Vulnerability and Curriculum

“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome,” Brene Brown. Vulnerability is our greatest measure of courage. In our daily work as teachers, we have to be vulnerable everyday! We become vulnerable when we learn more about our student’s personal lives. We become vulnerable when we have to learn more about our craft and make changes to our curriculum. We become vulnerable when we support our fellow colleagues.  Being vulnerable is the inevitable result of the trust we must have in our colleagues and students alike.

When we are being vulnerable, we are also being authentic. In health class, it is essential to be vulnerable and authentic because of the curricular content. We are able to discuss the difficult content in an environment that has been cultivated to allow vulnerability. Establishing this environment gives students confidence and courage when they have questions about mental illness, drug education, and human sexuality. Show your students you care, build the relationships it takes to be vulnerable. It is also okay to show your students you are human by telling them you don’t know an answer, admitting this is modeling vulnerability.

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According to Dr. Brene Brown, “being vulnerable, allows students to open up, leave their comfort zone, and learn in a more intentional, personal way.” Here are some ways in which you can build vulnerability in the classroom:

  1. Share your stories, hobbies, and likes/dislikes with your students.
  2. Admit when you are wrong or don’t know the answer.
  3. Consider how your personal experiences might help students navigate their own lives.

“We need to remain vulnerable; and celebrate those vulnerabilities as teachers.”  Be courageous, take risks and be vulnerable!

 

Grit, Resilience, and Curriculum

How do we incorporate grit and resilience into the curriculum? Friday I spent time with several different teachers in the profession who freely discussed how we might incorporate grit and resilience into our curriculum to help students prepare for the real world. While there were many suggestions, I have found myself really thinking through this topic. I have felt that in the past few years my students have demonstrated less grit and resiliency.

Therefore, I picked up a book by Angela Duckworth, Grit; The Power of Passion and Perseverance.  She stated that those who demonstrate GRIT possess a few different characteristics: they are resilient and hardworking, they know deeply what it is they want, they have specific direction; yet most of all, they have a combination of passion and perseverance. Essentially, grit is a combination of talent, effort, skill and achievement.

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But the question remains, how do we teach our students to build GRIT? We teach them the importance of following through on what they have started. We teach them to figure out what it is they love and care about and stay loyal to it. We teach our students to love our curriculum while teaching them how to persevere through tough assignments and projects. We teach them to make goals and bounce back from challenges. As teachers, we have to model the behavior we seek, such as being curious about curriculum and pique their interests. Grit will exist more when passion and perseverance are occurring simultaneously. So, what are somethings we can do to help build grit and resilience amongst our students?

  1. Help your students find purpose. What gets them excited? What do they love?
  2. Share stories of celebrities who have overcome hardships and shown grit.
  3. Teach grit through books, movies, and personal experiences.
  4. Teach students that it is important to finish what you start and sometimes you have to pick the harder thing to do.
  5. Share your passions.

Overall to incorporate grit into your curriculum, follow through on what you say you are going to do, stay loyal, and create goals.

What do you Love about Teaching?

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In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I thought I would consider the love each of us has for teaching and how it relates to the curriculum. “Love is basic to the learning that takes place to fulfill human needs,” (Lack, 1969, p 1). It was once thought that all aspects of health dictated the focus for many different types of curriculum. Various types of curricula were designed to fulfill basic human needs such as belonging, self-respect, self-discipline, social responsibility, morality, and development of the whole person. Today, is the basic need through the fulfillment of love a way to design curriculum?

Think about it: each of us has our own journey as a teacher, student, and lifelong learner. Each time we create a new lesson or a new curriculum, we bring new perspectives, excitement, and love of the content to our students. With each failure, we learn to solve problems and make decisions in order to adjust our curriculum to give our students the gift of learning. With each success, we learn how to love our craft, be better teachers, and engage our students more readily during the next lesson. What excites me about teaching is the ability to grow as a person as well as a teacher, allowing my students to see what I love about the profession.

What excites you? Is it stepping out of your comfort zone? Is it learning a new teaching philosophy? Is it creating a new curriculum? Is it passing along your love and passions for your content to others? Whatever it is you love about teaching, keep making a difference in the lives of our students!!

 

Mindfulness in the Classroom: Adding it to the Curriculum

When the alarm goes off, are you jumping out of bed, thinking about the many things you have to do for the day? OR…are you able to take a moment and say, “I am alive, I am still breathing, life is good!”

Mindfulness can be defined by: being aware of our surroundings, feelings, emotions and how they impact us. Paying attention on purpose and being in the present moment.

Mindfulness also aids in lowering stress and helping the mind focus more clearly. Furthermore, mindfulness boosts creativity, concentration, and overall self-awareness.

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Adding mindfulness to the curriculum allows students to: regulate emotions, moods, sleep, and learning readiness. When students have prolonged exposure to childhood toxic stress it has a lifelong impact on mental and physical health. Solid scientific evidence suggests that mindfulness and meditation improves attention, (strengthens our “mental muscle” for bringing focus back where we want it, when we want it), self-control, emotional resilience (seeing things objectively reduces the amount of narrative we add to the world’s natural ups and downs), memory and immune response, increases IQ levels, decreases academic stress, improves academic performance, increases levels of focus, reduces depression and anxiety, reduces destructive addiction, lowers absenteeism, and creates happier and more compassionate (awareness of our own thoughts, emotions, and senses grows our understanding of what other people are experiencing) students.

There are several ways to incorporate mindfulness into the classroom and you can start with some of the following:

  • Create a mindful mantra each day/each week
    • “Disconnect to Reconnect”
    • “Attitude of Gratitude”
  • Encourage Students to use a Mindful App
    • Headspace
    • Calm
    • Smiling Mind
  • Meditate with your Students Once/Week (5-15 minutes)
  • Use a Chime or Bell to Start Class

For more information, check out the following websites: https://www.mindful.org/meditation/mindfulness-getting-started/

www.mindfulschools.org

 

 

5-Ways to Differentiate Instruction/Curriculum

Here are 5-Ways to Differentiate Instruction/Curriculum. If you hover over the underlined words, you will see documents attached that explain the process of each differentiation type. Happy learning!

  1. Learning Centers/Stations – Organize learning based on different learning centers/stations (video, reading, acting, listening). Stations not only allow students to move around the classroom, channeling their energy into a productive purpose, but stations also encourage collaboration among students.
  2. Group Students by Shared Interests or TopicsQuestion Formulation Technique or Fishbowl Discussions.
  3. Provide Tic-Tac-Toe Learning Opportunities
  4. Project-Based Learning (PBL)PBL (ideas for a Health class) uses an open-ended approach in which students work on a variety of skills such as problem-solving and decision-making skills. Students are able to work alone or collectively to produce an engaging, high-end, result oriented project that answers class questions or solves a problem they wish to resolve.
  5. Task cards – Students will be able to participate and complete activities that they feel comfortable doing. Answering task cards can be a small-group activity, adding variety to classes that normally focus on solo or large-group learning. Set up stations around your classroom and pair students together. You can individualize instruction by monitoring the pairs and addressing gaps when needed.