Being a Primary School teacher? It never crossed my mind. I was a homeroom teacher for third graders who are really energetic, talkative, and there were so many conflicts happened in my class. These kind of circumstances was less easy to deal with as a homeroom teacher. I realized some obstacles to conquer in order my class run smoothly. The first three months was the most challenging moment for me and I was so overwhelmed to adjust everything in primary level.
I decided to talk to my superintendent and she gave me a suggestion to apply mindfulness as a classroom management strategy. What is mindfulness? At first I thought that mindfulness is a meditation process and only adults who can enjoy and engage in the activity. Furthermore, I started to find out about what mindfulness is and how to implement it in the classroom. I am so lucky that I have a teammate, Ibu Kania, who already expertised about mindfulness concept. After having many discussions with her, reading books about mindfulness and also watching videos about how to implement it, I got an insight about it. Mindfulness is being aware of our mind and body and also what is happening right now in our surroundings. In mindfulness, we also acknowledge our emotions and feelings without judging whether is right or wrong. We are focusing our attention in the present only. Practicing mindfulness is really good for children because it develops their awareness and self-control.
The first strategy I used was using a bell in the classroom. The bell was for attention-getting, cueing transitions, and settling their minds, all while lessening the effort required from me. My students and I made an agreement that every time they heard the bell rang, they had to stop from what they were doing and listened to my instruction. At first attempt, it was really hard for them. Some of the students did not stop from their activity but after several weeks of practice, they got used to it. I also created an agreement with them about sitting on the mat. The agreement was having their personal space during the discussion on the mat. They did an reflection by saying that having their personal space was making them comfortable and helping them to be more focused while listening to the teacher’s explanation. Every time they forgot how to sit on the mat, I only said “Remember how you sit on the mat.” Then they got back in their position.
“Mindful Breathing” was an activity I usually did during morning circle before the class began or after they had break. Students focused on inhaling and exhaling. During this activity, I guided them by saying “Breathe in, breathe out. Notice your breath, is it warm? Is it cold? How do you feel? Is it making you feel relaxed?” This session was helping them to be more focused after being restless during snack time and they would be ready to learn in the classroom.
“Mindful Listening” is an activity for students focus on their heartbeat and any kinds of sound in their surrounding that they did not notice before. After this session, students noticed that they could hear the clock was ticking, AC noise, people talking outside the classroom. They also mentioned that by using our mindful ears, we could hear any sounds that we had not notice before and it helped us to be more focused.
“Sharing good thoughts” is an activity for students to sit in a circle and they have to write down positive things about their friend who sits in front of him/ her. The purpose of this activity is for reducing the conflict in the class. Using this kind of activity, children will see the good quality of their friends rather than the negative ones. On the other side, the children who get the positive feedback will have positive self-concept as well.
“Creating Gratitude Log” is an activity that asks students to create a book that consists of list about something they are grateful for in a day. Sometimes children experience bad events at school and they will focus on that for the rest of the day. They are allowed to share their gratitude log to the teachers or friends or they can keep it for themselves if they feel too personal.
By writing on the gratitude log, children are encouraged to less focus on the bad events because a lot of things that should be grateful. I always said to them that it is normal to feel sad or angry by acknowledging our feelings. It takes time to calm down by sending kind thoughts to the person we dislike e.g “May he/she be happy, may he/she be healthy, may his/her life is full of joy” We should do this to make us feel relieved and not to get carried away by our emotions.
Mindfulness helped me to keep my class running smoothly. There was a great improvement in their self-control because they became more aware to every action that has an impact to themselves and others. I always reminded them by saying “Think before you speak” when someone replied my questions with something unrelated. In addition, surprisingly, my students often asked me to do mindful breathing when they felt restless. Self-control is mandatory for one to succeed.
Mindfulness also helps me to improve my life quality. It can reduce stress, anxiety and also enhance my performance at work. I bring mindfulness into my everyday life. For example, at the end of term, there is a lot of work to do and it gives me stress and also escalates my anxiety. I got used to have these questions pop in my mind, “What should I do first? Meeting with parents? How about finishing students’ report? This is definitely unsafe for me because I did not concentrate while driving. Having mindfulness in driving, I could more aware of the circumstances, enjoy the moment and also reduce my anxiety. When I arrive at school, I am ready to finish my work. Finally, I also create a gratitude log to list down things that I should thank for every day thus I do not get easily carried away by my emotions.
“Mindfulness allows you to surf rather than drown” -Anonymous-
Rasmi Anindyojati (Anin) – Year 4 Teacher (Sekolah Cikal Cilandak)
I still remember when I walked into a school library for the first time. I was in second grade of my junior high school. The room was a dim light, dusty, and full of thick books. I really had no idea what kind of books that they had. So, I decided to take one book titled “AKU’, written by Sjuman Djaya, a story of Indonesian poet, Chairil Anwar. I read it for five minutes and I didn’t understand at all. Then, I asked the librarian where the comic books or fantasy books were. But she said there were no such thing as comic books, there were only students’ workbook or Indonesian literature. Since then, I never came to my school library anymore.
The Power of Library
“We are in a library. The best weapon in the world”. – Doctor Who.
In 21st era, library is not only a place for reading books but also has become the necessities in our life. It is essential in a process of giving someone access to knowledge. Thus, a library will remain for a quite long time. Along with the progress of digital technology, library will also adapt and develop into a futuristic edge of digital information where people can also do research for every single thing in the world. As one of the most powerful place, library becomes one of the core at school. At Sekolah Cikal, library not only provides resources to support teaching and learning, but also turns to be a space where students engage with information and develop the confidence to locate, evaluate, and do research about anything they love. Sekolah Cikal also dedicated its library to give opportunity to all teachers to conduct lessons with all advantages of the latest technology. Yes. Library has the potential to be hubs of learning for the entire community.
The Essential of Librarian
Being a librarian was actually my dream, I always imagine myself surrounded by books, read it every time I want to, buying books and put it on the shelves . But that dream disappeared by the time I met a-not-so-friendly librarian at my school. Then I asked myself: “Is librarian always THAT boring and ignorant?”. Luckily, I had an opportunity to be a part of Sekolah Cikal, which has a very homey library! After one year I spent my life as a Teacher Assistant at Sekolah Cikal, I finally had a chance to be a Librarian, even I did not graduate from librarian major. And I took that as my turning point. At Sekolah Cikal Library, I see that librarian is essential for the school. Librarian also becomes one of the biggest supporter for students’ learning process.
Like I ever imagined, I do not only general works of librarian, like shelving, inputting books data to the system, purchasing books for students and teachers but also learn how to distinguish book based on students’ reading level, do storytelling for students, make engaging activity about the book or library skills. In this millennial era which has sophisticated devices everywhere, books become least favourite thing. each students’ reading desire. Making library alive and fun!
For me, those are so challenging and exciting at the same time. Student librarian is one of library programs for students whom practice to be a librarian and they are super excited about that. They come to the library at lunch or snack time then help to shelf or do book circulation for anyone who wants to borrow or return books.
Teachers always provoke the students to read one book per day. Each student has a Webbook to note any books that have been read. Library also provides students with variety of books from the classic to the newest. So, library will become their source to relax their mind with any kind of books.
The image of an old librarian woman who wore thick glasses had suddenly disappeared from my mind. I really believe, every librarian out there should be the literacy warrior in this millennial era.
Annisa Novia Pertiwi – Librarian (Sekolah Cikal Cilandak)
To understand and to be understood.
Two keys behind of a successful social relationship, at least in my experience. Two things that I have been trying to imply for a year and still counting. Not only between colleagues but also in teacher-student relationship.
Every human being deserves similar education and experiences in life, to have freedom to learn, live life to the fullest and make the best out of it. And in Sekolah Cikal, students with special education (SEN) are not exception. There is a tendency of generalizing things that makes us often forget about individual differences, such as each person’s strength and capabilities. We all were born with different cases and each of us is special.
Throughout my one-year journey as a special education teacher (SET) in Sekolah Cikal, I realized that I have two essential responsibilities: first is to understand student fully—from emotional, learning attitude, motivation, how they socialize, organization skill, to his interest—and second is to create an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for each of SEN with the purpose to enhance their skills based on their ability and needs. Questions arose such as “How could we do that?” “Is not it too much to ask?” Here, the SETs are formed into a division called Student Support Center (SSC) where each teacher is responsible for up to 4 students regarding their path or support needs. To help us working on the program, we have pull out session that can be held individually and classically, again, based on student’s needs.
Well, giving meaningful learning for daily life and helping them to develop optimally are two of some objectives I propose as SET. One of the indicators is to make sure that student knows the purpose of every activity they do and how it practically benefits them in daily life. Therefore, I have been trying to establish learning concept that student is not merely listen to teacher’s explanation, see a board full of words, and do paper-and-pencil worksheets. So, how do I imply it so far? My two magic weapons that really useful to manage such responsibilities are observation and interaction.
Observation is an essential moment when I try to get to know my student deeper as a way to understand their characteristics. It is better to do it in natural setting by involving interaction—which also become a teacher-student bonding time moment. To give sense that my presence is to support, not to give label or differentiate them with the other students. This approach involves teacher’s role as a friend. I usually begin interacting by asking their hobbies or interest. For instance, I know that X really loves futsal that is similar experience with mine which I thought it was the start-up approaching. The purpose itself is to make student feels comfortable and to grow trust. Through observation and interaction, I can get information related to their needs that will be created into an IEP to develop and enhance student’s performance.
During each process, there are challenges you must meet. At first, X was really ignorant, lack of motivation to do literally everything—writing, reading, do worksheets, even participating in class’ discussion—you name it. To communicate with him was quite challenging because he did not take things seriously. According to my observation and various evidences, I made a program to raise his awareness that every activity had a purpose. We also live with a purpose, and to achieve it we need plans as well as effort along the process. I admit, this thing was pretty challenging, moreover because of his indifferent attitude, came to pull-out session with no enthusiasm and considered to be a late comer. Of course, some trial-and-error process needed until I got the idea to integrate his interests with learning objectives in his IEP. The result of my observation also showed that X really loved and active in sports, such as soccer and basketball. That was the moment which I involved his favorite players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, and LeBron James into learning, which is by discussing more about their biographies and relating them with their academic and success journeys. To do it, I prepared myself to dig more information about them thru videos, fun facts finding and turn it into a fun fact booklet.
Given such activity for the first time, X showed a different response. He paid full attention to the video and actively telling me about things he knew about the player so the session went more interactive which is never happened before. He could even answer and retell the journey of the player’s before and after success. After using similar strategies with different player for 2-3 times, X showed more positive, interactive, and cooperative attitude in pull-out session. He also came to the session on time without asking him first in the morning. Until finally, he was able to conclude independently from all four figures discussed, that each of them practiced so hard to become a most valuable player (MVP). Not only that, they also achieved it by not forgetting about their responsibility at school, academically. X also stated a reflection towards himself, “It is like me. I play and join basketball club, but not forget studying at school.” Wow! I was beyond surprised and delighted at the time. Wait! I am not closed to done. The peak was when we were in the middle of counting blessings activity—it is the time when student cultivate three things they were grateful for the day or what went well—he stated that he was happy at school, felt grateful that he could learn a lot of things from teachers and able to play with his friends. Besides, a sense of achievement was also increasing his confidence as the reason of peer-assessment and constructive feedback we had in classical session.
From that moment, X seemed to be more enthusiastic to go to school and more involved in class activity. He started to ask questions and give answers in discussion. A sense of competitiveness was also shown by making some efforts to finish whatever tasks I gave him. He had been able to do reflection of things he still needed to improve and finish task in more serious ways. Thankfully, the impact is still can be felt up until now, even better. X often asked for challenges, gained self-confidence, is able to lead a group, and be more organized towards his responsibilities at school.
A key take-away regarding my experience with X is that I learned the importance of understanding students and how to build a good relationship with them. When I understand them, I feel like the feeling is mutual. This was interpreted from X that seemed to know that every activity had a purpose to enhance his performance and for his good. Also, teacher-student relationship does not have to be too formal, even the opposite, I place myself as their friend where they can talk and share information freely, not only academic-related but literally everything—like lifestyle, hobbies, especially his interest—and of course, I must show genuine excitement and warm response in return. Putting myself in student’s shoes is a way to comprehend the student by asking questions like “What do I want my teacher to be?” “What makes me comfortable learning in school?” “What do I want to learn?” “How is this benefits for me?”
So, now it is back at you. What do you expect from teacher?
August 15th 2018
Made Cynthia Agrita Putri Rizwari (Cynthia) – Special Education Teacher/SSC Team Year 4
Sekolah Cikal Cilandak
Puberty is the life phase that will be experienced by every single person in this universe, and it is inevitable. Our PYP students are now facing this challenging moment. Some might be cherish it, while the others find it a never ending horror story in facing it. Therefore, the big question comes up, “How do we prepare our tweens students to be aware of their changes and being responsible of their own choice during puberty since it is considered Taboo in Indonesian culture?” Tricky topic? Indeed it is. Being involved in pre-teen drama is the least expected problem I need. Well, that is an irony as well, since I, as a Year 5 teacher will deal with it for the whole academic year, and I think I am not-so-ready-with-it. Things such as peer pressure, self or body image, crush matters, or even mood swing, will I be ready for a teenage conflict?
So that in this very first term, our Year 5 team decided to start the academic year with “Who We Are” as our pilot episode of UOI learning series. It came up with the compact central idea, which was “Awareness of the changes of our body allows us to deal and adjust with growing up.” Means that we were exploring the function of human reproduction system, physical and emotional changes during puberty, and responsibility of own choice as a pre-teen. Wow.. fancy and sounds sophisticated. Hold your breath..1..2..3..yeah how am I supposed to start with? This question keeps haunting me.
First of all, I gained their prior knowledge by provoking them with a movie and the choice went to a movie entitled “Little Manhattan” starred by a young Josh Hutcherson who experienced emotional changes when he started having a crush with his classmate. It followed by reflection session using Six Thinking Hats as a tool. I prefered to use three hats out of six, the White Hat to gather the facts found in the movie, the Red Hat to relate students’ feeling and experience with the movie, and the Black Hat to share their concern related to the character changes in the movie and the connection with their own life. The responses were quite hilarious, when some of the students said they have experienced having a crush before and they were clueless about the sudden emotional changes happened towards the character. While few of them felt uncomfortable to see particular changes happens within the characters. The use of Six Thinking Hats itself helped me a lot with the reflection session, since each hat represented the information I wanted to gather from the children. It was also helped them to stay focus on the discussion topic.
Next, we started the class discussion about what we were going to learn as the first UOI in this year and KWL charts is the best thing for me to start with. Well, in my opinion, it helped my students to show how far they know about the topic, as their prior knowledge and what made them curious the most, along the learning process. By the end of the learning, we got a chance to see how far they got the understanding by filling in the “what I learnt” column. I used this chart, after I revealed the topic and central idea of the UOI. Most of them related the puberty topic with some embarrassing stuffs and mostly emotional thingy and puppy love. I should say it entertained, should not I?
After knowing what we were going to learn, we had a tuning process. This time I asked my student to draw a chart that shows their changes from Reception level up to Year 5. The chart needed to present their physical and emotional changes. Some of them admitted that their voices was changing by the time, they also get pimples or acne, and they were not really sure why the teachers asked them to have grooming kit in their locker. Well, before their curiosity being resolved, I found that some of the students find it hard to show and share their experience or being more puzzled towards puberty topic. Therefore, to cope up with it I had discussion with my students to make a special Essential Agreement with the pre-teens pals of our class. The essential agreement covered the essential points that as a scientist in this topic, they had to:
- Respect the learning process,
- Be open minded and talk appropriately as a scientist
- Be a wise, smart and responsible inquirer
As it was expected, it went well. Then, we were able to continue our learning journey with finding out process. It was included tons of activities to give them appropriate exposures for them by providing articles, guest speaker, videos and boys-girls talk time with school counselor. We had reading jigsaw that followed by filling up the graphic organizer based on the article they have read. Each group had three members and in the end of the session they had to present it in front of their friends. By having doctor and school counselor sessions, they had chances to find out more about their reproductive system. They were free to ask any kind of questions related to puberty that burden their minds privately, by sending it into a secret box provided by the teacher. Also we watched the video together as a group of boys and girls. Furthermore, we were seeking for how far they knew well about each organ in their reproductive system, so usually I got a quiz with them.
Besides, I also asked them to make a sketchnote based on what we have learnt. In creating the sketchnote, they needed to draw their understanding about physical and emotional changes happened during puberty while the other one I let them to have one different case based on their gender. The boys need to draw the process of semen production, while the girls need to draw their menstrual cycle. Their drawings were so splendid! This way was great to assess their understanding without having any worksheet to fill. Yeay! And the most important thing that the students enjoyed the activity because they did not have to follow the particular template to show their thinking process. They were free to make flow chart, mind map, graphic organizer, or anything they would like to create to express their thought.
Other thing that we used to dig up more about puberty was making connection with their parents by having Out of School Project. We named it “When They were Young.” Students are asking to interview the parents about their parents’ puberty. This activity created a great bonding time for both, since the students also asked their parents for the advice to survive puberty. Furthermore, they had to report the reflection of this activity by making a video on flipgrid. Flipgrid was an educative online website where teacher and students can share a short video about assessed topic. It was so much like Instagram Story or Snapchat, but limited for those who had access to it.
Hey.. we still had one more concept to go! Yes, “Responsibility”! Let them show how to be responsible by their own choices This was the part of going further step in the inquiry process.. I and the team found out that the activity called “Dear Emily.” It will be the best way to review and find out their responsibility as tweens who faces puberty. Basically, the students had a role as a columnist in a magazine. This columnist was in charge to reply the reader’s letter who is facing puberty. Emily should mention and explain what was exactly happen to the reader also give them advices. The other challenge I gave to my class, was to write their own letter with the puberty problem inside. It could be their real issue or they could make it up. Then, they were going to give the letter secretly to their friends by putting the letter in one of their friends bluebox. That was so much fun! The one who receives the letter should reply it as Emily reply her reader’s letters.
Now, we are working on our product for this unit. The product is a piece of writing. The student may choose to write between two genres, fiction or nonfiction. Since, I integrated the unit with Language and Literature as well, and some other subjects such as PE, Religion, and Science. They will start with their draft and then develop it into the kind of genre they have chosen. Instead of having an open-ended test, writing an article or even fiction short story will show their understanding best. So far, my students had done with that graphic organizer draft and will continue to write down their draft.
I was thinking that teaching this unit will be difficult as you have to be as open-minded as you can. There were so many unexpected questions from my students, and I cannot take it for granted. There were also many social issues that came up in my class discussion, such as gender role as someone grow up, or gender phenomenon, or simply about the bird and the bees, which is not that simple to be explained. Well.. research and talk with the expert such as psychologist were what I and my team had done. We also communicated and have workshop with parents to have a super-close discussion with their children. Because indeed, this unit needs collaboration between every parties who stayed around the students. By doing a great collaboration, teenage conflict and curiosity were not that scary to be faced and can be a great topic to discuss with your students.
Lianisya (Ian) – Year 5 Homeroom Teacher (Sekolah Cikal Cilandak)
This article is about my experience as a Year 2 teacher in Sekolah Cikal Cilandak. It is about the Unit of Inquiry : Conflict and How to solve the conflict. Pre-assessment has an important role in Unit of Inquiry because we can see students pre-knowledge about the discussing concept. Teacher provoked the student with conflict to by asking them to draw about their holiday, just with a pencil, eraser and piece of paper for each group that consisting of 4 students in five minutes. However, what happened was not really expected by teachers. It was because only one group of students had a conflict. They were asked for some more pencils and I heard one student said her friend borrowed her eraser. After that, in group discussion, we talked about what just happened, how they feel and who they thought would get turn and they made Y chart about this activity.
After Pre-Assessment, we move to Tuning-In Activity. This stage, we continued discuss about the conflict that is a quite abstract unit topic. It took a little times for them to understand about what conflict is. We did this activity as follow :
- We watched videos about conflict and how to solve it.
- After watching the video, teacher asked a question “What conflict happened among them?” and student said “ The two head monsters are talking all the time and the man can not understand”.
- Next, teacher asked “What is the solution?” and they answer “ Take turn”. It means that student were getting to know this unit.
- We also invited Cikal School Counselor as the guest speaker for this topic.
- For the opening activity, the student were provided with some newspaper and only two clear tapes. They were asked to make a tower in groups consisting of five students with only limited resources and giving only five minutes to finish the task. Suddenly one student shouted “hey, we need more tape” and guest speaker answer “that’s all you got”.
The result was no one success finishing the tower on time. And after that, student discussed what they feel and if they find a conflict. Their answer was ” Not successful, it’s so hard, we did it wrong”. The counselor explained about what conflict is, the type of conflict and how to solve. In Cikal, we solved the conflict with i-message. So they could express their feeling directly to the person that they had conflict with. Afterwards, student practiced in pairs and make I-message. They were given sample problems and discussed about how to make i-message. They were able to do it and they shared it among the groups. The post activity, students took picture together and appraised to the guest speaker.
For the reflection, student wrote down what information that they got from the guest speaker. In the post-it paper, they wrote “Give i-message” and some of them wrote “type of conflict”.
We also asked the student to make journal to any conflict every day, since this unit is integrated with Bahasa Indonesia, they wrote the journal in Bahasa Indonesia. At first, student got difficulties to write a journal, especially about conflict, but after teacher gave some examples, finally student can write their own conflict. They remember any conflict that happened in their home with mom or dad or even with brother and sisters. Teacher kept remaining the student that conflict could happen between themselves. For example “Today, I feel so sleepy and I don’t want to go to school”. The solution of this conflict can be “You can continue sleeping in the car and wake up if arrive at school”.
Those things make the student capable to find out about types of conflict that happened in public area. By being given home project, parents need to involve doing the task. For example, student went to a restaurant or mall and they observed the place and found any possible conflict and its solution that they can think. Surprisingly the student were able to find the conflict and they knew how to solve them. What they achieved makes me proud as a teacher.
To conclude the conflict and how they can show their responsibility in their community. Student will show their evidence by poster. First step before making the poster, they need to make a plan what the content is, how they design it and its message. Student is able to make their own design such us “ Stop Pushing” and “ Please Line Up “. After they finish making the Poster, the student will give campaign using the poster to lower level. Student was doing great and can express their opinion and being a risk taker as they able to talk in front of other student.
Maylani – Year 2 Teacher (Sekolah Cikal Cilandak)
Sekolah Cikal has been learning with iPad as tools for exploring, creating, producing and publishing. The technology has been helping teachers, in making learning experience more exciting and engaging. I am one of the teachers exciting in using iPad for teaching and learning. What would I do with it? How would I use it to help me teach my students to learn better? Why would I prefer using iPad than other gadgets that are easy access and cheaper? I believe that using iPad is more mobile.
Computer is as part of 21st century learning tool. It was supposed to be the transformation of teaching and learning as we know it. In some ways there has been a transformation, but the basics of teaching and learning have remained unchanged, where teacher should plan effective usage of technology in the planner. Technology involvement is in my grade 3 classroom and iPad session is exposed a lot. As pre-activity, we have iPad essential agreement. I believe my students are already familiar how to use ipad. As the advantage, I encourage my students to explore it not only to entertain but also to support their digital academic skills.
How do I use iPads apps in the classroom to help teaching and learning process?
The iPad has a number of useful features that provide for interesting possibilities in teaching and learning process. iPad features could be applied in classroom learning as well as curriculum area. In Math class for example, the fraction apps help them to visualize fraction better than conventional written fraction. While observing, students explore their skills to use the fraction app drawing, apply their critical thinking in representing how ½ (half) like through bar or circle model. During the fraction discussion, students develop their thinking skills by attaching videos and voice recordings referring to teacher questions like “How do you know 2/4 is half?”. In advance, my students work collaboratively in creating fraction story books in digital form. Writing specific genre becoming is more interesting using the Book creator app where students can plan their story template, adjust the content with provided features like fonts, color option and camera which capturing their own image and inserting as the author or pictures from the internet. Those things will make the book illustration more alive on ebook.
Connecting Beyond the Classroom
Mobile connection allows them to have internet access anywhere at school area. As questions arise, students can search clues and insights to begin their studies or research about the unit they learn. In PYP, students are given access to search primary source data for their investigations in or out of the classroom. While finding their investigations, I create an online wall discussion using Padlet app by sharing the link and they can collaborate into the discussion. As a 21st century teacher, the involvement of technology has definitely helped PYP program of teaching and learning process in my classroom. The iPad usage has virtually enhanced the education itself. The App store has thousands of educative designed apps that makes easy for us to find teaching materials of any learning area.
Now, how do you use technology in your classroom?
Ari Wibowo – Year 3 Teacher (Sekolah Cikal Cilandak)
As the first semester has been beginning, classes gathered to create groups of learners. Variety of students are divided into a well-considered composition of classes with proudly elected teachers to be their homeroomers. At this time of the academic year, multiple levels of adaptation are taking part and at Year 1 level of Sekolah Cikal. It is a moment to know our personal self through exploration, adaptation, and socialization process among students. We begin our new class with the unit about self-development that students learn about themselves, their preferences, strength, weakness, and how to be a better contributor. We believe it will build a foundation of togetherness as they get to know themselves and each other through the whole learning process. We get to know everybody and Who We Are.
Becoming part of our school community, Year 1 students are already familiar with IB learner profile terms. This unit is explored deeper to understand each meaning and how we can characterize those profiles in every person. We take five profiles which are considerably closed to their daily lives. Those are Thinker, Risk-taker, Communicator, Reflective, and Open-minded. They showed their prior knowledge about the profiles mostly by defining familiar words such as “Think” in Thinkers means a person who likes to think, “Open” means open and “Mind” means our thinking so it is what we think openly about everything. “Take” is a familiar words and so is “Risk”, so a risk-taker is someone who is brave enough to take risk or, as they interpret it, challenges. They were less familiar with “Communicator” and Reflective” but through an interactive discussions we came up with a person who can speak his mind and feelings fluently (communicator) and a person who never hesitates to admit their mistakes or to apologize and evaluate the impact of their actions (reflective).
Afterwards students were encouraged to identify themselves in those profiles through team-building games where we can see how they contribute best to their team. They chose the profile they thought it suit to them most and proved it through games. It was a beautiful experience to see our youngsters learn about themselves and evaluate their actions. After each game, we put on our reflective hat and discussed about what had happened in each group, what made them win/lose, how everyone contributed, and what problems they encountered during the process. They also acknowledged their team-mate’s contribution by telling that he/she was a Thinker in the group because their solution worked best to overcome the challenge. He/she was such a risk-taker to dare to do a trial and error experiment in the process or he/she was an open-minded person who appreciated the team’s opinion and encouraged them to reach an agreement about strategies they needed to apply.
To give you a glimpse of our team-building games. Herewith, some of the challenges that we provide.
- Save the Egg. Each team are given an egg, a pile of newspapers, and a roll of tape. The challenge is they have to figure out a way to protect the egg using only the provided materials so the egg will not break when we drop it from our tree house to the ground below.
- Move the Ball. Each team are given a golf ball and a chopstick for each person. The challenge is for them to move the ball from one spot to the other within 10-15 feet distance using only chopsticks. They are not allowed to touch the ball with their hands.
- Pointy Stick. Each team are given a long stick. The challenge is to move the stick using only their index fingers together.
In my class, this was a fun journey and they enjoyed it a lot. They also gained rich experience in working together and in making contribution. They learned about losing and talked about it, which is one of the special moments to be part of. They expressed their frustration when they failed but it became a precious moment to learn to be reflective and to be open-minded to appreciate others victory. It was also an “aha” moment where they learned more about themselves and to see that they had strength they didn’t know existed and weaknesses that they never seemed to realise before. We discussed it openly in respect and it was a success in blending them in as a ‘family’ where they start off as acknowledging each other’s strength and appreciating each other’s weaknesses. Something I personally think every group of people should start their relationship with.
The most important part of this unit is how to improve. After a long journey of knowing and using their learner’s profile as the strength they are proud of, also opening themselves to learn about things to improve, the next question is how? How do we improve ourselves? How should we overcome our weaknesses? Is there a best way to use our strength to overcome our weaknesses? We start by asking how can we contribute better?
In pairs, they discussed about their weaknesses and brainstormed ideas about how to be a better contributor. They came up with conclusions like “I need to be more of a risk-taker because I am often too afraid to try”, “I need to be more reflective because I don’t like losing. It makes me angry sometimes”, “I often don’t know how to share my ideas. I am not a communicator”, and “I just don’t know how to do it. I often forget things. I need to be more of a Thinker”. We encouraged them to make plan on being a better contributor and try to translate it into actions. What can we do? “I will try to convince myself to try”, “I will read books so I can learn new words that will help me speak better”, “I will try to listen more and give my friends a chance to lead”. It may sound difficult to engage their minds into, what it may seem as, an in depth discussion. However it is not, because the topic is actually quite basic. It is all about them! Putting them as the center of discussion is a remarkable moment for their age and it will sure grasp their attention. By starting with what happened, the challenges, and brainstorm ideas on how to contribute better are having an open discussion with “What ifs” that is also initiated an interactive discussion in some classes. Of course, there might be emotional comments or critics even blame on a particular person, however it is a precious moment to teach them how to express their feelings properly. Help them use their words so it will never occur to their mind to put pressure on others inappropriately that might lead to bullying. It will be simple if we think less difficult.
Our biggest hope as teachers in this unit is to in-still a paradigm of respect and responsibility. We believe it will be a useful value for them to carry throughout life. To be a person who constantly think about how to contribute better, know best about themselves, and respect others. These are essential traits for lifelong learners of global citizen in the future. The bonus part is teachers get to think about our own strength and weaknesses too. The question of how can we contribute better may inspire and trigger creativity and challenge us to give more. When was the last time you think about yourself?
August 10th 2018
Niza – Year 1 Teacher (Sekolah Cikal Cilandak)