SEMINARS FOR TEACHERS

 CONTINUING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT SEMINARS FOR TEACHERS

In recent months I have started to deliver my seminars via Zoom. Feedback has been very positive and many schools have availed of them. Naturally, nothing will ever replace the dynamics of a ‘live’ performance when I am literally in the same room as staff but Zoom is all we have at the moment. It’s a lot better than nothing!

In circumstances where the government allows for proper staff gatherings (potentially this will happen when schools formally open up again) it may be possible for me to bring one of the seminars to your schools via a physical visit. This depends on the journey involved as I have eased off on all the driving that I was doing. However, we can discuss this option (if feasible) by contacting me on 071-9152653 or emailing me at shanemartin@moodwatchers.com

Schools, management teams or others educational groups may choose from any one of seminars below or avail of a number of seminars over a period of time. The seminar on resilience is the most commonly requested seminar due to the uncertainly and upheaval caused by the escalating pandemic.

Preparing for the seminar 

I use Zoom video-conferencing software.  Staff members will need to have Zoom installed on their laptop, iPad or phone. They only need a link to the meeting which is sent to them by email. I can send this link but will need email addresses in order to do this. Alternatively, the principal or deputy principal can circulate the link to staff. All staff will have to register beforehand and will have to enter their name before the sessions starts. Each staff member will need to find a remote space where they will not be interrupted and make themselves comfortable in front of their device. I will spend the first few minutes of the session putting them at ease about Zoom and explaining some basic functions to them i.e. how to unmute themselves in order to ask a question etc. Recording of the seminar is strictly prohibited. This must be explained to all participants beforehand. All my material is copyrighted.

It would be a good idea for the principal or deputy principal to link with me via Zoom a few days before the event. 

The online seminar is one hour in duration. Another 30 minutes is available at the end of the session in case participants wish to ask questions or discuss the content further. If questions are not forthcoming the session will conclude accordingly.

1. Your Precious Life – How to Live it Well (The most popularly requested seminar. It has been delivered in hundreds of schools)

Over many decades science has made a wonderful contribution in helping us understand negative emotion. The emphasis on deficits, disorders and disease has allowed for effective interventions to be developed in order to help and support people who are unwell or unhappy.

But why wait until we are unwell to learn about becoming healthier? Why wait until we are unhappy to explore happiness?

In recent years psychologists have started to examine positive emotion. This research has focused on what makes people happier, what gives them more meaning and purpose in life, and what measures they can take to lead to overall greater health. The seminar will outline simple, practical, and most importantly, evidence-based strategies linked to a better quality of life. The hope is that it will uplift and inspire change in the lives of those who attend but even more importantly inspire participants to incorporate it into their homes, workplaces and communities.

2. Minding Ourselves- Uprooting the Roots of Stress  (A very popularly requested seminar that has been delivered in hundreds of schools)

At the root to a lot of unhealthy stress is irrational thinking. We are all thinking beings and we have an ‘internal dialogue’ going on in our minds, almost as if we are talking to ourselves. However, we only ever express a fraction of this thinking. These private thoughts directly impact on our feelings and consequently how we interact with others. When emotionally distressed we can make conclusions about ourselves, others and the world without recourse to the ‘voice’ of reason. This is why we do not all make the same sense of the same things. The very best of us are vulnerable to illogical, irrational and unhelpful thinking, particularly when emotional or under pressure. In a climate of increasing stress due to changes within the work environment we need to make the best possible sense of changes and challenges.

How thinking affects how we feel and behave will be demonstrated. Staff will learn about unhelpful thinking and belief systems. They will learn how to become more rational and compassionate in their approach to work and life in general. Evidence- based strategies that are linked to positive mental health and help keep us positive during challenging times will be taught.

3. The Science of ‘Bouncibility’ – How to Build Resilience within Ourselves (Currently the most relevant seminar due to the unprecedented stress of the ongoing pandemic) 

Life is an imperfect journey and crisis is guaranteed. There will always be setbacks and misfortunes. Resilience is the ability to adapt to the challenges of life. It’s about bouncing back rather than falling apart. If you are strong in resilience you have this ‘bouncibility’ and can harness your inner strengths and coping mechanisms. Others need to learn the skills at the heart of resiliency. If life is full of challenges then we need to know how to not only withstand the pressure but to thrive in adversity.

If you are low in resilience, you will focus too much on your problems and deficits and be overwhelmed during challenges. You will be drawn towards unhealthy conclusions and become more vulnerable instead of stronger. Becoming more resilient will not mean that problems disappear. It does not mean that you have to become ‘as hard as nails’. Resilience is more about learning how to cope – tapping into our own resources and fostering inner-strengths in order to stay ‘standing’ during and after crisis.

Science has uncovered specific traits/factors that can be utilised at work and in our lives in general. This seminar outlines evidence-based strategies linked to greater outcomes during challenge and change.

4. Enhancing Our Sense of Team: An Evidence-based Approach 

Working with other people doesn’t mean that you’re working as a team. Real teamwork implies collaboration, communication, and acknowledgment of a common purpose.

Grouping people together doesn’t mean you have a team. Teams are, in fact, a very particular kind of group in that they’re interdependent and focused on structure and activities. At a minimum, a team should be a cooperative unit and, at its best, a team is a collaborative unit. How can we harness an authentic sense of team? How can we initiate and sustain a sense of team? Are there any scientifically proven strategies that can make teams better at teamwork?

5. Cultivating a Resilient School Community 

From recent research a clear picture has emerged of the characteristics of the family, school, and community environments that may alter or even reverse expected negative outcomes and enable students to circumvent life stressors and manifest resilience despite risk. These “protective factors” or “protective processes” can be cultivated within the school community. This seminar examines how schools can create a culture conducive to the development of a more resilient student

6. Uncertainty and Upheaval – Strategies for Coping Better during Periods of Anxiety in our Lives 

Anxiety is an important and necessary emotion. We need to feel the ‘pinch’ of pressure in order to prepare for challenges. Deadlines need to be looming in order to help us focus and achieve our goals. Anxiety is our body’s natural mechanism for ensuring that we are prepared for the everyday challenges of life. 

However, excessive anxiety can hinder our preparations and impact on performance. It’s vital that we do not become engulfed by it. Learning to cope with anxiety ensures that we stay motivated and in control. An awareness of coping strategies for times of challenge and upheaval would be useful and empowering. This seminar will explore the psychology of anxiety and offer tips for coping better with it. 

7. Bereavement: Living with Loss, Dealing with Hurt

One reality about this life is the inevitability of hurt. The death of a loved one is one of the most hurtful experiences of all. The sadness that we feel can almost seem to engulf us. Is there anything that we can do to help us cope? Does the sadness ever lift? What can psychology offer the heartbroken? 

8. Increasing flow: Cultivating Engaged Learners and Optimal Learning Environment (geared towards teachers of primary school children)  

Teachers have often observed that children have limitless curiosity and thirst for knowledge before they enter school. However, years later, those same children can be found in school buildings with their minds wandering and attention straying. Student motivation becomes an issue. Nearly every educator holds the primary, though often elusive, goal of facilitating students’ deep engagement in learning activities. In recent decades, psychologist Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi’s flow model has advanced our understanding of the experience of deep engagement, as well as the individual and contextual factors that may promote it with schools.

9. Fostering Empathy and Compassion in Children 

(geared towards teachers of primary school children)  

In the early years of life young children tend to be ego-centric and are inclined to think mostly about themselves and their immediate needs. Developing a sense of empathy is an important developmental process for young children as it can benefit them not only in childhood but well into adult life as well. It encourages tolerance and acceptance of others. It can promote social harmony. Empathy is the pre-cursor to compassion. We know that practising compassion is a key trait in experiencing more happiness in life. How can these key traits be fostered in our children?

10. Fostering Social Connectivity in Children

(geared towards teachers of primary school children)  

Social interaction is a basic part of life for both children and adults. It is essential that children learn appropriate social skills. Children with good social skills tend to do better in school, have a better self-image and are better at resolving conflicts. Some children are born with a charming and outgoing personality. This is needed to get along with others. However, some children find socialising to be more difficult. How can we promote this essential skill in our children? 

11. Fostering Resourcefulness in Children

(geared towards teachers of primary school children)  

Children will encounter challenges all the time. They need to learn how to become resourceful when faced with problems. Children who have all their needs met tend not to be called upon to be resourceful. Having the internet and limitless apps at their fingertips also hinders the development of resourcefulness. Parents and teachers need to nurture this trait in children. Schools can help foster it too.

12. Fostering the Skill of Rational thinking in Children

(geared towards teachers of primary school children)  

Rational thinking refers to the ability to think with logic and reason. Children need to learn to become more neutral, objective and fair-minded. They need to learn how to think for themselves. It can be challenging for them to keep the process of thinking and the mind ahead of the social prejudices and stereotypes in society. The way a child learns to perceive things from childhood is the way it develops its cognitive sophistication. Irrational, illogical and unhelpful thinking are at the heart of unwanted anxiety and unhappiness. What can teachers do to promote rational thinking in children? 

13. Fostering Optimism within Children 

(geared towards teachers of primary school children)  

Optimists do better academically, socially and have better health than pessimists. It makes sense to promote the skills of optimistic thinking to children. Optimism refers to your belief system about how successful you think your actions are, and how effectively you can impact on the world. 

It’s vital to a child’s self-confidence that they learn to stay positive so that they dream the big dreams and sustain the grit to accomplish them. All highly successful people know this to be true. Optimism is their secret advantage and this has been true over the centuries. Research has shown that optimism is not a personality trait. It is a skill anyone can learn at any time. It’s a skill that can be taught to all children. How can we cultivate it within the school experience of children?

14. Fostering Curiosity and Creativity in Children

(geared towards teachers of primary school children)  

Childrens‘ natural curiosity is an essential trait that should be promoted within the school setting and at home. Many of the world’s leading inventors and entrepreneurs make reference to their natural curiosity as the roots of their successes. By fostering curiosity learning becomes more interesting. It helps children become more active rather than passive thinkers, which is good for the brain. Creativity is also an important trait to cultivate. Fostering creativity in children builds their communications skills, improves their cognitive abilities such as problem-solving, and helps their emotional development