Reflective Teaching – Day 30

Te@chThought‘s Day 30 Challenge is: “What would you do (as a teacher) if you weren’t afraid?”

I’d like to view this question as a teaching bucket list! There are a variety of ways that fear presents itself in relation to teaching or careers in general: monetary, starting over, losing seniority, retirement planning, learning new expectations, new bosses, etc. These are reasonable fears and concerns.

So, my no-holds-barred Teaching Bucket List would include:

  • teaching in another country – preferably somewhere tropical – I am truly drawn to Cuba…?
  • teaching in Northern BC. I would love some snow play days
  • stocking my classroom with the technology needed to provide learners with choice
  • teaching outdoors
  • teaching on a sailboat – Have you seen “White Squall“???
  • exploring more Montessori principles while teaching in public school
  • teaching in Scotland
  • teaching high school
  • blogging about my teaching regularly
  • team-teaching a multi-age group
  • opening my own school – a rural, one-room school house
  • teaching without a set schedule. I am not sure what this would look like, but I would like to believe that it would follow some sort of Distributed Learning model, but with even more flexibility for student needs.
  • trying some of the Waldorf principles and stream a large group of learners for several years.
  • finding a way to incorporate more play or tinkering at the Middle School level
  • collaborating on a long term learning experience with a buddy class – where travel and meeting in real life are a part of our plan



Reflective Teaching – Day 29

Te@chThought‘s Day 29 Challenge is: “How have you changed as an educator since you first started?

It is a little embarrassing to look back on myself as a teacher to see how I have grown and areas I’ve stagnated! I’d like to focus primarily on my time as a Middle School teacher.

Things that have NOT changed:

  • my love for my students
  • my reasons for teaching
  • my enthusiasm and excitement when things are going well
  • my determination to find a solution when things are not going well
  • my heart-on-my-sleeve vulnerability
  • my ongoing struggle with bureaucracy and the implementation of meaningless rules
  • my silliness – I have not grown up, so school is a great place to be!
  • my insecurity
  • I still worry all of the time!
  • my excitement and eagerness to learn
  • my problem-solving nature – I love to figure things out

Things that have changed:

  • I believe that I am learning more, and am growing in my teaching practice
  • My classroom is even more student-centred
  • I love collaborating and have found people with whom to collaborate – both near and far!
  • I feel more supported
  • I “mix it up” more, I try new things and get bored with routines
  • I am less likely to accept status quo, or heavy-handed implementations/suggestions of how to run a curriculum
  • I seek help far more frequently
  • I am having more fun and becoming more accepting of the person I am in the classroom
  • I share more
  • I see value in some of the skills that I am developing
  • I am still working hard to improve

Reflective Teaching – Day 28

Te@chThought‘s Day 28 Challenge is: “Respond: Should technology drive curriculum, or vice versa?

I don’t think that either should drive the other, actually. I believe that good pedagogy should drive all decisions in the classroom. Curriculum is mandated, but with the new BC Curriculum, there is the possibility for more flexibility. I don’t think that we should read the curriculum drafts with the idea of trying to find the points at which to implement technology. I also don’t believe that we should look at technology to see which elements of the curriculum could be covered most efficiently with the addition of technology.

I believe that the starting place for these decisions lies with the group of students with whom you are learning. A decision to use technology with a particular lesson with a particular group of learners one year may not be right for the next group of students. There should also be more opportunities for learners to self-select when to use technology and what need that technology might best satisfy. There must also be time and space without screens in our classrooms. In fact, we should be getting out of our classrooms more frequently!

Let good pedagogy be the driver in our classrooms.

Reflective Teaching – Day 27

Te@chThought‘s Day 27 Challenge is: “What role do weekends and holidays play in your teaching?

Whew, right now my weekends and the all-too distant holidays play the role of bonus “catch-up” time. Teachers in BC are only two weeks into teaching after a period of job action. So, it still feels like the beginning of September. I am tired every day! My mind is completely overwhelmed with the problem-solving that begins every school year: who are these learners? How can I best support their efforts? What plans do I need to work on? How do they fit together? Do I need to make changes to our classroom lay out? How can I ensure that they feel welcome? Why is my room such a mess still???! What could this space be like if we got rid of all of the desks? How should I review math concepts in order to best meet the needs of the most learners? What book should I read to them? Will they like me?

My mind does not stop when I get home. It does not stop when I lay down to sleep. If anything, sometimes the questions get louder!

And, that is only one piece of the puzzle. I am almost half-way through a Masters of Education program. And I am enrolled in TWO courses this term. I have class meetings regularly. And homework assignments. And blog posts to write – I have not completed any of the three that I thought I would have done by now. I have Twitter to respond to. Blog posts to read. Two text books to read and respond to. A book club. A MOOC. A Literature Review to craft- um, and I guess I will need to actually begin reviewing that literature!

The most important part of my life is my family. My wonderful husband has not yet complained that the cookie plate (that was full all summer) has not been filled in over a week. And that I am too tired to be any fun. My dogs, however, have been giving me “guilt eyes” and needing extra cuddles to make up for our new time apart.

My weekends are filled with work right now. That is a necessity so that I can keep up with the academic and workplace demands. Balance will eventually be restored. I know this. I am COUNTING on this!! Soon my weekends will be times where I can recharge my batteries, devote some time to planning fun learning opportunities for my students, learn things to help improve my practice, AND spend time with my loved ones and do the things that I love to do.

Reflective Teaching – Day 26

Te@chThought‘s Day 26 Challenge is: “What are your three favorite go-to sites for help/tips/resources in your teaching?

Two years ago, this would be an harder question to answer! My go-to sites included SMARTTechnologies SMARTExchange, Youtube, and just general Googling!

Now, I am primarily using Twitter. I curate great ideas by favouriting tweets, or reaching out to the author for more information. I post questions with hashtags and seek out answers, tagging in people I think that may be able to help me.

I am filled with gratitude to be teaching in a time where global connection and collaboration are celebrated and invited. Ideas and resources are shared freely and conversations spark innovation. It’s exciting!

Go-to sites are shared quickly. Teachers also create and share their own resources. It is no longer a matter of bookmarking key sites to return to repeatedly, social bookmarking has become more important for the flow of ideas. There is a growth mindset about teaching and a desire to support others in their own learning and efforts.

What a great time to be teaching!

Reflective Teaching – Day 25

Te@chThought‘s Day 25 Challenge is: “The ideal collaboration between students–what would it look like?

In my opinion an ideal collaboration between students would involve a lot of choice. I think you would need to invest time in community-building and developing strong relationships in order for collaboration to be effective.

Learners should be able to choose who they work well with and the topic that they would like to explore. They should not be limited by walls, age, or class lists. If the collaboration is with a student in a different class, a teacher down the hall, or a new friend on another continent, the teacher should help facilitate the communication. This becomes an opportunity for a great conversation about synchronous and asynchronous communication!

Collaboration skills should be actively taught and developed throughout the year. There should be regular discussions about how to compromise on sticking points, how to develop connections, how to share resources and ideas, and how to ensure that all voices are honoured and included.

My bottom lines for “ideal” collaboration would be a situation where everyone involved feels safe, valued, vital to the process, respected, and deeply engaged.

Seems simple, right?

Reflective Teaching – Day 24

Te@chThought‘s Day 24 Challenge is: “Which learning trend captures your attention the most, and why? (Mobile learning, project-based learning, game-based learning, etc.)

I am actually basing my Masters research on this topic! I will link my Research Proposal draft here (eventually).

My biggest interest right now is BYOD – Bring Your Own Device. I want to know how we can leverage the devices that the students are currently carrying effectively to transform education. I want to explore what attitudes, habits, and citizenship skills need to be in place for a BYOD launch to be successful. I would like to curate some resources around citizenship as an ongoing focus for educators who are using BYOD and explore examples of good pedagogy around BYOD.

Who do you consider to be experts in BYOD? Launching BYOD school-wide can be a challenge when considering the variety of opinions regarding technology use, screen time, and digital citizenship concerns that all stakeholders must address. My other question is how to support the learners who do not have their own devices?

I think that encouraging students to use their own phones, tablets and laptops helps to bridge that gap between learning at home and learning at school. How are you using student devices in your own classrooms?