The opening presentation was about the prevalence of children and youth with a mental illness and how this affects their lives, both in school and out. Some of the statistics SHOCKED me! The findings can be found on the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health . This made me realize that as a future educator I need to be better informed and educated on mental health and addiction so I can ensure I can be there for my students and have an understanding of the problems they are facing. What really stuck out to me was that many of these behaviours begin early in the elementary years...we think are students are "innocent" and "unaware" but in fact I believe they are better educated on alcohol and drugs than we as educators are. I plan to take this on as something I become more educated on because I believe it is the early years in students' lives that can make a difference down the road.
The second presentation that I sat in on was by Jim Giles from ETFO and was entitled "The Disruptive Kid" in which Jim changed to be "Classroom Management". Jim stated from the beginning of the session that it is imperative we understand that it is our classroom management skills that can often limit the disruptive behaviours and if we are proactive in our classroom management instead of begin reactive we will have better results as teachers. I wondered how we were going to cover the HUGE topic of Classroom Management in just over 2 hours, but Jim is a master teacher and he did it - although there is lots more to learn, Jim did an amazing job! Every time that Jim had us engaged in a discussion or activity he would also ask us afterwards, what classroom management skill did I just use? Why would I do that? What would that look like in the classroom? This really brought to life the quote he always went back to,
"Be who you want your students to become"
If Jim wanted us to be better educators, he had to model for us what this looked like and he made sense in everything he said - if we want our students to love reading, we need to model this. If we want our students to be happy to come to school, we need to model this. If we ask our students to be quiet during a work period, we need to model this. It seems like such a simple concept but it is really profound and can have a huge impact on our students and classroom environment. This session was one that I walked away with more tricks in my bag than I ever thought was possible and I hope to be a part of Jim's future sessions as he is an inspiration and someone we could all learn from.
Overall, Kids in the Hall was an amazing day and I would encourage all future teacher candidates to make sure to mark this PD down and attend - it will change your perspective on so much!