School’s out Friday

Rives is a favourite of mine. This is an oldie (2006), but from Rives, it’s always a goodie. I think Mark Zuckerberg might have been listening to this, because Facebook can pretty much do a lot of things he articulated in this poem when he waxed lyrical about Napstar, Friendster and the other ‘ters’ that were the ‘in things’ in 2006. It makes 2006 seem like an age ago when you realise that many of the sites he referenced don’t exist today. Six years is a lifetime for some Internet start-ups. In six years they can live and die, or if they’re lucky, be consumed by the big guns who reward them grandly, but render them faceless as they improve their offering.

Today, I took my own advice and used 12 minutes of class time to show the subject of yesterday’s post to my Yr 10 students. It was really encouraging to see them laughing along as I did, and taking note of Shawn’s recommendations for rewiring our brains to promote happiness within us. I proposed that we follow his advice for 21 days, and I’m going to start here by listing three things I was grateful for today.

1. Having the opportunity to teach students who have open minds and who are willing to try new things to improve their learning.

2. Laughing with my daughter as we shared stories from our day.

3. Having the opportunity to see live theatre performed, penned by Australian master playwright, David Williamson.

I was thinking I could share what I’m feeling grateful about here, but I’m not sure it’s the right vehicle. I’ll play it by ear I think. What I do want to do is adhere to this, and other recommendations from Shawn Achor, for the 21 days. I want to see if I can rewire my thinking, and look for the positives around me more than the negatives. I know what it’s like when you’re working in an energised state, and I think I need that pick me up right now.

You haven’t heard much about it of late, but my back room renovation is nearly complete! New carpet is laid next week, and by the end of Tuesday night, we should be enjoying a vastly improved back room in our house. I may even include a picture next week!

Enjoy your weekend. Mine will include a visit to the picture theatre to see ‘The Hunger Games’. Can’t wait really.  : )

The Happiness Advantage – need this in your school?

Over the weekend, I wrote a post on the Voices from the Learning Revolution blog called ‘TED in My Classroom‘, with a focus on TED Ed, their latest initiative. I’m still pondering how I might offer something to the project, but I’ll have to mull over it a little more. What they’re looking for is the following:

TED-Ed’s mission is to capture and amplify the voices of great educators around the world. We do this by pairing extraordinary educators with talented animators to produce a new library of curiosity-igniting videos.

I don’t know if I’m one of the extraordinary educators they’re looking for, but I do think there might be something in my bag of educational tricks that might be worth sharing!

What’s in Shawn Achor’s bag of tricks is well worth your time. He’s a very engaging speaker, talking about what he calls ‘the happiness advantage‘; the effect of positive psychology on our productivity and attitude to life. Here’s some text from the transcript of his talk;

But the real problem is our brains work in the opposite order. If you can raise somebody’s level of positivity in the present, then their brain experiences what we now call a happiness advantage, which is your brain at positive performs significantly better than it does at negative, neutral or stressed. Your intelligence rises, your creativity rises, your energy levels rise. In fact, what we’ve found is that every single business outcome improves. Your brain at positive is 31 percent more productive than your brain at negative, neutral or stressed. You’re 37 percent better at sales. Doctors are 19 percent faster, more accurate at coming up with the correct diagnosis when positive instead of negative, neutral or stressed. Which means we can reverse the formula. If we can find a way of becoming positive in the present, then our brains work even more successfully as we’re able to work harder, faster and more intelligently.

Just imagine if our focus in schools was on this instead of Naplan tests and My School comparisons? I’d like to see schools value this kind of research and invest time and effort in helping our students understand how their state of mind can effect their performance.

I’m happy and positive after watching this. In my view, 12 minutes well spent in any classroom you teach in. Think about sharing it around.