Friday, April 18, 2014

Attachment Theory Implications for Leadership

Calmer Classrooms
My wife, Aysem, is working on her last course to finish her M. Ed. in School Counseling before we begin working at Saipan International School in August. This particular course is mostly focused on Attachment Theory (AT), which I recall briefly reading about and discussing in an educational psychology course back when working on my B.A. Of course that was nearly 20 years ago, so this course vicariously provided me an opportunity to become familiar with AT once again. While my wife has been studying, I have been using her courses as a way to foster deeper understanding of counseling practices; I feel as an educational leader these concepts can assist me in understanding colleagues and students. Also, I was inspired to learn more about basic counseling due to a panel discussion for budding international educators at the UNI Job Fair back in 2007. John Chandler was on the panel and when asked what advice he would give new school leaders, he replied, "Take a conflict resolution course or workshop, because the whole job is conflict resolution in one way or another." And although, AT has its limitations, it is best to move forward as a practicer with a base in some specific philosophies or theories in mind to ground your practice. As my mentor Larry Creedon was fond of saying, "Theory not applied is useless and application not based on theory is reckless."

I don't want to rehash an explanation of AT in this post, but rather suggest that the theory could be used by leaders to be more sympathetic towards faculty, staff, parents, and students who may display very confusing behaviors. With that stated, a very brief overview at AT is appropriate. AT is based on the idea that a child's relationship with a nurturing primary caregiver is the basis for the child's future development and relationships throughout his/her entire life. If a secure relationship of mutual love, trust, and understanding is built, a securely attached child can explore his/her world and develop other relationships built on trust. Research has found that roughly 70% of children are classified as having a secure attachment with their caregiver. But what about the other 30%? These children will have insecure attachments, which can manifest in three styles -- avoidant, ambivalent, and disorganized. Insure attachments have been correlated with depression, self-harm, aggressive behavior, and psychopathology. Research has also shown that approximately 90% of physically, psychologically, or sexually abused children have disorganized attachments due to the confusion created when the caregiver is a source of love and protection and at the same time fear and a lack of protection.

When a child is displaying very aggressive behavior with other students, it could be a response to early childhood trauma. I'm not suggesting that you call the parents in and beginning questioning them or reporting them to Child Services, but be mindful of the possible implications. Be aware that possibly this child was once traumatized, and when in situations that recall that trauma to the child's mind, he/she may react in seemingly strange or disproportional ways. Colleagues and parents could also be wrestling with demons well beyond our ability to imagine. Before dropping the hammer of punishment or reprimand, consider the situation and the reaction. Does something seem amiss? Out of sorts? Could there be a deeper reason? These questions should be considered and any action on your part should factor these possibilities. Again, I'm not suggesting that wild, out of control behavior be tolerated and allowed and simply dismissed as, "Well that is little Sally's (or Johnny's) pathology. What can we do?" Instead, I am advocating for looking into the matter more carefully, but still executing a firm and appropriate response. The province of Victoria put together an excellent resource for educators called Calmer Classrooms that provides a basic overview of AT, three case studies, and guidelines for working with students who are possibly suffering from insecure attachments. The information is just as useful for educational leaders and can be adapted to elementary, secondary, or even adult interactions.

I still haven't had the opportunity to take a conflict resolution course or workshop, but once Aysem is finished with her current degree, we will probably tackle that one. One step at a time.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

SkyTent -- your inflight sanctuary!

SkyTent -- your travel sanctuary!
I don't normally do product reviews or drone on about products on my blog, because that simply isn't me or what I do, but this situation is different, so please bare with me. My friend Ben Wood, who is currently teaching Art at Korea International School, has created a travel product that is very unique and totally cool for those of us who travel long distances by plane, train, bus, and/or boat. He has arranged a Kickstarter campaign to get additional funding for the product. It is a hat with a piece of fabric to cover your face. It sounds ridiculously simple, right? But it is very wonderful, because the brim of the hat keeps the fabric from touching your face, so you don't have that claustrophobic feeling you would get from a shirt, blanket, or jacket over your face. In addition, the fabric he used to make this sanctuary in the sky breathes quite well, so you can still feel like you are not being choked and you can actually see through it reasonably well, but no one can see in. Cool, right? You can still wear your headphones and use your favor neck pillow, because the SkyTent will cover it all. This is a chance to help out a fellow teacher with his dream and improve the quality of your own travel at the same time. Win-win situation in my book! Plus, if you help out Ben with his Kickstarter campaign, you are helping an average Joe launch his own business. My father owned his own business for most of his life and it was great for our family, but also for our community. Small business owners make the economy run and put jobs and money into our communities. Even if you only go and look at the Kickstarter page, but don't give any money, you are helping out Ben, because traffic on Kickstarter is a big deal. It shows that people are interested in the product which encourages others to contribute. Thanks!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Google Docs in Schoology

Start the process in Google by changing the share
settings of your Doc, Form, Presentation, etc.
Not too long ago, you could access your Google Drive through Schoology and then suddenly -- you couldn't. If you are struggling with this matter, help is here! All you really need to do is change the sharing options on your Google Doc (form, spreadsheet, presentation, etc.) to anyone with the link. Now you can use the Link/Embed option in Schoology to share the link to your Google item.
Now use the Attach Link/Embed option in Schoology
to share the Google item.

Friday, February 7, 2014

New Pages Not Emailing or Uploading Solution

Some people have probably noticed that the new version of Pages doesn't attach an email from Gmail or upload to places like Schoology. And those same people have probably cursed Apple and Pages under their breath or even out loud, but fear not -- there is a solution to your troubles and pains. The photos will walk you through the simple, yet, ridiculous process. Thanks Apple -- NOT!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Creative Writing -- Experience Poems

For the last two classes we have been digging through our memories for experience poems as a group. The poems that came out of this two part class have been very powerful and I thought it would be good to share with the education community at large. The original idea of the Experience Poem and instructions were from Rick Monroe. Thanks, Rick, you have influenced me as an educator more than you could ever possibly know.

Experience Poem

Part one
This assignment is designed to help you write a poem based on an experience, memory, or place. The idea is to generate as much raw material as you can before you commit to the form of the poem. Feel free to draft this many times.

Follow these steps:
  • Recall a specific time or place when you were younger. Generate a list of as many things as you can remember about the experience, memory, or place. (20 or more items is a good beginning.) Include everything. Note sights, sounds, smells, colors, textures, placement of items. If it helps, draw a picture of the experience/memory/place and then label everything. Invent whatever you can't clearly remember.
  • Now add at least eight "personal specifics" that get at the tone or mood. Use the past tense.
  • The goal is to write a two-four (or more) stanza poem of a least four lines each that is based on the experience/memory/place. This means, now that you have generated more raw material than can be used, decide which items are the most promising. Highlight them and then begin.
  • Do's: write in the past tense; focus on details (concrete nouns and active verbs); try using a repeating line (or refrain) to help with rhythm and organization; cut lines to the bone taking out connecting words or adverbs; rearrange the lines to establish a tone, mood, or theme; use a metaphor to create an image or make a connection.
  • Don't's: Don't use any rhyme (rhyming often distracts a reader from the content); don't write about love or death.
  • Write a draft at least four stanzas long. Step back from the first draft, let it sit for a day or so, and then reread it. Now write a title for the piece. Try to use a noun and a verb in the title so it doesn't read like a label.
  • Read the draft again and distill it some more. Think about moving lines or whole stanzas, take out "explaining words" (words that don't show), examine the line breaks and read them aloud so you can hear the cadence, or change point of view so the voice isn't yours.
  • Read the draft to at least two other people. Read your draft aloud to them. Ask them what is most memorable. What words or images can they recall? Than ask them if they have any suggestions or questions.
  • Read the example below and then go find and read a few poems like the one you are trying to write to see how other poets have written a memory poem. Write a more polished draft now, and at the bottom of the page include a "with thanks to" the people who helped you.

South Carolina
by Marcella Powell

We drive over hills into
flat fields, tobacco and
cotton plants.
Curing shacks stand
abandoned on land
littered with
wild flowers.

Along the road, power
lines droop and we pass
a run-down filling station.
A farmer stands there
filling his tractor,
with diesel fuel
and waves to us
just to be friendly.

(Thanks to Susan Meyers and R. Monroe)

Part Two: After this part of the assignment, we had a class discussion about taking risks as writers. I showed two short videos to help us discuss the concept. After the discussion, we all shared a very personal story with someone in class to help us experience risk taking. Then in the next lesson, we wrote about those stories we shared verbally in the previous class. I have added my poem from the second round of Experience Poems.