May the following thoughts prove of use.
MIX PRAISE WITH ADVICE
When counselling and offering recommendations, look for areas of strength and accomplishment. Offer commendations to counterbalance advice so people in feeling good will be more receptive to counsel.
DEAL WITH OTHERS AS YOU WOULD THEY DEAL WITH YOU
When dealing with others in professional and personal matters, be empathetic. Treat and respectthem as you would like to be treated and respected. Be firm, resolute and avoid hurtful put downs.
PLACE YOUSELF IN THEIR SHOES
When dealing with people, be they students, parents, teacher peers, superordinates, adminstrative staff or others, place yourself in their shoes. This is empathy enhancing and builds understanding.
MAKE DECISIONS BASED ON HISTORY
Before making decisions, stop and consider whether those same decisions have been previously made then dropped for reason of being unsatisfactory. Avoid revisiting previously failed initiatives.
DELEGATE DECISIONS AS WELL AS TASK
True delegation includes decision making along with task sharing. If tasks are delegated but decision making retained, this can be intertpreted as a lack of confidence in the tasked person.
PRIORITISATION is important. My suggestion would be family, work and recreation in that order. To avoid taking work home can be wise because work can sully both family time and recreational pursuits.
ANECDOTAL AND EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE – A MISMATCH?
There are times when anecdotal evidence suggests we adopt particular practice
paths. Yet we defer action or are counselled not to proceed because empirical evidence is not available for verification.
GIVE AND RECEIVE ADVICE
Our profession is best served when people share their thoughts, ideas and perceptions with each other. It is as important to receive and consider advice as well as sharing our ideas with others.
No matter where we are positioned within education, there are three qualities that should be part of our make-up and character. ‘Honesty’, ‘respect’ and ‘integrity’ are those key characteristics.
STORY-TELLING ADDS TO LITERATURE APPRECIATION
At the risk of sounding too old fashioned, I extol the virtues of story telling. These days, with the advent and use of smart-boards and connecting devices, teachers often use audio-visual technology when it comes to story telling and story readings.
Teachers should not feel reluctant about telling or reading stories to children. Sadly, the skill of story telling is becoming a lost art.
To tell stories with and to children is to engage with them in a primary conversational context. Stories told with animation and conviction, with supporting gesture and eye contact, engage children and switch them on in a way that draws them close to the message being conveyed.
Some of the positives of story telling are as follows:
* The quality, meaning and context of language, word usage and meaning can be followed up by discussion during ‘conversational pauses’ within the story or at its end when the story is being reviewed.
* Questioning to test listening helps to build the notions of concentration and listening. To have ‘mini quizzes’ where there is some sort of contestation build within the group (for instance, girls versus boys, contest between class groups and so on) adds to student focus and engagement. This strategy discourages students ‘switching off’ and mentally wandering off into the distance.
* Having students work on ‘prediction. and ‘forecast’ by sharing their thoughts about where the story will head and how it will conclude can be an interesting and testing strategy. This approach helps develop the skills of logic and reasoning within thinking.
* Language study is enhanced. Asking children the meanings of words and words within context is an example. Similies and antonyms can be developed as a part word studies. The possibilities are endless.
* Some texts which share stories are written in the ‘language of yesteryear’. There are two volumes that come to mind, being ‘Grimm’s Fairy Tales’ and stories by Hans Christian Anderson. These stories not only introduce children to a vast array of very colourful old fashioned words that have been superseded by the idiom of modern language. They are also set in social situations of the past, largely replaced by the social attitudes and disposition of today.
* The appeal of stories to imagination and ‘the mind’s eye’ is such that art growing or flowing from story presentation can be colourful and creative.
* A great way of treating longer stories, is to serialise (or mini–series) them, with ‘to be continued’ as part of the understanding. That is a great way of helping children anticipate what may happen.
* Make sure when telling stories to use clear, expressive language. Take the part with language variations of the characters described.
* Engage children by asking them to respond by being characters in the story. Have them thing about and describe the characters, moods and attitudes of those around whom the story is centred.
* Have children act or visit the story or parts thereof through dramatic expression. Drama is a subject very rarely considered these days.
* As a story teller, make eye contact with the group. Vocal expression is important including pitch, rhythm and other elements of speech.
It is a sad fact of life that adults tend to lose the capacity to imagine as they get older. To engage in story telling is to keep the imagination of the story teller alive and flourishing. As a school principal, I used to talk with children about the importance of imagination and imaginative thought. To tell stories has helped keep me in touch with this advice.
SCHOOLS, TEACHERS AND STUDENTS SHOULD NOT BE RESEARCH GUINEA PIFGS
While research is important, a downside is that schools and students are forever on the end of guinea pig treatment. While research signals and stimulates advances, there has to be oportunnity for education to be forwarded in a steady state manner. Schools can be pushed, pulled and pummelled by every idea coming from research, making them places in a state of constant disequilibrium.
Principals and school leaders together witrh community need to make careful choices about involving or otherwise in pilot program or as testers of new initiatives. My advice would be not to put the school’s hand up for every new suggestion; doing that makes for giddy staff and disopriented students. Additionally, ask students for their thoughts on new ideas – after all they are the group principally affected by change and their advice, thoughts and ideas are asked too infrequently.