Monthly Archives: November 2014

At The Heart of It All

For those who don’t know me, you need to know one thing…. I am very passionate about what I do.  I will even admit, I can be kind of a wrecking ball at times.  I work hard at what I do because I believe what I do is a very important job.  So, it should not come to any surprise that, at times, this passion can get me into trouble.  There are those who do not understand where I am coming from and while I know it is important to realize that everyone is at a different place in their own journey, I sometimes get so excited I can be a bit overwhelming.  And, then, of course there are those who might come from a different perspective than myself and so then the debates begin, which I really do enjoy.

What is the point of all this you are wondering? Well, not too long ago, a debate occurred on twitter with myself, some other educators and someone on twitter about the validity of social media in an educational sense.  A lot of things were shared back and forth on both sides, but one comment shared really stuck out for me as I tried to go to sleep last night.  This person shared that “teachers are at the heart of education….” and while I think this is a great sentiment and a nice thought, I really will say I disagree.  For me, my students are at the heart of education.  Everything I do, every activity I come up with, every idea and strategy I use comes from me thinking of my students and how best I can help them learn and be successful. I have students that come into my classroom and the things I teach will be grasped so easily, I know I need to challenge them.  But I will also have students who come into my classroom challenged, where things do not come so easily and now I want to find ways to reach them and help them so that they too can be successful in my room.

And guess what… social media is a tool, a very powerful tool that has helped me.  I need an idea on how to adapt a lesson, I send a question out and the professional learning network I have is there to share ideas and strategies they have used that might help me.  I want a suggestion for a book that might reach that one student I have that just doesn’t seem to like reading, I know again I will find a multitude of ideas to help me.  I am wanting to give my students a chance to see their learning come to life, well social media has flattened the walls of my classroom. My students have talked to authors who have written books they loved, shared ideas with other students across the globe about what they have been learning and how these other students learn, and so much more.  Some of the  most powerful moments I have had was when I saw one of my students’ face light up when I told them Mayor Iveson tweeted out he loved their Minecraft design,  and when during a livestream event, my students’ question was answered personally by the author whose book we had just read, this girl just couldn’t believe it.

Doing my demo of learning this week, I had parent after parent tell me their child was excited to come to school, and when they asked what had happened at school that day, instead of the “I don’t know” that many offer, theirs had stories to tell and share about our adventures.  So that tells me I am doing something right.  And please know I am not alone in realizing this, there are so many passionate educators out there who know, when used well, authentic and engaging learning experiences can come from the use of social media.

So to this person I say you are right, social media is just a tool, but it is a tool I will use, for myself and my students because for me, they are at the heart of it all.

I Will Remember….

So many of my PLN may not know this but my husband has been a member of the Canadian forces for over 20 years.  While I am not shy to pronounce that I am a teacher and most people that know me, know my occupation, my husband is much more quiet about his job and what he does.  The funny thing I bug him about his job all the time – all the acronyms that they come up with along with the reams of rules and regulations that need to be followed for the simplest things.  I am quick to complain about his job when he is home late for meetings and I have to do dayhome pickup or when he was posted away and couldn’t come home when our daughter spent a few days in the hospital because of an asthma attack.

The thing that many do not know and I am guessing he included, is that I am very proud to be a military wife.  When he puts on his dress uniform with its multitude of medals and ribbons that stand for things I do not understand, it does not matter because it means something and is very important to him which is therefore important to me. Many do not know that my husband spent close to 9 months in Afghanistan a few years ago.  This was a great sacrifice because our daughter was not even a year old when he went. He missed her first words, her first steps, the first time she completely slept through the night. Our only contact for that time was static-filled satellite calls at weird times of the day and night because of the time change. Many people asked if I was afraid when he was over there and why I didn’t tell him not to go.  To this I say of course I was scared, but that didn’t matter because he had an important job to do and he was willing to go over there and do it because that was what he was asked to do.  When he came home, he shared many pictures of the nicer aspects of what he saw and did over there.  I have shared many powerpoints with my students based on his own photographs of his time over there. As for the not so nice aspects, we never talked too indepth about it because it was hard for both him and me.  I had asked him whenever we talked, to tell him he was always safe, never in danger because that was what I needed.  However, I knew there were times that this was not so true because he saw things that caused him months of sleepless nights when he came home.

Our daughter asked a few nights ago why her daddy didn’t die like the other soldiers did (she is only 5 years old so things are very literal to her these days).  This honestly made me stop because I wanted to think of a response that answered her question rather than brushing it off and hiding away from it.  I told her because we were lucky, luckier than many others who lost fathers, husbands, brothers, uncles and sons. I am proud of my husband and what he does, what he stands for – freedom, sacrifice, Canada.  Today on this November 11th, I stood with my husband, daughter and many others to remember those who we lost because I am part of another family, a military family which I am proud to be a part of.

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A Funny Thing Happened in Twitter

So anyone who knows me personally knows I’ve been a fiend when it comes to the Twitter since I joined a year and a half ago. You name a Twitter chat, I’ve probably tripped over and into it – #cdnedchat #4thchat, #mbechat are only the tip of the iceberg. I won’t lie, I dove deep end into the pool because it was just so fascinating to meet other like minded educators who were passionate about the job we do.
Fast forward to a few months ago – due to personal family reasons I decided to take a new job. I thought it would be much like the job I had been doing so the change would be slight. Boy, was I wrong. The new job came with a multitude of challenges and obstacles – on a daily, if not hourly basis which threw me off my stride more than once. I was dealing with challenging students, parents with concerns, new standardized tests, and so much more. Plus I had been asked to help the district in sharing the things I do to connect my students with other teachers, which was more responsibilities. Don’t get me wrong, I loved what I was doing but I was piling more and more work on myself and tiring myself out, burning myself out and it was only month two of the school year. Quite often, after a rough day, feeling like I was banging my head against a wall I came home and just did not have the time, energy or wherewithal for my favourite Twitter chats. At times, I snuck in and lurked but more often than not, I missed them.
But one chat I would make sure to try not to miss was one that is not like all other chats and that is #weirded chats on Wednesday nights. If you haven’t had the chance to lurk or hang out in this chat, hosted by @theweirdteacher himself or one of this group, you need to. Don’t get me wrong, we in this chat (and yes I do add myself to is group, but just on the periphery) are a bunch of teachers that look at things in just a slight different way and are quite proud of that. The chats have revolved around such themes as the Muppets, Superheroes, Robin Williams but also more serious ones such as when the events that went down in Ferguson. What I love about this chat is how such irreverent themes can bring about such amazing insights and conversations. When I go to this chat, I honestly feel normal which is not something I get in my current work situation. People in this chat get my passion for my job, how I want to do just more than hand out a worksheet to my students and say fill in the blanks. Quite often, after this chat, I feel rejuvenated and able to get back on the horse so to speak. They are really a special bunch that hang out there, trust me (don’t get me started on the night #addinyourpantstosongtitle was a hashtag that ran away)
So now I have to share what was a highlight for me. Last night somehow someway our ingenious host of #weirded was able to get Bobak Ferdowsi aka the Mohawk guy from NASA to come into the chat and talk to the bunch of us about science, space and so much more. Unfortunately I was in and out due to my little peanut (Grrr real life interfering) but I got a chance to actually talk via Twitter and share ideas with him about what science is like in my room of crazy. It honestly was a surreal experience. It took me until this morning to fully digest it.
So what’s the point of all this? Sometimes it’s important to look past the challenges and not get bogged down in the stuff that can drag you down I guess. You might miss golden opportunities like I would have if I hadn’t decided to stop by last night.
I think Ferris summed it up well….

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