Saturday, December 7, 2013

Dear all,

As you know Nelson Mandela died on Friday. A great statesmen of our time, who achieved so much in his life time, and hence as an admin we have decided that at homeroom on Monday we would like you to spend 10-15 minutes recognizing the importance of his life, and discussing his achievements with your homeroom class. I have provided this link to a simple 5 minute video that covers his life and some of his achievements as an international statesman. I would advise downloading to your computer before homeroom so you don’t have any streaming issues. Of course, there are other videos that you can use and may be better for different age groups.


Here are a few inspirational quotes from Nelson Mandela that you might want to use to frame discussions:

“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination”

”Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never failing, but in rising when we fail."

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
Food for Thought.

This week I have returned to focusing on a welcoming and positive environment in our classrooms. I do feel that around the classrooms and corridors there is a very positive buzz from our students and do not see this as an area of weakness. However, as Dylan William pointed out that as teachers we always want to do better. So as we reach the end of Semester One it is an ideal opportunity to reflect on ourselves and the environment that we create as teachers. Hence this short checklist style article provides a framework for you to read each point and think about how you approach it whilst creating that welcoming and positive environment in which students can flourish and feel safe in their learning.

 Wavy1 via Compfight cc

How to Create A Non-Threatening, Welcome Classroom Environment

Non-Threatening Welcoming Classroom Environment Checklist.
  1. Do you greet your students each day with enthusiasm and find something positive to say as much as possible or as much as time will allow for?
  2. Do you provide students with time to share happenings, events or items with you? Even if you set a certain time frame aside each day for 3-5 students to share, it will help to create a friendly warm, and welcome environment. It shows them you care and it provides you with opportunities to learn about what is important about each of your students.
  3. Do you take the time on occasion to share something that is important to you? Even if it's the fact that your own child took their first steps or if you saw a wonderful play that you would like to share with your students. Your students will see you as a real and caring person. This type of sharing shouldn't be done every day but from time to time.
  4. Do you take time to talk about differences within the classroom? Diversity is everywhere and children can benefit from learning about diversity at a very early age. Talk about varying cultural backgrounds, body image and types, talents, strengths and weaknesses. Provide opportunities for your learners to share their strengths and weaknesses. The child who may not be able to run fast may be able to draw very well. These conversations always need to be held in a positive light. Understanding diversity is a lifelong skill children will always benefit from. It builds trust and acceptance in the classroom.
  5. Do you say no to all forms of bullying? There is no such thing as a welcoming, nurturing environment when there is tolerance for bullying. Stop it early and make sure all students know that they should report bullying. Remind them that telling on a bully is not tattling, it is reporting. Have a set of routines and rules that prevent bullying.
  6. Do you build activities into your day that support students working together and building rapport with one another? Small group work and team work with well-established routines and rules will help in developing a very cohesive environment.
  7. Do you focus on the strengths when calling upon a student? Never put down a child for not being able to do something, take someone to one time to support the child. When asking a child to demonstrate or respond to something, be sure that the child is in the comfort zone, always capitalize on the strengths. Showing sensitivity to each of your students is extremely important in protecting their confidence and self-esteem.
  8. Do you promote two way respect? I can't say enough about two way respect. Adhere to the golden rule, always show respect and you will get it back in return.
  9. Do you take time to educate the class about specific disorders and disabilities? Role play helps to develop empathy and support among classmates and peers.
  10. Do you make a conscientious effort to promote confidence and self-esteem among every student in the classroom? Give praise and positive reinforcement that is real and deserved often. The more that students feel good about themselves, the better they will be toward themselves and others.
Many of the strategies listed above come from seasoned educators who have shared what they believe it takes to create a warm and welcome environment that is conducive to learning and maximizing student social and academic growth. If you have answered yes to the items listed here, you already know you have a great environment for your students.


Leah Tihia™ via Compfight cc "> 

Transforming our Classrooms #4


Project Examples:

Thank you for all your patience and hard work this first semester. I know a lot of you smiled inwardly at the start of the year when I announced our goal, as part of a Culture of Achievement, is to be the “Best in the Universe,” and whispered, he has to be joking. Having worked with you all, and watched you work with each other for nearly 5 months and witnessed the growth of a learning buzz around the school, I am more convinced than ever that we can achieve this goal and be the best.

Hope to see you this evening,