I was given the opportunity to attend the 19th Annual Promising Practice conference at Rhode Island College. The conference focused on resiliency in students and how as educators we can help foster that resiliency. The keynote speaker was a great and really kept my attention throughout the entire conference. Dr. Robert Brooks had a great resume as a psychologist, educator, author and the list goes on. He shared several stories of his past as a psychologist and his experiences in classrooms. Dr. Brooks bring to attention something the August would agree with; that classrooms must be welcoming and make students feel safe. If the students feel safe and comfortable. If there is no safe space, learning is difficult especially resiliency. Students can become turned off to learning if their environment isn’t open and positive. Dr. Brooks adds that if there is positive reinforcement and positive emotions set in the classroom, that it creates a climate that has hope and gives the students a sense of purpose.
It was great to hear a speaker admit to the struggles and obstacles teachers face in any classroom. He admits that he would go home wanting to quit his job because he was feeling defeated which is something I think teachers don’t always tell their undergrad students. He said he woke up one morning dreading to go to work until he reminded himself that, “Today could be the day that I change a student's life forever.” Teaching is most definitely a difficult job but it was inspiring to hear his stories and how he handled several different situations in his career. He reminded us that as educators, we have real potential to impact a student's life.
The first workshop that I had attended was Fostering Resiliency: Strength based interventions that support diverse learners on the path to standardized tests. I felt this session was helpful for me not only as an educator but also as a student. It touched upon different ways to approach standardized tests for all different types of learners. Some students need the extra help to become better at dissecting a question to find the correct answer. They gave examples like ruling out the incorrect answers to narrow down your options. As well as go on what you know and then try to make the connection using your previous knowledge. This workshop also gave us pointers on how to help the student not feel defeated if they did not pass or have to take the test more than once. I can totally relate to this because I am not a great test taker and not passing a standardized test is a frustrating cycle . This workshop reminds me of Delpit because this was our way of learning the “rules and codes of power” in order to be successful in these difficult standardized test that students will continue to take. It helps us better understand what steps we need to take as educators to not let these test discourage students but more so teach them how to approach these kinds of difficult tests.
The second session I was able to attend was Stress Management Techniques to Build Resiliency. I found this also to be a great tool to have 1. Being a future educator, and 2. Being a student myself. They touched upon the ideas that your mindset can change how you view your situation which ultimately will reduce your own stress. They had us do an activity which I then used in my service learning classroom. I felt that this connected to Finn because it created an open discussion and collaboration that the students do not usually do. We were told to sit in a circle and write on a piece of paper a stressor. We then were instructed to crumple the piece of paper and throw it into the center of the circle, and pick up a new one. On the new paper, you were to write advice as to what someone could do to help reduce their stress about whatever they wrote about. Again we were instructed to throw it back into the center and pick up a new one and then we could share them outloud. This went over well with my service learning students because it gave them a chance to reflect on themselves and collaborate with other students. I found this to be effective because it allowed students to open up and give their own opinion without having to hear this advice from a teacher. Students are more inclined to listen to one another versus hearing it from the teacher because they “wouldn’t understand”.Overall I found promising practice to be a great conference that I was able to learn a lot from as a student as well as a future educator.