Little moments make a difference. Simply put, it doesn't have to be the grand gestures that make people feel valued but rather the ongoing small positive actions that cultivate a culture of care.
Say Thank You
Educators put themselves fully into their roles. Whether it's spending long hours making lesson plans or preparing meetings, events and interviews, it is important to stop and acknowledge their great work. A quick thank you shows others you care and appreciate their efforts and the things they do to make your life easier or better. Hearing a thank you from someone helps you feel valued within the school community and you are more likely to offer your assitance again. Say thank you to those who hold the door for you or take on an extra yard duty when someone is sick or share a great idea or book with you. Expressing gratitude shows appreciation towards others and returns their kindness back to them.
Send a Card
One of the things I have done this year is ensure I send a birthday card to each staff member. I add all birthdays into my calendar at the start of each year to ensure I don't miss anyone and then each week spend a few minutes hand-writing a note wishing my colleagues a wonderful year ahead on their birthday. It is something I picked up from a previous principal who used to message staff on their birthdays. It always meant a lot to me that he had taken the time to send a greeting.
We've also distributed cards (and a little treat) to wish our teaching staff good luck at the start of the year. By starting the year on with a positive note (literally and figuratively), it can help to shape the direction of the culture of care.
Get Personal, Ask & Listen
Communities are built on relationships. The stronger the rapport, the strong the relationships. In our professional lives, we need to make time for the 'personal' and remember the human element within our roles. Spend time asking colleagues about their weekends, their children and their interests. Remember to stop and truly engage in the converations by listening rather than feeling obliged to return with an answer. Rather, just listen and appreciate your colleague sharing with you.
Acknowledge a Job Well Done
Whether it's telling someone they've presented an amazing assembly to congratulating someone on completing a c,ourse, telling someone their accomplishments are visible and recognised provides them with the acknowledgement and reassurance of their work. An authentic and honest compliment can go a long way to build rapport and community.
"Use your smile to change the world. Don't let the world change your smile"
A smile is contagious. When others see you smile, it is hard to resist smiling back. The more you smile, the more others around you smile. A smile and a positive attitude can leave a lasting impact on others. It also positively impacts your own life by boosting your mood and reducing stress levels.
Make Things Fun
Just because it's called 'work' doesn't mean you can't enjoy yourself while doing it. Find little moments in the day to excite youself amongst the marking and paperwork. Stop and chat to children on the playground and hear about the world through their eyes, visit the early year classes and get down to their levels or find a way to express yourself creatively through an artistic medium.
Explore ways to make certain parts of your job more enjoyable. One way we've done this with our staff meetings is by beginning with five minutes of fun - some kind of simple, yet fun activity to bring laughter and smiles across the room before getting ibto the operational components of the meeting.
Find the Good
Above all, find the positive in every situation. Explore ways to learn and grow. Laugh at your mistakes. Challenge your thinking and celebrate the small wins along the way. Being positive can have a profound impact on those around you. Not every day is going to be perfect, but it positivity can be present.
Technology has become a vital component of our everyday lives and changed the classroom environment. With easier access to information and the ability to connect globally, classroom walls now expand well beyond the school’s physical boundaries. However, with instant information and connectivity, this also creates increased distractions and challenges, leading to a greater need to focus on digital citizenship with our students.
When our phone buzzes or we hear a ‘ding’ indicating a message, it is likely that both kids and adults alike reach for their phones to respond. It is rare that we stop to think about our relationship with our technology and the many notifications, interruptions or distractions that technology generates impact our environment and our daily lives. As teachers, we need to be cognizant of the purpose of technology in our classes and ensure we model a balanced approach to technology use inside and outside of the classroom. It is important to have an awareness of when devices are enhancing creativity and learning, and when they are hindering development.
Mindfulness is one way to develop an awareness of ourselves as individuals. We do this by taking time to refocus, breathe and evaluate our current needs. Mindfulness is about bringing awareness to the present moment you are in. It can be practiced informally through sitting quietly and meditating and breathing, or through more formal mindfulness routines that focus on being aware of certain aspects of your body or environment. Mindfulness is becoming more present in classrooms to begin the school day or refocus after a break as a way to reconnect with oneself.
The Benefits of Mindfulness in the Classroom
Mindfulness benefits students in many ways. It allows our bodies and minds a break from screens and devices. As students focus on themselves throughout a routine, they provide their eyes respite from screens, while providing their body with the ability to realign from potentially poor posture and relax tension throughout their muscles.
Students learn techniques to help manage and regulate their emotions, allowing them to feel less stressed and reactive to situations, creating a greater sense of calm within. This allows students to develop coping skills with their emotions. When students have greater self-awareness through mindfulness, they are also more likely to be compassionate towards others. The focus on socio-emotional learning, skills and student wellbeing through mindfulness allows students to develop a greater ability to focus and concentrate during their lessons.
Technology Applications that Support Mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness doesn’t have to always mean putting away our devices completely. There are many resources available online and in the app store to support introducing mindfulness into your classroom. Here are four that will help you integrate mindfulness into your daily classroom with lessons, breathing and easy-to-use resources right away:
Student Developed Mindfulness Routines
As the school year progresses and students become more accustomed to mindfulness as a practice, there is the opportunity to move beyond the apps to have your students create their own routines and develop ownership over the mindfulness in their classroom. This presents a variety of learning opportunities for the students:
Allowing for student voices to become a part of the mindfulness program increases engagement and participation. Mindfulness positively impacts the culture and climate of a classroom by supporting student wellbeing, encouraging balance, breaking from digital screens and allowing students to have more awareness of themselves before they continue going about their day.
*Originally published on Education Technology Solutions: https://educationtechnologysolutions.com.au/2017/11/mindfulness-meets-technology/
When you drop a pebble into the water, it ripples. A smile across the room. A door held open. A snicker in the corner. A hug to comfort a tear. Every action has a reaction. And yet, how often we don't think about the impact of our actions beyond the moment. Some actions have a greater impact. One simple action may conjure attitudes that last long after the action.
At some point in the day, I got a message from a good friend I hadn't talked to in a while who is an inspiring and amazing educator. No matter how long it's been, each conversation with her is filled with a positivity that leaves me buzzing. Genuine care, support and excitement are mutually shared. The result - new ideas, confidence to take on new challenges and invigorating motivation. My reaction to her positivity is to respond in the same manner, which is reciprocated back again. Her ripple lasts long beyond our conversation in my day, spreading into realms that are far removed from our friendship. When we speak next, I have no doubt the ripple will continue to grow again.
When we think of the hundreds of interactions we have each day with students, parents, colleagues and administrators, we are impacting our community at such a rapid rate but rarely see the end result of our ripples. A question asked in an accusatory tone may be the difference between a good and bad day for someone when it's the start of a series of incidents that spiral the day downwards. Or a compliment in the hallway may be what motivates them to make a different choice to launch their thoughts of positivity. So while most of our actions are unconscious, if we knew we could have a great influence on others, would you take the extra second to redirect your actions? Why would you waste valuable time and energy doing anything other than rippling positive intent in all directions?
When you get caught up in the paperwork, yard duties, assessments or general politics of a school, remember your ability to make an impact in someone's day or life. Choose to impact positively. Choose to stop and think. Choose to act in kindness expecting nothing in return.
How far has your ripple spread today?