When you know your why…

This is one of my favourite videos around. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched it.

  1. The man in the video can seriously sing!
  2. Michael Jr’s message I think is so important. When people know why they are doing something – whether it’s a job, school, to help someone, etc. – they’ll typically do it with more purpose and intent. I find this especially true when working with students on Math… If they can see how the Math concepts will help them in the real world, most of them are more likely to be successful.


10-Day Countdown… :(

As tomorrow marks the 10-day countdown until Winter Holidays, it also marks the 10-day countdown until internship is complete.  To say the least, I’m feeling quite scared about the whole thing.  I know I learned so much and grew since the beginning of September, but I’m still shocked at the fact that I will be a certified teacher in four months!

As I put the final touches on my professional portfolio, I look back at all the fun I had over the past four months.  There were definitely struggles, but I am proud of the work I have done since the beginning of the year.  People always say that it goes by fast, but never would I have thought this fast!

I have to admit, I’m really looking forward to the next two weeks.  Tomorrow I get to go back to my Health 9 class as we move onto Mental Illness, Tragic Death, and Suicide.  Though this is a tough unit to get excited about, I think the teacher and I are setting it up in a way that it won’t be a dry or saddening unit.  This unit is full of guest speakers, and our very first Learning Agreement that we made together (a copy to come when it is completed)!  Tomorrow, we have the guidance counsellor coming to share his knowledge on these topics, and help students identify warning signs and strategies for someone who is coping with a tragic death or suicide.  A few days later, we have the two founders of Understand Us coming to talk to us about mental illness, why they think it is important to discuss, and how their organization is helping people with mental illnesses.  Just as our inquiry projects begin, we’re having the Kids Help Phone in to talk about how they can benefit someone who is suffering from depression, as well as many other challenges our students may be facing.  I really hope the students get as much as they can from this unit so that they know how to appropriately create awareness for these topics in the future.

This weekend also marks the 25th Anniversary of the Balfour Classic!  As the assistant coach of the Jr. Girls basketball team, I am so excited to be part of this tournament.  I remember playing in this tournament when I was in high school, and often think back on what a blast it was.  Since this year marks the 25th Anniversary, we have some “extra’s” going on throughout the weekend as well!

I am so grateful to be helping out with the Jr. Girls basketball team.  This group of girls are so much fun to work with, and I feel connected to Balfour in a whole new way.  I’m enjoying getting to know students I’ve never met before, or getting to know students I have taught a bit better.  Talking with my co-op the other day, we were talking about how nice it is that basketball season runs until the middle of March.  It will give me another reason to keep coming back to Balfour and feeling like I’m still connected to the school.

Here is to hoping the next 10 days don’t go by too fast!

Only 5 weeks left?!

First off, let me say – oh my goodness, I cannot believe there are only five weeks left of internship! People always say that it goes by fast, but never would I have thought it would go this fast.

I have had the opportunity to spend the last two weeks in the “Making Connections Everywhere” (MCE) classroom. This room’s focus is to keep at-risk youth at school. This room is made up of 47 students in grades 10 and 11. Although there are 47 students enrolled, there was usually about 20 students a day that showed up. It was really interesting to see how these two teachers in the program were working together to ensure these students succeeded.

When I was there, we spent a lot of time working on math. The good thing about this math was that students worked from booklets, so no one was behind/ missing a lot of instruction when they did come to class. It was also nice to see math that they called real-world math. We were working on grocery shopping on a budget, finding the best deals while shopping, and converting pounds of apples into kilograms. I thought at how good this would be for other students too – math that actually makes sense in their lives.

I have to admit, the first two or three days in MCE I felt a little useless. I found these students very reluctant to talk to me or work with me. After hearing bits about their lives, I quickly realized how hard it would be to trust someone new in their lives, especially an intern who they’ve never seen before. It wasn’t until the fourth day when we had a substitute teacher that the students actually talked to me. For once, they asked for help! I thought it was a huge step that some were starting to trust me and interact with me. It also helped that I have a brother similar in age who also listened to 2 Chainz. As soon as I started singing along to one of his songs that the kids were playing, some finally started to work with me.

This classroom was so much fun. I instantly noticed how relaxed the environment was compared to a regular classroom. The students were treated as young adults, and the teacher was super real with them. I’m not saying that this shouldn’t be the case in regular classes, I just felt that the kids seemed more comfortable and relaxed in this space.

I can really see myself working in a class like this in the future. I think it’d be fun to find neat ways to tie their interests to the curriculum. For example, for ELA they just finished analyzing Tupac’s lyrics, then had to write their own poetry. How much fun would that be?!

Tomorrow I start in the Shirley Schneider Support Centre. The SSSC is an program at Balfour for females who are pregnant or are already young mothers. I’m planning on spending the next week there, learning how teachers in there are tying the curriculum to things relevant to these young women, such as prenatal health. I can’t wait to see what goes on!

On a sport note, basketball season has officially started!! I could not be more excited to be in the gym assistant coaching an awesome group of girls. I think the head coach and I are going to have a great time, and hopefully the Jr. Girls feel the same way.

And so it continues…

As my three-week block is coming to an end (early next week) I’m finally starting to feel like a real teacher.  I’m finding myself busy and slightly stressed, but not stressed enough to panic.  I don’t mind the stress, because from what I hear, that’s normal during my 3-week block.  My two health classes have been quite an experience.  There are tons of challenges and interesting behaviours that I have come across over the past month, and I’m learning so much from these two groups of students.  My cooperating teacher and I were talking about it one day, as I felt deflated and like I wasn’t getting through.  She brought up a good point – I’m lucky I’m experiencing these challenges now with so many support people around me, as opposed to when I get a job and am teaching on my own.  It made me feel more comfortable and confident in what I was doing.

My grade nine tutorial class is my favourite hour of the day.  These 10 students are such a great group of kids and everyday I feel like I’m getting to know them better and better.  Though some days I have my struggles with some of them, most days are a lot of fun and I really enjoy it.  Eight of my ten tutorial students are also in one of my health classes, so I see most of them for another hour each day.  I’ve realized that by having these specific students in mind when planning my lessons, I have become more adaptive in my lessons.  For some reason, I almost feel defensive about these kids, and want to make sure they are getting what they need to be successful.  As it turns out, there are quite a few others who need the same supports, so most of my students are also benefitting.

My health classes are filled with quite a few defiant students.  I’m still trying to figure out how I can help them be successful.  I have to admit, I find it a little frustrating when someone is fully capable to do the work, he/she just refuses to work on it, then refuses to give suggestions as to how they would like to learn.  I think coming from the Learning Resource program, I find myself constantly trying to figure out what works for them, where some teachers may have already started to let things slide.

3-way conferences are coming up next week, and I’m looking forward to meeting the guardians of my tutorial kids.  I’ve exchanged e-mails with most of the parents, but it will be nice to finally meet them face-to-face and talk about how their son/daughter is doing so far in grade nine.

Man oh man, who knew this job came with so many meetings and e-mails?!  I feel like any extra energy I have throughout the day is donated to responding to e-mails or planning/attending meetings with other staff members!  Having said that, the many meetings in the past month have been quite beneficial!  I learned how to collaborate effectively, make semester/year long plans, and have been exposed to numerous ways of helping struggling students.

Slam Poetry at it’s Finest

I found this video on Facebook and couldn’t help but have similar thoughts towards education as this man does. Just from the brief time I’ve spent in the EAL rooms, I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for these students who barely understand their own language to figure out our language in order to stay in school.



Mentorship Interview

Prior to participating in my interview with Shauna, my friend told me about a software that I could download that would record both the video and audio of our Skype conversation.  So last week I downloaded Vodburner and was all set for my interview.

About ten minutes into my Skype call with Shauna, I lost the audio recording, and ten minutes later, the video recording failed as well.  Therefore, here is a brief summary of my interview with Shauna:

-Do you think technology is important to include within your classroom?  Shauna explained that she finds technology to become a crucial part of her classroom.  She sees using technology more than just typing up a word document and handing it in; her and her students are always looking for new apps to try on their two iPads, Issac and Ivey, or interacting with other classrooms.  She did mention that she only sees technology as being useful when they are using it for something that couldn’t be done another way.  For example, skyping classrooms in California, Spain, New York City, Delaware, and South Korea in the near future.  She was even telling me how they facetimed one of her students while she was in DisneyWorld, and how her parents skyped with them as they skiied down a run at Whistler mountain!  She believes that it is times like these when the walls of the school disappear and students can learn outside of the the four walls of the classroom.  One thing Shauna stressed was making technology purposeful.  Her motto are the three C’s: collaborate, create, and communicate.  If using technology doesn’t apply to one of those, there might be a more effective way for the students to learn.

-How does technology benefit/hinder Churchill’s beliefs as an Alternative School? Benefits: can host several tenants, and allow individualized self-paced learning.  She explained that in her classroom students are constantly moving at different paces.  Technology benefits those students that need additional time, but also those that may move at a quicker pace.  She continued on to share that part of Churchill is allowing students to take an idea an run with it.  Technology allows that to take place, as students can “run with it” at their own pace.  Hinders: she explained that some people may view technology as time spent away from nature and “real world” activities.

-Do you have any “go to” resources that you look at for ideas regarding teaching, technology, assessment, etc.?  She began by saying that her resources continually change, depending on what she is looking for at the time.  Blogs she believed were her go-to’s.  She explained that if you read a variety of blogs, you’ll learn a variety of information from different sources.  She also explained how Twitter is beginning to be such a valuable resource.  She said that if you follow enough good people (professionals, bloggers, etc.) you are bound to find something.  Her latest go-to resource is Skype In the Classroom.  She explained how she signed up at this site, and sent out requests to teachers from around the world.  From that, her class has skyped with classrooms in California, Spain, New York City, Delaware, and have set up Pen Pals with a school in Uganda.

-What is one thing teachers need to be aware of when taking students on an online adventure?  First off, she said you will be faced with problems; anticipate the problems, and manage expectations accordingly.  She told me that before I skyped in with her class for the first time, they went over what was expected of them as participants, what was expected of our skype conversation, and what problems could arise.  She said it helped her and her students prepare for the numerous situations that could occur.  She also explained that since some of her students are already blogging, they had a conversation about digital citizenship, being aware of what they are posting, but also being aware of who is viewing and commenting on their blogs.  She explained how she has taken instances of cyber bullying and digital citizenship and turned them into teachable moments with her students.

-What is your best advice for beginner teachers who want to connect their students learning to technology?  Plain and simple: try, and if it doesn’t work, try and try again.  She also said that find something you like and share it with your students; eventually they will start coming to you with new things they found, and utilizing technology will become contagious.

-What is the best thing about incorporating technology into the classroom?  What is the worst thing?  She believed the best thing to be authentication.  She explained how when she told her students a particular assignment would be showcased on her blog for everyone to see, their quality of work increased.  Just like you and me, students want their product that will be made public to be a product they can be proud of.  She also said that having fun with it, and trying new things regarding technology.  The worst thing she believed was always searching for the next big thing.  She said that sometimes she’d be having so much fun trying all these new things, that she was tired of constantly searching.

Overall, I learned not to trust Vodburner; technology is part of our present and future; and when incorporated effectively, it can really benefit both our students and us as educators!