A Week in Review-Game-based lesson, volleyball and not enough sleep.

This week has been a busy, actually busy does not even begin to describe how it has been. On top of it being super busy, it was also Global TVs premier week which means my priorities were a little split during the week. Besides my normal three classes that I teach, I also picked up a 5/6 PE class, a 7/8 science class and a 7/8 PAA class. It also happens to be my Jr. Girls home volleyball tournament which means I am running around trying to make sure everything is organized, fitting in a practice at every moment that I possibly can, which means mornings, lunch and after schools to the point where I spent more time with the girls than I do with my boyfriend. Besides volleyball which has once again taken over my life, I have actual prep to do with my classes.

I got to experience planning my first game-based learning, which went off surprisingly well. For a performance task assessment that I used with students was to have them use the squares on the floor as a coordinate grid, with different coordinates leading to clues which had questions on them to lead to a final treasure. The students had to video tape the whole quest, which I will use to a reference to provide them a mark out of 10. It is a small step towards having a game-based learning classroom full time, but I figured that the first few activities are going to be the most nerve racking.

Now back to volleyball, this weekend was my Jr. Girls home tournament, which also happened to be the first tournament of the season, and the girls got 2nd!!! Am I sad that the girls did not get first, yes but only because I know how hard they have worked for it, considering that my team is made up with the majority being grade 6 students, a few 8s and one 7, no grade 9s,  yet our final game was against a team with all grade 9s who were taller than the net. The girls did fantastic, they won one set of three, and came close in the third set. Am I disappointed that they got second instead of first, not even close. Do I know that the next few games will provide the students with a chance to build their skills and improve on their weaknesses which only makes me more excited for the next tournament.

This week was busy, just like all the next weeks during my internship will be, but I seem to be giving myself a chance of surviving by working on weekends and utilizing my breaks at school. When people say that internship is hard, I never realized that it being hard had nothing to do with the teaching, that is the easy part, but the extra-curricular, the balancing between teaching, coaching, and having a life that is what makes it hard.

 


Big Picture, Small Screen

I’ve always thought in really broad ideas. I see the world of teaching as one giant canvas, and each unit and subject area plays a part in a masterpiece; their lessons and projects contributing delicate brushstrokes and colours of various hues.

Photo Credit: appelogen.be via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: appelogen.be via Compfight cc

While seeing the big picture in all its masterful glory is certainly a great tool for a teacher to possess, it becomes increasingly difficult to live in a “big picture world”, when you have to live your day to day life with the reality of the small window of time that you have to execute anything in on a given day. Living in the small screen can be really difficult, as you want so desperately to fit enough of the big picture in that you don’t loose the memory of it, but small enough that you can actually understand what you’re looking at.

Photo Credit: TheTruthAbout via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: TheTruthAbout via Compfight cc

I’ve written about this before, and yet it is still something that I struggle a lot with. This past week in my internship has been a great reminder of just how much I struggle with this concept of narrowing the day-to-day while having the big picture in my mind. The great problem comes not even in breaking down that big idea into tangible pieces, but in actually executing the small piece in a way that students will “get” the point of the lesson while being able to connect it to the much larger picture. Far too often have I come across a lesson plan, whether it is online, in a teacher guide, or from another teacher, and I struggle to see how you can either get all of it in one lesson, or how to get students to connect it with the previous days’ lessons, and the lessons you will have coming up.

In the science unit I’m currently teaching I also have the added challenge of teaching a split grade classroom. We have a rather challenging schedule too, where I sometimes have just one of the grades and sometimes both, so I must find ways to link their units together at some points, but also keep them separate!  Then if that wasn’t enough, there’s also the constant problem of not always being able to get everything you want in a lesson, but not being able to move on until you do!

I’ve been running into this collision of worlds all last week and into this one…trying to think of the day-to-day lessons, while trying to fit everything into the unit that is needed, while also planning ahead, picking up more subject areas, and finding a way to keep it all together. I also keep thinking that it’s only going to get worse before it gets better, as I still have more subject areas to add to my schedule!

Photo Credit: SammCox via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: SammCox via Compfight cc

Maybe I need to start looking at things a little differently? I don’t think I’ll ever loose my big picture mindset, but I think maybe I just need to slow things down a little, and step back for a moment. If I’m really going to do this teaching thing right, I’ve got to. I need to find some time to think about things other than school. I need to have fun taking the time away from doing school things and not be stressed about the school things I “should” be doing! I think it all comes back to balance. There’s lots of talk about a good work-life balance, but maybe I also need some future-present balance too. Perhaps I need to take the time to remember the saying, “You can only do what you can with what you have.” If I only have an evening, or even an hour to plan a stellar lesson, then I will make it the best I can in the time I have with the materials that are available.

This is my goal for the rest of the week. Do what I can with what I have. All I can do is all I can do, and there’s no need to over-work and over-stress about it all. Tonight I will plan a fun lesson for tomorrow, and go in with my head held high, knowing that it will all work out in the end, because I know that I have the ability to take those kids on their small screens and show them the big picture.

Huff Post

Photo Credit: Huff Post

 

Being an educator is more than making lesson plans and grading tests

This week was full of firsts for me. It was the first time that I ever had students excitedly ask if I was teaching their class, it was the first time that I ever decided to not bother putting together a proper lesson plan and just doing what was needed, and it was my first time completely changing what I was planning on changing because my students were not ready for new material. These are all firsts related to teaching, but I also had many other firsts this week.

I was my first time ever coaching a volleyball practice, I also got to be a coach at a volleyball game. My girls lost, and anyone that knows me is aware how competitive I am (which is hard to believe because I am not a good athlete). For the first ever, I did not care that we lost, because all I could focus on was that two girls who are just learning how to serve got a serve over during the game. I care that the girls, who were playing against older, taller, and stronger players were able to hold their own in a game, and I am proud that the girls made so many strong plays against a team who could all reach over the net while only one of my girls could.

I got to supervise art club this week, which is new to the school but based on the turn out a necessary club to have. I got to not coach, and not lead but just sit back and allow the students to take charge of what matters, and interests them. I was able to just allow the students to work, and got the opportunity to see my students create something with no end goal, no outcome to be evaluated and no rules set in place. I got to see my students in a new way.

When I first got into education, I knew that I would want to do extra-curricular, but a lot of that had to do with realizing extra-curricular is a must for new teachers if I ever want to get hired. However, this week I got to spend time really engaged in extra-curricular and it was by far one of my favorite experiences of my teaching career.

In my application essay  to the University of Regina I talked about how seeing the students’ “light-bulb” moments was one of my favorite things. I can honestly say that it pales in comparison to watching my students do something that they truly enjoy and are dedicated to, just because they want to and not because they have to.

Being a teacher may only be a job, but being an educator is more about the lessons learnt outside the classroom than from the curriculum.

Next week I get to tackle a 7/8 science class, a 5/6 PE class, and a 7/8 PAA class, on top of my continuous classes. I also get to watch my volleyball girls in their home tournament, as the coach, which I am beyond excited for.


A World Changed in a Single Moment

https://www.flickr.com/photos/tuaussi/14462898490/sizes/l

“If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate.” ~Sandy Dahl, wife of Flight 93 pilot Jason Dahl

September 11th... A day that will be forever etched in my memory. There are truly few that can evoke such strong memories in my mind, and this particular day is 1 of them. Growing up I always heard my parents talk about days that were marked by pain & tragedy in the world, and I could never quite conceive what that must have been like. This is a day that will never be forgotten.

It was a day like any other, I was just beginning a new school year, in a new school. It was poignant for me, being in my 2nd trimester, carrying around this beautiful life inside me. It was falllike, cool nights & early mornings, but the sun was shining. I was still taking in the last few moments of slumber before getting ready for work. My husband worked nights then at a bakery, and often would come home and turn on the television as a means of winding down prior to getting a good 'night' rest. In that moment, of turning on the tv, our lives changed forever. 

I will never forget those moments of awe & disbelief I felt hearing and seeing the planes crash into the towers. The shock and horror that we all felt in watching what each new station was airing. It was hard for me to tear myself away, to ready my day, head off to work, and try to bring some kind of normalcy to the classroom. How was I going to share this information with a classroom full of Grade 6 students?

And as the information was shared, and the horror of the events unfilded throughout the day we all grieved as a class and a school. Back then we had pulled tv's into the hallways and we would congregate and share amongst whoever was standing on that 2nd floor. I was a new staff member and I remember vividly that it didn't matter who was standing, watching, there was always an opportunity to share, to debrief, to express our undeniable feelings. It really was about coming together to learn and comfort, and it became a means of creating relationship & community.

I was gone only a few months later on maternity leave, building and creating a bond with my new little 1. That fall was such a whirlwind, as was that winter, spring, and summer. Time has a way of making extraordinary events seem blurry and faded. But I remember the fall of 2002 like it was yesterday. The 1 year anniversary of the twin towers being destroyed and the lives lost filled much of the world with raw emotion. Back then we relied on new articles to fill in the gaps our memories had created. My students were so young then, but they did truly understand & comprehend the huge impact it had on how we interact and trust in those around us.

Time does somehow heal those deep wounds left behind, perhaps only for the simple fact that so much has happened in these last 15 years. 

The world is so exponentially different now. And for whatever reason, no matter how much love we seem to spread, there is as much hate and pain as ever, maybe even more. We look at people differently, we question their motives and integrity. I think that day for me was most significant as a loss of innocence. I work hard to see the good that surrounds me every day, but the stories of loss, of sadness, and unforgiveness still take their toll. It is a reminder that to live your best life, you need to be a positive realist, optimistic and joyful despite what others see in the every day.

So much has changed since that day. My daughter is now 14 & just starting high school. She will only learn about this historic event through what is shared, via media, and conversations with those that witnessed those life changing moments. The world has seen it share of pain and sadness since that day, and will continue to as long as fear, intolerance, and hate continue to become the default in how we cope with our differences. I work every day to spread a message of love and try to live where my actions are as loud as my words.

Be the change never seemed for fitting it seems.


A World Changed in a Single Moment

https://www.flickr.com/photos/tuaussi/14462898490/sizes/l

“If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate.” ~Sandy Dahl, wife of Flight 93 pilot Jason Dahl

September 11th... A day that will be forever etched in my memory. There are truly few that can evoke such strong memories in my mind, and this particular day is 1 of them. Growing up I always heard my parents talk about days that were marked by pain & tragedy in the world, and I could never quite conceive what that must have been like. This is a day that will never be forgotten.

It was a day like any other, I was just beginning a new school year, in a new school. It was poignant for me, being in my 2nd trimester, carrying around this beautiful life inside me. It was falllike, cool nights & early mornings, but the sun was shining. I was still taking in the last few moments of slumber before getting ready for work. My husband worked nights then at a bakery, and often would come home and turn on the television as a means of winding down prior to getting a good 'night' rest. In that moment, of turning on the tv, our lives changed forever. 

I will never forget those moments of awe & disbelief I felt hearing and seeing the planes crash into the towers. The shock and horror that we all felt in watching what each new station was airing. It was hard for me to tear myself away, to ready my day, head off to work, and try to bring some kind of normalcy to the classroom. How was I going to share this information with a classroom full of Grade 6 students?

And as the information was shared, and the horror of the events unfilded throughout the day we all grieved as a class and a school. Back then we had pulled tv's into the hallways and we would congregate and share amongst whoever was standing on that 2nd floor. I was a new staff member and I remember vividly that it didn't matter who was standing, watching, there was always an opportunity to share, to debrief, to express our undeniable feelings. It really was about coming together to learn and comfort, and it became a means of creating relationship & community.

I was gone only a few months later on maternity leave, building and creating a bond with my new little 1. That fall was such a whirlwind, as was that winter, spring, and summer. Time has a way of making extraordinary events seem blurry and faded. But I remember the fall of 2002 like it was yesterday. The 1 year anniversary of the twin towers being destroyed and the lives lost filled much of the world with raw emotion. Back then we relied on new articles to fill in the gaps our memories had created. My students were so young then, but they did truly understand & comprehend the huge impact it had on how we interact and trust in those around us.

Time does somehow heal those deep wounds left behind, perhaps only for the simple fact that so much has happened in these last 15 years. 

The world is so exponentially different now. And for whatever reason, no matter how much love we seem to spread, there is as much hate and pain as ever, maybe even more. We look at people differently, we question their motives and integrity. I think that day for me was most significant as a loss of innocence. I work hard to see the good that surrounds me every day, but the stories of loss, of sadness, and unforgiveness still take their toll. It is a reminder that to live your best life, you need to be a positive realist, optimistic and joyful despite what others see in the every day.

So much has changed since that day. My daughter is now 14 & just starting high school. She will only learn about this historic event through what is shared, via media, and conversations with those that witnessed those life changing moments. The world has seen it share of pain and sadness since that day, and will continue to as long as fear, intolerance, and hate continue to become the default in how we cope with our differences. I work every day to spread a message of love and try to live where my actions are as loud as my words.

Be the change never seemed for fitting it seems.


Making Connections – Building Relationships Part 2



This week #saskedchat will be exploring the second part of the Making Connections - Building Relationships theme with a focus on students, parents and community. As most of you know, #saskedchat is a group developed chat which has a number of different people contributing to the questions. Later this week the questions for the upcoming week's chat will be posted below so you can access them before the chat. We are also asking for input for ideas for upcoming topics. If you have a suggestion, please feel free to add your ideas to our Google Form. As always, you can add ideas by leaving a comment on this blog.


A week in the life of a teacher

It’s been a week (and a day) since we first met our students.

It’s been a week of teaching every day.

It’s been a week of ups.

It’s been a week of downs.

It’s been a week of building relationships.

It’s been a week of being tested by 11 and 12  year olds.

It’s been a week in which I have learned so much!

The first day of school, just like the kids, I was both really nervous and really excited! I was really curious to meet all of the children we would be working with, and for whom we had been planning for all these weeks.

Let me just say that I’ve thought more than once this week that we’ve got a GREAT bunch of students, and other teachers have also commented on this, so it’s gotta be pretty true! It’s a really great mix of strong leaders, hard workers, creative types, kooky ones, quiet kids, and the ones that kind of get on your nerves and know how to push the limits. I’ve really been enjoying getting to know the kids and making connections with them both in class, and through little conversations in the hallway, during work time, and on the playground.

In the classroom, I started out the first few days doing a bit of an art lesson. It turned out really well, and many of the students are really proud of their completed pieces, which are now hanging on our lockers (well almost all of them are)!
Self-Portrait Locker Art

Tuesday I began my science unit. This will be the subject (along with social) that I will teach throughout my internship. My co-op has it set up so that we focus more intensely (with 4 classes a week!) of a science unit, and then flip to doing a social unit, and so on. I actually really like this, as it gives us the opportunity to easily pick up from the day before and have more consistency. I’m working on a life science unit on the Diversity of Living Things and Interconnectedness of Ecosystems. Content wise I have a good handle on my unit and where it’s going, and I’m looking forward to working through it!

Photo Credit: BobboSphere via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: BobboSphere via Compfight cc

My first couple of lessons went pretty well. Tuesday was more of an introduction to science and the scientific process, which worked as a pre-assessment so I could know where students were coming from. Wednesday we did some fun games, and ended with a bit of an outdoor observation session. While I don’t think that they were perfect lessons, I think they went really well; all the students were engaged and on task. Thursday, yesterday, however, was a bit of a different story. I only had 8 students (the 6’s were at band and two students were away), so you’d think that might be a pretty sweet class, and so did I! I went in thinking it was going to lead to some great discussions and engagement, but it took a pretty drastic turn part way through the lesson when one student decided that it would be super great to argue with the class about a point we were discussing, and any disagreements only fuelled his fire. Try as I might to divert the attention being given to him back to the lesson, nothing I did really made it work, and though we finished the lesson on a decent point, I certainly was not really happy with the overall impression left by it.

In conferencing with my co-op it became very apparent where I’d gone astray in my classroom management, and we discussed some strategies on how I could have corrected the mistake once it happened, and also how to avoid it in future lessons. I could really see what things I could have improved on, and felt really supported in being allowed to have those things happen so that I COULD improve for another time. We had a really great discussion, and I left feeling confident that I could take some of those ideas and strategies and apply them to my lesson the next day.

Today was a brand new day, and I had the grade 7’s again (now 10 as the students who were away had returned). Last period of the day. On a Friday. It could have been a total gong show, but it was actually amazing! I laid out the expectations right from the start, the class was in on the rules that we established together, and we carried on! We got through the work we didn’t have time to finish the day before, shared some stories, looked at some alternative world view perspectives, read more stories, did some reflections, and really had a great, relaxing and chill sort of class! It was just the best way to end a Friday! I wasn’t stressed, or taxed by the students, and I really think we had some great conversations. It was a completely different class from the day before. I felt really proud that I could show that I could really handle the class and all of its characters and have an engaging lesson where everyone contributes and we do some great work.

I’m now really looking forward to next week!

Photo Credit: glendon27 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: glendon27 via Compfight cc

Part 1 – Making Connections – building Relationships #saskedchat

Welcome!

#saskedchat is exploring Making Connections - building relationships. As we began to plan for this session it became clear that there was more to connectedness that could be covered in one session so we decided to divide it into two sessions. Part 1 is focused on digital/online/professional connections where we will explore connecting online and building relationships that are focused more on digital means of connecting and professional connections that are outside the building/division/community in which a teacher works. Part 2 will explore relationships with students/parents/community, as well as, teachers within a teacher's division/building.

September 8th Questions.

Q1. What does it mean to be 'connected'? #saskedchat

Q2. What is a limitation you face in becoming 'connected'? #saskedchat

Q3. Which connection(s) do you value the most? #saskedchat

Q4. What are some qualities of a 'connected' educator? #saskedchat

Q5. What is one misconception you hear about 'connected educators'? #saskedchat

Q6. What is one piece of advice for those seeking to become more connected? #saskedchat

Q7. Share one incident when you realized the 'power of connectedness'. #saskedchat

TA. How will you become engaged with connecting this school year? #saskedchat

As always, we appreciate any feedback you might have for us that we could use to improve #saskedchat. Please leave a comment and share the #saskedchat hashtag with other educators.