According to the Map…

According to the Map…

Since we are children, we are pressured into finding our passion early on. Not only must we find it, but also we are expected to pursue it and stick with it. We must have an idea in elementary, find it in high school, and pursue it in university. Quite frankly, I never agreed with this process. In all my years of schooling, I have found my hobbies, likes and dislikes; but it was not until a degree later and a new job that I discovered my true passion. How can we give our students the opportunity to discover their passion?

I’m not going to lie. I Googled information for this blog post, and was disappointed to see so many advice columns suggesting career aptitude tests. Should we be so lucky to score something on a test on a given day, and have a realization that this is the answer to your future. As I continued my search, I began to realize that there is no clear cut answer to helping out students find their passion. There is no map to follow and, oh look, X marks the spot and I now know what I want to do with my life (also, how many times did YOU change your mind about your career path from ages 16-18?). However, amongst this search, I discovered ways in which we can help our students discover their passion.

Be Open Minded. So many times students feel that they need to choose a certain career path because it is the “smart” path to take. This path will undoubtedly lead to a job and a happy life. Let’s show-and-tell our students that instead of choosing the path that they think is right, choose the path that they like. Choose the path that is filled with your likes, your interests, and the possibilities you cannot wait to see come to fruition. Don’t want to be a doctor or a lawyer? Let your students know that there so many other possibilities and choices out there. We need show them how to be open minded to other paths they may not have thought to take before. As a teacher or an educator, we spend a lot of time with them throughout the day, and we should be praising them for their interests, likes and questions- not putting them down. We should expose them to different careers and choices and show them what their options are.

Intrinsic Motivation. Yes, extrinsic motivation systems have some beneficial aspects to it, but in terms of life lessons, we should be focusing on internal motivation. Have students focus on the parts of their life that they do for the sole reason that they just like to do it. There is no reward gained, no recognition; they are doing this because they truly enjoy it. Distinguishing what these aspects are can help them get one step closer to discovering their passion.

It’s Okay Not to Know. Students mayknow what their hobbies are, and where their interests lie, but that doesn’t mean they know their passion yet; that’s okay. Although we are helping them discover their passion, we also need to be aware that at younger ages, this is exceptionally hard to do. I only discovered my passion at 23 years old. How can we expect a 15 year old to do it? Giving them to tools to discover it, while simultaneously acknowledging the difficulty and relieving the pressure, all make for great ways to find their passion.

 

Collaboration. Although this step may not be entirely about finding their passion, I believe it is a useful tool that can be effective anywhere it is applied. We need to move away from competitiveness. Students compete for grades, for attention; they want to be number one all by themselves. Is this realistic? In life, we are, for the most part, working in teams or with other people. Seldom do we work independently all the time. We need to teach our students that collaboration is not a bad thing. Working together will still get the job done, and will also allow you to see different view points, gain insight into new ideas and learn new things. As a team, we can all find our passion together, and enjoy the process.

 

Fortunately, there is no map that leads us directly to our path in life. I say fortunately because I think the process of finding this path is just as important as getting there.

“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it” – Rosalia de Castro

Put That in 140 Characters

Put That in 140 Characters

I have been engrossed in the world of education lately, and ironically, had writer’s block trying to come up with a topic for a new blog post. Weeks had gone by, and I still couldn’t think of a topic I wanted to write about- until I looked down at my computer and thought, ‘why not write about technology and social media?’

The world of education is ever changing, and for the better, I believe. This doesn’t only apply to the classroom, but for teachers and educators as well. Twitter has become a teacher hot spot for networking, vision-sharing, collaborative work, and so much more. Apparently, a lot can be said in 140 characters. Twitter chats are shown on my feed daily, and in all honesty, I get pretty good information from them. Blog posts, websites, podcasts and more- all at the reach of our fingertips. Yes, there are probably downsides to the growing social media platform. As a teacher, I feel it is important to remain professional and somewhat private online. However, sometimes it can be hard to see the line of what could and should be put in 140 characters, and what should not. Yes, instagraming your classroom and favourite student pieces is a nice way of showing accomplishments and giving ideas to other educators, but where is the line to what picture we should be posting, and what we shouldn’t be?

  We can easily come up with the pitfalls of technology and social media in the teaching world, but what about the upside?

Twitter has opened up a whole new world to me; it has led me to writing this for voicEd. 140 characters has led me to meeting new people; from short tweets, to a giant podcast of 18(ish) teachers and educators from all around. It has allowed me to create TC2; a podcast dedicated to the world of being a teacher candidate. In this, I can speak with other TC’s, and without it, I may not have gotten that opportunity. Pinterest has given me ideas that I may not have thought of myself, and the tools to make that idea come to life. Instagram has given me funny and relatable teacher jokes on those days where not even coffee can help. So, is it all bad?

It can only be as bad as you let it. Using social media responsibly and with a level of caution will allow you to explore, network, and learn. The 21st century is all about technology, and although I can understand the reluctance, we should perhaps instead be open to stepping into the technological world; even if for a minute, just to see what it’s all about. This is not to say we should replace everything with technology. I would choose a hard cover book over a kobo any day. What I am saying is that the online world is not as bad as it is put out to be. Explore the online world, network with those near or far, and learn from each other.

Now, what do you have to say about technology and social media in 140 characters?

Top 5 Things You Shouldn’t Say to a Teacher

Top 5 Things You Shouldn’t Say to a Teacher

Teaching is a career derived from passion, creativity and empathy. However, it is probably THE most misunderstood career as well! Here is a list I’ve compiled of the top 5 things you should never say to a teacher. Ever.

  1. “Tests are a good way to see if the teacher is doing their job right”.

No no and no. Tests are the necessary evil we must face every year. Not only do they not measure a teacher’s ability to teach, but it doesn’t always measure a student’s level of understanding. One bad day = one not so good test. That test doesn’t equate to the countless raised hands and answered questions during any other day or lesson. For this reason, many teachers don’t place all of the importance on tests; what students produce elsewhere is just as important.

  1. “Maybe you should try doing more fun activities in your classroom”.

Yes- activities are a great way to learn, however not everything we do can be turned into an activity. Sometimes independent work is needed, or a writing assignment in a journal. That doesn’t mean that we don’t try to make it fun!

  1. “It’s great that you finish your day early”.

May I introduce you to lesson plans? How about correcting exams and homework? We definitely don’t wake up in the morning and randomly decide what we’re going to teach that day. We spend nights, days and weeks planning just exactly what we’re going to teach. Most of the time, it doesn’t go as planned, which means we need to re-plan and regroup. Not once have I went home after practicum and a day of teaching and said “wow, I have nothing to do today”.

  1. “I could so be a kindergarten teacher. It’s like babysitting”.

Far from it. A lot of teaching goes on in a kindergarten class. This is where we get students ready for school; we set the tone, give them a good base to start from and teach them the basics that they will need to use from here on out. Kindergarten teaching is not easy, and it is absolutely not babysitting. I have infinite respect for kindergarten teachers- especially when in a class of 30 students!

  1. The famous, “Teaching is so easy. You get summers off!”

Apart from the fact that some of summer is usually spent planning for next year, teaching is not easy. Yes, it is rewarding and yes, we don’t only have 2 weeks vacation, but we are in charge of something very important. Someone important in my life  pointed out that I are going to mold young minds, and he’s right. We mold young minds. We teach them things they will remember for the rest of their lives. We spend 7 hours a day with children to teach them about so many different subjects. Not only that, but we teach them life lessons as well. We are in charge of their learning, and that isn’t easy. Knowing that you need to help them learn and succeed is gratifying, but can be stressful as well.

Cheers to current teachers, past teachers and future teachers. May we continue to persevere, inspire and succeed in shaping the education of today and tomorrow; and cheers to our well deserved summer vacation.

Diary of a Student Teacher

Diary of a Student Teacher

Most of my blogs are informative and educational, however I decided to write something a little more personal this time.

I’m from Montreal, and I’ve officially decided to make Ottawa my forever home. The main reason for doing this was because I believe the education system here is organized, prepares young students well for future educational experiences, and schools here truly care about the well-being of students. I want to be part of a system that puts education as a priority on its list.

This past summer, I had time to reflect on my teacher candidate experiences from last year, and think about how I want to change for the better; how I can be helpful in this great system. Here is a list of my unanswered questions:

  1. How can I be even more organized than I already am? (And I really am at about 150% on the organization scale)
  2. How can I be better at classroom management? What are the skills I need to use here, and why has no one told me what they are yet?
  3. How can I find my place in the teaching world; how can I be seen as a teacher, and not just as a student teacher?
  4. Where will I get a job afterwards? How can I stand out from the crowd to get that job afterwards?
  5. Why do I keep buying school supplies I don’t need?

I spent most of my time worrying about the things I could have done as a teacher candidate; the things I should have done differently, or the things I didn’t do, but should have. After each day at my placement school, I would question myself: “Should I have said this instead?” “Was I prepared enough?” I was also spending my time worrying about the upcoming practicum placement, worried about things that hadn’t even happened yet.

“Will the students like me?”

“Will they take me seriously?”

Will I be a good teacher?”

The truth is, nobody will ever be the perfect teacher. There will always be good days, and bad days. On the bad days, you may even question if you made the right career choice. On the bad days, your schedule may not go as planned. On the bad days, you forgot to use the strategies you learned about last week. On the bad days, you get home and think about all the “should have’s”.

   However, for every bad day, there will be a good day. On the good day, your schedule will go as planned. On the good day, you will remember to use that classroom management strategy you read about yesterday. On the good day, you remember why you became a teacher. Even on those bad days, you should never forget why you became a teacher.

   I challenge myself, and others who face similar anxieties about the upcoming practicum, to remember why you are here. We are here because we chose to be part of a system that will help shape the lives of students. We are here because we chose to be part of that students’ life. We are here because we chose to educate those students, and prepare them for challenges they may face. As a teacher candidate, a supply teacher, or a full time teacher, we are never done learning. We are continuously acquiring new knowledge; we are learning new methods, new techniques, new everything.

      So maybe I should try answering my own questions now:

  1. I cannot possibly be more organized. I need to believe that I can do it, because I can.
  2. Ask teachers, educators, even Google; the more I connect with others and ask for their help and opinions, the more strategies I will learn about. I need to be courageous in the classroom, and use those techniques. It’s only the beginning.
  3. I already am part of the teaching world. As far as being seen as a teacher, and not a student teacher- guess what? I am a student teacher. There’s nothing wrong with that. Take this time to learn, and figure out what kind of teacher I am.
  4. I’m already doing so many great things for my future. I will stand out because I put effort into my future.
  5. Because I just love new pencils, okay?

 

I encourage us to make connections, friendships, and partnerships. Learn from others, teach others, and educate the world.

That’s Child’s Play

That’s Child’s Play

On a normal school day, a child will learn math, language arts, social studies, French, arts, religion, or music, among other subjects. However, amongst all the educational learning, we must not forget the other way that will allow a child’s brain to grow: imaginative, free play.

Many studies have shown that giving children the time for imaginative play has actually led to better educational success. Recess is important, after all. Scientifically, how does imaginative play lead to a better education? According to NPR.org, when a child engages in free play, there are changes that occur in connections in the neurons at the front end of the brain. These changes in the prefrontal cortex are critical because “during childhood [it will] help wire up the brain’s executive control center, which has a critical role in regulating emotions, making plans and solving problems, [and it] is what prepares a young brain for life, love and even schoolwork.” (NPR.org) According to studies, the only way a child can build up these connections is through free-play. Students are creating their own games, and their own rules among social interactions with their peers. This can be done with a simple half-hour of free play. Many results have been concluded that free-play leads to better academic success, as well as social skills. Skills that have been developed at Grade 3 are said to continue to last throughout their school years for the most part.

One thing to remember is that physical education is not a substitute for free-play. Phys Ed has rules and structure, whereas free-play only has the rules that the students come up with themselves. Phys Ed is great to release energy and get active, however it does not have the same effects as free-play does on the brain. When students engage in play, they are deciding what they want to do and how they want to do it; it is all a negotiation made by the students’ themselves- no rules are imposed by a teacher or educator.

Breaks during a tutoring session can also lead to better success. Giving 5-10 minute breaks over an hour, or hour and a half lesson will allow for the student to relax and wander off into their own imagination. When they must come back to work, those few minutes can feel refreshing, and they will feel more motivated to get back into the lesson.

As a teacher/educator, allowing free-play has many benefits. Keeping a student in from recess for whatever reason can sometimes seem like a fitting reaction, however, we should not forget that at a young age, letting the child play may have more benefits than keeping them inside. Some alternative ways to keeping a student in for recess are helping to tidy up the classroom, losing access to an equipment outside such as a soccer ball (although still allowing them to be outside), or losing computer time rather than recess time. There could even be “break spaces” created outdoors that students may need to spend some time in if they need to cool down. Again, most of this is either done before/after recess, or during. We should also allow the students to work towards earning goals; perhaps for every helpful or positive thing they do in the classroom, all of these stars or points could lead to extra recess time. We could also allow students to create games to be played with the whole class during that extra time outdoors.

            Let’s remember that young students are just that- young, and free-play is very important for them.