I am hoping that I will see more stories like this being shared in the future, as there is definitely the need to read them.
    • The secret for a successful connection with students is loving them before actually meeting them.”  For some reason, that phrase stayed in my mind. I wondered what she had meant by that, I couldn’t actually figure it out, but it just felt special.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Reform Symposium Keynote #rscon10

What a whirlwind weekend at the Reform Symposium!  It was so nice to be able to hear from so many people that I have connected with over the last few months on Twitter.  The sharing of ideas was phenomenal.  I tried to connect to as many sessions as possible but am planning to catch up through the archives.

My presentation was also archived and I wanted to thank everyone for coming and watching.  I really appreciated it.  It was something new for me and I was VERY nervous but am happy with how it turned out.  This presentation was not possible without the amazing students and staff that have at my school.  I was so glad that I had the chance to brag about their accomplishments as a school.  I am truly blessed to work with the people that I do.

Here is the session if you are interested in watching (It starts about 17 minutes in after I request throwing my brother out of the session).

Forest Green Identity Day Presentation