My Time With ‘Kids on the Block’ (Anthea Holczer)

This experience has been wonderful. Working with the ‘Kids on the Block’ team has been rewarding; the team goes into schools and gives puppet shows teaching children how to keep themselves safe. I knew this was a special placement, and my initial thoughts and excitement of volunteering here were correct.

Having now presented puppet shows, I realize this work is even more empowering for the children than I imagined. The children really identify with the characters and scenario’s in the show. The facilitator encourages questions, and gives feedback half way through the performance, which reinforces the material taught. The children are involved as well as the teacher, which is exciting for everyone.

Learning my lines was stressful, but the facilitator allows us to read the scrips under the table which has lifted my cloud of worry. I know the flow of the play and how my character is meant to respond which is the most important thing. I can read my lines, and if I make a mistake it’s OK. The puppets are still heavy, but as the facilitator talks to the children half way through the presentation, I have a quick break and rest my arm. It’s not the physical ordeal I’d thought it would be.

The enthusiasm of the teachers has really surprised me. We ask them to join in with our Safety Presentations, and sometimes they go way off script; the teachers’ responses get the students really excited and focused on being safe. The more the teachers respond, the more the children respond, and the more enjoyable the puppet show is for everyone.

My greatest area of growth through this experience, is to ‘go with the flow’. Life is not scripted, so when we go off scrip I’ve had run with it. Every member of the team knows what to do and what’s expected, and we roll in whatever direction we’ve been pushed. Being able to think quickly on my feet, and respond in character, has been challenging yet fun. The ‘Kids on the Block team do great work. I’m pleased to be part of the team.

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Constructions of School Leaders – Anthea Holczer

In the past teachers had an isolated profession. The teacher worked with students and had little interaction with adults while working; although this approach still occurs today new interventions are being introduced. Some progressive administrative staff encourage collaborative professional development, which consists of team teaching and school based learning. This approach means the isolation of teaching is reduced, and the workforce environment becomes positive as staff work collectively as a community to grow and support each other.

Each teacher has their own unique personality, and when they teach they create their own teaching style. There are no guidelines that outline the prerequisite skills necessary for a good teacher therefore, how can we evaluate a teacher? There is no set standard to measure their teaching style against. Hence, evaluation is a difficult issue. Evaluation reports generally produce positive results, but teachers want constructive feedback so they can improve themselves. For an evaluation to take place for one short period it is not a good enough base line. To properly judge and evaluate the teachers’ true skills more evaluation is necessary.

It’s interesting to learn that a teacher can be allocated any grade and told to teach any subject regardless of their background and training (Teachers, Administrators and the School System, p. 201).

The principal has a guiding role to play when creating the culture and environment within the school. When the principal is actively involved with the teachers and sees what’s happening in the classroom they can give immediate and constructive feedback. The principal can act as a positive role model for the students as well as the staff. I have worked with principals who are actively involved with the teachers and students, their positive attitudes thrive within the school and are infectious for everyone.

I applaud the affirmative action plan initiative to have more Aboriginal and minority group teachers in the education system. As Canada is becoming culturally diverse our teaching staff also needs to be equally diverse. Teachers from other counties and cultures have rich traditions for the students and staff too connect with and learn from.

The amount of preparation time given to teachers varies widely from province to province and school board to school board, why is this?

 

 

 

 

 

Personal and Professional Boundaries (Anthea Holczer)

Are teachers’ professionals? This is a debatable point. Teachers continually upgrade their knowledge through professional development, and their work is considered essential to the development of our society which are prerequisite qualities of professionals. However, teachers do not have the ability to discipline themselves within their own ranks, because of this they are not considered professionals.  Teachers are not monitored through self-regulation, as most professional bodies are; it is the minister of education who has exclusive authority to issue teacher certificates and deal with misconduct issues therefore, teachers are not professionals.  Teachers as professionals is an ongoing debate, as is the issue of self-regulation.

Most professionals keep their knowledge locked away and secret, which gives them an air power. These professionals such as doctors and lawyers are impersonal, and use their power, to give themselves airs of superiority. Teachers on the other hand, share their knowledge with students, parents, and all members of society they engage with. Teachers are approachable and down to earth not like the professionals they are measured against.

Occasionally within the workforce conflicts occur, during these awkward and difficult times it is important for teachers to maintain their professional manner. It is not appropriate to criticize and undermine another teachers’ professional authority. There should not be any personal criticisms, and disputes should be handled in a professional manner. Teachers need to treat all staff with respect at all times.

Connections

When I have a positive attitude, the students will also have a positive attitude. When I’m excited about the material I’m teaching that excitement is infectious. It’s important for the teacher to remain positive and engaged, as the students will respond in kind creating a fun place for leaning to occur.

Although the teacher looks alone at the front of the class, they have the help of family, friends, colleagues, and administrative staff behind them. This supportive group, is Bronfenbrenner’s’ microsystem. Our society supports us, and it supports the students we teach. We are never alone, as each person is an integral part of our society, and is equally important.

Should teachers be allowed to self-regulate? If teachers were allowed to self-regulate would they then be classified as professionals?

 

School Systems – How They Have Changed (Anthea Holczer)

It is interesting that schools when they first were established in Canada were modeled after military and religious training. Schools had desks lined in rows where manners and punctuality were considered great assets. Societal norms and our changing views in our developing world have changed the military concept of the classroom to a place that welcomes industry and technology.

We now have more schools than ever before, which is good as our population is growing. Due to our changing society we have more programs in place, and a wide range of courses that are offered to the students. The classrooms are better equipped, the teachers are more qualified and our curriculum is more diverse; which ensures that students have a wide range of skills and attitudes when they enter the workforce. Gone is the regimented, punishment driven school system.

It is interesting to note that there are many different philosophies of teaching styles and techniques. Each individual will gravitate to one style more than another, and the curriculum may want to emphasize a philosophy that is different from the teachers’. The teacher has to adapt their own style with the philosophy of the school district which shows creativity and adaptability of our proffession.

The education profession has had to adapt and change as social norms change. Teaching styles and philosophies that were once the norm have changed as our society and environmental cultures have changed. However, the caring connection teachers have for their students, hasn’t changed as time passes. Teachers still want the very best for each student they work with.

It is interesting to note that the current curriculum places emphasis on child directed learning, which is a form to Aboriginal ways of knowing. This is where education isn’t separated into individual parts, but concepts are looked at from a holistic perspective and all connections are explored between ideas.

What will the emphasis and educational philosophy of the province be in the next 10 years?

Kids on the Block Program (Anthea Holczer)

The ‘Kid’s on the Block’ program is affiliated with the Regina Sexual Assault Center. It is a program that uses puppets to focus on sensitive issues: child safety, bullying, and abuse. The ‘Kids on the Block’ team, visit schools and give puppet presentations to a wide age range of students. The children watch and learn how to keep themselves safe and the puppets give the children techniques to protect themselves and their friends from harm.

My initial impression of the ‘Kids on the Block’ program is that it provides schools and teachers essential learning tools for dealing with difficult issues. The puppets emulate typical social scenarios, and use language that is age appropriate, therefore, the children easily relate to the story. The puppets also teach the children strategies on how to handle themselves in these situations: safety, bullying, and abuse and how to provide positive outcomes.

Although this is an excellent program, I am concerned about the time and effort I have to contribute to learning the scripts. There are many different scripts to learn, depending on the age level, and the theme of the story. The puppets don’t seem heavy at first, but they quickly get heavier and heavier. Each puppet is tall and needs to be standing up straight, which again works my arm and hand in a way they aren’t used to. My hand and arm get tired very quickly. I want to do a good job as this is a worthwhile cause, and don’t want to let the team down.

I anticipate that this will be a rewarding experience. It will be interesting to hear the children’s comments on safety, and bullying and see what they have learned due to the puppet show. The children will see that they can be resilient against strangers and learn techniques to protect themselves. They will learn the skills necessary to work through bullying and overcome the fear and humiliation. They will understand the risk of telling their friends about their feelings, and see that friends are supportive and care. Through support from friends the children will learn how to solve problems in an appropriate way.

Why aren’t more schools requesting the abuse/sexual abuse puppet shows? These sensitive issues need to be openly discussed, to help children to protect themselves.