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A Career in Reverse

It has literally been so long since I wrote a blog post that I forgot how to log in here! Oops. I apologize to my 5 readers. The wheels have been spinning, but I have been very busy and very tired. For a while now I have been mulling the idea for this entry: I am currently experiencing a career in reverse.
  As you know, if you have read my other posts, I left my permanent contract of 16-plus years in Manitoba and moved across the country to British Columbia. As a brand new grad in Winnipeg, I did very little substitute teaching. I was very fortunate to be in the right place at the right time six months after I graduated, when a lady at the school where I student-taught had a baby and went on maternity leave. Her leave was for one year, beginning on the last day of school before the winter break. I was hired to teach from December to December.
  It was a Grade 6 class, and the first six months was something of a trial-by-fire. My university courses had not at all prepared me for the…
Recent posts

Ten Things I Learned from my First Two Weeks in Gr 1-2

10) These tiny humans need direct instruction and continuous feedback about self-control. They may need to be reminded every day before every transition that you expect them to respect personal space. They may need you to control the “traffic” flow in the classroom. They may need you to scaffold their routines such as classroom clean-up so that not so many tiny humans are moving chairs, or brooms, or materials at once.
9) Teach them to ask you if they want a hug, otherwise, you will have little hands and clingy bodies in your personal space all the time. They can say, “Excuse me, I need a hug please.”
8) Tiny humans have big feelings. And they often do not know how to cope with them. This manifests in tears, outrage, raucous laughter, and pushing/shoving/grabbing, etcetera – sometimes all at once. What can you do about this? Well, just like your own children, they are entitled to their feelings. Let them have their feelings, but teach them some strategies for coping appropriately. At…

How to keep the trust students have placed in you

Having spent 15+ years running my own classroom, I have become well-versed in the aspects of community-building, collaborative rule-creation, and concise teacher-language which are the tenants of best practice in education. These foundations have become so integral to my teaching that they became a matter of course. What I have noticed since moving across the country and returning to Teaching on Call (that's substitute teaching), is that these foundations do not change. In other words, the way you interact with children does not change wherever you go. Kids are kids and you can trust them to act and act-out in developmentally predictable ways. And, schools are schools, that is to say that every school is bound to have a set of expectations that aim to reasonably protect student safety, require respect and encourage academic effort.
  What strikes me, which I seem to have taken for granted for the past 15 years, is the trust students give you. Maybe I hadn't taken it for gran…

Unit Planning: It’s Not What You Thought It Would Be

During university professors drilled this process into me: read the curriculum, plan the unit, plan the assessment, reflect on your teaching. It was a cycle repeated in every Curriculum and Instruction class. My friends and I could site curriculum outcomes and whip together an impressive series of lessons in a flash. Through 16 years of experience, I have learned that this is certainly NOT all there is to it. Unit planning remains one of my favourite tasks in teaching. It is the dreaming phase. It is that time before instruction, that time before you may have met your students, that time when all is fresh, exciting and possible! But do you know what it also is? It is the time for focus, restraint and actually…leaving things just a little un-planned. Let me explain. What so many of my university professors failed to teach me as an undergrad is that teacher reflection should be about two things: 1) what are the students learning and to what degree are they learning it?, and 2) what have …

I am Thankful for my Children

Truly, I am thankful for my children. My daughter's arrival changed us from a couple to a little family, and my son's arrival almost two years later - to my feeling - completed our family. We have so much to be thankful for, including good health and great friends. But sometimes I have to remind myself like this: I am thankful for my children, I am thankful for my children, I am thankful for my children.
    Here is what transpired in my home this Saturday, heading into our Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. I woke up and poured cereal for the kids and over breakfast, I mentioned to them that I noticed several kids' items around the kitchen and living room, which needed to be tidied up. I got changed and headed out to the gym for my Zumba class, reminding the kids and my husband on the way out that there were several items that needed to be put away.
    I know you can already guess. When I got home over an hour later, not one item had been put away and it seemed that wit…

Welcome Back to School!

The following blog post is an exact replica of the Welcome Letter I sent to parents last fall. The purpose of this letter is to set up some structures and expectations for the home-school connection. I believe that homework should only be about practising a known skill. I also believe that daily reading is the main activity families can do to ensure success at school. Check it out and let me know what you think!


September 6th, 2016
Dear Parents and Guardians of Grade 3 & 4 Students,
  Welcome back to school families! The kids call me Mrs. M.G. and I am excited for another year of helping the kids grow and learn in Grades 3 & 4. Along with our neighboring Grade 3 & 4 class, we will have some exciting learning experiences and fieldtrips. Early in the school year students and I will create the classroom rules and routines. Here’s what you need to know for now:
Student Agenda   Students will have time each day to record work and important upcoming dates in their agenda. The agen…

Lake Winnipeg is Dying

We have been lucky to enjoy my in-law’s cottage at Hillside Beach on Lake Winnipeg for twenty years. They’ve been enjoying it for even longer, but times, they are a-changin’. If you’re not a Manitoban, then maybe you don’t know this, but Lake Winnipeg is one of Canada’s largest fresh water lakes after the Greats! It also has some unique properties such as being shallow and sandy, and having a very large watershed area. This watershed brings in all kinds of contaminants and over time, the algae population in the lake has had massive growth. All of this means that our beach becomes un-swimmable – and sometimes so thick with green, stinky algae – not even safe to paddle a kayak in. The diminishing health of our beach has made cottage-going somewhat less appealing, which made us daydream of a cleaner lake. We even talked from time to time, about moving home to our rural roots near beautiful Riding Mountain National Park, where the aptly named Clear Lake is nestled. However, we …