Building Futures

Today, the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Education hosted the Ontario Ministry of Education’s “Building Futures,” which consisted of a selection of workshops for Year 2 teacher candidates. These workshops provided the opportunity to learn through exploration and facilitated discussion, with the goal of helping teacher candidates to become more familiar with Ministry priorities, initiatives and policies (see video below: Queen’s Printer for Ontario, 2017).

While I had to choose only 2 of the 6 workshops being offered,  I was impressed by the clarity and engaging nature of both of the workshops I attended. Below, I have documented my main take-aways from each session.

Session #1: Navigating those Difficult Situations and Conversations

It is no secret that the teaching profession can involve some intense and potentially negative interactions with students, parents, colleagues, or administration. To remain professional and manage emotions appropriately in these situations requires a well-developed emotional intelligence, and there are  many strategies associated with emotional intelligence that can help us to become better leaders in the classroom. Some practical tips that we discussed during the workshop include:

  • Take notes during a difficult conversation- this communicates that you are listening carefully and prompts the other person to slow down
  • Try asking questions rather than communicating through statements
  • Be present and mindful (e.g. notice new things in your everyday interactions)
  • Master a range of emotional leadership styles for different situations (e.g. from authoritative to coaching to democratic)
  • Practice gratitude (gratitude and anxiety can’t happen at the same time!)

For more detailed information, check out the Ideas Into Action Bulletin #7 (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2014), which outlines ten strategies for success in perceiving and managing emotions.

Session #2: Promoting Well-Being: Developing Positive Conditions for Learning

While cognitive development is one aspect of student learning, the Ministry is also emphasizing  the physical, emotional and social elements that contribute to positive learning conditions.  In other words, promoting student well-being or a positive sense of self is being recognized as crucial to student success.

During this workshop, we worked collaboratively in small groups to develop a visual representation of well-being as it relates to both teachers and students. As you can see from the final product below, there are many different elements of developing well-being that are a shared experience in education, and it is always a balancing act to meet the cognitive, physical, emotional and social needs of diverse learners in the classroom!

Well-being teeter-totter

A collaborative brainstorming session – thanks to awesome colleagues for sharing your ideas and artistic talent!

To provide your own feedback regarding Ontario’ strategy for supporting and promoting well-being in education, check out their Engagement Portal.

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