Day 153 (of 190) how this week has felt
Today was a much more normal day…but this week has been heavy for many…many…
Day 153 (of 190) how this week has felt
Today was a much more normal day…but this week has been heavy for many…many…
Day 152 (of 190) but what if the answers are right but not the ones I wanted?
I had to share a Twitter image with a student who was camped in my office:
And she wondered why it had an “x” on it because it looked right! And this lead to a chat about analog vs digital clocks and watches (I pointed at the analog clock with its hands in the office while she pointed at the digital clock on her wrist).
It also made me reflect on my day 100 dive into clocks and how they “rewired our brains” in ways that helped western society take some leaps forward (correlation or causation remains debatable admittedly) https://technolandy.wordpress.com/2021/02/10/day-100-of-190-clocks-with-thanks-to-hopkinsjeff/
And the connection to the “worry” that our reliance on screens is going to change our brains… change isn’t always bad… though it can be I comfortable to start… https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=pQHX-SjgQvQ
I did explain that the test likely wanted the analog clock and she wondered what the big deal was… I wasn’t disagreeing with her – sometimes students views of answers to questions has to be valued and understood. We may yearn for the days of papyrus and moveable type and mimeographs, but things change.
Sometimes the answers need to change too.
Day 151 (of 190) math…. Keeps taking the hits…
I’m doing a bit of a dive into the maths again,,., or maybe exploring another rabbit burrow in the math rabbit hole 🐇. And an article wondering if math is the new Latin was shared to me… https://thetyee.ca/Analysis/2021/05/10/Mathematics-New-Latin/ and as much as I wanted to go pshaw, it was written by one of my deans when I was at UBC, Charles Ungerleider who has a history of looking at education with a critical eye so we can do better for each future grad class,,,
And he took Latin because it was “useful” to get into university… similar to why I took algebra 12, because it certainly wasn’t the letter grade that helped…
But I do appreciate how the “key to university” once was Latin but was usurped by the maths much as Rome was conquered by the barbarians (or as the term originally meant: non roman/greek). But he references a quote from a math professor that my high school daughter has replicated: how much math is really needed. (Admittedly a quick search did not find the article… the hunt continues)
And with all the things to learn… how valuable is the quadratic equation… or as I am wondering, do we need to better understand the “why” of maths rather than figuring out what the “y” might equal? I am looking forward to Sunil Singh (@mathgarden) new book “chasing rabbits” because I do love exploring math thinking…. after being disconnected from math because of too many equations, not enough discussions… because math is beautiful…. But like Latin, maybe not as necessary to the same depth as others would like to believe… carpe diem after all…
Day 150 (of 190) My anxiety rant edited & continued for a pandemic!
This is my annual rant on anxiety. I have worked with these learners for years and even have one at home! It’s not ever easy, but I have had many successes. It’s not new, but at the same time, our anxious learners have always been at school – just not always stayed at school (sick absences, self medication, runaway etc that led to lower graduation rates than we have today). I recall how 120 peers entered grade 8 with me (and there were more grade 7s eligible for the move to the “big school”) but only 60 ish walked across the stage. Many because of issues connected to school – which is why it is essential to both be different than school was a decade ago and connect with families to show that schooling is different…..and if your learning environment (mainly classroom or school) doesn’t look and act differently from the 1990s (or 1890s) well….you gotta make some changes.
Here is my ‘list for success’ – odds are you’ll find somethings you will hate (I don’t like everything). It’s not about you, it’s about the learner. I have been using these strategies for years – a long time with my students, and recently with my own son. And while I focus on anxiety, this works for so many….dar I say ALL learners – but it takes a paradigm shift into an inclusive mindset.
But still…. not everybody ‘gets it’ …….. yet….. but more and more are – as we celebrated my anxiety son graduating on time last June!
The key points of the list are in bold if you just want to skim read.
The anxious learner needs to be at school. Every day. Even when ‘sick’ – unless you actually see the vomit hit the floor. Seriously. Very common: “I threw up” “Let me see it” “I already cleaned it up – I did a great job – you’d never knew I was sick – but I did. Let me go home!” – be aware this is very tough and very exhausting – for everyone. Sometimes there needs to be a blend of environments – this can be challenging but the key is to establish a schedule and stick with it until ‘success’ is achieved at which time the goals of the schedule need to adjust – a moving target with a built in feedback loop.
I also agree and emphasize that inclusion doesn’t mean all the time but it does involve whenever the learner is ready – even if they don’t think they may be ready….a tricky balance, but it also can’t be throw them in the deep end (the use a swimming metaphor) and just watch what happens – gotta have tools -life jackets
During COVID – I have had a few students work hard to get in school. Admittedly not 100% as some have moved to our DL (Distributed Learning/Home School) program; and have a couple students who are not ‘daily in attendance’ but all are working on it to get in the school…
Being at school does not always mean being in the classroom. Step 1: Be in school. Being in the classroom comes later. It might be step 2 or step 22. This is not something that has a set time: some can be ‘pushed’ to get into the classroom quickly – many need time: time to walk/pace; time to find a ‘safe zone’; time to find a ‘safe person’ (it might not be you – it’s nothing personal).
During COVID – we have some students who are spending time working on school work, but not in the classroom. In the past I many of these students working out of my office… lately we have been able to have some of our older students work in alternate spaces, but still spend some time with the class as well.
Heck, today (monday) I had a larger-than-usual number of students needing a ‘soft start’ – just some time with some playdoh, lego, kinetic sand (and hand sanitizer) to get their brains relaxed enough to get back engaged and into the classroom. Most were done within a half hour though one took almost an hour… but we did get them in!
Being in the classroom does not mean doing work. Sometimes parallel play/learning is key to develop the relationships that are needed to then ‘get work’ out of the student. But when dealing with anxiety, written output becomes a low priority.
During COVID – I have some whose angst has them doing some parallel work activities, or doing reading during math and math work during writing et al – to exert some sort of personal control over a world where there is less and less control.
You will need to push them – but be mindful when you do. Eventually. When you have some deposits (okay, a LOT of deposits) in the ‘positive relationships’ department, then you can play ‘good cop bad cop’. “Mr. L says you have to be in the classroom for safety! Grrr.” -when they know that there is support for them they will respond positively – but it takes time (think in months but be ready for years) we identify in grade 4 (hopefully) for independence in grade 10…
And with COVID, some pushes have led to some ‘leaving the area’, but still gotta push some comfort levels/zones of proximal development to hopefully attain more personal success.
If anxiety takes place in one environment but not another – say meltdowns are at home but not at school – it is STILL a school issue.
There is a fine balancing act between providing support and enabling the anxiety. It’s very different for each person.
Earlier I commented on an inclusive mindset – that is because each time we send the learner away (even if you hope or believe that a program that is not at the neighbourhood school is “better” the learners sees that a) a school has given up on him and b) there is a secret code that can be enabled in order to get away from an undesirable environment and c) they lose connections to the school.
During COVID, I have supported families making the best choices for them – especially in consideration of if they feel confident in face-to-face learning (I reiterate that if I did not trust our safety plan, I would not be here) and that whether they want to learn at school or at home… at any time, but especially during a pandemic, they’re right!
And if your district has a “great program” don’t have it outside of the neighbourhood school – move that mindset into the school as it will benefit all learners!
Anxious kids are smart. Usually super smart. Often gifted smart. They will manipulate – but not always – and despite their ‘smartness’ , they don’t always know when they are manipulating situations and when they are in states of panic. That’s the way anxiety works – it is a monster that is brutal to identify and deal with.
And the ongoing issue is that the thinking works in overtime and considers every consideration including the worst case scenario – they catch covid… pass it on… caregivers die… ugh. and the brain isn’t easy to turn off..
Anxiety can be overwhelming – for both the sufferer and the key person working with them – but others in age group are accepting. You may think you’re anxious at times. You’re not compared to those in dire states. Here’s a link to a movie scene that had my son (and a few others) go ‘thats how I feel’ but not just for the couple of minutes – all the time – and sometimes even more intensely: https://youtu.be/fYvpN0SNyAg
And the anxiety around a pandemic is even more so – many wonders… possibilities… fears … all real-enough!
Generalized Anxiety has ‘unclear triggers’ where the ‘starting’ point can be very difficult to identify – overall it usually occurring around grade 4 (earlier if there is a family connection to the anxiety monster) – but also comes up during ‘clear triggers’ (death, divorce, major surgery) – it gets worse if it is ‘ignored’ or put off as ‘something that will be outgrown’. No it won’t.
Anxiety needs to be countered using Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) – often requiring a counsellor who uses this approach (programs such as BC’s Friends For Life have great success as well – if you have access to it, use it for whole-classes of grade 4/5 students).
And generalized anxiety loves ‘uncertainties’ such as the back and forth of covid and how it may/will spread; who it will affect; where and why it started; what the side effects of the vaccines may be….
Sometimes medicine is needed (that being said, CBT has ‘equivalent’ results to medication) But, if anxious kids don’t/can’t sleep: use melatonin or something (with doctors support/knowledge). Sometimes before CBT can even take place, an anxious learner needs ‘the edge taken off’ before CBT can be effective – that may require extra medications – work closely with a paediatrician or YOUTH psychologist/psychiatrist. Watch for/anticipate appetite issues and other side effects. Be very aware of ‘sadness/depression’ and that there may be some periods of this – if on medicine, don’t ‘just stop’ the medicine until you’ve talked with the prescribing doctor. Don’t be afraid to ask for 2nd (or 3rd) opinions. Find someone you trust – then trust the process, if they say ‘take the medicine for 8 weeks’ take it for 8 weeks. Don’t ‘give them a break’ from the medicines unless your paediatrician is on board with that. And never self medicate – the short term high provided by alcohol and marijuana may feel good at first but a) the crash leads to dark thoughts and side effects include paranoia -which is not a good mix with anxiety! And b) you’ll never feel as good as how you remember the first time was – and you’ll be chasing a feeling that wasn’t actually as good as you remember it to be but the memory will continue to build it up and then wonder if maybe “more” is the answer….and it isn’t.
If you’re using medicine, week 6 sucks. This is the time families usually ‘quit’. As a teacher I always was frustrated with the parents when they ‘stopped because it still wasn’t working and the side effects are bad’. As a parent at week 6 I was frustrated because the medicine wasn’t working and the side effects were bad. AHA moment: week 6 sucks. Week 8 is MUCH better – or at least improvement occurs – and then you get frustrated with others who ‘got focused right away’
Covid restrictions are tough enough – getting medicines right at this timeframe are only more complicated.
Expect ‘self-soothing’ strategies to annoy you: video games, book reading, pacing, and other ‘alone’ activities. It’s not about you. Find strategies that will work. Then work on introducing other activities – especially slow breathing. Strategies will evolve over time – as confidence (and trust in strategies) increases, isolating into ‘devices’ does decrease (on its own if you let it). Also allow for experimentation – when fidget spinners first arrived they were a fad – many places banned them, but I’ve allowed them to be a big deal for a little while and then fade away – except by those who authentically use them as a self-regulation tool – it’s not many, but it is some. It is also essential to differentiate between;a tool or toy– tools help while toys distract…..and as a girl once demonstrated for me’ sometimes when disregulated, a toy is needed to help distract the brain – so there are times when a toy can be a tool…..I know – but as I like to point out – if it was logical it wouldn’t be a mental wellness issue!
And the ‘soothing strategy’ may become an addictive problem as well – I feel safe under my blanket playing Minecraft, so I will do this ALL THE TIME!!!
When anxiety kicks in and the child is greatly frustrating you – you HAVE to be that much calmer and relaxed. Even if you’re tired. Even if you’re sick of it. Stay calm. Always. Yes – even then. Then too….especially then. Calmness confuses the anxious brain….so use wait time (and count to a number to make sure that time doesn’t distort so that what you feel has been a minute is only the 20 seconds that has passed in ‘real time’.
And it is hard to be calm and relaxed when we have our own angst being exasperated by our own thinking and wondering about the pandemic – and being socially distant – and in our won bubbles – and being unable to travel – and gather – and do what we were used to doing….
Transitions (and new things) suck. Going to a new restaurant is a cool experience. Or not. Anticipate and predict as much as possible. Going ‘new’ – expect a tough experience – I was proud of my mom when she took my son out for lunch to a fast food place. It wasn’t in his schema. His brain stopped working. They just left, went to a more familiar restaurant and things went better.
Even trickier when there are more restrictions – cohorts; no adults; no volunteers to help….
Outside family members and friends will be critical. Until you live with anxiety, you won’t appreciate it. “Suck it up”, “Whats wrong with them” “Why are they so rude” and “You’re using medicine… really? Isn’t there something better/different” are common. This is not a ‘weekend fix’ – it takes months and years and really doesn’t ‘go away’, it just takes that much time to find strategies to ‘self-regulate’.
Even more so in isolation….
It’s a marathon not a sprint. I try to work with anxious learners ASAP (and I do focus my attention on the grade 4 crowd) and work on a variety of interventions – with the intention that they will be doing well……in grade 10. Maybe sooner, but….. The earlier it is recognized, acknowledged and supported, the ‘easier’ it is to cope with. I like to explain – we identify in grade 4 for grade 10 success. That’s the timeframe.
But COVID has made “time” weird – days go so fast, weeks so slow, and months have…. wow – mid May already?!?!
Communication is key. Especially between the adults. Back and forth books. Emails. Assessments. No secrets. We use a ‘back & forth book’ to chart everything from ‘meltdown (1)’ to ‘stayed in class and did class work (5)’
Anxiety is very different in each person specific & while some anxieties (due to divorce separation et al) are easier to find some ‘commonalities’ with but don’t ignore it & don’t think there is ‘one’ plan.
And not cutting off communication because of COVID is key… it is easy to lock the doors and turn off the lights – both literally and metaphorically… and as I sometimes remind us: sometimes the hardest door to go through is the open one….
Check out anxietybc.com & selfregulation.ca
Don’t try to ‘fix’ it on your own. The kids aren’t broken. But make use of an extended professional learning network. Feel free to tweet @technolandy or email email@example.com Trykng to work on your own is exhausting. It didn’t work decades ago when it wasn’t as fully understood. The work by luminaries like Linda Miller and Stuart Shanker are helping – but keeping this work secret or to yourself won’t be as successful as having a team of supporters.
Whether mental wellness strikes as anxiety, depression, or something more unique – don’t be alone – there we people out here willing to share their experiences and network supports – Michael Landsberg @heylandsberg from TSN has been amazing sharing his own demons and how he is dealing with them – because it’s not about making them go away (they won’t) but understanding that the way you feel when depressed or anxious is not the way you have to feel. Getting outside is good. Getting into nature (even for five minutes a day) is essential. Connecting above all is most important.
And here is the link to my tedx talk about empathy for anxiety: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-JpBJal3F8
Even though it may feel like it, you (we) are not alone…. Mental Health is the end result of us focusing and doing better on mental wellness! Be safe, be kind, be calm!
Day 149 (of 190) T3D 402: Mr Hollands Opus
As I look back at Education themed movies, it seemed timely to look at Mr Hollands Opus – Music Monday was this week, and also in recent headlines have been schools looking at making budget savings by cutting music programs…
The movie shows the conflicts that teachers can experience with their own families while trying to find a work-life balance… and also shows how easily it can be to have the ‘position of special responsibility’ be compromised because of the importance of student-teacher relationships staying professional… I am friendly with students, but not friends until after they graduate… and colleagues with a few as well!
A bit of reminder of how good Mr Hollands Opus is:
Day 148 (of 190) kids do what they see…
Our family is re-watching Criminal Minds and an episode last night had one of the characters (talking about bad things) repeat the phrase I often use: “kids do what they see”. I also add, “People seek what is familiar/comfortable”. It has come up at a time when I am thinking and rethinking about the importance and value of reading. A quick check-in with some students confirmed that there are not of adults that they see reading “for fun”…
So we need to show them that reading can have relevance and meaning.
I did this a few years ago when my reading group was not going great, and I finally adjusted what I was doing and included my own “reading time” while the kids – and they challenged me… questioning me when I was reading an “education theory book” because while I said it was for fun, they didn’t ‘see that’… so I brought in more of my graphic novels and regular novels and showed them that I would read for enjoyment (and as part of self-regulation).
But it’s hard – because so often “silent reading” time is the time to read with students 1:1 – or do some other work with students… I even shared a challenge with my G7 teacher to try doing 15 minutes of ‘reading for fun’… and he’s going to try…
And then I thought, maybe “we” in school should do more visuals around this topic… or at least push the envelope: for those of us who actually and authentically read…. model for others (targeting the kids, but also for the adults who have lost the interest in reading) that reading for pleasure; self-regulation; knowledge; inspiration; entertainment; learn; escape reality; to get scared; to figure something out; for quiet/personal time; etc.
Whether it is a paper tablet or an electric one, maybe we spend more time showing others that reading is so valuable and important that we may do it at all times of the day – not just before bed…. not just during USSR time after lunch… not because we have to, but because we get to… let’s have the kids catch you reading! See if they start to do what they see…
Day 147 (of 190) #MentalHealthAwarenessMonth with thanks to @emilymkaplan
I loved a moment on the sports podcast Around the Horn when mondays winner, Emily Kaplan, took the final moments to share her worries around mental health awareness month and how some professional athletes (hockey players in her example) who are struggling…. both with mental wellness and the stigma of mental wellness. With isolation…anxiety…depression… Just because some will dismiss it as ‘that’s why they’re millionaires’ – and money does not bring mental health… and I love how she continued to point out that too often society sees mental health as binary rather than a spectrum❤️❤️❤️ a little empathy can go a long way as we don’t know what people are dealing with on the inside despite how it looks on the outside nor because of how they ought to be because of their profession. Thank you Emily…
As I told a parent earlier today, a metaphor I often use is that with mental wellness (and more…) sometimes the hardest door to go through is the open one…
And in working with students for whom….behaviours aren’t necessarily logical, sometimes we need a distraction to help get focused. Mental wellness/health isn’t an easy “sick —> get fixed” trajectory… and it’s not about a “fix” because the people aren’t broken.
Have some empathy. We don’t see the invisible ailments as easily a cast or crutches, but it’s no less easy – even if you’re a celebrity or professional athlete. Thank you Ms Kaplan for the public reminder about Mental Health Awareness Month and that it’s a spectrum, not sick/well….
Day 146 (of 190) #MayThe4thBeWithYou this is the way….
Ah, Star Wars day…. and on #bowtietuesday….
And I know not everyone loves Star Wars, and even old Star Wars fans will sometimes feel a bit of a loss of love for the franchise because of some of the new movies… but some are very good – rogue one and mandalorian being two great examples… The Mandalorian giving one of the new catch phrases, “this is the way” an entry into regular use – at least for me as we set a plan for education in Covid… why cohorts? This is the way. Masks for 4-7 but not k-3? This is the way….
So, based on @watchmojo https://youtu.be/hAsUUYpQr6k here are how the top 10 Star Wars phrases connect to education (for me).
10. More powerful than you can possibly imagine! When Ben Kenobi says this line to Darth Vader, he is illustrating that he has learned much more and if Darth takes another step deeper in the dark side of the force, the teacher will grow even more powerful…..because of his ongoing learning and further teaching of his next pupil that will be enabled!
9. Fear is the path to the dark side. When scared, we sometimes will take the “easier path” (which is often linked to the dark side – not more powerful but easier) as it is faster – much as some common fear reactions (fight & flight) may be, but not necessarily getting you to where you might rather “be”. Because fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering….
8. I find your lack of faith disturbing. Darth does not like being mocked… and sometimes we need to have faith in what we are doing… is it a force choke or a throat hug?
7. Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. When Princess Leia makes her plea to the old war hero, it is because she needs help from one of the greats…I have said “help me @shareski” a time or two…
6. I know. Sometimes the response you get isn’t what you think it may be. When Princess Leia says “I love you” to Han Solo before he is encased in carbonate, he was supposed to say “I love you too” instead, the impromptu line was better: I know. IRL Could be dangerous if the person saying the first part is not a Star Wars fan.
5. Its a trap! Admiral Akbar realizes he has stumbled into a trap by the emperor. Sometimes we will walk into scenarios that are not built for our success. How do you recognize it and react? As I tell my teacher-candidates (student teachers) I like seeing a lesson not go according to plan, not just to see how they initially react, but also how they respond the next time…adaptions matter!
4. There is no try. It is do, or do not! When Yoda says this, he is highlighting that sometimes you need to be “all in” and not only taking things half way. Sometimes you gotta unlearn what you have learned (also what yoda has said) to do different(iated) <— that parts me. But do or do not, there is no try.
3. I have a bad feeling about this. Sometimes you need to trust your gut – and I loved hearing one of my teachers say that something bugged her spider sense – something I say way too often…but sometimes in education, if something ain’t feeling right… it isn’t. Not always admittedly…but trust the force…err gut feeling.
2. May the force be with you. And also with you…. or Always… or a few other responses – and the tease for today – may the force 👂 may the fourth … haha? But also a way to wish someone good fortune – because we make our own luck…, don’t we?
I am one with the force and the force is with me = I know what I’m doing – or my own evolution in PBL from moving from “embracing chaos” to “trusting the process”
These aren’t the droids your looking for = the first use of the force on “the weak minded” – a reminder of how much “we” as educators can influence the thinking of others…
Hello there = used a few times, and a good reminder on the value of welcoming people each day…
This is the way = the Mandalorian code – sometimes we do what’s hard, difficult… ??? Because it is the way of the mandalorian – we work to help every student… every student, even “that one” because… this is the way.
Use the force, Luke = trust what you are doing. Follow your plan and what you have been taught to make a difference.
1. I am your father. The ultimate twist – the antagonist being the father of the protagonist was a huge twist! I remember refusing to believe the first rumours (pre-internet spoilers of course) and then not wanting to believe it… sometimes we learn things we wish we never knew, and once we learn it it can’t be unlearned (yes in contrast to Yodas earlier comment…)
Think I’m gonna catch Rogue One before fading off to bed! and recount the scene that was in the commercial but wrongly cut before it hit the big scene, when Jyn gets angry at the rebellion leadership and yells “You’re rebels…. rebel!” As a cry to do something (that would lead into episode 4 A New Hope)
PS the Landy way to watch the episodes…
Rogue One, A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, then the prequel as a flashback, then Return of the Jedi and then the last three… still working out if the Mandalorian fits between Return and Force Awakens… and then there’s the cartoons… even Solo wasn’t as bad as some say – just didn’t live up to the hopes of fanatics… but I don’t know if anything could…!
And some treats that were sent to our PVPs:
Day 145 (of 190) #musicmonday
Sometimes when others zig, I’ll zag… that was my though as I collaborated with my music teacher about what to do this year – under the mix of the pandemic and the press in BC with some districts looking at balancing budgets by looking at music…. specifically cutting music programs… (hmmm think I know which movie I’ll be sharing about this Friday….)
Music in BC is typically how prep time is delivered to teachers – sometimes mixed with something else (library in our case) while also trying to squeeze in some choir time and figuring out how to offer a band program…. again, we are looking at band modules to our older elementary students…. I have seen music programs cancelled and attempted to be restarted – and it is a lot easier to kill a fine arts program than to get one restarted…. so I prefer to maintain and try to enhance music opportunities…. this year by bringing in our music teacher on an “off day” to run our kids through some activities – including starting the day with our grade 7s going around the school performing the Salish anthem. The rain then moved us indoors, but cohorts presented to each other and we videotaped it which we will share to our teachers and families (and portfolios) in the next day or so!
Knowing that not everyone loves music blocks…. I have a couple students that end up regularly popping into my office – but I still think it is overall worthwhile and valuable to maintain a music program and then counter-program for the outliers for whom music class is stressful and hard to be in.
And in the meantime explore the boomwhackers and strings and other Covid-friendlyish instruments that can help make music come alive!
Glad music will continue to thrive in our district – we already pulled off a spring virtual performance for the district and I can’t wait to see some of our festivals return in the next years!
Day 144 (of 190) Career Day – sharing a YouTube option
Of course kids are interested in making a career on YouTube – as a content creator… game maker… support… reviews… there are many possibilities for jobs/careers! As likely as being a sport star… and as interesting ‘extra jobs’ connected to sports, films, writing, etc. Hey, there’s only one Stephen King, but there are many who still make a living doing writing – likewise with the social medias. So I debated if I should dress as MatPat from GameTheory (and many other theories) or Dude Perfect or many others that I enjoy watching! But my kids encouraged me to put on some Mr Beast mercy (or a facsimile as the shirt was not going to arrive in time).
So, in being a YouTube, I decided to start the 4th season of T3D (Three Things in Education) with a look at some movies based around education! First up: DPS (Dead Poets Society)