Monthly Archives: September 2014

Sometimes Its Important to be with your “People”

September can be a challenging month for many teachers.  You have to get back in that routine of being organized, being on top of everything going on in your class and getting things off to a good start. For myself, that challenge also included relearning a curriculum of a grade I had not been around in a few years, figuring out a new staff and admin. being that I was in a new school and most fun of all, new government assessments.  There were a few unexpected hurdles thrown my way and things I was not quite ready for.

So on Friday night I was really not sure I wanted to go to EdcampPSD70 like I had intended for weeks.  It was a new Edcamp being put on by many great people out in Parkland School Division.  I knew a lot of people going, many of my friends were the ones that were putting it on and I had been looking forward to it.  However, it had been a rough week for a variety of reasons and I thought that perhaps it was better to just lay low and stay home.

But that morning, my alarm went off and I made myself get out of bed and looking back now, I am so glad I made myself do this. Being surrounded by educators passionate about student learning was just the antidote to what was troubling me.  I shared my love of Makerspace tools and was able to talk to other teachers about their ideas on how they could potentially use them in their own classrooms as well as give me even more ideas for my own use.  I learned new ways to help my students with numbers in math because teachers got together and shared ideas and books they had used that were working in their own classrooms.  I now had something I could walk into class with Monday morning to share with my kids. I did some really crazy group activities thought up by the inventive Felicia Ochs that again I saw had potential for using with my littles. But most importantly I renewed connections, I had a chance to talk to Rhonda Jessen about how #OLCMooc was going, I talked to Paige Brimacombe about things going on in our respective classrooms and planning future class connections.  I also made new connections meeting Doug  Kucher, a great teacher out of Tomahawk and we talked ipad Apps, Makerspace tools and even talked about connecting our classes for future Skype activities.  I felt like I was home, I was with my people, people who got me, my passion for educating my students in ways that would bring out the best in them and loved this job as much as I do.  And even though I was a wee bit surprised by Kelli Holden and Dana Ariss adding me to their amazing opening presentation, I loved hanging out with them throughout the day.  I walked out of EdcampPSD rejuventated and passionate about my job again and that is what edcamps are all about.   I thank the group at Parkland School Division for giving me the opportunity to do all the things above and can’t wait to see what they come up with next year.

So if you are looking to connect with educators, learn something new and even share a few things you have found that works in your classes, I suggest you check out Edcampyeg coming up on Oct. 18th or even check out the Ignite Session being put on by Dean Shareski here in Edmonton on Oct. 8th.   Who knows you might even

Me and the Girls of PSD - Paige, Kelli and Dana

Me and the Girls of PSD – Paige, Kelli and Dana

find some “people” of your own.

I’m Still Learning

So it’s funny how much I still need to learn at times. I have been teaching for almost twenty years now and you’d think I could say, yup I got this now, but I learned two valuable lessons this week. Ones that I think are important for many of us teacher types, both beginning and veteran, to remember. However to do this I need to go back a few days to the beginning of the week, to the start of the new school year….
I had spent much time getting the room set up just so – putting certain things here, setting other things there because in my mind I had a vision of this classroom and was going to make sure my classroom matched this idea I had in my head. Then I had planned what I thought would be a great first week – making sure I had a variety of things going on throughout the week that would set the tone for the class but would also keep MY students engaged. ( Yes… Trust me, looking back I know how this sounds… the me a week later shakes my head at myself)
So then I met my new group of students and my little vision got knocked off kilter more than just a little – things didn’t go quite like I thought they would, the students had their own individual ideas and quirks that I was not quite ready for. But I still tried to control things, keep things on the course I had envisioned, I wasn’t ready to let things go, I would make it go back to that original vision I had in my head…l would make them bend and go my way. And I know many won’t be surprised, but it didn’t happen.

And looking back now as the week finishes, I realize you know what, it shouldn’t have happened. Yes, I can definitely set the tone but those kids that walk in the door, they are the ones that need to help shape that vision of what our class is going to be this year. What their hopes are, what their needs are, what their dreams are…..these all matter. Together they will help me shape a vision of what OUR class is going to look like this year. Yes, I know they are only grade three students, some of them 7 or 8 years old, but they have a voice. Trust me on that one. They clearly shared with me this week already “Mrs. D. this book is awesome, I like it.” “I find writing hard, I’m not very good at it.” “I loved that we got to paint rocks today.” My little gang of creators, makers, artists, scientists, writers and much more are going to help me shape the classroom we are going to have this year. (and trust me on this one, I think it’s going to be quite the ride)

The other lesson I learned is that there’s always a new day. Yeah, maybe this week some of my kids recreated the scene from Kindergarten Cop with the fire drill scene, maybe some of them got paint all over the place in art, even in places I can’t quite figure out how they did it, maybe some of them weren’t the greatest listeners and followers of my instructions but really in the big scheme of things, tomorrow is a new day, so don’t dwell on the things that might not have been the greatest, remember the things that were great. Remember how a group worked and collaborated together on day one to build a great spaghetti marshmellow tower, remember that many were so excited asked if they could read in the new reading corner, could they use the maker bins when they finished their work in class, and remember how one little girl wrote in her agenda today “This week I liked my teacher, Mrs. D.” That’s what I should focus on and you know what, I’m going to….because who knows what adventures I’m going to face next week 🙂