"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."

~Neale Donald Walsch~

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Stronger and smarter students

There are moments in life when a concept, value or idea grabs you and holds your attention longer than other things would. That happened to me today. I have been thinking about a group of learners that I teach that I feel as though I haven't really connected with them as well as I could. I have been pondering this for several weeks and chatting with my colleagues on how
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better to engage them in class. I had a light bulb moment this morning after listening to Dr Chris Sarra talk with Richard Fidler on ABC radio about his experiences as an Aboriginal Headmaster in remote communities in Queensland and the Northern Territory. His personal philosophy in building a sense of identity and value comes from his belief that all students can be strong and smart. I now need to go out and buy his book, Good Morning Mr Sarra and further examine how he has inspired a generation of isolated and remote Aboriginal people to live to their full potential. The Stronger Smarter Institute continues to inspire young Aboriginal people to become the best they can be through leadership and excellent teaching and training.   I absolutely love this idea because it gives control of an individuals life over to them. There is an expectation that all people can be strong and smart. Of course there are major hurdles that Aboriginal peoples face in society but I think the idea is certainly one that speaks to the core values in each one of us.  There are so many values wrapped up in these two words and yet the driving philosophy behind this concept is that within all of us there is the ability to take control of our lives and use our brains, emotions and all aspects of our being to drive the choices that we make.

Being smart enables each person to acknowledge that we all have intelligence. It may include academic excellence and skills related to ones job but it can be much more than that. It can include intelligence in regard to relationships, social situations, work situations and overall management of life. These two strong verbs also allow us to stuff up in life and build on our mistakes to make us stronger and smarter. These verbs are timeless and so even when we leave the education environment they can stay with us in our jobs and in our lives.  Reflecting on your mistakes and learning from them is so important in the learning process and this is one thing we should never stop doing.

So with this in mind I am just about to program a new course for work and I
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have decided to keep these two verbs in mind in all that I do. Building confidence and building skills are core to what I do and building students who are emotional, socially and academically smart will enable them to learn and develop their skills for the work place and for further study. Encouraging students to be strong in their convictions and decisions, resilient and resourceful means they will be better equipped to face life's challenges.

I am always learning, always growing in knowledge and life experience. Being a strong and smart person means I can be there for my family, friends, colleagues and students. By raising my expectations of my students I hope I can help them to see that they are strong and smart too.

One of my favorite videoes from Dan Hasseler  was delivered at the Central Coast Teach Meet and highlights the importance of never underestimating our students abilities.

Until next week,

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