Resilience : exploring ideas with children in Years 2 and 5

In this School the Centre worked with three Year 2 classes and  two Year 5 classes. In Year 5 the Centre repeated the activities outlined in the blog entry date 13th February however the focus then moved on to coaching.

In the three Year 2 classes 3 different activities were developed to engage the children in aspects of resilience. The focus was on:

  • recognising and acknowledging the importance of both negative and positive emotions on learning, (Capture emotions)
  • the need for ‘calmness and reflection’ as part of the learning journey, (Pause and Mindfulness)
  • the need to reengage, refocus and/or redirect learning. (Reengage, Refocus, or Redirect)

Three ‘challenging’ activities were used to engage the children in learning.

  1. Reflection
  2. The swamp
  3. Spy

There needed to be a degree of ‘impossibility’ otherwise you can not address the notion of resilience.

Reflection : The children did find the 1st activity relatively easy however this did create a greater opportunity to explore the three elements outlined above (Capture, Pause and Redirect) The children were able to explore both the negative and positive emotions linked with learning and we were able to talk about how there is a need to recognise the negative emotions such as ‘embarrassed, angry and frustrated’  and that it was OK to feel like this. However, we were also able to explore how these emotions did not help with future learning and that the 1 2 3  strategy could then be used to ‘power up your brain’.

The Swamp : The children were very engaged with the Swamp activity. A number of the children did not carefully read the instructions and therefore thought they had completed the task until it was pointed out to them they had not. The first and second challenges are relatively easy, however task three onwards needs children to think in a slightly different way. During the session we stopped several times and focussed on the third element which is to refocus, reengage  or redirect learning. The children found it difficult to move away from the ‘trial and effort’ method and rethink a way forward.

Spy : The children again were very engaged with the Spy activity. In terms of success this was probably the most successful in that it allowed greater time to explore some of the three key elements. Children were able to think of many different strategies that might enable them to be more successful. If more time had been available we would have talked about a grid method, working from left to right, using colours ect. In addition the way the children worked collaborative was very positive. 

‘A small example of what I was looking for was when one of the children came back from the box and had forgotten what she had seen. Obviously she felt upset so; we are able to recognise and acknowledge the child’s emotions, take time out to calm down (123) and then think of a strategy that she might use the next time she visited the box.’ The next visit was a success.

Resilience : steps to an action research project

This entry relates to one of our schools that we have been in for almost a year. Initially the work was round supporting the headteacher by facilitating discussion around ethos; our first building block. As a result the school has created a framework focusing on 10 elements of learning. The school decided to move forward by modelling an action research approach that can then be evaluated, modified and replicated in September 2017. Below is a summary of the steps they are taking in developing the action research project;

1 Agreeing the focus 

  • Developing children’s knowledge, understanding, use and application of ‘resilience’ to support and enhance their learning.
  • Developing aspects of oracy with a focus on; enhancing the ‘breadth and depth’ of ‘emotional language’ and developing the language of ‘resilience’ to ensure children can communicate effectively this aspect of their learning.

2  Identifying tangible outcomes 

  • A ‘set’ of learning attributes to underpin ‘resilience’.
  • An explicit visual model to support children’s learning.
  • A ‘set’ of sentence starters to support both children and staff.

3  Defining intended impact 

  • Children recognise and manage their emotions more effectively.
  • Children’s; language developed to enable them to more effectively articulate aspects of their learning, with a focus on resilience and an increased understanding of the ‘concept of ‘resilience’ and it’s importance in their learning.
  • Children’s use of a visual ‘model’ to enhance resilience.
  • Children become more resilient.

Based off this the school have agreed some focused actions (March 2017)

a) Developing emotional language

  • Consolidate ‘graded emotional washing line’; using words, pictures and/or diagrams.
  • Use ‘bucket dippers’, Giraffes cant’ Dance, a Bag Full of Worries or similar text to extend the breadth of language on the ‘graded emotional washing line’.

b) Carrying out an audit

  • Carry out a baseline audit by adapting Appendix A from : Bouncing back : how can resilience be promoted in vulnerable children and young people Believe in children. Barnardo’s by Jane Glover Published 2009. Evidence to be collected from individual modified questionnaires, semi structured interviews and observational notes for a sample group.

c) Introducing the notion of resilience

  • Use power point to explore the children’s initial understanding of resilience.

d) Experiencing resilience

  • Develop activities to explicitly ‘test’  and ‘experience’ resilience.

e) Making sense

  • Create a classroom display that ‘captures’ and helps children make sense of ‘resilience in context’; using annotated photographs, diagrams, pictures and children’s and teacher’s comments.

f) Sharing the process

  • Create opportunities for the action research project to be shared’ step by step’ with other staff.

g) Developing our own understanding by exploring the following

Glover, J. (2009) Bouncing back : how can resilience be promoted in vulnerable children and young people, Barnardo’s: London. 

Public Health England (2014) ‘Building children and young people’s resilience in schools’,  Health Equity Briefing 2 : September 2014,  Public Health England PHE publications gateway number; 2014334

Building resilience in Young Children Booklet for parents of children form birth to six years Best start / meilleur depart by / par health nexus sante

Being a Scientist: language and skills

This is Part 2 of a blog posted on the 12/1/2017

The Centre had the opportunity to follow up and review the initial impact of ‘developing the language and skills of being scientist’.

Children from Years 1 to 4 brought their collaborative ‘science journals’ to the review meeting where they were ‘interviewed’ by us and the subject leader. It was ‘observable’ that the children:

  • were able to articulate their learning in great detail,
  • used scientific language, both technical and process based,
  • could identify and illustrate the skills that they had used in science,
  • could identify and illustrate aspects of their agreed ‘learning attributes’,
  • were able to demonstrate their abilities to be ‘collaborative learners’.

Children in Years 5 and 6 demonstrated all of the above, however, they faced two additional challenges.

Firstly the children were asked to sort the eight elements of being a scientist in terms of which element was most significant in terms of their learning in that particular topic. The discussion was of a very high quality; the children were able to effectively collaborate and easily sought consensus. It has been great to see how this schools social learning attributes have played a part in supporting them in furthering their science curriculum.

The second challenge was to create a video explaining ‘how we learn science’. This is in the process of being edited and we hope to publish on either our or the school’s blog. Watch this space…

Coaching a strategy for professional development and learning

For the last year the Centre has been supporting the development of coaching in two schools. In both schools the first step was to provide professional development opportunities for the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) focusing on:

  • reaching consensus as to what defines and constitutes coaching,
  • providing a structure to facilitate coaching.
  • developing coaching skills.

All members of the SLT were coached, coached each other and in the first place coached ‘willing volunteers’. In one of the schools this has been implemented as an element of their on-going professional development and as a vehicle for encouraging and strengthening professional dialogue. Feedback from the SLT suggests that the leadership skills associated with coaching are having an impact on their day to day roles and responsibilities as leaders.

In the second school all teaching and support staff have been introduced to the concept of coaching and as this year progresses coaching will be implemented as a teaching and learning strategy for children under the umbrella of ‘empowerment’.

This has been an exciting and powerful project so far, as staff have recognised the value of coaching personally. We are really looking forward to seeing how this is increasingly applied within the classroom.