My journey with Collaborative Problem Solving

It has been two month since I started my journey with community circles and just over three using it with my own daughter and it has been amazing.
For those that are new to reading this blog post in August I was introduced to Dr Green’s book, explosive child and lost at school. His book mentions many strategies to deal with trouble students. He calls for collaborative problem solving model. It is a model that works both on solving the problem but teaching students the skills to change their behaviours. The book predominately deals with those “troubled” students; however the more I read the more I realized that this strategy is best for all students and so my journey began.
At least once a week we as a class have a community circle. In this circle we discuss how the week has gone and if any problems have occurred. At times we have spent more it all depends on what is needed and how severe the problems are.  It has allowed my students to feel like they are a part of the classroom and have a place inside of it. When I say that they are in charge of their learning it is true they are and they know it.
Community circles have also given me a time to voice my concerns in a positive manner. If something was bothering me as a teacher I can address it. Now you may say can’t you do that anyways and the answer would be yes but now its not me lecturing and telling them but voicing a concern that I have. Because I have let them tell me their issues, they have more respect for mine. In addition to this we as a class solve them and it isn’t just me lecturing them about what I expect.
At home my daughter’s episodes have calmed down. She has now been able to communicate her feelings. I get more “Daddy, I am tired and need to rest!” or “Daddy, I am getting hungry can I please have a snack?” At the same time, my partner and I are able to recognize certain situations or her triggers. We avoid those situations so that her episodes don’t happen. 
If you haven’t read this book or started Community Circles and Collaborative Problem Solving I highly recommend that you too. It will change your practise and your life. 

What does it mean to be a teacher?

In Ontario we are currently in a work to rule situation  we haven’t had a contract in over a year and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. 
Whenever we are in contract negotiations it is always lovely to hear how everyone feels about the profession (being sarcastic here). The problem is I am not too sure why? I mean I understand what people see, two months off as kids have breaks in the year, our job is seen as baby sitting and anyone can teach. This is especially true if you follow the saying those that can’t do, teach. However, teaching is so much more.
I know that I am preaching to the choir about this as most of my readers here are teachers but it is nice to be reminded about all the great things that we do as professionals.

1) Teachers take their job seriously:

Teachers take their job seriously. I have not met a teacher who does not stay up late marking, is in to school early to plan and stays late for school concerts and meet the parents. I know that many of you may think that this is part of the job description but it is not.  I also know that all teachers are here for students success. This means that we will do whatever it takes to make a student successful.  Buying books, buying school supplies or even supplying lunches from our own money is not out of the possibilities. Many teachers put their own families second behind that of the school and students. Teachers are always the constant learner. They want to do better and will because it makes their students better.

You know this is true because no matter what your story is presently you have had that one teacher who has made a difference in your life.

2) Teachers are more than babysitters:

There is more to my job than babysitting. Yes I watch 25-30 young students but I don’t just give them an activity to pass the time. A good teacher motivates, they encourage and they teach. This brings me to my next point.

3) There is more to teaching then tell kids what to do:

Teaching is a gift. As much as we all think we may be able to teach, to truly teach a skill it takes more than telling students information. Real teaching takes planning, understanding what motivates and how students learn. Learning is a developmental process (though I know many may argue with this) but learning takes time. It takes a teacher to know that development so that they move students a long a continuum of learning.  When a student is stuck, it takes a teacher to know where they are stuck and how they can help them. It takes a teacher to know in what way a child may learn best. It takes a teacher to know how to show the information to get the best out of their students.  For example, this year I was able to go to China to help teachers learn about Problem Based Learning. I was given a class of 30 students, who I had never met and spoke little English. We were expected to have them ready to be showcased in 3 days in front of 1000 teachers. If teaching was just about reciting knowledge then I wasn’t needed but it took my teaching partner and myself real teaching to get them to understand the physics of flight.

A teacher knows when and how to scaffold information, they know how where a child needs help and when to help.

4) Teaching should be an honoured profession:

I have no idea when teaching became a disdain on society here in North America. I understand that the grass is always greener on the other side and what teachers have as a contract may not be the same as the rest of the world but teaching should be an honoured profession. Teaching is the only profession that trains all other professions. We as a profession see children and raise them the same amount of time as their own parents.

Yes I am a teacher, Yes I have a bias but never have I thought that education, and teachers are not worth the money that we pay them. Teachers have a hard job, they have worked hard for the job they have and deserve the respect for it.

So as labour negotiations head into a critical weekend think about your child’s teacher or teachers in general. Thank them for what they do and who they are.

If you are a teacher keep your head up high and remember that you are amazing.