Stop Using Sour Milk and You’ll Like Your Cereal A Whole Lot More

In today’s society, we always seem to find more pleasure complaining about something than we do enjoying something. I don’t know if the bad makes our lives that much more interesting, or it is a competition to see who is having a worse day than the next person. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve gotten trapped in the “whoa is me” one too many times. And I can’t help thinking to myself…why?

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When Students Become Your Role Models

When students become your role models, you simply don’t forget.

You think this must all be a dream but it ain’t finished yet.

You see them holding hands and prancing.

It’s obvious they’re friendship dancing.

All taking in this special day of truth and reconciliation

Because of these kids we hope someday we’ll become a stronger nation.

This is exactly what I was fortunate enough to experience today, on April 14th, 2016. It was a special day, not only for myself, not only for the University of Regina, but for the schools around Saskatchewan to be a part of the Treaty Education Day for Truth and Reconciliation for all First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities, families and individuals.

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17 km in a 21 km Marathon

It is 2:30 on a Friday afternoon and I have just been asked to teach Math — Tessellations. Sure! I replied in an enthusiastic tone. I was excited, ready to go. The kids will love this lesson! I thought to myself (I had been practicing making my own tessellations at home for the past week). Then the students walked into the room after recess and I could see it in their eyes — this was going to be interesting.

No matter how much we think university prepares us to teach, we really have no idea until we are actually out into the real world. No class can teach you how to handle a child that has just eaten a whole container of livewires. No class can teach you how to tell a student who has a championship basketball game that night to stop talking to his teammates. AND especially, no one tells you how to try to teach mathematics to a bunch of 14 year olds on a Friday afternoon.

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When Teaching the Outcomes Just Isn’t Good Enough

Target for Today: Do not spill hot chocolate on yourself or a child.

Try Again: Do not spill hot chocolate on a child.

One more time: Ensure that all hot chocolate is cleaned up at the end of the day.

For the first time in my entire university and teaching career have I finally come to realize why it is so difficult to fit in every single outcome and indicator in every subject. Within 2 weeks, I have been faced with a skiing trip, high school meet and greet, professional development days and conventions, play days, jig dancing, pep rallies — you name it, I’ve experienced it. Suddenly a 15 day pre-interning marathon has turned into a 9/10 day sprint.

But hey, after a nice sprint you always have room for hot chocolate!

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Honey, I Shrunk My Students!

I walked into my school over the moon excited — Ready to see my students from last semester, and anxious to rock my very first mathematics unit. However, my experience started out a little differently than I initially expected.

For the last three out of four teaching days, my students have looked a little shorter than usual. Because of my grade 8’s busy schedule — visiting their new high school, adventuring out on ski trips, and preparing for the school’s giant play day — I had the opportunity to explore the uncharted jungles of little people — aka a grade 3 classroom. Now this classroom was not just down the hall. I had to walk down the hall, passed the mangled shoe racks, through the library, and up the stairs into little kid land.

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The Write Way to Grow: Why Students Should Blog

I will be honest — I was one of those skeptical individuals when it came to technology. I hated it, it never worked, and I would rather have something paper copy then waste my time with a computer. Is it because I have never actually gotten to work with a computer that works more than it breaks down? Maybe, but I also just never really got to experience using technology growing up, so it was not something that I was used to.

Then, in September 2015, I walk into my ECS 300 class. And to my despair, everything was to be done online, including an online blog and teaching portfolio. Hell rained down on me for I had already created a teaching portfolio in a nice binder laying underneath my bed. And to add to my enjoyment, we were to blog every week about something that occurred in our lives as students and future educators.

I was pretty against the whole idea of blogging at first — I am pretty personal and private, I don’t feel like I have anything to write about that would interest people in reading it, and technology has just never been my friend. But I tried it. The first time was okay, the second a bit better, and so on. I am still learning about how to create engaging and personal blogs; however, I have found a whole new appreciation as to why blogging is so significant, especially in the world of education.

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When You Can’t Do It All

I was one of those weird kids in school. I always found more satisfaction being a part of all the sports’ teams and clubs instead of hanging out with friends. I enjoyed doing homework, because it made me feel successful. People didn’t like hanging out with me, because I never had a lot of time. People were always telling me to quit trying so hard and give others a chance. I was never really upset that I did not have a huge group of friends, because those that I did have I knew they loved me for who I was. But I couldn’t help but asking myself if it’s true that you need to sacrifice one part of your life just to succeed in another.

Once I got to University, I still tried to be a part of clubs or teams. I started going to the gym, going out with friends. The homework load was beginning to get overwhelming, and it was getting more evident to me that I couldn’t do it all. But I am one of those people constantly fighting for this unrealistic expectation of myself. I got anxiety every time I needed to hand something in, because I was never 100% satisfied with it. How can I even furstrated boyimagine myself handing in or showing anything less? I felt myself getting dragged into this idea that everything needs to be perfect before I show it off, even though I recognized that it is an impossible height to reach. But I tried, man did I try. I isolated myself from my friends, family, my interests.I was stressed.I was frustrated. I was unhappy.Life was not good. I was miserable. I felt overwhelmed and trapped. I stopped trying to do the things I liked in an effort to make things better. I reached a crisis in my life. All I was doing was working, trying to improve the situation. I stopped doing everything I enjoyed doing. My family life suffered, my relationship suffered. I was spiraling downward.

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Self-Proclaimed Inquirer

Is inquirer even a word? Who knows — that’s why it is self-proclaimed. I guess someone will have to investigate and find out 🙂

However, inquiry requires more than simply answering questions or finding the right answer. It strengthens investigation, exploration and enhances student’s involvement to become a community of learners.

Moreover, inquiry is not just for students, but sometimes even more importantly for educators. And people, I am not talking about how student inquiry is so much better for teachers. I am talking about genuine, hardcore inquiry for teachers done by teachers.

As educators we are faced with the challenge and responsibility of engaging students in learning that they develop the skills and knowledge to be able to function in today’s world. The only way that we can expect to do this is if we as teachers experience high levels of engagement ourselves.

I am so excited to learn about differentiating for student ability in the classroom alongside Amie, Emma and Kendra. Even just by discussing with them I have gained a new insight on how the idea of differentiation could be approached. I think that is the beautiful part of inquiry — that we are provided with the opportunity to see things from a different light — to gain different perspectives on the topic to ultimately create our own interpretation and vision and to share this knowledge with others. I am looking forward to seeing the approach that other groups are taking with their inquiry project, and the resources that they discover throughout their journey.

I truly appreciate being given the opportunity to dig deeper into differentiation. I have some sort of an idea how to approach this in my classroom, but I never realized before how broad of a range the process of differentiation is. Whether working with students who need a challenge, those who are struggling, those who lack interest, etc. — every student needs need to be taken into consideration in the classroom.

As for the inquiry process, we are taking it slowly for now. My group members and I are looking for information by searching online resources, twitter chats and anything else that we come across. Although there is not a huge amount of searching going on, once we further settle into our roles as students and educators, we will be well on our way by experiencing it in the classroom ourselves, as well as finding other helpful resources elsewhere.

The best part about inquiry for me is that it strengthens my perspective on how I want to implement it into my own classroom. It is like an inquiry within an inquiry — learning about my own topic while discovering how I want my students to do the same. I would never be able to expect my students to take part in such a process if I was not willing to do it myself. It is an amazing way to learn and grow as an individual — to gain knowledge and experience about a topic that you enjoy, and creating a product to share with others that you can take pride in.

Overall, I look forward to further discovering what differentiation is all about with Amie, Kendra and Emma throughout these next couple of months.

It’s The Little Things That Make a Difference

Today’s thoughts and media are surrounded with hate, anger, fear and worry. We often blame others for these feelings, and are unable to look beyond the actions taken.

Tragedy strikes us every day — near or far. A tragic event occurred in La Loche, Saskatchewan last week — a young man took the life of four individuals who resided in the small community. News articles and media headlines have been going around — what went wrong in this kid’s life, he deserves to be punished, etc. Is it because he is actually as bad as everyone says he is, or has no one ever taken the time to see the good that he did have to offer? Is everything so wrong in this world or are we just choosing to ignore the good, wholesome joy that can still be found?

Every day I try to read something from the Good News Network to find something to be thankful for or be inspired by individuals or groups of people who have tried to make the world a place worth living — hope for humanity restored. Some may think that these stories need to be major headlines: 5 year old sews 1,000,000 sweaters for the homeless — no. It is the little things that go on in our lives that we often overlook, because we are so busy searching for something wrong or so absolutely wonderful that it is as though we dreamed it. So, I decided to share some of the positive life stories that I have discovered throughout this week — those that I have read somewhere or have personally experienced myself

    • Couple’s New Family Portrait Honors Angel Children’s Memory. A couple had previously lost their three children, and while getting photos done, the photographer edited shadows of their children into the pictures.
    • A bearded Walmart Shopper is mistaken for Santa, and plays along for the child. She asks how the North Pole is, how the elves are doing making the presents — he role played the whole time for her.
    • The La Loche 18u girls’s volleyball team came to Saskatoon for the Sask Cup, despite the tragic events that occurred in their school just a week earlier. There was a long moment of silence after O Canada, purple ribbons were handed out to each individual attending the tournament (mine is attached to my backpack), and donations were offered to support the La Loche community — especially for the youth who cannot attend school at this time. It was truly an inspiration to see the girls rise above and play in the tournament. Family, friends, community members, and opponents came out to support the girls and found triumph throughout the weekend.

Now let’s turn this around to our students. No matter how much they may push our buttons — no matter how much you may want to kick them out of the classroom — no matter how much you secretly wish they will be sick that day — remember, there is good in everyone and everything. We need to look beyond what is happening right in front of us and dig deeper to find the child we know is there.

As an educator, I want to find the good in every individual; to find the heart and soul that each child possesses; to find the drive and motivation that each child has to succeed. And when I cannot find that, to not just ignore it and move on. To get the help that that child deserves, so that he or she is able to make the right choices and show the world the type of person they can be.

While our fears, our worries, and our biggest nightmares continue around us, we will not let them control us. I will not let my students fear the world that they are about to enter, but rather conquer those fears with passion and move forward together — stronger.

Just Because It Isn’t You, Doesn’t Mean it Can’t Affect You

Last week was quite a roller coaster with the conversations that we had in my ECS 311 class.

A cover of a Parents‘magazine was displayed on the wall — a mother trying to tame her wild child that was wearing a headdress and holding a tiger in her clenched fist. At first glance this may not be a problem to most people; however, it is a problem for many people.

We had an engaging conversation throughout our class about how it impacted us as individuals — without really going into how it may affect an individual or group of students in our classroom. Some people thought it would be easy to just walk past the magazine, ignoring its entirety. Others looked beyond how it would affect them personally, and reflected on how it could impact someone else, specifically First Nations communities. I was kind of in between — thinking that it did not impact me enough to do something about it, but I empathized for the individuals who felt negatively towards the message that the magazine article was trying to convey.

I never realized how much this topic impacted my thinking until I was in a similar position a few days later. My uncle posted a news article on Facebook about how a number of the Archbishops in Alberta are against schools developing support systems for students so that they can openly and safely identify their gender or sexuality. My uncle wrote some hoorah message with this article, about how he hopes that everyone supports this idea as we need to teach people the ways of the bible.

I grew up in a religious family. I go to church whenever I am home, and I have numerous values that stem from my religion; however, there are also numerous things that I have strayed away from. Such as, because they are instilling this idea that individuals who identify differently than their “sex” need to be helped. I follow the sexuality that I was born with; however, I still felt deeply offended by my uncle’s position on the matter.

After reading this, I thought that I could just deal with it by continuing to scroll through my feed and ignore it. However, the conversation we had this week in ECS came into my mind and I knew that I had to make my feelings known to my uncle.

Whether something personally affects me or not, as an educator I need to be aware of how certain events such as this can have an impact on my students. Even though he is my uncle, I did not feel comfortable with the negativity and hatred he had towards a community. I unfriended him (sounds funny, but you get it), because I felt that if I just scrolled past it then it was almost as though I agreed with what he said. I had to message him and explain the situation to him, why his words upset me, and how I could not be associated with this idea as an educator.

It worries me that there are parents or people out there who have such strong views towards certain things, and that that strong view is being transferred onto their children. It scares me even more that there are school systems that follow these same values. A classroom, or school, is supposed to be a safe place for all individuals, regardless of their differences. This past week has taught me that as an educator I need to step up for all of my students so that they feel like they can be whoever they want to be in my classroom, and in society. As for students who share similar views as my uncle or who have negative perceptions about the differences that people have, I hope to open their minds to see the beauty in everyone around them.

I am ashamed that something had to negatively affect me in a similar way before I realized how wrong the magazine cover is. As a teacher, I could no longer just think about my own feelings, my own thoughts, and my own perceptions. The level of diversity in my classroom will most likely be more than I can handle some days; however, I need to master the areas that I can to make each individual feel safe in my classroom. Whether individuals or a community are shamefully being brought down on a magazine cover or in an article, it is my job to even more so now think about others.