Every so often I write about the other areas of my classroom environment and best practices. It’s not all about tech for me, but the rest of my early years provision is the best practise that others share so well online. Sharing my ideas with technology is what I feel I can offer to others as something different, in return for their inspirational blog posts and photo tweets.
The last couple of weeks have been really exciting as I have been working closely with Shonette Bason-Wood of ‘Spread the Happiness‘. Even though we have shared online for a long time, inviting her to keynote at my spring TeachMeet is when we really got to know one another.
Shonette is such an inspiration to me, with her high energy and positive outlook on life. The introduction that I gave her at TeachMeet went along the lines of:
“Shonette has changed my professional life from afar, bringing joy to my classroom with Dough Disco and Dance Alarms. She’s no doubt had an impact on many more early years classrooms across the East Midlands and beyond, even if you don’t know her name you will know her work.
But Shonette has changed so much more in my life. She sets out to improve the well-being of both children and adults with easy life-hacks. Her positive outlook on the world resonates with me and has given me the confidence to be the person I know I am. So raise the roof and spread the happiness for Shonette Bason-Wood!”
I carry the ‘Spread the Happiness‘ message with me everywhere that I go now and the recent addition of ‘Magic Wand Therapy‘ has been the last little nugget I needed to really let go of those day to day niggles we all have (My Mum, Siobhan and ‘Team Unicorn’ are my moaning partners! Sunday Debriefs with Peach are pretty good too!). Since starting my role in my current school a huge focus has been embedding a Respect culture in to everything that we do. It was essential from the new beginning that we needed to bring all of the school staff together to make the school a happy place once more. A lot of communication strategies were put in to place across the different teams (teachers, office, kitchen, site managers, everyone). But for me it’s been the simple acts of kindness which were most effective in building a team and friendships.
Every other day we send thank you notes to those who help us around school. Just a little note to check in with the people who help us but we don’t always see. The cooks get a little note to say ‘hope you’ve had a lovely weekend’, the office will get a note to say ‘thank you for keeping us safe’. On Valentine’s Day this year we gave single red rose to our midday supervisors and told them we loved them. It’s just the little ‘thank you’ along the way that really spreads the happiness!
So this blog post is all about celebrating happiness. It’s about being a proud teacher and choosing to be happy. Having a happy classroom so that happy children come to school and are happy in their lifelong learning.
When Shonette visited my class on Tuesday 23rd February I didn’t know what to expect, other than a whole lot of fun. The plan was to have a Gingerbread Man Dough Disco outdoors and use that energy in other physical activities outside. We set up a long paper track down the hill, jumped in to wellie boots, ran through paint and down the hill leaving footprints behind. Chanting ‘Run Run As Fast As You Can’ with every step and leaping on to the grass at the bottom. So. Much. Fun!! Almost every child was outside in the spring sunshine.
‘Marvellous Me Squares’ a display (half of it in the photo above) where every child has a place to show photographs from home and things they’ve made that they are proud of.
It was great for me to look at my practice from Shonette’s perspective and know that the opportunities I provide promote well-being and involvement. I liked talking about the other parts of my teaching which I don’t often share online. And it was great to talk to Shonette about my work with iPad and technology, discussing where this fits in to an enabling environment.
After an energetic afternoon with the class and time reflecting on the learning behaviours the children showed, Shonette presented me the ‘Spread the Happiness Teacher Award’.
This extra bit of fun means so much to me as we all know how much work we put in to teaching. As schools, politics and opinions continue to be debated and these discussions bring about changes, it can be easy to wander in to a place beyond the children that you work with daily. Even looking within the teaching community there are conflicts between ourselves as professionals. Building networks of teachers who I’ve met and liked help me to grow, and survive, what is happening in the wider education community.
The Apple Distinguished Educator program is a great example of this, an international community of innovative educators who continue to inspire me. The Apple Regional Training Centre in Nottingham that I manage is building a network of teachers who support one another in trying new ideas in their schools. The TeachMeets that I organise with Pete Bevington for Nottingham and the East Midlands has created another huge network of teachers. These examples of sharing best practises are connecting teachers and professionals in nurseries, primaries, secondaries, academies, universities and local authorities. All of these networks, and now the Spread The Happiness gang, give me the confidence to say ‘Hey! Stop tugging on my kite!’.
So the ‘Spread The Happiness Teacher Award’ means so much to me. It brings me right back to the classroom, the place that really matters. It gives me the confidence to continue being the happy teacher that I am and to keep finding new ways to make my environment a place which enables effective teaching and learning.
With a huge smile I post this badge…
Thank you Shonette, always and forever! xx