WHAT MAKES GREAT TEACHING?

Hello my friends!

Teacher quality is what teachers know and bring to the classroom. Teaching quality is what teachers do with what they know once they get inside the classroom. It includes the strategies and techniques teachers use to get students to learn. These strategies include understanding and applying the evidence on how students learn, using instructional best practices, enhancing strategies for instructional observation and evaluation, providing effective and ongoing professional development and establishing a common vision for philosophical beliefs about students and teaching (Kaplan & Owings, 2002).

There are many variables that affect instruction including the subject, grade level, learners’ needs and desired outcomes. Effective instruction promotes excellence and student learning outcomes through best-practices and teaching practices based on high standards of instruction and student engagement.  It includes elements such as effective questioning and use of assessment by teachers. Students’ perceptions of their learning environment influence their approaches to learning (Ramsden, 2003). For instance, they are more likely to demonstrate deep approaches to learning when they perceive that teaching is high quality, they have some voice in what is to be learned, and they are aware of the goals and standards required in the unit. Specific practices, like reviewing previous learning, providing model responses for students, giving adequate time for practice to embed skills securely and progressively introducing new learning (scaffolding) are also elements of high quality instruction.
Effective teaching practices need to occur in physically and psychologically safe climates. A safe learning environment is the keystone for learning. Effective teachers create physically and emotionally safe learning environments in which students can take academic risks, make mistakes, obtain feedback and revise their initial ideas and understandings (Kaplan & Owings, 2002).

The positive effects of high quality teaching are especially significant for students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Evidence suggests that when taught by very effective teachers, students can gain an extra year’s worth of learning (Hanushek, 1992, Sutton trust, 2011). Research evidence from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development affirms that “teacher quality” is the most important school variable influencing student achievement (2005).

According to Christopher Day and Qing Gu in their book Resilient Teachers, Resilient Schools, Building and Sustaining Quality in Testing Times, the definition of quality in teachers should be understood in the broadest possible sense. It goes beyond the technocratic concerns for performativity and test results. The continuing aspiration for quality is driven by teachers’ sense of vocation and care about and for their pupils. It is about the extra mile that the best teachers willingly travel to motivate each one of their pupils to learn and to bring about the best possible achievement in them. It is related to their passion, commitment and continuing enthusiasm for their own learning and development which is importantly supported by their school and which results in an abiding sense of efficacy, hope and belief that they can and do continue to make a difference in the classroom.

Thank you very much for reading!

Love always,

Vassiliki xxxx

 

GREAT TEACHING AND THE POWER OF WORDS

 

pexels-photo-207983

Throughout human history, our greatest leaders and thinkers have used the power of words to transform our emotions, to enlist us in their causes, and to shape the course of destiny. Words can not only create emotions, they create actions. And from our actions flow the results of our lives.

Anthony Robbins

Hello my friends!

Words can hurt and shock, or they can heal and lift spirits. Words can change lives, for better or for worse. Words are not only powerful, but they can have a last impact.

Be aware of students’ feelings when receiving assessed work back because they can be particularly sensitive to any comments you have written on their work. Giving students face-to-face feedback can be very powerful and productive. Good feedback promotes involvement and shows that the teacher is taking an active interest in the learner. The Great teacher speaks genuinely and listen openly. Spending time with a student means a great deal. Whenever it is feasible turn to them for help. Say thanks. Be on the lookout for even little things the student does that are meaningful to you. Be specific as to what you appreciate. Ask a question. The Great teacher is open to their suggestions. When the student does something positive, acknowledge it. Recognize the positive result.

Bob Greene writes: “A few words though they mean little at the time to the people who say them, can have enormous power. We need to be more aware of the effect that our words might have on someone else. We also need to understand that words we often utter carelessly or while in an emotional state can have a lasting impact. Greene points out that positive words can also have a major influence and can last a lifetime. His story is about a professional writer who was shy and lacked confidence in his childhood. But something happened in his high school English class that changed his life. It was a routine occurrence-his teacher returned a writing assignment to him. He doesn’t even remember what the grade on that paper was, but he does remember the four words she had written on it: “This is good writing.” This was a young man who liked to write and often dreamed of composing short stories, but he lacked the confidence until that day. His teacher’s little note got him to think differently about his abilities, and it was the beginning of  a successful career in writing. To this day he believes that it would never have happened without those four words written in the margin of his paper. Greene concluded his article this way: “So few words. They can change everything.”

Great teachers use words of encouragement. And words of encouragement create an atmosphere in which students can thrive!

Love always,

Vassiliki xxxx

 

 

 

Feeling Down and Overwhelmed by Life’s Challenges? 19 Steps to End Worrying.

 

pexels-photo-626165

 

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” —Albert Einstein.

Hello my friends!

Worry is a form of thinking.  How we worry can either be constructive or destructive. Worrying is feeling uneasy or being overly concerned about a situation or problem. With excessive worrying, your mind and body go into overdrive as you constantly focus on “what might happen.” Sometimes, a little worry or anxiety is helpful. It can help you get ready for an upcoming situation. But excessive worry or ongoing fear or anxiety is harmful when it becomes so irrational that you can’t focus on reality or think clearly.

Chronic worry and emotional stress can trigger a host of health problems. The fight or flight response causes the body’s sympathetic nervous system to release stress hormones such as cortisol. These hormones can cause physical reactions such as:
Difficulty swallowing
Dizziness
Dry mouth
Fast heartbeat
Fatigue
Headaches
Inability to concentrate
Irritability
Muscle aches
Muscle tension
Nausea
Shortness of breath.

There are 19 steps you can do to stop the pattern of excess worry and live a happier life.

1.Identify your stress situations and what you’re worried about.

2. Make time for Faith. “ The simplicity of our life of contemplation makes us see the face of God in everything, everyone, and everywhere, all the time”. Mother Teresa.

3. Challenge Your Beliefs About Worry.

What is the evidence that the thought is true? That it’s not true?
Is there a more positive, realistic way of looking at the situation?
What’s the probability that what I’m scared of will actually happen? If the probability is low, what are some more likely outcomes?
Is the thought helpful? How will worrying about it help me and how will it hurt me?
What would I say to a friend who had this worry?

4. Practice Realistic Thinking.

5. Write down your worries.

6. Setting aside a certain amount of time (10-15 minutes) each day to consider worries and avoiding thinking about them at other times in the day.

7. Make your worries boring. If there is a specific worry that bothers you often, you can try to make it boring, so your brain will return to it less often. Do this by repeating it in your head again and again for several minutes.

8. Interrupt negative thought loops and replace them with positive ones.

9. Think of how to solve the problem. Knowing what to do if a dreaded event does occur can help reduce the anxiety that develops from an imagined scenario.

10. Think about social influences. Emotions can be contagious. If you spend a lot of time with other worriers, or people who make you anxious, you may want to reconsider how much time you are spending with those people.

11. Accept the Things You Cannot Change.

12. Embrace uncertainty.

13. Try not to isolate yourself. Develop deep relations.

14. Get moving.

15. Take a yoga or tai chi class.

16. Try deep breathing.

17. Meditate.

18. Stay focused on the present.

19. Practice progressive muscle relaxation.

And always remember:

“You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry, don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.” —Walter Hagen.

Love always,

Vassiliki xxxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 tips to stop negative thinking

Hello my friends!

What are the typical ways in which you respond to the triggers you experience? When faced with a difficult situation, emotion, or decision, do you get caught up in thoughts that seem to seize control of your mind—for example, anxious, fearful or angry thoughts?

1. The key to changing your negative thoughts is to understand how you think now (and the problems that result) and then use strategies to change thoughts or make them have less effect.

Here is a more detailed explanation of the A-B-Cs of the systematic-thought-evaluation process, which lies at the core of CBT:

A—activating event: This refers to the objective situation or external stimulus—the event, occurrence, or specific incident— that triggers a cognitive response in the first place.

B—cognitive response: This refers to how you interpret and come to some conclusion—thoughts often manifested in the form of self-talk—about that event. This necessarily is a reflection of your personal belief system and the particular habit patterns of thought you have adopted and use instinctively every day.

C—emotional reaction: This refers to the distressing feelings that the thoughts in B automatically generate.

Research shows that you can rewire your brain to your advantage. This will lessen the possibility of ever experiencing a serious depression, or, should you have a relapse from a current situation, the odds are favorable it will be less intense and of shorter duration. It also shows you can rewire your brain to recover from traumatic brain injuries of various kinds. This ongoing research falls under the promising new science called neuro-plasticity. Neuroplasticity – or brain plasticity – is the ability of the brain to modify its connections or re-wire itself. Without this ability, any brain, not just the human brain, would be unable to develop from infancy through to adulthood or recover from brain injury.

In Stronger, George S. Everly Jr., Douglas A. Strouse, and Dennis K. McCormack compare humans undergoing stress and experiencing resilience to a rubber ball: In order to make it bounce back, you must put it under great pressure. The greater the pressure, the higher the ball will bounce back. Now to be clear, it’s not the pressure itself that causes the ball to bounce, but the construction and attributes of the ball under pressure. It’s what the ball is made of that really matters. The pressure serves as a catalyst for the rebound. We are like that rubber ball. Our character and attributes—our mental and emotional construction—determine how quickly and easily we will bounce back when challenges apply pressure to our life. And, yes, we can bounce back. Research on resiliency concludes that each person has an innate capacity for resiliency, a self-righting tendency. This capacity operates best when we have resiliency-building conditions in our life, but everyone, even those who grew up with hardships or who have dealt with prolonged or recurring stress, can harness their ability to bounce back.

One strategy that can help improve your outlook is to remind yourself of other challenges you’ve already faced and overcome. Writing down what you’ve learned about yourself from previous, difficult experiences, for example, how you’ve grown or what you’ve accomplished since, or perhaps even because of, a life crisis will empower you with belief that you can triumph in the face of adversity.  Thought diaries help you to identify your negative thinking styles and gain better understanding of how your thoughts (and not the situations you are in) cause your emotional reactions.

2. Learning to manage emotions and choose your thoughts through techniques such as yoga or meditation or by practicing mindfulness will empower you to maintain the perspective that you can survive or overcome. Research from Prof. Mark Williams from Oxford University showed that when difficulties arise in life many of us tend to get caught up in excessive unhelpful thinking. Sometimes people try to stop constant unhelpful thinking but we don’t have to try to stop our thoughts. A more effective way to ease all that internal noise, Prof. Williams teaches, is to pay attention to our direct sensory experience. In this way there’s simply little to no room left in our attention for all that excessive thinking. Coming to our senses calms the mind and grounds us in the present moment. To do this simply redirect your attention out of the thoughts in your head and bring your focus to your sense perceptions. Whether you’re in your home, at the office, in the park or on a subway, notice everything around you. Use your senses to their fullest. Don’t get into a mental dialogue about the things you see, just be aware of what you’re experiencing in this moment. Be aware of the sounds, the scents or the sensation of the air on your skin.

Please visit my new website, e-shop:

http://www.mandaladotsforpleasantthoughts.com

photo 20

My hope is that my new website is uplifting – a place you can come to and feel relaxed, calm and enlightened.
This website is about you and your emotional wellbeing – a place for peace and happiness.

All my mandala stones, wooden pebbles and bookmarks are stress relieving because they can be used as a focus for meditation. They always have a circular nature and offer balancing symmetrical elements and images symbolizing harmony and completion. These mandala stones, pebbles and bookmarks will help promote mindfulness, focus attention and emotional wellbeing.

Select a mandala stone, a mandala wooden pebble or a mandala wooden disc that appeal to you. Focus on the mandala and let it absorb all of your attention and RELAX. Take a few moments to breath deeply. Meditate on the circle and connect with your inner self.

Love always,

Vassiliki xxxx