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Copy of Who Let the Dogs Out?
Transcript of Copy of Who Let the Dogs Out?
Who Let the Dogs Out?
South New Brighton School
This is, in a weird twist of inquiry, kind of where I started my journey. My initial "wonderings" were centred around the use of a dog in the classroom to address specific "issues" with certain students. As my immersion deepened into the subject I realized that the simple inclusion of a dog can work magic with ALL students, and the specific benefits are simply a byproduct of the plan. To highlight some of the beneficial byproducts of the animal-human relationship I was drawn to some research from the prison system in the U.S.
The Big Question
Can the inclusion of a dog in the classroom promote or create a positive learning environment?
"He makes school so much better, and I like going because J.D. is there"
"...because he wants to play with me. Dog friends are nicer than human friends because they play with me more."
"He taught me to be more friendly to other kids and more nice. Not to get mad at them."
Quotes from, Who Let the Dog In?
Katherine L Anderson
"You cannot have a friend, until you learn to first be a friend. Using dogs as a creative teaching method is something that many teachers should consider. Of course, there will probably be obstacles ("Are you serious? You want to have a WHAT in your classroom?!!!"), but for many teachers, the value is obvious."
I have spent much of my adult life working with my dog Ernie. Together we have achieved and maintained 6 consecutive years of service to NZ LandSAR as an operational Avalanche Search and Rescue dog team. I know the benefits, first hand, of the animal-human relationship and how positive that bond can be for both "creatures".
Ernie has always had a calming effect on me and has opened my eyes to the power of positive reinforcement and unselfish concern for others. I will take this knowledge of positivity with me to the classroom (PB4L).
Now that I am finishing the journey towards a new career I wanted to investigate the potential of incorporating the benefits of the animal-human relationship into the classroom. My inquiry quickly gained momentum as my excitement grew by what I found and experienced.
A Positive Learning Environment
How can a dog actually help build a PLE for our students?
The Physical Environment:
The presence of a dog in the classroom requires the students to recognize the physical needs of the dog. The creation of structured zones and working areas, to assist in the co-habitation of the students with a dog, helps promote a well-organized classroom. This requirement lends itself directly to the teaching of our Key Competencies, Relating to Others and Managing Self.
The Social Environment
This is where we will see the greatest benefits from having a dog in the classroom. The examples from around the world, and New Zealand, of the social benefits of the animal-human relationship in the classroom are numerous and varied. We can link this aspect to the Key Competencies, as well, with connections to Participating and Contributing.
"If there is one thing that is most important for children to realize, it is that they share a world with other beings who have needs similar but not identical to theirs. This understanding helps to develop the child's confidence,empathy and respect for others--both with animals and with classmates."
General Manager, Education, BC SPCA
"When a friendly, well-trained dog is introduced into an elementary-school classroom, teaching conditions improve considerably. Students as a whole become less hyperactive, less aggressive and more attentive to their instructor. The dog, by her very presence, becomes an effective classroom management tool."
"The research found that having a dog in the classroom actually decreased behavioural extremes, making the diverse group more homogenous. Children were less engaged in loud, conspicuous, or troublesome behaviour. They paid more attention to their teacher, cooperated better, and communicated more intensely with one another."
Sourced from: Classroom Management and the Teacher's Pet
The Cognitive Environment
The cognitive aspects of the inclusion of a dog are most obvious through the idea of acquiring knowledge through experience. Students are challenged to build new skills of social interaction and solving a new set of "problems".
"Beyond the development of student-dog relationships are the student-to-student relationships that can be established or enhanced using the dog as the medium. With the dog as the focus of instruction, social skill lessons can be conducted to directly teach students how to collectively interact with him while using social cooperation and problem solving. Then during non-academic times of the day, students may be permitted to collectively engage the dog in activities to apply their newly acquired skills."
Katherine L. Anderson
Other studies have shown that the inclusion of a dog in the classroom has led to the development of hobbies/careers in animal care as well as to improve overall academic achievement.
- National Pet Month
So that's what the world has to say. What do we have in NZ?
The canine educators programme at South New Brighton School consists of 6 dogs and has been in operation, informally for 18 years. I visited the school in August to see it in action for myself. I visited 2 classrooms and interviewed the children and the teachers about the positives and negatives of having a dog in the classroom.
The children's responses echoed the international research. They ALL agreed that having a dog in the classroom was a positive experience. They told me that the dog taught them responsibility, and that they had become more empathetic because of the dog. They learned how to be more patient, how to stay focused on their work, and how to be safe around dogs. None of the students had a negative comment about the inclusion of a dog!
" You want to finish your work quickly."
"She helps me learn my words."
"Jazz never judges you."
"He listens to me."
The overwhelming positive "voice" from the teaching staff was amazing! They unanimously sang the praises of the behavioural management benefits of the dogs and had no negative comments. The academic benefits centred around reading programmes and how much the dogs supported the reluctant readers in the class. The teachers who did not "employ" dogs in their rooms were in support of the programme as well.
"I've seen even the most rambunctious kids calm down and read while scratching the dog."
"It's a life saver for us as a teacher."
"He's more than just a dog, he's more than just a part of this class, he's something special."
"Finn (dog) unknowingly goes up to the CYFS kids."
"Kids can cry to the dog."
"I won't be able to work at another school that doesn't have a programme like this. That is how important a tool a dog is."
Let's compare this to a case in Switzerland
Jail House Flock
When staff at Oakwood Forensic Centre, a maximum security prison for the criminally insane in Lima, Ohio, noticed that prisoners on one ward were suddenly being far more sociable and cooperative than usual, they investigated. They discovered that the inmates had found a sick sparrow in the prison yard and, working together, had secretly nursed it back to health.
J D Carpentieri, The Guardian
During my visit to South New Brighton School, I had the opportunity to sit and speak with the principal, Mr. Bockett. He told me a story of one of the long time, and still active, canine educators, Finn. Mr. Bockett sat in his office early one morning and saw a former student of theirs sitting on the curb outside of school. The young boy didn't move for quite sometime and looked quite distressed. Mr. Bockett went to the classroom where Finn was being used as a canine educator (a former class of this child's) and asked the teacher if Finn could go and visit the boy on the curb. The teacher agreed and allowed Finn to sit next to the boy for, what turned out to be, the next several hours. After these hours passed, the child came into the school and thanked Mr. Bockett for allowing Finn to come out and "talk". As it turned out the boy's family had lost nearly everything in the Christchurch earthquake, they had shifted to a new home so that the children could remain at the school, but that house had burned to the ground the night before. It had become too much for the former student to handle and he had come back to where he felt most comfortable, talking to Finn.
Finn is still used today in the classroom at the age of 13. He is regularly used by the office staff to "assess" sick children. Finn will visit the sick kids and will either stay by their sides or simply leave the room. If he stays, the kids are legitimately sick. If he leaves, the kids are faking it and are sent back to class. "Dr. Finn" is frighteningly accurate.
Beyond the PLE aspects of the inclusion of a dog in the classroom, what are the other social benefits of the animal-human relationship?
Jail House Flock
Intrigued, the staff at Oakwood conducted a study in which they allowed one ward to keep pets and compared it with another that wasn't. Over the course of a year, prisoners on the pet ward were less violent and needed only half the medication of their petless peers, and there were no suicide attempts, compared with eight on the other ward.
J D Carpentieri, The Guardian
Conclusions and where to next, for me
As mentioned at the beginning of this presentation, I have a deep passion for, and experience training and working dogs in other professional venues. As I approach a new career in teaching I am growing more and more excited about using a dog in the classroom for the reasons that are now obvious. This "tool" will make me a better teacher by creating a more positive learning environment and engaging my students with something new and exciting. There are obvious hurdles to overcome in having to convince the "status quo" to accept and embrace a new concept in teaching, but I now see the value and benefits involved with the inclusion of a dog. My prior experience will enable me to integrate this program seamlessly and effectively, if given the chance.
The research from around the world reflects what I have seen in New Zealand and have experienced first hand. The benefits of a dog in the classroom are irrefutable, they just need to be seen to be believed.
Anderson, K.L. (2007). Who Let the Dog In? How to Incorporate a Dog into a Self-Contained Classroom. A case study published in TEACHING Exceptional Children Plus. Vol. 4, Issue 1.
Canine Educators. Retrieved from http://www.snbs.school.nz/Site/School_Information/Canine_Educators.a shx
Carpentieri, J. (2001 August 25). Jail House Flock. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2001/aug/25/weekend7.we ekend3.
Classroom Management and the Teacher's Pet. Retrieved from Bo Obama’s Blog.
Retrieved from http://www.obama-dog.com/blog/2011/10/index.html.
Fiordalis, V. (n.d.). Dogs In The Classroom. Dogs And School Children…a volatile combination. Retrieved from http://www.creativeteachingsite.com/dogs/dogs.html
General Manager, Education, BC SPCA. Profound Encounter. Classroom Animals: More Than Responsible Pet Care. Retrieved from http://www.spca.bc.ca/youth/teacher/classroom-animals/profound- connection.html
Ministry of Education. (2007) The New Zealand Curriculum. Wellington: Learning Media.
Teacher’s Pet – How can pets benefit your school and your pupils? Retrieved from http://www.nationalpetmonth.org.uk.
I don't want to draw a comparison with prisoners and students but the results and benefits of the animal-human relationship is remarkable, no matter what the setting may be.
"Over the past decade, researchers working in educational and therapeutic settings have linked learning and healing with animals, finding that caring for animals can improve self-esteem, alleviate anxiety and depression, improve social skills, and foster verbal and non-verbal communication" (Huddart & Naherniak, 1996).
-Sourced from Anderson (2007)