Tag Archives: smile

Prac eve

Final Prac Eve: Tomorrow is the beginning of a 6 week block of Year 7 teaching, focusing on History and English. After this block I will be qualified to teach. Today I’m more than slightly nervous. Strangely, unpreparedly ready. Something like that…

Last year I kept a 366 photo-a-day project that resulted in an exhibition. As with that project, I begin this photo-blog vaguely, not really sure how it will proceed, but determined to use words and photos to get the most from my prac experience.

Unexpected inspiration landed in my Twitter feed this morning:

Someone tweeted: “He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever. Chinese proverb”

Wise words, but it just doesn’t sound Chinese. I looked up the Mandarin: 问者不愚,愚者不问。 My translation: Questioners aren’t foolish; the foolish don’t question. Although not literal, there’s nothing overly misleading about the ‘5 minutes and forever’ interpretation, but I don’t like the ‘he who asks’ part. Integral to being Asia literate is not to mystify aspects of Asian cultures, languages and history – we must question second-hand assumptions. I watched the wine documentary Red Obsession on a plane last night – interesting, insightful, comprehensive. I’m not sure about the emphisis on Mao, though – I doubt the existence of his influence on the masses of young wine enthusiasts. (And I have to ask: WHY did someone not ensure Russell Crowe pronounced ‘Mao Zedong’ and ‘Shenzhen’ correctly? These are such common names – particularly in a documentary on China – that there is no reason in the modern world we cannot all learn to pronounce them correctly. They’re no more difficult than Tchaikovsky or Worcestershire, for example.)

We need to not only ask questions, but also persist in finding authentic answers so we can interpret the reasons behind things for ourselves. This is how we forge our individual connections with the greater world. I sense that this is what I need to do on my prac, in order to find my point of access to the world of teaching. And stay calm. And smile.

I’m not sure if I can create a new photo-idea for the classroom every day of this prac, but here’s the Scrabble one I thought of this morning. It’s got lots of applications: tactile, finite framework but not as limited as Twitter’s 140ch, lots of language and literacy possibilities, easily photographed and shared…

Building empathy skills & capacity

10 tips to help develop empathy skills/capacity (in/with self/students/colleagues/friends/strangers):

[straight extract from http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_75.htm]

  1. Listen – truly listen to people. Listen with your ears, eyes and heart. Pay attention to others’ body language, to their tone of voice, to the hidden emotions behind what they are saying to you, and to the context.
  2. Don’t interrupt people. Don’t dismiss their concerns offhand. Don’t rush to give advice. Don’t change the subject. Allow people their moment.
  3. Tune in to non-verbal communication. This is the way that people often communicate what they think or feel, even when their verbal communication says something quite different.
  4. Practice the “93 percent rule”. We know from a famous study by Professor Emeritus, Albert Mehrabian of UCLA, when communicating about feelings and attitudes,  words – the things we say – account for only 7 percent of the total message that people receive. The other 93 percent of the message that we communicate when we speak is contained in our tone of voice and body language. It’s important, then, to spend some time to understand how we come across when we communicate with others about our feelings and attitudes.
  5. Use people’s name. Also remember the names of people’s spouse and children so that you can refer to them by name.
  6. Be fully present when you are with people. Don’t check your email, look at your watch or take phone calls when a direct report drops into your office to talk to you. Put yourself in their shoes. How would you feel if your boss did that to you?
  7. Smile at people.
  8. Encourage people, particularly the quiet ones, when they speak up in meetings. A simple thing like an attentive nod can boost people’s confidence.
  9. Give genuine recognition and praise. Pay attention to what people are doing and catch them doing the right things. When you give praise, spend a little effort to make your genuine words memorable: “You are an asset to this team because…”; “This was pure genius”; “I would have missed this if you hadn’t picked it up.”
  10. Take a personal interest in people. Show people that you care, and genuine curiosity about their lives. Ask them questions about their hobbies, their challenges, their families, their aspirations.