Summer Jobs Already?!

It feels crazy how fast the year is going but even more crazy is that it seems the time to start planning for summer is already sneaking up on us - Especially if you will be doing the dreaded job hunt!

I thought I would write about the summer job hunt today because I know it is a very common issue with new teachers and substitute teachers - What to do in the summer?!

I have done summer camps for as long as I can remember... Last year was supposed to be my first summer not doing them but I ended up running three weeks of camp at the end of the summer anyways. Looking ahead to this summer I'm not really sure what plans will be for work but I don't feel as worried as I usually do.

This year I am being very intentional about the jobs I am looking at because I have a lot of awesome things planned this summer and I don't want to forget to relax a bit too! It's also difficult because most summer camp jobs require you the last week in June when I will still be teaching. I also don't have a lot of other skills than working with kids... Seriously! The last time I had a job that wasn't child/education related was... um... when I was 18! Which is great as a new teacher because I love all the non-teaching experience that I do have and it has made the transition into full time teaching a million times better.

But as for finding summer employment that won't leave me completely drained heading back into the school year? I feel a little clueless. Those of you who know me are probably well aware that a serving job would not go over well because I honestly have trouble holding a cup of tea without spilling (even if it's only half full!)

Another "common Meaghan problem" when it comes to employment is the mad panic that results in me taking every single job I get offered. One summer I worked 5 jobs... Yup - 5! I don't even know how I fit it all in my day and the worst part was that I didn't even have to work that much to pay the bills. There was absolutely no reason to be working that much - Never again!

Since I have a couple of family events and a trip planned this summer, I don't really have the schedule to be a desirable new hire. I also might take some online courses if things go as planned, and I really do want to be able to have fun and relax in the sunshine too! Right now I am thinking that I will do some on call work (yes because I just can't get enough of the unstable income throughout the year ;) ) with some of the summer camps I've worked at in the past and then keep up with babysitting and tutoring that I do throughout the year. But I have no idea if that will be enough work?

New Teachers - What do you do in the summer for work?

Is anyone taking any interesting summer classes?

Meaghan


Teach it Tuesday: One-off French Lesson

This lesson is based on an activity I did during my final practicum. The kids loved it and it has since involved. My favourite thing about it is that it focuses on listening and oral French with an aspect of fun thrown in the mix. I think it's so easy to get caught up with writing when teaching a second language but the most valuable part of learning a language is being able to communicate and understand.

I usually call this lesson "On Dessine" or "Les Indices" depending on what I feel like in the morning... please give me more creative suggestions for names if you have any! I will tell you how I usually do this lesson but keep in mind that I have done it so many different ways! If you go to do it yourself just make it work for your time frame, your students' levels and your teaching style and I know that it will be a hit!

To start off I explain that the students will need to draw a picture as a group (using colour!) that shows an understanding of the description they will be getting...

1. "Les Indices" - First I give 3-5 clues about the picture. (Here is where you can adapt it to fit your students' level and your unit vocabulary). Recently I did one of these using Olympic vocab that worked well. A basic one would look like this:

  1. Il y a deux garçons.
  2. Un garçon a les cheveux rouge.
  3. Les garçons sont à l'école.

I always let students write down the key vocabulary at this point but I don't write it on the board because this is to check for their listening and understanding of spoken French.

2. "Les Questions" - Now I give about two minutes for each group to come up with a question to ask about the scene they are drawing. It must be a yes or no question and I just walk around and help them format their question properly in French. Each group only gets one question but the whole class can listen and use the responses to the other groups questions in their pictures. This is the fun part because sometimes kids come up with really interesting questions that add a lot to the pictures when you say "oui" or "non"... For example today a simple picture of two boys playing soccer turned into two boys who were distantly related playing soccer in the park beside their apartment building they live in.

320140225-191035.jpg. "On Dessine" - And the fun part! I give the students 5-7 minutes to draw their pictures. After they have finished they have to hold up their pictures and share how they met all the clues and questions in their drawing. Sometimes we vote for the one and have a group that is a winner and sometimes that's just the end of the lesson.

This lesson is a lot of fun and I have found that it really is a good way to check for students' understanding of vocabulary. Plus I love the creativity side of it too!

As always, if you use a lesson we would LOVE to hear how it went!

Meaghan


'Tis the Season...

Ah, yes, dear readers...'tis the season.  'Tis once again that special time of year.

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One of my non-teacher friends said to me yesterday, "But...I thought you just wrote report cards?!" She was right.  I did.  Term Two is speedy quick in our district...nine weeks, learn lots, teach lots, field trips, guest presenters and BAM.  Reports.  This will be my second go at the official report card writing experience (I quite enjoyed writing reports in Term One, actually).  I've been doing a lot of this lately:

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This is my main marking position, by the way. When having to choose between a couch and a floor, I always pick the floor.

All this lying around and marking has made me feel a little, shall we say, Attention Deficit/Obsessive Compulsive.  Thankfully I am currently training for a half marathon, which provides me with opportunity to burn some of that pent up energy:

As Meaghan so kindly pointed out, I do not run a kilometer in 6.26 seconds, but rather 6mins26secs (or faster or slower, depending on how my day went!)
As Meaghan so kindly pointed out, I do not run a kilometer in 6.26 seconds, but rather 6mins26secs (or faster or slower, depending on how my day went!)
Yes, those are melting snowflakes in my hair.  Yes, my face is red from the cold.  Yes, wrinkles.
Yes, those are melting snowflakes in my hair. Yes, I am a post-run model. Yes, my face is red from the cold. Yes, wrinkles.

I have also used this reporting season to spruce up my classroom with some extra love.  My students are going through some challenging transitions right now (one term away from high school!) and we are all feelin' it on an emotional level.  We crafted up this quote from Rita Pierson a few weeks ago, but I finally found the time to put it together and post it on our wall:

It's actually posted on our front white board. I think I'm going to have my class recite this every day until Spring Break.
It's actually posted on our front white board. I think I'm going to have my class recite this every day until Spring Break.

And to make this reporting season that much more comfy cozy, Mother Nature delivered a nice blanket of snow these past two days:

Some of us are hoping it will stick around and score us a Snow Day tomorrow (laugh all you want, east coasters!)
Some of us are hoping it will stick around and score us a Snow Day tomorrow (laugh all you want, east coasters!)

And, finally, the reason why I allowed myself ten spare moments to even throw this photo essay together:

Karen, you're awesome.
Karen, you're awesome.

Let's buckle down, people.  We've got this term in the palm of our hands! Spring Break is just around the corner!

Karley


It's not always rainbows and sunshine...

Something happened yesterday that I can't tell you the details of because A. My rule of thumb when blogging is to not post while I'm still upset and B. I know you don't want to read a whiney teacher post anyways.

Today I don't like my job. Today I don't want to do it. Today I feel upset, frustrated, sad, disappointed, and angry when I think about teaching.

I think it's easy for us to blog about our great moments, our happy times, and it's becoming easier to blog about the "was sad but now it's all good" realities of teaching. But sometimes it's not all rainbows and sunshine.

It was a professional development day in our district today which, even as an unpaid substitute teacher, usually means I'm at a workshop or meeting and learning about teaching. And usually I LOVE it! Today I had planned (and paid!) to go to a conference that I've always loved with some lovely teacher friends that I rarely get to see. But last night I decided that I needed a day where I didn't think about teaching.

So here are some of the things I did on my anti-teaching day:

1. I slept in until 8:45! Just in time for...

2. Watching the men's Canadian hockey team win the semifinal game against the US... Gold medal match here we come!

3. Then I got caught up on some personal emails I've been meaning to answer and never seem to have time for.

4. I went for a run and didn't worry about mileage, time, pace or anything! That felt so good!

5. I caught an earlier ferry than planned to go visit a good friend for the weekend... Extra time together? So good! Blogging from my "ocean view" window seat? Even better!

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So my "anti-teaching day" has been good for my body, mind and soul.

And maybe today I don't like my job. Maybe I don't want to do it. Maybe I still feel upset, frustrated, sad, disappointed, and angry when I think about teaching...

But that's OKAY! And by Monday I will love it again...

Just have to take the ups with the downs (Or the rain with the sunshine) and know that it will get better on the other side... We will see that rainbow eventually!

What are your "go to" ways to deal with disappointment/frustration?


Guest Post: Canada vs. USA

Today's guest post has nothing to do with Canada vs. USA when it comes to women's hockey (although, fellow Canadian readers, how amazing was that hockey game today?! America, we still love you - thanks for the excellent competition!) This post has everything to do with Canada vs. USA when it comes to education.  Our friend, and fellow UVic trained teacher, Renee Jordan, writes from New York City, where she is currently completing her Masters Degree in Special Education at Columbia.  Here is what Renee has to say about her American educational experience thus far.

Hi lovely readers of Tale of Two Teachers,

My apologies in advance, this is a touch of a long read.  I even thoughtfully culled it down to highlight only the most pertinent information, but what was left is still a lengthy, detail, rich account of the differences between the Canadian and US school systems that I have experienced thus far.

Before I dive in I will begin with a little background on me. Like the (exceptional, beautiful, talented, awesome) authors of this blog I am a graduate of the University of Victoria’s B. Ed program and went on to snag a place on the Greater Victoria TOC list two weeks after I finished my last practicum.  I worked for SD61 until my husband got promotion the day after I landed a place in my long-shot master’s program at Columbia University.  These two events led us to pack up a car and drive across the United States, only to wind up in Manhattan, where I am currently undertaking graduate studies in Special education.  I am also working part time in a grade 3 classroom in an inner city Harlem Public School, as well as helping with a Saturday afternoon Autism Education program for new immigrant families in Chinatown.

The USA loves data

Data is a huge buzzword in education across nations, but it has heavy prevalence in US schools.  We Canadians tend to shy away from standardization and number crunching in education.  Whereas, in the United States the affinity for data leaves standardized testing massively prevalent (I know we Canadians have our own battles with the FSAs also).  To take it even further, often school post their “data” on school websites, which details teacher performance, the test scores they garnered, student achievement across grades and subjects and overall functionality of the school.  This ideology is probably baffling my fellow Canadian teachers, so for better understanding of what I mean you can review the statistics of my school here.  Another huge push in the USA data realm is the notion of teachers employing evidence based practices in their classrooms.

I do like theory behind these pushes for data, because I am excited that with it comes a push to explore and hone our understanding of learning and teaching.  However, at the end of the day I think there is more to good teaching than a data set can reflect. In my experience, so much about exceptional teaching is knowing your students, understanding their needs and realizing learning is individualized.  So although I do believe that data can help inform strategy, I also believe that at the end of the day all research studies are conducted on such heterogeneous (because really have you ever walked into two classrooms that were exactly the same?) that universal generalization isn’t always possible.  So as an educator, I tend to digest all the information the research has propagated and apply from it what works for my unique, dynamic groups of students.

The USA loves hierarchy and rankings

Stemming from the love of data comes a fixation on hierarchy and rankings based on that data.  There are websites, consultants and governing bodies all dedicated to ranking educational institutions in the United States from preschools through to universities.  My personal experience with this comes from currently attending an Ivy League University.  There is a type of prestige and superiority in US education that is not the Canadian norm.  As such, I had really no idea until afterward that what I set out to achieve when I applied for entrance to Columbia was such a big deal.  Since then I have been stopped in a SoHo clothing store to be asked by a parent what my parents did to get me here (the answer is just be awesome and love me) and queried by a waiter on how a girl from a small town, no named university with no inside connections got here because you can’t get in on merit alone (he was wrong).  The US’s idea of exclusivity in education baffles me as much as it bothers me.  My very Canadian belief is that a high quality exceptional education should be available to all, free of cost.  So as such, I think improvements need to be made to the state of US public education.  Although, as I proclaim such a lofty goal I have no answers on how one would go about achieving it.  The way I see it is that I am product of the Canadian public school system but also had the privilege to attend a private school for two years.  For me there was no difference in quality of education I received, the overall aptitude of my teachers or even the facilities themselves.  This is how it should be.  Education should not be a competition.  No one should be fearful that they would be limiting their child’s life trajectory by sending them to a public school.

The USA approaches inclusion differently

The US has a thing called inclusion classrooms, and it took me a good three months to figure out what they meant because in my home district (which I am biased to I think is amazing) all our classrooms are “inclusion classrooms”.  Whereas, in the United States you will still have the option to send your typically developing child to a general education classroom which means that no child with special needs will be educated in the same environment, or an inclusion classroom which will have some students with IEPs in the class.  Even so inclusion is still highly promoted and respected in the US educational communities, but it is still not the gold standard for all classrooms.

The USA loves innovation in education

My huge resounding love of education in the US is that people are passionate about it.  Education is a hot topic down here so people are talking about, entrepreneurs are pioneering ahead to make it better and venture capitalists are actually paying for it.  My undergraduate research for our Spec Ed Faulty at UVic revolved around Assistive Technology and this passion has seeped into my graduate education also.  So needless to say I am excited by how many Ed Tech companies there are in the United States that are devising amazing, new innovations that will no doubt change the face of education in the coming years.   One of my favorites as a special educator and Ed tech nerd is Goalbook.  Goalbook really takes the mystery out of IEP writing by helping educational professionals collaborate and communicate to devise meaningful, achievable goals for their students, as well providing amazing tools to track each student’s progress.  Their entire system is aligned beautifully with all US standards and UDL, while also offering instructional approach ideas to achieve set goals.  So, to all my US special educators, go check it out it will make your lives blissfully better (and save you a few hundred paper cuts).  As for my fellow Canadian teachers, hopefully one day they will expand to the Canadian market, but until then follow their blog for great resources and get excited that innovation is happening.

For more insight into my experience in NYC or if you to get in touch I can be found at www.thejordanproject.ca .


Teach it Twednesday: iPads in French Class

Happy Wednesday everyone!  Today's Teach it Twednesday is all about our current Winter Olympics French unit and how we've integrated the use of iPads in order to have tons of fun practicing our oral French.

A while back I mentioned the amazing, free app Tellagami, which uses personalized avatars and self recorded or computerized voices to create 30 second presentations.  My students' greatest fear in French class is actually speaking French, but Tellagami offers a safe and engaging way to make oral presentations accessible and fun for all learners.  We have been working on creating our Olympic characters for two weeks now (choosing their hair colour, eye colour, specific sport, details of the sport, etc.) and this week all my French students were able to play around with our school's set of iPads and get a feel for Tellagami.  Here are some of the avatars my students created in about 5 minutes:

This avatar was created to be part of a bobsled team, so the student found a photo online of a bobsled track and set it as the avatar's backdrop.
This avatar was created to be part of a bobsled team, so the student found a photo online of a bobsled track and set it as the avatar's backdrop.
This avatar is an Olympian proudly speaking about his sport in front of the Olympic rings.  Yes, you can adjust the head size of the avatars.  Yes, some of my students' avatars have giant heads.
This avatar is an Olympian proudly speaking about his sport in front of the Olympic rings. Yes, you can adjust the head size of the avatars. Yes, some of my students' avatars have giant heads.

A few issues we've discovered with this app is that because students don't have to create an account to use Tellagami, we can't store our projects/data on the app itself and come back to edit the work later.  We could save the Tellagami projects on the camera/video of the iPads, but these iPads are shared with 500+ students and will very likely be deleted once the iPads leave our classroom.

To solve this problem I allowed my students an entire block to play and experiment with the program - we had so much fun! My favourite Tellagami "tester project" was a female avatar (created with a deep, British man's accent) who was programed to say, "I came in like a wrecking ball".  I laughed so hard - thank you, Miley, for inspiring my student to be hilarious.  After the one block of Tellagami iPad playtime my students are now confident using this app and they have their French Olympic character scripts ready to go, so that the next time we use iPads (next week) we can quickly whip up our avatars again and spend the majority of the time recording our scripts.  Once my students finish recording their voices into their avatar they can "share" the project with me via email.  I will be able to open their projects in my email and watch/mark them.  We will definitely project the Tellagami projects onto the wall for presentation's  sake (and entertainment!)

Has anyone else out there used Tellagami? What have you used this awesome (free) app for?

Karley


The Role of the (grade 8) Teacher

Teach it Tuesday will be posted tomorrow.  I started writing this post last Saturday and, following a series of events since then, I felt I really needed to get these words out into the internet tonight.  Thanks for dealing with the schedule change!

We're nearly done with Term 2 of our academic year, which means my grade 8s are that much closer to The Big High School.  Are my students ready for high school yet? Nope.  Definitely not (although I'll argue that some of them are getting there).  I am thankful that we have a handful of months left before my students leave middle school forever!  I hope this last little bit of time together will give my students the space they need in order to mature a bit more emotionally, physically and academically before we send them on their way.  Because this big transition is now literally woven into our daily schedules at school (high school visits, grade 9 course selections, etc.) I have, naturally, continued to contemplate my role as a teacher of grade 8 students.

These are the various "hats" I've worn at school during the past two weeks, while maintaining the constant (and arguably most important) role as "The Teacher":

The Academic Counsellor: Note: I failed miserably at this role today - sorry grade 8s for making high school life so confusing for you.  The catchment area high school came to visit my class recently and my students were able to select their courses for grade 9.  The energy in my room was tangible while my students decided between electives such as creative writing and computers/technology.  I had the opportunity to assist my students in their high school course selection and answered questions like, "Mrs. Alleyn, do you think I could do science honours or should I stick with regular science?" One of my students found the experience of planning for her future to be extremely overwhelming and her session ended in tears.  My heart broke for this poor girl, who just needed a sympathetic ear and a boost of morale to help her choose between visual arts and musical theatre.  It is moments like these that remind me that these students are still so young! Today I realized how much of a BIG deal high school is for my grade 8s...they're stuck in this adolescent purgatory, being the oldest in middle school and the youngest in high school.  When I first learned about middle school (where I come from middle school doesn't exist) I wasn't so keen on the transition from grade 8 to grade 9 because children are already extremely fragile at this age and life decisions are hard to make! Let's just say I definitely will be playing the academic counsellor role again...and again...and again, until June 27th.

The Relationship Advice Giver: Yes, this actually happens.  In fact, last week before the first bell a group of my students (boys and girls) came to me to discuss the "hot girl on the visiting volleyball team".  The boys were only fixated on the volleyball girl's looks, while the girls were mad that the boys didn't pay any attention to THEM and; therefore, "hate[d] the hot girl".  Can anyone say raging hormones?! Playing peacekeeper, I threw out the concept of acknowledging the volleyball girl as an actual human being rather than "a hot girl".  I asked my students if anyone actually spoke to said "hot girl"? (No).  I asked the boys what they thought might happen if they tried to talk to the girl, teenager to teenager, rather than just oogling her.  I asked the girls what might happen if they smiled and said "hi", rather than instantly hating on her for stealing the boys' attention.  Then I asked all involved students how they thought the volleyball girl might feel about this situation.  I suggested that she probably knows she's beautiful, but I wondered if anyone thought to get to know her personality or her mind before judging her based on her looks.  Needless to say, everyone went to their desks with something to think about.  How's that for a thought provoking advisory lesson?

The Dance Team Leader: My dance team is 9 weeks away from their dance festival and we are still going strong on our "No Diggity" choreography.  We have so much fun together! I can't wait to show my students what festival is all about.

The Concerned Parent:  I list this role with caution because I realize I am no student's parent.  That being said, I sometimes feel like a 26 year old mom to a class full of 13 year olds.  Imagine me saying: "Are you hungry? Do you have a snack today? Here, have my muffin.  Why do you look so tired? What time did you go to bed last night?  Where is your jacket? It's freezing outside!" These types of phrases are on repeat 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, multiplied by 26, from a place of genuine concern and care.

The Persistent Nag: "Yes, you do need to pick up your things! Please speak to me in a kinder voice. Why don't you have your PE strip...again?!  This classroom looks like a tornado ripped through it!"  Enough said.

The Communicator:  Why don't teenagers tell important things to their parents?  WHY? Last night I emailed parents for an hour and a half in order to communicate important dates, times, projects, deadlines, etc.  I need to come up with a better system for this, because between my silent, forgetful grade 8s and my own busy, jam-packed schedule, we will keep forgetting important dates and missing deadlines if something doesn't change soon!

The Safe Space Provider:  One of my students drew and coloured a Gay Pride flag for our classroom and it lives on one of

My wise and full-of-love friend, Nadine, has these two stones near her all the time.  Whenever she needs to detach herself from a situation in order to protect or heal her own heart, she holds tight to these stones (literally).  Thanks Nadine, for reminding me that it's okay to detach and heal for my own sanity.
My wise and full-of-love friend, Nadine, has these two stones near her all the time. Whenever she needs to detach herself from a situation in order to protect or heal her own heart, she holds tight to these stones (literally). Thanks Nadine, for reminding me that it's okay to detach and heal for my own sanity.

our bulletin boards.  We are getting really good at monitoring our language in our classroom (a habit I hope sticks with my students outside of the classroom too...).  We are starting to appreciate one another a bit more and we continue to celebrate the various gifts we bring through our classroom door everyday.  This all sounds lovely and very "Sound of Music"-esque, but trust me, we are not without our problems.  This week (yes, it's only Tuesday), has been a particularly intense week so far for me when it comes to being the safe space provider for my students.  I know it's not entirely my responsibility because my students need to bring their gifts and skills into the classroom to help create a welcoming space...but this task is just so hard.  Let's just say my 20 minute drive home today was very much tear-filled.  Sorry to anyone who had to witness my ugly cry at stop lights.

The One No Body Cares About: I include this one as a joke, kind of.  Sometimes 13 year olds just don't care about the adults in their lives because the world revolves around them, and only them, all the time.  #wedon'tcaremrsalleyn

I'd like to close this post with a note I received from my childhood friend, Kathryn, who is newly engaged and teaches grade 5 in Manchester. Her words helped ease today's ugly cry.  Thanks, Kath, you're a gem:

Hey Karley [...] I just wanted to take a minute to tell you how amazing I think your blog is. I can feel you passion through your blog and you are such a hard worker, a job in Victoria, you should feel so proud! I also thought I would say that I used one of your lessons in my class last week! I am teaching grade 5 girls in an independent school and it is a magical job! I by no means have tough, unmotivated students...but being all girls, they can sometimes get a bit mean to each other, which I hate seeing! We do Feel Good Friday almost every week, but I did the Circle of Kindness Activity the other day and it worked wonders! After we each wrote something kind about each person in the class, we had 3 minutes of silent reading, so that each student could take in all these kind compliments that everyone else wrote about them. After our silent read, I asked them to go around in a circle and say one word that summed up how they were feeling at this moment. This is where the magic really happened. Some of the words that the girls said were "giddy" "disbelief" "wowed" "ecstatic" "fantastic" "loved"...I seriously almost cried!! We talked about the importance of knowing that we all like each other and we ALL have king things to say about one another! Anyways, I just wanted to let you know what a success your idea was, even in my class in Manchester! Hope you're well. Miss you!

What an encouragement you are to your students and to me, Kathryn!  Thank you.

Karley


25 for 25

So tomorrow is my 25th birthday - Whoohoo! Quarter of a century is a big deal right? I mean I can rent a car now... and that's really about it that changes with this birthday. But I have been feeling really good lately and I am in the mood for some good bucket list stuff this year. I created a list of 25 things I will do when I'm 25 - So starting tomorrow I have one year to complete them all!

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I'm not going to share all of them with you but I thought I would share and explain a few of my bucket list items here today.

1. Run a marathon

I've been talking about this one for a while now and it's official! I've signed up for my first full marathon at the end of June and I'm so excited/nervous/terrified for everything that will come with it. I'm going to be running this race for many reasons but my main inspiration is for my good friend, Julien-Pier, who passed away last year. JP always told me that there was time to do the things you want to do so instead of making excuses of how long the training runs are this year I'm going to get this bucket list item checked off!

2. Visit a new country

This is a permanent fixture on all of my lists - travel, travel, travel! This year I want to go to a country I've never been to because I love how much my worldview shifts when I see a new culture. There are some plans on the horizon but until anything is official just know that a new place to get perfectly lost in is coming my way and I'm so excited!

3. Knit a blanket

I am great at starting new projects! In fact I have a drawer full of needlepoint, cross stitch, knitting, embroidery - you name it. I start the projects and leave them half finished in this drawer forever... so this year I am going to actually finish a full knitted blanket.

4. Sell my car

There are a variety of reasons for this one including financial, but one of the main things is that I don't like how dependent I have become on my car. I got by with biking, walking, and public transit until my last term in university and then I bought my car and all of that went out the window. Driving so much goes against a lot of my personal, global, and environmental values so I am excited to commit to this one fully. Now don't get me wrong I still have use of a car in my household - we just don't need two cars - because sometimes it's hard to be a substitute teacher without transportation.

5. Use a new method of instruction

This is my main teaching goal for this year. I've been working through plans in my spare time to figure out how I would incorporate a couple of different types of instruction into my (currently imaginary) classroom. I want to try project-based learning, centres-based classroom, and inquiry for different subjects. Once I have a place to implement this I will write up more details of my plans.

6. Take a course

Specifically in something I know very little about. I think the ability to keep learning is something that makes me a good teacher and I want to try something new that I find challenging this year. Just like aerobics, it is important for me to be reminded of what it is like to learn, struggle, get frustrated, and then understand.

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One of my "Get Well Soon" cards from last year

7. Only give homemade cards

I love the homemade cards I receive. I love making cards. Store bought cards are expensive. If I make only giving homemade cards a standard practice for this year I think it is something I can continue with for a long time.

8. Run a workshop

Karley and I have been discussing workshop ideas lately and this is something that is on my list because I really love workshops and feel that I now have something to offer in this space. We have really loved connecting with university students and other teachers through our blog and I would love to take this to the next level by offering a workshop on blogging, social media, and building your Professional Learning Network. Plus I used to be a workshop coordinator at UVIC and just have a love for all things Pro-D!

9. Read a book each month

I so often get caught up in "life" that I forget to take time to read. I want to make sure that I read a book a month and not just 12 books in the two month summer holiday. Taking that time to read about whatever I choose is so important for my soul.

10. Make a meaningful connection with someone new

Whether this be a new friend or a new professional relationship (or both hopefully!) this is something I am going to consciously do this year. Being shy I really have to remind myself of the value of connecting with new people and how much it enhances my life.

And there are 15 more on my personal list but those are the ones I wanted to share with you today.

I have a couple of questions I would love to hear your answers to if you could take a moment to respond - Thanks!

What are some of your personal goals? Professional goals?

How often do your personal goals correlate with your professional goals?

Meaghan


And the First Book Is...

BookClub

"The Spark" is the first read for our online book club!

Let us know through Facebook, email, Twitter (@taletwoteachers) or by commenting on this post if you'd like to join us on this adventure.

The "rules"?  Read "The Spark", by Kristine Barnett, before March 28th and then join in our online forum to discuss the book.

If you've already read this book, great! You're still welcome to join us for conversation (details to come on how our online discussion will work).

Don't have access to "The Spark"?  Buy it online through our Amazon store.

We are looking forward to book clubbin' with everyone!

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The Bigger Picture

This school year has been a constant reminder to me of the need to look at the bigger picture...

Comparing myself to other teachers? Stop. What's the bigger picture?

Not getting the job I thought I had? Stop. What's the bigger picture?

Feeling stressed trying to balance life and work? Stop. What's the bigger picture?

Jealous over other people's travel plans? Stop. What's the bigger picture?

And finally, this week I was told I wouldn't be able to run in my half marathon I've been training for this weekend.

So I cried. And grumbled. And got frustrated. And tried to pretend I was healthy.

And then...

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Why was this run feeling so important? I had finally started to see some improvement in my speed and the hard training I had done was really starting to pay off. That hard work will still pay off.

Why was I doing this run? To make sure that I continued my run training through the difficult winter months. I trained harder than ever before.

What is the bigger picture? I am training for my first full marathon in June. I wanted to be in half marathon shape when I start my marathon training. I wanted to work on my speed and get faster. I wanted to start running 5 days a week consistently.

And guess what? I did all of that and more! I run because of how it makes me feel. I run to keep my body and mind healthy. And I run because I love the adrenaline and accomplishment that I feel after all those runs - not just the races.

So maybe I won't be out getting a PR this weekend in my race but the training I've put in is what is most important. (And that PR will be waiting for me when I'm healthy!)

What does any of this have to do with teaching?
I am slowly starting to look at the bigger picture. Maybe I didn't get a full time contract this year like I'd wanted. Maybe I didn't get to put all my wonderful units and projects into place with a class. Maybe I've had to struggle a little bit financially when subbing hasn't come through

But what's the bigger picture?

I'm learning and growing so much this year in a different way then I had planned. I am learning to make important professional (and personal) connections with people that support me. Time and time again I'm putting myself out of my comfort zone to be more outgoing and open.

Maybe taking the stress of full time work out of the picture has allowed me to grow more as a professional learner in this teaching community?

Life isn't a race. Work isn't a race.

I am happy and I couldn't ask for anything better than that - The full time job will come when I'm ready for it.

And in the meantime I have some hours to clock in my running shoes.

Meaghan