Monthly Archives: July 2015

I’m Not Sharing

This year I don’t feel like sharing.

Not that I won’t share ideas or collaborate with others – I do those things freely and often and I love it!  I am kind and generous with friends and family. I generally play well with others.   It’s the students that I am feeling selfish about.

I’m not taking an intern this year.

I was going to, in fact, I had signed up for one.  I had an intern this past year and it was great in a lot of ways.  Having a new adult person to converse with, share ideas with and learn from.  Hopefully, she got something out of the deal, too.

Last year started out really well. “Great!” I thought.  My intern was building relationships with the kids and starting her journey on becoming an educator.  She was learning and growing and the kids loved her.  We worked well together and shared the task of leading this group of little people.  She was a bit reluctant to jump in but I nudged her to start and to begin building her teaching time.  And things went well.

But then I got bored.  I missed teaching.  It was hard for me to just observe her lessons and not be part of the action.  I missed interacting with the kids all day and most of all I felt as though I missed out on the relationship building that I hold so very dearly as part of the building of my classroom culture and climate.  Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t disappear or leave the room for the whole time she was with our class, but the three weeks when she taught full-time and I was supposed to be ‘around’ but not ‘there’ were very, very long weeks.

In January, when my intern had returned back to university, I noticed something weird that hadn’t happened in years.  I felt like I didn’t really *know* my students as well as I had in past years.  I had gaps in what I knew about them – their hobbies, likes, dislikes.  I knew their academic abilities, but I had missed time bonding with them and developing those relationships that I hold so sacred.

I was sad.

I have just finished Paul Solarz‘s book Learn Like a Pirate, and one of the most important pieces that I took away from it was the absolute importance of relationships, trust and respect that are foundational for a positive classroom culture and team.  I nodded a lot while reading the book because I agree so strongly with those things.  I have always said that I believed that teaching was important but that the relationships that are formed are even more important.

Tonight was another fantastic Teach Like a Pirate chat on Twitter (#tlap).  TLAP is based on Dave Burgessbook of the same name.  I read it a couple of summers ago.    The theme of the chat was Classroom Culture and the importance of relationships, trust, and caring came through loud and clear from a group of very enthusiastic and passionate educators.

So I’m not sharing my kids this year (yes, *my* kids – once you’ve been in my room, you are always part of that group!).  I know the importance of the internship program and I will certainly take part again, as I have many times in the past, but this year, it’s just going to be me and my team.  And I will know them well.  And they will know me well. And we will try to live mostly happily-ever-after-probably-with-a-few-bumps-in-the-road next year.

And the year will be fun and memorable.   I’ll consider the intern thing next year.



Where There are Sparks, There is Fire

Right now, my province is facing the biggest evacuation effort in our history because of wildfires in the North.  More than 13 000 people have been displaced from their homes and their communities and relocated in shelters being taken care of by the Red Cross, the generosity of our people, and other companies and organizations.    My family has a cabin that is located in the middle of some of those fires and miraculously our subdivision has remained unscathed as of yet.  We remain optimistic and hopeful, always knowing that all it takes is a spark of ember to ignite a disaster.  My most sincere thanks and appreciation to all of those men and women who are working to save what they can from Mother Nature’s wrath.

Sparks can cause damage, but after the fire, there will be regrowth and rebuilding.  Nature and the human spirit are both extremely resilient like that.  In our learning, all it takes is a spark to ignite a movement, an activity, or a change in our teaching style.  The sparks that can do that for me and that drive my continued journey as a life-long learning come from a variety of places.

Twitter:  So many good ideas on Twitter!  The people who I follow and who I consider my PLN are so smart and so interesting.  All it takes is an interesting idea and I find myself drawn to research more and make it happen!  Find me here.

Colleagues:  So many talented people doing so many interesting things!  My colleague Bonnie is an absolutely gifted teacher.  She is a Daily 5 Guru, and having seen what she does with that structure I was motivated to learn more, even going to a Daily 5 Conference led by The Sisters.  I love to collaborate with colleagues – some of the best ideas are ones that came up accidentally in a chat session and have created the most memorable experiences for me and for the students!

Real life:  I love being able to take things that are happening in our real world and connect them to my students’ learning, as well as my own.  Often, we are learning together!

Students:  What are the kids interested in?  That often drives how I teach, what I teach, and physical structures in my classroom.  This past year involved a lot of changes in my room as I transformed it to a space that I feel was a better fit for more of my kids.

The thing about sparks is that it takes a very small one to lead to a very big result.  A simple idea becomes a unit.  A student request becomes a project.  An interest becomes a leadership opportunity.

I love when I have an opportunity to try something new.  The small sparks often become wildfires by the time I am done with them!  I love, in this case,  that there is an uncertainty about how it will work out.  I love that I can tell my students, “I’m not sure about this, but let’s give it a go and find out!”  I hope that I am always able to find those sparks to guide me as an educator because if those particular sparks are ever snuffed out, it will be time for me to pack it up.

Okay, I’ll admit it

In my Twitter-world, a great group of educators who are part of the hashtag #saskedchat have created a blogging challenge for the summer.  The first challenge from last week was about “What’s holding you back?” and it’s taken me this whole week to try to verbalize why, exactly, I have so much trouble blogging my thoughts on educational topics.

Watch this 17 second clip.

That’s right.  Fear.  I am afraid.  Afraid that: #1.  I don’t sound “smart enough.”  Or, #2, worse, that my opinion is “wrong.”  Or, #3: that a colleague will think that the post is about them.

Let me address those things as if a student had said them to me:

1:  “You are smart.  Reasonably intelligent, educated and a life-long learner of your craft.  You got this.  Go for it!”

2.  “It’s an opinion.  There is no wrong.  Not everyone is going to agree with you and that’s okay!”

3.  “Keep it professional.  Anonymous.  Respectful. Besides, no one reads your blog. 🙂  ”

So I know that I should take more risks.

But still:

I think it takes a lot of courage to put your ideas out into the world to be read and criticized.  I am sometimes afraid to be challenged by the Incredibly Smart People.

I have been around education for quite a while and as we all do, I believe that what I do for the students in my classroom is always in their best interests.  I try to better myself and my craft through continued reading, learning and application of skills.  I think I need to put myself more out there in the blogging world.  When I look back to previous posts that I have written, I like what I read.

I think that’s what matters.

Find it.