Schools as Total Institutions

Schools as Total InstitutionsIn our previous post Why is School Important?, we discussed how school is a primary agent of socialization.  Todays post discusses the diverse ways schools attempt to de-socialize and re-socialize children.  When schools work to do so, they are termed  “total institutions”.

Total Institutions have four distinctive characteristics with respect to education.

First: teachers supervise all aspects of daily life; going to school means being separated from family and becoming a part of a new environment. Students are no longer under the supervision of a parent, rather under that of a teacher whose rules differed from those at home.

Second: the school is a rigid system which provides students with a standardized and organized way of life; At home, schedules are not as stringent or fixed as it is at school where events are scheduled for certain times.

Third: formal rules and daily schedules dictate when, where, and how students perform virtually every part of their daily routines; as previously mentioned, the rules in the classroom differ from those at home. Rules at school are in place to control what students do, how they do it and when they did it, as well as, with whom; whereas at home, routines are a little less structured.

Finally: a single rational plan exists to fulfill the particular goal of the institution.

‘De-socialization’ is the idea that individuals can ‘un-learn’ ideas and values, which most often takes place within the educational environment. This occurs when children, who share different traditions, beliefs and cultures, begin to unlearn what they have learned in the home.  Students are eventually able to recognize “bad” values, such as racism and sexism, and unlearn them. School helps students do this by exposing them to these topics and issues and re-teaching them.

We see this process in our schools but what happens to students who immigrate and have not been exposed to western culture? Would this work when students have reached an older age or would the process of de-socialization and re-socialization still apply?

Let us know what your thoughts are on socializing students.  What methods seem to work?

The Tuesday 12: 12 New Year’s Resolutions for Teachers!

Happy New Year!  This is our second day of school in 2013 and my students are refreshed, ready to work, and have new goals for the year (at least I hope)!  My students are making resolutions for 2013, so that had me thinking about 12 resolutions teachers should make (and keep!) for 2013! Of course, these are only my suggestions, so feel free to add in your suggestions in the comments section!

12 teacher resolutions

1. I will get out of my comfort zone and try something new!

It’s very easy to use the same activities, lessons, and units from year to year if you’re teaching the same grades.  I guess a lot of things in life are like that—we feel comfortable with things that are familiar to us.  But I am going to challenge myself—and you too!—to get out of my comfort zone and try new things.  Do you normally run the art club? Why don’t you try coaching a sport? Have you tried to incorporate new concepts in your teaching? I’ve challenged myself to leap into 21st century learning this year…there’s so much to learn, but I will try a little bit more each day.

2. Prioritize!

Teaching is a 24 hour job.  Even if teachers work 24 hours a day, there still is not enough time to get everything that we want accomplished.  With teaching, marking, planning, decorating classrooms, extracurriculars, professional development, and preparing for daily lessons and activities, it seems like my “to do” list gets longer and longer.  I am going to focus on what is important and prioritize my tasks! Not everything is mission critical!

3. Take time for yourself!

A refreshed, relaxed, and energized teacher is an effective teacher! Take care of yourself, eat nutritious meals and snacks, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, spend time with family and friends, and, most importantly, have fun!

4. Don’t let things pile up!

At the end of the day, it’s so easy to look at that small pile of assignments on your desk and convince yourself to let them go just one day…but then that pile starts to grow out of control!  Little things can quickly turn into big problems if you aren’t careful! I’m going to be on task this year! No more slacking Smile

5. 21st century learning!

As I mentioned in my first resolution, I really want to try new things.  21st century learning seems like such a phenomenal and revolutionary change to teaching and learning! It seems a bit overwhelming and scary, but it is also motivating and exhilarating! This year, I’ve began to use Edmodo and Engrade in my classroom.  I want to incorporate technology, digital resources, and educational apps into my daily teaching more and more.

6. Make a 1 year, 3 year, and 5 year plan!

Did you reach all your goals in 2012? Did you even set any goals for yourself in 2012?  Are you where you expected to be in 2013?  Did you even imagine where you would be in 2013?

It’s very easy to just live in the moment, but it is essential to plan ahead and set goals for yourself.  I plan to make 1 year, 3 year, and 5 year goals for myself to keep me focused and on track!

7. Ask for student input!

I really want my students to be more actively engaged and involved in their learning…not just in lessons and activities, but I want their input in the types of concepts we cover, how we cover them, and how they’d like to learn.  Of course, we need to cover curriculum expectations, but there are so many ways for students to learn the curriculum, explore their learning needs, and become active contributors in your classroom learning community.

8. Simplify!

Sometimes I get a little too wrapped up in the little things when I should be focusing on the big picture.  Here’s an easy way to simplify your life a bit: get rid of your mark books and use an electronic mark book!  There are many free, online mark books or you can simply use an Excel spreadsheet…there is no excuse for wasting time calculating and tabulating final grades.  I use engrade.ca and I think it is phenomenal! Scared you’ll lose your work? I simply export or print my marks on a weekly basis and I’m worry free!

9. Form a professional learning community!

Do you meet with colleagues simply to plan lessons?  Or do you use this as an opportunity to learn from another and grow as a teacher?  If you don’t have a formal professional learning community, then make one yourself! Look to teacher blogs, teacher forums, Twitter, or Facebook to discuss education, teaching strategies, lesson plans, and student learning with teachers all over the world! How’s that for a global learning community!

10. Connect with every student!

Build a relationship with every single student in your class.  This may be difficult but it is so important! There are some kids that are shy, quiet, do their work, and don’t really stand out…it is easy for them to get lost in the crowd.  Don’t let this happen!  Help students join the classroom community and grow as individuals.

11. It’s okay to veer off your lesson plans!

I’ve said this before and I will say it again—it is okay to veer off your lesson plans! They are not written in stone! Some of the best class discussions I’ve had in my class occurred when we were off on some tangent.  It’s okay and there is time to go back and catch up.  True learning is spontaneous and cannot be scheduled into a thirty minute pre-determine block of time.  Be flexible!

12. Don’t forget that learning should be fun!

Learning should be fun…both for you and your students!  Try to use different tactics and tools to engage the students in your class.  If you are having a fun time, then your love of learning will be infectious and your students will be motivated and inspired to learn!

Good luck with your resolutions! I’ll report back on how I’m doing! If you have any suggestions or additions, please add them in to the comments.  See you next week for another edition of The Tuesday 12!

21st Century Learning: A Time of Change for Teachers and Students

“In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists” (Eric Hoffer)

Today, all the teachers in our board participated in professional development centred around 21st century learning.  Each school sent a few representatives to the symposium, while the remaining teachers and support staff at each school logged in to a live stream and watched the presentation together.  I can honestly say that today’s symposium and speakers were amazing.  I have so much to write and think about, but I need to go over my notes to really do it justice.  So many excellent ideas were presented today and I really want to reflect on how to be a learner and a teacher, how to engage my students in innovative ways, and how to apply all this new knowledge to my teaching.

Here are a few things though:

I have so many thoughts running through my head regarding the questions raised today, but I have to try to formulate some sort of plan to address these ideas in the classroom.  One item that was mentioned today was teachers using blogs to get connected to students, parents, and other educators…on that note:

Here’s our latest TeachHUB.com article: The Importance of Teacher Bloggers! Please read our article, leave a comment, ask a question, or tell us about your blogs!

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links

Holiday Giving: Teaching about Social Activism by Example

 

 

It’s December and the holiday season is approaching quickly.  If we calculate (assuming your school closes on Dec 21), then all that is left are 15 school days!  This is a crazy time, but also a fun time.  Most of us will do many activities based on the holidays within our classroom.  But have you considered social activism?  This is a time that students can be easily drawn into the whole commercialization of the holidays.  Students are caught up with what they want to get but we need to help them understand that this is a time for giving and caring as well.  Most of the time, students and their parents are also wondering what they can purchase for you.  You have heard of those AHA moments, and this is one of them!  Students learn by example, and we could be the greatest example during this holiday season.  Have a discussion with them about how important it is for you to help others.  Why not ask them to avoid purchasing something for you (if they intended to) and utilized that money and donate it to help others.  This could be done in many ways.  Here are some suggestions:

1) As a class go to a food bank and volunteer your time.  Students who were planning to purchase something for you can use those funds as donation, or could purchase non perishable items to bring along. This is great for students who would not normally be purchasing anything due to financial constraints or just do not do teacher gifts but still would like to help others.

2)There is an organization that helps with Gifts of Hope.  There are gifts as little as $10 and if that is still too much students can pool their funds together.  Visit the website www.plancanada.ca/givehope with your students and show them how something so small can create positive change in the world.

3) Visit a local nursing home and have students prepare songs to perform.  Students can use their funds in order to subsidize transportation

4) Create a Holiday Hamper.  This is a collaborative project where people donate food, clothing and other essential needs to a family in need.  Your school Social Worker, Administration and local church can steer you in the right direction with proper information to ensure items are appropriate but still maintaining the privacy and dignity of the family.

What is important to remember is that all it takes is a small change to make a big difference!  We are including a link to a fantastic video to generate discussion with your students and see that they too can make a difference! Click on the link below for the video.  We would love to read about what you have done for others in your school, community and local areas.  Wishing you a wonderful December!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHbL-Fh9t4I 

How to help students set and reach their goals! Read all about it on www.TeachHUB.com!

At the beginning of each school year, I give each one of my students a yellow star and they write their names on the front. On the back, I ask them to write out three goals that they hope to achieve by June.  Some students’ goals are academic, some are social, some are extracurricular, and some are personal; however, all students clearly articulate that they have ideas in their minds regarding what they are hoping to achieve during that school year.  I then staple the stars up on my front bulletin board all around my banner that displays that quote, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars–Les Brown” (love that quote!).

Choosing a goal is pretty easy, but how can you help your students reach their goals?  Read our article on TeachHUB.com, where we provide you with a lesson plan and student worksheets to help them choose a goal and then develop an action plan in order to achieve it!

Words to Live By Wednesdays: Michael Jordan

In this week’s edition of “Words to Live by Wednesdays,” we will continue along yesterday’s theme of sports quotes. I really love to share this quote from Michael Jordan with my students because they usually see Michael Jordan as a superstar athlete who has just natural talent, instead of a person who struggled and worked hard to achieve his goals and succeed.

Just click on the image below to get the full, FREE poster!