Deakin University Professor Phil Riley shared with me his research into Principal Health and Well-being.
And the results are really scary! School Leaders are almost double the population average for Burnout, Stress and Trouble Sleeping. And their Self-rated Health is well below average.
The “sheer quantity of work” and “lack of time to focus on teaching and learning” have consistently been reported as the two key stressors. Worse still, this has been steadily increasing for nearly a decade.
On the bright side, many principals report having a significant moral purpose which sustains them.
But, I guess this is no surprise. The role of an educator in inspiring children to become Passionate, Life-Long Learners is very morally rewarding. And we all know how insanely busy teachers and principals can be, and the stress they are under.
One school district in the USA (Kent School District) is trying to mitigate this by taking Wednesday afternoon's off! Teachers spend their time in PD and teacher collaboration, while the students are under the care of their Enrichment and Sports activity providers.
One workplace study in NZ went even further, with a 4-day work week demonstrating BETTER staff productivity, LESS stress and huge benefits to staff well-being. But can that work in schools? Would the students' learning suffer?
Children in Finland (recognised as the top education system globally) have 30% FEWER contact hours at school than here in Australia - and get BETTER results. This suggests, that from a Learning Outcomes perspective, children may also perform better on a 4-day school week.
I'd love to see a school trial this in Australia - one day per week where teachers hand over all their students to an Enrichment Provider for a fun, interest-based day. I think students would be more engaged in school, teachers would benefit and Leadership stress may well start to reduce.
What are your thoughts about a 4-day school week?
Bunker down for some cool chess at our Winter Chess Camp 2019
If your child likes chess and time away, they’ll love our Winter Camp!
Set in a beautiful bush location with panoramic views, Grantville Lodge is the ideal place to get away from the hustle and bustle and enjoy some peace and quiet...and chess!
The Winter Camp is from 2-5 July, 2019, and is a great opportunity for your child to enjoy some serious, but light-hearted, time improving their chess game, surrounded by great chess minds.
During the camp, there will be plenty of time to get their chess game on with mini tournaments, one-on-one game analysis, transfer chess, and small group workshops. Our team of superb chess experts, including International Master Robert Jamieson and Women’s Grand Master Julia Ryjanova, will work and play with your child to ensure that they get the most out of their chess learning.
And of course, it’s not all work!
There is plenty of time to enjoy some indoor games and outdoor sports, as well as an excursion to the award-winning local attraction A Maze ‘N Things, for some off-board fun.
Your child can come along and enjoy the experience of the camp on their own, or parents are welcome to come and join in the fun too.
Spots are limited, so check out www.kidsunlimited.com.au/winter-camp.html for more information and to register for the camp.
Is Naplan creating excitement or trepidation in your house?
If your child is apprehensive about the upcoming NAPLAN testing, these 10 tried and tested practical tips could help your child feel confident and prepared to get through with flying colours!
Tip # 1: Ask your child how they are feeling about NAPLAN
This is a great place to start as their answer will give you a good idea of what support they need to get them through their NAPLAN testing.
If they are feeling anxious about the tests, or concerned about the results, encourage your child to talk about how they are feeling and help them put it all into perspective. NAPLAN is actually great test practice for children. Let them know that all answers, right or wrong, are good as the results will just help form the school’s ongoing approach to teaching. And at the end of the day you will be just as proud of them and love them just as much!
Tip #2: Get familiar with the NAPLAN test structure & layout
One of the best ways to help children prepare for NAPLAN is to go through a NAPLAN practice test. They don’t need to complete all of the questions, but they should at least read over the practice test to familiarise themselves with the types of questions and the style of the paper.
Knowing what to expect in terms of the structure, layout and wording, takes away some of the fear of the unknown and will help increase their confidence about taking the NAPLAN tests.
Tip #3: Get comfortable with completing NAPLAN online
With online testing being rolled out in 2019, this will be a significant change for many children.
If your child is likely to be taking the online version of NAPLAN it would be helpful if they can complete a few practice questions online, before test week. It will give them the chance to get comfortable with using the technology and submitting answers successfully.
Tip #4: Plan how to use the test time
One of the big things that most children struggle with in any test is time and running out of it! If your child often runs out of time in exams, a simple exercise you can do with them to help them learn to plan their time, is to go through the test components and look at how much time they have for each section. Also, talk about their strategy for if they get stuck on a question. Give them courage to move on and come back to it at the end if they have time.
Tip #5: Discuss how to tackle certain types of questions
If they don’t understand a question, what should they do? Discuss how important it is to re-read the question first, before panicking and guessing the answer!
For multiple choice questions, discuss how can they use a process of elimination to give themselves the best chance of getting the answer correct, and run through applying this with them on a practice question.
Tip #6: Practice brainstorming ideas for writing topics
In the Writing component of NAPLAN students will need to write an informative, narrative or persuasive piece of writing. And this means coming up with ideas for these in the exam!
While some children are full of creative ideas, many struggle with coming up with good ideas in exam conditions. To help improve their brainstorming skills, spend some time with them prior to the Writing exam brainstorming writing topics in response to a practice question.
Tip #7: Get a good night’s sleep and a great breakfast
Getting a good night of sleep helps short and long term memory performance, the ability to focus, decision-making capacity, math processing and cognitive speed. And all of these things will help in tests! So encouraging your child to get a good night’s sleep the night before can make a big difference! Encourage them to have a good brekky which will keep their tummies full and fuel their brains.
Tip #8: Stick to your normal morning routine
Sticking to your normal morning routines is very important as it will help normalise the day for your child - particularly if they are feeling anxious or stressed!
Act like it’s just another normal day of school and go through all the typical things you would do in preparation for a day of school. The less you can change about the morning the better to help your child arrive at school relaxed and ready!
Tip #9: Focus on the process and not the results
Shift the conversation from the results of NAPLAN, to the process. Instead of focusing on results, which can make students feel anxious and impact on their test performance, discuss with your child what they can learn from the experience.
NAPLAN represents an opportunity to learn how to get better at taking tests, to learn how to deal with and overcome test anxiety, and to identify their strengths and where they can work to get better!
Tip #10: Be positive and create perspective for your child
If your child comes home from the first day of NAPLAN and has had a bad day, be encouraging and try and shift their focus to the future. Ask them what can they do differently for the next day of NAPLAN to improve. Focus on what they can change, rather than what has happened.
It’s also important to help them get perspective. Even if they don’t do well, explore with them what’s the worst that can happen? They may have ideas in their head that are entirely inaccurate and speaking about this can help them find perspective!
We hope that these tips will help your child and family breeze through the NAPLAN week.
Good luck and enjoy NAPLAN 2019!