What did you fail at today?

I can’t tell you how many times I see every day a child who fears failure. Outside of my Principal role at Little Voices, I am a teacher in an alternative provision for children who have been excluded and also a Specialist Leader of Education, where I have trained teachers on how to incorporate life skills into the curriculum.

The fear of failure is a problem that isn’t being addressed enough.

I started reflecting on where this comes from. When does it start? Because, when you are a baby you have no fear. You try to learn to walk, you fall down and you get back up again. You keep going.

Where does this fear of failure come from?

Maybe the fear of embarrassment or the feeling of being unworthy. This fear being so strong that you start to avoid doing the task or you self sabotage something to protect yourself. So you stop taking risks, you hold back, making sure you never have that feeling of shame.

Failing would just confirm that you weren’t talented/good enough

But failure shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing. Failure should be seen as an opportunity to grow. 

Maybe the questions should turn from “What did you achieve?” to “What did you fail at?” and “How can you improve next time?” Making it ok to fail. Because failing is an opportunity to grow. It’s a discussion to have over the dining table in the evening. It’s something to own and not be scared of.

A growth mindset is something that is a skill. 

At Little Voices this is what we are experts at. The whole time we create an environment that is nurturing and rewarding, while knowing that progress looks different for every child.  We understand that a child may need extra work with their confidence, or another child may need help with their use of dynamics at bar 24. We make sure that no matter where a child is on their journey that they feel successful, because success breeds success. From tailoring our approach with every child, we get the results we want.

How do we do this?

Our group sizes. 8 or less in a class means we CAN do this well. We get to know our learners very well and understand what they need to work on and what they do well at. By emphasizing the successes, and building trust, we can then slowly build up children’s resilience.

So what does it take to get a child to say “I can’t do it!” to “I want to do it again!”

Trust, patience, persistence… and showing evidence that they can! We may not achieve this in one session, BUT there are plenty of opportunities we jump on to prove that our children CAN do it. The process begins soon as they step in the classroom. “I can’t do this..”, “Let’s try anyway. Would you like me to help you? Don’t worry if you get it wrong, we can start again!”

THEN, one of the most important things happen. When our pupils succeed the classroom erupts in applause.

What a feeling… the complete opposite to shame

Then followed up by the tutor saying “See! You said you couldn’t do it. But you did” Then a lovely certificate or sticker to mark the achievement. I have seen pupils nervous (understandably..) about their LAMDA examinations, but coming out smiling shouting “CAN WE DO IT AGAIN!”

That feeling should be experienced again and again, so our pupils want to feel that way. It should outweigh the fear of shame.

What a lesson to learn. A lesson that can be taken into your child’s adult life. This is a lesson that is invaluable.

 

Maybe, we should first make sure we practice what we teach. Frequently reflecting on our own failures and not beating ourselves up for them. Every failure has a lesson we can take from it, which we can pass on to our children. Then today in our classrooms or at the dining table we should have an open conversation and ask our children “What did you fail at today?” Let’s make it a thing that’s not frightening, but spoken about.

SO.. What did you fail at today?! 

 

**** If you are a parent who has noticed this is something you would like to develop with your child or if you are school wanting to help a key group of pupils develop resilience feel free to contact me on 07877620340 or ealing@littlevoices.org.uk ****

Why do I LOVE Little Voices?

This month is all about LOVE (of course!)

We have been discussing why we love teaching our pupils and why they love us. I was going to write a social media post but there was no way I could fit my reasons with that amount of characters! 

My Reasons… 

This weekend we had our LAMDA Examinations. The whole process has reinforced my love for being a Little Voices Principal.

I can’t tell you how proud I was of each and every pupil who literally marched towards the exam room without any hesitation. Their confidence, drive and determination was evident to see. Over the past 6 months I have had Pupils who have lacked confidence to go and speak to people and make eye contact. I am SO PROUD to say that those pupils 6 months later were part of the marching LV tribe who on Saturday blew away the examiner.

 


During the exam I could hear them singing at the top of their lungs! Performing Arts is so important. With the focus in schools tending to lean away from the Arts, Little Voices reminds me why it is so important for Schools to embrace it. Every Pupil I had spoken to after the exam told me they really enjoyed it. What a great way to introduce exams to your child! Through a fun, positive process.. that actually builds key life skills (to me it makes total sense)

Anxiety and depression is fuelled today with the need to conform to social media pressures. At Little Voices you can come in and be who you want to be (maybe a 5 year old in Matilda or Willy Wonka from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!) The need for an outlet is so important that doesn’t involve a screen. At Little Voices we encourage each and every child to “Be the Best that they can be” But “being the best” means different things to different pupils. Maybe one child’s best is to walk into the room and make eye contact. Maybe another child’s best is to perform a solo. Inspiring each child to do the best that they can to improve and progress is a message I live by too.

I started to think about how it must feel to be in a class of 28+ pupils.  Most of our Parents say the reason they come to Little Voices is because of the fact we have less than 8 children in a class. As some of you may know, I am Head of Music and Vocational Subjects in a Secondary School for children who have been excluded. I see every day the NEED for small class sizes.

Did you know that the average pupil can go the whole school day without being directly spoken to by an adult (except during the register?)

As we all agree it is so important to provide a child with a nurturing environment at home where the child feels safe, loved, listened to and valued. This makes a child flourish. How can a child feel all of the above at school? How can a teacher make EVERY child in their class feel nurtured, cared for and listened to? While also ticking all the boxes they need to and filling out all the papers they need to. How does every child get a look in? I am not sure this is possible on a deep and meaningful level, where you are able to build up a valuable relationship that can get the best results for each and every child.

Only 8 Pupils in a Class!

Most of all I LOVE being a Little Voices Principal because of how it makes me feel. You can’t really describe it. The positivity, energy, caring environment is infectious. You can’t help but smile. We are truly like a family and you can tell that we care for our Pupils the way you would care for a family member. I want to see my Pupils and your child succeed and be happy.

Progress can only truly be made with a smile on your face. A happy environment encourages children to feel safe which in turn helps them build.

Strangely enough, the most “terrifying” and stressful situation (facing a dreaded exam!) turned out to be a positive, stress-free experience. We had our Mini Pupils saying “I am CONFIDENT! I am AMAZING! I can DO THIS!” and sure enough… they did! This “terrifying” experience was SO terrifying that one of the Pupils ran out and said “Can we do that again?”

I can’t help thinking it was all because of the ‘Little Voices Love’. That love you get when you know you are safe and cared for. That one that makes you feel you can achieve anything.  Surely that’s what we all want to feel?

Have a fantastic, Little Voices Valentines day.

Jemma x


 

Why are LAMDA examinations important?

When I was 5 years old my parents decided to take me to Keyboard lessons. Over the months it was clear to see my development, however to help measure this progress I entered examinations. After teaching for 9 years in secondary schools, I have come across pupils who have the knowledge to tackle a particular exam but not the experience of an exam situation. I realised that what I gained was more than just a range of qualifications to put on my CV but also the experience to tackle exams in a positive, calm manner.

Having the knowledge is half the battle! If you are too nervous, you can get flustered and then find it hard to write or think clearly.  I am so impressed with how the LAMDA examinations help develop the skills our children need to be able to be successful.

Jemma

(Principal of Little Voices Brentford, Ealing and Wembley)

 

The Importance of Singing in Child Development

This week I have been thinking about how singing can help with learning. Nursery rhymes and songs are taught to children at an early age to help develop recall and memory. While working in a Secondary School I frequently heard Teachers saying that they used a rap or a song to help learners remember a fact in Science or the alphabet in Spanish. It is undeniable that singing (and music in general!) can help children develop in all sorts of different ways. Here are a few I put together below!

Jemma (Principal of Little Voices Brentford, Ealing and Wembley)

 

 

Why are small class sizes important?

I’ve worked in two completely contrasting schools! One school I worked in had 8 children in a class, another had 30+. While working in a small school, I recognised the importance of small class sizes. The amount of progress a pupil made in a smaller class was clearly evident compared to the progress made in a bigger class. You can build up excellent relationships with pupils when you have the time to get to know them, find out their individual needs and plan lessons with this in mind.

I found that each pupil felt valued, part of the group and that they had a place in the classroom. This is so important! Take a look below for other reasons why we only teach with 8 children in a class.

I believe each pupil deserves this attention and focus!  Jemma (Principal Little Voices Brentford, Ealing, Wembley)
 
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Why Little Voices?

While I have been busy planning the opening of Little Voices Ealing, I have been thinking about what we offer and why! Here are a few that I came up with…

Jemma (Principal Little Voices Brentford, Ealing, Wembley) 

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