Category Archives: Blogging

The Calm in the Storm

I am returning from a very long blogging hiatus. As in… over a year. A very long time. To be honest, I’ve stayed away from a lot of things in the past year. Last year was a rewarding but emotionally draining and difficult year for me professionally. Being mid-Masters degree with a spouse in grad school full-time didn’t help during job action either. The line between personal and professional stress was blurred; I was on edge and overwhelmed. It just felt like life was enough on it’s own without the added stress of maintaining my online presence. So I just stopped.

Sometimes we need to walk away for awhile to stay sane and healthy. Fortunately, my time away helped me refocus my energy this year. It’s allowed me to refocus on my students and devote a lot of time to communication with parents. Unfortunately, I missed blogging a lot and all of the deep self-reflection that comes along with it. So… I’m officially back at it! Life will never stand still and there will always be SOMETHING… but a bit of calm in the storm is sometimes all we need to get up and going again.

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Photo Credit: Jim Nix / Nomadic Pursuits via Compfight cc

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C3 Inquiry and Assessment for Learning

I am embarking on a new learning journey. A few short weeks ago, I met my M.Ed. cohort for the first time. For the next two years, we will be learning together, exploring the concepts of creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration and how they relate to the inquiry process. I must say that my initial reaction was a positive one as everyone seems open to respectful dialogue and listening to new ideas. I was challenged and I felt excited! However, I was also overwhelmed on the first day with social anxiety, worries of inadequacy, and wonder about how this would relate to my professional practice. Before we left on Saturday, we were assigned learning tasks to complete in between sessions.

I left my first weekend of classes feeling totally energized and inspired because of my colleagues and our rich discussions. However, once I had time to sit down and review our learning tasks, I felt an overwhelming sense of disappointment that I was returning to my days as a university student with readings and assignments that were not relevant or meaningful to me. Although we had said that it is all about the learning process and not the product, it seemed like another case of talking the talk but not walking the walk.

Tonight we began our second session together, and I am so relieved to say that this is not the case! While we had each written a critique, the importance was not at all placed on what we had written, but rather on sharing, discussing our work with colleagues, and self-assessment. We spent several hours constructing meaning as a group about the many conceptions of creativity that exist and how our personal and social contexts influence our conceptions. We practiced how to offer a balanced critique of someone else’s thoughts while being fair and charitable. But most important of all, we were given time and space to reflect and self-assess our own thinking.

No assignments to be handed in or graded.

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Photo Credit: giulia.forsythe via Compfight cc

It is such a relief to know that there are education programs out there that are actually using assessment for learning. This past week, I felt some of the anxiety about assignment criteria and expectations that many of our students experience when something is to be graded. While I thoroughly enjoyed thinking critically, reflecting on my own conceptions of creativity, and discussions with friends, the thoughts of submitting my ideas on paper to be assessed made me nervous. I was reminded that many students feel that way all the time and it saddened me to think that my learning might be limited because of assignment format or criteria. Tonight, it was freeing to hear that there will be no grades given until we have mastered concepts and can submit our best work. We will continue to share, discuss, and transform our thinking and when we are ready, share and submit our best. We will all be involved in each other’s learning to help provide guidance and feedback. We will all help each other make our learning relevant to our teaching context.

I am excited to experience assessment for learning firsthand and the power it can have to transform student learning. I know the experience will help me grow as an educator and I hope I will learn how to make formative assessment more impactful for my students.

As part of an ongoing learning diary, I will blog about creative, critical, and collaborative inquiry using the tag C3 Inquiry. I look forward to sharing my learning with you 🙂

Why I Became an Educator

We all have our reasons for becoming educators. Whether it is an inspirational teacher in our own lives, a desire to inspire the world’s future leaders, or a frustration with the school system, any reason that makes us passionate is a good one.

My reasons fall into the third category.

I wouldn’t normally think to share my inspiration to become an educator, but thanks to two wonderful pro-d opportunities with @gcouros today, I am inspired to share my story.

I was always a “good” student. I fit the mould of what everyone thought a good student should be. I listened in class, I (usually) completed homework, and I always had a knack for knowing what would be important in test situations. I found school easy and I also enjoyed it. I wasn’t much of a concern one way or the other.

My siblings, on the other hand, did not fit this mould.

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Morguefile photo shared by kconnors

Teachers thought my brother needed discipline; what he really needed was a challenge. Honestly, he was BORED. There was nothing motivating about completing trivial assignments he already understood. So when he didn’t see the point, he didn’t bother.

My sister suffers from ADHD as well as other mental health issues and has struggled with self-regulation all her life (she is also one of the most caring, sensitive people I know). Labeled early on as a “difficult” student, she was never well supported by the school system. Being 11 years older than her, I have always played a sort of mother role in her life, so it has been difficult to step back and watch the lack of resources and innovative solutions time and time again. She is still struggling to get through the school system today.

I chose a career in education because I was frustrated with the system. I wanted to make a difference in the lives of those who didn’t fit the mould. Music Education was my first real passion in university; I thought music would be the way to connect with all those struggling, misunderstood students. I’ve not yet had the opportunity to teach Music, but I will be forever grateful for the creativity and innovative thinking that I developed over the course of that program. I’m not sure that I would be so willing to take risks if it weren’t for exploring Music Education.

I became an educator so that I can reach those kids that other people can’t or won’t. I make it my mission to touch base with those kids who need me most every single day. I like to think it makes a difference. I hope I will always uphold my mission to engage the unmotivated, inspire the uninspired, and encourage those who have lost hope. I believe that our role as teachers is not so much about teaching as it is about listening, loving, and engaging. It’s about developing relationships with our students and inspiring them to want to be the best they can be. Whether they are struggling or needing a challenge, it’s about helping them discover their strengths and their passions.

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Morguefile photo shared by Scarletina

In some ways, it saddens me that I don’t have a nice little story about an inspirational teacher in my life. It’s not necessarily that those stories don’t exist; they do. But without my frustration with the school system, I likely would not have become a teacher. I likely wouldn’t have the passion for change in education that I do today. For that, I will be forever grateful. As long as kids need an advocate for change, I will always be inspired to be an educator.

Why did you become an educator?