Tag Archives: confidence

Developing an “I can do it!” attitude – Readilearn

 

Developing a positive attitude to learning and an “I can do it!” attitude in young children is important. Children need to be willing to take a risk, to have a go, to try something new. They also need to realise that, if they can’t do it yet, it’s not the end of the world. If they try again, practise, and show persistence, one day they’ll be able to achieve many of the things they want. Giving up doesn’t achieve anything.

That little word “yet” is very important for children, and adults, to understand. It helps them see that learning is a process, not just a product. Learning is something that continues throughout life.  If we want to develop life-long learners, it is important to view learning as a continuum. Every stage is important in and of itself, not just as a stepping stone to the next. If children are acknowledged for what they can do, they will be more willing to have a go at things they haven’t yet.

Developing confident children is at the heart of a supportive classroom environment.

An “I can do it!” attitude consists of three main parts:

Continue reading on: Developing an “I can do it!” attitude – Readilearn

The first goodbye

20

The first goodbye between a parent and a child will elicit a range of emotions from each. The feelings, and responses, of both parent and child, are dependent upon a range of factors including who the child is being left with, how well the child and the substitute carer know each other, the feelings of all parties about each other, the circumstances, the environment, and the list goes on.

A parent who feels empowered by the decision, and views the child’s new situation positively, will accept and adjust to the change more easily. That’s not to say a parent won’t feel some sense of loss and anxiety as well, but it is important that the child is prepared with reassurance rather than the negativity of anxiety or concerns. A more confident and secure child will view the situation with positive expectations.

Anne Goodwin, on her blog Annecdotal, often refers to attachment theory, and the responses of children to real or imagined abandonment. In her post Compassion: Something we all need Anne shares the following video, explaining that

“Research psychologist Mary Ainsworth developed an ingenious method of assessing whether or not an infant has developed secure attachments. In the Strange Situation, babies play in a comfortable room until, at a given signal, the mother leaves. What distinguishes securely from insecurely attached infants, is not how they behave when the mother (or other primary carer) leaves, but whether they are able to settle on her return.”

She continues

“Research suggests that about two thirds of the population can be categorised as securely attached. That’s a whopping one third of us who aren’t.”

The research also suggests that how secure children feel in their infancy influences how secure they feel later in life. A sense of security influences one’s ability to adapt to change and new situations.

It is not unusual for children, or anyone, to feel a little apprehension in a new situation. A more secure individual generally accepts and adapts more easily.  When carers drop their children at child care, kindy, or school, they may be advised to “drop and go”. Mostly the children are fine once the parents have disappeared and the children have time to settle.

36

If children experience more difficulty than most, or if it occurs for a prolonged period, causes may need to be investigated. Sometimes a child may suffer from anxiety. Sometimes the environment may not be welcoming or appropriate to the child’s needs. Happy, secure, confident children will always face new situations better than those who feel anxious and insecure.

father and child

Parents can help children prepare for that first day of kindy or school by:

  • Talking about what to expect and the fun things they will do
  • Having special items for the child to take or wear; for example, a back pack or lunch container, hat or shoes
  • Rehearsing the journey
  • Visiting the kindy or school, and meeting the carers or teachers if possible
  • Writing happy messages (in words or pictures) to be found in bags, or lunchboxes
  • Establishing routines, including the goodbye routine

Hey I love you with quote

While the routine doesn’t have to be as elaborate or serious as that in Ian Whybrow’s Hey, I Love You!, a signal that the parent is leaving is useful in making the break. It doesn’t have to be immediate. Depending on the practices established, parents may be able to accompany the child to the door, or into the room.

I always welcomed parents to come in with their children in the morning. The children could show their parents around and discuss work we were doing. Parents could help children organise their belongings, and talk to other parents and children. When it was time for work to begin, I would play music that would signal children to join the song or dance, and parents to take their leave.

This week at the Carrot Ranch Charli Mills is talking about goodbyes. She is on the move from a place to which she felt attached, to a situation unfamiliar. She is sad at leaving but is able to view with hopefulness the situation to which she is moving. Charli has challenged writers to

In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a goodbye. It can be the last polka until next time; a farewell without end; a quick see ya later. How does the goodbye inform the story. What is the tone, the character’s mood, the twist? Go where the prompt leads.

Usually I post my response as the deadline draws close. However, as she is on the move, Charli has extended the submission period. If you would like to join in with a flash fiction “goodbye”, you have another week until September 13 to do so.

Here is my response to the challenge.

A goodbye clapping song

(Parent and child chant the verses together or take turns, changing the pronouns to suit. They begin by clapping their own, then each other’s’ hands. On the last three beats of each line, they clap each other’s hands. The pattern for each line is “Own, other’s, own other’s, own, other’s. other’s. other’s. On the last line they smile, wave, blow a kiss, and leave! It’s meant to be a bit of nonsense and a bit of fun establishing a goodbye routine.)

It’s time for you to go, go, go

I’ve lots to do and can’t be slow.

It’s time for me to fly, fly, fly

Upon my broom into the sky.

It’s time for you to leave, leave, leave

I will be happy, do not grieve.

It’s time for me to run, run, run

And jump so high I touch the sun

It’s time to say goodbye, bye, bye

You’ve work to do and so have I.

I’ll blow a kiss, and smile, smile, smile

I’ll see you in a little while.

Bye. Have a good day. Love you!

 Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Life is for living

I first published this post two years ago. I am sharing it again as I continue to hear of similar things happening. I apologise to those who may have read it the first time around. 🙂

Many would agree that to enjoy life to the full we must live in the present moment, appreciating what we have and being mindful of our surroundings and others.

Most would also agree that a certain amount of preparation for the future is necessary to both enjoy and deal with what lies ahead.

marshmallow 5

In previous posts I have referred to related ideas including The importance of emotional intelligence and the ability to delay gratification, for example when studying towards a degree or saving to purchase a car. Recently I wrote about future-proofing kids by preparing them to embrace the future. Schooling is often considered a preparation for the future, for ‘what you want to be when you grow up’.

firefighter and nurse

Are the concepts of living in the present moment and preparing for the future contradictory?

Generally I would say that a balance is needed. We need to live in the present while making some preparation for the future. Hopefully the choices made can still be appreciated now and enjoyment is not all delayed until the future “When I . . .”

Recently I read an article that caused me some concern because, it seemed to me, there was little balance between appreciating the present and preparation for the future. Of greater concern was that the one for whom balance was lacking was not the one making the choice.

 

The article described a situation in which a 3½ year old was being taught to use scissors by an occupational therapist. The teaching, which had been occurring in regular sessions for over seven months, began before the child was three years of age.

Like I did, you might assume the child had a developmental delay which required regular sessions with the occupational therapist (OT). However no mention of that was made in the article.

The parent, writing the article, described feeling sad while watching the child experience difficulty in using the scissors.  Additionally, it was mentioned that the child had not been requested by the parent to use scissors at home as it just made the child miserable.

After seven months the parent finally broached the subject with the OT, asking why the use of scissors was being pushed at this time.

It was the reported response of the OT that caused me greatest concern.

The OT explained that when the child entered kindergarten at age five, the ability to use scissors appropriately would be expected. The lessons in learning to use scissors were being given to avoid the child being behind when beginning kindergarten. The OT went on to further explain that the use of scissors was not developmentally appropriate until age five!

The OT, presumably a trained professional, who believed it was not developmentally appropriate for a child to be using scissors until age five, began teaching a child to use scissors before that child was even three years of age!

The child was miserable when using scissors and the parent was saddened when viewing the attempts!

If using scissors is developmentally appropriate at age five, then when the child is entering kindergarten, unless there is a development delay, coordination or muscular problem, that child will easily learn to use scissors appropriately, without the need for lessons from an OT. Forcing a child to practice a skill before developmentally ready is definitely not in the child’s best interests.

Think of the wonderful things about a child of two or three years of age; the things they are learning and doing. I am always amazed at how quickly children learn and progress. They grow up so quickly and are only little for such a short time. Why try to pressure them through to stages beyond their current development? These years of enormous growth and potential are precious. We are adults for most of our lives. What is wrong with appreciating the special two-ness or three-ness of a child? It will not matter in the future if scissors can be used at age three, age five or age seven.

If the child is constantly pressured to perform in ways that are not developmentally appropriate then feelings of inadequacy, loss of confidence and self-esteem may ensue, resulting in an ‘I can’t do it attitude’, a fear of failure and unwillingness to have a go. I believe many perceived behaviour problems are problems only because the expectations are not relevant to a child’s stage of development.

When adults strive for a child to achieve beyond the age expected norms they are not appreciating, but rather showing a lack of respect for, who the child is and for the stage of development. This is not living in the present. It is attempting to live in the future, which can become very scary if one does not feel it can approached with confidence.

One may hope this scissors example is an extreme and isolated incident, but sadly pressure placed upon children by expectations that are not developmentally appropriate is far too common.

Teaching colleagues here in Australia often express their dismay that children in the first three years of school are crying every day because they find the expectations upon their learning and behaviour too great.

I hear similar stories about trying to rush the children through from the UK, Canada and the USA. Maybe it is happening in other places too. Sadly the pressure of unrealistic expectations doesn’t achieve anything positive for the students, the teachers or the parents.

How different would schools be if, instead of being considered a preparation for life, they were focused on living life now? If three year olds were appreciated and respected as three year olds, five year olds as five year olds, and eight year olds as 8 year olds, rather than as apprentices for the adult they will one day be, how different would their school situation be?

An affirmation song I used to sing with my classes is one by Anne Infante called Just the way I am.

The song is made up of a series of verses about appreciating oneself just as one is – now, not in the future – including characteristics such as responsible,  lovable, confident and friendly; for example:

I am beautiful and I like me,

I am beautiful and I like me,

I am beautiful and I like me,

Just the way I am.

I have written about using Anne’s songs of affirmation in previous posts, here and here.

What do you think? How have you seen developmentally appropriate programs in action? How have you seen them disregarded? What have been the effects?

Further reading: The Cost of Ignoring Developmentally Appropriate Practice

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

 

 

Don’t gloss over glossophobia

 

Many crepuscular animals freeze when caught in the headlights of an oncoming vehicle. With vision more suited to dark than light, they are temporarily blinded by the brightness. They become confused and, not knowing which way to turn, freeze. Others, like the Australian kangaroo, may panic and move erratically with unpredictable changes in direction. Any large animal on the road puts itself and any unwary motorist in danger.

Freezing in fear is a reaction not exclusive to animals. Humans are just as likely to freeze in fear, or perhaps panic and behave erratically unsure of how to respond. Some people find being “put in the spotlight” quite unnerving and exhibit similar responses to animals caught in the headlights.

While Charli Mills of the Carrot Ranch was talking about a real deer caught in the headlights this week and challenged writers to in 99 words (no more, no less) write the common premise: “I ran over a deer (or other animal) and have decided to nurse it back to health, I decided to apply the challenge to a human situation.

Glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking, is quite common. Many people suffer mild symptoms of reluctance, “butterflies” or sweaty palms. Others suffer more severe symptoms including total avoidance, panic attacks and other forms of physical distress.

Being called upon in class can be distressing for some students, particularly if they have been singled out or ridiculed for not knowing the correct answer in the past. Helping a student to overcome this fear requires patience and understanding. It may require an approach from many different angles and the support of a variety of personnel, as well as a desire by the student.

The student will require support to develop self- esteem and self-confidence as well as knowledge of the subject. A sensitive “not yet” approach by a teacher who offers support, and encourages other students to be supportive, will contribute greatly. It may take time for improvements to be noticeable as changing an established mindset, from “I’m a failure” to “I’m learning”, takes effort.

In her post Charli included a quote from the Tahoma Literary Review which included the suggestion that rescuing a deer and nursing it back to health may be used as a “metaphor for the protagonist’s desire to rescue his/her life by rescuing another’s.” It is not too big a stretch to think that, for some teachers, “rescuing” their students could enable them to “rescue” themselves; improving the lives of others improves their own through the ripple effect.

I have chosen this “rescue” as the theme of my response to Charli’s challenge: a breakthrough for Marnie in the development of her confidence and willingness to have a go in a class where students are developing a growth mindset under the guidance of a sensitive teacher.

Like a deer in the headlights

Like a deer in the headlights she was immobile. She’d dreaded this moment. Although she’d tried to fade into the background, she knew she couldn’t hide forever. The room suddenly fell silent, all eyes on her. Would she fail?

“Marnie?” prompted the teacher.

Her chair scraped as she stood. She grasped the table with trembling hands attempting to still her wobbly legs. They waited.

Marnie squeaked.  Some looked down, or away. Some sniggered. Jasmine smiled encouragingly. Marnie cleared her throat, then blurted the answer.

“That’s right!” congratulated the teacher.

The class erupted. Marnie smiled. Their efforts had paid off.

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post or flash fiction.

 

 

Who cares anyway?

sad

There are a lot of things to care about in this world, and not least of these is each other.

What do you care about?

Your family?

The environment?

World peace?

Justice?

Equity?

Disadvantaged children?

The dolphins?

Climate change?

The Great Barrier Reef?

Plastic in the oceans

Sustainable seafood

Ethical shopping

This week I am joining in with the #1000Speak for Compassion project which calls on “Bloggers from all over the world (to come) together to talk about compassion, in one epic event on February 20, 2015.”

Charli Mills of the Carrot Ranch is also promoting the project through her flash fiction prompt which challenges writers to: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that demonstrates compassion. In her post Charli refers to two words which have been raised and discussed by our blogging community recently.

These two words are:

Weltschmerz which was discussed on Anne Goodwin’s blog in a post entitled 20th-century lives: The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck

and

Meliorism which was discussed in my post entitled How much of a meliorist are you?

Thanks Charli for explaining that Weltschmerz refers to “world pain” or the grief we feel at how the world keeps falling short of our expectations and meliorism to a belief that the world can be improved by the actions of humans.

Some of the items listed above are definitely cause for both weltschmerz and meliorism, but most send us a call to action. What action we take depends very much upon our beliefs and our circumstances. In an article in The Guardian earlier this year, Oliver Burkeman states that “World pain is bad – but numbness to world pain would be worse.

However compassion is more than weltschmertz (seeing the pain) and more than meliorism (believing that something can be done about it).

In this TED talk, Joan Halifax explains that

“compassion is comprised of that capacity to see clearly into the nature of suffering. It is the ability to really stand strong and to recognize that I’m not separate from this suffering … (and that) we actually aspire to transform suffering. And if we’re so blessed, we engage in activities that transform suffering. But … we cannot be attached to the outcome.”

In the talk Halifax explains that compassion is good for us, it enlivens us and makes us resilient, it also develops our immunity.

She asks

“if compassion is so good for us, I have a question. Why don’t we train our children in compassion?”

In my next post, to coincide with #1000Speak for Compassion on Friday 20th I will be looking at some ways that have been suggested to answer that question. If you wish to add your voice to the call follow this link for suggestions of how you can be involved.

For now I will leave you with my response to Charli’s challenge. I have not tried to address compassion on a global scale but have thought smaller.

In her talk Halifax said that “compassion is actually an inherent human quality. It is there within every human being. But the conditions for compassion to be activated, to be aroused, are particular conditions.”

I wondered how feelings of compassion might be activated in the life of a young woman from an impoverished and abusive background.

Understanding

In the ‘smart’ outfit carefully selected by the charity shop attendant, Marnie was surprised how well the confident exterior masked the whirlpool of fear, anxiety and insecurity.

Without looking up, the receptionist handed Marnie a number and waved her to the waiting area.

“9”. Her heart sank. “That many?”

Avoiding contact and ‘contamination’, she squeezed into the only available space: between a boy slouching awkwardly and a girl picking her fingernails.

The girl started crying. Marnie stiffened, but glanced sideways. The girl cried into her sleeve.

Marnie breathed, proffered her unopened purse packet of ‘just-in-case’ tissues, and smiled, “Here.”

Thank you

 

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post or flash fiction.

I can do this – one step at a time!

Confidence, the willingness to have a go and to get up and try again after an unsuccessful attempt, is crucial to learning.

Attached to real confidence, as opposed to false bravado, are certain types of knowledge:

  • of the desired outcome
  • of possible steps to achieving the outcome
  • of what is needed to achieve the outcome
  • of where and how to find the knowledge or support necessary to achieve the outcome

and an openness to possibilities.

Knowing what one doesn’t know is just as important as knowing what one does!

Caroline Lodge expressed a similar view on her blog just this week, confessing that she didn’t know how to go about revising her novel, but that she did know what to do about not knowing: she enrolled in an online editing course. She attributed the view of intelligence as “knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do to the educationalist Guy Claxton.

I wasn’t aware of Claxton but he sounded like my sort of educationalist so I decided to investigate further.

 

A Google search brought up this result:

Claxton - Google

Hmm – seems like, according to Claxton, that definition of intelligence is first attributed to Jean Piaget. I’d better read his article: Learning to learn: a key goal in a 21st century curriculum.

I didn’t have to read far into the article before I knew that Caroline had sent me in the direction of another great educator (thanks Caroline).

In the introduction Claxton says,

“The well-rehearsed economic argument says that knowledge is changing so fast that we cannot give young people what they will need to know, because we do not know what it will be. Instead we should be helping them to develop supple and nimble minds, so that they will be able to learn whatever they need to. If we can achieve that, we will have a world-class workforce comprising people who are innovative and resourceful. The personal argument reaches the same conclusion.”

I have expressed similar views previously on this blog, including here, here and here.

A little further into the article Claxton introduces a new (to me) term: illearnerate. He described students not thinking of themselves as effective real-life learners. He says,

“They think that school has not only failed to give them what they need, it has actually compounded the problem.”

The term is new, but the thinking is not!

He goes on to say that,

“More fundamental even than the concern with literacy and numeracy is the need to protect and develop young people’s learnacy.”

What great terms, illearnerate and learnacy, I have added to my vocabulary today!

The steps I am taking are definitely enhancing my learning. I think I am learnerate.

However, I digress. I was looking for the attribution to Piaget and, a little further into the article, there it was:

Claxton - Piaget

I looked further online for confirmation of the quote and found this on goodreads:

Good Reads - Piaget

I think there is a subtle difference in the interpretation given by Claxton and would say that intelligence is not so much defined by, but incorporatesknowing what to do when you don’t know what to do”.

A few weeks ago I used images in my post Bring a plate that prompted Geoff Le Pard to ask,

“How do you do the images? Adding the captions?”

I said that I used PowerPoint and would post some instructions if he thought it could be useful. He said that it would be, and Anne Goodwin agreed.

For some time I had been wanting to create an instructional video using a capture of what I was doing onscreen. However it hadn’t reached the top of my to-do list. This seemed the perfect opportunity to put it there and do the learning required.

In response to Geoff’s request I made this video demonstrating how to insert pictures and text in PowerPoint, then group and save them as one image.

For my first attempt I was fairly pleased with the result, though I fear the video may be a bit long at 10 minutes. Maybe I should have started with a simpler image – one picture and one text box may have been enough for the demonstration to be effective. I’d be pleased to know what you think.

After I had finished the video it occurred to me that I may not have addressed Geoff’s question at all, that the combination of image and caption that Geoff was referring to may have been the image of the whole PowerPoint slide, like this one:

Rice salad 2

If so, then my first video would be of no use to Geoff.

There is a saying attributed to George Bernard Shaw:

“Those who can do, and those who can’t teach.”

I both agree and disagree with the statement for different reasons. Teaching is an incredibly important profession and not everyone can do it. Looking beyond the profession to simply teaching someone a skill is also something that not everyone can do. Sometimes I think that the one most capable of teaching a skill is the one who struggled to learn it; not the one who was able to do it effortlessly and almost by intuition.

The ability to teach requires knowledge of each step or each component and how they work together. This knowledge helps the teacher understand where a learner is confused or what the learner needs to know.

So just as teachers in classrooms provide resources and strategies to cater for a range of needs and abilities, I have produced a second video demonstrating how to make an image of a PowerPoint slide. This shorter (five minute) video explains how to create images using three different methods: Snagit, Snipping Tool, and printscreen function. I hope I have explained the steps for each clearly.

Important update: Do not do this at home. Do not follow the procedures in this video.

Since viewing this post and videos my daughter Bec has told me of a much easier way to create an image of a PowerPoint slide, or of every slide in a presentation. Maybe you know of it too.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Click on the slide you wish to make an image of, or any slide if you wish to make images of all slides in the presentation
  2. Go to file, save as
  3. Choose Save as type: PNG
  4. Click Save – you will be asked which slides you wish to export: all or just this one
  5. Selecting all saves every slide as a separate image to a new folder with the file name you choose; selecting just this one saves only the slide selected.

How easy is that? Thanks Bec. 🙂 And I don’t mind that I found out after making the video. I wanted to learn how to do that anyway, and now I have learned something else as well. Great steps in learning. I’m learnerate!

The discussion of steps to learning tied in very nicely with the flash fiction prompt set by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch this week. Charli challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about steps, stairs or a staircase.

This is my response:

If only

She collapsed, exhausted. Stairs led up and stairs led down; some steep, some wide, some narrow, most dark. Her head spun and vision blurred. Which way now? Which way had she come? Had she been going up and down these stairs forever?  Going around in circles?  They all now looked the same. She didn’t even know if she’d been in this place before.

“I’m trapped,” she thought. “Stuck here forever.”

She closed her eyes, surrendering to despair.

Outside birds heralded the rising sun. She was lost, oblivious of its promise.

If only she had recognised the door.

 

Thank you

 

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post, including the videos and flash fiction.