Sunday, July 24, 2016

Squirrel!

On my very first day of teaching, I had a grade 5 class with 17 students.  This class would eventually almost double, but on that day, I was extremely nervous, I didn't know what to expect.  Nothing can prepare you for your first day of teaching.  The classroom was fairly big, with a long set of windows across the back of the room.  I put all the desks in u-shape, so the students could see each other, talk and discuss.

On that day I went in with high hopes, uncertainty and a pit of nerves in my stomach.  They went away quickly though, because as we were discussing classroom rules, a squirrel ran across the window sill.  Every, and I do mean EVERY, student stopped what they were doing, whipped their heads around and watched the squirrel scurry across the window, then we all looked at eachother and laughed.  I learned an important lesson that day, not even two periods into the school year on my very first day of teaching: distractions come easy in the classroom.

This is true for daily teacher duties as well. I often find I move from one thing to another quickly, I have to take notes to remember important events, ideas, and whats going on with the students.  Next week is the unofficial middle of summer, its all gone so fast.  After taking the previous 9 months off for maternity leave, I'm returning to a new school, a new grade, and a new atmosphere.  It's exciting and nerve-wrecking at the same time.  

Distractions aren't all bad.  They can be big or small, they can feel like nothing or everything, a small pebble or a weight on your shoulders.  Sometimes though, distractions can bring on new ideas, new revelations, a new outlook.  I'm starting to feel all the distractions creeping up on me considering my own planning and my professional learning.  These are good distractions though, my interests are growing.  Time is passing and I'm worried I can't fit it all in.  

In particular, I'm questioning how to create an inquiry based atmosphere while covering the grade 2 curriculum and how am I going to handle all the little distractions that come out (especially when you aren't following specific unit and lesson plans).  Other interests I have include: coding, makerspace, self regulation, character trait development, french language phonemic development. I could keep going. 

There are many distractions coming up on a personal level and I will relish in these to take time with my family as summer bids us adieu (Im not wishing it away, just realizing how fast time is going). I will remember that sometimes we need to watch the distractions, stop and laugh (or reflect) as we did on my first day.

How do you handle your distractions, the little and the big ones?

Monday, July 11, 2016

What is education really?!?!

I am fortunate.  I had a fantastic 2015 year.  I got married; I had a baby; I got my full contract teaching.    Although I am currently on maternity leave, my mind has been wandering.  My oldest daughter was in school, my husband works a lot of afternoons and midnight shifts, so I was often alone with the baby.  Who I must say is wonderful.  No colic, no late night screaming matches, not even a diaper rash.  He's amazing.  But with that came the opportunity to let my thoughts overtake my mind.  Sometimes I feel like I have so many thoughts, my brain is constantly on the go.  I move from one thing to another, quickly.  I don't often sit and rest.  Focusing can be hard. I like to do many things at once, which I realize can be problematic. 

My one question over these last couple of months:  

How does my philosophy of what education really affect my teaching?

I remember being asked this so often while completing my B.Ed. "What is your philosophy of education?"  Even though this was only a few years ago, at the time I just thought it was a regurgitated thought that the professors wanted me to say.  I've realized in my time off, my philosophy of education will not only make me a better teacher, but helps guide the pedagogy I choose within and outside the walls of the school.


Education is supposed to provide opportunity, to students of all abilities and demographics.  Ever watched Jennifer Magiera in her Tedx Talk "Power to the Pupil"?  She discusses how education shouldn't be based on how rich or poor we are.  I think I've watched this talk at least 5 times and every time I watch it, one line in particular resonates with me the most: "Why is creativity and innovation a luxury?"

In my first year of teaching, I considered so many things to try.  I wanted to engage the students, I didn't want to give them a pencil and piece of paper and watch them work.  I wanted to engage with my students about real life problems that concerned them.  But so many things were thrown at me, so many assessments, writing report cards for the first time, union concerns, field trips, school requirements and other things that went beyond just writing a lesson plan and implementing it, I didn't know which way to look.  

But now, on this time off, I have had time to reflect.  I actually thought about my thoughts, and here is what I know about my philosophy of what education should represent to us:
  1. Education is about opportunity. 
  2. Education goes beyond curriculum subjects; it is anything and everything you want to learn.
  3. Education is for everyone, regardless of our location, our abilities or what our demographics are.
Now I teach French Immersion, so I do have to consider how to put this into place in my classroom where students are coming from a variety of areas in my city, everyone is learning a new language and everyone still needs to learn what is in the curriculum documents.  Honestly, I'm learning as I go.  This job is hard, but not impossible.

The new year is coming faster than I want.  In less than 2 months, my daughter will be in grade 8, my husband will be back to shift work, my baby will be in daycare and I will be back to work.  I'm moving to a new school, a new grade and new opportunities.  This will be the year, I allow my students opportunities to become learners that want to find answers to their questions; I will consider curriculum and their interests; I will help create an atmosphere in the classroom that represents the readiness and ability to learn alongside my students.