My First Week in the Classroom in Two Years

For the last week I’ve been in the classroom teaching as part of my pre-internship (first time in the classroom in over two years). I’ve learned some great tips from my little time here, and I am lucky due to my classroom schedule. In period 2 I have a social studies 9 group. In period 3 I have a social studies 9 group.

My partner in crime @LalondeKatED and I are blessed with the ability to make a lesson plan, implement it, and then pick apart what went wrong and what we can do better. We then re-teach the same lesson the next day to a different group. This makes for incredible pedagogical improvements in planning and implementing a lesson/unit/assessment. My last week has been phenominal and a very real-world experience.

My co-operating teacher is giving me feedback that is making a true difference in my practice. Next week I get the option to sit in on parent-teacher-student interviews and an STF meeting.

Finally, pray to the printer gods that technology is working. My partner in crime spent an hour printing sixty documents because the many thousands of dollars machine we were using kept breaking. And show mercy to me Katia about my inquiry project. I work full time while doing this… and am pioneering a program for diverse learners and government funded iPads. #SleepIsForTheWeak

Spending six years to get a degree I won’t use for six years

I’m currently finishing up my fifth year of University in the Faculty of Education. I still have one year to go. My program is meant to be only four years (highschool and university advisors have given me wrong information and lost my files). Throughout my years here, every education professor has talked about how 50% of teachers are quitting, most retire early, how we’re going to be overwhelmed with work and extra-curricular. New teachers get overwhelmed with all the work they need to accomplish (hours upon hours of lesson plans and assessments), and new university graduates typically are eager to actually start their life. This means paying off massive student loans, getting a house, getting a dog, getting married, saving for retirement, have a kid, taking out a loan on a car, while somehow magically buying all these other minor goods that they’ve been fantasizing about since they heard college graduates get a real salary. Throw life problems such as anxiety/depression, a life-long illness, family troubles, or worse… no coffee in the morning, and all the above seems like it is impossible to get through immediately after college!   Common-Core-world-cloud-overwhlemed The truth is, doing all the above IS impossible. Or at the very least it is impossible to do without being miserable and/or ruining relationships in your life. My personal life motto is to “live your life with no regrets.” My plan for when I graduate with my $40,000 piece of paper is to work my current job while being a substitute teacher for 10 – 14 months. I currently have a fantastic job that is supplying me with enough money that I can make it rain. After this, I have a confirmed job in London already. This job would be from 8 – 4 working as a teacher. No take-home paperwork or anything else. I come in and I teach for eight hours and then I’m done; once I am finished for the day I plan to travel around London and the immediate areas. Work while I travel. I plan to work this job for the summer (three months) and then take a 6-week hiatus to travel to foreign countries that I’ve dreamed of visiting for years. Then I am on my way home in time to have my own classroom (if I wan) or I can substitute and have another job that pays well part time/full-tie. I can repeat this process with South Korea, China, Scotland, the US, and many more countries and provinces. I’ll have my loans out of the way, I’ll have my chance to live life, I’ll have a financial safety net and start-up to my pension. I’ll be able to enter a classroom with loads of experience and being enthused about working and having my own classroom when I’m ready. Burnout will be much less likely and more importantly I’ll be happy. Just because you have the degree doesn’t mean you need to use it (or use it right off the bat). If I’m going to enter the teacher work force, I want to do it right.

It’s also a bonus that the Social Studies curriculum will likely be updated by the time I have my own classroom.

Rick, Tyrion, Dexter, and Walt all die. Or do they?

During a long car ride I thought about what I would do in my first days of entering the classroom.

Long story short, I’m going to give a form and figure out what their favorite TV shows are, their access to technology, how they learn, and what their interests are. You may be asking yourself, why the TV shows? I had a bit of an idea during my car ride. What if I threaten TV spoilers if the misbehave?

“In place of the parents” is not “the new parent”

 

“Teaching involves conflicting roles. Teachers want all children to succeed and to develop a love of learning, yet much of their time and energy goes into controlling students’ behaviour and evaluating students according to external standards. The more one tries to reach students individually, the more one may feel conflict with other aspects of schooling, such as the need to sort students by ability or the pressure to have students conform to rules and standards.” – Young, L., Levin, B., & Wallin, D. (2014). Understanding Canadian schools: An Introduction to Educational Administration (5th ed.).

 

Sadly the above paragraph is one of the main problems that both teachers and parents are struggling with. We want to give students independence and give them the skills to question the world around them, yet our arms are twisted behind our backs with (outdated) curriculum outcomes, budgeting issues, and more responsibilities than ever before. Many educators come into the field to make a difference and help their kids embrace learning… but if they want to keep their job they are required to teach to the test.

 

 

Canadians are more lucky than our American counterparts. The no child left behind policy has decimated their educational system, and they under perform when compared to the First World countries. Teachers go through years of University learning the tools on how to maximize learning for each individual student, and then we enter the classroom and get burdened with a literal mountain of work and lose sight of why we entered the field.

 

JFK’s famous line “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you an do for your country” applies here. When it comes to education, the teachers should not be receiving all these burdens from the get-go. The number one contributing factor to student performance has been parents involvement in their child’s education for decades now. Dozens of major studies have confirmed this. So really, ask not what your teacher can do for you, but what you can do for your teacher is a motto I’d personally prefer to have implanted in the minds of all students and parents.

 

Teacher’s who’ve recently graduated. What are your tips to current student-teachers who are about to enter the field?

White’s have fun, others have none

I’ve been in Mike Cappello’s classroom to learn about controversial issues, as well as some anti-oppression conferences a month ago. Mike Cappello is an ‘expert’ on white privilege and racism, and it appears he has been rubbing off on some of the students and I. While at the University bar working on a group project, students and I talked about our ‘alcohol limit’ that we handle, and the stories that have influenced what our ‘limit’ is. We both realized quickly that we can have this conversation without fear of being judged or labelled due to us being white and presentable (aka in “nice clothes”). Had we been a marginalized and oppressed group such as the First Nations, we would have likely been judged by any ears that heard us (or just in general for being in a bar). Our conversation then switched to white privilege.

Student Teachers and New Teachers: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

The teaching profession seems to be in the middle of a vast series of changes that are shifting the very nature of our profession. The old teaching format: Meet the curriculum, give the students content, and prepare them for university with tests and papers. The new teaching format: Meet the students needs, give them skills for independent learning, prepare them for the real world. Both have pros and cons.

Personally I enjoy the new teaching format. The problem with the new format is that we have to throw it on top of the already established method. At the end of the day, we as educators need to meet the curriculum and give students a final grade, and often times, give a final exam. This makes it difficult to meet the requirements and show the benefits of the new method. The old format also appears to be more  time and curriculum friendly towards teachers. I say appears because many of us have difficulties giving the new format the required time and dedicated it requires to really show off the punch it packs.

Every teacher has different opinions on both of these methods and we as students are having to use both at the same time. This is leading to a lot of confusion and chaos for both the students, teachers, and student-teachers in the schools and universities. I feel that if we were sent five years back in time to be taught how to teach, it would be a lot more clear what we need to do (I would still prefer the new format of teaching however). Additionally I feel that if we were sent five years into the future, we would have a much better idea on what we need to do as educators as most school systems would have finally adapted. What are your thoughts on this?

90% of Effort is for Students who give 10%

We are teachers are going to send 90% of our efforts towards students who AREN’T as likely to succeed. The student whom have good study skills, get homework done on time, do homework and assignments well, and contribute to the class could learn everything themselves. They don’t NEED help. We aren’t here for them, we don’t differentiate or skill-build for these students. They will already be successful in the classroom.  We do all these things for the students that aren’t as likely to succeed. Students that don’t complete their homework, don’t do a proper job of assignments, don’t listen to feedback they are given are the ones we will need to struggle to meet outcomes we set.

Personally I don’t think exams should be a thing we have.. or at least grade high. Inquiry project that receive multiple drafts, feedbacks, and skill-building sessions should be the major assessments. Students might not be great test takers or maybe they weren’t able to sleep last night. Every person who’s gone through school has taken an exam that they bombed due to whatever reason. This is not proper assessment of learning. If students truly did bomb a major assignment, I will give them the option to re-write it (or something similar).

In my assessment plan for one of my courses, I made an end goal of a unit being a dialectical thinking essay. My instruction and assessments for learning were based on skill-building, how do write an essay, how to source, and how to support an argument. They first do a one page outline worth 2%, then a rough draft of their essay worth 10%, then a final essay worth 23%. If they don’t do a good job of their final essay, they are permitted to re-write it. The grade of this final essay will be made up of the average of both essays (Essay 1 gets 40%. Essay 2 gets 80%. Students get a total of 60%). Late marks and Zeroes depend on the school policy and the students themselves. Shape your teaching and policies to your students. Personally I want students have every assignment I give them completed it (and passed) in order to pass my class. If they fail an assignment they can re-do it. If they don’t complete their work the day it’s due, they can stay in my class during lunch and/or after-school to finish it and for my feedback.