“A teacher effects eternity, he can never tell where his influence stops”
Quote by unknown
I regularly pause and reflect on the profession or rather the calling of a teacher.
Years of experience has brought the realization that this profession entails so much more than imparting knowledge, skills, morals and values. Teachers are blessed with the task of forming society. We lay the foundation upon which all other professions must build. What an awesome and precious responsibility we have as educators.
As an educator, I believe that all children can learn and reach their highest potential. I believe that all children were born with a God given talent that must be nurtured and developed along the way. Teachers play a crucial role in this development. We are to strive each day a new to get the best out of each child entrusted in our care.
I strongly believe in striving for excellence. Persons I’ve worked with would say: “What else does she expect?” My response has always been: We can always improve, there is always room for improvement.” Each one of us is a work in progress, as God continues to shape and mold us. We must continue to be open to this process of growth and development. How else will we reach our highest potential?
As we focus this year on implementing the Principles of Pedagogical Tact, Teambuilding, Staff Development and Quality Assurance, we make a commitment with one another to strive for excellence. Let us treat others as we ourselves would like to be treated. Let us believe in the goodness of others, letting our actions and interactions be driven by this belief.
We are to look each day afresh in the eyes of the other and make a special connection. As we teach, we learn, and as we learn we continue to grow. Let us grow with one another building bridges sustained by the love of our Heavenly Father.
A school year of blessings to all as we do what is right in the eyes of another.
English Catholic Schools
Mrs. Ria Uiterloo
Dutch Catholic Schools
"When children are motivated and feel good about themselves they will learn, explore, look for knowledge and enjoy learning."
Throughout my years of teaching and being involved in activities that involves children, youngsters and adolescents, just like 13 year old Logan LaPlante in his Ted Talk (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h11u3vtcpaY), I realized that every child wants to be happy when they grow up. Logan envisioned a school, besides academics, with a strong emphasis on eight key areas:
•Time spent in nature
Logan is home schooled, but his dream is attainable. We can create schools for him and all the children who deserve a place where they feel connected, safe and happy through the eight key areas Logan described.
I was very lucky to meet Mr. Toshiro Kanamori two years ago, a former teacher who thaught his former students not only how to be students, but how to live. He gave them lessons on teamwork, community, the importance of openness, how to cope, and the harm caused by bullying.
I was inspired by his award-winning documentary Children Full of Life (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pizQ0mkAjVc) a fourth-grade class in a primary school in Kanazawa, northwest of Tokyo that learns lessons about compassion from him.
In the documentary he instructs each child to write their true inner feelings in a letter, and read it aloud in front of the class. By sharing their lives, the children begin to realize the importance of caring for their classmates.
What an amazing example to teach children how to connect with self, with others, things and society in a whole.
A healthy mind and spirit will connect and promote charity, thus happiness.
It is through these inspirations and experiences I work with my colleagues at the Catholic School Board, School Managers and teams in all our schools to create just an environment where children are motivated, love to learn and explore independently.
I want children to develop through insights, concepts, through relationships. To be able to function in a society they will need those skills to have an overview and feeling for their surrounding (boundaries, overview, notion of, feelings, empathy); they need skills (language, math, Science etc.); the focus should also be on personal skills as cooperation, working together, communication.
Our schools should reflect such an environment where this can happen. That is the vision and mission of the Catholic School board.
For the upcoming years as the Superintendent of the Dutch schools with the Superintendent of the English schools and all other colleagues, I will focus on creating that environment through a trajectory “Pedagogical Tact and Pedagogical leadership in order to develop the pedagogical competences of our teachers.
According to professor Luc Stevens (Zin in onderwijs 2010) teachers should develop an attitude whereby the teacher is his/her own instrument, where his /her “pedagogical mindset” should be indicative of how they treat students, how they relate to students regardless of the situation (formal or informal).
Personally vision on learning is always based on the motivation of the child. By creating an environment that reflects Pedagogical tact and sensitivity, children will learn and develop their own learning route (Piaget).
What is Pedagogical Tact/Sensitivity?
- “To be tactful is by definition a moral concern: we are always tactful for the sake of the good of the other (the child). Tact distinguishes itself from diplomacy, etiquette, etc. which may serve other interest”.
- Tact can refer both to the intersubjective pedagogical relation between teacher and child as well as to the hermeneutic didactical relation between teacher and curriculum content or knowledge.
- To act tactfully as an educator may mean in a particular situation to be able to see what is happening with children, to understand the child’s experience, to sense the pedagogical significance of this situation, to know how and what to do, and to actually do something right.
According to Van Manen tact often involves a holding back, a passing over something, which is nevertheless experienced as influence by the student to whom the tactful action is directed. To act tactfully may imply all this, and yet, tactful action is instantaneous.
While tact cannot be reduced to a set of techniques, Van Manen have suggested (1991)
that there may be several creative or inventive abilities involved in pedagogical practice:
- A teacher who is tactful has the sensitive ability to interpret inner thoughts, understanding, feelings, and desires of children from indirect clues such as gestures, demeanor, expression, and body language. Pedagogical tact involves the ability to immediately see through motives or cause and effect relations. A good teacher is able to read, as it were, the inner life of the young person.
- Pedagogical tact consists in the ability to interpret the psychological and social significance of the features of this inner life. Thus, the tactful teacher knows how to interpret, for example, the deeper significance of shyness, frustration, interest, difficulty, tenderness, humor, discipline in concrete situations with particular children or groups of children.
- A teacher with tact appears to have a fine sense of standards, limits, and balance that makes it possible to know almost automatically how far to enter into a situation and what distance to keep in individual circumstances. For example, it is a basic feature of educational intentionality that teachers always expect more and more from children. Yet, they must realize that they should not have expectations that, when challenged, children cannot manage to live up to. So, paradoxically, tact consists in the ability of knowing how much to expect in expecting too much.
- Tact seems characterized by moral intuitiveness: A tactful teacher seems to have the ability of instantly sensing what is the appropriate, right or good thing to do on the basis of perceptive pedagogical understanding of children's individual nature and circumstances (see Van Manen, 1991).
How does tact arise?
Herbart suggests that tact is the mode of action that we employ quite naturally in everyday life as we are constantly confronted by social situations where we must deal with people in certain ways. Tact is a form of practical knowledge that realizes itself (becomes real) in the very act of teaching.
According to Luc Stevens , children all over the world are driven by their psychological needs: relationship, autonomy and competence. They all want to show who they are and what they are capable of. Connectedness is the condition. Many children are not satisfied in their basic needs. School systems are allowed, and even designed to exclude children. They judge, punish and remove. The basic task for us, pedagogical workers is to connect. Connect children with themselves, with others and with the environment.
What we are striving for is to engage with students and to do the right thing at the right moment.
We talk about trust, children want us to trust them, we talk about self trust, children want autonomy…when a child has dyslexia, we have to understand what dyslexia is, we have to support the teacher, the child needs to trust that he/she can do it through other activities than “focus on reading”
Pedagogical sensitive teachers should be fully engaged in what occurs during contact with children. That means that you set all concerns or worries from home and school aside to be with the children. Children have the right to a relationship, to attention and our time. It is extremely important to take the perspective of the child, to emphasize and connect with the child, so the child can trust, even in the most difficult situation.
We have to obtain trust by allowing the child to learn, that he or she too can make mistakes. And that we, despite their mistakes, will continue to believe in them and will be there for them. The child should know that we are not judging him/her.
We should follow the basic needs:
- Autonomy (offer/make available time for connection or children to connect, trust and response, availability of responsibility), the feeling to be independent. Children would like to do things on their own, decide for themselves, make their own choices and feel responsible. This is only possible in an environment that respects the uniqueness of the child. A child is in school for self and not for the parents or for the school. At an early stage children have the need to distinguish and make their own choices. The pedagogical answer is allowing room for that within boundaries and with the guarantee the connection with others. Individual freedom is important and should be stimulated, but always in relationship with the other and their autonomy.
- Relationship (Offer challenge and make room for relationship, offer support and set boundaries). Children need a relationship, with their teacher and other children. They want to belong and be part of a group. They feel safe at those moments. Even if there are conflicts, they want to depend on the support of the teacher. Adults in schools have more influence on the quality of the relationships. They do not have to be at the forefront of problems but have to be available. Give trust, be an example, encouragement and support are the most important conditions for creating good relationships.
- Competence. (Respect for the child as “actor”, for its uniqueness, take the perspective of the other and others, offer those competences)Keep that in mind and act accordingly. You put yourself, your own needs and judgments aside and enter “the situation” blank. You are there totally in mind and spirit. And your intention should always be to help the child. you show that through your actions and attitude. You trust and respect children and their needs.) Children would like the feeling that they are worth something. They want to experience success and show what they can do, but they also want to be challenged to continue to develop. You cannot set too high expectations or not allow the child to continue to develop. Give the child room by setting the right objectives and give support.
According to Van Manen:
The pedagogical thoughtfulness that good teachers learn to display towards children may depend precisely upon the internalized values, embodied qualities, thoughtful habits that constitute virtues of teaching. And the notion of pedagogical tact implies that qualities or virtues are the learned, internalized, situated, and evoked pedagogical practices that are necessary for the human vocation of bringing up and educating children.
Wellbeing, involvement and connectedness will be the focus in our schools. Therefore safety, relationships and learning will be our focus through development of Pedagogical Tact.
The Catholic School board chooses that “All are involved, all should belong, nobody is excluded and nobody is worth an insufficient mark”( Iedereen erbij hoort, dat niemand buitengesloten wordt en dat niemand een “onvoldoende” waard is”.) We will make sure that each child is accepted as he/she is and that this child will be owner of their development. We will make sure that each child is in balance and takes time to be in balance and will continue to develop, to grow in a unique human being.
It is therefore essential that we and our teams, Management teams, Care team members, teachers, Educational assistants and non-teaching staff will learn with each other and develop an attitude to guarantee “happy children”. Interaction, relationships is therefore essential”.
With the implementation of the Extended school hours and the extra-curricular activities we will make Logan LaPlant’s dream of the school he envisioned a reality. We are on our way!!!