The Truth Is...

The truth is I cannot wait until summer.  My students cannot wait until summer. The other day I overheard one student commenting to another about how there are 20 something school days left and when she caught my eye she said, "I mean, we love you Mrs. Alleyn...uhhh..." My reply was something along the lines of, "I get it, I get it...love you guys too...uhhhh..."  We are all just done.

Most days by the end of dinner hour I look like this:

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Teaching and parenting simultaneously is border line insane.  These days have been long and yet...short.  These days have been trying and fulfilling all in one.  These days have been incredibly frustrating and completely triumphant within five passing minutes.  I feel as if I've been on an educational roller coast since November (when I finished maternity leave) and I am so so so ready to get off this ride for a while.  I'm ready to be just a mama and not a teacher for a while again and I feel guilty about that.

Last night I couldn't fall asleep when my head finally hit the pillow.  I started thinking about all the school and blog things I wanted to do this year that didn't happen.  I started going down the "you're not smart enough" path.  I went through some the areas in my teaching practice that could use some polishing (marking and prompt feedback, math planning and a concrete end to our science unit).  This pattern of negative thinking is familiar to me so I was not surprised that my mind went wandering there, especially following a fun gathering with some brilliant and very skilled teacher friends (Meaghan included) whom I love deeply, but often compare myself to because their standard of work ethic and professionalism is so high.  Eventually I fell asleep.

I woke up this morning thinking that next year I'll have a year's worth of being a working mama under my belt, and while I have no idea where or what I'll be teaching next year (yet) I already know of some things I plan to do differently.  I'll share these things on the blog once I feel ready, but until then...I am holding on by a thread.

High fives and all the props to all you teacher parents out there.  On those days when you feel you rarely get a moment of silence know that it's because you likely DON'T ever get a moment of silence; therefore, force yourself to take a deep breath and turn off all the sounds.  This works for me most days!

Karley

 


No pencils, no papers, no problems

My grade 8s have a very exciting year end trip coming up! In a few weeks all the grade 8s in our school will head out on a paddling and camping trip, which they have been preparing for since January.  Our school is incredibly lucky in that we are situated right on the ocean - some classrooms even have a pretty sweet view - allowing us easy access to the water.  Our school is also incredibly lucky to have two very dedicated teacher leaders who have taken on and developed the Big Canoe program over the last few years.  Check out last year's trip!

It's been an interesting experience hearing about all the prep my grade 8s have been doing because indeed they are not only "my grade 8s" - I share them with my teaching partner, Amy.  Most canoe prep days have taken place on Amy's work days, not mine, so it has been easy for me to be far removed from the program.  That said, in the last two weeks our final paddling "training" days have taken place on MY work days and I definitely cannot complain!

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Happiest teacher in all the land.

Admittedly, most of my work days are filled with meetings before and after school and during breaks, two massive handfuls of behaviour issues, a handful of parent/staff emails to send, a handful of pencils to dish out (because while we can be prepared for canoeing, we are never prepared for math!), a handful of extra photocopying to do...you know what I'm saying?  There isn't a lot of time to kick back and breathe in the glory that is these last few weeks of grade 8 with my students.  These last few weeks are precious.  Nerves are uncertain and sometimes behaviours come out stronger than ever (and with every behaviour being a form of communication, my goodness...So. Much. Communicating). The end of grade 8 is full of transition days to high school, final IEP meetings with families, ceremony prep galore, wrapping up assignments, report card writing, class party planning, field trips...it's busy times.

Our days on the water these last few weeks have provided me with one calming thought:

No pencils, no papers, no problems.

During these last few weeks I've witnessed my (our) grade 8s work together in ways I thought were unimaginable back in November.  I've seen the struggling learners be leaders in the canoes.  I've seen my "usual crew" rise up and build shelters, row in sync with one another, and share chocolate treats with their friends.  I've seen the more reserved and reluctant students shine brightly as their confidence on the water grows.  There is just so much learning that happens out there with 13 bodies crammed into one canoe - we have no pencils, we have no papers, and we truly have no problems.  It's beautiful.

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I think, for me, the icing on the cake was being present with some of my students and staff at a recent town hall meeting where our canoe program was presented to local politicians.  Three of my students stood up to speak about how the canoe program has impacted them and influenced their learning.  Things like teamwork, resilience, creativity and perseverance were brought forward.  As I sat in the (very small) audience my teacher heart glowed with pride for these brave, young people who spoke truth about their learning outside of the classroom and who brought the importance of our school's canoe program to attention with their testimonies.

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I can't wait to see what the next few weeks have in store for these incredible kids!

Karley


The Elementary Switch

So first of all... it's been a while! We both have lots of "we should blog about this" moments but getting them written down is another story. Today's post was a toss up between this post and the "One Handed Teacher"... 

I broke my arm about three weeks ago so my weeks have consisted of a couple surgeries/procedures, a LOT of Netflix, and trying to get back to teaching before I was ready... typical!

Five years ago I did a practicum in a grade 1/2 class, but since then (besides subbing) I have been strictly middle school. Right now I'm back in elementary teaching grade 4/5 and I'm absolutely loving it! Although I'm definitely a middle school teacher at heart it has been an amazing experience so far.

Elementary Perks

The kids adore you! I get more hugs in one day then I have in my past 4 years of teaching combined probably. They give me beautiful artwork and their sweet faces absolutely light up when they see me. There really isn't a much better feeling!

Work wise it is about the same in terms of time spent but I find that I'm much less exhausted at the end of a teaching day. I think this is partly because of the non-academic breaks and partly because you don't have to work quite as hard getting kids to "buy in" to everything you are doing.

Elementary Challenges

These are my challenges, and I'm sure they would be perks for many other people. The CONSTANT holidays, special events, assemblies... When can I teach? This took me by surprise when I started February but I thought, "Oh it's just a busy month." Was I ever wrong! February was nothing compared to what May looks like. All of these events are great, don't get me wrong! I just find it to be the hardest transition from middle school to find the time just to teach.

Another challenge for me is in the curriculum. I really love grade 7/8 curriculum and it has been tricky trying to get in deeply at a younger grade than I'm used to. Luckily I'm at a school that has so many amazing examples of inquiry based learning at any age!

Meaghan