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Friday, June 29, 2012

Saying goodbye

I was feeling a little sad because I wasn't going to be at school to say goodbye to my class.  They have been a really good group and we have spent a lot of time together.  Chris came up with the idea of using Skype to say good bye.  He hooked it all up and called me at 9:30.  It was fun to see their expressions.  It went really well.  The TOC in my room is awesome and had most of my room cleaned up for me which will be great when I go out next week. 

I also got some pretty great gifts.  Even now I never expect gifts from students, but I have to say the really thoughtful ones (not the standard mug) are the ones I always remember.  Last year, I got a bird feeder, candles, a gardening bag with gloves and other little bits in it and a decorative piece for my house.  This year, I got a bucket filled with fresh veggies from the garden (yum) a candle for my deck, a yellow rose, some chocolate and a gift card to Chapters (hello, books for the KOBO).  I got lots of fan mail too.  I love the handwritten cards and pictures.  I usually squirrel those away for a page in the scrapbook.  Presents aren't a neccessity, but they are pretty nice.  Who doesn't like getting gifts?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The End is here

The end of the school year, that is.  I have had the last 4 days off and have been resting my brain, as the doctor said.  I have been a little bored, as I can only talk on the phone so much, watch so much and I can't really read and I find I get tired.  So I have been resting.

Yesterday, I finally got my new iPhone 4s.  So that took most of my time today.  I took pictures with it, played with different Apps and added my 10 contacts.  So fun.  My phone envy is now over.  I just have to learn to balance my time a little better.  It is addictive though.  Even now it is calling me....

Monday, June 25, 2012

Fun Day was not fun

UPDATE:  My mild concussion turns out to be a severe concussion and I am off work until next week.  Well that means that my summer has started already.  I tried going to work, but between the noise, the lights and everyone talking to me, it didn't go well.  The doctor wants me to rest my brain.  My eyes goggled out of my head!  Does he not know what time of year it is?  Other than start up, this is the busiest time of year for teachers.  He was unconcerned and handed me a doctor's note saying I needed to be off 5-7 days.  That meant my night was taken up making lists and lesson plans as the TOC is going to have to get my classroom ready for the summer. 

Hopefully the rest and quiet will help me out and I don't have to go back to the doctor.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

What doesn't kill you...

I have had a Kelly Clarkson song in my head for the last couple of days.  Stronger has become my anthem the last couple of days.  I have been suffering with first a respiratory infection that turned into sinusitus for the last 4 weeks.  It has included time off work, many sleepless nights and multiple trips to the doctor only to be told 3 times, that it'll just take time.  The 4th time was the charm and I came away with a prescription for antibiotics.  Within 24 hours of taking this pill, I felt better.  It begs the question then does withholding drugs really worth it?  I suffered for weeks because the mentality up here is to not "over- medicate", which amounts to patients having to beg for medications that will make them feel better.  Anyway, I'm on my way to recovery.  Finally. 

Then Friday afternoon, I decided to walk into a bar on the playground and have a mild concussion.  I can tell you that it feels a lot like a hangover that never ends.  I have spent most of this weekend sleeping.  I wonder what the Universe is trying to tell me?  My head seems to be getting a lot of attention lately.  I had many plans this weekend, but must resort to phone calls to visit with friends, and moving very slowly.  I am just hoping that the symptoms get better by Monday, or Fun Day at school is not going to be very fun for me. 

This is the last week of school for us, and I have to say I am really looking forward to it.  I am going to spend next weekend resting and doing what ever I want.  Yay to summer vacation.  Hopefully, I can stay out of the new Emergency Room.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Identity Day 2012

A couple of summers ago I came across this blog post by George Couros about Identity Day.  I thought it was a great concept and was excited to introduce it to my staff.  As we were new to the school, Chris and I decided to approach the staff with it for this school year.  Things happened and it kept getting pushed back until I had a firm date for June 7 2012.  Like all new ideas in a small community, it was met with uncertainty, but the end result was fabulous!  In my own class I had 20 out of 21 projects come in, and the kids were excited about the day.  It was so great to see how proud the kids were about their projects and interested in other projects around the school.

We had the day separated into 3 parts, from 9:20-10:20 Kindergarten, grade K/1, grade 1/2 and grade 2 classrooms opened their doors for the rest of the school to come in and see their projects.  We had altered books, poster boards, tri-fold boards, a drum set and other great stuff for the school to see.  After recess until lunch, the grade 3, grade 3/4, and 4/5 classes all welcomed us in to view videos, dance presentations, violin and piano pieces, drumming, pottery etc. for an hour.  After lunch we went into the 5/6 and 6/7 classes to see what the "big kids" had done.  The 6/7 embraced the technological side of things and had made short movies about their topic of choice.

I loved the variety of topics the kids chose to tell about themselves and all the interesting ways they chose to share.  At the end of the day, my kids were already planning their topics for next year and what they could do to present it.

Teaching Post

Yesterday, I had a conversation with a friend that is having a hard time.   I have to say that I am feeling very badly for her and her situation.  I am also shocked and appalled at her treatment. 

My friend has moved for temporary contracts.  The contract she is currently under is for three weeks, until the end of the year.  She started on the 4th, teaching in a middle school.  Now, I am not a middle school teacher and don't understand all the ins and outs of that world, but I do have a little understanding of professionalism and courtesy. 

She is covering a leave only until the end of the year.  She did not "take" someone else's job, but she has come into a very uncomfortable situation.  Few people have talked to her at all, one demanding if she's parked in the "wrong" spot, no one has been friendly or welcoming.  In fact they sound downright hostile!  She received access to the grade book of the teacher on leave 4 days after she started and discovered that many students were failing.  Not by a little, by a lot.  The teacher on leave does not accept late work and instead issues zeros.  Late work has come in and when my friend contacted the other teacher, she refused to mark it.  My friend has no real proof that students have been contacted about their possible failings, and the Department Head told her that it is her (my friend's) responsibility to deal with it.  No help offered only told that she'd be "in big trouble" if it's not dealt with by Monday!  How is this collegial?  My friend has met these students only 2 or 3 times and her options are not good ones.  She's had her credentials questioned, left to solve problems that she did not create and has little to no real direction from the AO's.  I have no background information on the reasons why all this is happening, but I am so disappointed that my friend is stuck in a situation that is not only stressful, but seemingly hostile and unfair.   The teacher on leave took all of her course materials with her, emptied her desk (even took the stapler it seems), and has been less than communicative in this whole situation.  I would like to think there are underlying reasons for this, and my friend has just walked into a bad situation blindly, but what a shame.

In this day and age, teachers are under enough stresses from outside our work environment, especially after this year with all the contract issues and job action.  I would like to think that we wouldn't turn on our own people, but support and help when needed.  Teachers need to stick together, build each other up and HELP each other.  The end of the year is rough and it's in the rough times that we need to be there for each other.  I hope the next couple of weeks go a little better and she can get a handle on the situation. 

What advice would you give your friend?

Friday, June 1, 2012

What I have learned today

From reading some news articles today I have learned quite a few little tidbits from different areas of life;

The No Child Left Behind law in the US is still broken and no one can figure out how to fix it.  I had to teach there under this directive and let me tell you, it's very broken.  The kids and teachers are getting left behind with this one. 

The British people really like their pasties.  The government thought that they could help their coffers by taxing this popular snack and the people rose up and protested.  Government has had to go back to their idea banks to replace the taxes they have allowed the rich to keep.

Mitt Romney has decided that letting poor and disabled kids attend any school they want is going to be a big help.  This means that the doors of the rich suburban schools will have to be opened up to the city kids.  I can imagine the parents in Suburbia will welcome this with open arms.

Technology is creating a time wasting hole for young people, especially those from lower economic backgrounds.  Hmm I think this is true for young and old, no matter what your background.  How many times do I go to dinner and see a couple staring at their phones instead of talking to each other.  My own staff room is mostly void of conversations while staff play on their phones or use their computers to watch movies. 

Social media continues to be a big argument in schools across the continent.  Some are crying out against the abuses, some are defending the use in class to help bridge the divide of classroom and real-life.  Students and (some teachers) spend a lot of time using social media for various reasons.  It has been hailed recently as a great teaching tool or augmentation to lessons.  Social media has also caused a lot of problems; inappropriate behaviour by teachers and students, bullying and other unseemly situations.

These are just a few things that caught my eye today.  I'm sure there are more ground-breaking topics, but these are the ones that didn't involve death/war/uprising/debt.  Lots of stories out there about that stuff.  I'm trying to keep things a little lighter these days.
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