This is the fifth in series of snippets I hope will be handy as pointers, reminders or reflectors.
GIVE BACK IN RETIREMENT
I think it is good for retirees, in retirement, to spend time in giving back to the profession. Supporting principals and staff in a coaching/mentoring context by being a critical colleague can help.
SPURN EXPERIENCE AT YOUR PERIL
Educational systems discard retiring educators and those with experience of years at their peril. ‘Starting all over’ and ‘reinventing the wheel’ revisits past mistakes, disgarding lessons learned.
I don’t believe that we can over estimate the importance of teachers modelling for students. This goes for primary and secondary students.
In some contexts teaching is regarded as being a profession in which one group (teachers) tells the other group (students) what to do and how it should be done. This of course is rather simplistic definition of teaching and learning processes. It hardly examples the interaction and togetherness that ideally embraces teachers and pupils in teaching/learning contexts.
One of the very important aspects of the leadership offered by teachers is the modelling they do through their own personal example and conduct. Students being young look to and emulate teachers and others. An example of this is the children often tell the parents that particular viewpoint is right because it is what the teacher thinks, therefor it must be right.
Without being prescriptive in anyway, I believe that modelling extends to include the following:
Speech patterns and modelling – setting a bright example free speech and vocalisation.
Handwriting, including in students books and on whiteboards.
Correct spelling and accuracy in word usage.
This list could go on, but I’m sure you get the drift. Teachers deal with the development of people. It’s as we do and how we are that is so important to those we teach and shape toward being the adults of tomorrow.
KEEP COMPUTER IN PERSPECTIVE
These days it is easy for teachers to become “captured” by the computers. They become “jailed” at their teachers table.
This happens because of the emphasis placed on darter collection and analysis. Everything comes back to data driven outcomes. That being the case it is all too easy for teachers to be so focused on data collection that the computer is a constant companion. Rather than moving around the classroom and working with children there is a tendency to be deskbound asking children to really deliver results so they can be input those into computer.
This in turn encourages children to ‘one-way traffic’ from their desks to the teachers table. The teacher stays desk-bound.
It is necessary in my opinion the teachers of all students, particularly early childhood and primary children to be among them, moving from desk to desk.
Data of course it does have to be input but if that takes priority over the mechanical manifestations of teaching and working directly with students then something needs to change.
It is important that teachers be aware of and make “mind notes” of the amount of time they spend locked at their tables with their computers. That ought not to be the major percentage of time occupation.
I believe the children respect teachers who move among them. That movement is also necessary for teachers to get to know their pupils in the best possible way.
Teachers do have to spend time at their desks with their computers, but it should be reasonable and not overdone.
POLITENESS AND GOOD MANNERS
These days, manners are not practised by habit. Many children (and adults) are poorly mannered. It seems that a big percentage have never been taught the rudiments of good manners at home. Child care programs may try but their prime focus is on minding, not on teaching.
All too frequently children overlook ‘excuse me’, ‘please’, ‘thank you’. ‘i beg your pardon’ and so on. Although it gets monotonous, correcting students who overlook these essences of politeness and good manners is important. Commenting in a praising context to children who do remember to use these words and expressions can offer positive reinforcement.
One of the most frequent oversights occurs when children butt into a conversations being held by teachers with another student or students. That impetuosity certainly needs correction. Children need to appreciate the need to wait their turn when dealing with teachers.
Manners can be broached through appropriately constructed lessons. To involve students in situational role play where manners need to be practised can help. Periodic classroom discussions about manners and politeness might be useful.
The subject could be broached through a Socratic Discussion session.
Strategies to reinforce the need for good manners including reinforcement through daily classroom interaction should be part of teaching and learning strategy. And that is for all classrooms, from pre-school to tertiary level.
THE BEST REWARD
The richest of rewards for veteran or retired educators is to be looked out and thanked by former pupils, now adults, for the positive impact ‘you’ had on their lives. That brings joy to the soul.