Simon Sinek could define school as a finite game that you choose to play. It has an agreed set of rules that must be followed to win. Do the work. Pass the test. Win with good grades. Graduate. Gordon, Renee and I were taking the win as we traipsed across the stag. However, Life is an infinite game. There is not an agreed upon set of rules. How do you know if you’re winning?
Teachers have a special role in helping students to meet with success at school. Teachers hone a skill set that takes their own personal interests and desire to teach children while focusing on ways to develop the skills for students to win at life. This includes engaging in learning, developing healthy relationships, demonstrating resilience in the face of loss, and the flexibility and thinking skills to cope with change. If the teacher is from British Columbia, they are challenged to consider how content can be used to develop core competencies (thinking, communicating, personal/ social) to succeed in the requirements of daily personal and social life, currently defined jobs and those jobs that will emerge as possibilities in the future.
The most basic premise of self-regulation is the ability to manage your own emotions. Accomplishing this task is the very basis of success in every aspect of life. The flight or fight response is a basic instinct in animals in response to perceived danger. This response is helpful to human beings when faced by a predator. However, this response is not at all helpful in resolving conflicts with peers or persevering to solve a difficult math equation. Teaching children to regulate their emotions, allows them to take control of the response of the reptilian brain to fight or run, and use strategies to calm down. Only when students are calm, are they able to problem solve and learn effectively. Dr Stuart Shanker isolates five domains of self-regulation:
Considering the strengths and areas for development in all of these five domains requires a different approach to writing curriculum, teaching and reporting student learning to parents. The old rules of playing the game included defining a specific body of information to memorize, testing to demonstrate mastery and grades to rank performance. The playing field has broadened and so have the rules and the complexity of the game. The intention of reporting student learning is to provide a teacher perspective about learning at a specific point in time that incorporates student voice.
Areas of strength are presented and often reflect student enthusiasm and focused attention. Areas for further growth may reflect a need for repetition and practice, persistence, or use of strategies to focus attention. Including the ways to support the student in developing the weaker areas or nurture burgeoning talents, keeps us responsible to attending to the specific needs of each child. The ultimate goal is for the teacher, child and families to engage in celebration and goal setting in response to this information.
The British Columbia Ministry of Education mandates a minimum or five reports to parents. The intention is to take into consideration the diverse ways that teachers engage parents in participating in the learning of their child. It capitalizes on the research by John Hattie et al. that emphasizes improved student learning when parents are involved. Conferences, formal report cards, celebrations of learning, phone calls, interim reports, notes home, and student agendas are all possible ways that teachers structure communication to involve parents in the learning of their child. If you still have questions, call the teacher. They undoubtedly will have more to say.