Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Helping teens cope with emotions

Teens and emotions - almost everyone says that middle school years are the hardest.  Emotions during the early teens can be strong and confusing.  And they can change on a dime.  And the crazy thing is...that's normal!

Here is a great article from MindShift about teens and emotions - and how to help them cope.  For teachers and parents both, talking with kids about the emotions and normalizing them is key.

For kids, knowing that they are not alone or strange really helps them deal with their changing and strong feelings.  Some key things to remember, says Susan David, Harvard educator and author of Emotional Agility, are:

Emotions pass
Emotions are teachers
Courage is "fear walking"
Articulating values helps set an inner compass

Just having a caring adult to listen can help calm the strong emotions our teens are feeling.  We can all do that!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Addicted to questioning

In a study of owls in K-1 the curiosity is palpable.  Is this owl alive?  How did it die? Why are the feathers so soft?  Why is it called a barred owl, or a horned owl?  How do the wings work?  Can I touch it?   The questions rule the day.  Observational drawings come next.  Students are developing the skill of noticing details. And asking even more questions.  And then the teacher brings out...the owl pellets...!

In this article in MindShift, How to Bring More Beautiful Questions Back to School, Katerina Schwartz  contends that after about age 5 or 6, questioning falls off.  Yet a questioning mind is a highly desired skill in any modern work place - it's the value added in the technology age.

For questioning minds to thrive, children need lots of time - not a curriculum that "covers" material. They need a culture that rewards intellectual risk-taking - not one that penalizes wrong answers.  

Schwatrz says, "Kids are lighting up their pleasure zones and getting dopamine hits every time they learn something that solves something they were curious about."  Sounds addictive!

Effective teachers set up a topic and trigger questioning - then find ways to follow where kids' curiosity takes them.  They allow for a deep dive into a juicy problem or topic.  What's the result? A classroom filled with knowledge addicts - confident kids who crave to question and to learn more.

Vera's drawing of the barred owl's wing

Dissecting owl pellets