All posts by Everclyr

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.

Back from the Grave… I mean Internship!

It’s been far too long since I’ve posted on this site. I’ve always been told that if you share your page it needs to be up to date. Well I say to those people “you’ve never been in an education internship have you?”. Internship was the hardest, yet most rewarding experience I’ve ever had. It was the greatest accomplishment in my storied career, or should I say careers, and I am so proud of making it to the finish line.

Why didn’t I just post reflections on my blog you ask? Instead of blog posting I turned to sticky notes to get my thoughts on paper as quick as I could as internship moves fast and furious. However, I’m a tech guy, so I turned to Twitter in order to capture as many internship moments as I could. Instead of a long winded post where I ramble on, and on, and on, about my experience I want to leave it here and point you towards my Internship highlights page.

But I am back. Look forward to seeing reflections from my final semester at the U of R. Braiinnnnnnssssss….

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.

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.