Moving into a new position

Besides my co-workers and a few close friends/family, I have not really told anyone yet about next year. As most know, I was evaluated for my Permanent Teaching Certificate this year. I also was successfully evaluated for a continuous contract this year that I signed based on a new position.  And without much ado, here’s what I am going to be doing next year.

I will be a learning coach and inclusion coordinator for my school. I also get the opportunity to teach grade 5 English to learn the Daily 5 program, teach grade 8/9 French as an option, and my new and exciting challenge of creating an ESL program for our school that is starting with an ESL course for grades 10/11/12. If it sounds like a lot, that’s because it is but it is also a large change for me that I am finally excited about since the year is done. I am excited because I get to share my passions and learn new things as I learn and grow as an educator.

So, if you have resources for any of the above, please send them my way!

Reflecting on the year

This year was a year that is hard to describe in one word. Last year my word was growth – understandably given I was a first year teacher. This year I have a hard time describing my year to friends and family, let alone to my admin or coworkers.

I moved to a new school and a new town. Personally I went through a lot of missing home but professionally, I never looked back other than to when someone asked if I regretted moving to a new school. Fortunately, that answer has always been no. As I prepared for a new year, I decided to avoid reading cumulative files and confidential files until after I met the kids and instead took a more vague approach – who had an IPP for academic or behaviour or who was an ELL student. I am glad I did because it allowed me to build a relationship with my students without any prejudice.

As the year went on, it was clear to anyone who was in the classroom that it was OUR class, my students’ class, not MY classroom. The classroom was always flexible and changing to suit their needs. What went up on the walls was up to them and it was always their work. They created a culture in our classroom that was one of agreement, collaboration/community and honouring the learning that was happening in our classroom.

My students accomplished things that left other teachers wondering what was happening in grade 5. A grade 4 teacher saw my marking some of the assignments that my students were working on and I talked about the co-created criteria. Her answer was “I think our students are in for a shock next year”. During my formal evaluation lesson, my students showed that they were capable of exceeding the expectations normally places on a group of 10 year olds. They showed that they can to all sorts of things if given the tools and proper scaffolding to reach those expectations.

As I write this reflection, I realize that this year was one of exceeding expectations of others and showing that things don’t need to be set in stone. My friend bought me a pillow that says “Today I will make magic happen” explaining that each day is a new and wonderful learning experience in my class. While I wouldn’t call it magic, I do feel that the learning taking place in my classroom is a shift in current mindsets and that we are changing those mindsets each day that something new happens.

Resource: Teaching Feedback in your Classroom

I have put together a resource for teaching the feedback process to your class thanks to requests of a few friends and colleagues. You can find it over at Ninja Plans by following this link.  Don’t forget it is a process that needs time and practice to develop fully!

Just a note: When using feedback, it is important that the students have the opportunity for receive multiple rounds of feedback from each other and from their teacher, as well as time time to implement it/improve their work before submitting it for assessment (or final feedback as my students used to call it).

Also – check out my past post about building a culture of feedback in my classroom here.

Reigniting Your Passion:RedCamp16 – Reflection

RedCamp couldn’t have come at a better time for me this year. Lately I had been struggling to decide what I wanted to do next year – teaching, learning coaching, inclusion coordinator, graduate studies, subbing, leaving the teaching profession completely. This wasn’t a decision I took lightly. I really struggled to come to terms with what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be. I relied quite heavily on my support system: Friends, family, coworkers, faith, and even a couple of strangers who were willing to listen. I am quite lucky to have an admin team at my school who realized that I needed time to make this decision and look at not only the job but the community and my personal life to see what it is that I wanted. I also have a fantastic team at my school who care about each other and encouraged me to figure out exactly what it is that I needed.

RedCamp16 was a small crowd this year but a group of extremely passionate individuals who were willing to be in a school on a gorgeous Saturday. I looked at our schedule we were creating and suggestions for sessions and decided to sign up to facilitate a discussion about active learning and inquiry in the classroom. I was expecting to facilitate a conversation, share ideas and get some cool ideas for myself but as life has it – the group had other plans. Many people came to learn more about inquiry and hear about my experiences. Now if you know me, you know that I hate talking in front of people because I like to listen to people and add to people’s ideas. I like to question and push things to different levels. This was extremely uncomfortable for me.

We talked and I shared my experience and where I was in my educational journey. I by no means claim to be an expert in anything or have it all figured out. It is all about making yourself vulnerable and open to the learning process. (Also a great thing to model for your students.) I shared the experiences in my classroom, I also opened up about my experience in school. If I made a difference to even one teacher today or shared one thing that a teacher can take back to their classroom or reflect upon their own practice, it was worth my own discomfort.

The most valuable part is it renewed my passion for education. It also helped me realize that I love working with teachers and inspiring them to try something new or find a different way to look at things. I want to support other people to be the best that they can be. I like to develop things. Most importantly, I don’t want to be in the spotlight – I want to make others shine.

RedCamp gave me the opportunity to revisit the things that were core values to me as an educator, but most importantly, it gave me a chance to make a decision that I had been struggling with now for 2 weeks. Thanks everyone for giving me something that you didn’t realize your gave me in listening and asking questions – the answer to a decision that has been weighing me down.

Sharing your passion

Kory Graham’s tweet had me thinking a lot lately. It resonates so strongly with me lately because for me, passion is such a huge part of education.

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It is so important that we have passionate teachers who want to share the things they are passionate about. Our students look to us to show them to how to be excited about  their learning or even about the things they do. Wouldn’t it be great if we could share our passions, learnings and desires together in a visible way?

Open door policies lead to excitement for teachers

A few weeks ago, another teacher came in to see me lead an introductory activity so I decided to show her how to do a Chalk Talk which is one of my favourite thinking strategies. She had a lot of fun participating with the students and learning from them.

Yesterday, she tried it today with her french immersion Grade 4 students to introduce Math vocabulary.  She was so excited to share with me how greatly the students responded to the activity and she mentioned how great it was to see what they already know. The added benefit is that those students have an extra opportunity to think,work, write and respond in French in a new and engaging way for them.

I have always had an open door policy and everyone is welcome to join. It is even more exciting when a person seeks you out and asks for you to show them how to do something specific. In the grand scheme of things, a half hour for the students to take pride in their learning and share what they know is actually more beneficial to them to realize that teachers are learners, just like them.