Teacher ~ Prepare Yourself for the End of the Scholastic Year

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Are You Looking After Yourself, Ready for the Year End Approaching?




This Post is a Companion Piece to

Teachers ~ Caring for Yourself, Your Students, and Reducing Stress



Please the Section at the end of the Post on

Four Practical ways to Cope with Stresses of Modern Life





Autumn / Winter 2019



Iseult Catherine O'Brien 

Montessori Teacher & Supervisor  |  Volunteer Tutor with Second Level Students |

Online Thesis Specialist


Beware the Light!!

 Reproduction of vibrant painting by Dublin Artist, Neil Douglas, at neildouglas09@gmail.com. Courtesy of the Artist.









Please see my following Posts for your own information first, and  in preparation for suggesting it to your students, BEWARE THE LIGHT!! and CARE 4 YOUNG PEOPLE (PARENTS NEED TO MONITOR INTERNET USE & OTHER ACTIVITIES).




These are subjects of enormous importance, affecting the vast majority of families to a greater or lesser degree.  There seems to me to be a determined attitude on the part of some not to want to  face up to the risks that are awaiting anyone from the age of around four years, through teenage years, young people, up to adults, who may be naive about the chances they take.




If, having got the nod from the School Authorities - other teachers may be interested in joining you in the experience, and having asked your PGCs to read the above named Post, I suggest introducing the idea of a one calendar week long period, minimum, where students have zero use of their electronic devices, 24 hours a day (except, of course, in the case of an emergency).  I suggest you start by writing to all the PGCs early in your planning, enclosing a copy of the above named Post, letting them know what you hope to do and why; to outline clearly the great benefits for the whole family, and then requesting their support for your undertaking. You would need goodwill for this experiment to work, and I think it would be best to let the students know early what you plan.




PGCs are becoming more aware of the dangers facing their offspring and themselves but often feel lost, not knowing how to start managing the use of electronic devices at home. I believe a open, generous, opportunity offered by you to your PGCs to become part of your Project and to start the preparation at home, prior to the one calendar week abstention period, would be received happily. The various PGCs of students in your class could become supportive of each other - that may be a great solace to them - there will be lots of Drama!




When you have made your preparations, please give your students plenty of notice of what you plan.  You can help your students from as early as six years, and younger, to reduce their use of online or electronic devices, including television, significantly - now, for at least the period of one week.  Even the youngest students shall be surprized how very difficult they find this self-imposed 'deprivation'!



I suggest you have a 20 minute chat each day with the younger students during the week of abstinance, to find out what part is most difficult for them,  let them compare experiences, and wind up each session with encouragement from you.   Students from eight to ten years and upwards, could keep a daily audio, bullet point, or mind-map diary for the period, describing their difficulties in carrying out the exercise, listing the expected and unexpected consequences, and if they realized the exercise would be so difficult.  It is worthwhile spending at least this much time discussing this topic with the younger students ~ they may be very shocked and surprized at how much they miss not having their devices available all evening, and at other times of the day.



Let your students know you expect to hear details of the activities they undertook, to use positively the time they would have spent on their various devices.  A balance of a good deal of physical activity; reading - any kind of book / comic / manga, and drawing / painting / work in clay, papier mache, origami to illustrate a story, for example;  helping with jobs in the house, like cleaning a bedroom, or sorting laundry before it is hung up to dry.



These jobs can be calming and gives one a sense of visible achievement. Spending seemingly empty time wander around a local park for half an hour, looking up into the trees and down to their bases to investigate wild flowers, is a hugely positive activity, helping to de-stress and to give one conscious or unconscious memories of green, calm, air. These are kept in your memory, especially as you build them, and they can give you a wash of comfort in moments of stress or distress.




Everyone will be surprized at how much time they now have free, and it would be useful to have a few relevant suggestions to hand to suit the three basic learning styles of each of your students - Auditory, Visual, and Kinesthetics.



As part of the diary, ask that each student's new perspective of their usual activities, and any changes in their sleep pattern over one week should be included.  This would be a very useful exercise for everyone, including you and the PGCs. 



For the period of this exercise, you may wish to put in place different types of work, so that your students shall continue with their studies but using other methods.  For State Exam second level students, have a range of off-syllabus books / films / documentaries / recordings of music or dance of any form, to encourage studying around the curriculum, which will give insight and broaden their understanding of the curriculum.  Encourage the students to choose work in a medium they enjoy and understand.  As there will be a range of books / films / documentaries / recordings, etc, studied over the period of a week, all students could be asked to prepare a 10-15 minute talk on the material they studied, as an exercise in precising work, and also in addressing a group on a new topic.  Ask the students to prepare their talk bearing in mind questions may come from fellow students.  The presentation and questions sessions could be held a few times a week and the whole class should be finished their presentations within two months. 



Some students may wish to use diagrams or mind-maps to help them keep on top of the information they wish to get across, and they should be encouraged to do so.  Others may use flip charts with bullet points or PowerPoint presentations.  The form of work listed above could be used by students to explain a piece of work in the same form, or in a totally different style.  Whatever works best for the student giving the presentation, should be the style used.



Some students may find one of the styles speaks to them better than any previous presentation.  That student will have discovered his or her primary learning style!  (It can happen that a student gets a long way into his or her school career without having discovered the various basic Learning Styles - Auditory, Visual, Kinesthetics.)   Some students will not be able to follow mind-maps, finding them lacking in logic and seemingly random.  Using as many presentation styles as possible will give all the students who are used to spoken presentations with bullet points backing up key information, a glimpse at how difficult some of their classmates find that  style, and what works best for them. 



Most presentations are given verbally with a written list of reminders / prompts which can be noted down.  This may be the most usual way of giving a demonstation of information, but it certainly does not work well for quite a significant proportion of any audience.  This would be an excellent opportunity for all the students to make their presentations their own, and thus give the whole class as many examples of presentation style are a represented by the students.




Gather a selection of material from the School / College Library for your particular subject(s), and have a list of other material widely available in Public LibrariesGive the students as wide a range of material as possible to choose from, and to avoid anything being covered by more than one student.  



The benefit for the students who choose reading text from a book, for example, and keeping contemporaneous written or audio notes of ideas they consider particularly interesting, novel, radical, useful, plus keeping a note of the requirements for a bibliography, is that they shall be reading a book actively, with the intention of mining it for every nugget. 

Passive reading is an easy habit to get into to, and we all need to fight against drifting through a book.



Many of your students shall be facing exams, and even if they are not State Exams or end of college year exams, they shall still experience high degrees of stress, heightened by expections.



Holding a few period-long written examinations in the classroom, without prior warning or preparation, is an excellent way to help students get used to the experience of exams.  Have the written work handed up at the end of the class, and over following days work through the papers, noticing where students had difficulties.  A lack of information is not what you are looking for, initially. 



Firstly, you need to find out if your students know how to face exam situations.  It's possible your class has never faced a serious exam, and none of them knows how they would perform. 



Once you have examined the papers from the first written 'exam', and returned them, discuss with the students what elements seemed most difficult, and ask if any were surprized by marks or remarks you gave for particular sections.  You and they need to know this well before the Summer exams are upon you ~ explain this to your students.  If you and they can discover their most common errors in facing an exam situation, you and they can work together on eliminating those errors.  


To lose marks over basic grammar, spelling, or sentence or paragraph construction is a dreadful waste of an opportunity.



We don't have to like an exam system that is so reliant on one or two written exam papers per subject, being the main test of a whole school career. 



We do have to accept the systems presented to us, and try to find the most user-friendly way to approach them.  If students can be instilled with confidence and self-belief, it will help them in any exam, and especially if they hit an unexpected obstacle.  Practise and resilience - which they will have developed - will see them through obstacles.



Working with your students about the quality and quantity of information required to answer adequately an exam question is a different skill, which shall also need to be accommodated.  If you present your students with a series of Work Plans to help them manage the work load expected of them, you shall be giving them the best chance to manage their time wisely, and reduce their stress levels.



The latter Post is designed to help students to get into the practise of answering exam questions, so that they can eliminate as many errors as possible, thus giving them the confidence and time to deal with the actual questions in a real exam setting.  Many of the usual pitfalls are listed, to assist students in getting into the practise of using correct grammar and sentence construction.



If one doesn't have to decide whether to use affect or effect, because that's been settled in advance, one saves time when answering questions, and keeps one's stress levels as low as possibleEvery time one comes across a situation one has faced and decided upon, the confidence level rises.







Children from the age of around six years up to adults all need to be protected and learn how to protect themselves from cyber-bullying, and online 'virtual physical assault', which feel no less real than the real thing.  Please read this element of the Post with care, and then discuss the contents with your children and young people.  Some other adults may appreciate having the information. 



The Links to the Dublin court case give an insight into the behaviour of online predators, and how plausible they can be.



Cope with the Stresses of Modern Life

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Best of Luck!

Regards, Iseult

Iseult Catherine O’Brien



If you see any errors, typographical or factual, or if you disagree with any of my ideas, I should be very glad to hear from you.


Please let me know what you think of my ideas.  I'd welcome any suggestions and, of course, you'd get an acknowledgement beside your idea if included. 


Email  iseultccobrien@gmail.com.


My website, www.icobrien.com, 'Education Matters', is where all my Articles are started, developed and updated.


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If I quote a person, group, organisation, or establishment, I do my very best to source the material quoted, and to attribute it properly.  If I cannot satisfy myself I have found the author or speaker who voiced a quote, I resist using it, no matter how tasty a bite!  If I refer in passing to views expressed by others, I attribute the views even if they have not been given verbatim in the text.  


I work on a basis of goodwill and good intentions.  I shall make errors, being human, and when I do, I apologise now, and should always welcome a correction, which I would insert in the relevant Post prominently, in clear unambiguous text and type, repeating the apology. That's is the best I can do!