First Week Back

It is hard to get up so early that first day, but here we are Friday evening and I find myself grateful and happy to be with my students again. Monday I awoke to a ton of snow and it was still blowing. I turned on the radio to hear all school buses for every school board in the area are cancelled. I relaxed with my dog and my coffee in my pajamas, believing I had one more day to relax and walk through the forest with my buddy. Just at the time I should be leaving I got a message that work is a go!  I rushed to get ready, and off I went with a loaded bag of supplies for the week. Exactly half my students showed up and we had a wonderful, playful day as we couldn’t start anything new with just half a class.

Later in the week I had a visit from a substitute teacher from last year and she tells me she got on with the local public school board for a teaching assignment – I am truly happy for her!! Deep inside though I wonder, “Why not me?” Why am I not getting on with the public school board? What does she have that I don’t? A fluent second language! She is fluent in writing, reading and speaking a second language, which is what she was hired to teach. I am still very happy for her and hope she gets on full time. If God means for me to be on a public school board again, it will happen. (I lost all seniority when I changed provinces and have to go back to substitute teaching interviews – not even assignments – just a hope for a call in)

I had my plans done for the first two weeks so I felt good about the first week and confident that I wouldn’t be feeling stressed or unprepared. It was a good week. Planning is important.

This weekend I will work on the next weeks’ plans, which will keep me with two weeks worth of planning again when I go back Monday. Starting with two weeks, and always adding a new week at the end of the week, so you always  have two weeks plans, may be the secret to sanity nobody told me.

Another good way to keep yourself and your students’ on track is to plan all the quizzes, tests and assessments on a monthly calendar that you send home to the parents at the beginning of the month. If you see that you have to test on unit 3 by next Tuesday then that keeps you on track so that the class is ready for the test. It doesn’t always happen but at least you are usually close to the designated day when you know the parents are expecting the test as well as the students. There will be units or concepts that your class takes longer to grasp, and then there are ones that are easier and you find yourself ahead a day or two! Just go with the students as they need you to so that everyone can learn. It is not enough to have them written in your plans, it is the giving the parents the calendar that is key to staying on track.

If you have gifted or struggling students make adjustments so that they feel important and part of the class too. I have asked for help from the resource teacher to take some of my students for a short small-group session. It really is helping them, and the success spreads to confidence in other areas too. It just takes a little teamwork and planning (again with the planning) to figure things out.

That’s all for this week, and I pray that I keep my goals of writing this year, not for me, but for those of you that want an inside eye on teaching. I had no idea being a teacher is this much work, for so little pay and almost little to no recognition or appreciation. You really just become a teacher because you love children and care about them, it’s my fuel!

Yours in Education,

Miss D.

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Still Together, Better than Ever!

Wow, once again, I find myself reaching out at the end of December. During the school year, I find I am so busy I don’t have (make) time to write. This year it is especially demanding as I am in a new grade – creating new lessons, materials, tests, and all that goes with teaching a new grade. Although I have a new grade, 4 now, 3 last year, I have the same students as last year; I moved on to the next year with them!

I am learning how to teach the new curriculum in science and social studies.  Math and English Language Arts is the same kind of stuff as last year, just at the next level. It is a lot of work, academically, learning how to make the lessons fun and interesting, as well as getting the objectives covered. Being with the same students is great because I already know them, and they know me. So much time is saved at the start of the year when the students know my expectations and routines,  and we just have to go over rules and consequences.

With a few new students added to the class it is interesting, and fun, to see how the kids from last year tell the new kids about what they need to do, the routines and what I expect of them. A famous saying in my classroom is, “When do you do your best?” “Always!” Another saying is “Believe in yourself as much as I believe in you”. When I say this to students they usually smile bashfully and seem to perk up a bit.

Of course, I am working on the winter break, marking and preparing for report cards, which will be due at the end of January 2018. Those few weeks will fly by once we get back so I try to do some prep now while I have no pressure!

I will make a better effort to write more consistently for the remainder of the school year so that anyone looking to read about what it is really like to be a teacher will get a better sense of it from my blog. I don’t know about others, but I find being a teacher is very time consuming, and you don’t get paid for all the extra hours. I don’t mind putting in extra (unpaid) hours because when I do, it pays off in other ways. I expect my students to be prepared, so I must lead by example by being organized, prepared and ready myself.

On that note, I do need to get back to finding a more efficient way to mark bell work, and I would like an idea to enhance vocabulary without doing weekly spelling lists/test. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

My take away from this is,

  1. to use downtime to prepare for when you know you will be busy,
  2. keep routines and procedures that work well for you,
  3. always review rules and consequences, even with the same students,
  4. take time to do what you love outside of work. See the picture at the top, it really is self-explanatory.
  5. Take care of yourself so you can look after those that depend on you!

Wishing you all a wonderful day/evening and a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year 2018!

Yours in Education,

Miss Donna

 

Teaching in Ontario; Year 3

 

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I feel like it was just a few months ago that I started this blog to help me with the transition to teaching in Ontario. (from western Canada).

I took a course through the school I work at to enhance my knowledge and understanding of the culture I am now immersed in every day. (I maintain my Christianity) It was a long, challenging course but I learned and grew as a person and educator. It was a great feeling to graduate!

I finished my second year in the school with fun games of A Minute to Win It, and doing a Mystery Skype with a class in Nigeria!   My third graders were the quietest I have seen them and the looks on their faces were wonder and amazement! We had skyped with other classes before but this was a first to do a mystery Skype with a class that we did not know. It was a good experience that I hope they will always remember as something fun, positive and exciting.  I intend to keep doing Mystery Skype at least once per month so the students get to experience globalization on a real basis. “Visiting” other classes is better than me trying to describe different geographical locations and environments to them.

I can hardly believe that I am going into my third year! Where does the time go? It has been the same as anyone would expect, teaching is teaching – once you get a classroom you bring out your superhero teacher self and do the best you know how to teach these children how to be leaders, good citizens, and responsible community members. The hardest part is getting a classroom – I know this as I was a substitute for six years! Being accepted into a private school and having to wear a hijab to do what I love are things I accept in order to teach. I did not even apply to any public schools for the upcoming school year as I am happy with the place where I am at and have come to feel a part of a family there.

This year is a bit of the same and a bit new as the new principal has implemented looping to our school. We will move with our classes to the next year!! So now I am teaching fourth grade in September. I was not happy at first, but now am very accepting of the idea that I get my same kiddos, that I have grown to love like my own children. After two years in one grade, I felt like I was getting really good with the curriculum and my lessons are fun and creative. I created totes of all the supplies I need to teach the lessons in creative ways, and to have supplies so that all the kids are engaged. Now I have to start all over getting to know the curriculum and trying to find fun ways to teach it, knowing it will only be for one year, as I have already been told I will probably follow this group again to fifth grade. At this point, the plan is to then go back and start a new three-year cycle with another group.

We never know what our lives will hold, and we can only plan as best as we can, following our dreams and making the best of where we are. Always try to be prepared, create a group of friends that will support your dreams and encourage you to be your best.  I have a wonderful support group on Twitter, and I even was published as an editor to a collaborative book for/by educators last year! That was a huge surprise for me as I had never considered I would be publishing or editing books. You never know what life has in store and if you go beyond your comfort zone in positive directions wonderful growth and experiences may just be waiting !! My best wishes for all of you to achieve happiness, and your dreams.

Yours in Education,

D Mac.

Time…It Does Not Stop

Wow, it has been a year and a few days since my last post-how delinquent of me!!

I am still teaching full time and working with a new bunch of third graders, as rambuncious as the last ones, and I love them all, as always!!

A few changes in staff and my role has become one of a more meaningful position, (in my mind if not in reality-hehe) although I may be just taking on more than I need to! 🙂 I apologize as I am not really focused on this entry – it is definitely a rant. I just hope anyone that is looking for a teaching job is having good luck. Be open, be willing to try new places you may have never considered before and learn all you can from what you get.

I believe I am fortunate to be working and love the challenges I have almost daily. Perhaps not at the time but they all help me grow as a teacher and a person, learning more about myself and others.

I see a writing challenge I may take up – still thinking about it- from one of the wonderful people I follow. I find my days are full already with working but I like writing on here! Time will tell…May God Bless You all and keep you on track through the rest of this year and into the New Year 2017!!

Yours in Education,

D Mac.

Happy Holidays !

images (1)Beachperson

Happy Holidays Everyone! I wish I was on the beach somewhere tropical, but I am quite happy with my family here in Southern Ontario with no snow and temps around 13 plus Celsius! That is around 60 degrees Fahrenheit.  I am fine with no snow! Happy in fact. Well with the school closed for two weeks I have a moment or two to tell about my wonderful full time teaching job! Thank God!! (and I did)

I am working and very happy – a little ways from my parents but that is fine too. I teach a very loud, busy bunch of super smart grade three children. They are curious as children should be, excited and eager to learn, and they make me so happy to be a teacher. I love them every one.

The school must be one of the few on this planet without computers for the students but we make do without. I am very disappointed though because I had so much planned to do with technology. I did start the Remind app so I can contact the parents easily and quickly and had only three join. So sad. Perhaps more will join if the word gets out how easy it is to talk to the teacher with the Remind app.

If you are willing to relocate I am sure there is a job for you too somewhere. I am going to catch up on the blogs I have been missing and see what my global friends are up to . I thank you all again for following me and sending kind thoughts and prayers out for me. I hope you all have wonderful holidays and are able to be with ones you love.

Yours in Education, Ms Mac!

I am Teaching !!

Hi there, I apologize for not writing.

I will do an update as soon as I have time. It is a grade 3 class

and I thank all my followers that sent well wishes out for me.

Bless you all and keep trying – there are jobs out there.

It is a private school and not a great wage as a real public school

board would be, but I am teaching and that’s what is important to me!

Yours in Education, D Mac.

Teaching with Quick Reading Codes

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This is some amazing technology!! With some online professional development I have learned what those little squares of dots and smudges are all about. Sometimes it is not bad being unemployed as I have time to go to afternoon webinars (on my couch) and learn this stuff that I might not learn if I was busy teaching. (I am ready to teach 45 yesterdays ago already!! and any day now !)

qr code

If you have an app to read QR codes you will get the message. I got a free app from the Play store on my phone.  So I will use this as a way to send messages to parents of my students and in the classroom.   I can embed website addresses into the QR code so young students do not need to type out a website – they can just scan the code and it will take them to the website I want them to be at. The QR code can be at the top of a sheet of paper with several questions about the book I want them to read, or math questions, science or whatever subject we are working on.   It is faster and easier for the students, and the teacher. Most Chromebooks have a QR reader and it is as easy as scanning the code.

qr code

The ways you can use these are numerous for the classroom. You can color code them and match them to your reading groups so the students go to a site that has books they can read for their level. So the whole class can be reading about the same topic – just everyone at their own level. This allows a class discussion and everyone can take part.  The students are on task and the teacher can circulate around and ask questions to check for understanding and comprehension.

If this is something that interests you there are lots of sites that have instructions to get you started. I am pretty sure the students will love this and you will be pleased with how quickly you catch on. You will!

I hope you try some QR codes and have fun with your class – or your kids if you are not a teacher. You can text a code to your kids asking them to call you when they get it. Ha! Then send them your to do list. I hope you have fun.

If you want to try to create your own Quick Read Code just go to any website – I used this one . It is so easy and quick .You will impress yourself when you do this!

Enjoy the rest of the week – Yours in Education, D Mac.

Technology to Promote Education

I want to share the many, many ways we can all promote intelligent use of electronics. There are so many (free) educational apps for iPad’s, iPhone’s, computers and tablets.

I recommend going to your local store and getting a little binder, notepaper, and lots of tabs. (or little post-its and a roll of scotch tape) You will create your tabs as your browse the sites and create your own catalog of what is important to you. Remember to add what site you got the information from in case you want to go back to it again. I have teaching, literacy, math, assessment, websites to check out, classroom management and personal interest. Leave the tabs blank but have them ready as you will need some way to organize the information. I even bought some little sticky notes and a roll of tape so I could add more tabs quickly and easily. I print the name on the post-it, then tape it to the edge of the page because otherwise they tend to fall off. Extend the tape from the front, around the post-it and over the back, adhering it to the page on the  back. This keeps the tab in place and the ink from getting smudged.

I use free educational sites; I do not endorse any of these, nor do I promote them. I like them because they are free, easy to navigate and the information is up to date, relevant for most people, and most provide links to more resources:

EduTopia! Oh my goodness I can not say enough about this site. It has more information than I can get through in a month! I absolutely love it!! Everything from the core subjects (reading, math, science) to project based learning, game based learning, and many more – all kinds of videos, and posts/articles if you want to read about stuff. The articles are written by educated teachers, researchers and other experts. This is stuff you can watch and use right away – where it says classroom just imagine home if you want.  Go there now.You can browse topics by grades or subject from preschool to grade 12.

SimpleK-12 – There is a paid subscription but it is really not needed to get tons of information and access lots of valuable learning tools. A lot of webinars are available without paying and they are usually during the week on a Wednesday afternoon. A webinar is an online meeting where you listen and watch from home and you can see and hear the presentation but they can’t see you. So there are a lot of comments about learning in your pajama’s. 🙂  You can type in any question using your keyboard and the question will be answered at the end of the presentation. Once you join, again free, you will get email notices so you know when there are webinars about topics which you are interested. Easy! http://www.simplek12.com

http://pbskids.org/ and http://www.pbs.org/parents//  These are two sites with a lot of educational games for younger children.  Your kids will have fun for a long time playing games they do not even realize are teaching them skills! At the site for parents there is a lot of information for parents that include food, fitness, parenting, development. There is a lot here to browse and read through.

Those should be enough to get you going for the weekend and perhaps offer some fun (educational) ideas.

Have a great weekend everyone!! Yours in Education, D Mac.

Still Nothing!!

2015-10-25 18.06.52                 MUMshow2015Oct (3)

MY GHOST DECORATION                       THIS SPIDER IS MADE OF CHRYSANTHEMUM FLOWERS (at a flower show)

This is my little ghost decoration and that spider is created out of chrysanthemums and it is about 1.5 meters high and 2 meters wide! (that’s about 4.5 feet high and 6.5 feet wide).  It was huge! It was at a flower show I took my mother to this week. I like my little ghost – it’s printed plastic bags and you stuff them with leaves. Ah, so I did rake up a few more leaves – but as you can see from the photo there are plenty of leaves still on the ground. The trees are almost bare now so I guess the next week or so I will start raking some of them. The garden show was wonderful – so many great displays and very creative! It was a pleasure to go out with my mother somewhere so nice and pleasant!!

So – my teaching career – or lack of. I have a list of some principals to call and make appointments with. Posting my intentions makes me a bit more determined to do it. Thanks my online friends. So I am planning to go to see these principals and ask them how to get into a school system that is not hiring. As I said in my last post I have been welcomed to volunteer but have not yet been called to do any volunteering. Go figure! Free teaching and I still can’t get in – what’s a teacher to do?! So yes, I will make the phone calls to some schools tomorrow – for sure!  What harm is it to call and ask for a quick meeting with the principal to pick his brain about education? (and ask if a masters degree would be an advantage) While I am at the schools I will volunteer as well.

I have started – aaaarrrgghhhh (despair and sadness)-  looking for jobs outside of teaching. It is with a heavy heart, but I have to – I need to work. I just hate not to be teaching. Even my tutoring, D Mac’s Tutoring, has not yet had a client! It is so difficult to be in this situation when in Alberta I was working for two school boards, and my tutoring was so busy I couldn’t even take any more students. I worked 11 and 12 hours a day! Such a difference!! I came to Ontario to be with my family and even they say I should have stayed in Alberta – too late now. (they believed I would get a teaching job here as much as I did)

Ontario elementary teachers are also negotiating their contracts and so there is some tension as parents are having to do more at the schools to run programs that teachers can not do until their contracts are settled. The politics of teaching is horrible but I just love the children and teaching. I am glad to have other blogs to read and occupy my mind with their stories and lives as I don’t like being so useless as I have been these past months. I am getting quite proficient in French reading and writing and I have recently moved my keyboard indoors so I can keep up my music as well. It was nice to play out in the carport during the warm summer and early fall, but now it is getting cooler. Schools in the United States are in desperate need of teachers so that is where I am looking now for teaching positions. Some place they don’t have snow.

As always, thanks to my followers and I look forward to your comments and posts of your lives. Until next time, Yours in Education, D Mac.