The Learning Principal

Building Resilience In Kids

As a dad, anytime my children are faced with a difficult circumstance, challenging situation, hear a “no” when they were hoping for a “yes”, feeling a sense of disappointment, loss or failure, my first reaction is a strong desire to “fix it”. I think most parents can relate. It breaks our hearts to see our children struggle with the various challenges that life throws their way so the immediate and natural response is that we want to protect our kids and just make everything better. If we do that though, we are missing amazing teaching moments with our kids. Each of these challenging moments are opportunities to build resiliency in our children. They are opportunities to teach our kids to persevere and not give up. They are opportunities to teach problem solving, communication, and foster a growth mindset. They are are opportunities for our students to learn how to process emotion and build the skills they need to succeed for their future.

So how do we seize these moments? Probably the most important thing is to make the time to make the connection. It is important that our kids know we are there for them and that their performance, behaviour, and choices are not tied to our love… it is unconditional. But, what do we say in those moments? Here are some potential conversation starters to have with your children the next time they are facing something difficult.

  1. How are you feeling? It is important to acknowledge and validate our children’s feelings. Although, sometimes it can seem trivial to an adult it can mean the whole world to the child. If we dismiss it as trivial our children will learn that their feelings cannot be trusted with us.
  2. Never say can’t – The words we say gives insight into our thinking and can be a predictor of our future actions. The word “can’t” can stop our children from trying. Check out this inspirational video about Jennifer Bricker – Never Say Can’t.
  3. If your friend was going through this, what advice would you give?  We can’t always choose the circumstances that life throws our way, but we can always choose our response. Help your child focus on the things they can control and have influence over, not the things out of their control.
  4. What can you learn from this? What did you do well? What can you improve? Did you try your best? Talking through and reflecting upon the lessons that can be learned from the experience will not only help with their disappointment, it encourages them to try again. Help them identify what they would do differently next time. It builds confidence that prepares them for the future.
  5. What’s next? What now? Help your child look for other opportunities and to find the positives in the experience. We need to teach our children to be solution oriented not problem fixated.
  6. What can you be thankful for? Whatever we focus on gets magnified in our lives. Magnify the good not the bad. Perspective matters. A healthy life perspective remembers all of the positives around us in the midst of a challenging circumstance.
  7. What are your strengths? Reminding our children of their successes and strengths will continue to build their confidence and self-worth. It is important for them to understand that one experience does not define their identity. For example, just because I failed does not mean I am a failure. Just because I made a bad choice does not make me a bad person.
  8. You are good at hard things. Every child has trouble when they face a challenge or find something difficult. Our children need to learn to embrace hard work and challenging activities. “Hard” isn’t something to be afraid of or shy away from.
  9. You are a problem solver. Giving our children the opportunity and support to solve their own problems, not only teaches them this essential skill for their future, it also builds their self confidence. Model the patience and perseverance required to finish difficult tasks and support them by brainstorming potential solutions. The challenge is to give the support they need while still empowering them to be problem solvers.
  10. Share your story. If you can’t think of a personal story to share that relates to what your child is facing, share someone else’s story. It is important for our children to realize they are not alone. They are not the first to deal with this and won’t be the last. Inspiration and comfort can be found in hearing other’s stories.

What other conversation starters and ideas can you share that help build resilience in children? We would love to hear your ideas and experiences by commenting below on this post.

Driven By Passion

On Instagram the other day, my friend @samueldueth shared this post:

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This really struck a cord with me. I think this short statement is profoundly true. It is always easier to do the bare minimum. It is easier to continue to do things the way that we have always done them, not rock the boat and continue to remain in our comfort zone. At first glance, this may not even be a bad thing. After all, most of us do the things we are doing and have done for a long time because they are good things. The problem is that good can be the enemy of great.

This got me thinking. What causes somebody to move from good to great? What fuels somebody enough to allow themselves to choose the more difficult path, embrace something new, and ultimately embrace the self inconvenience that comes with change? My first thought was vision. After all, vision is about the destination. It is the road map to accomplishing whatever it is that one is striving after. It is the action plan to the dream. In reflecting more about it though, I wonder is vision by itself enough? After all, it is easy to say that you believe in a vision, it is easy to have a dream, but what fuels the vision on day to day basis? What causes somebody to embrace the discomfort of inconvenience, day in and day out when nobody else is looking? I propose that vision by itself is not enough; instead, it is about passion for the vision. If vision is the vehicle to accomplish something great, passion is the fuel that drives the car. Often vision can ignite passion; however, passion is something that needs to be stewarded in one’s life if it is to be sustained. (more…)

Fear Inhibits Progress

I recently had the opportunity to present at the Alberta Google Summit. I chose to share a little bit of our 1-to-1 journey at Muir Lake School and how teaching and learning is transforming in this learning environment. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and perhaps more than anything was an amazing opportunity to reflect where we have come from in our building and what our next steps are.

After my presentation and throughout the couple of days at the conference I was able to visit with some other great educators from other school divisions. I heard lots of great stories and got lots of other ideas from our conversations. There was definitely lots of examples of schools and teachers making huge advancements in transforming teaching and learning. Unfortunately, there were also some stories that I heard that made me cringe. (more…)

Connections

This post resinated with me so much that I wanted to share it on my own blog. The connections I have made with other educators both face to face and online via social media has been and continues to be the best contributor to my own professional development. But it extends further than just my knowledge. It keeps me inspired, motivated, and constantly challenges me to to keep growing and innovating. It is bigger than me as an individual. It is about the students. It is about making a difference in students lives and making a difference in our world.

Opening Doors and Turning On Lights

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I owe so much to the people I have connected with. I am sure you feel the same way. Whether face to face or virtually, I have been able to connect and work with brilliant people who have challenged me and opened my eyes up to so many possibilities and exciting ways to move my practice forward. I wonder sometimes just how different my career, and life for that matter, would have been if I wasn’t able to make those connections.

I have seen blog posts about why we should use twitter, or why we should blog, why we should join google communities or even why we should join/create a PLC. I am pretty sure they all share the same answer when we get down to the root of it – to make connections. I am not telling you anything you don’t already know. Connecting with other educators opens us…

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Innovation Takes Time

I started this school year by participating in Educator’s Innovation Day. The day was dedicated for educators to work individually or in groups on anything they wanted to work on around the theme of improving education. I spent the day working with Jesse McLean around the idea of wanting to come up with a middle years entrepreneurial option. By the end of the day we had created the Becoming Tycoons Option and Student Business Planning Guide designed to allow for student choice, innovation, and introduce them to business concepts such as start-ups, management, marketing, and finances. Both Greystone Centennial Middle School and Muir Lake School students will be participating in this option at the same time so we are going to be setting up collaboration and sharing opportunities between our students with Google Hangouts and in person. We have not yet taught this option yet, but I am very excited to see what the students come up with for their businesses. Ultimately, my hope is that this will lay a foundation and open up possibilities for students in their future in the area of business and innovation.

Although, I am excited about this project that we came up with, the day in and of itself has bigger implications for educators. Taking the time to spend a day working on something that we have never done before and was completely brand new to us was extremely valuable. How often do we do that? It is so easy to fill up our days with the business of working and teaching in a school. Rarely, do we feel like we have the time to just sit, talk, and collaborate on working on something new with the aim to improve education. Yet, I would argue that this is some of the most valuable time that we could spend as an educator and is too often neglected.

As educators, we don’t spend enough time in quadrant II of Steven Covey’s Time Management Grid. Taking time to think, reflect, collaborate, share, be creative and innovate never feels urgent but it is of the utmost importance. This time is what keeps education relevant in an ever changing world. It is time that ignites passion and motivation in students and teachers. It is what fights off a culture of complacency that allows for things to be taught and learned in the same way just because that is the way it was taught and learned last year… and the year before that… and the year before that.  It is time that fuels inspiration, growth and change. It is time that allows for the extraordinary as opposed to settling for mediocrity. As educators we need to prioritize this time.

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I know our days are busy. I feel the pressure of the other quadrants everyday. (more…)

What’s The Big Deal With 1 to 1?

I don’t understand why creating learning communities in our classrooms where our students have access to their own device is a big deal. Why is this not the norm? Nobody makes a big deal about learning 1 to 1 with textbooks. Every student has access to their own binder, pencil, pens and other “traditional” tools for learning at a “1 to 1” ratio. In fact if students didn’t have access to a pen or textbook, we would consider this a travesty. So why the trepidation to allowing students to use phones, tablets, and laptops in the class?

Technology is just a tool. Learning with technology should never become just about the technology in the same way that learning with a textbook should not be just about the textbook. It is about the learning. It is about equipping our students with the best possible tools to learn. Let’s face it, a computer is a better tool for learning than a textbook. If a computer and a textbook were invented at the same time, what tool would you choose?

Technology shouldn’t be a novelty in the classroom in the same way that a pen and paper aren’t novelties. (more…)

Building 1-to-1 Learning Communities

On February 25, 2013 I had the opportunity to present our 1-to-1 technology initiative journey thus far at Muir Lake School at the Google Apps For Education Alberta Summit. It was great to present alongside Kelly Arnold and Charlene Daub and share our learning with others. I considered it a great privilege to present and share our work with the educators who attended and as expected thoroughly enjoyed the experience; however, what I didn’t expect was how much learning I would get out of it. In preparing this presentation I am convinced more than ever that schools need to become 1-to-1 learning environments. It is not about having technology for the sake of technology, it is about the opportunities it provides when used properly. If you are teaching in a school that is not 1-to-1, you should change that. Here are 11 reasons why:

  1. Our world is 1-to-1. Our schools should be too. If they are not, they are in danger of becoming irrelevant. 
  2. Literacy is changing. When students leave our school, they should not be illiterate(more…)

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