Wherever you go, there you are

So now it’s July 1. The paperwork is over and all I have left to do is empty my classroom at the old school tomorrow – today is a holiday in Canada – Canada Day.

Time for brightness and light (and warmth. It’s July 1st and I have a fire going to ward off the chill that 12 degrees celsius brings to this old house) so welcome to my site redesign :) I need something cheery to look at right now. I’ll let this post explain some of the why.

Yesterday was supposed to be my first day of holiday until I was called in to do ‘a bit’ of paperwork that people forgot to tell me about. In Ontario, students are awarded a certificate of Bilingualism depending on the number of hours of French they were exposed to from Kindergarten through Grade 12. The system for figuring this out is rather…tedious. Each year the French teacher has to figure out how many hours each child received and add it to previous years. Not all students are equal though, some with IEPs receive less French instruction than their peers and so we need to figure out the percentage of instruction over the year. There is a form to write all of this in (by hand) in each student’s folder though, sadly, there isn’t a uniform location for the form in each folder. I taught 7 classes of 20 to 34 students per classroom. 5 hours later I was on my way back home. But the stress of this end of year got to me and I spent much of my paperwork time in tears. Uncontrollably so. Every once in a while I’d wipe my eyes and say, ok. It’s over. And it was, until someone came by to ask how I was doing and they’d start right up again.

So I definitely learned that when I’m not at my top form I default to old behaviours. I used to keep my emotions to myself until they finally exploded out of me in the form of tears that just couldn’t stop. And there I was again.

Smack in the middle of my new teaching assignment my boyfriend left. We had a difficult weekend about 2 weeks ago and really needed to talk. Instead I came home from work that Monday to find all of his things gone and I haven’t heard from him since.

I was in the middle of getting to know a new school in a new province, transitioning from high school to elementary school teaching, and writing report cards at the new school all the while correcting, evaluating, and reporting on student work from my old school. I already had a few emotions coursing through my system – fears of incompetence related to both teaching elementary school after an 8 year hiatus from that level and teaching in French, guilt associated with leaving my students and colleagues at the old school, and overwhelmedom from all of that :) Needless to say I packed whatever I felt about this relationship into the back of my mind (heart) in order to continue juggling the balls.

I’m looking forward to this summer to rest and recuperate! Gardening, spending time with friends and family, exercise (I have not exercised in I don’t know how long), reading, painting, and whatever else comes up are how I am going to do that.

Doubt

Doubting Thomas by Mark Tansey found on Never Mind the Bricolage

Doubting Thomas by Mark Tansey found on Never Mind the Bricolage


I’ve been down lately. I just want to hole up in my apartment. I’ve started knitting. I’m reorganizing furniture. I’m spending way too much time on etsy. I’m escaping into books and movies.

At the beginning of the year I was so charged. Now, I find myself in this familiar pattern, questioning what I am doing, if it is what I need to be doing, and hiding out while I mull this over.

I’m tired most of the time.

The past few days I have been cooking with my mother, in preparation for a big party tonight, I’ve been knitting, going to movies. I’m finding myself wanting to be alone and resenting it when the phone rings.

I saw the movie Doubt on Christmas Day. I was enthralled. And, though the subject matter be completely distinct from what I live, I was struck by my own doubts. Doubts about my career, my relationships, and how they affect my sense of self.

It’s that last one that grips me. I’m not sure how to answer to that one. And how do I teach authentically, convincingly when I have such doubt?

So this is what I have been and am thinking about, as we roll into a new year, instead of posting to this blog. Instead of preparing for a session I am to lead at EduCon 2.1. Instead of correcting English essays. Instead of spending time with people.

(Pre)flections for Next Year

raven=change

In Native American spirituality, the Raven is the messenger of magic from the great void where all knowledge waits for us. He is also the symbol of changes in consciousness, of levels of awareness and of perception. from http://www.ravenns.com/raven.htm

So, this year is done. Yesterday was my final pedagogical day of the 2007/08 school year – my first one at HSB. I don’t yet know what I will be teaching next year though I do know…

that I will be returning to HSB where I have been offered a permanent contract :)

and that whatever I teach I will:

…be more proactive in my teaching than ever before

…map out literacy competencies for/with my students and how we will get there

…introduce my students to youth twitter, thanks to Mr. Mayo

…need to balance teaching, studying, private life

Apparently we receive our teaching loads on June 30th, though they are subject to change up until October 15th! And apparently one should expect it to change by the beginning of the school year at the end of August.

After a few conversations with my principal, I seem to have basically two possibilities – Bridges teacher or Alternatives teacher. I’m focusing on Alternatives teacher. That is where I would like to be in the future. Alternatives is like a school within the school, for students in their last two years of high school (Secondary 4 and 5 in Quebec) who need an alternative approach to graduate. Here is the blurb from the HSB website:

Directions Alternative School
Using alternative methods of instruction, community-based learning, high structure and behaviour modification, “Directions” attempts to aid learners who, for a myriad of reasons, have lost touch with their own educational path. By redirecting their at-risk behaviours and helping them to face the obstacles in the way of their learning, the atlernative school program increases their likelihood of success. Directions has a comprehensive procedure for entry into the program which includes recommendations from teachers and administrators and interviews with prospective students and their families.

I had begun this year as a Bridges teacher working with students on life skills programs, though after 2 weeks they added 8 other younger students to my class of 5 older students. All in all it created a difficult dynamic to teach in – unfair to both groups, though necessary due to numbers. If I am offered the Bridges group again I fear that the same story will unfold. I don’t want that to happen. I would rather see them integrated into a new work-oriented program, with resource support, that the school is offering next year than integrated with the younger learning centre students as they were this year.

All in all I am excited about returning to HSB and excited about seeing what challenges are in store for me next year. Also, I’m glad that I have documented some of my reflections – both positive and not-so-positive – from this year so at I can return to them in the future and always move forward.

But for now…bring on the margaritas because I am definitely ready for vacation!

Wishes, Hopes, and Dreams

If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn – Charlie Parker
Ok, it’s way about time I take a good hard look at my wishes, hopes, and dreams. How can I move towards a better future unless I define what I wish, hope, and dream for it?

I know that I can be a good leader. I’ve been floating for the past month or so though. I’ve been letting things slide in my classroom, I’ve been hiding from my work, I haven’t been digging deep into the planning of what my students need or what I need.

On Monday I will be back to teaching after this holiday break, and on Tuesday I will be back in the classroom myself as I begin my PhD studies.

My wishes, hopes, and dreams?

Courage – to keep pushing the envelope with my kids and myself. To not let ourselves get too comfortable because I know that true learning needs discomfort. And to stand up tall in the discomfort and plug away even harder.

Strength – to keep my vision clear and to not let it be chipped away by criticism (“that’ll never work”)

Structure – to keep my focus I will need to build and maintain a solid structure to help balance my PhD work, my work with the kids, my personal life

Fun and Laughter – without that, all else is useless :)

buddha watching over Fern

I’ve also been thinking of a recent conversation I was in over at EdTech Journeys about coaching. I love the coaching I receive from my online community, but I also feel the need for some personal interaction – a phone call, a meeting over coffee…on some days over something a bit stronger.

One of the wonderful things about blogging is communicating with others all over the world. I realize, though, that I have not encountered anyone else from Montreal here! It’d be lovely to meet with some of my blogging friends in person, to add another dimension to the reading/writing relationship that I cherish, to add depth to the conversations, to add some soul.

I’ll leave this post now, thinking about how to turn that last dream into something real…and welcoming any other suggestions…feeling reflective at the beginning of this new year
Tracy

Metamorphosis, no better metaphor for this.
~Invincible

mp3 No Compromises originally downloaded from: FREE THE P! Palestine Takes NYC’s East Village by Storm, article by Remi Kanazi, The Electronic Intifada, 17 October 2005 is from www.freethep.com compilation which is a fundraiser for the film Slingshot Hiphop ! Many thanks to Invincible for allowing its use here.

 

Powered by ScribeFire.

“Put technology where it can be best used… In the classroom!”

[cross ranted as a comment at Stephen Ransom’s EdTechTrek] [and slightly elaborated]

I am starting to think that because many teachers and administrators
still do not know exactly what we can do with technology there is a
reluctance to put it in the classroom.

Example – today the Internet had, for some reason, stopped working
in the west wing of our school. I was at the computer lab with one
other teacher. She packed her kids up and went back because she only
books the computer lab for the last period of the day so that her kids
can ‘play on the internet’.

For her, technology has nothing to do with learning, it is a form of
entertainment. I stayed with my kids and used the time to work on our
Science vocabulary while teaching them how to hyperlink in
presentations. They were linking their vocabulary words to comments and images made by their peers, creating a collaborative learning network around the new terminology they are learning in Science. (Not bad for a wing it activity, eh ;)

For some reason, this teacher has not caught on yet that technology
can be much more than a way to waste time. I can understand the frustration of the new teachers that Stephen mentions in his post, but
until the more experienced teachers and administrators at schools begin
to use technology as a learning tool, really use it, and demand that
good forms of it be available in the schools, it isn’t going to happen.

I can also understand the frustration of the more experienced teachers who are
expected to use technology but who aren’t really given the time to grow
less afraid of it and to experiment with what can be done. There is a huge divide between our students who live and breathe with technology as part of their daily lives and the teachers who don’t. Huge. and while
there are still administrators who don’t use technology in their daily lives and who don’t champion for its appropriate use and availability in the school, let alone the classroom…well…that divide can only be expected to widen.

Powered by ScribeFire.