THE FWSU STORY: Professional Practice Forum for New Teachers: Using “Teach Like Finland” to Promote Student and Teacher Wellbeing

Each year, in addition to receiving mentoring in their schools, FWSU New Teachers engage in a hybrid learning model — a balance of online and face-to-face meetings with a focus on supporting them as new teachers.  The purpose of New Teachers Professional Practice Forum is to:

  • Explore new ideas about practice through readings, speakers, and multimedia;
  • Interact face-to-face and online with peers;
  • Reflect on big ideas of professional growth;
  • Cultivate well-being; and
  • Share experiences and learning artifacts while reflecting on and self-assessing growth over time.
FWSU New Teachers discuss.

FWSU New Teachers met again to discuss Timothy Walker’s Teach Like Finland: 33 Simple Strategies for Joyful Classrooms.

In December, the FWSU New Teachers met again to discuss Timothy Walker’s Teach Like Finland: 33 Simple Strategies for Joyful Classrooms. For the month of December, our focus was on Chapter 3 “Autonomy.”  As we had done in our first session, we looked at the reading through two lenses:

  • Implementing the practices in our job setting; and
  • Thinking about the implications of the practices for growing our own sense of well-being as educators.
Teachers diving into the content.

Teachers diving into the book during Professional Practice Forum.

Teachers began the session with a “warm-up” chat focused on the book. The practices of autonomy from the book are:

Starting with Freedom: Providing children with more low-stakes opportunities to approach their learning.

Leaving Margin: Creating flexible time throughout the school day to ensure important tweaks are made to teaching and learning.

Offering Choices: Providing tasks that are more open-ended.

Planning with Your Students: Carving out time before launching a unit or a project to discuss the direction of the learning with students and then drawing upon that discussion to shape the unit or project.

Making it Real: Designing classroom learning that resembles real-world learning so students can see the intended purpose of their schoolwork.

Demanding Responsibility: Trusting students with more autonomy in order to give them more opportunities to assume age-appropriate responsibilities.

Over the course of the next month, FWSU New Teachers will “try-on” one of these practices in their work setting, reflect on its impact, and share with peers at the January session.

FWSU Teacher participating in Professional Practice Forum.

FWSU Teacher participating in Professional Practice Forum.

Next, we looked at the same 6 practices as they related to improving teacher well-being through Time Management. The title of the December session presentation was Problem with Procrastination? Work-life Balance? How to be more Efficient and Happy. Our presenter was Bonnie Poe, FWSU Prevention and Wellness Coordinator.

FWSUfinlandrevisted4

FWSU Prevention and Wellness Coordinator Bonnie Poe presents to new teachers.

Bonnie used the principles of Time Management, particularly addressing procrastination, and connected them with the practices outlined in the chapter. Teachers learned about and discussed starting with the freedom to manage their time by prioritizing; leaving margin in their own lives (you don’t have to do everything in your first year) and becoming more flexible and nimble at making adjustments and trade-offs; making good choices in the use of their own time; planning with their colleagues and tapping into their expertise to save time and deepen their own learning; “keeping it real” (they all have busy, full lives outside of school, too); and demanding personal responsibility in addressing their own issues with procrastination.

FWSUfinlandrevisted6

Teachers explore important topics during Professional Practice Forum

Bonnie used Poll Everywhere to engage the teachers in a survey about their use of time. Teachers indicated they struggled most with feeling that they had to strive for perfection. They understand the principles of growth mindset and work hard to infuse them into the learning culture of their classrooms, but struggle to apply them to their own work. This contributes to the feelings of being overwhelmed.

 

Bonnie concluded the session with some important takeaways. Teachers will “try-on” a new time management strategy and share their struggles and successes at future meetings.

Takeaways: How to be Efficient and Happy by using Time Management:

Understanding Procrastination and Creating a Work and Personal Life Balance

  • Set work and personal priorities
    • Don’t feel like you have to do everything the first year
    • Work meetings should have an agenda and an outcome…make efficient use of your time and that of others
  • Perfectionist? Take time to address when it is needed and how to stop when it isn’t necessary
  • Create professional relationships for support and learning (ask for help, ask for feedback on specific items you want observed)
  • Have a monthly schedule that emphasizes routines (includes important personal times and professional deadlines)
  • Unplug 🙂 As part of your routine, decide when and how often you will check email/messages
  • Procrastination
    • Identify what “character” (time waster) you are, and if it is interfering with any aspect of your life; decide how to address it
  • Take time to REFLECT (don’t dwell; reflect)
  • Remember to HAVE FUN!

Linda Keating

Linda Keating is the Director of Curriculum at FWSU. She is a regular contributor to the FWSU Blog. You can follow her on Twitter @Educate4ward

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