Anxious no more

anxiety

I don’t have time to do anything else! I don’t have time to craft, or to do things for me. I have too much homework to do.

These are the words of my daughter. She has just turned 15. She is in Year 11 doing NCEA level 1. She is intelligent. She already has a couple of excellences under her belt. But she is stressed. She is anxious.

This post is a few days late for the March #EdBlogNZ challenge. The challenge is to write about your dream school. I had done a bit of thinking and thought it was going to be about all the amazing things I would like to see in a school, but as a parent, watching my children go through school, I’m seeing their stress levels increase. It’s not good.

So in my dream school, right at this point in time, while I would like all sorts of technology and opportunities for the students within it, I would first and foremost like to see a school that truly values the health and wellbeing of their students. I’m not saying these schools are not out there, or even that any school doesn’t value this, but sometimes it appears school work, teacher expectations or qualifications take precedent.

Both of my eldest children are feeling exceptional pressure from school at the moment. Miss 15, as described above, and Mr 10 who is in Year 7. Miss 15 has actually recently blogged about Anxiety in the classroom. It’s worth a read.

Yes, education is important, but as a parent I have to put the wellbeing of my children first – and that means before school, before qualifications, and yes, even before teacher expectations.

I don’t have any amazing ideas for how to reduce anxiety of students at school, but I do believe that raising awareness about this issue is important. I do believe that some educators (myself included) just have not really considered it, or if we have, we still have to get through all this work with our classes before the end of the year, and therefore do not know how to manage it.

Perhaps this is something we can all consider for now. After all,

He aha te mea nui o te ao
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.

What is the most important thing in the world?
It is people, it is people, it is people.

The quiet learner

This post is part of the #EdBlogNZ 2016 Challenge for the bonus Leap Day challenge. The challenge was to “stretch yourself and create an audio or video post about a passion of yours”.

I have focused on being an introvert and a learner. My audio recording is below and beneath this is a transcript of the recording.

Transcript

 

introverts uniteIn a group I can feel isolated. I can feel alone.

Sometimes I can feel more alone in a group than when I’m on my own.

Words wash around me, over me, through me.

I might have something good to say. Something relevant to the conversation. But it’s too late. I didn’t speak up in time. The time has passed. The conversation has moved on.

I might be questioned on the topic. I had something to say, but now I’ve been put on the spot. My mind is blank. My thought has gone. And now I feel even more alone. People are waiting for a response and I have no words to speak.

Talk with me one on one. Give me time to think and to process and we can have an in-depth conversation. Don’t bother with small talk though, I can’t keep that up. I’ll answer your questions about the weather or about what I do. But they will be short and to the point.

Engage me with my passions and I can talk with you. In fact, I might not shut up.

You see, I’m an introvert. I value my own thoughts and my own space. I don’t need to be alone, but I don’t need constant attention.

When I was at school, I hated being put on the spot by my teachers. I might know the answer or be able to respond, but as soon as my name was called, it was gone. My stomach would start to churn. My face would go red. I appeared as if I didn’t know anything. It was unfair.

Yet, I found myself doing this as a teacher.

Why?

Because I hadn’t understood my own personality. I hadn’t understood my introversion.

I despised group activities as a student. If it was only with one other person, I could manage. But with a larger group I felt my voice could not be heard.

However, I found my way with working online. Put me in a collaborative doc, and I can contribute. My voice can be heard. Throw me into a fast-paced Twitter stream and I will love every moment. I’m in a crowded online space yet physically I’m on my own. I am happy, I am learning, I am contributing and I’m engaged.

 

Image source: Joe Wolf, Flickr – CC BY-ND 2.0

Learning spaces

This post has been written as part of the 2016 #EdBlogNZ Challenge for February which encourages participants to share a virtual tour of their learning space.

My own learning spaces

As I’m not currently teaching, I don’t have a classroom or learning space for my own students, however I do have my own personal learning spaces and this has made me think about what I find suitable for my own learning needs.

my workspace

In my “office” at home, which is really just a small corner of my bedroom, I have set up my desk, and a ridiculous number of devices and monitors. Okay… I’m sure some others have more, and to be honest I don’t always use them all at once. But this works for me. Yes, it’s my workspace, but I also do a lot of learning here as a part of my job.

2016-02-17 19.34.43

While my job sometimes takes me to work in various locations, I do have another space that I have used for both work and specifically learning. It’s a place that I find peaceful, calming and generally relaxing. I sit in my car and work/study with a view across the Wellington harbour. Even on an evening like today’s which is overcast, with a slight breeze (not even a Wellington breeze!), I can enjoy it.

What draws me to my learning spaces?

I’ve always liked my work or learning spaces to be as uncluttered as possible. I think I’m probably a little anal about this actually as I would often procrastinate when I was studying by tidying up my desk (although it honestly did help as I was able to calm down and focus more with the clutter gone)… And… I don’t know why I’m sharing this one… When I’m watching TV I can’t stand there being any mess around or anything visual that might distract me after a slight glance at it. Again, I tidy up the space and make sure none of the white backing on the curtains are showing (including the ones behind me because once I know…)

Actually I do know why I shared that. I have seen so many classrooms that are just full of clutter, whether it be stuff or colour. For me, this is distracting. I know it’s not the case for everyone, but there will definitely be some of our students who also find it distracting or possibly even over-stimulating.

Overall, I like the spaces in which I’m working/learning to be open and peaceful, with not too much noise or distraction.

What do my children like in their learning spaces?

I thought I’d ask my children what they prefer in their learning spaces/classrooms. I’ve got 5 of them, so I figured this was a reasonable sample size. 😉

Miss14 (Year 11) – prefers to lie on the floor; doesn’t like lots of people in one space; prefers an open space but not a big space; likes some things on wall but only if relevant; when lots of posters/student work on wall and/or with lots of colour, it can be distracting.

Mr10 (Year 7) – prefers to learn inside, at home; inside at a desk (at school); quiet space; computers; not lots of stuff like books – take up too much space; doesn’t like lots of clutter – too hard to work with and too hard to find stuff (low vision); lots of colour can be distracting.

Mr9 (Year 5) – prefers quiet, not many people around (personal space), likes sitting at a desk.

Mr7 (Year 4) – likes a lot of colour, quiet, sitting on a cushion.

Miss6 (Year 2) – likes lots of stuff around, teacher, not much stuff on the wall (also low vision), quiet, at desk.

Every teacher needs to consider their learning space and the students they have at that moment. Not all people can cope with a lot of stuff around. It can be visually exhausting or distracting. Some like music playing, others can’t focus with it. Some like sitting at a desk, others like sitting under desks, on a cushion, lying on the floor. It’s exciting to see more and more schools and teachers creating flexible learning spaces for their learners.

Live!

EdBlogNZAfter getting the #EdBlogNZ 2016 Challenge set up with one blogging challenge a month, I’ve waited until the very last day of January to write my first post. The main reason for this is because I was hit with pneumonia just before the New Year and was laid up for much of the month. Not exactly the break I was hoping for.

This though has given me a chance to do a bit of thinking about this year and to consider the word that I want to define my year. My #oneword2016.

After spending so much time in bed throughout January and having my plans for my break turn to custard I really want to make the most of the rest of my year. I want to LIVE!

Live!

To live this year I want to:

  • Step out of my comfort zone and take responsible risks. A few things have slowed me down a little over the last couple of years and this has meant I’ve become a bit tentative around some things. I really want this to change.
  • Learn and put my learning into place. One of my goals is to learn some basic Te Reo M?ori and have enrolled in a course as part of my PD. I’m looking forward to taking part in this. I’m also looking forward to the other learning that’s coming up.
  • Stretch myself in my writing both for work and my blogging. I don’t really know what this will look like yet but I want to take my writing to another level.
  • Spend more quality time with my kids. Yes, I know it’s a bit cliche but after losing several weeks during January where I had plans to do so much with them, I want to make sure they don’t miss out the rest of the year.

It’s time for me to LIVE!