Week 2: Do YOU Seek Knowledge?

I think by engaging students more in the “authentic experiences” allows our students to make those real-world connections. This makes each lesson more meaningful for them, and in turn stay motivated. Like it said it in the Ted Talk video- “Why do kids have to come to school when they already have the information?” I feel that getting students engaged in the learning process and allowing them to fail, showing them that mistakes grow brains, and in order to do so getting fellow educators who are not afraid to move away from all the things done in the past, because of it’s routine or simplicity. But it is our job to question and advocate for our students to ensure that each and every day we are empowering student’s voices and embracing failure as a cause for celebration.(TEDx Talk, Laufenberg)

Visible Learning, by James Anderson

What to do… when you don’t know what to do?

The Learning Pit- Overwhelming sense of achievement and satisfaction.

Seeking out knowledge is something educators strive to get out of our students, instead of relying on it being delivered to you- such as in the form of a lecture or as my students would say, “Just tell me what I need to know for the Assessment.” Yet the true discovery of information can be met with hostility and even frustration, especially to those with any sort of learning difference. I know as an educator, I try my best to model this for my students, many times by answering their questions with more questions and prompting them with a general, “Where do you think we could find that information?” As a SEN teacher, expected to be a specialist in all classroom subjects (right), learning how to research things is vital. Many times I find myself having to teach something to myself before then attempting to teach, pre-teach, or re-teach it to a small group I am instructed to work with. I think- resiliency, grit, or our school core value of perseverance is another crucial value that needs to not only be taught in school but practiced and celebrated. (Along with guts and determination to not be scared to dive right into the entire learning process- such as shown above as the learning pit.)

Activity = Visibility = Connection opportunity

I will actively seek out knowledge, instead of letting it come to me by utilizing my RSS feeder and growing my own PLN-Personal Learning Network. This is something I myself am in the learning pit. Knowing that the many times I have been in the learning pit in the past; allows me to be thankful for my ability to persevere as I understand these tools will help me become a better educator and reach my goals in the end.

So what role does research play in my daily practice as an educator?

As a SEN teacher, I am constantly trying to stay up to date with the latest proven practices to ensure that the limited amount of time I am given with the students on my caseload is being used as efficiently as possible. In order to make more than one single year of growth in a year’s time, the interventions taking place need to be delivered with fidelity. In addition to the lesson plans and staying current with our Individualized Learning Plans, seeking out new professional development opportunities is also not only crucial but rewarding.

Journal of Adolescent Research– Making the Most of Adolescence: Harnessing the Search for Identity to Understand Classroom Belonging.

This article shows how students struggle with the issues of identity and trying to make themselves known. In a world where technology has changed how we interact with each other, it contributes significantly to a student’s sense of belonging. We not only have to focus on how technology changes the way that we interact with information and finding answers to the questions we seek, but to the student’s sense of who they are within it all, at the same time while trying to remain engaged and connected to their own cultural identities (especially in the international school settings.)

Being an active researcher impacts my practice

I would use the word “active” in slightly less capacity here, though I do believe I am constantly in the state of learning. I believe every day, I don’t just teach something to my students, but I walk away every day having learned something from my students as well. Which in turn, makes me a better educator than the day before.

Every day’s a school day. So jump right in!

Assessment and Data Tracking is one other article I find quite useful when it comes to constantly reassess interventions as a way to measure the impact one is having on a child’s success and growth.

Internet Safety Lesson Plans are another essential unit, that can many times be overlooked, or not given enough time dedicated to. Especially for a school that has 1:1 devices, Internet safety should be a priority. I think our school still has some room for growth but listed below are a number of lessons that we talk about within elective courses or within our advisory program that meets 4 days a week for 25 minutes.

  • Digital Friendships
  • Don’t feed the Phish
  • Chatting online safely
  • Big, Big Data
  • My Social Media Life
  • Being aware of what you share
  • Sexting and relationships

“By protecting children from the worst
digital technology has to offer, and
expanding their access to the best,
we can tip the balance for the better”

-Anthony Lake- UNICEF Executive Director

Reading the state of our children, was another eye-opener. I was shocked that the “For Better” section seemed very limiting yet the “worse” and “still worse” sections were shocking lengthier. I especially loved the examples around how technology allows some students to bring the focus centered around their abilities vs. disabilities etc…..but I couldn’t help but think what a small population that includes. Yet on the opposite side of child trafficking/abuse, bullies, suicide, and sexual exploitation; I couldn’t help but think how these things will affect them ALL.

Teach them to be good humans first and everything else will follow.

Do you agree?

Author: Shalene

This is my 3rd year in Russia- teaching SEN at the Anglo-American School of Moscow. Loving life... and always learning.

4 thoughts on “Week 2: Do YOU Seek Knowledge?”

  1. Dear Shalene,

    First of all, I would like to say that I enjoyed reading your post very much. I really loved your insights about helping students make real-life connections while learning. I also think it is an essential part of the learning process just like failure which you’ve mentioned in your post. Students have to get enough motivation to be eager to search for the answers and learn even more. Also, I like that instead of giving students all the needed answers you motivate/encourage/push them to inquiry-driven learning. I think very often students don’t even know why they learn many things at school. By simulating real-life situations and using the teaching material in the simulation, we help students learn, inquire more and understand the importance of learning.
    I would like to share one online tool about digital citizenship which as a SEN teacher you may like. I mostly like the comics from it, which work pretty well as simulations of some essential moments of digital life of young people http://www.nsteens.org/Comics

    Teach them to be good humans first and everything else will follow. Do you agree?
    I do agree with you. Especially, I would love this process to start in students’ family environment. Do you also sometimes feel a lack of family input and participation in students’ learning and their digital life?

    1. Yes!It’s hit or miss, even in an international school where parent involvement is generally great, you still have those few students that don’t have the same level of support from home that they may require. Cultural difference aside, all learners need to feel that their education matters more than just to them. Thanks for the Nstees.org/comics, it looks like some great videos to share especially within our advisory program.

  2. I’m cheating by referring to both your blog, and my interactions with you in preparation of working with different students as they enter the high school (A.S. stands out in my mind). Your insight then and now have proven themselves to be SO valuable! I can say for a fact, that your passion shows through electronic mediums, and in person.

    I very much agree with your comment about teaching students to be good humans first, and a lot of the rest (although perhaps not all) will follow. Intrinsic in that space is the teacher as role model and part of a larger community. I read somewhere that people need to experience multiple (I don’t remember how many) positives, to help them overcome a negative. This speaks volumes in terms of the impact of the work you do!

    1. Thanks Mooney.Usually, the ratio that I’ve heard of in the SEN world is 1:3 so for every 1 negative you need 3 positives (at least)…. then with a number of kiddos I work with, confidence, self-esteem, to build their self-worth is a huge challenge to overcome so I tried to double the positive and be 1:6. The more we can get all teachers to build up the kiddos in SEN the better.

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