Acknowledgement

At this point probably everyone knows what's going on in the world right now.  In the past 48 hours we have sent furious text messages back and forth with links to news clips, articles and Tweets; all the information we could ever possibly want is at our fingertips. Meaghan is really great at, and committed to, finding credible resources online that share world news items, so I always appreciate it when she sends her finds to me. We're both carrying on with our weekends in our safe little corner of the world and feeling just not quite right about things. "What can we do?", we've questioned each other.  "What do we say to our students?", we've wondered out loud.  We decided that the first thing we wanted to do was acknowledge the world's current unrest on our public space, this blog.  Our lifestyle mentors and inspirations, Liz Gilbert, Brene Brown, Glennon Doyle Melton and Jenn over at Cult of Pedagogy, have all spoken up and ACTED through their own public platforms.  Granted, all of those women are indeed American, but they all have worldwide audiences and they are making waves in their own way.  These women are being agents of change as I type this post and it's really easy for us to feel like we can't do anything because we are not American.  But we obviously know that belief is not true.  After some reflection and thoughts, we've decided to share on our blog what we can and are doing.

We are recommitting to our authentic voice on this blog and we are speaking our truth on our public platform even when it's scary and vulnerable.  We don't have a massive following, but we do have a following, and we feel it is important to share our voice and our beliefs based on what we feel is right. We believe in being positive leaders in our school community. How this looks in action: This post.  We will not be silent.

We are recommitting to our students and our communities, focusing on the struggles and injustices within our own schools and within our own city, because goodness knows...those injustices exist.  How this looks in action: When two new students, who happen to be Syrian refugees, start school tomorrow we will welcome them wholeheartedly into the classroom community.  We will seek to understand where they come from and we will rise up to do what is best for these children, while meeting them where they are at. How this looks in action: We will continue to discuss and implement digital citizenship programs and lessons within our respective schools in order to make sure students learn how to navigate social media and other online resources, responsibly. How this looks in action: We will stop a colleague on the street to engage in a face-to-face discussion about a student of concern and consider adaptations that might be best for the student.

We are recommitting to our personal practices of wellness.  We know that in order to be effective and efficient positive leaders we need to well within ourselves. How this looks in action: We exercise, we eat well, we sleep well, we meditate, we journal and we unplug when we feel the need.  We will continue to seek the positive moments, even if they are small and seemingly insignificant, because we know these small positive things will keep us afloat in such terrifying, uncertain times.

Daily positive moments from January - almost full!

Thank you for allowing us to share our commitments to making the world a better place on our public space.  We may be only two young teachers who happen to live very safe and privileged lives, but we are two.  And we are working incredibly hard to make long lasting, positive change.


Dive Into Inquiry Giveaway WINNER

And the winner is...

Mei-Lyn Freeman

Congratulations Mei-Lyn and thank you everyone for engaging with us and Trevor MacKenzie on our respective Twitter accounts and here on the blog! We hope you all get the chance to read Dive Into Inquiry soon.  Purchase Trevor's book HERE and add it to your professional reading library.

 


Book Tale and Giveaway: Dive Into Inquiry

Disclaimer: We were provided with a copy of the book in return for an honest review. All opinions and reviews are our own.

We are so excited for this post about an amazing book from an inspiring educator in our district, Trevor MacKenzie.

This book has made our list of 'must read' books for teachers. It is engaging and informative, plus it's a relatively quick read. There is so much practical, use right away advice in here that Karley even said, "I feel like I'm stealing treasure reading this!" How many workshops have you been to or books have you read where you are left feeling like "yeah that's awesome but how/when/etc?" This book was just the opposite - the steps to implementing are clear, concise and there are so many easy places to start.

"Student agency begins by creating strong relationships built on trust."

We don't need to be sold on inquiry, it's a teaching practice that completely respects the interests and experiences of students. Respectful teaching is right up our alley so of course we are in, but the HOW piece is always that intimidating stepping stone to something new. We have both done inquiry based units in the past and tried to incorporate it into some of our planning but honestly, reading Dive Into Inquiry was the first time we felt like we could successfully make our classrooms inquiry based.

Having tried Genius Hour and other personal inquiry projects in the past, there are some parts of free inquiry that we had trouble grasping when picturing the overall "inquiry based classroom" but Trevor explains exactly how to overcome these barriers through scaffolding, careful planning, and supporting students one on one. He gives clear, understandable examples throughout the book of how to manage so many of the different facets of managing an inquiry based classroom.

Our favourite parts of the book:

  • Outline for creating syllabus as a class (student agency!)
  • Description of the scaffolded "Types of Student Inquiry"
  • Examples of multi-age and community connections
  • Clear ways of guiding students through the research process
  • Examples of inquiry in different subject areas
  • Commitment to publicly sharing student work
  • QR Codes with examples of student work - so cool!
  • SketchNote graphics throughout the book
  • Plus it's really cool to see the names of people we know in a book!

We have a GIVEAWAY for you to win a copy of Dive Into Inquiry.

There are two ways for you to enter:

  1. Write us a comment telling us your experiences with inquiry or why you want to read this book
  2. Follow Trevor MacKenzie (@trev_mackenzie) and Tale of Two Teachers (@taletwoteachers) on Twitter and leave a second comment telling us when you do

Giveaway ends on Sunday January 15th. Winner will be announced on the blog and contacted via email.

Please note: Maximum two entries per person. Entries must be in the form of separate comments with email provided.

Good luck!


New Year 2017: Intentions & Commitments

Happy New Year! We hope everyone had a restful and rejuvenating break and are ready to jump into 2017 with newfound energy and excitement.

As usual, we spent some time over our break thinking about our respective intentions and commitments for 2017.  We also both chose a "word" to help guide us through all the triumphs and tribulations we know we will inevitably face this year.  Meaghan's word is: LOVE and similarly, my word is: SELF-LOVE.  We both feel we need more love in all capacities this year and we are ready to intentionally commit to bringing more love and self-love into our lives.  This is how:

Spending time with the people I love will be a priority for me this year.

Meaghan: The reason I chose LOVE as my focus this year is because I just can't get over some of the world and local events that are happening and the only solution I can think of is to just love more. In the past my resolution words have been intentional and balance, somehow these seem more practical and more purposeful so I was hesitant when I kept coming back to the word love. What will love mean for me this year? It means to focus on wellbeing and not just health. It means to prioritize relationships over projects. Love means to give to myself as well as to others. In 2017 I want more connection to the world and to notice the beauty. I have set some mini-goals for myself to help me get to the place of being my most loving self. For the first few months I'm going to focus love on myself through building routines around exercise, eating well, meditation, yoga and journaling. As I gain more balance I will focus that Love outwards to the world as much as I can.

 

My traditional New Year Day run. It's been two years since I began running again after the birth of my daughter.

Karley: I've chosen to commit to more self-love this year for the first time in my entire life.  In the last few years I've encountered some experiences that have had a profoundly traumatic impact on my personal life.  This year, I resolve to truly work on loving myself more.  I have planned a few ways in which I intend to learn more about self-love and they include: seeking professional counseling, scheduling consistent self-care time (massage therapy, for example) and sticking firmly to my fitness plan.  I intend to go pretty deep and get a bit messy with this new journey, but as I spiraled out of control in late 2016, a wise and trusted friend encouraged me that this hard self-work is "the next step" for me.  I am very excited to explore and reconnect with myself this year.