The bridal shower that I has way back in May was so nice and so much fun! Thank youto everybody who came! I’m a very lucky bride to have had not one but two! I also had a lot of fun making the thank you cards. I was at chad’s cabin and it was the warmest day ever! I painted and wrote letters on the deck. so lovely.
“…life in a northern town” December 14, 2009
Today was the Santa Clause parade… in -40 weather. And guess what? It was such a good afternoon. Like just the best.
Walking back to Ducharme from the High school, bundled up, with three of my students was such a precious time. It really touched my heart. I love these kids. They are so special and I wish them the absolute best in life. Lord, please be with these little people.
I will miss them dearly. That walk back to school filled me up. I know now why this is a rewarded profession.
… Breathing Out December 9, 2009
Remember way back in August when I was bracing myself for this experience? When I am getting mentally and emotionally ready for embarking on this journey? I was trying to prep and plan when I had no idea what to expect; I was packing for a place that I had never been; I was trying to learn about a culture that I had no experience with. Remember how groundless I felt?
And now. This experience is coming to closure. How fast it has gone! It was high, and it was low. It was real. It has my blood and tears. It has my Joy. I have loved it. It has stressed me. I have been homesick, and I am felt at home. I have thought that I could do this for the rest of my life and be happy. Other times I felt suffocated and contained. I have loved the students. I love the land. I will think about these kids for the rest of my life. I will happily leave some of my Heart here.
This experience has felt like a breath.
Inhale. Plan and prep. Get to know the students. Learn the school. Get comfortable in the community. Figure out what works and what doesn’t. Unlearn and relearn. My body expands. It creates room for people and place. My lungs fill up with new air, air that I have not breathed before.
Exhale. Decompress. Sift through. Revisit. Reflect. My lungs have taken what they need, and the rest is going back out… but the air is still moving through a passage. I have time to take things that I may have missed before. Send out what I really don’t want. Gear down. Ramp down. Disconnect from what has been life-giving and life-changing. Create separation from what I have been so effused to: the kids, this routine, this land, this air.
and already, with the exhale, thoughts shift to the next breath -the next experience.
The point where inhale turns to exhale is a fraction of a second. If you don’t focus on it then you miss it. That was like my three-week teaching block. In a way, it felt like I had everything set up, and I just had to move through it. But then again, I know there were times when I felt like I had nothing set up, and that I was in quicksand. Regardless, it was quick. It was the move through neutral in my standard. It is point where the direction of air changes in my lungs.
Right now, I am still in the exhale. Not teaching, but still around. Visiting and observing. Feels like full-time reflecting, haha. But I am grateful for the space and time to do this. I am grateful that my breath has time to complete its passage.
Last friday I taught my last lesson under observation. I wasn’t nervous; I knew what I was going to teach and how we were going to move through the morning: morning routine…science inquiry lesson…activity…. so pleasant, calm but engaging.
I am learning that it is hard for a grade one class to be calm. haha. I expected the lesson to run smoother, I did not expect defiance at 9 am, and I expected the students to respond to the lesson. So, again, I have learned that, have expectations, yes, but role with what the day brings.
During and at the end of the lesson, I felt like I hadn’t really impressed, didn’t really have it together, and didn’t scaffold the students enough to meet success. Not a good feeling at the closure of a lesson.
BUT!!!! that was how I was feeling BEFORE debriefing. Really, it went well. The kids learned, and the kids enjoyed themselves. Isn’t this the point?
Sometimes I am too hard on myself. But I wouldn’t change that, because that is what drives me. I don’t feel like I am too hard on the kids, so that is the main thing. Questions that I need to ask myself:
How did I make the kids feel today? Are they advocated for? Is this space a safe place for them? Is there structure? Security? Do they feel needed? Like they belong? Am I am instrument of Peace? Do they feel listened to? Am I encouraging them? Am I empowering them?
These are things I need to write on my desk.
Good afternoon, Nortep November 4, 2009
I had my Advisor visit yesterday from NORTEP. It went well -it did! Well…
I feel like it was a very honest lesson; everything that happened in the classroom when she was observing actually happens. How I handled everything is actually how I handle it. I felt overwhelmed -which is how I feel; I felt groundless -which is how I feel; I was really scattered, I was a whirlwind, and I was juggling everything. And so! I was actually happy that she saw this lesson, because I was able to get really good feedback. After the lesson, when I finally got the kids out of the school doors and on their merry way, I came back and said: “Thats what happens! I don’t know what to do, can we talk about it?!?” And we did. And it was great.
One thing I forgot to mention was that I had fun in the lesson. I took them outside and we learned about the needs of animals. They had fun too.
I learned three main things during that lesson:
1. engagement is your classroom management. Outside: the kids ran, they had fun, they stayed on-task, they followed directions. And guess what? Pretty much all of them could tell me the four components of habitat (and so I met my objective).
2. One concept taught well is better than many taught not so well. This is what Carol told me. When I was designing my units, I made them big and beautiful. Two lessons for each concept. But now that I am in the classroom, I see that a) it is not with realistic within the timeframe of a day and b) the concept will get lost. These students need quick, short and fun. Not three days of connect the dots.
3. Structure is good. Genuine seat work can still be your friend. I was trying to get the kids to draw a picture of an animal in a habitat. And for the first ten minutes, they were out of their desks, not working, off-task, and everything. Ug. I thought it was the fault of the lesson. So I dropped the hammer, made them sit down and be quiet and work. Guess what? They all provided me with a drawing wich met some of the components. No classroom structure = off-task students. Classroom structure provides the security to learn.
‘Tis the season for…Report cards? November 2, 2009
Yes. It is the time for evaluations!! Which is actually kind of fun -I feel like a real teacher 🙂 I am in charge of three subjects, and so today I was at the school from nine to six (a break for church) getting things ready for the week, final assessments, and, yes, marking. It was a good day though. I had my music going, and I felt like I might be able to handle this job.
It felt good to go over the assignments that I have been doing with the kids. The end of October was kind of a slump for me; I just felt like I wasn’t accomplishing anything. My assignments were not getting done as I expected them to be, my plans were not following through, and it just seemed that the days were taking forever. Yes, October was not the best.
But now it is November! Hello new month! Hello full-time teaching (in a week)! Hello evaluations! And Hello Reflections! As I said, it was so good to go over marks and the work of the students, to see where they started and where they have come and where they need to go. And its good for me as Teacher, because I can see what organization tactics worked, and what I need to change.
Also! What slipped out of my mind in October… like art, as a subject with expectations and skills. I am supposed to evaluate art… and it has hit me know that I do not have much to evaluate -oops. I have time to do two art lessons this week, and so I must make them assess-able. I found a really good art checklist for evaluation, and will use this to guide my lesson. It’s true: one of the first steps to planning and designing lessons in assessment -having criteria and measurable objectives.
Well! Must get back to planning and marking. This has just been such a good day.
Paper classrooms October 23, 2009
Elementary schools use a lot of paper. Everywhere. Paper on the bulletin boards, paper for the manipulatives, paper for worksheets, paper for free time, paper for art class, everything. Everywhere. New season? Let’s put new paper up. New unit? lets photocopy a million worksheets.
If you are teaching school, do you need to use so much paper? It seems that the answer is kind of yes. I look at some of the really awesome classrooms, and neat art projects, and say “man, that classroom seems to be working…but everything is paper!” Is that what makes a functioning day? By having everything photocopied, having “busy work” available for speedy students?
Yesterday I found some neat colouring pictures. So I photocopied 30 copies. When the students were done their work, they could grab a paper and colour. All the pages will end up in the garbage (not the recycling bin) never to be thought of again. BUT it did provide a task for these students do to, which they enjoyed, and helped with classroom management.
And so, for the sake of my sanity and stillness, do I become a photocopier addict and have a more settled classroom?
Now, I know that this isn’t just about busy work, that I could find them something un-paper to do, but the fact is that worksheets do help these kids learn. And if I want to facilitate learning…
I might just have to get over this personal conundrum, ignore my environmental tendency, for these next two months. When (and if) I become a classroom teacher, then my classroom can embody the three R’s; until then, I just have to hang tight for a little while and not think about the trees. … … BUT OH THE LOVELY TREES!! I cringe when I walk in the bush right now because I am the cause of the destruction of their brothers and sisters. Maybe “The Golden Spruce” was not a good book to read during this time…
A school uses approximately 3 500 trees a year for paper. But before you start hyperventilating, a treeplanter (a pounder that it) can plant that on a good day. Isn’t that cool? (it would take me almost two and a half). I have planted forests! That makes me happy. I should remember that when I discount art projects because of the paper use.