This is the second of two posts about a recent visit to our school by Tony from Tree of Knowledge. The first post is over on my other blogging platform: https://staffrm.io/@lenabellina/FcqVaRp012
I wrote the notes below for staff at my school in our weekly bulletin.
As you know, I was incredibly privileged to be able to sit in on the workshops with Tree of Knowledge last week.
As I said last week, I thought that it would be useful for you to know the key messages as I would like to see us re-inforcing them. Inputs from external providers only really have impact when they are integrated in the work of a school. I think that there is a real power in being able to make connections between the different learning experiences that pupils have.
In this session, Tony talked about Mindset and drew on the ideas of Carol Dweck.
More information can be found here: http://mindsetonline.com/whatisit/about/
He talked about our zones; our comfort zone where we are happy and relaxed. It is a great place to be but if we only stay there we will get bored. Our stretch zone lies outside of this which is where we still feel able to do things but are pushing ourselves to the limit of our ability.
Then we have the panic zone where we are unable to do the things we need to do because we have not got the time or capacity to do it.
• We are in comfort zone when we have an essay due in 6 weeks
• We are in stretch zone when we are pushing ourselves do get an essay done for next week.
• We are in panic zone when the essay is due tomorrow and we have done nothing.
He explained that, if we start early and plan properly, our comfort and stretch zones increase so we can achieve more and we have less panic.
He used Arnold Schwarzenegger as an example.
Arnie was a weakling and bullied at school and decided to become a bodybuilder; he pushed himself to become world champion. He moved out of his comfort zone into his stretch zone but this then became comfort. He decided to go into acting. He was never a great actor but he specialised in certain roles and pushed himself to become one of the highest paid actors in the world. This then became comfort so he pushed himself to go into politics and become the governor of California. He is an excellent example of a self-motivated self-starter who pushed himself to keep achieving more.
Carol Dweck has done 30 years of research into Mindset and has identified 2 types of Minds – Fixed and Growth.
Tony asked three questions and asked pupils whether their instinctive answer would be ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
• Do you believe successful people are born that way?
• Do you believe that you can only ever improve slightly?
• Is it ok to cheat to get things?
He said that if your answer is “yes” to the questions then you have a FIXED Mindset. If the answer is “no”, you have a GROWTH Mindset.
Dweck’s research has shown that most successful people have a Growth Mindset.
We may often have a fixed mindset when faced with a new challenge
If we say “that is impossible” we have an excuse not to try. With growth mindset, we embrace the challenge. We find the best way possible to solve a problem.
If some people are asked to try, they will say “Why? It’s pointless”. We tend to want instant gratification. However, real success comes from embracing challenges, persisting, putting in effort over time and succeeding.
We need to be able to solve problems as humans or we are part of the problem.
Effort is the distance between where I am now and where I want to get to.
Some people don’t put in effort and blame others when they don’t get where they want to get to (school, parents, friends.) This is a blame culture.
Tony explained that it can be frustrating when people succeed around us. At school, he was the best (and only) guitar player. He went on a summer camp and met Matthew MacAllister who was AMAZING and so he just gave up. Matthew maybe had more natural talent BUT he also put in 5 hours of practice a day.
Tony set the pupils a challenge:
If you meet a new challenge, give it a genuine try. See it as a pathway.
We all have different ideas of success – money/house/job.
See effort as a pathway to success but do not get jealous of others.
Admit how you are right now but admit that you can change it. The minute you say “this is nonsense and not for me”, you are giving in to a fixed mindset.
Matthew Brailsford helped turn around British cycling and he did it one step at a time – small incremental changes, eg:
• All in the team started careful handwashing which reduce illness and time off.
• The inside of bike vans were painted white to show dirt – they could be kept cleaner and less bike repairs were needed.
• All the team members got new pillows so they slept better and performed better.
1% at a time will lead to 100% improvement.
What will your 1% be? Less screen time? 5 minutes of study.
Just decide to start.
Tony was so inspiring and the pupils were incredibly positive in their feedback.
I’ve had some trouble sleeping this past week or so. Brain too busy. To pass the time that I should have been spending asleep, I’ve been splitting my attention between YouTube, Twitter, eBay and Spotify. That’s a lethal little late night, time-sucking cocktail if ever there was one.
Through a series of events that I don’t feel the need to elaborate on, apart from mentioning the very enjoyable #MemoryMarch, I ended up listening to this little beauty in the early hours of the morning. Two things occurred swiftly afterwards. Thing one was the purchase of this bad boy, which arrived yesterday:
The second thing that happened was I time travelled. I’m not even joking. Hearing that song (yeah, and ok, I admit it, watching this clip) transported me back to 1987. I was no longer a thirty-six year old mother in her jammies, surfing the internet at 4am instead of sleeping, I was seven years old, watching Scott and Charlene get married. So powerful was the memory, I could feel my school uniform, picture every detail of my Mum’s front room. Things I had forgotten about years ago zoomed back into focus. It was like I’d transformed into another version of myself. This exact version in fact, which is a picture of me, having just watched Scott and Charlene get married. Note the wistful expression and tear-stained cheeks:
Which got me thinking- just how many of me are there out there? I know I am not the little girl blubbing watching ‘Neighbours’ any longer, but how many other versions of myself have I forgotten about along the way? How about the me who hated vegetables? What about the me who wanted to be a journalist? Where did the me that thought wet-look leggings were a good idea go? (Actually, maybe don’t send out a search party for that last one.)
My question is, how do these new versions of ourselves emerge? And how do we know when it’s time to leave one behind? And what would happen if we could connect them all together again?
Hearing that old song made me happy and sad at the same time. It was like meeting a dear friend that I had lost long ago and then suddenly found she was standing beside me again. The memory reconnected me to an earlier me and I felt stronger for it, more grounded in myself somehow.
Sometimes it is easy to see where the old you stops and the new you begins. Losing someone you love will do that every time. Part of grief is letting the old you, the person you were before the loss, leave you forever. It hurts so badly you feel like the old you has been cut out, torn from you.
Other times the change is more subtle. You grow and learn, sometimes so gently and so quietly only your loved ones really see it. I see different versions of my own children surface and submerge constantly. The evolution of who you are never stops. The ‘you’ of you is in constant motion, it is never quite done.
Professionally too, we change. The old versions of ourselves stack up and are forgotten. I was promoted recently and now I don’t have a class any more. Does that mean I am no longer a teacher? Do I need to leave the teacher version of myself behind?
Doing the Into Headship course is changing me too. My eyes are opening to research and theory and giving me a brand new set of lenses to see the world and my own practice through. It is a very special thing.
So, maybe in the end what we need to do is sift through those old versions of ourselves and decide who is worth fighting to keep.
I want the little girl who loved ‘Neighbours’, she reminds me that feeling all the feelings is ok sometimes. I want the new mum me, so full of love and awe that she can hardly breathe. I want the me that got slowly but deliberately to her feet after losing a loved one- she’s got grit.
And I want the teacher me. And I will not, never ever, let her go.
I am going to gather all these chosen versions of myself together and use my memories to keep them close.
We will stand together, like a chain of paper dolls, holding hands. We will look back and then we will look forward, and we will smile.
I am in a hotel for a conference. I am going to be discussing the future of Britain’s education with some incredible minds.
I am scared and my chimps are going mad.
I am on the exercise bike in the gym trying to get focussed.
In order to focus, I am going to remind myself of what I believe about education.
You should only teach if you care that every child in your school is loveable and can succeed. If you only want to teach middle or upper class children, avoid comprehensive education.
Teachers have the power to impact on the lives of children and therefore on the future. This is a massive privilege and responsibility.
This should be made clear in initial teacher training.
Teachers are very, very, very important and needed to be treated as such.
Parents and carers are very, very, very important and need to be treated as such. All of them.
Teachers who are not doing a good enough job in helping every child to learn need to be supported to do a good enough job.
Parents who are not doing a good enough job in helping every child to learn need to be supported to do a good enough job. Schools can play a big part here.
School leaders need to be prepared to work very hard, talk the talk and walk the walk. The 35 hour week does not apply.
Every teacher needs to be highly informed about the purpose of education, child development, attachment, adverse childhood experiences, mindset and nurture.
The job of a school is to help a child learn about the world and to help them find their place in the world.
The purpose of secondary education is to help children become adults who make the most of life and make sensible choices. The teenage years are incredibly complex and exciting and we need to understand the related psychological and neuroscientific fields.
We all need to keep learning and reflecting. Self awareness in teachers is crucial.
Political decisions about education should never be made by people who have not been successful teachers or educators.
Decisions about education must be based on evidence based practice and never a knee-jerk.
A long-term view is crucial.
Inclusion is not one experience…or maybe not even one environment …fits all.
Assessment. Hmmmm. We must measure what we value and not value what we can measure. Some important things cannot be assessed easily.
The community should be at the heart of a school and the school should be at the heart of a community. Governance structures should be arranged accordingly.
Education should be at the heart of society and society should be at the heart of education.
Soundbites? Maybe. Nothing much new. But what I believe.
What do I know…?
A year ago I wrote this.
I am copying it in full at the bottom of this post because it is quite heavily referenced below.
It is one of my most read pieces of writing and was reblogged by the Mighty. It got a huge number of shares and comments on various platforms. Almost all were positive and the post seemed to strike a chord with many. The one that touched the deepest nerve was “wow, you slept til 5.15! Lucky you!” That was, for me, what I think is referred to as a trigger and I had to fight hard not to rise to it.
Today, a year on and I am in a similar but very different place.
Some of the actual stuff in the list has shifted. I have changed job, partly because of things related to number 1 and I am back in school, now as Head of Secondary. I am not putting myself in for the music festival this year. But much of the “stuff” and pressures are the same. The workload at school is immense. We have huge staffing pressures, massive issues with pupil mental health and further cuts and changes ahead. The personal financial pressures have not eased and neither has my husband’s situation.
The words “what else can go wrong?” have been a mantra but so have the words “we’ve survived before!”.
But the significant change has come in my outlook.
I have worked really hard to keep the mind tricks at bay. I have used writing as a way to keep my feelings in check. I have written an awful lot!
I am much better at not catastrophizing, (although at 8am when Steve informed me that his back had gone, there was a momentary relapse).
Over the summer I read a number of key books and more recently I have read “Frazzled” by Ruby Wax.
In the autumn, I did an online mindfulness course through FutureLearn. I have learnt amazing stuff about the brain and the relationship between body and soul.
I have engaged with educators who have helped me to realise that authenticity and a focus on wellbeing are not separate from raising attainment and closing gaps. Things like this keep me going: http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/this-town-adopted-trauma-informed-care-and-saw-a-decrease-in-crime-and-suspension-rates-20170222?utm_content=bufferafceb&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
I have found a tribe of likeminded educational souls and I feel supported, even though many of the tribe members are not in close geographical proximity.
I still fight the chimps, the demons, the internal voices that try and win from time to time. But on the whole I am winning. And you can too. It takes a bit of work but it is worth it. For those around you. For those you teach who will know when you are being authentic and will trust and learn from you because of it. But above all, for you.
I usually sleep well but today I have woken at 5.15 and can’t sleep.
There is fierce raging activity in my head that consists of a series of worries.
1. Something happened at work last week and I am worried that, although I know that I did the right thing, others may not see it like that.
2. I have to run a working party today with a range of colleagues and I fear that they won’t like me and that they will realise I don’t know what I am talking about.
3. When the meeting is over I will have to write it up and produce notes and actions but I have not put any time in my diary to do this.
4. I have training to deliver on Monday and Thursday next week and feel as per 2 but also haven’t planned the training yet.
5. I have entered a singing competition in 3 weeks and do not know any of the songs yet.
6. My daughter is still unwell after flu and has stopped eating properly.
7. My husband may have to stop working which may leave me with sole financial responsibility. And my cleaner has left.
8. I have woken up too early and will be exhausted today but have arranged to take my kids to see a live stream Shakespeare for three hours tonight but am now worried that I will go beyond exhaustion because of it.
I could actually continue with more but 8 is probably enough.
What to do? Give up? Ring the doctor? On paper, these things may seem trivial, over dramatic, irrational. But they feel very real.
But I can manage them. Because I have before. A useful exercise that I discovered before Christmas is to write them down, name them as feelings/ worries and then force myself to counteract them with what I KNOW.
1. I have lots of evidence of what really happened and I need to hold to that.
2. It is not about them liking me. I have done huge research, I have a plan, agenda and a clear vision which is to work with the team to improve outcomes for children.
3. I will write detailed notes in the meeting.
4. I have PowerPoints I can adapt and experience and ideas. It is not about me but about what my audience needs.
5. I can record the songs and listen to them as I drive.
6. I can’t control her or her eating.
7. We only a have to get through 2 years and things will improve. I do need a new cleaner, though.
8. University days. Frequent nights of 4 hours sleep. Baby days- ditto. Did I die? Nope.
Our minds can be devious and feelings and worries play tricks. But by getting them out, ordering them and challenging them, we can get through them.
Solution focus; we have within us the skills and experience to solve problems and face challenges.
After teaching a unit of work on light, I taught a unit of work on sound. Here are the links and resources I used.
Idea for creating a educational programme about sound – quite a nice idea. https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B7O6aW7yE47bdkZnVENUOFF2T0U
Covers a lot of sound stuff Teachers TV: Primary Science: Sound and Hearing
Bill Nye https://vimeo.com/111148958
BBC Sound Clips http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/topics/zgffr82/videos/1
by Pam Jarvis, Reader in Childhood, Youth and Education, Leeds Trinity University
Long before my university post, and even before I was a classroom teacher, I was a young mother in Thatcher’s Britain. In my mid-twenties, I had three small children, including twins, with less than three years between them, Thatcher’s policy for children under five was that they were their parents’ responsibility, so as we had no family close by to share childcare, I became a sort of stay at home mum until my oldest daughter was ten. I say ‘sort of’ because I started my first degree with the Open University, and began teaching adults in community education on a very part time basis directly after graduation.
It is difficult to communicate how different things were then; as L. P. Hartley says in The Go Between (1953)
‘the past is a foreign country; they do things differently there’.
View original post 917 more words