This post was written directly after I got home from my first experience in the Learning Initiatives program. I decided to let this reflective post sit and settle for a week for a few reasons, but primarily because it was Meaghan’s turn to update our blog and I didn’t want to infringe on her posts!

We are not alone in this teaching thing…this is one of the main messages I took away from the first Learning Initiatives session today.

What is Learning Initiatives? Learning Initiatives (LI) is a program that supports literacy and numeracy and is available to teachers grades K-12. Teachers must register for the yearlong program and choose either literacy or numeracy as a focus. The workshops and “think tank” sessions are hosted by a dedicated team of educators (former teachers, or teachers who are currently not working in classroom). LI focuses specifically on job-embedded professional development through collaborative and inquiry based planning, learning and teaching. You can read more about Learning Initiatives in school district 61 here.

A good friend of mine (also a firecracker of a teacher!) was involved in LI last year and works on the LI team this year. Last year this friend and I happened to work at the same school and when she’d go out for her “learning rounds” (team teaching with other teachers in the program) I would sub in her class. I’ve learned a lot about LI over the past year because of my friend’s involvement with the program and, being the keener I am, I’ve been waiting for my opportunity to join LI! As soon as I was offered my full time grade 8 job I registered for the literacy based LI program (I’d love to do the math program, but I am not teaching math this year). This morning was our first time meeting together as a LI literacy group; the following notes are some thoughts and reflections I have from today’s session. *note: remember, I’m pretty fresh out of Uni, where my friends and I would joke that we actually got our degree in reflecting rather than teaching 🙂 Please disregard my ramblings…this post is literally my writing in a stream of consciousness kind of way.

1) Being surrounded by a room full of inspiring, dedicated and driven educators fuels my fire in a great way.
2) As a new teacher about to start her first full time job I am feeling extremely self-conscious and anxious about what the heck I am even doing?! The very first day I set foot in a classroom I remember thinking, “I have no idea what I am doing here…seriously, I should not be allowed to teach these impressionable youth!” This thought has reappeared numerous times over the past few years and I am feeling that way right now, even more so because now I have my own class. Let’s just say my self-confidence (usually SO aligned and in tact – ha!) is currently wavering.
3) Reading academic/pedagogically sound articles brought me back to my UVic days where I actually had to understand exactly what it was I was reading (sounds weird, but once you are out of practice, even for a short while, your brain tends to forget how to derive meaning from text). Don’t get me wrong, I am a reader…I LOVE to read. I just haven’t read an academic article in a while and I totally tensed up when given a section of an article to read today.
4) Moving on from the article reading experience…once we were done reading our assigned piece of article we had to share with our small group of three the main ideas of what we just read. I knew both teachers in my group and having them there to support, question and confirm my thoughts really helped boost my confidence in sharing the facts and opinions I generated from my reading (I realize that we were essentially practicing exactly what we want our students to practice in this reading/sharing exercise…I also realize that the best teaching tends to come from those who have at least had a tiny bit of experience with the material itself – light bulbs going off even as I type this rambling reflection)LI1.

5) This year I was very concerned that I would get stuck in the mindset of being “just a dance teacher”. I know the word “just” is a dangerous word to use; I do not intend to offend exploratory and specialty teachers when I say “just a dance teacher”. I’ve been there and I know that we are much, much more than “just” exploratory teachers. This being said, as much as I loved and enjoyed my dance/music job last year, I knew there was more for me to come this year. For those of you who don’t know, I was offered my dance job back at the start of this year and I turned it down because of the firm belief that I knew I could escape my comfort zone and push myself more this year. I stuck to my vision board’s main statement: GROW…and look where that decision brought me. (Woah…this is getting to be really deep). Needless to say, this morning’s session pulled me right out of the “just a dance teacher” mindset and threw me into “you have a lot to learn this year, girlfriend” mindset. My reaction to this realization? Bring it on.
6) Final, underlying thought: My goodness, there are some amazing people in our district!! How lucky am I that I get to reconnect with these individuals over the course of the entire year, while working with our specific inquiry questions and case study learnings. Plus, we get to drink coffee and eat snacks together while engaging in all this juicy, educational awesomeness. LI, for me, is a win-win-still winning situation because I drink coffee with teacher friends and talk about education and teaching literally ALL THE TIME anyhow. Some people go to movies or concerts or on road trips with friends for entertainment. I just drink copious amounts of coffee and talk to teacher friends about school for entertainment. (Kidding…I also enjoy concerts and road trips…but only if we get to talk about how I’ll weave my experiences into my teaching when I get back to my classroom!)

I don't always wear cute dresses and gaze out over the harbour in Nice, but when I do, you better believe it's when I'm on a road trip through the French Riviera while thinking about stories to tell my students back at home.
I don’t always wear cute dresses and gaze out over the harbour in Nice, but when I do, you better believe it’s when I’m on a road trip through the French Riviera while thinking about stories to tell my students back at home.

Hello, extension of my life in the form of Learning Initiatives. It is GREAT to finally meet you.