SCHOOLS SHOULD CELEBRATE SPECIAL DAYS

 

CREATE AND CELEBRATE SPECIAL DAYS

With so much going on within schools, it is easy to discount the need for special events and activities. Teaching and learning strategies, together with data collection and analysis, are constant and almost totally preoccupying. The need for academic pursuits to be a key activity is unquestioned. It often seems that schools are so wired to testing, measurement and assessment that there is little time for anything else.

Schools become so busy responding to systemically imposed requirements and the academic imperative, that the fun part of education can be overlooked. Schools should be happy places. There is a danger that the overloaded curriculum will impose a ‘nose to the grindstone’ mentality on teachers and students alike. This is not helped by principals and school leaders feeling the need to everlastingly oversight the school academic tasks at hand.

Including special days and celebratory opportunities into school calendars is important. These activities help to build school spirit. They draw students, staff and community members together. There are many special events from which to choose. They might include the following.

* School discos. One held toward the end of each term is a way to socially celebrate school and students.
* An annual or biennial school fete brings people together and offers special fundraising opportunities.
* Celebrating anniversaries is a way of remembering school history and looking forward to the future.
* Organising events to celebrate the opening of new school facilities.
* Organising open classrooms and celebrating learning themes is positively focussing for parents and the community.
* Highlighting book week including a costume parade of students dressed in the costumes of book characters.
* Special days celebrating science, maths and the cultures of children who are members of the student community.
* Highlighting student accomplishment during school assemblies. This might include class items, celebrating success in competitions and acknowledging sporting results.
* Taking part in the Tournament of Minds, ‘Lock up Your Boss’, Principal for a Day and so on.

This is not an exhaustible list. Many more activities could be included.

A question of balance

Not for a minute would I downplay the academic priority of education. However, there is need for fun, enjoyment, camaraderie and days of relaxation to be mixed with more formal teaching and learning pursuits. These are the things upon which happy and memorable school days are based. They should not be forgotten.

 

CELEBRATE SCHOOLS AND EDUCATION

 

CELEBRATE SPECIAL DAYS

With so much going on with bin schools, it is easy to discount the need for special events and activities. Teaching and learning strategies, together with data collection and analysis, are constant and almost totally preoccupying. The need for academic pursuits to be a key activity is unquestioned. It often seems that schools are so wired to testing, measurement and assessment that there is little time for anything else.

Schools become so busy responding to systemically imposed requirements and the academic imperative, that the fun part of education can be overlooked. Schools should be happy places. There is a danger that the overloaded curriculum will impose a ‘nose to the grindstone’ mentality on teachers and students alike. This is not helped by principals and school leaders feeling the need to everlastingly oversight school academic tasks at hand.

Including special days and celebratory opportunities into school calendars is important. These activities help in building school spirit. they draw students, staff and community members together. There are many special events from which to choose. They might include the following.

* School discos. One held toward the end of each term is a way of social celebration.
* An annual or biennial school fete brings people together and offers special fundraising opportunities.
* Celebrating anniversaries is a way of remembering school history and looking forward to the future.
* Organising events to celebrate the opening of new school facilities.
* Organising open classrooms and celebrating learning themes brings parent and community focus to the good things happening in classrooms.
* Highlighting book week including a costume parade of students dressed in the costumes of book characters.
* Special days celebrating science, maths and the cultures of children who are members of the student community.
* Highlighting student accomplishment during school assemblies. This might include class items, celebrating success in competitions and acknowledging sporting results.
* Taking part in the Tournament of Minds, ‘Lock up Your Boss’, Principal for a Day and so on.

A question of balance

Not for a minute would I downplay the academic priority of education. However, there is need for fun, enjoyment, camaraderie and days of relaxation to be mixed with more formal teaching and learning pursuits. These are the things upon which happy and memorable school days are based. They should not be forgotten.

From the Darwin/Palmerston/Litchfield Suns.

WOMEN ADD VALUE TO EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP

While written from the viewpoint of appreciating women as educational leaders and managers, my belief would be that they bring enrichment to all organisations.  We discount them to our clear and distinct disadvantage.

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THE VALUE OF WOMEN AS PRINCIPALS, KEY TEACHERS AND ORGANISATIONAL PARTICIPANTS.

In all forums with some minor header changes

Women are key players at all levels. I believe the following attributes to fit their character as ‘the invaluable group’.

1. Women are all seeing, all knowing and able to join in fifteen conversations at once.
2. Women are aware: They have 360 degree vision.
3. Women have clear goal orientation and crystal-like focus.
4. Women cut to the chase and don’t dither around the edges of issues.
5. Women are careful synthesisers and succinct summarisers of situations.
6. Women are adept at timetabling and planning; they are meticulous plan followers.
7. Women have awareness.
8. Women show empathy to those who are under the pump.
9. Women excel in engaging others in planning and organisation.
10. Women have excellent leadership and participative perspective. They are both on the organisational balcony with all-encompassing vision and on the dance floor with and among those engaged with endeavour.
11. Women make an extraordinary contribution in going forward.
12. Women contribute proactively to staff endeavour and leadership balance within schools and systems.

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Elaboration

1. WOMEN ARE AWARE OF THEIR SURROUNDS

Women are all seeing, all knowing and able to join in fifteen conversations at once. I mean this in a totally appreciative and complimentary context. The broad based awareness women have of their surrounding environment makes them the superior gender when it comes to awareness. They have, in my opinion, a panoramic appreciation of what is going on around them. Ladies read body language and more empathetically understand reactiions of others than do men. Not only can they contribute to a conversation in which they are participating; they also gain appreciation of the tenet of surrounding dialogue. These finely honed environmental skills add to their situational awareness. As a male leader, I was always wise in seeking feedback from female staff leaders on matters we were dealing, for this helped inform in a way that was beyond my own interpretative capacities.

2. 360 DEGREE VISION

Another quality vested in women and often lacking in men, is a capacity for 360 degree vision. The expresssion ‘eyes in the back of their heads’ fits because of the totality of awareness with which ladies are blessed. After a staff meeting involving 40 or 50 people, I always felt it wise to ask the women members of my leadership team for their feedback because the meeting elements I missed (body language, eye exression, non-verbal contact between people) they picked up. This enabled us to appreciate the meeting more fulsomly than would have been possible for me alone, or in conversation with another male. This is just another quality with which women are blessed and which mmen can fail to recognise.

3. FOCUS

From working with many women over the life of my teaching career I can vouchsafe for their clear goal orientation and crystal-like focus. Ladies, far more than men can divine a path that leads through from aims and objectives to goal outcomes. While there are always exceptions, I felt that women with whom I worked were less likely to be sidetracked by diversions than men. Their approach and priorities establishment helped me, in terms of reminding about the fact I needed to keep on time and on task. Oven many years, I was blessed to have some outstanding female members of the leadership groups which developed at my schools.

4. CUTTING TO THE CHASE

Women cut to the chase and don’t dither around the edges of issues. When confronted by tasks, they quickly align the best and most efficient way to get from task start to goal accomplishment. They do accept advice but are able to synthesise and sift valid suggestion from what might be extraneous. Women are less bogged down when it comes to dealing issues than many men. They are definitive in approach and get things done. While appreciating the contributions of those who approach shared tasks positively, they are not in the business of treating foolishness lightly. While valuing the contributions of some men within my operational sphere over the years, I knew that if something needed to be done quickly, efficiently, accurately and conclusively, it was best to delegate management and decision making to a woman.

5. SUMMARISERS AND SYNTHESISERS

It is common for women to be demeaned by men, who have them as garrulous and gossiping. This is entirely unfair and equally, incorrect. Both men and women are want to wax lyrical in social situations but when it comes to business and organisational propriety, women are far from idle chatterers. They are quick and adept at taking on board information about issues, summarising succinctly and drawing out the main points conversations confirm as needing attention. In my opinion, they do this better than men.

The capacity of ladies to synthesise and extrapolate to directions it would be wise to follow is well established. It is a fact that women have this capacity. To listen but then quickly work through to a point of where the organisation, based on information to dater, can go forward with confidence makes them people who contribute magnificently to organisations.

6. PLANNING AND TIMETABLING

Women are adept at timetabling and planning; they are meticulous plan followers. I believe they are far better at meeting deadlines than men who are in charge of organisations. Over the years I was blessed to work with ladies as members of leadership teams and had cause to thank many of them over the years for keeping me focussed and on track. Our leadership ‘mix’ always included men and women and without female contribution we would have been less effective leadership teams. Many was the time I had cause to thank the female cohort for reminding me of and insisting on the follow through of timelined obligations.

One of my smartest moves was to delegate (both task and decision making responsibilities) to ladies who were members of our leadership groups. They ensured that we managed in an ‘on time and on task way’. For mine, they come up trumps.

7. WOMEN HAVE AWARENESS

Women who lead have a 100% awareness of what is going on within and around their organisations. Their sixth sense, womanly intuition, enables them to know what is happening within the school, company or enterprise. They have a sense that keeps every aspect of their domain within their mind’s eye. Men’s awareness is less broad, less perceptive and far less acute.

Knowing their places of work so intimately enables female leaders monitor the performance of their teams. They are not nosy and intrusive, simply aware. I believe Gail Kelly, Westpac’s CEO demonstrates these leadership principles. so too, do many women who are involved within leadership teams. What blessings they bring to their workplaces.

VOLUNTEERS SUPPORT SCHOOLS BIG TIME

SUNS COLUMN 87

VOLUNTEERS FILL KEY ROLE IN SCHOOLS

Quality education is influenced by the relationships that develop between students, teachers and parents. There are two other groups who make great contributions to education within schools.
* School support staff who add value within administrative and classroom contexts.
* Volunteer people who give their time in support of schools.

The contribution made to their schools by volunteers can be easily overlooked. Parents and caregivers who are able to spare an hour or two here and there can be of great help in a number of ways. They might hear children read, help with changing readers, or be support people when teachers take classes on short excursions. One school last year had parents and school supporters come in to help with an oral reading program that took place each day.

There are many ways in which volunteers support their schools.
* Assistance in school libraries with cataloguing, shelving and covering books.
* Assisting schools with supervision on sports days or extended outings.
* Assistance with extended Territory and Interstate excursions and camps.
* Sewing programs to help with making costumes, making library bags, art/craft aprons and so on.
* Volunteering time to support fundraising ventures.
* Offering as volunteer school crossing monitors.
* Supporting school canteens through cooking or being on the serving roster.
These are a few of the ways in which parents and community members can support schools.

Where are the Volunteers?

Parental work commitments has reduced the potential pool of school volunteers. However, having parents give a little time to their school on rostered days off happens in some schools. Advertising for volunteers in newsletters or on websites may generate a positive response. Personally inviting parents to volunteer time or approaching residents in senior villages may help build a volunteer list.

Those who volunteer need to be cleared by a police check and also have to obtain an Ochre Card confirming their suitability to work with children. School councils sometimes elect to pay the costs of obtaining these clearances. People are able to support schools through volunteer service once these matters have been finalised.

Volunteers should not be taken for granted. Acknowledging them with certificates of appreciation, sponsored morning teas and other periodic tokens of recognition will help cement their relationships with schools. Invitations to school assemblies and concerts may help them feel included within schools. Those who give of their time and share their talents with schools are a valued group. Without their contribution, schools would be the poorer.

SNIPPETS FOR EDUCATORS (4)

Helpful hints and background thoughts.   Readers may find these useful.

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THE POWER OF EXAMPLE
What children and students derive from lessons and lectures is proportionate to the planning and preparation efforts of teachers and lecturers. Attitude is partially instilled by visible practice.
PRIME PURPOSE OF EDUCATION

‘Remembered’ teachers and educators are those recalled by students years later as people who cared and made a difference. To remember that ‘schools are for children’ should never ever be forgotten.
YOUR WORK LIVES ON

When the career pathways of teachers and educators are finished, the ‘results’ of their contributions are left behind. Those results reflect through the lives of past students, now today’s adults.
FOUNDATIONAL LEARNING COUNTS

It is too easy in these technological days of computers, calculators and other gadgetry to discount the importance of spelling, tables, handwriting, even thinking. Neglect is disservice to students.
DON’T CONSIGN HANDWRITING TO HISTORY

There is a lot of debate these days about whether or not handwriting should be taught at school. In some countries, including Finland and the United States, handwriting has gone by the by. Rather than being taught how to use a pen, all students are given the opportunity to learn keyboard skills including touch typing.

While trying to understand why this change has occurred I would be the very last person to advocate that handwriting should become a skill of the past. Rather I believe that it should endure forever.

I am certainly not down on keyboards and computers. But for children to have both handwriting and keyboards is optimal. To become mono skilled with handwriting going out the door would be altogether wrong. There are many many occasions in life when handwriting is important and indeed the only written communications method available.

When teaching handwriting, the “3 P’s” rudiments immediately comes to mind. That has to do with the methodology of writing. It is about;
* pencil or pen hold
* paper position
* posture – the way we sit in order to write most effectively and comfortably.

Stressing these things over and over again until they become habitual is important.

Part of handwriting is teaching children how to hold a pen or pencil so that it is comfortable and their fingers and wrists don’t ache. Watching people write these days can be quite a torturous experience because of the way in which writing tools are held. It’s obvious from observation that many people have never been taught how to write. That is an absolute pity.

These days specific handwriting lessons are often not offered in class. Or it may be that there is a handwriting text where children simply open and copy what’s written for them. I believe that those texts are enhanced by use of a transcription book and also with teachers demonstrating letter formation, joins, words and so on the whiteboard. The idea of children learning by copying really helps when it comes to handwriting development.

The way paper or writing books are positioned helps when it comes to the slope of letters. Writing from left to right is part of this and can be difficult particularly for left-handed children. Left-handers tend to “drag” their arms across pages as they write from left to right meaning that dog ears and crumpled pages become the norm. Train children as they finish a line of writing to lift their arm going back to the start of the line.

Support children with lessons as a transition from printing to writing script style. Linked script is part of this and it does take time to teach. Little and often is important and I would suggest a handwriting lessons every day.

Remember to comment on handwriting and praise the effort that students put in to the script. Be they printing or writing this praise will help.

Handwriting is so important. It needs to be revived not neglected.

THE IMPACT OF GOOD TEACHERS

I once read that ‘to teach is to touch lives forever’. There can be no doubt that the influence of good teachers positively impacts developing lives and questioning minds in a life-long manner.

IMPRORTANT ELEMENTS

The essence of education should be the development of children and students to take their place as the adults in tomorrow’s world. This essence of education should not be supplanted by the trivial.
CATER FOR ALL STUDENTS

Educational policy and direction seems to wrap thoroughly around the needs of students at the lower end of the learniing spectrum. We should not overlook those in the middle and at the top end.

GETTING OLD? BE ALARMED!

I have been reading “Dear Life On Caring For The Elderly”. It is the current Quarterly Essay written by Karen Hitchcock. The essay may not mean much to young people or even to those in the middle aged years. For someone in my situation who hasn’t much change left from the “three score years and ten” and obviously for those older, it means a lot more.

My reading of this essay is that people who are aged and no longer self-reliant are, from the viewpoint of systems, nothing more a less than a nuisance. While there may be a bit of niceness offered them by those connected within the medical fraternity, the story in the hearts of medical providers is a lot more sinister. They wish and hope that the oldsters won’t hang around for too long. They suck up resources and their demise would be a blessing, their continuation on this mortal coil a distinct disadvantage and nuisance. After reading the treatise I got the distinct feeling that people of senior years are seen as a blight, indeed as a curse.

While the reading did not fill me with personal alarm (at this stage of my life), I am cognisant of my ageing and creeping frailty. Having always believed in euthanising I’m now more than ever convinced that this has to be an alternative and that the ending of my days needs to be on my hands and at a time Of my choice. We share our lives with others and obviously they would come into contention with decisions reached. However, my resolve that I never want to be a burden on people is certainly reinforced by my reading of this essay. It confirms that the aged, frail and dependent are definitely unwanted. For them to want to stay on this mortal coil is on their part arrant selfishness. In the interests of others they should be gone.

This essay should be read by all our ageing citizens. It tells a sad, alarming and unfortunately true story.