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Teaching is HARD

Teaching is HARD

It has taken me a couple weeks to let my 7 week practicum in a Grade 5 class settle and sink in. That being said, this reflection (one of many) is focused on the profession of teaching and I will honestly admit: TEACHING IS HARD! It is emotionally, mentally and physically demanding in all the best ways. Teachers have to be passionate, dedicated, organized, hard-working, respectful, empathetic, professional, caring, connected, innovative and most importantly they have to embrace failure – just to name a few.

This blog post is my honest, real and raw realization and reflection about what teaching actually consists of… Not what a Faculty of Education may tell you on orientation day. (Disclaimer: nothing against the Faculty of Education, they have gotten me this far and provide us with amazing opportunities. However, what you learn in class and what you learn in the field is very different!)

In my mind and through my observations, these are the 10 most important qualities teacher should possess. Whether theses were learnt on my own, from my associate teacher, from my practicuum supervisor, from my students or even thanks to other members of the Faculté d’éducation I think they are essential to observe, realize and incorporate on set of my future career as a Teacher Candidate.

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Teachers need to be passionate. Teachers are passionate people – hands down. They need not only to be passionate about the subject(s) they teach, but also about the success and well-being of their students. These men and women wake up every morning ignited. They come into school with that spark in their eye ready to face any obstacle with a smile – now that’s what I call passion. Having a passion for teaching is important, but it is also important to share your passions outside of education. Shauna Pollock (@misspollock), in her book, Creating Classroom Magic, writes:

“Your passion is when you follow your heartbreak. Finding your passion helps you identify your dreams and your mission […] It’s crucial that you take yourself on a journey to discover your passion (or passions) and model that for your students. When they see that you believe in yourself, are willing to dream and make the world a better place, they will feel empowered to do the same”.

fancy-numbers-google-search-is-creative-inspiration-for-us-get-1QqYtd-clipart 3Teachers need to be dedicated. Day in and day out teachers devote their lives to the classroom. There’s being dedicated to your students, your class, your school, your professional development, etc. which are all great things, don’t get me wrong; but the flip side of the coin is being too dedicated… I’ve realized that this profession can run you down if you let it. Teachers give it their all, all of the time. Devoting your time and energy into this profession is extremely rewarding. However, this quality of dedication and devoting goes hand in hand with finding balance. This can be a hard lesson to learn and as a teacher candidate, I hope to find a rhythm for myself in the future.

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Teachers need to be organized. (Now isn’t that the truth?!) Whether a teacher is organized virtually or physically (or both), they have to file past lessons, student work, evaluations, etc. It is imperative to have some order in your classroom. From the stacks of photocopies paper clipped for the upcoming weeks to the lesson plans for when you’re absent, I’ve learnt that a teacher’s time use is more effective when things are well organized and prepared. Not to mention, colour coding subjects in notebooks, day timers, duotangs, binders, etc. (Unless I am the only on who does that because I may be a little too organized). The teachers I know have lists, grids and sticky notes galore – but please correct me if I am wrong. One way or another, it is important to find what works best for you.

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Teachers need to have a good work ethic. Teachers wear many different hats in a day. Not only are they educators, but also mediators, motivational speakers, consolers, mentors, role-models, the list goes on and on… While they juggle all of those roles, they also must keep up with curriculum demands, attend lunch meetings, triangulate, prepare engaging lessons, coach a sport team, lead a book club, grade summative assessments, and stay on track with their yearly schedule. If you don’t think that teachers are hard working – think again.

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Teachers need to be empathetic and respectful. These are two incredibly important qualities. An educator needs to put themselves in their student’s shoes, consider where their students are coming from and what they are going through at home each and every day. They can’t expect every student to be the same and fit in the same box. By respecting student’s needs, teachers can create confidence and success. Embodying these values as a teacher creates a safe and inclusive classroom allowing students to feel like they can grow and be important. It is about understanding them, pushing their limits but respecting their boundaries.

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Teachers need to be professional. It is not always easy in this profession to keep a professional demeanour. Teachers are prone to criticism from parents, other teachers and people in the community and this is not always easy to deal with. They must abide to the standards and are sometimes limited by some “red tape”. Every day educators dress respectfully, they are always on time and act in a professional matter. This professionalism also shines in their willingness to continue to better themselves in their field and pursue professional development.

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Teachers need to be caring. There are times where one must set aside the curriculum and to deal with the human side of education. I’ve learnt that being caring and considerate towards a situation or a student in distress will not only you help move forward in your lessons but it also shows the students that you are there for them. Caring is also welcoming students in the morning, asking them about their day and genuinely interested about their passions and past times. A teacher can foster that feeling in a classroom by actively listening to students, getting their feedback and cultivating RELATIONSHIPS. A caring teacher is a key to student success.

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Teachers need to be connected. High School Musical says it best: We’re all in this together! Through personal experience, I will be the first to day that creating a Personal Learning Network (PLN) allows educators to connect with other educators specialized in various domains. This expands knowledge and explores new ideas that you may not be familiar with. Networking with educators within your own school or on social media is the greatest form of professional development out there. Being connected also allows teachers to connect with the world around them. Never be scared to connect, only good can come from it.

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Teachers need to be innovative. Innovation has become such a buzzword in Education and sometimes I wonder if teachers truly know what it means. To me, innovating is looking to better new ideas, it is doing things differently and not worrying about what people think. It’s diving into curiosity and exploration. In the classroom, innovation can be very powerful. In @DerekRhodenizers MAD PD presentation about Incubating Innovationhe describes it to be a process. Find a problem and create new solutions all while being purposeful.  Most importantly, it is all about resolving that matter in a new, create and effective way that someone hasn’t necessarily come up with yet.

“There really needs to be a challenge. We don’t want to innovate for the sake of it, we want to innovate to solve the problem” – Derek Rhodenizer

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Teachers need to embrace failure. This new mentality has been created where failure is used as a learning tool. Failure is totally acceptable and teachers need to start welcoming it into the classroom. Through failure, teachers prepare students for defeat and for success. In between defeat and success is the learning opportunity where students grow. As a teacher, it is important to model vulnerability and to try something different that may not necessarily work. Implementing risk increases the chances of a lesson being learnt – it’s pretty incredible.

After reading this you may want to reflect on the qualities you portray as a teacher or as a futur teacher. I stated at the beginning of this blog that these were the 10 character traits a “qualified” teacher should possess. However, it is more geared towards being qualified as an individual being responsible of the growth, learning and happiness of +15 little humans day in and day out, year after year.

In my opinion, these traits and values cannot be taught in a classroom at the University of Ottawa, Laurentian, Guelph, Queens or any university. They are acquired through years of experience. You may never master all 10 of them (and there are many more not mentioned) but what is important is that they exist somewhere in your person. To be a teacher you must be caring and professional, hard working and so many more things… I’ve learnt that teaching may be HARD but also the most important and rewarding profession out there.

Blue Sky School

Blue Sky School

Being the keen prospective teacher I am, last night, my teacher-candidate friend Jessica Gladu (@MsGladu) and I participated in an Action Team meeting at Barley Mow for Blue Sky School. The meeting, being held in the basement of the restaurant, was filled with positive energy from the moment we walked in the room and only grew stronger throughout the night.

Two Ottawa educators, Shauna Pollock (@misspollock) and Karen Hill (@hill_k) have launched an incredible “not for profit independent school nurturing the next generation of changemakers and partnering with today’s innovative leaders”(@blueskyschoolca) that will be opening as of September 2017! Sounds pretty cool already, right?

Blue Sky School is also known as the “Experimental Prototype School of Tomorrow” lovingly inspired by Walt Disney’s concept of EPCOT which stands for (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow). Shauna, an avid Disney fan, is all about the creativity, imagination and innovation of the great Walt Disney to connect educators and students. She truly creates magic in the classroom! She even wrote a book about it : . Trust me, it’s MAGICAL!

Blue Sky School is unlike anything you have seen or heard of. It challenges the problems of the current school system and find solutions to them. This school is different because it’s curriculum on demand; focused on skills and competencies. This curriculum is based on student needs and is shaped by current events. They value experimentation, celebration, kindness, balance, connections, passion and are lead by student voice. Oh, have I mentioned that there are no teachers at Blue Sky School? There will be strictly pedagogical coaches and Shauna will be the first! There will even be a dog named Ivy, the canine pupil to aid in emotional support.

But, you may be asking yourself… what is so different about this school? Why should I get involved and what do I have to offer? You may not be a teacher and you’re wondering how you could be valued in this type of school?

They need people like YOU to mentor students in fields such as Engineering, World Studies, Film, Second Language Learners, Music, Robotics… the list goes on and on! They need people like YOU to work 1:1 with students and provide workshops based on student’s interests. People like YOU can help with developing and supporting mental health awareness. Let’s not forget re-writing curriculums and policies all while trying to market this out of this world project ! No matter what background you come from you can contribute. The options are limitless, just like their school motto: THE SKY IS NEVER THE LIMIT!

There are so many things to love about this project! From it’s passionate founders, to it’s bright future and meaningful mission, the Blue Sky School will empower students by giving them 21st century skills and nurture the next generation of changemakers.

There are many ways to connect with the educators and founders of this project, if you are willing to get on the bus and join the Blue Sky School or would simply like more information. Connect with them on Twitter: @blueskyschoolca or @misspollock, via e-mail : or check out their website:

#TryPod Month

#TryPod Month

“If it makes you nervous, you’re doing it right” – Donald Glover

Do you ever just stumble upon a quote that fits perfectly into your life at that very moment? Lately, I have been trying new things, exploring new avenues and testing my limits.. Whether it has been trying new tools, having new conversations and opening up to new ideas, March has been a challenging month for me (in a good way!). March is also #TryPod Month… you may ask what that hashtag means, well it promotes the use of podcasts to every day people. There are thousands of them! Do you have a special podcast that you’re subscribed to? Maybe a motivational podcast like my new favourite: Ticked. Podcasts are fun and easy way to effortlessly learn new things, listen to new perspectives and get engaged in new topics while commuting to work, walking to school or even cleaning the house! 

At the beginning of March, I launched my new bilingual podcast Que sera Sarah? with the help of a few great Canadian podcasters that I couldn’t go without mentioning : Derek Rhodenizer, Rolland Chidiac and Chris Cluff. It is a great initiative for me as a first year education student. It is also a great opportunity for me to reflect on my practice during my placement on a very public level, all while having meaningful conversations with experts in the field along the way! I chose to start my podcast, not only to document and share my thoughts and journey into teaching; I want to be a model to my peers and colleagues. I think it’s important to show them that it is encouraged to try new things, take risks, be vulnerable and learn with your students. I try to promote this through my reflection podcasts as I live through successes and struggles day to day in my placement in a Grade 5 classroom.

To reflect back to the citation above, podcasting makes me nervous! That being said… I kind of enjoy the thrill of recording my discussions with other educators that anyone in the world can listen to. There is however, always the risk of saying the wrong thing and having others judge your opinions. That fear is there and will always be there but it will not hold me back. It is the same thing with blogging! If you don’t test your limits, you’ll never know how great you are 🙂

I challenge you to take the risk and #TryPod this month and become a better listener. Even better, try out my podcast with the link below and let me know what you think! Also, if you are interested in being a guest on Que sera Sarah? please do not hesitate to contact me at or by Twitter @sarahhhh_anneee 🙂

Écrasez l’insécurité linguistique

Écrasez l’insécurité linguistique

Avez-vous déjà éprouvé un sentiment d’incompétence lors d’une conversation avec quelqu’un? Comme si la personne avec qui vous échangiez jugeait la façon dont vous parliez ou vos choix de mots? Comme si elle évaluait la qualité de votre parler comme étant inférieur à  celui de vos proches, de vos amies ou de vos collègues? Si oui, vous souffrez probablement d’insécurité linguistique. Mais, ne vous inquiétez pas! Vous n’êtes pas les premiers à ressentir une certaine médiocrité envers vos capacités langagières et, surtout, vous n’êtes pas seul. Moi aussi, je souffre d’insécurité linguistique. Je le vis chaque jour et je n’ai pas peur de l’avouer. Voici mon histoire…

Même si ma langue maternelle est le français, je proviens d’une région de l’Est ontarien où le français est langue minoritaire et où l’anglais est, du coup, majoritaire. Ceci fait en sorte que mon accent, mes prononciations et mes articulations, tout comme mon dialecte, sont différents de la norme en raison de la dominance de l’anglais dans ma communauté et dans ma famille exogame. Croyez-le où non, le fait de parler provoque une gêne et un inconfort chez moi, puisque je juge mon idiolecte “inférieur” à la norme linguistique.

Il est évident que je souffre d’insécurité linguistique, et ce, en raison d’un manque de confiance, de pratique et de renforcement positif dans mes contextes familial, social et scolaire. En effet, ces conséquences sont négatives face à la perception de ma langue et sont aussi en fonction de mon estime personnelle je m’abaisse constamment. Croyez-moi, j’ai beaucoup à en dire, mais, parfois je me réduis au silence à cause de ces sentiments d’incompétences et de jugements. Ceci est un problème très personnel et intime. Mais, dans ce cas-ci, c’est facile de m’exprimer dans un blogue puisque vous ne pouvez pas entendre mon accent et vos perceptions sur mes compétences en français se font qu’à l’écrit. Ce que vous ne savez pas de moi, c’est que j’ai une spécialisation en études françaises. En effet, je parle le français depuis 22 ans, et ce, quotidiennement. Je ressens la crainte de parler en public à cause d’expériences vécues… Par exemple: les commentaires que les gens font par rapport à ma façon de parler ou bien, lorsque mes amis et collègues complètent mes phrases quand j’hésite.

De plus, il existe une insécurité identitaire qui va de main en main avec l’insécurité linguistique. Dans le cas des Franco-ontariens, le problème est qu’on veut toujours se rapprocher le plus du français standard. Il y a très peu de place aux variétés linguistiques. Donc, si vous êtes comme moi et que vous avez un idiolecte particulier et hors-norme par rapport au français standard, il est normal de se sentir troublé par rapport à nos différences linguistiques. (Ajoutons que la situation minoritaire de plusieurs Franco-canadiens ne favorise pas une confiance linguistique et identitaire).
Il faut arrêter de se juger, mais plutôt accepter la façon dont on parle et célébrer nos accents! Parler français dans une région où cette langue est minoritaire est une grande richesse ! Être Franco-ontarien devrait être une fierté. Ça ne veut pas dire que je suis moins compétente puisque je ne roule pas me “rrrrr” comme vous. Je suis fière de ma langue, mais je pense qu’il est dommage qu’il existe des centaines de personnes comme moi qui se sentent incapables de “bien parler”, et ce, peu importe la langue employée. Ensemble, combattons l’insécurité linguistique. Informons-nous sur les variétés linguistiques et encourageons les accents et les régionalismes! Je fais surtout appel aux enseignants et enseignantes…  il est indispensable de ne pas nuire à la perception du français chez  les élèves, car c’est à ce stade du développement qu’ils apprennent à se définir en tant que citoyen et que se forme leur pensée critique.

La troupe Improtéine standardise l’accent franco-ontarien

Why Teach?

Why Teach?

This blog comes at the perfect time because on Monday I dove into my first practicum of Teacher’s College. I am in a grade 5 classroom at École des Pins in Ottawa, Ontario! That being said, some of you maybe thinking how I could possibly offer an experienced point of view if I am only a teacher candidate? Well, that is partially true, because I’m currently an Education student à la Faculté d’éducation at the University of Ottawa. However, just because I am not officially a member of the OCT, I am still extremely involved in the education community and look forward to sharing my student voice through blogs and my new bilingual podcast from a teacher candidate’s point of view!

Now that we’ve got acquainted, it’s time to get to the good stuff! I want to talk about the question I have been receiving (and have been asking myself) in the past few months as I progress through my B.Éd. Time and time again, I have had this infamous conversation: Why are you becoming a teacher? Isn’t the program TWO years now? So, all together it actually takes SIX years, to become a teacher… Here is my answer.

I have been working towards my goal of becoming a teacher because for the longest time, I was the little girl who had a big dream and now, I am as close as I’ve ever been to reaching it.

I want to become a teacher for the relationships. It is important to me to be able to connect with my future students not only in the classroom setting, but on a personal level as well. I want to mentor my students and foster their growth. And, as Rolland Chiddiack once said, I want to support my students as learners and people.

I am going into teaching because I look forward to working with other educators who are passionate about the same things I am. When it comes to conversations about education my eyes twinkle and my brain is stimulated!

Overall, teaching is for me because I have a thirst for learning and education, a passion for making a difference in student’s lives. So, the answer is yes, I want to become a teacher and I am loving every minute of it.

Do you remember the reason why you went into teaching? Is that reason the same now that you stay into teaching? I would love to hear why you became a teacher… In the comments, state 1 reason why you chose this rewarding profession!