Mindfulness is the awareness that arises through purposefully paying attention to the present moment in a non-judgemental way,
As we practice mindfulness, we begin to understand our mind-body connection better and learn not to be so reactive to thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations.
With mindfulness, we develop a quality of attention that can be present no matter what is happening around us. This helps us feel more peace, ease, and balance in our lives and we develop more empathy, compassion, and love.
Several studies demonstrate that meditation can help children reduce stress and anxiety, increase attention and focus, and improve academic performance. Scientists have actually witnessed individual’s brains thicken in areas in charge of decision-making, emotional flexibility, and empathy during meditative practices.
“When schools dig in on the underlying reasons why kids violate norms, rather than reflexively and automatically punishing and sending kids away, outcomes can change quickly and dramatically. It’s especially important for everyone in a school to dig deep to decrease head-to-head conflict and understand behaviors that are often quickly labeled insubordination or disrespect.”
“Trust happens through thousands of small, purposeful interactions over time,” says Sarah Fiarman in this article in Principal. “[L]eaders earn trust when they keep promises, respond when teachers ask for help, and have difficult conversations with adults to ensure high-quality teaching for everyone.” Integral to all this is listening well, speaking wisely, and acknowledging one’s own biases.
“This requires slowing down, checking to be sure we understand correctly, and sharing back what we hear.”
Meeting anger or frustration with genuine, compassionate interest builds trust.
Changing course based on input is a sign of integrity, not weakness.”
A key value she worked to communicated was about listening to dissent and changing course if necessary.
Fiarman found that making quick visits to classrooms every day communicated respect and made her far more knowledgeable about instruction.
it engenders trust when your boss can speak to the specifics of your work.”
“Asking such questions helps me counteract my unconscious bias,” says Fiarman. “Recognizing the pervasiveness of bias is an important first step. Acknowledging that I might make mistakes because of this bias – then actively working to counter it – builds trust.”
Here are their ideas on making feedback less threatening and more productive:
• Separate coaching from evaluation.
“Coaching sessions should include no rubric scoring or other evaluations,”
Be thoughtful about receiving criticism. “The person getting the feedback has the power to decide whether it’s on target, fair, or helpful,” say the authors, “and to decide whether to use the feedback or dismiss it.”
When feedback rubs you the wrong way, it’s also important to dig deeper to understand what’s really going.
Be noisy about the importance of improving your school’s feedback culture – for students, for teachers, for parents, and for yourself.”
In this article in All Things PLC, consultant/author Douglas Reeves confronts these widely espoused misconceptions about grading:
if grades were effective motivators, homework completion, classroom engagement, and overall diligence would be sky-high. Not so!
for practice to be an effective tool for improvement, students need to be pushing the limits of current performance and getting continuous feedback – very difficult to orchestrate for 30 students working in their bedrooms. Second, as soon as teachers give grades for practice work, the incentive is for students to play it safe and not push into challenging or unknown territory.
the only feedback that matters is that the work was finished on time and correctly.
it’s unfair and demotivating for students to have their final grade pulled down for practice work.
Myth #3: Grades drive future performance. True, there’s a correlation between good grades and college success, and between poor grades and dropping out of school, but Reeves questions whether grades cause success and failure.
While it is possible that intelligence and work ethic forge the path from kindergarten to Ivy League and Wall Street, it is also possible that zip code, tutors, and connections – all artifacts of family socioeconomic status – are the underlying causes.”
Teachers giving zeros for missed assignments and refusing to accept late work lets students off the hook – and starts a spiral of doom with their final grades.
Averaging grades through a semester punishes students for early failures versus rewarding them for using early problems to improve final performance.
“Rather than using the last two months of the semester to build momentum and finish strong,” says Reeves, “because of a punitive grading system, they are doomed to failure well before the semester is over. There is nothing left for them to do except cut class, be disruptive, or ultimately, quit school.”
“grading policies are matters of equity, with disparate impacts on students, particularly based on ethnicity and gender. Boys and minority males receive lower grades just as they are more likely to be more severely disciplined for an infraction. Girls receive higher grades for the same level of proficiency. If racial and gender disparities of this sort took place in any other area of public life, the consequences would be swift and sure.”
Instead, he suggests replacing each statement of fact – Punishment deters unwanted behavior – with a testable hypothesis – If I penalize students for late, incomplete, and absent homework, then student achievement will improve – and conducting real-time experiments within the school.
He’s found that non-evaluative comments are “easy to receive, easy to give, and easy to act on.”
Teaching sentence stems can be helpful: I’m not sure I understand the opening of this piece… I’m not sure why you did this; can you explain it more?
Prior to peer feedback, the teacher should introduce a rubric and lead the class in a group critique of an exemplar paper, focusing on suggestions that will make a difference.
The teacher might also display samples of feedback statements and have students break into groups and rank them from helpful to unhelpful, taking note of sentence starters and phrases they can use in their own feedback conversations.
Be timely. One of the greatest advantages of well-orchestrated peer feedback is that students can get comments on their work immediately, rather than waiting days, perhaps weeks, for the teacher to wade through piles of papers.
“Unfortunately,” Eden concludes, “by second-guessing teachers’ judgments about how to maintain order, policymakers and district administrators are likely harming the education of many millions of well-behaved students in an effort to help the misbehaving few.”
“[T]hey are encouraged more than ever to present themselves as ‘sexy’ – not about being attractive or beautiful, but a very narrow, commercialized idea of sexy. What’s particularly complicated is they’re sold that idea [of sexiness] as being a source of personal power. There is a complete disconnect between that image of sexiness and an understanding of their bodies, their own wants, needs, desires, and limits, what those might be, having those respected.”
young women “are almost conditioned, starting in middle school, to have their bodies publicly commented on by young men, [and] they don’t think they have any power to really stop it.” In schools, she says, the “everyday chipping away of girls’ self-worth by reducing them to their bodies is completely ignored.”
We tend to silo conversations about sex as if it is not about the same values of compassion, kindness, respect, mutuality, and caring that we want our children to embody in every other aspect of their lives.”
The Internet – “Unfortunately,” says Orenstein, “the first thing kids Google is porn. The average age that kids today are exposed to porn, either intentionally or not, is 11. We have to ask what it means that kids are learning about sex from that realm before they’ve even had their first kiss and how that’s shaping them, their attitudes toward sexuality, and their expectations of sex.” Parents and schools need to explicitly teach kids to apply a critical lens to what they’re seeing, and shape values that will help them safely and wisely navigate this very challenging era.
“If you want to be a lifelong employee anywhere today, you have to be a lifelong learner.” He quotes education-to-work expert Heather McGowan: “Stop asking a young person WHAT you want to be when you grow up. It freezes their identity into a job that may not be there. Ask them HOW you want to be when you grow up. Having an agile learning mind-set will be the new skill set of the 21st century.”
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