Grow In A ‘Learning Community’ Part 1

Build Your Self Concept and Improve Your Mental Health – Collaboration

Community concept - pictogram showing figures happy family

Improve your mental health as you focus on building your socio-emotional wellbeing, which includes developing your self-concept. Self-esteem and self-efficacy are just the foundations. You can actively improve your mental health by growing in a ‘learning community’.

Self-esteem + self-efficacy = Accurate self-concept

What is your self concept? 

~ A combo of self-esteem and self-efficacy. 

~ Belief about yourself. 

~ A factual description of how you perceive yourself, whether it may be true or not. 

~ If your perception is distorted, this description may not be an accurate depiction of you, but it IS an accurate statement of what you believe about yourself.

REFLECT… Write down your perceptions of yourself.
REFLECT… Now write down a factual description of yourself.

Color handprint background concept, human hand print illustration for kid education, school learning or diverse community help. EPS10 vector.

Grow in your ‘learning community’. 

What you can do to build your self-concept

To grow in a ‘learning community’ work on 2 major skills… 

~ Collaboration. 

~ Reflective practice.

 

Macro photo of tooth wheel mechanism with COLLABORATION, EXCHANGE, TRUST, ASSIST, GOAL, SUCCESS and INSPIRATION concept words

To develop your self concept, COLLABORATE! 

Build and grow in a ‘learning community’. 

You can’t grow alone, so gather people around you to learn from and who can pour into your life. They also need your wisdom and life experiences, and so you can fill them up. 

REFLECT… Who will you include in your ‘community’? Who will you exclude from your ‘community?
Building a ‘learning community’ includes 4 ingredients… 

Grunge black encourage word round rubber seal stamp on white background1. Encouraging, supporting and being there for each other. 

To be there for your family includes encouraging, supporting and being there for one another to help each other learn, develop, and grow. To be there for your ‘community’, who is also learning and growing with you also entails encouraging, supporting, and being present for each other. 

REFLECT… As I asked before, who will you exclude from your ‘learning community’? This is an important question that you need to clarify so you can learn more, develop wider and grow further.

Feedback Constructive Insightful Actionable Puzzle 3d Illustration2. Engaging in honest and constructive feedback. 

You need people in your life to be honest with you. To tell you what you don’t want to hear to help you grow. To give you reflective insights about your life to help you self-reflect, and change things in your life. 

REFLECT… What honest feedback can you give yourself?
REFLECT… What feedback can you give someone in your ‘learning community’ to help them develop in their skills – to grow in some area of their life? 
As you do this, you will help each other develop accurate beliefs about yourselves (ie. your self-concept).

Business Team Success, Achievement Concept. Flat People Characters with Prize, Golden Cup. Office Workers Celebrating with Big Trophy. Vector illustration3. Celebrating success in its many forms – small and big wins, stepping stones and just each other. 

Just as we celebrate children’s birthdays, performances or participation in concerts, when they win a competition, when they get the award for being the best helper and the award for the highest marks, we need to celebrate the people in our ‘community’ and celebrate together with them.

We need to celebrate the people in our ‘learning community’ and celebrate with themDon’t forget to celebrate each other… just because! 

Do you really need to have a reason? 

But, if you do need a reason, then celebrate… 

~ The successful performance, engagement and participation on that last outing or work meeting. 

~ The routine that you got through without screaming, crying, getting angry. 

~ Being on time. Getting things done on time. 

~ The new promotion, job, home. 

Whatever is worth being celebrated, big or small… share it with your ‘community’. Let them share in your joy.

REFLECT… When was the last time you celebrated someone or something with your ‘community’? Isn’t it about time you celebrated yourself and/or others for the big and small things you have achieved? When will you start?
REFLECT… Remember, your ‘community of learners’ does not include your children. It is your ‘learning community’ where you and others learn from, support and help each other; and grow and CELEBRATE one another… together.

Handwriting text writing Don t not Compare Yourself To Others. Concept meaning Be your own version unique original Megaphone loudspeaker screaming turquoise background frame speech bubble.
4
. Avoiding comparisons.

Each person comes with their own gifts, talents and character traits that bring with it amazing results and influence, whether big or small, and leaves short and long term effects. You don’t need to compare yourself to others because you were made for different plans and purposes in life.

REFLECT… The last point in building your ‘learning community’. Comparison can be a killer. A killer of joy, perspective, reality. Make sure, you stay joyful, maintain the right and correct perspective and reality, not a distorted perception of yourself or your achievements.

You may look the same, do the same things, have the same goals. BUT… each of you have been made for different plans and purposes. Run your own race and run it with all your heart! Remember, it’s not how much, how high, how long… it’s the heart and how much of your heart you have put into what you do.

REFLECT… Don’t get side tracked from your goals, plans and purposes by looking left and right at what others are doing, have achieved or are pursuing. Keep looking ahead and continue to work towards your goals, plans and purposes.

“Comparison is the thief of joy and the stretcher of truth. Comparison says, “I am ill-equipped for the task at hand.” The truth is God has given me everything I need for the plans he has set before me”. (Unknown source/author).

REFLECT… Keep your joy and peace by minding your own business. What I mean is, looking after and ‘minding’/taking care of your own life, goals, plans.
Don’t mind the ‘business’ of what another person is doing, has done, looks like etc. Avoid comparing yourself.

As we find our confidence in other people’s approval rather than finding it in God, we are comparing ourselves. “God created us all for a distinct purpose. When we have confidence in our God-given purpose we don’t feel the need to compare ourselves to others or seek their approval”. (Unknown source/author).

REFLECT… Do I need to add anymore? Except to say, remember, don’t compare yourself to others. When you don’t compare then you are building an accurate self concept that will lead to a better, more positive mental health.

Paper doll people holding hands

Remember, to develop your self concept grow in your ‘learning community’. 

To do this, work on 2 major skills…

~ Collaboration: Is about building and growing in your ‘learning community’. 

~ Reflective practice: Is about maintaining the growth of the ‘community’ and growing further through reflection.

To read about this second major skill, click here

© TIRZAH LIM 2017

Grow In A ‘Learning Community’ Part 2

Build Your Self Concept and Improve Your Mental Health – Reflective Practice

Creative business team stacking hands together in office

Remember, to develop your self concept grow in your ‘learning community’. To do this, work on 2 major skills…

~ Collaboration: Is about growing in your ‘learning community’. (To read about this again, click here)

~ Reflective practice: Is about maintaining the growth of the ‘community’ and growing further through reflection.

FORGOT WHAT YOUR SELF-CONCEPT IS? Click here.  

Grow in your ‘learning community’. 

Paper people on the grey wooden background

In this post, we look at the second way to grow in your ‘learning community’ that will help you build an accurate self-concept, which helps improve your mental health.

You can’t grow alone, so gather people around you to learn from and who can pour into your life. They also need your wisdom and life experiences, and so you can fill them up. 

REFLECT word written on wooden

To develop your self concept, engage in REFLECTIVE PRACTICE

This incorporates holistic reflection, and includes both self-reflection and collaborative reflection.

Business Concept writing SELF REFLECTION on Blackboard SELF-REFLECTION

Reflecting by yourself, about yourself

AND a specific environment. 

AND the people affected or involved.

Concept of sharing skills to find a solution, with two men face to face who collaborate to find an idea.COLLABORATIVE RELFECTION

 Reflecting together with the people in your ‘learning community’ about yourself.

AND a specific environment. 

AND the people affected or involved.

Building a ‘learning community’ through reflective practice includes reflecting on yourself AND the environment AND others in combination with each other. 

Holistic reflection is important because people AND the environment AND others affected or involved are INTERRELATED and each has an effect on the other. One area alone cannot be interpreted or changed without having an influence on another area. Thus, you need to reflect alone and with others, so you can take the perspective of and understand all 3 areas.

 

*To develop your self concept, engage in REFLECTIVE PRACTICE!

This includes, HOLISTIC REFLECTION. Holistic reflection is important because you AND the environment AND others affected/involved are INTERRELATED and each has an effect on the other.

One area alone cannot be interpreted or changed without having an influence on another area.

Thus, you need to reflect alone and with others, so you can take the perspective of and understand all 3 areas.

 

*When you engage in holistic reflection, you will get transformational change.

This includes… ~Changing the culture of the setting (e.g. home, work).

~Influencing, pervading, and positively transforming every area.

It is a change that… ~ Is long lasting. ~ Takes place over a period of time. >>>>So, how do you get transformational change?

 

*To get transformational change and develop your self concept,

Engage in holistic reflection through SELF REFLECTION AND COLLABORATIVE REFLECTION

To facilitate any kind of change: observe, interpret and reflect .

 

Man's hand with concept of new or next normal digital transform in industry business, disrupt from coronavirus, covid crisis impact to small business or SME. Turn to next normal in financial concept.

 

When you engage in holistic reflection, you will get transformational change.

 

 

Holistic reflection of you…

AND the environment. (E.g., the work/classroom/home environment).

AND the people affected or involved in your life, your ‘learning community’ and/or in that particular environment .

To facilitate any kind of change: observe, interpret and reflect .

Reflection… observe, interpret and reflect.

REFLECTING TO…

~ Enable you to look back, reassess and understand actions, words and behaviour.

~ Identify ways to improve and how to do it differently.

~ Provide clarity, new perspectives and possibilities for the future.

REFLECT…What do You Want to Change words letter, written on paper, work desk top view. Motivational business typography quotes concept

You?

Aspects of your environment?

Culture, interactions in your enviro?

People?

When you reflect (self and collaborative), you are initiating and inspiring transformational change.

This results in changing the setting’s (e.g., home/work) culture. In doing so, influencing, pervading, and positively transforming every area including you AND the environment AND other people.

It is a change that is long lasting and takes place over a period of time.

Transformational change allows for personal growth. Growth that will empower you. Empowerment to use your ‘voice’ and have your ‘voice’ heard. Empowerment to overcome challenges encountered with more skill and knowledge.

RELATIONSHIPS
Developing relationship concept: Construction machines building up with letters the word relationship, isolated on white background.

If you want to change things, change people, change you THEN… focus on relationships. Relationships with children, with colleagues with families/carers, with people in your ‘learning community’. 

Form genuine relationships built on sincerity, respect, kindness and care, and the door is open for change to occur.

REFLECT… Which relationships are important to you? Why?
REFLECT… Which relationships do you want to change? What changes do you want to see?
REFLECT… Do you need to change? Or does the other person need to change? Or do both of you need to change?
IT IS ALL INTERRELATED AND BI-DIRECTIONAL

merger icon, illustration, concept vector template Teachers AND children have an impact on each other, as does parents/carers AND children. 

ALSO the environment (emotional, organisational and physical) have an impact on teachers/children, as well as parents/children. 

So, if you change any one of these areas it will have an effect on the other.

REFLECT… What do you want? What do you want to change? 

Once you have clarified what you want and what you want to change, then you can seek help, support and information. Then you will see change start to occur.

REFLECT… Observe, interpret, reflect on each of the 3 areas and their interaction with one another.

How do you, the environment, and the people affected or involved interact with each other?

~ THEN make changes in one area, and observe the changes, interpret, and reflect how it is impacting on the other 2 areas.

~ THEN take the perspective of another area AND ‘observe-interpret-reflect’ again.

~ Repeat the process with the 3rd area. 

© TIRZAH LIM 2017

Partnering with Families and Children

‘Family Stories’ – Understanding These ‘Stories’ to Support Wellbeing

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The social-emotional wellbeing of children has a major impact on overall growth and development, including academic skills. Most importantly, children’s developing self-esteem and confidence influences the development of a positive and secure sense-of-self and identity, which contributes to their wellbeing (11,23).

The Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and the National Quality Framework (NQF) have both acknowledged the importance of a positive social-emotional wellbeing. They emphasise the role teachers have and in  developing a collaborative relationship between teachers, children and their family to support the wellbeing of all (7,23).

‘Family Stories’

To work with families effectively and build collaborative partnerships ‘FAMILY STORIES’ need to be acknowledged and respected – their voices need to be shared and heard.

‘Family stories’ include experiences in varying contexts (such as in the home, cultural/religious places) in interaction with various family members, friends and others. It also includes family experiences in professional intervention (such as speech therapy) or medical contexts.

Understanding these ‘family stories’ widens and informs teachers’ knowledge and understanding of contextual issues and factors that could be influencing the family and children (10). In turn, this informs teacher practices that can support children in developing a secure and positive emotional development. As a result, supporting both children’s and the family’s wellbeing and mental health.

The Effect of Labels and Stigma – Importance of Collaborative Partneships

Partnerships that focus on interpersonal relationships and the idea of interdependence creates more positive, trusting and effective relationships (24). This has been found to lead to families being more involved in their children’s education, which results in both the positive wellbeing of children and their family (7,23).

Unfortunately, experiencing mental health issues, whether by children or their family, can lead to labels being applied. This can then result in stigma being formed in various contexts and in different relationships including informally (among society, friends and family) and in more formal contexts (such as in early childhood services) (5,9).

Even more, labels and stigma have been found to hinder families from seeking help – one of the reasons for about a quarter of families not seeking professional intervention (1,5,9). A finding that impacts immediate and future development and wellbeing.

Teachers have an important role in assisting to reconstruct labels and stigmas as they become the bridge for families to connect them to professional or medical support, while also addressing these issues through play and discussion during the day with the children.

Reflecting on Professional Intervention Practices and How it Informs Teachers’ Beliefs and Practices

Taking research around oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) as a focus for reflection around social-emotional wellbeing, we can also reflect on how this research can inform teachers’ beliefs and practices.

Findings from various ODD intervention studies (17,19) have focused around access and utilisation of services, among other areas. It was found that there were multiple barriers to service access including the following,

  • Stressors and obstacles (e.g. illness and transportation to the service).
  • Treatment demands (e.g. the length and commitment of treatment at the service).
  • Perceived relevance.
  • Parental and contextual factors (e.g. being a single-parent family, neighbourhood, parenting style, maternal depression).

Bernal et al. (3) agree with these findings, and further supports the emphasis by Lavigne et al. (19)  on the importance of culture and ethnicity, pointing out the necessity to consider and develop culturally sensitive interventions.

  • The main points identified by Bernal was the call for a reflection on the differences in values that the mainstream culture has on already developed interventions.
        • That is, interventions that have been employed to assist families from diverse backgrounds who hold different, and sometimes opposite cultural values, such as interdependence and ‘familialism’ – values that are of high importance and a part of many cultures.
  • When interventions and relationships did not consider various elements, such as language-appropriateness, client-therapist relationship and the importance of the therapist in understanding the values, beliefs and customs families found the intervention ineffective and unsupportive to their needs and goals.

In the same way, when teachers’ relationships with children and families do not consider these cultural elements this has been found to affect the support that families receive and feel that they receive or need. This is because the attitudes that teachers hold will affect how they will engage with and respond to families, and thus the type of support and relationship they develop with families.

However, when teachers take the time to listen to families’ stories and acknowledge, embrace and respect these various cultural elements in their personal interactions, as well as in the program and setting approaches, relationships and collaborative partnerships can be built between families, teachers and early childhood (EC) service.

Implications for Teachers and EC Services

Based on various research of ODD intervention approaches, the following are recommendations for teaching practice and strategies to support children’s social and emotional wellbeing.

* Build relationships with children by getting to know the charisma and character of each child, as well as their strengths, areas of need, dis/likes –  that is, the uniqueness of each child.

        • Consider and include this knowledge of each child when setting up a structured, but flexible routine, which will provide for an environment that is predictable and supportive. This will build the foundation for a partnership that honours and respects the child and the family (2,4,14,18).

*Arrange the environment and provide a program that considers the various interests, skill levels and learning styles of each child.

        • This includes a varied level of challenge and different approaches to learning. In addition, activities that require the use of executive functioning skills (ie. cognitive self-regulation), such as problem-solving and working memory. In this way, children are given opportunities to practice skills that enable them to be aware of their own emotions and how to express them effectively (8,14,16).

*Create environments that positively encourage and acknowledge children for their efforts in relation to all areas, including their efforts in emotional situations.

        • Rather than reprimand or discipline, teachers can use these times as moments to collaboratively work together with children to solve problems they encounter.
        • Take advantage of the ‘teachable moments’. These are moments to develop skills, but also to build strong relationships with the children to contribute to the positive wellbeing (12,13,14,23).
        • Don’t react to behaviour. Instead, be proactive in identifying possible areas children need support in, and walk with children in their need.

*Reconstruct labels and stigma using  Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) (6,20).

        • This enables all children to learn about and respect the different ways they can communicate, and understand how others communicate differently and in various situations and contexts.
        • By learning alternate ways to communicate, such as using Key Word Sign, music and other art forms this creates a sense of community within the class, which is an important strategy that builds relationships and creates a sense of belonging and empowerment (4,7,18).

*Use of ‘bibliotherapy’ that uses literature as a strategy – that is, the story is used as a focal point for learning. In doing so, it allows children to be detached from reality and provides for more open discussion about their own feeling and emotions.

        • They can connect with characters in the story and then apply the  generated alternative responses to their own lives (15,21).
        • From the literature used, children can also use these scenarios for role-play and other imaginative play opportunities where the ‘what-if’ provides a place where they can escape reality and be whatever and whomever they want to be. That is, where they can be control (22). In this way, they extend on their skills, understand their own and others’ emotions, and in the process build their social and emotional wellbeing.

*Support and facilitate joint decision-making with families. This is an important part of supporting children’s social-emotional wellbeing.

        • Have families involved in developing the program. This will result in positive outcomes for the collaborative nature of the partnership and for their child in also being more involved in the decision-making process of the program (4).
        • Invite families to share their talents and interests, such as art, music and sports to create a sense of community where children and families are likely to feel more open and welcome to participate and engage in the EC service and in their child’s education. This in turn builds more collaborative relationships between families and teachers.

 

REFERENCES

(1) Allday, R.A., Duhon, G.J., Blackburn-Ellis, S., & Van Dyke, J.L. (2011). The biasing effects of labels on direct observation by preservice teachers. Teacher Education & Special Education, 34(1), 52-58.

(2) Bagdi, A., & Vacca, J. (2005). Supporting early childhood social-emotional wellbeing: The building blocks for early learning and school success. Early Childhood Education Journal 33(3), 145-150.

(3) Bernal, G., & Saez-Santiago, E. (2006). Culturally centred psychosocial interventions. Journal of Community Psychology,34(2), 121-132.

(4) Commonwealth of Australia (CoA). (2012a). Kids matter early childhood component 1: Creating a sense of community. Literature view.

(5) Commonwealth of Australia (CoA). (2012b). Kids matter early childhood component 4: Helping children who are experiencing mental health difficulties. Literature view.

(6) Cress, C.J., & Marving, C.A. (2003). Common questions about AAC services in early intervention. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 19(4), 254-272.

(7) Department of Education, Employment & Workplace Relations (DEEWR). (2009). Belonging, being and becoming: The early years learning framework for Australia.

(8) Dunsmore, J.C., Booker, J.A., & Ollendick, T.H. (2013). Parental emotion coaching and child emotion regulation as protective factors for children with oppositional defiant disorder. Social Development, 22(3), 444-466.

(9) Graham, A., Phelps, R., Maddison, C., & Fitzgerald, R. (2011). Supporting children’s mental health in schools: Teacher views. Teachers and Teaching: Theory & Practice, 17(4), 479-496.

(10) Grace, R. (2013). Developmental disability. In J. Bowes & R. Grace (Eds.), Children families and communities: Contexts and consequences (4th ed., pp.39-57). South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

(11) Green, B.L., Malsch, A.M., Kothari, B.H., Busse, J., & Brennan, E. (2012). An intervention to increase early childhood staff capacity for promoting children’s social-emotional development in preschool settings. Early Childhood Education, 40(2), 123-132.

(12) Greene, R.W., Ablon, J.S., & Goring, J.C. (2003). A transactional model of oppositional behaviour: Underpinnings of the collaborative problem solving approach. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 55(1), 67-75.

(13) Greene, R., Doyle, A. (1999). Toward a transactional conceptualisation of oppositional defiant disorder: Implications for assessment and treatment. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 2(3), 129-148.

(14) Hemmeter, M.L., Osttrosky, M., & Fox, L. (2006). Social and emotional foundations for early learning: A conceptual model for intervention. School Psychology Review, 35(4), 583-601.

(15) Iaquinta, A., & Hipsky, S. (2006). Practical bibliotherapy strategies for the inclusive elementary classroom. Early Childhood Education Journal, 34(3), 209-213.

(16) Katz, L., & Windecker-Nelson, B. (2004). Parental meta-emotion philosophy in families with conduct-problem children: Links with peer relations.

(17) Koerting, J., Smith, E., Knowles, M., Latter, S., McCann, D., Thompson, M., & Sonuga-Barke, E. (2013). Barriers to, and facilitators of, parenting programmes for childhood behaviour problems: A qualitative synthesis of sutides of parents’ and professionals’ perceptions. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 22(11), 653-670.

(18) Lanza, H.I., & Drabick, D.A.G. (2011). Family routine moderates the relation between child impulsivity and oppositional defiant disorder symptoms. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 39(1), 83-94.

(19) Lavigne, J.V., Lebailly, S.A., Gouze, K.R., Binns, H.J., Keller, J., & Pate, L. (2010). Predictors and correlates of completing behavioural parental training for the treatment of oppositional defiant disorder in paediatric primary care. Behaviour Therapy, 41(2), 198-211.

(20) Orsati, F.T., & Causton-Theoharis, J. (2013). Challenging control: Inclusive teachers’ and teaching assistants’ discourse on students with challenging behaviour. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 17(5), 507-525.

(21) Santos, R.M., Fettig, A., & Shaffer, L. (2012). Helping families connect early literacy with social-emotional development. Young Children, 67(2), 88-93.

(22) Steeves, P. (2006). Sliding doors – Opening our world. Equity & Excellence in Education, 39, 105-114.

(23) Temple, E., & Emmett, S. (2013). Promoting the development of children’s emotional and social wellbeing in early childhood settings: How can we enhance the capability of educators to fulfil role expectations? Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 38(1), 66-72.

(24) Williams, T.T., Sanchez, B., & Hunnell, J. (2011). Aligning theory and practice: Understanding school-family partnerships at an inner-city high school. Children and Youth Services Review, 33(5), 689-697.

© Tirzah Lim 2017