Archive for the ‘Teaching’ Category

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WE’RE NOT OUT TO GET YOUR KIDS- often you’ll hear “Mr. So-in-so doesn’t like me, that’s why I got that grade.” Or “Why are you centering out my kid? You must not like him” Here’s a fact. Teacher’s get into teaching because they love kids and want them to be successful. Even more so now that is the case. To land a teaching gig now, you’re looking at a 7 year wait, if you’re lucky. People who don’t love the job don’t stay with teaching. The amount of crap from parents and students, paper work, time and effort needed is only worth it if you love it.

Something I found interesting was sharing a prep period with the “meanest teacher on staff.” Students were always saying how she didn’t like them etc. Throughout the semester I got to know this teacher well and I was amazed in talking with her how much she cared for her students. She was a little old-school and strict, but she really wanted these students to be successful. Sure, she demanded full sentences and handing in assignments on time, and the reason that was is because she wanted them to be prepared not just for later education but expectations in life as well.

So, as a parents always assume that the teacher is on your side and loves your kid and wants them to do well. We see things that you don’t- think of us as another set of loving eyes that can offer advice to help your child grow. 

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I’m going to post this in seven parts over the next two weeks!

 

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Back to school is almost upon us! So, this blog post has to do with school. Now, I’m a teacher, not a parent, so this is why this post comes from the teacher perspective. I would love to hear what parents would like teachers to know!

One thing is clear, teachers and parents both play an integral part in shaping a child’s mind. Both serve as guides and examples of how to navigate this journey that is life. And, with the ultimate goal to create independent people by the time they graduate, it is imperative that both parent and teacher do everything they can to support, encourage and guide our future adults.

I’m going into my eighth full year of teaching this September and I think I’ve seen it all. I have met some wonderfully supportive parents and I have been raked over the coals by others. Here are seven things as a teacher I (and my teaching friends) wish parents knew and understood about teaching/the education system. Again, I’m sharing this to help facilitate a partnership between teachers and parents. Because ultimately we want what you want-for your child to be successful, both at school and at life.

1. Every teacher is different- Teachers, like people, are different. They have different personality types, they have varied interests and strengths, have had different experiences and communicate in different ways. That is what makes teaching so great- when you are dealing with a variety of children and a variety of subjects, you need more than a cookie-cutter definition of what a good teacher is. There are always a few funny and vivacious teachers on staff that all the kids love and clamour to get in that teacher’s class. That being said, there are some amazing teachers who are quieter and all around good at delivering solid teaching. They may not be one of the “cool” teachers, but your kids will learn so much from them.

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Teachers are like shoes…

Comparing teachers is like comparing shoes. You just can’t. Some are instantly comfortable, and others hurt your feet. But, each has their purpose and even those high heels that pinch will help you with your posture! Each teacher you have will teach you something if you are open to it. Sure, some teachers you will connect more with and you’ll enjoy their teaching style more. But, there are others that you shouldn’t just write off because you don’t like them as much as another teacher. Encouraging your child to see the good in whatever teacher they have will help them to be successful.

I remember teaching an academic English course where the kids were constantly complaining that I wasn’t as fun as their teacher from the year before, mainly because I made them do some serious reading and writing. It’s hard not to take comments like that personally, because as humans we all have a desire to be liked. I told my kids, “I don’t care if you like me. My goal is to make you better readers and writers and to have you rock the essay form. I care that when you are at college or university you have a moment where you think, thank you Ms. B.” And, it’s been cool to have kids come back and share how a skill or strategy we worked was useful to them in other courses and later on in life and post secondary studies. My job as a teacher is not to make friends.  My job is to teach your kids.

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A word about technology and communication here. Every teacher’s experience with technology is different. Every classroom is equipped with different technology and every subject is different. I’ve taught English in a computer lab, but I’ve also taught it with limited computer access. Some teachers are able to do a weekly email update to parents. Some teachers have all their lessons online on a website. Others still break out the overhead projector. Some have classes where there are a lot of difficult students, so you may never get a phone call if your kid is one of the ok ones. All of these scenarios can allow for good teaching, if you have one thing: a good teacher. A teacher’s merit should not be placed on how many smart board lessons use, how many foldables they create, or how many lights and special effects they put into their lessons. Sure, when used effectively- they breed great results. But, I’ve seen some amazing teacher led pencil and paper activities. The worst thing you can do is say, “Last year, Mr. So-in-so did this,” or “Ms. So-in-so was so much more engaging.”

Embrace differences and encourage your children to so as well.

Don’t believe me?  Check out this post:  https://emstop7.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/405/

CLICK ON THE SPEECH BUBBLE AT THE TOP OF THIS POST AND LEAVE YOUR THOUGHTS!

7 Tips for Teaching Applied Students 

I think it’s the fact that marks are due this week and I’ve been marking English stuff like a vandal, so this week’s post is a teaching post. I’ll post to my teaching blog too, which sadly, I have not done a super great job keeping up.

 For those who have been out of the school system for awhile, high school students can pick from three streams in their courses: academic (which is quite, well, academic), applied, and essentials/modified. Sortof, like the advanced, general, and basic we had when I was a student.

 Applied students are interesting. You always have an “interesting” makeup of students. Students who are constantly late or non-attenders, really intelligent kids who are too lazy to do academic work, lazy students in general, weak students, students with learning disabilities, students who don’t want to work, are all put together in a class, usually at max, usually all boys. There are usually a few hard working/wonderful kids, but sometimes they get overlooked because of the rest of the clientele. So, a mixed bag that’s for sure. How do you teach a class full of those students and still keep your sanity?

 I think out of the 21 or so English classes I’ve taught, only 2 or 3 have been academic. So, I have a lot of experience, especially with Grade 9/10 Applied English. Also, I’ve worked with some rockstar teachers when I was working at Eastview as a classroom tutor (Mr. Welch literally is a rockstar- and, did you know our beloved OAC English teacher said his favourite course to teach was Grade 9 Applied English?) I think I have a little bit of insight to share. That’s not to say my period 2 class isn’t a bit of a gong show on occasion (I’m still learning too!), but hopefully I can offer some insight to those teachers starting out.

 And this is going to be good, solid pedagogical advice. It’s not going to be “airy-fairy” advice like “make a foldable” or “here’s a cool app,” which all could be all good things, but with the absence of good teaching, they won’t save you!

"Dude, you going to English?"

“Dude, you going to English?”

 

1.  Your thinking about teaching has to shift- Think about it. Any teacher has gone to university, which means they took academic courses in high school. What motivated you in school and what you found interesting is NOT going to work with these guys.

 Applied kids are DIFFERENT than academic students. As a teacher you have to realize this to teach this students. They are not fans of homework, they aren’t driven by marks, and they will shut down if you are mean or scare them. With these classes it has to be about giving students opportunities to gain marks, not about taking away marks. I always collect their work on the due date or the end of the period. I don’t care if it’s incomplete. I will mark what they have done to give them some marks. Also, we recently had a quiz, and I had students come up while I marked it to go over the answers with me. Questions that were left blank, I asked them about to see if I could get them a few more marks. More often then not, they didn’t understand the question. These are good kids that are trying and they were so thankful to have the chance to demonstrate what they knew. Also, it was a nice reward for them since 8 other students skipped that day. They won’t get the Ms. B special treatment when they return.

Again, all these things are DIFFERENT than our traditional academic upbringing and some of you won’t agree with these examples. But, I assure you this shift in thinking saves you a lot of headaches, breed better results and relationships with these kids, and honestly, saves you a lot of paperwork in the end!

 2. Keep them organized! You have to go a little old school. Tomorrow we are having a binder check (you know where you fill in the organizer with the worksheet at the front?). I use checklists for assignments and for units. I have a slide show on the board reminding them of the tasks to complete and hand in for the day. I’ve even tweaked assignments I’ve used for years to make them more clear, chunk down the expectations, and usually have an organizer to make it easier to complete the writing task later. Also, the rubric is very clear and we always work up to big assignments.

 For example: It took us two weeks of small little lessons and filling in organizers to complete our five paragraph personal essays in my 2P English class. But we did, and they were quite good. But it wasn’t just: here’s the assignment- go. Each step in the process was chunked down. The first day we did a guided brainstorm about ourselves, the next day we filled in an organizer with 3 points and supporting examples, the next we worked on topic sentences in general, and then different types of introductions etc. As we did this, everyday we filled in a part of our graphic organizer and continued our study on paragraphs. We even did a lesson on formatting- and behold- perfectly double spaced, centred, and titled essays. But, this only happened because that was a separate lesson one day before we spent the rest of the period typing up our essays.

 3. Talk less and let them do more/Keep them busy and working. This was life changing for me when I realized this. I was so frustrated that I would explain the task and expectations and then almost every student would ask, “What are we suppose to do?” Now, I just give them brief instructions and direct them to the slide show/instruction sheet to figure it out. One on one conversation to explain things yield better results. I spend most of the class going around and helping students, checking in, and marking their organizers on the spot. You cannot sit at your desk and mark with these kids. You have to prompt them, encourage them, and assist them.

4. Be proactive. Give these students no excuse not to work. Anticipate the “problem” (or in this case excuse) before it happens. If I see a student arrive without a pencil, I keep talking and just hand them one of the many golf pencils I keep at the front. I also always collect work that we will be working on for multiple days, especially if it’s group work. (Why is it, whenever one group member is away, they are the one who always has the hangout?) Also, if I know Johnny needs help getting started on a task, I’ll go straight to him and make sure he’s clear as to what he’s suppose to be doing. If I know Sally is going to fly through a worksheet, I’ll have another task ready for her. If kids are busy, you’ve just eliminated most of your behaviour problems, guaranteed!

5. Be clear in your expectations and follow through. Don’t be a tyrant, but be clear. This is what you are to accomplish today, and I will collect it at the end of the period. If you talk once more, I will move you beside me. And always, always follow through. But, as the Great Wendy Jackson said, always focus on their success “I think you will be more successful working over here away from your friends who are distracting you from your success.” Even better when you give them a warning, “Do I need to move you to a more successful seat?,” usually gets them working, because they don’t want to move. Or sometimes they just do because they know they will be more successful there. But you’ve now made it their choice, and you’ve made it about them. These kids want to be successful and they want to have someone take an interest in them and their success. Actually, if that’s the one thing you take from this blog, it’s that point right there. That was my mind shift moment and that’s driven my teaching ever since!

What your students would rather be doing...

What your students would rather be doing…

6. Tap into their interests/Get to know them- I love teaching 2P right now; we’re doing the hero quest and looking at superheros. It gives me an excuse to wear my Batman t-shirt! It’s perfect because I have a lot of boys in that class who are into that sort of thing. To hear the debate one group had as we ranked superpowers was amazing. It was deep. Students who would barely write a sentence are now coming up with epic projects. We also did a graphic novel assignment where they found examples and cut and pasted them into a project. Almost silence for 3 days. I’m not saying everything you do should be about their interests- even having conversations with students and getting to know them is such a great thing for behaviour and willingness to work.

 

But give them meaty tasks. Don’t just pick something because they’ll like it. Make sure it has value. This is key. Often, we want to engage our students by giving them “cool things to do” but kids see through that, if there isn’t something “meaty” to it. Like, we did a Hero Quest foldable, which I explained would be used on a few tasks, and our exam. They took it very seriously and they all did a great job with it. It was the same with our Batman movie (which I explained was going to be used as our example in our foldable as an intro to the Quest). We don’t just watch movies for fun. These kids are up for the challenge and want to complete something meaningful.

 7. Always be kind, patient and respectful. Choose your battles- who wants to fight with a kid when they are late? Sometimes I’m happy they’ve shown up to class at all! Let’s just get down to business. Remember, you are the adult and always give second chances.

As much work as these kids are, I love teaching them. To see the excitement on their faces when they get something, or do a great job, or like today, when they get a Star Wars sticker on their assignment for handing it in on time, is the best feeling in the world. And these students have personality- class is never dull or quite what you’d expect!

What are your tips/challenges for applied students? Share your thoughts in the speech bubble at the top of this post.

Still catching up- this is this past weeks post!

The summer is a natural time to reflect, and this month (August) has caused me to think and be challenged.  From watching the Bachelorette, to seeing love in action and a love so pure at two different weddings, to kayaking on the lake & sitting on the dock, to amazing just-because gifts, to new adventures, miscommunications with friends, acting silly (in both the fun and where- is –my- brain sense), and studying God’s word- I’ve learned a lot and been challenged by a lot.

I’m usually pretty candid in my posts, but I’m not overly personal with my experiences.  So this one is a little more honest, but I’m not going to go into too many details.  I’m sharing to hopefully challenge you as well, and a girls gotta keep some secrets!  😉

So, Seven Things I’ve Realized this August (LOL Life Lessons with Ms. B if you will)

One of the many people I'm blessed to have in my life

One of the many people I’m blessed to have in my life

1. I am so blessed to have such amazing friends and family.  I look at the key people in my life and I’m amazed at genuine, kind, caring, and honest people in my life.  These people I love immensely, and astonishing enough, they love me just as dearly.  Which amazes me, because I can be a handful.  There are too many people to name, and although I’ve spent time with a lot of them over the past few weeks, there are many more.  Thanks for putting up with me and making me feel loved.  I was also blessed to receive the kindest, most thoughtful and generous gift from a very special person.  It wasn’t just the gift (which is awesome by the way), but the symbolism behind it.  It’s hard living on your own sometimes, especially when you see all your friends getting married, and this person just got that.  Thank you.

Taking out the Trash freedigitalphotos.net

Taking out the Trash freedigitalphotos.net

2. Don’t Rationalize the Garbage in your Life- Get Rid of it!  Whether it’s a behaviour you have, how you interact/converse with someone, how you spend your time, your language, your attitude, whatever- don’t make excuses for it- just cleanse it from your life.  How often do we “explain” our behaviours and justify why we are doing something.  It’s crap.  Literally.  It doesn’t matter why you are doing it, or why your attitude is so trash.  It stinks and it needs to be kicked to the curb.  And, while you’re at it, delete a few facebook friends that suck, or cause you to suck as a person.  You’ll be amazed at how “sweet” your life is after.

Philippians 4:8 (NIV) Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is novle, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things 

Just call them up!  freedigitalphotos.com

Just call them up! freedigitalphotos.com

3. Communication is Key- How many times do I need to learn this lesson?  In all that you do, in all your interactions with people, it’s better just to communicate with them.  Otherwise, things just become a bigger issue than they need to be.  Honesty is always good, especially when things are hard and awkward.  I had a situation with a friend that I avoided for a while, and it was hilarious when we finally talked- all I could think about was, “why didn’t I do that from the beginning?”  It’s better for a moment or two of weirdness than a few weeks of awkward misreadings and misinterpretations.  I know, a lesson I should have learned in grade school- I’m still learning!

 

 

4. You’re not Awesome… yet!  I’ve been reading a book of Proverbs a day; it seemed like a good, practical book to talk some sense into me, and the last few days the idea of correction or discipline has come up.  This is a topic people don’t like, because we don’t like to change.  We have this, “love me as I am” or “I’m awesome” attitude which is bologna.  As humans, we aren’t awesome, we don’t have it all figured out.  There is always something we can learn, something we can change in our life to make us a better person.  We never achieve perfection: we can only strive for excellence.  For me, that excellence is found in Christ and his example, and I am far from perfection.  I like that I have friends who are honest with me and are willing to say, “I don’t like that answer,” or “you are being really dumb right now,” because that’s what friends do.  They challenge you to be the best you can be, and encourage you to grow in your relationship with Christ/your life.  When I looked up the words “discipline” and “correction” in the thesaurus the words, “education, development and improvement” all came up. I believe that in life we need to be educated, developed and improved through our relationships, our God, our life experiences and that’s a learning that is life long.  “If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding.”  Proverbs 15:32 (NLT)

5. Love is More Than a Feeling- I’m reminded of that old DC Talk song “Luv is a Verb.”  Love is something you do, and not something you feel and I think society has confused this severely.  We think that if we feel love toward a person then we show love to them, and if our feelings change, then our actions are justified in changing as well.  People that is called ‘conditional love,’ meaning that you will love someone under the condition that you “feel like you love them.”  That’s crap- who wants that?  I have yet to hear someone say, “I can’t wait to find a partner who loves me conditionally…”  Love is a CHOICE. It’s something you choose to do, something you make a conscious effort to do.  Your feelings will change, because we are humans- and if you are like me, pathetically fickle! Make fun of my Bachelorette watching all you want, but I was impressed with Des’ choice.  Long story short, she had this mad “love feelings” for Brooks, but Chris was solid and true through the whole process.  A lot of people said she “settled” for him, but I think she made the right choice.  She looked at him and saw all the amazing qualities he had and, yes their love wasn’t this passionate, burning flame from the beginning, it was a slow and steady build and she CHOSE him.  And for that, I think they might have a chance.  Not to go on too much of a tangent, but what I would have picked in a partner when I was 20, is completely different from what I would pick now.  When I was 20, I was wrapped up in the emotions, in the twinkle dust if you will, where as now I know what I need in a partner and what God wants for me. Although I do think you need to feel a spark, I think love that lasts is love that is a daily choice and decision.  That’s commitment people.

Love is Patient

Love is Patient

6. Love is best when it’s pure and patient and led by God.  A couple of things reminded me of this.  My “big little sister” (she’s a girl who I used to babysit who is now way wiser than I!) got married and I am so happy for this union.  Here’s a couple who first of all loves God, and who have earnestly sought him out in their relationship.  The world would look at their relationship as weird; the physical aspect of their relationship didn’t develop pretty much at all until they were engaged, like not even kissing.  But, in talking with her about their relationship when it was developing, the peace she had about this budding romance was amazing.  The time they could have spent making out, they spent truly getting to know each other.  Dating for them was relaxed and natural- not stressful at all.  They were both waiting on God to see where He was leading them and I think that’s how it should be. Things may have moved slower than what society deemed as normal, but it was so clear on their wedding day that this is a special marriage that is true and pure.  It was one of those days that made my heart happy and hopeful.  A few days earlier, I was reminded of the verse in Song of Songs 2:7, “Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.”  I’m bad at that; being patient is hard.  But I truly believe that when love is pure and led by God, love awakens at just the right time.

Peacefully Paddling

Peacefully Paddling

7. I’m in a Kayak- I’m at a place in my life where I really don’t know what ahead.  I’m in for an exciting new adventure with a new job, and a new city, but there are so many things in my life that are unknown.  But, I cannot tell you the peace that I have felt, even in these last few weeks about that.  I may not know my future, but I know who holds my future and that’s very comforting.  My life, especially lately has been a struggle with God for the driver’s seat.  I like to know what’s going to happen, where we are going. A friend told me this analogy when it comes to the dynamic between you and God and control of your life.  He probably articulated it way better, but there are three vessels you can be in when it comes to your relationship with God. First, a motorboat- fast, and you do all the driving, you know where you’re going and you stop at nothing to get there.  It’s all about you and the work you are doing and God’s not in it.  Second, you can be in a raft, where you lay there and “see where the wind takes you.”  You let God do all the leading and all the work.  This is a weinery approach to life and contrary to everything God would want (the amount of times I’ve seen ‘hard work’ in Proverbs these last few days…).  It’s lazy and no way to live.  Finally, you can be in a sailboat, or for my analogy a kayak.  You are working hard, (do I seriously have muscles there?), and there are times where the end seems so far, times when you don’t think you’re little arms will get you there, but you are working at moving that boat.  You can see in the distance the general area you are going to, but God won’t reveal the exact location or even more directions for the journey until you are a lot closer.  All you need to know is, head toward that bay over there. Things get clearer the closer you get.  You just have to trust and keep paddling.  Normally that would be scary, but for some reason I’m happy paddling and something about being on the water brings me peace.

So there you go- what I’ve learned this August.  I’m sure I’ll learn a lot more- there are still weeks ahead!  It’s long, but it’s been a challenging (but good!) month, and I wanted to share.

CLICK on the SPEECH BUBBLE at the top of this post and share some life lessons you’ve been learning!

Love Em

Looking back on my educational journey, I know I have been blessed with some amazing teachers along the way.  Teachers who have encouraged me, made me laugh, taught me things, challenged me, and took an interest in me and my success.  From singing “The Ants Go Marching” with Miss Appleyard, to watching “McGee and Me” with the Firminator, to sharing my love story with Jensen Ackles to Mrs. MacDougall in our Friday journals, or waiting for Mrs. Addis patiently along the wall (wait- was I on time?!)  in kindergarten, I have had some teachers who I have truly loved and I would say truly loved me (in the very teacher appropriate sense of the word).

In my daily life I remember lessons I was taught from my teachers: the way I stretch comes from watching Miss Sanford at every athletic event at Steele Street, and I wake up to Mrs. Graham’s voice every morning as I struggle to get out of bed: “When you wake up, get up, when you get up, wake up!”  The lessons I learned from my teachers goes far beyond the classroom (although they more than prepared me for high school and university- thank you!)

freedigitalphotos.net

freedigitalphotos.net

It is so cool to be able to look back at my teachers as a teacher.  I can see things in each one of them that I want to incorporate into my teaching practice, and I can hear little sayings, routines, even assignments and ways to connect with students from those who taught me in my teaching.  “Silence is a container in which music is placed,” Friday journals, and Greek Mythology (with a textbook my sister never returned to Miss Peck) are all things that are things I’ve learned from my educators. So, I probably have more than seven lessons here, but I’ll try and stick with to the rules.  And, I’ll try and make this not so philosophical and reflective- this is supposed to be a fun blog- it should be quirky, fun, and a little bit inspiring.

So without further adieu, Seven Lessons I learned about Teaching from My Teachers

 1. Get students to try new things- Mrs. Hyde   I don’t know how she did it, but our grade 1 teacher go us to eat and love Brussel Sprouts, a feat I’m sure our parents could only dream of achieving.  We were doing a vegetable unit, and she fed us these green delicacies- and I remember everyone mmmming and talking about how much they liked them. It must have been hilarious to see the parents reaction when we all went home asking for Brussel Sprouts.  My mom made them for me- they were not the same…   Students like the same old, the familiar and they are so apprehensive to try something new and I hope that I can figure out Mrs. Hyde’s secret recipe!

 2.  It’s okay to be weird- Mrs. Grandy.  Hands down the teacher that stands out the most to me was my Grade 6 and 7 teacher, Mrs. Grandy.  If you were in her class, other students were jealous.  I remember laughing a lot, and her really cool lace up boots.  Even her son, was okay being in her class (which is saying a lot!)  Anyway, Mrs. Grandy was weird and quirky.  She not only collected teddy bears, she was obsessed with them, and her teddy bear (pretty much her daughter) Charity, sat on her desk beside her. She’d talk and listen to it, and throw a fit if her beloved Charity was kidnapped.  That’s weird.  But totally wonderful.  Every teacher has to have “their thing.”  The eccentric and quirky teachers are totally the best and the most memorable.

 3. Be Passionate about Your Subject, and Teaching- Mr. Hand.  I never officially had Mr. Hand, but he taught my sister and roomed with my dad on our music trip.  Not only was he every girl’s crush (he was 23, baby faced and wore khaki pants and a sweater vest) but he was an amazing math teacher.  He loved math and it showed.  My sister told me once he got so excited that he had figured out his grocery bill down to the penny while waiting in the grocery line that he had to stop his lesson and tell the class.  That was like winning the lottery to him.  I ran into him recently, and he’s still in the same class, still super cute and excited about math.

 4.  Take Time to Add “Sizzle.”- Ms. Dinsmore  One of our service standards at Muskoka Woods was “Sizzle” which were those extra special, personal things you did for your campers to make their experience extraordinary.  Ms. Dinsmore inspired me in a lot of ways as a music teacher (and I hear her sarcasm come out every time I say, “uh, all the music professionals came out last night, and they devised this new concept- it’s called counting, let’s try it”).  But the one thing I’ll remember most is our trip to Disney, we were staying at the movie resort and next door there was the music resort with a pool shaped like a piano (seriously, how cool!) and I said how much I would love to swim in it.  Well, one night she gathered me and her daughters (and maybe one other kid) and took me all the way to the piano pool.  We were late for curfew, but I remember feeling so special; she had taken the time to add “sizzle” to my experience.  I hope I can do little things like that for my students.  (Although I don’t think we’re allowed to take them near water anymore… too many forms…)

 5. Take Each Student on the Next Step of their Journey Whatever that Is- Mr. Winfield.  Without a doubt, the most inspirational teacher I’ve worked with.  And this lesson is the reason why.  Mr. Winfield was an amazing musician, and he took us to some amazing musical places with some difficult and outstanding repertoire.  But, he wasn’t a teacher who was trying to make little Beethovens (or little Winfields) out of us.  He looked at where you were as a musician and made every effort to take you one step further.  For example, my last year of high school we had to sing a final solo, I wanted to do something cute and fun, but he handed me a Sonheim piece.  There was a guy in our class who wanted to be a folk singer and sing in pubs and so Mr. Winfield worked with him on “This Train Don’t Stop,” placing just as much value on it as my piece.  He worked with Mark at the piano every day, and Mark did an amazing job on his solo- and he is still singing to this day!  Also, my friend Lisa, was one of those sweet, quiet girls who just loved to be in choir, but wasn’t super comfortable singing a solo.  Mr. Winfield took her from singing a unison duet in grade 10, to a group number with solo lines that she sang with conviction and confidence.  All A+ performances in his mind.   I try and keep this in mind when teaching, where is the student at, and what can I do to get him/her to the next step.  Also, Mr. W’s rendition of “Great Balls of Fire” was legendary.  And don’t get me started on Gala.

6.  The “Non-Academic” Kids are just as, if not more, Rewarding to Teach -Mr. Welch Mr. Welch was THE OAC English teacher.  Students looked forward to getting to this course because, more than likely, you’d have Mr. Welch.  Not only would he do voices to Hamlet, he taught in a way that challenged you, and made you actually understand what you were reading.  He also solidly taught the basics, which helped me in my university English courses.  So, I was shocked when I got to work with him and he was teaching Grade 9 Applied English, and loving it!  How could this be?  He said, once he figured out how these kids learned, how they didn’t do homework, how they didn’t respond to marks and learning the way the academic kids did,  how they got bored with something after a while, he started to see amazing results and he actually preferred to teach that level.  I’ve taught a lot of 1P and workplace level courses since, and I know I wouldn’t enjoy them or be as successful at them if I hadn’t had a chance to work with Mr. Welch.

7.  Make Everyone Feel Special and Loved- Mrs. Addis  I asked my mom who my favourite teacher was and why and she said, without thinking, Mrs. Addis, my kindergarten teacher.  She said we would all line up early along the wall and wait for Mrs. Addis because we loved her and wanted to obey her instructions.  When I asked why we loved her, my mom said it must have been her quiet spirit and the love we knew we felt.  Wow.  Powerful Stuff.  That’s what I want to show my students and that’s how I want them to feel- loved and that they matter. Mrs. Addis was quiet and calm and not loud and flashy.  I’ve struggled as teacher, because I’m not that loud, funny and “cool” teacher that seems to win students over.  I’m more like Mrs. Addis, saying hi to as many students as I can in the hall, giving second chances, and asking students about their lives and their days.  And, talking to the quiet kids and trying to encourage them as much as possible- wait!  Lightbulb!  I was that quiet and shy kid (for those who know me now that would be sort of a shock, but I was painfully shy and quiet) and Mrs. Addis was that teacher who took an interest in me, and took the time to get to know me in her calm, kind way… Hmm.  I think I want to be like her more than anyone else.

Wow, this is long.  A few others (with no elaboration!)  Mrs. Appleyard- Things go better with a song,  Mrs. Ballad- Kindness goes a long way, Mrs. Firman- let students give you a nickname,  Mr. Brucker- even academic physics kids learn better if you do a crazy cool trick every day, Mrs. MacDougall- journals are an amazing way to dialogue with kids, and Mrs. Wormbecker- it’s not about being cool, its about being a good teacher!

CLICK on the SPEECH BUBBLE- what teachers do you remember and why?