Moving Forward, Never Backward

If you haven’t noticed yet this blog has been updated at a snail’s pace. As a full time, first year teacher, I found it a great challenge to just sit down and write. Moving forward in your educational career provides significant challenges, but moving forward in life provides even greater ones. When my beautiful daughter was born in December, I made a giant leap in life. You have no idea the impacts of parenthood until you become a parent. I have observed my friends for a few years now and kept telling myself “It can’t be that big of change… they should be able to come hang out!”. Well, news flash past David, it does and will continue to be a HUGE change. This directly applies to my teaching career as well.

I will constantly be forced to make tough choices, but in the end it is all the name of family; which to me includes my colleagues, and most importantly my students. I always get funny looks when I talk about “my kids”, until people realize I’m a teacher. My practice is always student first, and will always be student first. If something works for them, we continue it, if something does not, I will reflect on it, and make adjustments to best suit their needs. Interestingly, this is the same way my wife and I have approached parenting. The parallels, I’m finding, are nearly endless.

However, in light of the fact I do have very little time, this blog will be shutting down. As I continue to hunt for the next big thing in my teaching career, I will leave it up as testimony to the incredibly hard work I have put forth as I start my life long passion of parenting and teaching. I want this space to be a symbol of growth, to demonstrate to prospective employers, colleagues, and researchers, that those that are dedicated practitioners of education, should be constantly evolving, and learning. As I sift through these pages I see so many things that I should have done different, but that’s education. We reflect, we adapt, we change.

As my final piece of advice to all budding educators: Find your passion in a field of which passion is always evident. Build your niche, do not sway from doing what you love to do. Become the educator you want to be, not through leaps and bounds, but baby steps. Use the knowledge of those around you to better yourself, never be selfish and try to keep it all for yourself.

To my ADHD peers and friends: You have been given a gift and a curse. Allow yourself time to deal with the negative and ensure you have built support to get through the tough times. Embrace your gift and empower it! By having a solid support network you can, and will thrive. Just because your brain operates differently, does not mean you cannot succeed. It will take strength, persistence, and resilience, but our gift has all of those qualities. Let yourself be free, and never be afraid to be who are!

I have greatly enjoyed posting on a blog and when I am better able to make time for it, I already have many ideas of changes I want to make. I got there through… reflection… #mic_drop.

To all of those that helped make this possible…

Thank you! From the bottom of my heart thank you. Without you I would not have been able to pursue my passion. I have learned so much from you, and I cannot wait to share that wisdom with our leaders of tomorrow. I have been empowered and inspired to become the best educator I can be. I entered the world of education, scared and unsure. Now I leave the first step of becoming a teacher, confident, ready to face each challenge head on. With each lesson there will be reflection, even though we’ve been “reflectioned” to death. I want to inspire students to be critical thinkers, as you inspired me. I hope to open the eyes of my class to the bright world of technology, and watch them discover what the world of tomorrow can be. I leave the university full of wonder, and I want my students to have that same sense of wonder and imagination. Without you, none of this would be possible. I am grateful to have had such amazing mentors in my long, yet short, journey in becoming an educator.

Again I say, thank you. Thank you for everything you have done. I hope to make you all proud.

Yours Truly in Education,
David Brown

Why I Want to Teach Secondary Math and Science…

…As a middle years trained teacher and why you should hire me as your junior science and math teacher.

Now that first interviews are long done, I find myself reflecting on some of my responses, specifically my areas of preference. Going into interviews I wanted to present a jack-of-all-trades, the super teacher, able to work in any space, any class, teaching any subject. I just want to teach… preferably close to Regina. Upon reflection, I believe I undersold exactly what I want to teach. In part I sold myself the way I did because I just wanted a job. Another part was I really did not know exactly what I want teach.

But now, after almost a month of reflection, I know in my heart what I am called to be as a teacher. So, to every principal, administrator, executive, superintendent, director, hiring personnel, etc., please read on to gain an understanding of why you should hire me as your junior science and math teacher.

Assist in transition from elementary to high school.

Who better to assist those coming from elementary school than one with experience in teaching middle years students. Having worked with grade 8 students in my internship, I have an understanding of their foundation of learning, both academically and socially. Using this knowledge I will have more patience of potential shortcomings, and will have the capability to be flexible in bringing students up to speed with high school curriculum. I want students to develop a passion for math and science, not develop a fear of these subjects as they move forward in their educational journey. Creation of authentic learning experiences will make school engaging, establishing a desire to pursue science and math after grade 10.

Collaborate closer with elementary schools to prepare students for my class.

I wish I had worked closer with the junior science and math educators in our area during internship to ensure I was providing the proper foundation for the students who are to transitioning to high school next year. As the junior science and math teacher I would reach out to elementary school educators and collaborate on the best way of creating lifelong learners in science and math. By building a bridge between elementary school and high school, students can walk into their future with confidence. Educators can be confident that their students are properly prepared for what they are about to experience.

Collaborate with senior instructors to ensure I am preparing the students for their future classes.

In order for students to see more success in the senior level sciences and maths I would collaborate with the senior science and math teachers to ensure I am providing the proper foundation for the more content focused upper year classes. The goal of a junior subject teacher should not just include content, but also provide tools to students so they can feel more comfortable and confident as they move into their senior years. In doing so, I believe we would see drop out rates decrease as the focus becomes student success.

Diverse degree and real life experiences provide significant content knowledge aligned with and beyond the curriculum.

Being middle years trained, my guess is it could be seen as I am lacking content knowledge. This could not be further from the truth. With a Bachelor of Business Education, that includes two years of pre-medicine, 10 years of work experience in the financial and information technology sectors, I have more than enough content knowledge to be successful as a secondary educator. In fact, I have the opportunity to become accredited in math and all sciences, after I have completed my two year teaching requirement.

Drive to establish a computer science and business program, that rivals top programs in the country.

One of my greatest passions in education is technology, specifically computer science. There is no program that we can take in university that can prepare you to be a CS teacher. Therefore, why not hire someone with 5 years of IT experience, that is also trained a teacher! On top of a CS program, I would love to help establish a business education program. Entrepreneurs are going to lead the way of our economy in the near future. Students need the opportunity to learn about the nuances of business, and I have the experience and enthusiasm necessary to create a program that can rival the programs that have existed for many years.

Drive to establish extra curricular opportunities outside of sports, including robotics, programming, and app design.

I am very involved in sports, but I also understand the need for opportunities beyond sports. Using my coaching experiences I would love to create a robotics team, an app or programming team, a marketing team, or any other team that gives students who are not athletic the opportunity to create school pride and experience competitive success.

And much more as can be found on my resume.

If you have read this far thank you so much for taking time out of your day to read this. I have discovered my true passion in teaching, but I want to take this deeper. I now know exactly what I want to do, who I want to be. I want to be a grade 9 and 10 science and math educator and I believe I am the best person for this job because I am middle years trained.

Thank you once again for reading,
David Brown

EPSY 400 – Keyword Assignment: Labels

Labels. This word resonates with me more than any other during our short time in EPSY 400. We have discussed this word often in almost every education class I have taken so far. “Don’t label the students”, “Labels are harmful”, “Labels diminish the status of those that we place upon them”. These are familiar phrases that we ponder as we move forward in our training to become educators. However, I do not buy it. I am labelled. I have ADHD. I do not buy into the fact that labels diminish or harm a person. People hurt people. This sounds very basic, but it is true. The label ADHD does not affect me, it is the people who refuse to understand the gift that I have. Autism is not a label that defines a person, it is the people who deny that even with autism people can be brilliant and effective members of society. The labels do not change a person. However, the counterpoint is typically “If there were no labels, then people wouldn’t generalize people”. I agree, but in western culture is that even possible? Western culture labels EVERYTHING! I’m curious to see that when I have children there is not a label maker beside where they check the health of a newborn. It is mindset that needs to change. Either we need to get rid of labels, or get rid of the stigma behind the label. My vote is for removing the stigma. Labels assist us in understanding who we are. Without my ADHD label I was lost. I was changing jobs, depressed, suicidal. Then I discovered who I was. I will be honest. I tried to shed it at first. I didn’t want to be labelled, I wanted to be normal. But, it is when I embraced my label that I found myself. I understand myself better now that I have my label. I am proud of my label. Therefore, I feel that the mindset we need to change is that labels are harmful. The labels hold power when we let them hold power. It should not define someone, but empower them to explore their label and embrace it. I wear mine with pride. ADHD, brother, son, teacher. You should too. From LGBTQ to Austism to Gifted, everyone should wear their label. That is what makes you unique. That is the difference we can start from so I can look forward to getting to knowing you better. I have a label. Do you want to get to know me better?

EPSY 217: Reflecting on the Blanket Exercise

An interesting link I’ve discovered between each of my classes that I’m taking in this final semester of my education is that stories are a great way to develop and teach content. I’ve learned about funds of knowledge and how the wealth of skills that a person develops over time comes from their life story. To the things they experience and the people they build relationships with, a person’s story is a great starting point for a lesson. I admit freely that I agree with this. However, I have to caution myself that I must remember to view the WHOLE story before making decisions about my instruction.

How does this connect to EPSY 217 and our blanket exercise you ask? The entire exercise is a story. If you have not had an opportunity to experience this exercise then please reach out to an educator for details. The exercise takes you on a journey to experience, not just read about, colonial history and the impact colonialism had on our Aboriginal people. Since the exercise is more about the experience, you begin to feel what the people felt, think critically on the actions of our forefathers, and build an understanding of the events of our past. In my opinion experiential learning provides more avenues for absorbing content than a typical direct instruction lesson. The blanket exercise envelopes you, it places you at the heart of the issue and makes one think about the problems that were in the past, now the present, and why they may have occurred. In a short time the blanket exercise takes you through a more complete history than any high school history class that I ever had the pleasure of sitting through. This exercise captures key events such as residential schools, small pox, treaties, and more. After completing the exercise one must take the time to reflect upon the story and be mindful of the experience.

As I take the time to reflect upon the experience I was able to share with with my EPSY 217 class, I ponder why are stories so prevalent now in white education. Education is moving towards an experience, rather than a world in which we just go to a building, and someone tells us the skills we should acquire to be a functional member of society. I find it fascinating that our world of education is slowly starting to pull from those that we oppressed for so long, our Aboriginal people. Storytelling is a primary way of how aboriginals share their knowledge. Throughout the blanket exercise I could not help but think that “we are now teaching through story, this is quite ironic”. There is so much power in teaching through story. The blanket exercise experience, even with the irony, has taught me why we should use story as a mode of instruction. Stories capture attention and provide imagery which engages the senses along with the mind. Stories require critical thinking skills as you must read between the lines to understand the message being provided. The blanket story may be very blunt, and the activity is very interactive, but the philosophy of storytelling is apparent. The exercise attempts to make you feel as people felt, think as they thought, live as they lived. The blanket exercise provides an authentic experience that does its best to not diminish the problems faced by our Aboriginal people.

Authenticity is an issue plaguing treaty education in our Saskatchewan schools. Token activities are typically done to ensure the box is checked, but do they truly educate our youth on the history of treaty? The blanket exercise fills a void for educators by providing students of all ages an opportunity to learn the history of treaty in an interactive and engaging manner. The beauty of this vehicle of learning is that it can be scaffolded upon to teach students concepts beyond the history. During #TreatyEdCamp, here at the University of Regina, I was fortunate enough to listen to two amazing speakers that pulled pieces of the blanket exercise into their subject areas. One of the speakers, Shauneen Pete, provided opportunities for authentic assessment using tools such as the blanket exercise. The exercise provides an opportunity to experience treaty and then reflect upon the scenario. She suggested that with the authentic experience you could utilize a traditional way of sharing knowledge, such as a story (yes, another link to story). The other speaker, Shana Graham, provided me with a mind blowing experience tying the blanket exercise to math education. Math is a subject of passion for me, so I was blown away that such a powerful exercise for teaching history could continue on through math. Concepts such as shape and space, perimeter, area, percents, and rates for example, could be taught using the blanket exercise as the foundational activity. Not only could students experience history, they would now have an opportunity to experience math. Beyond the experience is the fact it would be an authentic way of teaching treaty during math. No more tipi exercise! The blanket exercise provides a hands-on way of engaging students in treaty education and math. From there she discussed other traditional activities that link to math and it all started with the blanket exercise.

The blanket exercise is such a powerful experience and I’m very glad we did the activity as a class. Having done it before with a group of strangers it was interesting to see how having those you know around you changes the experience. Being with a group of fellow teacher candidates provided a different perspective for me, one that I see the power of this activity in my classroom. It was a great experience to be able to reflect upon with my colleagues and see and hear what they thought as educators. I am definitely going to attempt this activity in my own classroom. I had a key takeaway from my internship. It was that students enjoy learning through stories. Giving them a world to work in beyond the typical classroom inspires and engages students. This activity transports students into the world of treaty and I am excited to take this journey again. I cannot wait to walk alongside our future leaders as they explore and understand our spotted history with hopes of inspiring them to go forth and make change in our world.

Bell Let’s Talk Day – My Personal Story

This day has come and gone a few times now since I was diagnosed with ADHD and depression.  Yet, I did not share my story or voice my opinions when the event arrived.  I think I’ve posted on Facebook, sent a tweet or two, but I have not gone into my journey.  The simple man’s journey through depression, and it’s link to my ADHD.  I may not be Clara Hughes, or Michael Landsburg, but I do share in the fact I have gone down the troubled road of depression.

In an article I wrote last year I had stated that my ADHD had created moments of depression and anxiety that I did not want to delve.  However, it is time to bring to light some of the hardships of my journey through depression.  Why now? To be honest, I have people who I know listen now.  But also, this is part of the journey.  I’ve come to a place in my healing that I can share what depression was for me.

Growing up I was extremely active and very hyper, and yet not diagnosed with ADHD I’ll note.  However, in my teen years I started to experience massive mood swings and a gnawing feeling that something was wrong.  I didn’t want to hang with friends, I didn’t care about school, I started to fall into what I can only describe as a pit of sadness.  I didn’t know what was wrong, but I also never explored it as I knew that I had to “suck it up” it’s not ok for a man to be sad, “get a grip”.  Looking back I was bullied a lot in school.  My self-esteem was low, even though I had so much going for me.  I did not even connect or think about depression, even with thoughts of suicide entering my head over and over.

Heading into my adult years I found some solace in University.  I found friends that I could connect better with, I enjoyed school a lot more as I was challenged, and I found that people were more accepting of the person I knew I was.  But, I was still always frustrated, tired, and sad.  I could tell something was wrong, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.  Worse yet, I couldn’t talk about it.  To this day I have people who were close to me that I drove away with my fears, anxieties, and sadness; my depression.  There were so many days, where I would lie crying silently in my bed in University because I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving my room for class.  I lost marks, lost confidence in cooperative education employers, because I couldn’t face my depression or choose to acknowledge it.  I was a man, I wasn’t supposed to feel like this.  I had so many things going for me, I shouldn’t feel this way.

As life continued into my early career in finance I started to finally see the issue, but I never fully dug into my problems.  I looked into medication, I looked into how to fix depression, but I never talked about it.  I never explored my soul to find my true self, to figure out how to love myself.  At this time it was sort of ok to take depression meds, men never talk about there feelings, but pills are ok.  In the age of the little blue pill, of course it’s ok for men to just take meds to solve  a problem.  But, that was a band-aid fix.  And over time band-aids wear away.

I spun out of control before my ADHD diagnoses.  I made terrible life choices, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t work, I couldn’t function in society.  I was a mess.  It was at that point I even started to research the best way to take my own life.  Even at that point, the lowest of the abyss, my girlfriend, now wife, made the decision to stick by my side.  Without her, I don’t think I’d be here today to tell my story.  It was because of her commitment to me I decided to seek answers.  I decided I don’t care if I’m a man or not, I need to talk.  I need to share my pain so I can figure out how to deal with it.  In that time I was diagnosed with ADHD, which determined some of the causes to my depression, but also I finally took the first step on the path towards understanding, accepting, and working with my depression.

Moving forward I lost many jobs, because of ADHD and depression, most I quit because I felt worthless and was not contributing, some I was let go because my employers did not understand depression.  I was asked point blank one day, after I had come back from a few days off where I stated it was for depression, “What is depression? Like I don’t get it, how can you feel that way? How can you not be happy with a job like this?”.  I shared with them part of how I felt.  I felt lost, trapped, unable to move and breath.  I felt that no matter what I did I felt useless and alone.  None of this was true of course, but it was how I felt.  The response “That doesn’t make sense, I still don’t get it…”.  Here is my take, if you haven’t been down that road you won’t get it.  It’s like the beauty of Paris, you can’t describe it unless you’ve been there.  What needs to happen is instead of saying “I don’t get it” we need to start saying, “That seems hard and I’m here to help if you need it”.  We need to start showing our support for those that fall down, because without support it’s so hard, sometimes impossible, to get back up.  We lose so many good people each year to depression. This is our time to start talking and telling people that it’s ok to talk.  It’s ok to come to us with their problems, fears, and sadness.  We want to listen.  We want you to tell us your story.  I want you to tell your story.  I want you to get to this point where you feel like your story matters and needs to be heard.  No you may not be famous, have 10k+ twitter followers and show up on national news, but you do matter.

If you’re a man that has sat in silence because “it’s not manly to cry”, it’s your time to talk.  It’s time to shun that stereotype.  If you’re a woman who’s been told “you’re too emotional” it’s your time to talk.  If you’re a person who’s been told “why are you sad, you have everything” it’s your time to talk.  It’s time to talk world! Anyone with depression, or who knows someone with depression, speak now and don’t ever hold your peace.  Speak as if your life, or the life of your loved ones, counts upon it, because it probably does.  Let us raise our voices and break the stigma of mental illness.  Those who have fought this battle or are fighting this battle, you are stronger for it.  You are not sub-human, but super-human, because you have made the choice to live and made the choice that your story matters.  So please, today let’s talk.

ESST 317: Blurring Lines – Citizen, Person, Digital Persona

“Political Education and Citizenship: Teaching for Civic Engagement” by Ken Osborne is an article that discusses how young people are not actively engaging in political and civic issues.  The article presents an understanding that our education system is not doing its part in helping youth explore politics and civics.  In reading the article I believe that as educators we can and must do more in order to bring more young people into the decision making process that affects our countries, cities, communities as a whole.  Students are neither aware of the impacts of not participating nor do they have the knowledge to participate even if they wanted to.  Osborne makes a very distinct notion that our education system seeks to teach students to become good people, but the system comes up short when teaching students to become good citizens.  The notion that he describes, I believe, is correct.  There is nothing wrong with wanting students to be good people.  To be a good person one should obey the law and treat others as they would treat themselves. But, our nations and communities are missing out on the energetic and passionate opinions of our youth. Energy and passion that would assist in guiding our world to harmony.

When discussing the concept of good person versus a good citizen with our class I was surprised when most young people came from small communities, but did not have any knowledge of our political system.  I grew up in a small town as well and I was encouraged to watch elections, explore political news, and keep tabs on how the government, both provincially and federally, were spending the dollars and cents of our country and province.  I had a basic understanding of what left and right meant in the political arena.  I apparently knew more than your average small town student.  The problem that occurred later, when I was able to utilize my knowledge provided by my teachers, was I did not know how to use the knowledge.  I did not understand that not voting did have an impact, but it sends the wrong message to those that are involved in the system.  I did not know that by voting for my party of choice that it might help them win future elections and spark change in our world.  I did not know that ticking that box on the voting card is only a small part of what I can do in order to challenge the decisions being made in our communities.  I did not know that I could make a difference.  This is what Osborne is talking about when he brings up the argument that we are teaching to have students be good people rather than being good citizens.  Coming out of high school, I knew that I should follow the rules, speak when spoken to, work hard, and stay focused.  However, I was never taught that I could make a difference.  I think that is the cornerstone to being a good citizen.  Understanding how you can affect change, knowing that it is possible for you to help guide the decisions being made.  Being a good person is knowing that you could make a change, being a good citizen is rising up and making change happen.

Good citizenship stretches beyond the realm of politics and into our own social lives.  Clubs, committees, boards, governing bodies of sports organizations, all relate to citizenship. A good citizen will actively take part and help make change rather than one who just participates and uses the services provided by the organization.  As educators we have the tools and the stage capable of reaching out to our students and helping them find out what it means to be a good citizen.  So what does it mean to be a good citizen?  I believe being a good citizen has a different meaning for each individual.  Different meaning creates complications because each student will have different opinions, but that is exactly what we want them to have.  We want students to have differing ideals of what it means to be a citizen, not just a good citizen, but a citizen in general.  That, in my opinion, is the first step towards helping students understand that they think differently than others and have different ideas on how to solve problems.  Thinking differently is where you can start becoming active in your club, communities, province, or country.  Students need to understand that being different and thinking differently is a good thing.  If everyone followed the same path, and thought the same thoughts, how would we make any progress?  Osborne states that “The more fundamental problem is that by high school, students come to see schooling for what society has made it: a custodial credentialling machine in which education becomes little more than the accumulation of credits.” The first step in solving this problem is encouraging students to think.  Not only to think, but to think differently.  To challenge everything and anything until they understand the problem, teaching, whatever it is, the way they are comfortable with.  Citizens need to challenge things and not just accept the status quo, unless they know why they are accepting and agreeing with it.  Good people accept good things, good citizens challenge each notion and accept things only when they agree with it or understand why the notion exists.  After students become comfortable with thinking upon citizen decisions they need to learn how to communicate their thoughts in an appropriate manner so people can listen.

Another facet of the realm of citizenship that I did not know about until my 4th year of business school was about lobbying.  I did not know there were so many organizations vying for the attention of our politicians. I did not know there were so many people who were passionate about the same issues I was passionate about and who were doing something about it.  A good citizen challenges the decisions being made, but in a healthy and constructive manner.  Understanding how to communicate your thoughts is something we do teach in schools, but I feel like we never really allow students to be passionate about their writing.  As educators, we mark their grammar and ensure they stayed on the topic being discussed, but we do not encourage passion.  We do not say to a student that they should explore an interesting paper on the political parties in Canada.  We do not encourage students to talk to a lobbying group to gain a better understanding of how they can save the trees, the whales, stop the oil sands, or whatever they believe in.  We do not provide enough outlets for our students to channel their beliefs.  I honestly, however, do not know why.  Why are we not encouraging active citizenship?  We encourage sitting in desks quietly, we encourage good study habits and good grades, but more often than not, from my experience, I’ve seen educators stifle the opinions of their students.  Another circumstance of teaching students to be good people and not teaching them to be good citizens.  What happens when the realm of citizenship extends beyond the borders of our countries, even our world, into a digital space?

In our digital world or society humans, our students form a large part of this user base, are able to interact with each other at lightning speeds.  The digital world has sped up everything a citizen is a part of.  These digital citizens make decisions faster because knowledge can be obtained within a few keystrokes, opinions are shared quicker because people can post their feelings on message boards that can be read all over the world, things are happening much faster and on a much grander stage.  In teaching our students to become good citizens I believe we can help our students navigate the digital nation that is forming.  Students need to understand how decisions are made so they can help challenge them.  They need to know how to share their opinions and feelings so that they do not harm not only themselves, but others as well.  There are many parallels between the real world and the digital world and we need to take charge sooner rather than later in educating our students in being good citizens so they can convert that knowledge into being a good digital citizen. Providing students with metacognitive functions, being able to monitor and reflect on something, being able to understand why something is happening is part of being a good citizen.  That is something we need in our digital world and that is something I believe as educators we will start to bring forward.  The future is in that digital realm and using digital tools to interact is fast becoming commonplace in our schools and workplaces. As educators we now have the opportunity to show our students that you can be a good person and a good citizen.  We can encourage our students to share their beliefs and values.  We can help them understand their beliefs and values.  It all starts with us, as educators, as we have the tools and the forum to usher in a new era of citizenship.  However, it is on us to do the same as our students and I know that is a difficult journey.  But it will be one that will be well worth it when we see our students making changes for the betterment of the world of tomorrow.

ESST 317: Taking a Picture – Reflecting on the Witness Blanket

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In looking at the significant history that is woven into the Witness Blanket it was hard choosing an artifact that resonated with me.  I wanted to find something that spoke to me as a pre-service teacher, but I also wanted to find something that spoke to me as a person.  As a person of white privilege, but also as one that is learning about the stories woven into the blanket.

I chose the hockey skates pictured above as the artifact that spoke to me.  As a member of white society I have had the opportunity of playing hockey since I was 5 years old.  I spent more time on the ice than anywhere else. When I look at the picture I see young people that form a group of individuals of diverse backgrounds coming together to work towards a common goal.  I see at the base of the photo that they were a team of youth that had their challenges, but the ultimate goal of fun was always achieved. It is in this picture that I see that through all the hardships of residential schools there were good times.  There were times where even though the individual identity was lost there were groups that came together.  It shows that there are common bonds that connect all of us.  If we look through the window panes of the past we can see that we share something in common with all people.  We all share the thoughts that we all love to have fun, that we all love games, and that we can all work towards a common goal of harmony and happiness.

There are many painful stories of the residential school era, but I greatly enjoyed that through all of it, that children were able to experience some joy in a sport that I still have a great connection to this day.  In looking at this picture I felt a tug, a pull of connection to these people in the timeless display. It gives me hope that we can eventually come to the state of harmony if we set aside aside our differences and embrace the team aspect shown in the photo.  If we become the group of individuals with diverse backgrounds that work together towards a common goal I know we can achieve fun, happiness, and harmony.

ECS 301 – Day 8 in the Field: Finding Peace

My last pre-internship day of 2014 came to a close.  I sit here looking back on the tumultuous journey of my first 8 sessions as a teacher.  It has been an interesting start to what I hope to be a life long adventure, but an amazing experience that will never be forgotten.

My journey started out a little rocky, for the most part, but part way through I found myself and yesterday everything culminated in a grand crescendo of education.  It is a little bittersweet leaving the students after such a great time, but I feel rejuvenated in my decision to become a teacher and look forward to our time in March.

So what made yesterday so amazing?  Yesterday was the day where I truly found peace with my teacher self.  I had made a very confident deal with my cooperating teacher that I wanted to get a taste of what an entire day of teaching felt like.  To sum it up in one word: exhausting.  Teachers pour so much of themselves into their days that it is extremely tiring, but in the end it is worth every second. Yesterday I was able to see how much these students cared for me as a growing educator and how much they want to see me succeed.  I saw that my teaching style and strategies can exist in today’s classroom, albeit somewhat modified.  It was a final moment of self discovery and in it I’ve found peace.

To start the day I decided that I needed to create a game-based scenario for one last shot at seeing if I could pull off being a game and project based educator.  I took the students into the gym and we proceeded to create ecosystems out of gym mats, nets, whatever was in the gym supply room.  How did it go you ask?  AMAZING! It was hands-down the best lesson I’ve ever been a part of.  The students were so engaged and so full of wonder and creativity it was a sight to behold.  As part of the lesson I made an impromptu attempt at pulling in some Treaty Education.  Once again I was shocked at not only the student response, but my own response as well.  I’ve been very hesitant to bring up Treaty Education, I didn’t think I knew how. Apparently I do know how and we came up with one word that the students will hopefully always carry with them: Harmony.  We talked about the tough issues surrounding race and sex and we all reached the conclusion that collaboration and working in harmony with one another is the greatest step we can take to finding peace.  My soul was lifted and I could see every student in the room deep in thought about what harmony meant to them and how they could incorporate harmony in their lives.

The rest of the day was not as great, but as I’ve found out it is in those moments we learn the most.  My cooperating teacher and I found that when I’m put on the spot, we had extra visitors during Math that completely changed the lesson, I default to direct instruction.  Oh, direct instruction, my arch-nemesis.  But because of that lesson, which to be honest was fun and not terrible at all, I have found out how to adjust on the fly and not lean towards lecturing.  In ELA we played Mad Libs and the students loved it! It was something different.  Not every student had enjoyed a Mad Lib so it was hilarious to see what they had come up with.  These lessons weren’t mind blowing, but they were OK and I’m so happy that at this time I’ve grown so much that OK is just fine by me.  OK lessons mean I still have things to learn, but I ask myself “Did the students learn? Did I learn? How can I make adjustments to make this better?”  If there are answers to those questions then I mark it down in the “Win” column now instead of the “Loss” column.

For the grande finale to an amazing day I was able to enjoy a Grade 1/2 classroom.  I worked with a small group of amazingly bright and adorable youngsters.  It was such a treat to work with them and see how amazing students are even at such a young age.  I never thought I could teach to people that young, but I can say, with a huge smile on my face, that I loved it!  And the coup de grace to this finale was a massive group hug from students I had only spent a total of an hour and half with.  I will say this, if you ever need to smile or feel loved just go to a grade 1/2 class.  After the chaos settles you will never find a more genuine feeling of being loved and appreciated.

I find it very interesting that I’ve answered just about every single question I’ve posed to myself and my potential readers.  Can I go UP? Should we Wreck-It? How do we find our Groove? All of them, every question I’ve found solace in.  I cannot wait to see what questions I have in store for my three week experience in March.

I can honestly say I’ve found peace in the fact that I love to teach.  I have had many different jobs before pursuing teaching and after yesterday I was both tired and energized.  I’ve never felt so alive when reflecting upon the great day I had in the classroom.   Thank you to everyone that has been a part of this journey so far.  My professors, my cooperating teacher, my classmates, but most importantly my students.  Thank you! I would not be the teacher I am today and the teacher I want to be tomorrow without all of you.  I hope we can all find peace, not only in ourselves, but everywhere.  Peace is generated from within.  If we take the time over the holiday season to look within I know we can find peace.

Thank you so much once again to Dreamatico for the image.  Your pictures are so inspiring and hopefully I’ve helped others find your site: http://dreamatico.com/magic/7/

ECS 301 – Day 7 in the Field: The Price of Progress

This journey began with many bumps and bruises.  More so, just on my on my ego, not physical bruises… ok maybe a few. But, as rocky as the journey has been it is starting to culminate in tackling new challenges. Even on the downward slope there are still bumps and bruises, but they are different.  The difference is that we are now having to make more difficult decisions and work on more sensitive issues because we are no longer fresh and green pre-service teachers. We are now an integral part of the classroom communities we are involved in. The students see us in a much different light then they did in the beginning.

Looking back at day seven in my pre-internship teaching experience I see the growth I have experienced over the past 3 months.  I received one of the greatest compliments from one of my students.  He approached me and said “I’ve been talking about you with my older brother, who’s big into gaming, and I said I had this sub that loves gaming too and makes games…” Wait, what… a sub???  Yes, I was seen by this student as full fledged teacher.  His view of me was equal to that of any other teacher in the school.  Day one I was the “Intern”, day seven I’m now the “Sub”.  I honestly couldn’t believe it.  Have I grown that much? But I still have so much more to learn how can I be an actual teacher?  I can be, because I am.  Even as a pre-intern I am a teacher. Also even as a full-time teacher I will still have a lot to learn.  I will still be going into a classroom every day with my thinking cap on, prepared to soak up whatever the students throw at me.

Students will throw a lot of things at me, but the greatest tool I have discovered, thanks to my cooperating teacher,  that I can use to help in catching things is to build strong relationships with the students. However, on this particular day I found out that in strong relationships come very difficult decisions.

The scenario was fairly typical in most classrooms.  A student was repeatedly being disruptive to other classmates.  Pretty straightforward to manage you would think. I pulled the student aside to talk about what I was seeing and that a change in behaviour was necessary.  I thought I handled it quite well.  Except this student’s response to me was “I find this so funny” whilst shaking his head.  The rest of the conversation was just a back and forth of perceived work from both of us, but ended with the same line “I find this so funny”.  I held my head and kept my cool, but I couldn’t shake that line. I thought I had a good relationship with this student. He had always worked hard for me in past lessons. What was the issue now? Why was it funny?

Here I discovered the price of my progress.  I did have a strong relationship with this student.  But, because I had a strong relationship with him, this student did not expect me to react to his behaviour in the manner I did.  In fact, I figured out that what he meant was “you’re just like every other teacher I’ve had…”.  This student has had behaviour issues in the past.  I’ve seen them and I’ve seen them dealt with by my cooperating teacher.  In an instant I saw our relationship change to one that was less “Intern” and more teacher.  And it’s hard. It’s hard knowing that I lost respect of a student I believe I share a common bond with.  But, I also learned that as teachers we have to make these difficult decisions.  Do we break down bonds now, in order to build them back up stronger later? In this instance I made that decision, unknowingly at the time, to do so.  I made the choice that I want that student to be stronger in the long run.  I want that student to understand respect for his colleagues and a sustained work ethic.  I would rather he gain those skills and hate me, then love me and learn nothing.  That is the very harsh reality of teaching.  We have to make sacrifices and hard decisions each day, but all in the name of learning.  Is the price of progress worth it? These moments are some of the hardest that we will deal with. I have gone through these moments personally as a youth.  My answer because of this: Yes, you bet it is worth it.  I am a better person as a whole because of the sacrifices my teachers made.  It took me a long time to realize what they had done for me. But in the end I figured it out and so shall this student. In the end it’s about him and the rest of his classmates.  It is about every student that enters our classroom door.  And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Thank you once again to Dreamatico for the headline image: http://dreamatico.com/magic/2/.  This image is subject to Copyright and is used for educational purposes only.

ECS 301: Day 6 in the Field, When Magic Happens…

If you’ve been following my story you know that trying to find yourself as a pre-service teacher is no easy task.  So far it’s been a lot of hard work with heart breaks along the way.  Each lesson taught has been filled with challenges.  And then it happened… Magic!

With a wave of my magic spoon I enchanted students with a simple science activity.  As the fizz of the bubbles died I could see inquisitive faces seeking answers, instead of the glazed over looks of a boring, broken lesson.  Finally I had my moment that I had been looking for.  That teacher moment when you know you’ve actually tapped into the potential of young people and watched it flourish.

OK. Maybe it wasn’t that amazing, but I finally found one piece of my teacher self in that moment.  I discovered that hands-on learning is what I am striving for.   Giving students a chance to discover a concept rather than pushing it at them with lectures or sugar-coating it with games, I found solace in letting the students come to their own conclusions.  In a world where there is no wrong answer, young people seem to dig right in and keep asking question after question.

How did I finally make the magic happen? Well I followed my own advice. I was myself.  I dressed like how I felt I should dress, I acted as I want to act in my classroom, I taught how I want to teach.  I was me.  And you know what I finally felt like me.  The classroom felt like my classroom.  I completely got lost in the moment.  In that moment I had two massive epiphanies.

1) Mistakes are treated as the worst possible thing outside of education.   In education they are the best possible thing.

I’ve been fighting so hard to not mistakes.  I set the bar so high that when I wasn’t meeting my own expectations I felt like I was letting people down.  Thankfully reflection has helped reframe and I finally get it.  I finally see that I need to crawl before I walk.

2) Part of my issue with prior lessons was that I did not build in proper transitions.

For 5 weeks I kept going “what’s wrong, what’s wrong, what’s wrong”.  NOTHING! I was just missing a piece of a lesson that helps it flow, helps it feel natural.  In the lesson presented yesterday, my transitions were better but I still need a lot of work on this.

Finally a solid lesson, one to remember… and I forgot to take pictures. Was it perfect? Perfect lessons do not exist.  Did I make mistakes?  Absolutely.  But I have already learned from them.  I need to watch my timing.  I need to have transitions.   But in the end if I go 5 minutes over is that a problem? Not really.  If I forget to talk about something is that a big deal? Not at all, however I should remember to circle it on my lesson or write it down. I’ve learned that it’s how we deal with mistakes and learn from them is what makes a good teacher.

I am not an expert teacher (does that even exist? ), but I am learning.  Learning is the foundation of everything in education.

So can we go UP? Yes! Do we have to adapt? Yes! Can I teach how I want to teach? Yes! Do I truly love to teach? YES!

Thank you to: http://dreamatico.com/magic/6/ for the headline image!  This image may be subject to copyright and is used in this article for educational purposes only.

 

ECS 301: Day 5 in the Field, Finding your Groove

“You threw off my Groove!” I stated to a student as they flicked the lights back on after flashing them like a dance party.  The students loved it and then proceeded home for the day.

Finding  your groove is probably one the hardest things to do in this pre-internship experience.  As I reflect upon my fifth day in the field I find myself looking back to see how far I’ve come.  However, I also see how far I have to go.  I’ve been personally struggling to find myself as a teacher in the classroom since day three in the field.  Game based learning and gamification were the cornerstone of my teaching philosophy, and they still are, but how do you use such great methods in a class that is not geared towards or ready for such a learning style?

I tried to go into a comfort zone of teachers and work with direct instruction for the lessons I presented.  Let me tell you, lecturing to a class of grade seven and eight students is difficult at the best of times, let alone after a four day weekend.  This lesson went sideways within the first five minutes.  So I dug in and learned from my lesson last week, I adapted.  I started moving a bit faster, trying to get the students involved in discussion, cracking jokes, it seemed to be working… until another five minutes went by and they were gone again.

When it came time for them to work on their assignment the students took off with a flash.  I was blown away.  In reality a four day weekend meant very little sleep, video game hours nearing triple digits, and zero homework.  How could a direct instruction lesson even stand a chance?  It didn’t… What the students needed was a hands-on exercise.  They needed to move, to socialize, to get the creative learning juices flowing before a direct instruction lesson could even be thought of.  Not only do teachers need to find their groove, they also need to find the groove of their students in order to find success in a lesson.

That brings me to my biggest take away from yesterday.  I am not a direct instruction style teacher.  This class does not function well in a direct instruction environment.  Therefore logic would dictate that direct instruction is probably the LAST thing that I should be utilizing as a teaching strategy.  It has its place, but what I found was that I need to break it up for these students.  Thats their groove.  They need things presented in chunks and pieces.  They also need that hands-on experience provided with drawing, creating, doing.

Now how do you find your groove?  More so, how do I take my passion which is gamification and apply it with this group of students?  I am finding that one day a week really constricts me as a pre-intern teacher.  I feel forced into a box of teaching strategies and classroom management strategies.  Since this is not my classroom what am I supposed to do?  How do I handle certain situations in the classroom when these are not my students? It is simple really.  Be yourself.

It really is that easy.  I greatly appreciate my university classes, but honestly when I’m in the field I focus so hard on the theory and too little on the practical.  I focus on tools and techniques that are not me.  At this point it’s time to break things down and build them back up.  It’s a moment of self-discovery.  What does actually work for me?  How does David Brown want to deliver a lesson?  How will the students react to the lesson I’ve designed? What tools do I want to use?

Fun fact: I haven’t used a computer for a lesson once. That is the only thing I have ever wanted to use in a classroom!  I have focused too hard on trying to be my cooperating teacher, my professors, my former teachers, that I’ve forgotten that I’m the one in the front of the classroom.  It’s my time to shine.  It’s my time to be me and to use the gifts I have to WOW the students.

I have found over the past five field experiences that I absolutely love teaching. It fuels my soul.  I am drained at the end of the day because I throw my entire being into these students. I am so crushed when lessons do not go well that I question my ability and passion to teach. So it’s time I started teaching my way instead of trying to fill the shoes of my cooperating teacher, professors, and former teachers.  It’s time I found my groove instead.

Image provided by: http://kaitandkaboodle.blogspot.ca/2010/08/spy-moves-humble-abode-dads-birthday.html – This image my be subject to Copyright and is used only for educational purposes.

ECS 301 – I’m gonna Wreck-It! …ok not really : Day 4 in the Field

Another day in the classroom, another movie inspired reflection.  After what seemed like a dismal performance last week I was determined to “right the wrongs” I thought I had done.  After reflecting on my reflection I realized things weren’t so bad after all.

This particular pre-intern day started off on an interesting note.  We were treated to a presentation by Robb Nash @robbnash on Anti-Bullying, Anti-Suicide, general teen issues.  I must say it was outstanding.  His show, because really that’s what it is, was very inspiring.  I greatly appreciated his question to us all.  Why do you do what you do?  Most know what they do, but rarely do people know why they do it.  I am very fortunate to know why I do what I do.  Passion for learning and helping youth grow are two key pieces to why I do what I do.  And so fuelled by this performance I was ready to jump back into Math 7 and Percents.

This time I was even more prepared.  Armed with a more structured lesson, a cool and fun activity sheet, I was going in guns a blazin’!

And that’s when I hit the wall again…  sigh… the students were frustrated, they were pouty, they were… challenged and HATED it.  I immediately went to the same place last week.  Asking myself “Man can I really do this?”, “I was so prepared, it must be me that is the problem”.  However, this week I pushed the pause button.

No, it was not me.  Was my lesson great?  Not really.  Was it bad? Not even close.  So why is there this seemingly massive disconnect between my math lessons and my students?  Working closely with my cooperating teacher we had a very good reflective session on what may have gone off the tracks.

For starters today was the day I had a very structured lesson and then decided I was going to go off on a couple of tangents.  It happens, especially to passionate teachers. They were math related tangents, that’s a plus, but they distracted the students from the focus of the lesson.  Learning point #1 – Lessons need focus, and you should try your best to stay on that focus.

Teachers teach differently, just as students learn differently. For two math lessons in a row I’ve approached Math in a way that this group of students is just not comfortable with.  They haven’t realized that being challenged and uncomfortable is ok.  Learning point #2 – ADAPT! Be prepared to go all Wreck-It Ralph on your lesson and rip it up.  Go to where your students need to go.  Let your students guide your lesson.  If they can stay on the tracks, keep going, but if they seem to be de-railing go with them.  This is also NOT a bad thing.  We teach so students can learn.  If they’re not learning are we really teaching?

Lastly let’s talk about what my lesson in Math was all about.  Learning Point #3 – Simplify! I spent 45 minutes preaching about how to make Math easier by simplifying the elements of any equation to the point where you, as a student, are most comfortable.  Why didn’t I heed my own advice?  Throwing too much at students in such a short period of time can easily overwhelm them.  It also can easily overwhelm you, as the teacher!  Structure is great, but as I came up with yesterday.  If you are expecting an unstructured lesson where the students are expected to have the A-HA! moment on their own, why would you then impose so much structure on yourself? How can you expect unstructured learning, when you build a fortress of structure around yourself?  Unstructured learning requires flexibility and adaptation.

So to answer my question from last week: Can you go UP from here? The answer is a resounding YES! There is no such thing as a perfect lesson.  But what makes a great teacher, great is the fact that you learn from everything that gets tossed your way.  It is ok to be uncomfortable.  It is in discomfort that we learn.  No matter what you do, just remember: You are a Hero to your students, even if the lesson is completely wrecked.

The image used may be subject to Copyright and is used for educational purposes only.  Thank you!

ECS 301 – How do we go UP? Day 3 Field Experience

As I started my lesson on Day 3 of my field experience one of the students says “You look like the Grandpa from UP”… sigh… I’m not that old.  It was one of those humorous moments to start a lesson that gives you a vote of confidence as a beginning teacher that the students are warming up to you and look forward to seeing you work.  I wish I could say that the lesson was received with the same warmth and went in the direction of Grandpa’s house in UP.  However, the lesson went in a direction I never really anticipated, sideways.  Today’s lesson was Math and I wanted to put a fun twist on what is usually perceived as a boring subject.  I also wanted to test drive what forms the base of my teaching philosophy, game based learning and gamification.

To start I presented a new topic, percents, to the Grade 7 Math class.  The direct instruction portion went over as any typical math lesson I feel goes.  Some get it, some don’t, but I had faith that the game I had planned would help pull the rest of the class over the finish line.  To put it bluntly, it didn’t.  So here I sit trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces of a broken lesson.  It wasn’t all bad, but it wasn’t good either and I feel and think as if I let the students down.  We have been told numerous times that lessons will go bad, it happens they say, I understand that, I’ve seen it happen.  However, as it seems with lots of things these days, no one has discussed the “How”.  We’ve learned, “What” and “Why” but never “How”. So how do we pick ourselves up and say “I am not a bad teacher” after a lesson doesn’t work out the way we envision it?  The first thing that comes to mind is practice.  We need to remind ourselves that this time is our opportunity to practice the craft we are pursuing.  We will stumble more than we may be comfortable with but it is in this discomfort that we need to find out how this gig really works and how it works for us.

So what happens when your entire teaching philosophy has been taken out back, punched in the stomach, and kicked a few times when it’s down?  Now I shouldn’t paint this gruesome picture of a game that was well received, was fun, engaging, and took math to a different place that the students had not really explored before.  But, the reality is that because it was so different students did not really pick up the math in the game.  They’ve been instructed in such a specific way for so long that something different did not really work.  So here I am, teaching philosophy a little broken and bruised.  How do you incorporate game-based learning into classrooms where games are considered a privilege? How do you work games into a world where direct instruction dominates?  Well thanks to my cooperating teacher part of the answer is… drum roll please… time.  My biggest take-away from my experience yesterday was that in the world of education everything takes time.  More time than what most realize.

In the aftermath there were still some great take-aways that I have from my experience yesterday.

  1. Board organization goes a long way in helping students look back at a newly presented concept.
  2. Time, time, and more time.  Take your time with new concepts, but have things prepared for the students that catch on quickly.

So where do I go from here?  Well I’m not sure to be honest.  Do I continue to try fit games into a world where structure dominates? Will the system accept the type of teacher I want to be? Can I go UP from here?

ECS 301 – Day 2 in the Field – The Fellowship Forms…

It was a bright sunny day… actually it was rainy and cold, but it was still day two of my education field experience.  After a whirlwind adventure on my first day in the classroom I was extremely excited, and a little bit nervous, to dive deeper into the pool and teach a full lesson.

The quest on this day was going to be Physical Education (PE), which unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, was the last period of the day.  For me it seemed to be doomed to be an unfortunate event as the students were extremely active today.  With nightmares of control issues dancing in my head I proceeded to do what I could to mitigate the upcoming disaster.  The only way I thought I would survive was to form a tighter fellowship with my cooperating teacher and the students.  I circulated more than I did on the first day and had longer, deeper conversations with my cooperating teacher.  In this I discovered that my confidence was growing, I was relaxing and starting to mould into the class dynamic.

Last period of the day finally arrived and I noticed something.  The butterflies were gone, I had a huge smile on my face, and I strode into the gym for P.E. like I was on a shining steed, armor gleaming in the sun, sword out ready to slay the dragon that awaited inside.   I jumped into the fray right away providing clear and confident directions, taking charge of the army of students I was provided… OK it wasn’t that grandiose, but I did capture their attention with my Set and everyone was busy dancing to the music I provided and moving around in the warm up.  From that moment on PE seemed to just fly by! Students were active and participating, for the most part listening, having fun!  I attribute the success of my first lesson to the first thing my cooperating teacher taught us on the first day: building the fellowship. (PHOTOS INCOMING!)

I can see now why my cooperating teacher focuses so much on relationships.  In building relationships with the class it gave me the confidence required to hit the ground running in PE.  It gave the students confidence to participate in the lesson because they understood me not only as a teacher but as a person.  It was genuinely fun even though it felt a little chaotic at times.  In that I had some great take-aways from my lesson and some things I would like to do differently.

1) Write down EVERYTHING.  In the gym it’s a little more difficult, but I would like to have more than just my warmup outlined on a board so the students have a clear reference for instructions provided.

2) Spend more time on demonstration.  Some students were a little confused as the games progressed so a demonstration of what was asked of them would have went a long way.

3) Ensure I have the proper amount of resources.  Unfortunately I ran out of poly-dots and I did not have tape to create lines for the students.  The students did very well without, but it would have been easier and more engaging for all students if I had all the materials I needed.

I learned more than I could have ever imagined on my second day in the field. Two of the most important things I took away was planning is invaluable and relationships go a long way in a successful lesson. Just like the fellowship in Lord of the Rings they had a plan and solid relationships to help push forward on their journey.  However, just as in that story, there will be rocky times and many unknowns, but continuing to form a fellowship with my cooperating teacher and students will help lead me to my ultimate goal: throwing the ring… I mean becoming a teacher.

ECS 301 – A New Hope… the journey begins

The scene of this particular story is Dr. L.M Hanna Elementary School in Regina, Saskatchewan.  I embarked on my journey to become a teacher beginning my pre-internship field experience alongside my peer teacher Brett Zimmer.  As we entered the classroom the familiar sounds of teenages yelling at each other, books clattering, the tip tap of the iPhone keyboard, filled the air.  OK. This isn’t Star Wars, but we did have a student who can give you a full run-down on R2-D2 and his purpose, this is my reflection on our first day and first lesson.

Our experience at Dr. Hanna School started off as we were introduced as our cooperating teacher’s, Mr. Mieske, bodyguards.  Instantly we saw the relationship he has formed with his students and the path he was laying for us to build relationships with his students.  This was the biggest learning point of the day for Brett and I.  We learned a lot about the human element of education that in each seat is a mind that needs to trust you and is willing to learn if you will let it learn the way it wants to learn.  Every child is different and will learn differently and will react differently to you.

For our introductory lesson Brett Z. and I did a team teach “Human Bingo” activity similar to the one we performed at the beginning of ECS 301.  As we walked around the room the students were buzzing around asking questions in what has been described to us as “Controlled-ish Chaos”.  For a finale to the activity we had each student write two true things and one false thing about themselves on the back of their bingo card for Brett and I to look over as part of our “Homework”.   It was interesting that we had touched on a concept the students were learning about in Inquiry regarding verifying the source of information. In the end I believe this activity was a great success.  We learned a lot about the students, they learned a lot about us, and they also learned more about each other.    Would I do anything different?  Absolutely!

Some of the things I would do differently include:

  1. Working more closely with my peer teacher so that the lesson seems more seamless.
  2. Remembering to write down instructions as well as provide things verbally, Thank you Brett for remembering to write things on the board!
  3. Have more time to go over the lesson with our cooperating teacher to see if the students had covered the concept or done the activity before.  It turned out the students had done something very similar at the beginning of the school year, they still loved it, but adaptations could have been planned for.

I was very intrigued to find out that Science, Social Studies and, Health have been replaced with a full period called Inquiry.  It’s great to see inquiry based learning being used, but is this going a little too far? Why would we want students to miss out on specific outcomes or activities associated with those subjects? How will students fare in High School when those subjects are re-introduced? How will we spark the next generation of scientists, historians, and health practitioners when it seems like those subjects are being glossed over?

At this point I feel as if the Star Wars title has come true.  This is “A New Hope” for me.  I have felt that I may not fit into the world of education that my skills lay in research over the classroom.  But I found very quickly that my energy and passion lit up like a star when I walked into a classroom full of students.

Image Source : http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/2011/sep/28/galaxy-clusters-back-general-relativity

ESST 317: The Impacts of Worldviews

As a class we were fortunate enough to head to the Mackenzie Art Gallery and visit the Moving Forward, Never Forgetting exhibit currently on display.  This exhibit is host to a variety of artworks that provide a sense of the impacts of Residential Schools and Colonialism on First Nations people.  The works in the exhibit are powerful and invoke many different emotions as you walk through it.  My journey through the exhibit also sparked many different feelings.  For me the walk through the halls created almost a sense of sadness.  Sadness, in the fact that I felt hate in some pieces as I moved past them.  This feeling of hatred coming started me pondering “Are we moving backwards, instead of forwards?”, “Are the events that took place too hate filled that we can never out run them?”.  I felt concerned that for all I’ve learned and all I’m working towards, it may be out of reach.  For me, I’m working towards the creation of harmony.  In order to move forwards we need to let go of the hate and embrace each other in love.  I’ll admit that sounds a bit sappy, but it is the truth.  Harmony is the resolution, I do not ask that we forgive and forget, but I think we need to understand and remember what happened and work hard to ensure events like this never happen again.  This is true for all types of people, we need to accept everyone as human and embrace humanity as a whole before our futures can be realized.

Through the sadness I did feel a sense of healing even through the hatred.  A piece that resonated with me is one that is depicted below.  I was so enthralled with the works in the exhibit I forgot to get the name of the artist, so all credit goes to the artist for his work. This piece lifted that sadness and provided me with the moment I sought, serenity.  This artwork created many questions for me.  Not all emotionally charged I should add as well.  I had practical questions such as “How did he create the piece so the shadows lined up perfectly?” to thoughtful questions “How can we create harmony, instead of putting our “stamp” on society?”.

Fur Union Jack

When I looked at this piece I could sense the “stamp” that the settlers placed upon our First Nations people.  The imprint of the Union Jack on the fur lining of the structure showed me the impacts of worldviews on society.  What this sparked for me is that it is up to us, teachers of the current and future generations, to dispel the hatred and work towards that harmony.  We need to help remove the “stamp” placed upon First Nations people and help them move forward.  We also need to teach our students about these events and tell the true story, so we can never forget how worldviews have such a tremendous impact on our society and our future.

 

ESST 317: No One Ever Said it Would be Easy…

Having taken a break from Jack Toth’s “The Teacher Every Student Wants and Needs” it was time to dive back into it.  I always look forward to these readings, yeah I know insane university student here, but this time I did not dive into it with the same fervor I had in the past.  Lately, I’ve been feeling like the students in the story, misunderstood, a little lost, in need of guidance.  It’s been very hard to reach for my gifts, abilities, and that desire to succeed.  The fight to keep negative influence and procrastination out of my life. The drive is fading, but what I can appreciate is that because of my mentors and heroes I have the ability to reach deeper inward and fight harder than before.

The first take-away from Jack Toth’s story is that as educators we must be resilient and demonstrate to our student’s what resiliency is.  We need to show our students how to conquer their inner demons and to do that we first must face our own inner demons.  I’m beyond sad, that I cannot replicate my achievements of last semester.  The system is against it.  So I need to face the inner demon of giving up.  I need to know how to face this challenge head on, so I can show my students how to fight through difficult times.  I can’t give up.  I could in the past, but this time is different. This time I believe in myself.  I believe that I can and will make a difference.  I wrote a post on why it is important to know who your heroes are.  This is why I wrote it.  Heroes show us that we have something to fight for and I believe that is what the teacher in the story is striving for.

Some of our students will not have positive role models in their lives. This positive influence makes such a huge difference and as an educator we must shoulder the heavy load of being that positive role model for our students.  I have no problem doing that, but that load comes with a cost.  As teachers we need to sacrifice personal time to ensure we are available for our students as often as possible.  We sacrifice a personal privacy that other occupations receive.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  I’ve been down that other path, I’ve had the option of leaving work at work, and the sacrifice I know that I should make while teaching is one that I know that it is worth it.  In the novel we are shown first hand how if a teacher makes this sacrifice and opens themselves up to their students the impact is tremendous.  As teachers we have more power than any other occupation to create the future of our world.  We may not shape it completely, but we lay the foundation for the future.

This sacrifice isn’t without a downside.  It will take a lot of time and energy.  It will take a supportive spouse who understands that my students are an extension of my family.  But how do we let students in without issues arising? How do we protect ourselves without becoming too guarded?  In the novel we are shown that “Mr. Teacher” has to confront a female student outside of school about an issue in a low-risk environment, like a restaurant, due to the student having major issues in other aspects of life.  The character discusses the potential issues and solutions, but I feel that this is a recipe for disaster.  However, I appreciate the solution that was presented in the end.  The character did everything the way I think I would have done.  He talked to administration and had full support of the parents.  I think this situation showed that as teachers we need to include everyone within the classroom in order to ensure we can open ourselves up as much as possible in order to reach our students.  Admin and parents need to be involved and informed if we are to succeed in becoming the teacher every student wants and needs.

In reading this story  I discovered so many parallels between it and my own life experiences.  It was like looking in a window to my own soul.  From front to back this story reminded me why I chose to change professions and go into education.  It reminded me that I am on a lifelong journey of personal and professional learning.  It reminded me of the power that teachers have and that we should not stand idly by while we can make a difference if we chose to accept it.  If we choose to accept our gifts, abilities, and desire to succeed we can impart those believes on the future of our world.  When we stand up for our students we can assist students in finding their true self and become what they truly want to become.  But as the title states, no one ever said this was going to be easy.  No one has informed us of the personal costs that may come of this career.  No one has said that we will get every student to buy in to our messages.  No one said that there are students that we will lose and the price paid may be the life of a student.  In the end we are still human.  We will make mistakes.  We will allow emotion to affect our decisions and it may lead us in the wrong direction.  But I’m willing to try.  I’m willing to lay it all on the line for the chance to see at least one student find what they are looking for in themselves.  Why? I made a personal choice to take the harder path.  No one said it would be easy, and that’s fine by me.