Schools are full of difficult students.
The disengaged, the uninterested, and the downright defiant. And every teacher knows that dealing with them is draining.
But does it have to be?
We recently conducted a Customer Service SHSM workshop for a class of 50 “disengaged” students. At least, we were told they’d be disengaged when our well-meaning teacher-host led us into the classroom.
To be honest, I got the same first impression when I entered the room. The students were sitting in small clusters but they were each in their own world. Their eyes glued to their phones and their minds scurrying away from the room.
To the pleasant surprise of our host, however, they didn’t stay that way for long.
Our customer service workshop is based in storytelling. I asked the students to share their experiences being a customer - the good, the bad, and the deliciously ugly. Since misery loves company, these students jumped at the chance to gossip a little. Within minutes, most of their phones were out of mind.
Storytelling is the bread-and-butter of our ability to make sense of the world.
When someone starts sharing a story, we lean a little closer to catch all the details. When we can relate, we want to respond with stories of our own! There’s never a dull moment!
Our teacher host even got in on the action and shared a few stories of his own. The students were right there with him, gasping in disbelief as he described the time he was chased out of a store after asking to speak with the manager. And then he had the class in stitches when he told how he once managed to finagle four extra scoops of ice cream for free (which resulted in an extreme ice-cream headache). After the workshop, this teacher shared that he’d felt really connected to the students that morning. Sharing stories is powerful stuff.
A journalist once lamented to me: “The 3-bullet powerpoint slide has killed people’s interest in learning! Our brains think in stories, not bullet points!” Sadly, many teachers haven’t yet got the message.
Every little kid loves storybooks. Movies, TV, Netflix. Even social media lets you create stories. The best videogames - they create narratives and journeys for the players. It’s all stories!
In our opinion, one of the best investments a teacher can make is to mine your past for stories. Find the connections to your subjects. Search the internet for interesting examples and applications if need be!
Don’t be afraid to tell a bold story - even one that’s a little provocative, perhaps. After all, Hollywood doesn’t make blockbusters about “moderately ho hum” events - they go big! Find a story that’s relevant to your subject, and you’ll have people hooked. Get THEM sharing a story about your subject, and they’ll be engaging each other without even realizing it!
How are your classroom desks arranged? More importantly, why have you arranged them that way?
If YOU wanted to learn something, would you go sit in a small desk behind someone else? How about directly in front of a few colleagues? Of course not!
“But my options are limited!” you exclaim. “We have a square room with square desks, and way too many students most of the time. What am I supposed to do?!”
It’s definitely a challenge, but we’d bet there are options you haven’t yet considered. How could you make your room more comfortable, collaborative, and conducive to learning?
Need some ideas? Sure!
How about something more like a theatre – curved lines of seats with NO desks? This is where you’d lecture or do short presentations. Or set it like a library – some independent spots, and some larger tables for group-work. How about a circle of seats with no desks? Or a U-shape of desks? Or a carpet on the floor? Or cushions? Try bringing in a couch, or a few bean-bag chairs – your students will love it.
Maybe you change it day-by-day? Or from moment to moment? Maybe you could invest in some tennis ball feet to make the desks more moveable without the horrific floor-scraping sounds. If you have a huge room that offers lots of options simultaneously, that’s great, but I’d bet your students could learn to reset the room in under a minute. Most students will be happy to have something physical to do!
Lessons, collaborative work time, independent reading, tests, special guests, big group discussions… each function deserves its own ideal setup. Invest the 2 minutes, and I guarantee you’ll see improved productivity and engagement.
If you’re still stuck for ideas, perhaps the best place to start is with your students. Go ahead! Ask your students if they like sitting in rows; ask them how THEY would design the ideal classroom setup! But only ask if you’re willing to listen.
What an exciting time of year. So much energy and promise and the spirit of possibility.
But, as one of my teacher friends put it, “it’s too bad it only lasts for a week or two.”
Well, with that attitude…
I kid. A lot of teachers just sorta expect the energy to fade after day one. But does it have to? Does student engagement necessarily have to drop after the first day? How can we keep our students wanting to come back to our classes again and again?
It’s so important to recognize that the things we do with students NOW are setting the tone for the rest of our time together. We all know that first impressions really matter!
My friend Mark teaches 4th grade phys ed, and has some great ideas about engaging students. He said, “The key is to set the tone. Get students excited about something on day one, and you can always leave them wanting more.”
He went on to describe his tactic:
Do you remember getting to play with the parachute? It’s the best thing when you’re in the fourth grade! Nothing gets my students more excited than when I walk out of the supply room with the parachute in my hands. It’s like magic!
So, on day one, you better believe I’m bringing out the parachute. They’re gonna have the time of their lives in that first class. After that, they look forward to coming to my class because they know there’s a chance it’s parachute day. And when they show up willingly, it’s easier to teach them new skills and ideas.
It’s so important recognize that the things we do with students now are setting the tone for the class. After all, we all know how long first impressions can last.
There's a great rule in presentation skills: Start strong! When we facilitate workshops, we strive to kick things off with something fun and energizing that helps students find a reason to care about the content. We’ve learned from our favourite teachers that before you can teach the subject, you have to build excitement for the subject!
So ask yourself:
What tone are you setting for your class?
How are you helping students care about the curriculum?
What can you do right now to inspire excitement for your classes?
Perhaps you can start your class with a game, or a demonstration, or even a performance! Maybe facilitate a conversation about the benefits of your class for students - not just in the future, but right now! Maybe encourage students to develop their own goals and questions for the class, or collaboratively create guidelines for technology use or rules of engagement for creative conversations.
Whatever you choose, share your enthusiasm and have fun. Your energy is contagious!
Setting up certifications and SHSM programming can be onerous and time-consuming. There's a lot to think about!
The good news is that there are also lots of ways to make it easier!
Teachers are always tight for time, and so are students, so if you can pack more value into a single day with your SHSM programming, everyone wins!
With so many certifications, Career “Reach Aheads”, “Experiential Learning”, and the new SPCE (Sector Partner Contextualized Experiences) to fit in, it’s worth thinking about how you can create events that will do double (or triple) duty!
As you think ahead for next year, here are 3 ideas to help you plan smarter!
Option 1: In-School Workshop Day
2 Certifications, Plus an Optional Lunchtime Social or Career Panel.
Benefits: Cheap, simple, no permission forms, students still have lunchtime to do other “school things”
Drawbacks: “Same old school” feel
The In-School Workshop Day is a great way to get up to 50 students two certifications with ease. The convenience of having a Beanstalk facilitator come to your school and work around your schedule makes this model the most common type of SHSM programming. This can also be shortened to a half-day morning or afternoon session if you only require one workshop, and fits within your bell schedule.
Option 2: On-Site SHSM Conference
2 Certifications, Partner Site Tour, Lunch, Career Panel Reach-Ahead, Experiential Learning Opportunity
Benefits: Exciting new venue, extra-engaging for students, and more boxes checked in a day!
Drawbacks: More organizational effort - permission forms, transportation, can be more costly
On-site conferences are a fun and engaging way for students to be part of a full-day event that combines a reach-ahead tour and career panel, two SHSM certifications, and potentially even an experiential education piece (though this usually requires the teacher do a bit of follow up). The number of students may be limited based on what the partner/venue can accommodate, but it's usually possible to find a partner that can accomodate 30-80 students. It requires more planning and transportation, but we think it's worth it; students get so much more out of the experience than just certifications! In the past, The Beanstalk Project has partnered with CoMoption - Hamilton's premier co-working space, as well as the Toronto Marlies. We co-hosted a SHSM Day at the Ricoh Coliseum while the team practised a few feet away!
Option 3: Multi-School SHSM Conference
2 Certifications, Career Panel Reach-Ahead, Motivational Keynote
Benefits: No limit on numbers, multiple schools and/or sectors in a single day, choice of certifications, bigger event is inspiring, opportunity to meet students from other schools, shared & memorable experience across the board, cost savings by combing resources.
Drawbacks: Need the right venue, transportation, logistical planning.
If you're looking to collaborate with other schools, this is a great model. You get the impact of a large event with the convenience of an in-school workshop. You provide greater choice in certifications by having two or more facilitators run concurrent workshops, and a big keynote finale (or opening) is a great way to get students feeling inspired and motivated by their experience. Plus, students love meeting new people and seeing that they're part of something bigger! Planning considerations include deciding which school (or other venue) is the best equipped to be the host, as well as allowing time within the school day for busses and transportation. But, schools can benefit by pooling their resources and giving students the most choice in achieving those SHSM seals!
The Beanstalk Project has become Ontario’s top provider of SHSM certification workshops, and we have some exciting news to share: We are now offering workshops in French!
Amongst our most popular workshops are the four certifications that are applicable in every sector:
Our new French presenter, Christopher Dedeyan, resides in Montreal, but we’ll be arranging travel all across Ontario. While he grew up with dyslexia, Christopher has utilized the challenge to find his own success. He has recently been giving back to students as a featured speaker for many education events across Quebec, and he continues to work as a successful real estate agent. We’re excited to have him join our Beanstalk team!
SHSM Certification workshops are generally a half-day in length, and can be adaptable to fit with your class schedule. Our interactive and hilarious presentations cater to multiple intelligences and are delivered by expert facilitators with years of youth experience. All students receive a certificate of completion.
Physical setup is very easy, often requiring nothing at all - we come straight to you! No registration or deposit is required.
Our workshops cost $500/half-day* (if you book before September 1, 2018) for up to 50 students, but we can sometimes accommodate more than 50. Talk to us and we'll work it out! (*Travel and HST extra, contact us for a full quote. )
Contact us to discuss what dates work best for your school and book your workshop!
Our comprehensive chart showing our workshops and the corresponding SHSM programs has also been updated to reflect these changes.
(To view a larger version of this chart, visit SHSM Certifications)
Nous Offrons Maintenant Des Ateliers en Français!
Bonjour! Le Projet Beanstalk en Ontario est devenu un des meilleurs fournisseurs d’ateliers de certification MHS. Nous avons une grande annonce à vous faire : Nous offrons maintenant des ateliers en français.
Parmi nos ateliers les plus populaires sont les quatre certifications qui sont applicables dans chaque secteur :
Notre nouveau conférencier francophone, Christopher Dedeyan réside à Montréal, mais nous nous occuperons de son déplacement à travers Ontario. Ayant grandi avec la dyslexie, Christopher a utilisé ce défi pour trouver son succès. Il a récemment commencé à redonner aux élèves en tant que conférencier à plusieurs évènements d’éducation au Québec et il continue sa carrière croissante comme courtier immobilier. Nous sommes très fières de l’accueillir dans l’équipe Beanstalk!
Les ateliers de certification MHS durent généralement une demi-journée et peuvent être adaptés pour convenir à vos horaires de cours. Nos présentations interactives et amusantes répondent à plusieurs niveaux d’intelligences et sont délivrées par des discoureurs avec des années d’expérience avec les jeunes. Tous les élèves recevront un certificat d’accomplissement.
Nos installations sont très simples, souvent aucun équipement n’est requis, nous venons directement à vous. Aucun inscription ou dépôt n’est requis.
Nos ateliers coutent 500$/demi-journée* (si vous réservez avant le 1er septembre) pour jusqu’à 50 élèves, possibilité d’accommoder plus que 50. Contactez-nous pour en discuter. (*Déplacement et HST en sus, contactez-nous pour une soumission complet.)
Contactez-nous pour discuter des dates convenables pour votre école et réservez votre atelier!
You’ve probably heard the great news that the Ministry of Education has announced increased funding for experiential learning: Career/life planning, technical skills development, and expansion of SHSM!
But, the question remains - how do we get more students involved in SHSM? It’s the teachers, counsellors, and students in the schools - on the ground level - who will actually do the “selling” of SHSM.
We teachers don’t often think of ourselves as “salespeople,” but we are! It doesn’t have to be slimy or icky. For us, “sales” is about “helping people with their buying decisions,” and the “buying decision” students need to make is this: “What should I do with my time?”
We think SHSM is a worthy product to be sold. So let’s steal a few tips from sales professionals to help boost the SHSM enrolment numbers!
#1. Focus on the benefits, not the logistics. People buy shoes because they believe they’ll jump like Michael Jordan, not because they’re made with fancy rubber. We need to advertise SHSM not by telling people where to sign up or how long the workshops last, but by sharing the benefits as students experience them. Consider a few potential marketing slogans that are made to speak to the things that matter to students.:
#2. Give away free samples! There’s a reason Costco gives away free stuff at lunch time: It makes people buy more stuff! (It also makes us go to Costco at lunch time…). How might your SHSM program give away samples to give people a taste of all that you’re offering? Consider these ideas:
#3. Promote like a pro. Great marketers know that people buy on emotion justified by logic - not the other way around. So we need to make it emotional! A few specific tips:
Speaking of referrals... do you know someone who could use this information? Please forward this along! And invite them to sign up for our article series so they never miss another tip!