Author Archives: DrMahaBroum

Slow Parenting

parenting-seminar

Rethinking Lifestyle, Childhood and Parenting

‘Slow parenting’ is a term coined by the Canadian journalist Carl Honoré. It is only one of many elements within a comprehensive lifestyle known as the ‘slow movement’, a cultural shift that developed in response to the rushed modern life. Other elements include slow food (cooking from scratch at home, supporting small food businesses), slow shopping (shopping from a small store not a big name supermarket), slow gardening (organic planting of flowers), slow travel (‘live’ at your travel destination: shop, cook, volunteer and work), slow money (investing in small local business, compared to stocks), slow families (spending time together without any distraction from digital media), slow medicine and slow leisure.

In the rush, parents miss the opportunity to build a healthy relationship with their children. In slow parenting, parents listen and pay attention, respect and respond to their children in a way that contributes to a fulfilled and really successful life.

In the rush, parents plan everything for their children from academics to activities and daily schedules. In slow parenting children develop a sense of ownership to achieve their own ambitions, through their own efforts and their own interests.

Parents want their children to succeed at everything and are not allowed to fail. In slow parenting children have opportunities to fail and to learn how to deal with failure and avoid repeating their own mistakes.

Through a caring and trusting relationship, parents know their children: their interests and abilities, and push them without pressuring them when practicing any activity so they are not exhausted not frustrated.

Slow parenting calls on parents to find the time to play with their children and have fun together without feeling guilty. They need to allow kids to have free rather than structured play to discover their interests and abilities, and allow them time to be lazy and do nothing to reflect on their experiences.

Parents should not have unrealistic expectations nor model social competition. Rather, they downshift to simpler living to reduce stress, gain leisure time and escape the work-spend cycle. In slow parenting, parents provide their children an opportunity to be in nature and learn about the world, or explore the world around them.

The change to a slow mindful life will not happen if we continue to accept that work has priority over our life and family. Rethink life priorities.parenting-as-a-christian

 

Technology and Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD)

Technology is changing at a fast pace no one can keep up with. Even the most intelligent and smart individual feels overwhelmed by these changes. Too much change too fast strains people and result in feelings of helplessness and inadequacy, two symptoms of stress.

Technology is erasing our sense of place and community. Feeling that you belong to a certain group is a human need for a healthy development of the young. When using technology for too long we become addicted to mindlessly pressing levers in the hope of receiving social or intellectual nourishment.

Instantaneous devices and the abundance of information people have access to have an impact on the thought processes, obstructing deep thinking and understanding, and impeding the formation of memories. It makes learning more difficult and results in diminished information retaining ability, leaving thoughts “thin and scattered,” according to Eric Schmidt, Chief executive of Google.

In 2008, for the first time in human history, more than half the world’s population lived in cities and towns – and by 2030, two-thirds of human beings will live in urban areas. Less park areas in the city and suburbs in addition to digital screens like TV, computer and smart phones and cultural attitudes towards nature cause Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD), a condition that refers to a wide range of behavioural problems which children experience as a result of spending little time outdoors.

Well-intended parents, motivated by stories they hear on media, are scaring children out of the parks and fields. Our modern cultural attitudes unconsciously associate nature with violence and accidents, and disassociate it from joy and meaningful physical and social activities.

Richard Louv coined the term NDD. He believes that the twenty-first century will be the century for human restoration through the powers of nature. By going to nature and having a nature-balanced existence, we can boost our mental abilities and be more creative, promote health, and build smarter communities and economies. We need to have a balanced existence: the more high-tech our lives become, the more nature we need. Even though a walk in the park is free, we are so caught up in our busy lives that we do not connect with nature long enough.

To have a meaningful relationship with the natural world we need to design new kinds of cities and towns and model participating in outdoor activities to our children.

 

Knowledge-Based Economy (KBE) and Education

child heads with symbols

the concept of education of children.the generation of knowledge

Where are we heading to?

In education we are teaching students for a future we don’t know much about. Technology and digital communication are changing the world too fast to predict and draw a picture of how schools, careers and economy will be for our current students. One thing we know for sure is that the world is heading towards a knowledge-based economy.

A knowledge-based economy (KBE) is defined as an economy that is based on the production, distribution, and use of knowledge and information. Knowledge is the driver of economic growth, leading to a new focus on the role of information, technology, and learning. Increasingly, economies of countries are becoming more dependent on knowledge, information, and high-skilled workers to improve their standard of living.

The Global Scope of KBE

Real life has already shown the advantage of being involved in information technology at a global level. The knowledge-based economy must permeate all industry sectors and all countries in order to contribute to building the new economy.

Education

Developing KBE will require students to possess higher skills in literacy, numeracy, and critical thinking. All students will need the right education, training, and skills to navigate, work, and engage in an increasingly demanding world. In the coming decade, we will need to raise the basic and innovative skill level of students to transition into new jobs and markets that currently do not exist.

Collaboration

Knowledge and technology have become increasingly complex. Governments, schools, industries, and regular citizens will all have to collaborate and share knowledge in order to serve the interests and competitiveness on the global stage.

Innovation

Innovation is defined as “new or better ways of doing valued things and is not limited to products but includes improved processes and new forms of business organization.”

Innovation is a fundamental part of the knowledge-based economy since it is, directly or indirectly, the key driver of productivity growth and thus the main source of prosperity. In order to foster greater innovation and compete internationally we need to support and improve the level of entrepreneurial skills of our students and graduates.

Elements that are indicative of a knowledge-based economy are:

  • Research and Development (R&D):

Investment in research and development is a key indicator of efforts to promote technology and innovation.

  • Intellectual property rights:

For an open exchange of ideas to occur, a strong intellectual property policy that encourages innovation is required.

  • Venture capital:

There will be a need to support Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to become self-sustaining when implementing a creative idea.

  • Structural changes in the economy:

New jobs will be created. Employment will shift from routine-oriented to creativity-oriented occupations, while boosting the creative content of all work in all industries.

  • Partnerships:

Partnership is crucial among different sectors and industries to develop pathways and opportunities in key knowledge-based markets and attract high qualified individuals.

  • Labour Market Information (LMI):

LMI plays an important role in improving the efficiency of the education system by increasing information on learning opportunities and raising completion rates.

 A Learning Strategy to promote KBE

In order to adapt and succeed in the coming decade, students will need the right skills and competencies required in a society that is increasingly complex.

This will require collaboration among partners to develop a strategy focused on

  • improving adult learning opportunities,
  • improving language learning, and
  • creating incentives at the individual, firm, and industry sector level for adults to retrain, improve their literacy and numeracy, or attain a post-secondary education in their later years.

Walking for Thought

Our world is now characterized by multitasking and distraction.

How can we deal with these two issues and develop our cognitive skills to solve problems, remember things and be creative?

Research has shown that moderate walking helps increase blood flow. It also helps neurotransmitters activity. Walking can also decrease stress hormones. Attention Restoration Theory (ART) suggests that walking in nature has restorative effects on the brain’s attentional system.

Stanford researchers (2014) found out that walking boosts creative inspiration. They examined creativity levels of people while they walked versus while they sat and reached a conclusion that creativity increased by 60% when walking.

Aristotle, the known Greek philosopher, taught while walking.

William Wordsworth, the famous English poet saw the act of walking as “indivisible” from the act of writing poetry. Both were rhythmic, both employed meter. He needed to walk in order to write.

Bertrand Russel walked an hour every morning before writing.

Nietzsche walked hours every day.

For some of the greatest minds in history, walking was a way to clear the brain, prevent mental breakdown, extend life, solve problems, fully experience the world, beat insomnia, and find their purpose in life.

Walking takes your mind to a desired place, whether to think and focus on something, or to relax and rest the mind to recreate.

You can get your best ideas while walking.

To benefit from walking researchers suggest that you follow a steady pace and rhythm.

Steady walk allows a person to go deep in their thoughts and reach inner perspectives that were unknown to them.

You don’t need to put effort in thinking while walking. It just happens without cultivation. Why not turn a business or company meeting into a walking one?

Go and Enjoy a purposeful walk today!

Teachers’ Currency

teach forthemoneyTeachers are leaders in their classes, but they are still impacted by their school leadership. Principals’ impact on teachers and their delivery and as a result students’ outcome and academic performance may be positive or negative.

How can principals keep their influence positive and their teachers committed and engaged?

This is not an easy challenge for principals, but it is essential and can be achieved.

Here are a few elements that school leaders need to know and deliver. These elements come to be known as ‘currency’ because they function as an incentive and as a reward. This currency doesn’t have to be monetary or material.

 To get the most out of their teachers, principals should keep in mind their teachers’ human and individual needs.

1.      Sense of security

Create a safe and secure environment for trying new strategies and for asking questions.

As the leader you don’t have to have all the answers, in fact, expecting your teachers to be able to solve problems boosts their motivation.

  1. Trust

Show your staff that you trust and value their professional opinions by including them in decision making and implementation plans. Teachers buy in when they have been part of the planning.

  1. Inspiration

Teachers want good leadership that inspires, is decisive and knows when to include others in their decision making. Keep calm and inspire confidence and professionalism. The tone of voice the leader uses can transmit so many innovative thoughts and ideas.

  1. Recognition and Praise

Everyone responds to feeling valued and appreciated, but praise has to be genuine and sincere.

Acts of recognition are simple and are always motivational. Make it spontaneous and unpredictable so that teachers don’t become desensitized to it. At staff meetings, take a moment to recognize a teacher for something great he or she said or did in a classroom, hall, meeting, etc. Relate that action to one of the core values and to the mission of the school.

  1. Listening, paying attention and caring

Listen to teachers’ concerns. Provide them with solutions and allow them opportunities to take ownership of their role. Learn how to listen to your teachers by reading their emotions and acknowledging what they do well.

  1. Instructional Support

Support the teacher’s instructional effort, initiatives and student-centered strategies.  Support is manifested through showing attention, being around, sharing the excitement and providing resources and a climate of collegiality. The more support you are to your teachers, the less work you have to do as a school leader because you build a community who works for your school and its mission.

  1. Teachers’ wellbeing

If a teacher comes to you with distress, drop everything and listen. Don’t judge. Express empathy and confidence, and ask how you can help. Be honest and warm.

  1. Feedback

If a teacher makes a mistake, address the way, method or action, not the person.

Teachers need clear and honest feedback on their teaching. They also need a subjective and positive constructive feedback. They want to hear it in a professional way from the leadership of the school and from their peers. Feedback motivates and inspires. Effective feedback is characterized by being an appropriate amount, given in a positive and constructive way, specific enough to provide a plan of action for the teacher to follow, and frequent. Timing of the feedback is also crucial to have maximum impact.

  1. Resources as rewards

Being the first to get a new technology for the classroom, being selected to attend a conference, being given time to plan, etc. is highly appreciated among teachers.

  1. Leading by example

When tasks are due, stay alongside your teachers and help! When the leader is in the room to help, lead, and facilitate, it becomes a true team effort. Lead by example, communicate, adopt a variety of leadership styles and don’t hesitate to take hard decisions and work on the basis of shared understandings and vision.

 

 

 

 

Self-reflection for Teachers

education

Self-reflection is a process through which a person examines self and all its constituencies: interests, abilities and skills, values, beliefs, learning style, and mistakes, etc. It leads to better understanding of the self and the impact of one’s emotions and thoughts on actions, failure and success, and thus to more personal and professional development and growth. It also leads to more satisfaction and happiness.

As teachers, asking one’s self the right questions refines thinking, ideas, and practices. In a professional learning community (PLC) thoughts may develop through sharing and discussions. The outcome of this process is to set new goals, develop new perspectives, and feel comfortable to implement new teaching methodologies.

Following are some good questions for teachers to ask themselves. Teachers may write down their thoughts, keep it personal or publish them or share them with colleagues.

  1.  What am I trying to accomplish with my students?

What are the long-term goals?

What are the short-term goals?

Do these goals relate to real life situations?

Are these goals meaningful to the learners?

How do these goals align with the school’s mission?

Are these goals SMART? (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely)

What do I learn/how do I benefit from achieving these goals?

  1. What do I support how students learn?

Do I truly understand the different ways students learn?

Do I deliver my content in ways that attracts and motivates all types of learners?

Do I diversity entry point for activities?

Do I allow choices of varied activities?

  1. How do I create a positive climate for learning?

Do I create a safe environment for mistakes as learning experiences?

How do I build strong, positive relationships with my students?

How do I engage and motivate all my students to learn?

How do I Inspire my students to learn and to continue their learning after they leave school?

  1. How do I nurture creativity and curiousity among students?

Do I tell my students what to think, or do I listen to their questions?

Do I give them answers to their questions or do I direct them to where they can find an answer?

Do I teach them critical thinking with no bias?

  1. What are the best teaching strategies that I use?

Are my teaching strategies the same all the time?

Are my strategies effective?

Are they engaging? Which method works best?

How do I assess my teaching?

  1.     How do I know when my students have accomplished goals?

Have students reached their goals? My goals? The school’s goals?

What do we mean by success?

How do I measure success? Performance? Behavior? Outcome? Progress? Effort?

Do I measure knowledge? Intelligence, or skills?

  1. Feedback works both ways. How do I use feedback to improve student learning? How do I use feedback to improve my teaching?

What are the bases for feedback?

Is there a trusting relationship for giving feedback?

Is there a clear communication system to give feedback that includes respect and proper use of words?

How do I keep feedback constructive and positive?

  1. Am I competent to manage the classroom?

Do I understand individual differences?

Do I understand students coming from multicultural settings?

Can I manage conflict/bullying in the classroom?

  1. What’s special and unique about my teaching?

What makes me a special teacher?

How do I impact my students and how will they remember me?

  1. How will I improve my teaching?

What opportunities are there for PD?

Who will help me to improve?

What resources do I have?

How do I collaborate with other teachers?

 

on Leadership, annotated articles

8 Differences between Traditional and Collaborative Leaders

The modern workplace is changing, producing new problems that require innovative solutions. Educational leaders are trying different approaches to increase student outcome and engagement.  The traditional leadership style of top down management is slowly evolving into a collaborative approach that empowers teachers in the responsibility of developing schools.

http://www.innocentive.com/blog/2013/11/21/8-differences-between-traditional-and-collaborative-leaders/

 

Building Effective Collaborative Leadership: some Practicalities

Recent research shows collaborative leadership as a hallmark of successful schools. What are some of the indicators of CL? And how do you develop it in a school?

http://www.nassp.org/tabid/3788/default.aspx?topic=Building_Effective_Collaborative_Leadership_Some_Practicalities

 

Shifting From Pedagogy to Heutagogy in Education

At the base of the new shift from pedagogy to heutagogy is the fact that people are naturally very efficient learners and that they can more effectively make use of this fact in current education and training systems. What is ‘Heutagogy’? What are its roots? And how do we introduce it and manage it in education?

http://www.teachthought.com/learning/self-directed-learning/shifting-from-pedagogy-to-heutagogy-in-education/?

Can Design Thinking Help Schools Find New Solutions to Old Problems?

Thinking out of the box works very well for schools that are tackling tough problems like truancy, student engagement and parent involvement. How do we approach problems in new ways? Explore these 3 ways the article presents.

http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2015/08/28/can-design-thinking-help-schools-find-new-solutions-to-old-problems/

 

What Is Really, Truly ‘Best For The Kids’?

As educators, we want the best for the kids. How does that translate? And are we working to achieve that? This article touches on the purpose of education as well as on the values, attitudes and skills that students need to be their best.

http://www.teachthought.com/pedagogy/whats-best-for-the-kids/

6 Reasons to Reject Common Core K-3 Standards — and 6 Rules To Guide Policy

Quite a few educators argue that common core standards are inappropriate for K-3 students… Here’s why they believe so.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2014/05/02/6-reasons-to-reject-common-core-k-3-standards-and-6-axioms-to-guide-policy/