Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Positive School Climate

"Effective school climates reflect routines and practices that strengthen students’ goals for learning and provide multiple opportunities for students to make decisions about their schooling"

A key component of school climate concerns the relationships that exist among students and adults, as well as the relationships among schools, families, and their communities.

Between teachers and students

The relationships between teachers and students are the most important to achievement. They should be warm and caring and meet students’ personal and developmental needs. Teachers’ actions must show their high expectations for their students and their confidence that their students will be successful. Classroom climates can be irrevocably harmed if teachers behave in derogatory or punitive ways.

Among students

 Three aspects of peer relationships are present in schools with positive climates:
  1.  Each student has at least three friends who provide safe harbors in difficult times
  2. Students are able to resolve everyday conflicts in productive and prosocial ways that do not interrupt friendships or disrupt classmates’ interactions
  3. Students feel safe and protected from peer aggression, intimidation, and bullying.

These characteristics may be difficult to observe directly because high quality peer interactions can include jostling and rough talk. Adults may be unfamiliar with the tenor, conventions, and boundaries that mark students’ interactions with one another, and they may not be able to distinguish between student conflict and student friendships. But most students are adept judges of the social culture, and collectively, they can reliably assess the school’s peer climate.

Among adults at school

In most respects, teachers need the same things from their colleagues that students require from their classmates: a few good friends at work, trust that minor conflicts over resources or practices will be resolved productively and respectfully, and safety from social aggression and victimization. Strong collegial relationships multiply the supports teachers have to strengthen their instructional strategies: colleagues bounce ideas off of one another, share their successes, step in to help solve challenging problems, and foster conditions for successful teaching.

Among schools and families

In schools with strong school climates, teachers’ relationships with their students’ families are usually familiar and comfortable. Families and schools hold common expectations and values for students’ learning and development, which prevents misunderstanding between school and family life. Students should not be required to negotiate disagreements between their parents and teachers. When families visit the school on a daily basis, the community’s culture becomes familiar and welcoming.

Source: Dr. Kanika D. White, 2010, Principal Leadership, [Online] Available from: http://www.nasponline.org/resources/principals/School_ClimatePLDec10_ftsp.pdf Retrieved on 27th November 2012 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

What is a school improvement plan?

A school improvement plan is a road map that sets out the changes a school needs to make to improve the level of student achievement, and shows how and when these changes will be made.

School improvement plans are selective: they help principals, teachers, and other stakeholders answer the questions “What will we focus on now?” and “What will we leave until later?” They encourage staff and parents to monitor student achievement levels and other factors, such as the school environment, that are known to influence student success. With up-to-date and reliable information about how well students are performing, schools are better able to respond to the needs of students, teachers, and parents.

A school improvement plan is also a mechanism through which the public can hold schools accountable for student success and through which it can measure improvement. One of the first steps—a crucial one—in developing an improvement plan involves teachers, parents, and other community members working together to gather and analyse information about the school and its students, so that they can determine what needs to be improved in their school. As the plan is implemented, schools continue to gather this kind of data. By comparing the new data to the initial information on which the plan was based, they— and the public—can measure the success of their improvement strategies.

Real change takes time. It is important that all partners understand this as they enter into the school improvement planning process. Incremental improvements are significant, and they should be celebrated, but they do not constitute lasting change. School improvement plans are therefore best designed as three-year plans:
  • year 1 is taken up with the planning process
  • year 2 is the first year of implementation
  • year 3 is the year in which implementation continues.

During initial deliberations, or as time goes on, schools may wish to extend their plan for additional years to ensure that they maintain their focus and reach their goals. In any case, school improvement plans should be considered working documents that schools use to monitor their progress over time and to make revisions when necessary to ensure that the plans stay on course. 

In developing their school’s improvement plan, the principal, staff, parents, and other community members work through a variety of activities focused areas like curriculum delivery, school environment, and parental involvement. For each of these focused areas, schools establish the following:
  • a goal statement
  • performance targets
  • areas of focus
  • implementation strategies
  • indicators of success
  • time lines
  • responsibility for implementing
  • strategies
  • checkpoints for status updates
  • opportunities for revisions.
Taken from: Education Improvement Commission, 2000, School Improvement Planning: A handbook for principals, Teachers, and School Councils [Online] Available from: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/document/reports/sihande.pdf

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Decide to Have a Positive Day!

Our inner critic is the internal voice of negative judgmental self talk. It is the nagging feeling, the inner voice that makes us critical of ourselves and others.
We learn to be critical of ourselves as we learn to march to the drummer of others wants and needs, we learn to be critical of others when they do not conform to what we want or expect.
The inner critic speaks loudly in judgment of ourselves and others. It is a voice that yearns to castigate. It is the voice of enslavement to our egos and to the wants of others.
Sometimes our inner critic will leave us with feelings of self doubt; sometimes it will allow us to feel negative and critical of others. When we listen to our inner critic, we listen to negativity that separates us from our best self and others.

Our best personal and professional selves come from a place of self love and acceptance. When we can truly love and accept ourselves we can also see those in our world as collaborators on our path of personal learning. Love is a path which brings us closer to the seed of creation and to a place where we can grow, learn and to share joy with others.
We are all partners on a human journey, and the greatest challenge in our roadmap to personal and professional success is to cleave to our humanity, to the values of sharing and caring that make us brothers and sisters on the road of life.

Take a day this week to stomp out the voice of your inner critic; to free yourself from self imposed negativity and judgment.
Silence all criticism and negativity for 24 hours. Concentrate only on the good in yourself and in others that you meet and interact with. Give the inner critic a day off, and in so doing spend a day with your highest, greatest and best self.

By Irene Segal justcoachit.com

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Teaching Excellence Awards 2012

Source: http://www.haveeru.com.mv/dhivehi/pictures/4532

Teaching Excellence Awards is a unique opportunity to recognize and reward everyone who is a part of education sector. Hence, the Teaching Excellence Awards in the Maldives are aimed at;
Recognizing outstanding teachers, heads of schools and other staff who make exceptional contributions to the schools in Maldives. 

Teaching Excellence Awards ceremony was held on 15th October 2012 in Dharubaaruge. 7 awards were given in this ceremony.

The winners of the Teaching Excellence Awards 2012 are:

 Four Seasons Resorts Award for teacher of the year in a pre-school - Khadheeja Hussain 
ADK Group Award for leading teacher of the year in a primary school - Abdul Faththah Hussain
Media Net Digital Award for teacher of the year in a primary school - Abdulla Abdul Kareem
Island Aviation Award for support staff of the year - Mariyam Latheefa
Villa College Award for teacher of the year in a secondary school - Ali Najeeb
Orchid Holdings Award for special educational needs teacher of the year - Rahma Easa
Air Taxi Award for Principal of the year - Abdulla Nahid

Monday, September 17, 2012

Exam tips – after the exam

It is easy to fall into the trap of wondering how well you performed and to discuss this with your fellow students. Your time would be better spent looking ahead to your next examination.
§  Don’t panic – you won’t be the only student who is anxious about their answers
§  Don’t compare your answers with those of other students – this can create negative feelings
§  Have some fresh air and food and take time to relax before you start revising
§  Don’t rush to your textbooks to check your answers – there is no point at this stage
§  Focus on the next exam and how you might improve your exam technique
§  Have a quick look at your revision plan. Do you need to adjust it?
§  Think positive!
Source: University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate, 2012, Revision Tips [Online] Available from: http://www.cambridgestudents.org.uk/examtime/revisiontips/

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Exam tips – sitting the exam

Be prepared; find out what is involved in each of the examinations that you are going to sit. Organize yourself the night before and get plenty of sleep.
§  Check you have the correct equipment with you before you leave the house (pens pencils, ruler, scientific calculator, etc)
§  Do take a watch or clock so that you can time your answers
§  Leave for the exam in plenty of time
§  Look through the paper first and mark difficult questions/initial thoughts
§  Select the questions that will best enable you to demonstrate your knowledge to the examiner
§  Look at the marks available and read the questions carefully, following instructions given in the paper (e.g. to show all workings, word limits etc)
§  Use the information provided on the paper (the answer’s often nearly all there)
§  Pace yourself and allow enough time to answer all the required questions
§  Write as neatly as possible to help the examiner to mark your work. Marking untidy writing is difficult
§  For longer answers, take a few minutes before you begin to produce a structured plan of what you are going to include in each section
§  Allow yourself ten minutes at the end to read through your answers and correct any mistakes
§  Cross out anything you do not want the examiner to read (e.g. an earlier answer to a question)
Source: University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate, 2012, Revision Tips [Online] Available from: http://www.cambridgestudents.org.uk/examtime/revisiontips/

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Dealing with exam nerves

Source:  http://frobinett.edublogs.org/files/2011/01/test_anxiety-1748t65.gif 

It is natural to feel nervous before an examination. The more prepared you feel, the easier it will be to conquer your fears.
ü  Create a revision plan to help you feel in control of the process
ü  Plan your work carefully around the topics you need to focus on. Being aware of gaps in your knowledge can create nerves, but having a plan of how you will fill these will make you feel better.
ü  Find out what is involved in the exam:
o    where and when it will take place
o    how much time is allowed
o    how many questions you need to answer
ü  Think positive
ü  Keep the exam in context – even if you do badly, there will be other options open to you
ü  Allow yourself some fun-time each day to relax
Eat sensibly – your brain cells need energy to function well. Make sure you drink plenty of water to avoid becoming dehydrated. Dehydration makes you tired and reduces concentration

Source: University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate, 2012, Revision Tips [Online] Available from: http://www.cambridgestudents.org.uk/examtime/revisiontips/

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Last-minute revision tips

ü  Although time may be short, you can still make a difference to your grade. Try and prioritize; do what you can.
ü  Use your revision tools (prompts, diagrams etc) to check final facts
ü  Keep calm and consolidate your existing knowledge rather than trying to learn new topics
ü  Don’t stay up all night revising; being overtired will not help you to do your best
 Source: University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate, 2012, Revision Tips [Online] Available from: http://www.cambridgestudents.org.uk/examtime/revisiontips/

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Revision Plan

The top tip for successful revision is to make a plan; otherwise it is easy to waste your precious revision time. It is recommended that you start your revision at least six weeks before your exams begin. It is helpful to look at your exam dates and work backwards to the first date you intend to start revising.
Ø  List all your exam subjects and the amount of time you think you will need for each one. It is unlikely that the amounts will be equal. Many people find it advisable to allocate more time to the subject or topics they find the most difficult
Ø  Draw up a revision plan for each week
Ø  Fill in any regular commitments you have first and the dates of your examinations
Ø  Use Revision Checklists or Syllabuses for each subject as a starting point. Look at what you need to know and try to identify any gaps in your knowledge. (A good way of doing this is to look at the results of past papers or tests you have worked through)
Ø  Divide your time for each subject into topics based on the units in the revision checklist or syllabus, and make sure you allow enough time for each one
Ø  Plan your time carefully, assigning more time to subjects and topics you find difficult
Ø  Revise often; try and do a little every day
Ø  Plan in time off, including time for activities which can be done out in the fresh air. Take a 5 or 10 minute break every hour and do some stretching exercises, go for a short walk or make a drink
Ø  You may find it helpful to change from one subject to another at ‘break’ time, for example doing one or two sessions of maths and then changing to Geography, or alternating a favourite subject with a more difficult one. It helps to build in some variety
Ø  Write up your plan and display it somewhere visible
Ø  Adjust your timetable if necessary and try to focus on your weakest topics and subjects
Ø  Don’t panic; think about what you can achieve, not what you can’t. Positive thinking is important!

 Source: University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate, 2012, Revision Tips [Online] Available from: http://www.cambridgestudents.org.uk/examtime/revisiontips/

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Revision Tips

These days are very important for the students who are doing O’Level this year since these are the last days their revision. So this article is targeted for all those students who are sitting in the Cambridge O’Level exam this year.
Everyone feels nervous about taking exams. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your revision time and keep those nerves under control.
It’s important to remember that an examination is a test of learning, not memory. Examiners want to see evidence that you have drawn on your knowledge to develop a reasoned argument, rather than replicate course notes and textbook facts. Revision should be a process of consolidating understanding rather than cramming as much information as possible before the morning of the exam.
Source:  http://s3.amazonaws.com/minglebox-photo/core-0000-c8a0428e16d4ea950116ed7dee5c1ac6.l_data-0000-c34028771de3523d011deaadcee7087d.jpg

Study skills

Where to study
Creating good conditions to study in can help you make the most of the time you spend revising. Here are some suggestions:
  •           Find a quiet place to study and make sure you are sitting comfortably
  •           Make sure your desk is well lit
  •           Keep background noise to a minimum
  •           Avoid studying in an area where there will be distractions (like television!)
  •           Have everything you need to do your revision to hand before you start

How to study
There is no ‘right way’ to revise, as long as the method you choose enables you to gain a solid grasp of key facts and consolidate your knowledge. Some students are happy to read their classroom notes from start to finish, others prefer to simplify the information as much as possible, turning everything into skeleton notes, diagrams or mnemonics. In practice, most students find that mixing techniques suits the varied nature of the subjects being revised, and provides essential variety when studying.

  •   Turn your notes into revision tools;

o    write ideas and facts on to cards to use as ‘prompts’
o    create memory aids such as diagrams or mnemonics (e.g. initial letters to make a word you need to remember or SMART objectives: Specific; Measurable; Achievable; Realistic; Targets). These will help you remember key facts
o    write key facts/notes out and display these around the house where you will see them
o    record yourself reading notes to listen to
  •    Study with a friend and test each other’s knowledge, but remember you are meeting to revise rather than to chat!
  •    Work through past question papers – and use a watch to time them so that you can practise timing your answers.
  •    Choose study and revision guides sensibly. It’s not hard to find help with revision – as well as established published revision guides, there are hundreds of websites offering help and advice. The problem is not how to find such help, but how to judge which is the best source for your needs. Save valuable time and get recommendations from your teachers
  •    Remember course notes are also a valuable source of extra help
  •    Keep yourself more alert by changing revision methods during a session. For instance, try switching from note taking to memorising; from reading to asking someone to test you
  •    Attend any revision classes that your teachers may be running at school and get their advice on revision methods
  •    Look after yourself – Sometimes revision can become a competition – who stayed up latest, who worked longest, who’s worrying the most. But the more tired you are the less efficiently you’ll work. You need to rest as well as study, eat well, drink lots of water and make sure you pace yourself. Don’t rush, and equally don’t over-revise by doing too much too soon

Source: University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate, 2012, Revision Tips [Online] Available from: http://www.cambridgestudents.org.uk/examtime/revisiontips/

Monday, August 13, 2012

5 Ways to Bully-Proof Your Kid

Source:  http://teachersinsport.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/image_happy_kids_trans.gif 

Schools are taking a strong anti-bullying stance to stop bullying in schools. It is being discussed by teachers and other staff of the schools. In addition to these, parents can do their part at home, too. Here are five smart strategies to keep kids from becoming targets — and stop bullying that have already started:

1.      Talk about it. Talk about bullying with your kids and have other family members share their experiences. If one of your kids opens up about being bullied, praise him or her for being brave enough to discuss it and offer unconditional support. Consult with the school to learn its policies and find out how staff and teachers can address the situation.

2.      Remove the bait. If it's lunch money or gadgets that the school bully is after, you can help neutralize the situation by encouraging your child to pack a lunch or go to school gadget-free.

3.      Buddy up for safety. Two or more friends standing at their lockers are less likely to be picked on than a child who is all alone. Remind your child to use the buddy system during the interval period, or wherever bullies may lurk.

4.      Keep calm and carry on. If a bully strikes, a kid's best defense may be to remain calm, ignore hurtful remarks, tell the bully to stop, and simply walk away. Bullies thrive on hurting others. A child who isn't easily ruffled has a better chance of staying off a bully's radar.

5.      Don't try to fight the battle yourself. Sometimes talking to a bully's parents can be constructive, but it's generally best to do so in a setting where a school official, such as a counselor, can mediate.

Reference: The Nemours Foundation, 2012, 5 Ways to Bully-Proof Your Kid [Online] Available from:http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/feelings/bully-proof.html

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Teaching Excellence Awards 2012

 Teaching Excellence Award- 

 Recognizing and Rewarding the Dedicated 

The TE Award was initiated by Dr. Mustafa Lutfy, acting Minister of Education in 2010. The process allows for anyone in the Maldives to nominate outstanding teachers, heads of schools and staff members who are making exceptional contributions to the schools in Maldives. The awards are catagorised in such a way that all key players within a school community are acknowledged. 

The Ministry of Education is greatful to the various partners who continue to support the award categories and those who assist in the process of event planning, management and selection. Quality Schools Blog hopes our readers start looking for that special dedicated school member in their school. Categories and the nomination details are given below.

Award Categories:
10 different award categories recognizing different ranges of people and skills

1.    Four Seasons Resorts Award for Teacher of the Year in a Pre-school
     All certified teachers (including head teachers) working with pre-school children are eligible

2.    ADK Group Award for Leading Teacher of the Year in a Primary School

3.    Media Net Digital Award for Teacher of the Year in a Primary School
     All certified teachers teaching primary students (including leading teachers, in-charge of primary students/teachers)

4.    Villa College Award for Teacher of the Year in a Secondary School

5.    Alia Investments Award for Leading Teacher of the Year in a Secondary School
      All certified teachers teaching secondary students (includes higher secondary within the eligibility category)

6.    Global Links Award for New Teacher of the Year
      Certified teacher in a school who have up to three years of teaching experience

7.    Air Taxi Award for the Principal of the Year
      All heads, principals and deputy principals are included in this category

8.    Ensis Award for Life-time Achievement
      All certified educators with at least 25 years of experience (working or retired)

9.    Island Aviation Award for Support Staff of the Year (1 award)
     All working in the support staff category; it includes, counselors, health assistants, librarians, lab technicians, sports supervisors, secretarial staff etc.

10. Orchid Holdings Pvt Ltd Award for Special Educational Needs Teacher of the Year     
      All teachers teaching SEN classes/students are eligible


Anyone except family members can submit a nomination for Awards for Teaching Excellence in the Maldives.
For nomination, the person will have;
1. To choose the appropriate award category
2. To get consent from the nominee (a written consent from the nominee need to be submitted)
3. To submit additional endorsements from 2 other people. The people who write these endorsements should
    know the nominee and should write in their letters why the candidate should receive an award. Two
    different perspectives should be included; example, a parent and a principal, a student and a teacher, etc
     (members of the family cannot write endorsement letters supporting the nominee). Each letter should not
     be more than 3 pages long, typeset in Times New Roman, font size 12, single line spacing.
4.  To complete the nomination form ( downloadable from the Ministry of Education website: www.moe.gov.mv/downloads -)
5. To send it in before the nomination deadline.
Deadline: 12th August 2012

Monday, August 6, 2012

Differentiated Learning

Source:  http://diariesofa1styearteacher.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/picture1.jpg 

Differentiation means getting the best out of every pupil so that they are able to show what they know, understand and what they can do. Differentiated teaching is a process which includes planning curriculum aims, teaching strategies, resources, teaching methods and ways of interacting with pupils while giving special consideration to:
  • differentiation between pupils according to ability
  • the different ways pupils learn
  • the different speeds at which pupils learn 

As well as the above, differentiation between pupils also occurs in attitude, background, gender, support etc. The following show the ways that differentiation can appear:

                               in the planning 
                               in the teaching 
                               in the learning 
                               in the feedback to pupils

"It must be understood that the abilities and needs of every pupil are different and therefore teaching must reflect that, so that a challenge is provided for every pupil so that their learning is allowed to progress".

  • A specific purpose to the work (clear aims)
  • Linked to aims and objectives of the course
  • Purpose clear to pupils and teacher (core, extended and reinforcement)

  • Balance of activities over time in lessons
  • Classroom organization suits the learning activity
  • Reinforcement techniques encourage pupils to move on
  • Vocabulary and linguistic requirements are relevant (differentiation between pupils, suitable tasks and support, readable materials, preparing suitable materials)

  • Explain what is required
  • An adequate level of challenge
  • Tasks which test pupils' understanding of the materials
  • Opportunities to reinforce the lower ability pupils
  • Extension activities to challenge the more able pupils (effective questioning)

  • Effective communication between teacher and pupils
  • Effective questioning to facilitate learning
  • Pupil presentations to bring out understanding (constructive marking - leading to improvement)

  • Sensitive oral feedback
  • Constructive marking
  • Emphasizing improvement