Social Media for Teachers

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Many teachers and educators that I talk to steer clear of social media. Yet in a world where social media is an increasingly important part of young people’s lives, it is difficult for educators to stay on the outside with social media. Below are some of the top social media platforms and how and when you could use them.

Facebook Image

Facebook is the biggest social media platform and it is the one teachers live in dread of because it is easy for students to find you and even see what you get up to in your free time. What is more, if you end up with as facebook friends with managers and colleagues they will also learn more about your personal life than you would normally admit to.

How to use facebook: This social media tool is for your personal life. Use privacy settings in facebook to make sure only friends can see what you post and be careful who you friend. The scariest part is if someone else tags you in one of their photos others are likely to see that photo. Once again change your privacy settings to stop this.

Facebook is useful for professional reasons in that many organisations relevant to teachers have facebook pages. Quick plug, you can connect to us on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pathwaystoresilience. There are also facebook groups on a range of topics.

Read more about facebook for teachers on the tech blog mashable. http://mashable.com/2012/10/29/facebook-for-teachers/

LinkedIn

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Recently I read that in Australia more people have LinkedIn profiles than Facebook profiles. LinkedIn contains your professional profile and is a great way to build professional connections with other people in your field. LinkedIn also has groups, which are basically discussion forums, making LinkedIn the premium way to learn from and share information with other professionals.

How to use LinkedIn: Create a professional profile. Very often if you are going for a job interview or attending a meeting, people will try and find you on LinkedIn. You can also find connections with people who share your world view, work in your area or are just professionally interesting.

Because LinkedIn is a professional site there is far less bad behaviour. You can also feel comfortable about linking to your students. Remember it is a great way to see how former students are progressing in their career.

Twitter Image

Unlike other social media, Twitter has a huge focus on the now. Twitter breaks stories about planes making emergency landings in rivers, riots in the Middle East and what famous people have had for lunch. Because of its short (140 character) limit on posts and immediate nature it can either reward or frustrate its users.

How to use Twitter: Twitter is used in a variety of interesting and beguiling ways. Obviously it is useful for news. So you can link it to blogs, Facebook and other services to keep users posted on the fly. At the other extreme hash tags “#” can be used to create live discussions in larger classes or lectures. Twitter is perhaps the best social media platform for creating discussions with students. See this interesting article for twitter in the classroom. http://www.teachhub.com/50-ways-use-twitter-classroom

Blogs

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I am not sure everyone would agree with me that blogs are social media, as they predate most of what we call social media. Blogs are news sites where stories are published in the order they are posted. In other words a Diary. In many ways Facebook is also a type of blogging platform where you share your information with friends, however other popular blogging platforms include www.wordpress.com and www.blogger.com.

How to use blogs: Blogging is fraught with dangers. People have been fired or disciplined for posting the wrong things about work, life and students on their blog, including saying derogatory things about their students. Blog on controversial or sensitive topics at your own peril, however teachers can also blog on all sorts of education related topics. If you are a history teacher why not do a “This day in history blog” or if you are teaching PE you could blog about your own exercise goals and activities. The topics are endless and can become a handy reference of information.

YouTube

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YouTube has quickly become the place to post your videos. Most companies that create videos do not host them themselves but place them on YouTube.

How to use YouTube:  There are now many incredible free educational videos on YouTube on every imaginable topic. The videos can be used to supplement your teacher directed training, used for self-directed learning or you can assign videos to students as a remedial measure. The biggest frustration of YouTube is the tendency for many educational institutions to block YouTube, however you can download videos using free YouTube down load tools such as Free YouTube Downloader (http://download.cnet.com/Free-YouTube-Downloader/3000-2071_4-75219434.html)

Don’t forget that you can also create and post your own videos. Science experiment videos are popular as are craft, cooking and other practical topics. Remember you can earn advertising revenue for your postings and many people, including schools students, have earnt a decent income from posting educational videos. Just make sure you separate out your home video making from your work.

Here is a video at youtube on how teachers can use youtube. http://www.youtube.com/user/teachers

 Pinterest

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I will put this down as an honourable mention in my list of social media for teachers. Mostly because I have to confess I haven’t really used Pinterest. The visual style of Pinterest lets you create boards of photos, text and links. Many people use them for shopping, but Pinterest can also be used to create educational boards that students can interact with.

Read more about Pinterest for teachers on a Pinterest Board. http://pinterest.com/erinklein/pinterest-for-teachers/

 In Summary

Social media is now part of life. It is used for news, learning, social interaction and finding work. Using social media is not just the new trendy thing that will blow over quickly, rather it is something that can be used to enhance learning, engage with students who have a strong focus on social media and also prepare students for life.

For the cynics reading this, yes social media is having an adverse affect on student’s language and face-to-face social skills. As a result often educators find they have put an extra emphasis on those skills to compensate. Yet we can’t ignore that already many people are now using social media as their primary way to communicate and teachers shouldn’t be scared to get into the conversation.

How Pathways to Resilience Uses Social Media

 We use a number of different social media tools, currently the main ones are.

 

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‘TOUGH MUDDER’ AND RESILIENCE

ImageImagine a pit a hundred metres long, of deep, thick and sticky mud with an uneven bottom. This ‘Mud Mile’ Tough Mudder challenge was my favourite, where personal connections are made, slowly traversing the mud pit together. Much laughter, smiles and friendly taunting, all engaged in doing something quite uncomfortable and difficult.

What a challenge of this type does is place groups of people outside their comfort (and often skill) zone. The Mudder is advertised and trumpeted as, ‘Not a race, but a challenge.’ Very clever. Join as a team. No timing chips. Get your Tough Mudder orange headband and a beer or can of Solo at the end. Then watch them come together to push, drag, lift, yell at, carry and generally support each other over, under, through all sorts of dirty, cold, muddy, claustrophobic and electric challenges.

The aim is not to hurt yourself, but to do something to extend your comfort zone. This choice builds a buffer against stresses. You build self-awareness, now knowing you can do more than you thought you could. More possibilities open up in your mind. Trusting in the assistance of strangers and your team invites trust and social cohesion. With the benefits of exercise for brain, body and mind thrown in as well.

If your level of fitness is sound I strongly recommend you consider taking up the challenge. Using our Wise Mind, the Tough Mudder is a resilience building activity par excellence. Especially keep your attention focused on increasing your self-awareness of body and breath, and on the earth beneath your muddy shoes.

7 secrets to raising a resilient child

growing up   

 As we have written previously, resiliency and social emotional learning are skills a child learns so that they learn how to cope with challenges, and know that no matter what problems they face they will be able to find a solution either by themselves or through cooperation with other people. They also learn the skills to help other people to face their challenges.

While teachers and other professionals play a very important role in helping children develop these skills, the most valuable social emotional teacher a child will ever have is their own parents. In this article we have 7 secrets parents can use to build resiliency in their children. Admittedly cutting the list down to 7 secrets was very challenging, but we have selected our 7 favourite tips.

1.     Be a role model

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This has to be our most important tip. Most parents learn the truth of this the first time they drop a swear word in front of their kid only to hear it mirrored back them. Our children learn most deeply from the model that we provide them. If we want our children

to be resilient and happy then we must also learn these skills ourselves.

Below are just a few links on social and emotional learning for adults that we recommend.

http://health.howstuffworks.com/mental-health/coping/ten-ways-to-build-resilience.htm

http://psychology.about.com/od/crisiscounseling/tp/become-more-resilient.htm

[some links on resilience in adults

2.     Empathy & Respect

Life would be so much easier if kids would just do what they are told to do? However kids are like everyone else, they have their own needs, feelings and ideas. Showing empathy and understanding about these to our kids has many benefits.

First of all, we will have a better understanding of why they want or don’t want to do something and it makes it easier to find ways to motivate them to do everything from completing homework to eating healthy food.

Even young kids like to be understood and respected. Empathy isn’t about caving in to what they want. If they ask for ice cream for breakfast you either say “Stop being childish and eat your porridge” or we can instead respond “I love ice cream too, but it is not a good food for breakfast, we can go for ice cream after school.” The latter obviously respects the fact that they like ice cream and shows that you feel the same way.

Finally by showing empathy and understanding to them you are providing a wonderful role model for your kids. If children can learn to show empathy and respect to everyone they have learnt a very valuable life skill.

3.     Let your child make decisions and even rules

Mark and Sarah are running late again and it looks like they are going to have another battle with their son Aaron to get him dressed. He is refusing to put on a shirt and they are at their wits end to make him wear the one they laid out for him. Then Mark remember a little trick he was taught. He asks Aaron to choose a shirt he likes. It is so much easier to get Aaron to put on his favourite shirt once he has chosen it.

Part of growing up is having increasingly more control of your life. As your children grow give them more opportunities to decide. By asking them to make choices you are listening to them, letting them participate and contribute as well helping them become better decision makers. As your children learn to choose they learn to make the right choices and can face problems because they will see problems as choices.

4.     Solving problems

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There is still one thing that sticks in my mind from when I was in primary school. It was a day when I had a huge and insurmountable problem, my shoelaces had become untied and I didn’t know how to tie them up. The problems children face are huge to them but minor to us. While it is always quickest to solve our children’s problems for them, it better for them to teach them how to solve some of them themselves and it gives to children the skills to face challenges.

Part of growing up is learning to solve problem. This is always difficult for parents because they have to go through a constant transition of doing things for their children, to showing and helping them to solve problems, to leaving them to solve the problems themselves.

What children need to learn more than anything else are not solutions to problems but problem solving technique, such as figuring out what the problem really is, brainstorming solutions and then later thinking back to see if it solved the problem.

For my childhood shoelace challenge I have a vivid memory of my teacher drying my tears, tying my laces for me and then going how and asking my parents how to tie my own laces.

5.     The experience of mastery

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My second favourite quote from The Simpsons TV show is “If something is hard to do then it is not worth doing.” This is a quote best said with a sage Homer Simpson voice, because it makes it really funny. It is such a dysfunctional philosophy yet it is easy for us to learn to give up when something is even a little hard.

This is why learning to master something difficult is such an incredibly important part of developing resiliency. Mastery is a process of achieving goals you are passionate about by hard work, problem solving and recovering from setbacks and failures. This could be everything from learning drawing, mastering basketball jump shots or learning how to cook a something. These skills translate into techniques for dealing with school projects and personal relationships and then goes on to skills used throughout the rest of your life. Many people who have achieved as an adult were showing the same commitment in even their younger years at school.

6.     Teach kids to treat mistakes as learning experiences

A famous Olympic skier when he was preparing for his first Olympics started with a new coach who watched him do a slalom ski run. The coach then asked the skier, “Do you know what you did wrong?” when the skier couldn’t think of anything he did wrong, the coach said “You didn’t fall over.”

You see the skier wasn’t thinking his goal was to not fall over, however it is only important not to fall over during a competition. In training he should have been falling over all the time so he could learn how far he can push the limit and improve.

Making mistakes are vital part of learning. When we become scared of making mistakes we are unlikely to do our best and when we do make the inevitable mistakes we will give up. The resilient child learns to treat mistakes as a learning experience and understands that no set back is permanent.

7.     Communication, Team work and cooperation

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I once gave a group of primary school students a creative problem solving task; the egg drop problem. Groups are given a bunch of drinking straws and an egg and had to find a way to build a little capsule to put the egg in and drop it from a height without the egg breaking. I had tried this task with adult learners on several occasions and I thought I would give an easier version to a group of kids I was filling in with for a summer schoo. I thought it would be fun and l wanted to see how they would handle the problem.

The first thing they did was start trying to work individually as this was how all other activities had been previously done. It only took one phrase, “Work as a team” for them to change their model of social cooperation. If only the adults could do that so easily.

As we grow older we become more fixed in the way we cooperate and participate, often to the detriment of the groups that we work with. This goes far beyond just team work, we need to learn skills in leadership, cooperation,  creativity and communication, just to name a few.

Resiliency and social emotional learning is both individual and social. The more chance your children have to participate in a range of different social models the better prepared they will be to respond to different social situations resiliently.

By the way, I think the kids did better at solving the egg drop problem that the adults and certainly worked better in teams when prompted to do so.

Remember Resiliency is something that is built over time as your child grows up and is a skill that helps them learn and live better throughout their entire life. This is list if only a small number of the many skills for life you as parents will impart to your children.

Some useful links

Can Do Kids: http://www.raisingresilientkids.com/resources/articles/can_do.html

7 Secrets to Raising a Happy Child: http://zenhabits.net/7-secrets-to-raising-a-happy-child/

The Secret of Raising a Resilient Child: http://www.ahaparenting.com/_blog/Parenting_Blog/post/The_Secret_of_Raising_a_Resilient_Child/

Building Social And Emotional Skills In Elementary Students: Ninja Mastery Or Emotional Management: http://www.projecthappiness.org/2013/07/03/building-social-and-emotional-skills-in-elementary-students-ninja-mastery-or-emotional-management/

 

 

Friends: Free for schools that qualify

New-Fun-Friends-Logonew  Of course the people at Pathways to Resilience will always be happy to be your friends but what we are talking about is the Friends program developed by internationally respected University of Queensland academic Professor Paula Barret.

The Friends program includes Fun Friends, Friends For Life and My Friends and is used and recognised around the world. Together these series of books teach social and emotional competence and resilience for ages 4-17. The program includes student books, teacher resources as well as training and support, including online delivery of the training for regional, remote and rural schools.

Does your school qualify for free resources?

We would like to remind schools in Queensland that they may qualify for free resources if they are in communities that meet any of following criteria:

  • Regional, Rural & Remote
  •  Indigenous
  • Disadvantaged
  •  Drought and Disaster Affected 

This offer is limited while our stocks of free books lasts

Contact us to find out if you qualify for the free resources or just talk to us more about these and other programs in general.

Learn more about the Friends program http://www.pathwaystoresilience.org/the-training-programs/

Puppets: Social & Emotional Learning Role Models

puppiesThe best thing about using puppets in the classroom is the reaction from the students when you bring one out. Puppets quickly focus attention and get the delight of the kids. Beyond that they are wonderful teaching tools which we use all the time for social and emotional learning. When a puppet comes into a classroom the whole dynamics of teacher and students change. Students interact and respond to the puppet directly and the teacher can take a back seat.

Here are some suggestions on how facilitators can make use of puppets in the classroom.

Modelling behaviour

It is interesting the way children respond to puppets. They understand that they are not real but at the same time attribute to them genuine feelings and expect them to conform to social norms. This means that puppets are a great way to model both appropriate and inappropriate behaviour in a way an adult or another child couldn’t. Children will feel happy about making suggestions and corrections to a puppets behaviour while they would not feel comfortable about doing this with a real person.

Sharing feelings

Children often have a lot of difficulty expressing their feelings – especially negative ones – to adults. When they get to interact with a puppet this changes and they feel very comfortable and will often open up about personal and friendship problems as well as other feelings. If the puppet has the same problems they do, or feel the same way they do, then they feel an affinity to the puppet.

Role Plays

Puppets are also a great way to actively explore situations with children and create scenarios, such as where one puppet needs help or is upset. The children can respond by suggesting what the others puppets should do to respond. It gives them lots of ideas for how to respond to their friends and how they can act outside of the classroom.

Puppets from Pathways

Puppets are a great teaching tool and are a wonderful and fun way to explore social and emotional learning with younger children. We use the cuddly, huggable Folkmanis puppets. They are available from the trust; the  Brave Brown is $30 and Maltese is $35.

puppies box