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.

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.

Guest post: Mike Buckham – Impact of the EdBlogNZ challenges

This guest post is written by fellow #EdBlogNZer, Mike Buckham, as part of the #EdBlogNZ 2015 Connected Educator challenge.

 

<– This guy 🙂

Follow Mike’s blog: MB@WORK.


 

My experience with the Edblognz challenges and the impact it has had on me

My experience with the Edblognz challenge has been nothing short of transformative. By participating in the challenge I have connected with other educators across the sector (ECE to Research) and this has re-invigorated my passion for learning and my part in the journey (my own and that of my students).

The impact? A massive (read, “possibly completely overwhelming” aka “Am I nuts!?”) learning journey has been sparked from the experience. I’ve connected with educators and ideas that have me thinking about more ‘big picture’ questions:

  • Is it possible to have a ‘unified field theory of education’? If so, what might that look like?
  • Should we stop talking about “21st C learning/education” and simply talk about future-focussed learning? What does that look like?
  • Does educational achievement equate to societal progress/success? Does this help us tackle the “wicked problems,” or create more ‘highly-educated fools’?
  • What is ‘achievement’ in a truly diverse and inclusive education system?
  • How do we define success, and who gets to define it? What biases are inherent in those definitions? How is our success then to be measured?
  • How do we deal with these challenges? Individually and collectively?
  • How do I bring all of that down to my kura/students and how do we move forward?

I don’t have the answers and probably never will. Maybe my students will carry on the journey for me. With a life-long journey there is always another horizon.

 


Thanks, Mike, for sharing your thoughts on this blog.

 

uLearn15 #EdBlogNZ selfies

Finally posting my uLearn15 selfies with other #EdBlogNZers. I’m hoping I’m remembering everyone correctly!

Firstly… with Mike Buckham. It was great to meet Mike and hear how much he has enjoyed taking part in the EdBlogNZ challenge.

It was great also to meet Steph and reconnect with Annemarie Hyde.

The next two, I didn’t actually take the pics but it was great to connect with them also:

Marnel van der Spuy…


And… both the other #EdBlogNZ founders/organisers – Sonya van Schaijik and Alex Le Long.