Saturday, November 28, 2015

Communication is Key

When inspiring social change, it is imperative that the message utilizes strong communication skills.  First, the message must be clear and coherent for people to understand.  Without understanding, people cannot rally behind the cause.  Second, a message needs to be concise.  Without focus, an idea can get lost in the noise.

I have had a lot of public speaking experience.  When I am prepared, I feel have strong communication skills as it relates to being clear and coherent.  I tend to get too wordy, because I like providing details.  I need to remind myself at times to stay focused.  I have seen my audiences pay more attention and not become distracted on the occasions when I was more concise and focused.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Creating a Social Media Plan to Train Teachers on Social-Emotional Skills

Teachers focus so much on teaching their preschool students letters and numbers, while simultaneously neglecting to provide instruction on emotions, self-regulation, and friendship making skills.  Yet, teachers are quick to view a child’s negative social behaviors more as an aspect of that child’s personality rather than a skill deficiency that can be rectified.  We know that the degree of quality in early childhood learning environments is largely controlled by the extent of the teacher’s knowledge and expertise in the field.  There is definitely a need for greater professional development for teachers on how to support students’ social and emotional development. 
Unfortunately, teachers in my region are not adequately trained to offer social-emotional learning (SEL) instruction to students.  Instead of proactively preventing challenging behaviors through supporting students’ emotional understanding, teachers without sufficient professional development are merely reacting to children’s behaviors through classroom management strategies.  As I have seen in my school, the end result is often frustrated teachers, students socially unprepared for kindergarten, and parents clueless as how to help their child.
Alternatively, the use of a social-emotional curriculum when combined with teacher professional development has been associated with increased student social competence.  Also, teachers who are more understanding of students’ developing emotions are more likely to show greater support to students’ negative feelings.  Through targeted SEL professional development teachers will be able to better reinforce students’ social skills, prevent classroom behavioral issues before they happen, and offer guidance to parents on how to support their child’s social and emotional development.
To overcome this gap in teacher training, in the Spring of 2016 I plan to host a professional development day that focuses on SEL instruction for all the teachers within my company’s eight area schools.  To ensure the event’s success, it is imperative that I effectively communicate the importance and particulars of the event to area teachers and administrators.
Facebook would be an obvious choice as a social media outlet.  Most teachers and parents of my school have liked our school’s Facebook page.  I could post an event there and it would reach most of our families.  Teachers could RSVP to the event through Facebook.  It would then advertise their anticipated attendance at the event to their contacts, which will help spread the word to other groups outside of my school.  Teachers that have RSVP’d to the event through Facebook would receive a reminder the day prior.  Event planners could post updates for the event regularly in the weeks leading up to the date to create additional interest.  One of the benefits to using Facebook would be its universal subscription by most of our families and teachers.  While the RSVP option is helpful, it does not have a registration feature to help us have more information on attendees, which could present challenges for planning the event.

A website for the event would also be a wise choice for social media advertising.  Its major benefit is that the site could be tailor-suited to the event’s needs.  We could create a registration page for participants to submit any necessary information.  It could potentially reach teachers, parents, and administrators.  The potential challenges would be the time and cost needed to create a quality website.  Another challenge would be getting people to know about the website.  We would have to post it elsewhere (such as Facebook) so that interested persons know where to find out more information about the professional development day.