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Back to School 2017!

After being off for over a year on maternity leave with my son I am gearing up to return back to the classroom! I decided I would accept the challenge of a new school and asked my former principal to release me from my old school. Fortunately I ended up at a school very close to my home, and with an admin team that I have already worked with and admire.

I am just starting now to dust off the cobwebs of being away from teaching and hope to get ready for the Fall with some back to school tips I have used in the past that have helped me feel more organized, ready, and calm 🙂

  1. Start going to bed at a decent hour and waking up early
    In the Summer this is easier said than done, however the few weeks before school starts it is so helpful to start getting your sleep cycles and body into the routine of going to bed at a reasonable hour and waking up early.
  2. Get the Planner ready and make a To Do List
    I am a major agenda/planner junkie, and sometimes have a few on the go. I have decided to try to consolidate into 1 planner for school / home so that my brain is less scattered this year. One of my favourite things to do to be ready for back to school is add in all the dates I have been given ahead of time (conferences, professional development days etc). I also go in and add birthdays, and other holidays so my planner at least is ready for work. Make a list of what is the most important stuff that needs to get done before the first week.19287279970_ca010938d4_k
  3. Create a warm, inviting space you’d want to learn in
    The summer is tough when looking on social media at some of the amazingly beautiful classrooms out there. The decor, the colour schemes, the organization – it can be almost overwhelming to see, especially when your own classroom has no theme, decor, or design whatsoever. My main goal with my classroom environment is to create a space I’d want to learn in. I do add some decor, and one time I did do some bulletin board borders, but mainly I try to set up the tables in nice arrangements, ensure I have some flexible seating, add some lights that aren’t fluorescent, and buy a bunch of easy to maintain plants to provide some greenery. (Look for my classroom tour soon)

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    My attempt at some “decor” in my space a couple of years ago
  4. Try New Things!
    Sometimes the social media space for teachers is overwhelming (see above) but most of the time it is super inspirational. Every new school year I find it helpful to pick 2-3 of my favourite things other teachers have done in their classrooms to try to emulate in my space. For example, I am going to attempt some whiteboard art this year – inspired by Mrs Ws Whiteboards and I am very excited to try to “Keep the Quote” in my classroom thanks to Miss 5th

Those are my top tips for back to school, I am so excited to be teaching again in the fall, and look forward to more connections, blog posts, and learning! I am so excited for Back to School this year I have joined up with a bunch of teacher bloggers for a sweet giveaway! Click below to enter to win a $50 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card, and a $15 Starbucks Gift Card – great way to start the school year.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

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EdCamp Musings

Today I had the great opportunity to attend a PD away from my school, and join 400+ teachers from around Calgary (as well as some pre-service teachers) who want to discuss some of Education’s tough questions and movements.

EDCAMPYYC 2015 is about meeting with other like-minded professionals to create a learning network and discuss topics that we are passionate about.

Entering the new highschool up in Nose Hill; Robert Thirsk Highschool is beautiful.   It still had that new school smell, and was exceptionally laid out.  What a treat it must be to get to work there.   They had some beautiful living walls, and a lovely outdoor terrace for teachers to shmooze and have breakfast.

My first session was put on by Joe Bower who is an advocate for a shift away from grades and tests.  He facillitated an excellent discussion about the “whys” and the “hows” related to moving away from giving students tests and grades.  We discussed the difficulties, the roadblocks, and some of the successful ways teachers from K-12 were managing to provide formative feedback, collaborative reflections, and more.   Joe did an excellent job inspiring the crowd with his own personal anecdotes about dealing with parents and kids who are still “number obsessed”.   He explained that every number is subjective.

Some take aways from this discussion were:

– that we need to teach kids how to collaborate and share their learning.  Many know how to talk about their weekends, but when they have a school q. they raise their hand to ask the teacher.  Have to teach and train them to use each other as a community of learners

– instead of tests – look at objects, performances, and portfolios (digital or physical) – students always need to know the purpose and context of every task in order to be engaged.

– Success and Failure should not equate to Reward and Punishment, but INFORMATION!

– We need to give students a space where they can take risks, where a number doesn’t define them, where process is important, and reflecting on how they grew from the process.

Secondly, I went to a discussion about Outdoor Education, put on by Paul Kelba.   He shared some great links and a video about the importance about getting outside.  We discussed together the challenges and roadblocks to getting outside to be active and to do field work or field trips.   Many common roadblocks are the paperwork, costs, not enough volunteers, and resistance from teachers, or kids themselves.   We discussed ways to overcome some of these roadblocks such as going on walking trips (cost saving, and almost no paperwork now thanks to the CBE and their walking distance trip letter).   We talked about creating dialogue with parents to help stress the importance of doing field trips and the need for volunteers at your school and using student teachers/university students as volunteers.   Overall I was very inspired to get outside more, and take advantage of our beautiful city.

Some take aways

– the benefits of revisiting the same place multiple times in a year
– using GIS
– mapping and orienteering
– using art and science outcomes for any outdoor trip – journaling, reflection, field studies, etc.

reflections and new beginnings

 

I’ve had a tumblr education blog for years, but it was sort of becoming a place where I was mostly just reblogging other people’s ideas and not ever really writing or creating my own.  I was sort of stuck.   A weekend alone, and some quiet art and reflection has re-inspired me to start anew.

I’m in my third year of full time teaching, and although I deeply miss teaching art full time in a middle school, I’ve come to enjoy the freedom of having one class all day long.  This year I’ve had a 5/6 class and it has been so joyous and exciting.  We’ve created, we’ve drawn, we’ve built, and being able to spend more than one class period on something has made a world of difference.

My hopes for this new space will be to post images of my creations and my students’ creations as well.  I’ll hopefully talk about my teaching practice and my growth, as well as my struggles (because boy are there lots of those).   I’m off to bed now, but look forward to posting more in the near future.

 

Top Albums of 2013 – According to Me

artisloving:

Okay here we go, my annual music list.  Click the track links for a little preview of what I’m talking about 🙂

1. Tegan & Sara: Heartthrob
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Listened to this album almost on repeat during the summer, driving from Los Angeles, to Vegas, and back up to Calgary.  Catchy songs, and a definite staple in my music collection.

Fave tracks: Drove Me Wild, Now I’m All Messed Up

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artisloving:

1. Sigur Ros – Valtari

2. Lana Del Rey – Born to Die

3. Moonrise Kingdom OST

4. Godspeed! You Black Emperor – ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!

5. Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel

6. Ellie Goulding – Halcyon

7. Marina & the Diamonds – Electra Heart

8.

My other blog – list of my favourite albums from 2012

Artsy Love: My favourite albums of 2012

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