Over the last two days our provincial government has taken to make "major announcements" in regards to education. Political opinion & allegiance aside, there's a ton of questions as to why they would make such "major" announcements about education on the week the education world is on a week of rest and relaxation?!
The first announcement was about additional funding for "new" students with autism (ASD) entering the school system now that they have slashed their therapy funding. Here's the catch... the funding they have announced is what school boards would receive ANYWAY for a student with special education needs. Yup, that's right... the $12,300 average funding per new student is what they have already been providing...nothing new here. However, the catch is that the majority of the general public does not realize this. They think they are providing funding that parents have been fighting for weeks to get back. Nope...all smoke & mirrors!!!
The second announcement leaked today was that they will be banning all cellphone use in schools. This too has got people both irate or saying "finally" because cell phone are a distraction (and whatever other reason to ban them is). However..., the policy they announced is the EXACT policy we follow right now!!! Again, the general public doesn't even realize this nor understand that just because there's now an official government stance that things are going to change. While I don't teach students who have access to cellphones or other comparable technology of their own, I do supervise students who do. And guess what?! They are not allowed their cellphones out unless they are for learning purposes as directed from the teacher. And guess what again?! I take away phones that are out at recess, in the hallways, or during the national anthem. I didn't need the government to empower a ban for me to do this though. Today's announcement is again, all smoke & mirrors.
I've been stopped a couple of times the past few days by people I know and they are asking about the announcements. How is it going to help my job? Is it going to change anything for us? And once I explain that it's all "fake news", they understand. My struggle is how do we get the rest of the general population to understand that these latest announcements are just announcing the status quo but said by a different minister?
There are three more official days to our break...what could the next major announcement be about?! Any guesses?
Today was the first day of our week long break and now that I've curled up with my pyjamas and favourite blanket, I can say that I hope that the worst is now behind us.
I had great ambitions for today...according to by agenda. Only accomplished 2 things off my intended plans and at that, one was not all that successful. Both #TeamA and #TeamO were absolutely WILD!!! And in WILD I mean, full on energy, attitude and zero listening ability. It is not typical that both are not behaving at the same time; there is always one that is the model child while the other is having the meltdown of a day. Not today. I had to raise my voice louder and more frequently than I ever like to, I gave out more "penalties" (timeouts) than I have in a long time, and I actually took all my stuff to the "spare" bedroom for a nap today just to get away from everyone.
I had planned to get some robotics/coding activities out this morning, but since the toys couldn't get cleaned up in the living room, robots didn't get brought out. I bought a Botley robot a month or so ago and am dying to try it out, but have been saving it for the break as a special activity. Maybe tomorrow?! The kids also love using our ozobots, but that too will have to be pushed to tomorrow.
I did try and sneak away to the basement to get a treadmill run in, only to be interrupted 25 times for this, that and the next thing (while DH was readily available). Thankfully I ordered our groceries online last night before going to bed, so they were ready for pick up first thing this morning (best service ever invented!). My only accomplishments today.
Although these really are first world problems, I really hope that they are out of our system now and the remainder of the week is more settled. Skating and a craft are on the schedule tomorrow, after I hit the treadmill again!
My Granny's 85th birthday is coming up this week. 85!! While that number may be seen as far from the birthdays we see and hear celebrated in the news, it is an amazing number for my Granny. My Granny is the only living grandparent I or my husband have left. She lives with my mom & dad, therefore we hear from or about her on an almost daily basis and vice versa. While she has lost some of her vision and a majority of her hearing she hasn't lost her zippiness or her love of her family.
As with any families that live all over the place, our family lives relatively close to one another (within 2 hours), but with everyone's lives it is sometimes hard to get everyone together. In looking at our schedule for March Break last week, I sent a message out to my brother & sister to celebrate my Granny's upcoming birthday. Not that I use the kids or school as a real excuse, but normally it would be hard for us to get something going during the week with the kids. We won't be able to get everyone together due to work commitments, but we're going to surprise our Granny on tomorrow night by going out for supper.
When I made the arrangements with my mom (who then coordinated my dad!), she told my granny that they were going to take her out for supper on Monday because they were both going to be out on Tuesday (her actual birthday). My Granny stated that she wasn't going out for supper and that my mom could just make her baked macaroni and she'd be fine. Typical Granny response... a bit of a stick in the mud, but a bit of playing hard to get. My mom is insisting she go out for her birthday... aka, she won't pass up on having a great dessert so she'll be there!
I'm looking forward to seeing my Granny and having everyone around a dinner table that doesn't need one of us to attend to. A table that will commemorate my Granny's 85 amazing years and with the ones that mean the most to her.
Happy Birthday Granny!! xoxoxoxo
As I worked away at cutting my pile of lamination tonight, I got to a set of addition and subtraction games. These games are a class favourite and it combines numeracy skills and the concept of connect four or bingo. I intend to send copies of these different games home in a home math bag along with dice, a deck of cards and manipulatives such as ten frames, numberlines and hundreds charts. The games are always taught and played frequently in class, therefore the learning curve is low for students and families once they get home.
I have done this in the past, but got no feedback from parents or students if they appreciated it or even used any of it to practice basic numeracy skills in a fun and engaging way. I keep doing these bags because I want my students to think and understand the math and not just be someone who can memorize facts and have no idea why.
It is a struggle I have getting parents to understand the difference. Understanding that games and manipulation of numbers will provide more long term understanding than the rote, flash card memorization of facts. This is the way we learnt math and experienced math concepts, however students now need to be flexible thinkers who can apply their understanding in a variety of tasks. There is no much research about students needing to be flexible and understanding numbers, but it is sometimes it is just easier to resort back to what we know and experienced in our own learning.
I'm going to put together the bags again this spring and continue to support student thinking flexibly. Maybe this time I will get some feedback from families and see a change in student learning.
Tonight before leaving school for the March Break, I sat down at my planning table and started making a list of all the things I wanted to get done before classes started back in a week. I kept looking around the room at the things that just don't get attention on a daily or weekly basis and onto the list they went. New pencils, new erasers, check the glue sticks, new thematic/seasonal word wall words, changing literacy and math activity bins. The list went on and on. I took the pages out of my day planner for next week, grabbed a couple of resources and filled my school bag. Before leaving the building, I checked in with the custodian and picked a day in my head to come to school next week to catch up on a few things.
Is this really a break?
I have an equally long list of activities that I want to do with the kids this week. Coding with our Ozobots, going to the movies, bowling, crafts, St. Patrick's Day activities, snowshoeing, sledding. This list too went on. Staying up late and taking afternoon naps are going to be a daily occurrence too!
This is what the break should be about!
I also have a list/pile of things I want to get finished: cutting lamination, reading a new math resource, unit planning & gathering of materials for our Physical Science.
But is this what my one week March Break should be about? Is one week long enough? I know I won't be able to get everything I have put on my lists done.
The struggle and balance is real!
The last two weeks have been a wee bit nutty at home and school. And due to the nuttiness, I have been neglecting a number of things that just take too much time (but not this #SOL2019 challenge!) including weeding through emails and getting the mounds of laundry put away. These two things are a couple of the first things to get neglected when the waves are almost drowning me.
My family is getting used to picking through their basket of clean clothes to put together an outfit each morning, so that's a win in my books. However, my emails aren't starting to look after themselves... what's up with that?! The very sound of the email ping on my phone is giving me anxiety these days; so much so, I've begun to tune it right out. Then comes the moment I realize I haven't looked at my phone for a couple of hours and BAM! there's 25 new emails. I can pare down the junk/flyer like emails pretty quickly, but it's the ones that I've specifically subscribed to for one reason or another that have been coming in faster than I can say supercalafragalisticexpialadoshous. It is outright making me go batty!
We're on March Break next week and an email purge is already on my list of things to do, but in the meantime the inbox number is just climbing higher and higher.
I like to save the Pinterest emails for nights I can't sleep so that I can help pass the time until I do feel drowsy enough to sleep. The rest though..., they need the time and attention that I can only give when I don't have a deadline of lesson planning and prep to do, lunches to make and laundry to sort for the next day. I'm currently sitting at 214 unread in my personal email and 365 in my school email. With a little (or a lot) time I'm confident that I can get my personal emails down close to 100 and my school emails down around 200. Let's see how close to that goal I can get next week when my inbox will have my full attention.
Every year I always intend to set and work towards a new years resolution, but like all the stats tell us, I just can't keep them. I try and make the small and measurable. I try and make them meaningful. I also try to make a couple resolutions to cover different areas of my life. Just like the stats read, I don't typically get past day 3-5 and by then we're back to school and well, every "new" routine is thrown out the window.
This happens every year at Lent too. How can I have any self discipline to give up something for 40+ days?! And by this time of the year, I am just hanging on to survive so I can't add taking something away that could very well be helping me to survive.
Until this year. I don't know what I was reading, who said something or why I feel that I need to and will be able to keep a Lenten promise, but I've made one. I have decided that I will give up sweet desserts for the next 40+ days. It's not going to be easy, but the whole premise is not for a Lenten promise to be easy. I have enjoyed indulging after lunch or supper with a little sweet treat for a little too long now, and I am going to pay for it with ill-fitting my summer clothing. So starting today I have given up sweet desserts. I am allowing myself some fresh fruits for desserts, but no cookies, brownies, cupcakes, ice cream etc.
I am going to hold myself accountable. I have written it here for all to see. I am going to stick with it. I am going to see this promise through and in the meantime pardon my sharp grouchiness due to the lack of sweet treats.
Today, as I often do, I collaborated with a close colleague in offering to teach a lesson and celebrate Pancake Tuesday/Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras. I have taught the same type of lesson every year I have been teaching in the primary grades and it is always one that students remember.
Today's audience were 40 (yes 40!) grade 1 & 2 students. We gathered in our classroom just like we would for lunch and stack times, so the transition for the other class was seamless. I started today's lesson with a read a loud from a non-fiction text that was full of visuals to help get the learning across. Throughout the book, students made connections to themselves and previous learning as as a teacher, this got me more and more excited. Students were keen to learn and ask questions, thus making the learning more authentic and inquiry driven.
We then started a simple, yet engaging task of creating our own Mardi Gras masks. Students were pumped to be doing art & design first thing in the morning. As students created and collaborated, I connected our current science unit of physical science and the focus of matter, solids and liquids to explore what would happen if we mixed a solid and a liquid. This heightened the senses because it was becoming an edible science experiment! We were able to make the connection from Mardi Gras to Pancake Tuesday to solids and liquids! For good measure, we talked a little about the math involved in making the pancake mix and how many pancakes we would have to make for each person to get 2.
I retreated to my trusty griddle (that only ever gets used for Pancake Tuesday in my classroom ironically) and started mixing, scooping and flipping over 100 pancakes to feed the 40 students and a handful of staff members in the room. This is when I am always remembered about the simple things in life.
I seem to always take it for granted that people eat food like pancakes on a semi regular basis and that me making them at school, is just part of what I do. And every year I am pleasantly surprised at how many children rarely, if ever, get to eat pancakes made from scratch. Today was no different. One student stands out to me and how many times they thanked me, told me they were the best pancakes they have ever had, how they wished we could do it more often and that it was the best day of the year. These comments went on all day. They just couldn't let go of the fact that they had pancakes at school. This made me really think of the learning experience and opportunity that I had provided my (and I include the other class as mine because we spend a lot of our time in a day together) students. Something so simple as making pancakes and sharing a common meal among everyone brought everyone together on a level field. Everyone had the same amount, the same type of plate, the same syrup. For once everyone was an equal in every sense of the word. There was no squabbles to help solve over who's snack was bigger or better, who wasn't eating their healthy foods first, and definitely no pleading to just eat rather than talk.
Pancakes brought us together. Simple pancakes.
A snippet about me...
I'm a grade 2 teacher; wife; mama to #TeamA & #TeamO; runner; chocolate lover and always wanting to learn.