What an interesting glimpse at the Community of Learners and introduction to Inquiry process that Lynn Brown is spearheading at Dover Bay! First I have to say that DBHS is the feeder that took my graduating grade 7 students last year, so in three out of four blocks I had former students. I also took a quick sneak down to the locker bay during lunch to say hi (and give a few hugs) out to my big grade 8s!
When I first came in to the classroom I noticed some really awesome and intriguing words and lists on the board. Each of the Four Cs had some concrete examples underneath that explained what the C looked like, sounds like, and feels like. Lynn had the students think and report out what they had remembered when creating the Cs.
So what are the Cs? Contribution (of self), Communication, Collaboration, and Commitment. These were developed by the grade 8 team at Dover Bay when they looked at 21c competencies and how they could start to incorporate them from the first days of the high school experience for SD68 students.
During the second half of the first block Lynn invited me to question the students and lead a class wide discussion around how these Cs show up in other areas of our lives. We talked about how they are important in sports (football, soccer, running, dancing, horseback riding), arts (drawing/painting classes, and theatre), families, and community groups (scouts, cadets).
During the second block I had the opportunity to lead the whole class time, which of course I took her up on. It was a similar class, so we walked through another round of discussions, reflections, and identification. This was so important because I really wanted the students to feel that these are not some alien ‘school only’ concepts, but they are values and characteristics that are used in every aspect of relationships and work.
Third block was the PE block, and we played Volleyball with another division. Thankfully I remember some tips and tricks and was able to pitch in. My final block of the day was grade 10,11,12 ELL. IT WAS AMAZING. I may have found a specialty calling. I loved working with the students from all over the world, and playing games, singing songs, and mixing the learning of language with the fun and games of theatre and the arts. It really made me reflect on how I can make my grade 7 LA/Humanities course more edu-taining.
Overall I’m going to be taking a lot from my day at Dover. I spent over two weeks looking at how I can take the community of learners and 4 Cs with me into my practice, and really appreciate how starting the year with the mindset of collaboration, commitment, communication, and (self) contribution could change the dynamics of my class. I have always known that relationships to my learners are the cornerstone that I build my year on, from decorating the classroom to planning projects, it begins and ends with the learners in the seats. This would not only build a better relationship with me, but build a better relationship with each other, essentially networking, which I believe is one of the most crucial aspects of the generation we are raising.
Today in our Social Justice class we've been talking about Invisible Identities, privilege, and the things that we take for granted about ourselves.
Something that I have already noticed in myself is that while I am in the majority in a lot of ways, I grew up and have exposed myself to many different circumstances and ways of knowing and learning over the years. When I was 11 my family moved from a very homogenous population to one of the most poverty stricken counties of California where my mom taught at schools where I was not only the minority, but overwhelmingly excluded and distrusted because of my previous life experience. At that age (and the few years that followed), it was extremely hard to be left out, teased, and constantly watching/wondering how people were perceiving me. Today I can see that I never want a student to feel that way in my class, my school, or my community.
As I'm approaching my final year of my B.Ed. I've also been increasingly aware of how I perceive myself. For most of my adult life it has been in relation to others: wife, mother, friend, sister, daughter, teacher. It is only very recently that I have been defining myself by traits and activities: generous, curious, open-minded, and my newest trait: Runner!
For me this shift has been a natural progression, not that the roles I have with others aren't important, but that I have common traits that flow through all my roles, which aren't segregated based on who I'm interacting with. I think a large part of this shift has been directly related to my time in classrooms. Relationship is the single biggest strength in my classroom. I use discretion in what I share with my students, but if there is something I can connect with them about (ranging from Doctor Who to a friend who committed suicide) I will do so. For me, teaching is not only about the subjects, grades, and content, but the context which our humanity allows us to process and use the content we acquire.
I am looking forward to my Social Justice class, and getting deeper into my role as a teacher in a socially dynamic community. I will also be presenting (with two of my colleagues) about social justice topics that Aboriginal Students deal with. We're going to be meeting with our faculty Elder(s) who are always amazing and supportive. Have I mentioned how awesome it is that our Faculty has Elders in Residence?
The first week of my final year of university is in the bag. As excited as I am to be graduating in 7 months, 22 days and 17 hours, I am even more excited about the way that I get to lead my own growth and learning this final year.
Two of my professors, Paige and Allyson, have gone above and beyond to allow me to have a self directed study and field experience in Langley, BC. I'm teaching at H.D. Stafford Middle, with the amazing Jake Main as my sponsor. I met him briefly last June, and was excited (and nervous) to be in his classroom first thing Wednesday morning for the students first week of school.
As it turns out, I had nothing to be nervous about. Jake is not only a phenomenal teacher, but I can already tell he is going to be a life-long mentor as I go through my career. We have very similar styles and ideas about the relationships between student and teacher, the classroom rules, we both love using technology in the class, and we have a very similar sense of humor, which was a bit dry for nervous 7th graders on the first day of class.
My top three things I noticed (and adopted) from Jake this week:
1) He never says "that's good" or "awesome!" he always uses formative comments to help students grow. "I like how that picture you drew has balance and symmetry." "Good effort team, what can we do next time to confuse the blocker?" I definitely need to make this a priority in my communication with my students.
2) He is always assessing and watching students for ways that he can help, and times that he needs to back off. We only had 3 days of class, but already have a handle on ELL, LD's, reading and writing levels, grit and perseverance, leaders, followers, and a couple of special kids who just operate at a higher decibel than we would prefer in a small classroom.
3) He always has a plan, and ditches it when the students need something different. He knew what he wanted to accomplish, but was never so over planned that he had trouble letting go. Because his plans were written, he knew what he needed to come back to, and because his classroom is first and foremost about the students, he never hesitated to give them what they needed rather than what box he needed to check.
Activities I managed and my reflections:
A perennial classic. I learned it from Dan Meyer, and I have used it in the last two classes I've been in. First, it's candy. Automatic win. Second, it's not overly challenging, but does require you and your partner to really communicate. For assessment purposes this right away tells me who likes to work with whom (I let kids choose their own partners), and also tells me who is A-type perfectionist (those who don't let their partner participate), and who is not assertive (students who only do as their partner instructs). It also shows me what kind of communication skills my students are coming equipped with, who can handle stress, who sticks to it and tries different things, and, perhaps most hilariously, who (usually boys?) wants to know a loophole or way they can meet the requirement without doing the actual work.
From a Ted Talk, again, a great teamwork challenge, where teachers can observe the students and see how they work through a challenge, be creative, and communicate. This one also has a time component. It shows which students use their time wisely, and which self regulation strategies they have to deal with stress and anxiety.
I respond to Sarah, Mrs. Moore, Mrs. Smoore, Miss Sarah, (and sometimes Mom!). I have been an DL (homeschool!) teacher for 2 years and am now a proud member of the SD35 team!