One of our TV current affairs programs, The Project featured a clip about Jihad Dib who had taken a western Sydney school and turned it right around. The clip takes about 3 minutes and in that time you can see how well Mr. Dib has put the Personal and Social Capabilities to work. You could have the assessment rubrics out and tick every box for him and you can look at this video and know this is what the Personal and Social Capability looks like in action. As Rita Pierson said in her TED talk – every kid needs a champion and the Personal and Social Capability offers us a way of championing students in a very comprehensive and life changing way.
The social capability is about recognising the worth of others and being able to work with them. It is also about being a good communicator and being able to notice the social setting you are in and its requirements. Schools should be diverse and vibrant. Teachers should be good communicators and be able to transfer those skills to their students by working in partnership with them. We do need opportunities and encouragement to grow so that we can blossom!
You are welcome to download the document for the year 8s: PASYear 8. I have put all the indicators for Year 8 under the elements and on one sheet. Since I introduced the personal capability to my year 8s I have wanted to remind them of it, but as a teacher, I also need to keep an eye on the social capability because it is where I want to lead them this semester. Having it there for ready reference, I can stick it on my desk, have it in my folder , show it on the board in class if I need to and know I am using what the Australian Curriculum says and not my version of it. If we all use the same language, this is going to work really well.
Forty years in the classroom shows. Rita Pierson can speak with such clarity, such honesty, such confidence and such knowledge. She is a jewel. Her talk is all inspiration because 40 years in a classroom has made her capable of understanding and knowing that it all comes down to relationships and connections. It is the stuff of the personal and social capability. Students will enable themselves when they have a champion. They will do better, try better and achieve more when they have someone who knows how to get the best out of them. The personal and social capability is about this: communication, developing leadership skills, understanding relationships, becoming confident and resilient, recognising personal qualities and achievements. Rita Pierson’s words can ring out and resound because she has spent 40 years in a classroom and she knows what she is talking about. As she speaks she is connecting with her audience and teaching them too about personal and social capability. We are educators. We can do this.
My image via befunky.com
I have worked with the indicators of the personal capability since I introduced them to my Year 8s. I now consider the time I spent to explain what they meant and for us to have a common understanding of the indicators to have been time well spent. When you are in a group or organisation , it is really good to know you are all marching to the same beat and interpreting things in the same way. The common ground established through agreed understanding is important to self-regulation and for helping others to be team players. My belief is I need to do this at the beginning of the school year with all of my classes. It would be good for all students to have the same explanations at the beginning of a school year so that we are all using the same language for the personal and social capability. Once you have that understanding and common ground the conversations seem to flow very easily. So, my belief at this stage , about teaching the Personal and Social capability is that it creates some real advantages because the common language across a school means:
1.Personal capability is connected to social capability is connected to ethical behaviour is connected to achieving or not achieving as an individual or group
2.There is a common language and understanding which a group can use for self- regulation
3.There is a common language which an individual can use to get help and support
4.Individuals can understand how relationships are formed
5.There is a logical and agreed way for managing self and others
Today’s self assessment with the year 8s on self-management went better than the self-awareness one. It only took 20 minutes to complete. I used different headings next to the indicators. This time I used :
Goals (to sustain strengths)
Key actions to build
and review date which we made Term 3.
Next week we are goal setting for the self-awareness and self-management elements. They didn’t like the by whom? and they couldn’t differentiate well between the Goals and Key actions. They worked much more readily with the headings I gave them last time:
say whether it applies to them or not
give themselves a mark out of 10
say how they can improve
say whether they need help
The students came up with some really good responses to the self-management indicators though. What seemed to be a recurring theme was the need for a proper night’s sleep and to be calm. The also mentioned things like getting fitter and working on their health and using exercise to help manage a more positive lifestyle. That was really rewarding to see those sorts of responses. Having done these two elements, though, I realise it will be very difficult to look at all the other general competences and assess them as well as what I am teaching by way of subject content. I am more inclined to think now that some of the competencies need to be the specific responsibility of certain curriculum areas and that all teachers look at addressing some of the elements in different competencies as they teach their subject.
One of the great things about this clip by Roger Reece is we have a practising classroom teacher teaching and explaining what self-awareness is. I wish I had seen this clip before I had tackled my self assessment sheets with my year 8s. In the end I got through to them but had I seen Roger Reece teaching this, I would have been able to explain it all more efficiently and effectively to my year 8s. Teachers do need to get on the Net. They do need to share their knowledge and skills. We can support and underpin each other professionally as we do this. Roger Reece is calm, clear and very good at making sense – meaning. Instantly you know what he means. His focus is well defined and , admittedly, he is teaching adults and not younger children , he sustains this focus.