My Christmas wish

What it’s really all about… Isn’t it?

Living in the ‘Now’

During assembly on the last day of term, our Head of ICT Ciaran, spoke about the coolest new features to use on the iPad over the festive period. After biging it up somewhat, he explained it thoroughly. It went along the lines of this:

“Once you have the iPad open, press the button at the top, close over the cover, and put it on a shelf. Once this has been done, go and play with your family and friends.” 

The kids had a good laugh as they respect him incredibly and they acknowledged his advice and what he meant. The staff had a good laugh too and reiterated the wise words to their classes. What I do wonder tho is how many people will act upon it? As I sit in my home in rural, western Ireland typing this, I see that the battery on my phone is down to 38% and it’s only 14:30 in the afternoon… I’ve pretty much spent a morning playing with some new Apps, which I love doing, and browsing on social media and reading news articles. I’ve not seen my dad in a few months yet I’ve spent more time on my phone already today then I have interacting with him. Bit sad really.

I consider a lot of the browsing that I’m doing is kinda like work as it’s mostly educational stuff that I’m reading and stuff that I see as beneficial. But what am I losing out on as a result? When am I giving my mind a rest? A good friend of mine has absolute panic attacks when you use your phone when in their company. He’s the one that drives the ‘Phones in the middle of the table policy’ when eating out where the first person to check their phone is responsible for paying the bill. Maybe a bit extreme depending on circumstances but not a bad idea on the whole! However, it does appear a bit sad that it comes to that when in the company of others. I think the fact of the matter is, we are hugely addicted to our devices and struggle with not being connected. Myself included.

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The thing that worries me the most is that we don’t know the long term consequences of this addiction. This addiction, like any other, can consume you and engulf you. This very addiction is one that has impacted my life negatively at times as relationships I have had with others have amounted to very little due to the easy substitution of ‘love’, ‘likes’, ‘pokes’ and ‘streaks’ that are received in a supposedly ‘social’ online world. Scarily, the more you succumb to this ‘love’ and the callings of your device, the harder it can be to wean yourself away from it. This video which you’re likely to have seen before sums it up brilliantly.

I spent my childhood on this very ground on where I type now with no technology whatsoever and explored the fields around me with my friends and dogs. I have slowly seen myself become more distracted and less able to resist the notifications on my phone. What am I going to do about it? What must it be like for children that are growing up that are surrounded by this? What is their life going to be like in 30 years time if this is where we are now?

NT

Tony Robbins

My Christmas wish

It’s not all doom and gloom. For me, it’s about getting the balance right when I have time on my hands and when I’m with friends and family. Technology has enhanced my life personally and professionally in so many ways and I’m so fortunate to be in the position that I am to embrace it. I think this is where a lot of us are. I think it’s easy for our minds to go into auto pilot too where we over think things that have happened in the past or are busy predicting things that may come in the future. A friend of mine recommended that I listen to Eckhart Tolle’s audio book on The Power of Now’ to help clear my thoughts and it really is a powerful listen. It has really helped me to gather my thoughts and put them to one side especially when I am with people. My listening skills have definitely improved and in turn, this helps me to build better relationships.

To conclude, I advise myself once more and others to act upon Eckhart’s words to ‘Live in the now!’  and this is my Christmas wish. As I look forward to celebrating with my family and friends, I’m going to follow Ciaran’s advice and press that button on the top of my device and place it on a shelf. My attention will be given to my nephews and nieces as they buzz around in anticipation for Santa to come. Their excitement of having each other around fills the air with joy and hope of even better times to come. Hysterical laughter rings through the home (until one of them falls and the tears come) as nothing else matters to them right now than what’s right in front of them. Aromas of cloves, cinnamon and all things nice waft through the hall to the living room as crackers are pulled and gifts are exchanged. Things of which, cannot be recorded or documented, and are only meant to be experienced. Try it. At the end of each day you do, you’ll enhance your appreciation for what’s most important which is more than likely, right in front of your eyes.

This Christmas, enjoy living in the now.

Ho Ho Ho

 

The teacher I never had

The passing of a true gent

Safe, cared for, inspired and valued are some of the most frequent words, terms and phrases parents use when describing what’s most important for them when looking for a school for their child. Sorry for using the dreaded ‘O’ word, but isn’t a school that nurtures such values what really makes an ‘outstanding’ school?

I’ve had some sad news this week about a great leader that I have known all my life, who happens to be my mate’s father, that passed away this week after a long illness. And although he was not a teacher (Postman actually) by trade, he was a sports coach part-time, who probably taught me more than any teacher I ever had. He abided by great principles and his dedication to what he did was nothing short of incredible. As he took charge of our under 10 football team, taking us across the county on a mini bus to matches, parents took comfort in knowing that their children were being looked after by someone really, quite special.  Someone that kept their kids safe, inspired them to do their best and made them feel valued.

Now, remembering that this same person had their own job during the day and took charge of his team in the evenings during his own time, really indicates how committed he was. He had some help from the club of course, but he was the driver of it. Sunday morning practice sessions to sharpen up and develop our skills. Games mid-week. No financial incentive, and a family to go home to at the end of the day. Year on year, team after team. Thankfully, he led us to the holy grail in our senior years where we won the clubs first senior title for 36 years which probably only he could have done. We were a difficult bunch of lads at the best of times! There are not many people like that anymore, that I know of anyways.

In a recent interview I sat, I was asked about leaders that I looked up to and why. I really could have spoken about him for an hour, so great was the impact he had on me, shaping the person I am today. In my leadership, with my class and with my team, I try instil the same values that were instilled upon me. I hope I’m doing him justice. I’m sure he’ll give me a nudge here and there when needed 🙂

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I’m very lucky. I work in a fantastic environment with fantastic staff, fantastic facilities and fantastic kids. A school where kids and parents feel their kids are being nurtured to become well-rounded young people. Grades are important for sure, but only after you have all of the other boxes ticked first. From the passing of this great man, it’s given me an even greater perspective and appreciation of what’s important in life, the people around you and the impact we have on each other. Core values that are entrenched within our families and friends most dear. We run a buddies program at school where our Year 5 kids have a buddy in Year 1 that we spend time with reading, playing and learning with. It’s really special. And as I preach to the kids, ‘Never underestimate the impact you have on others’, I too need to remind myself of my own words from time to time as it is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle that is life.

I’ve got a great role model that I will continue to aspire to be like and I will remember him with a smile on my face. Rest well, you will be so dearly missed by many.

 

Life, as we never knew it…

Educating children on device management

I’m pretty excited. A busy couple of weeks coming up at work where we are doing things in the classroom that we’ve never done before. What we’ve never been able to do before. Our MDM (Mobile Device Management) trial is starting this week and next week a buddy of mine and I are presenting at the second ever JESS Digital Summit in Dubai. What we are trialling in our class is what we are looking to present next week so it’s all happening pretty quick.

Apple Classroom is how we currently administer how children use their iPads in class. It’s something Apple have really done a good job on and it is aiding how we use devices in class more seamless than ever before. There is a danger here tho I think. The power of an MDM server and the use of Apple Classroom enables us to dictate what children do with their devices while they are on the school network, which sounds great. I can’t help but feel there is a danger that teachers may see this as a means to ‘police’ iPad usage in class and in turn, have a long term negative impact on our kids.

It’s a bit like giving a person a fish or teaching them how to fish. There is that comfort element that we can eradicate any improper usage of devices when they are on the school network so it is imperative that teachers educate children on proper device management and the dangers of improper use. There have been recent articles out there that highlight the negative impacts technology is having on children, and adults, due to addictions to devices and social media. I came across this on Twitter and think it’s great. It’s going up in my classroom. DQ image

Image: World Economic Forum

This is stuff that needs to be taught now and in a classroom with an MDM or Classroom or equivalent, there is the danger that these skills won’t get taught because children can be protected whilst on terra firma. As wonderful as technology is, we need to ensure that we are teaching our kids the importance of device management for a healthy body and mind. Oh, and we may need to act upon it ourselves too…

It’s time we all learn how to fish.

It’s hard to be a kid…

Is being a kid in the 21st century harder than we’ve ever known?

You think about what children, and I mean all ages, have to put up with today. It’s become quite rare to see children playing in an environment that doesn’t involve technology. Turn on the TV and all you will see is news about terrorism or nations spouting out about who has the biggest toys flying into space. What’s worse, is at the dinner table, an extra seat is put aside for a tablet or phone ‘just in case’ one of our photos has received a thumbs up from someone we haven’t even spoken to in the past 10 years.

Call me melodramatic, but all of these mixed messages and (anti) social experiences that kids today are receiving cannot be good for their long term development. If I take you back to the American election last year, I know of Year 5’s (Grade 4’s) that were discussing what a tragedy it would be if Mr T came into power and that WWIII would be imminent. For real? Now comparing life today for a child to my own in rural Ireland back in the 90’s may be a bit pointless but I’m sure I was more concerned about what teams we were going to have for football at lunch and whether or not one of the girls in the class fancied me or not. Turned out I was playing up front and no she didn’t!

But that really was the extent of our worries at the time. Is it a good thing that kids are more connected now than ever? That they are aware of what is happening all over the world? I think education and parenting is at a pivotal corner stone where educators and parents have to be ever so careful about how we raise our future generations. We have a duty of care more so than ever, not to protect and alienate our children from what’s happening in the world around them, but imperatively, to allow them to be what they are. Children. Something we can all too quickly forget.

There are endless studies and talks from some incredible people around the world about our Millennial generation (If you haven’t seen Simon Sinek yet, where have you been?) and the importance of teaching 21st century skills. And although we all want what’s best for our kids, are we doing everything we can day to day to allow our children to flourish and learn these skills?

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I see it at home in Ireland, UK and UAE, that it’s hard to instil values in children that inspire children to become aspirational. It is hard, but do children really have too much to their disposal in our western world? I’m one of Malcolm Gladwell’s biggest fans and he portrays a startling picture in one of his books (David and Goliath) of just how hard it is to set the right environment for children to become rounded, aspirational, young people that we would love them to be. We may never have been as under prepared to accommodate their emotional needs.

The world is moving so quickly that we too ourselves are getting caught up in the world wind of events that are happening around us and many of us are as concerned as our kids if our picture doesn’t hit 100 likes before midday. Before you deny it, look at the amount of time you see your partner, friend, colleague etc on their phone in any given day. Look around them. Whilst surrounded by others, we still crave that endorphin rush from someone commenting on our picture that’s been filtered that many times, it doesn’t even look like us anymore. Somewhere in the background, our kids are often found doing the exact same thing.

So what to do about it? I’m not a parent so I can’t comment on how parents should bring up their kids. But I am a teacher who spends a hell of a lot of time with children, perhaps more so than their parents do in a given work week. Never have I heard of children that appear to be as unsettled by what appears to be anxiety or some sort of general worry than ever before. And I’ve got to wonder, where this all stems from?

What I do know, is that our world is quickly changing and it’s not going to slow down any time soon. What I do believe, is that now, more so than ever, we need to be socially streetwise. I believe we need our kids to be able to appreciate what is really important in life, the people around us that matter to us most. A sound understanding and adherence to family values. I believe that instead of having ‘FOMO’, we need to be present in the presence of others that we share in the now. The company that’s around us, that’s not through a screen. I believe in time we will become more aware of what is really happening in the world around us but only through practise. Not the one that’s on our screens, but the one that’s in front of our eyes, and with this, we will be better prepared to cater for our children to do what they do best.

Be children.