Friday, February 22, 2013

Have they made a difference?

As I was walking down the hallway between classes a few days ago, a senior student asked me that very question, referring to the iPad's.  Instead of me answering the question, we went straight to the source and we stopped three individual middle school students on their way to class and had them respond.  Each of them said they "definitely have made a difference in their learning" and mostly in the area of being in charge of how they document and demonstrate their learning.

Today, when I was reading an article entitled, "How free play can define kids' success" by Katrina Schwartz, I was struck by her description of students discovering their interest(s) and how she tied those interest into creativity, control and the development of resilience in our youth.  Resiliency is a topic that has resonated with me since I was a peer counselor in high school, which helped lead me to a path of being an educator.

In my office I have a magic wand held over from my days as a school counselor and attending play therapy training.  If there is one gift I wish the "magic wand" could give it would be the gift of resiliency.  In Schwartz article, she writes about Kenneth Ginsburg, a pediatrician and author of the book Building Resilience in Children and Teens.

In Ginsburg's book he shares the 7 C's of Resilience: 

  1. 1) COMPETENCEYoung people need to be recognized when they’re doing something right and to be given opportunities to develop specific skills.
  2. 2) CONFIDENCEConfidence comes from building real skills that parents and educators can teach and nurture. Confidence can be easily undermined, but also bolstered by tasks that push learners without making the goal feel unachievable.
  3. 3) CONNECTION: Being part of a community helps kids know they aren’t alone if they struggle and that they can develop creative solutions to problems.
  4. 4) CHARACTER. Kids need an understanding of right and what wrong and the capacity to follow a moral compass. That will allow them see that they cannot be put down.
  5. 5) CONTRIBUTION: The experience of offering their own service makes it easier for young people to ask for help when they need it. Once kids understand how good it can feel to give to others, it becomes easier to ask for that same support when it’s needed. And being willing to ask for help is a big part of being resilient.
  6. 6) COPING: Kids need to learn mechanisms to manage their stress by learning methods to both engage and disengage at times. Some strategies for doing this include breaking down seemingly insurmountable problems into smaller, achievable pieces, avoiding things that trigger extreme anxiety, and just letting some things go. After all, resilience is about conserving energy to fit the long game and kids need to know realistically what they can affect and what should be let go.
  7. 7) CONTROL: In order to truly be resilient a child need to believe that she has control over her world. Feeling secure helps engender control, which is why kids test limits.
As I reflect on these 7 C's of Resilience, I know as a middle school staff we are trying to instill these skills within our curriculum for students and if in turn this builds the level of resiliency in our students -- FANTASTIC:)  Based on the examples of the students in the hall showed us, our students are sharing and creating in our classrooms and this helps me believe my magic wand may work better than I had previously believed!  

On another note -- best wishes to the Benton Girls Basketball team as they work to achieve their goal of being state champs!   Go BOBCATS!