Monday, 3 September 2018

Happy Labour Day





Late afternoon, Labour Day.  The Eve of a new school year.  The Eve of the start of my 24th school year as a teacher.  I am always excited on this day.  Excited for the adventure about to begin.  Excited to meet this year's class, some new to our room, some back from last year.  Tonight I will have trouble falling asleep, my mind filled with the things that I have done to get ready, and those things I have left undone. And full of anticipation for the journey we are about to begin.

There is also a little sadness.  The summer is over.  I've attended my last summer barbecue, played my last round of weekday golf, had my last quiet evening on the deck, listening to the crickets, watching the stars and enjoying a last cold brew into the late hours, knowing I could sleep in this morning.  Outside, a thunderstorm is raging and the rain is drowning my gardens.  Are the cosmos weeping for the end of summer freedom as well?

Sure, the weather has not turned cold yet.  Meteorologically speaking, it's still summer.  It's a hot and humid day.  If we're lucky, good weather will be with us at least until Thanksgiving in mid October or beyond.  The grass is still green and the trees have not put on their fall colours, yet.  But, you can feel the fall coming.  It's in the days that are getting just a bit shorter and the lillies that have bloomed and withered, to be replaced by the earthier colours of fall mums and a garden full of almost ripe pumpkins and squash.  Even restaurants have changed their featured flavours from spring berries to pumpkin spice and apple cinnamon.  So, while the official start of autumn won't come until the Vernal Equinox in a few weeks, for me, fall starts tomorrow. 




With the grief I experience over the changing season comes reflection.  Will all my planning come to fruition?  Will I be able to make those all important relationships with this year's students and create a safe and inclusive learning environment?  Will I be able to be the kind of teacher I want to be, each day for every Student, all year long?  Will I meet my own expectations?  More importantly, will I meet the expectations my Students have for me?

Only time will tell, I suppose. 

In the meantime, I will put my melancholy thoughts away and enjoy my last few hours of summer.  I will let my feelings of excitement take over and dream of a wonderful first day and a year filled with learning for my students and I.  And I wish the same for all of you.  Happy Labour Day.

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Connecting Your Classroom to the World - OTF Summer Institute Aug 8-10, 2018



Last week I had the honour of co-facilitating a three day Summer Workshop with TVDSB K-8 Literacy Co-ordinator Heidi Solway.  Check out Heidi's reflections on here blog here  It was part of the Ontario Teachers Federation Summer Institute Program.  We called it: Connecting Your Classroom to the World.  This will be a longer post than usual for me - hey, it was 3 days!

If you have never done any Professional Development with the Ontario Teacher's Federation, you should look into it.  They run webinars and conferences during the school year, and then in the Summer they run 3 day workshops in locations across Ontario.  When you register, the cost to you is $50.  That's right, $50 for three whole days.  And that's not all folks.  If you attend all three days, you get your $50 back!  If you like, you can stay in the University or College Residence where the workshop is taking place for the three nights....FREE!  They feed you all three days (really well - I don't cook like this - not even for guests or in-laws) and they will pay your mileage one way.  All at no cost.  Twitter gives me lots of really great PD, but not even Twitter feeds me for free.  Check out their offerings at https://www.otffeo.on.ca/en/learning/ . Click on the subscribe graphic to get regular emails about OTF PD offerings, or check out the calendar on the site.

Anyways, I digress...

Heidi and I worked both together and separately to put our workshop together.  I'm not going to lie...it was a lot of work.  But, we are both passionate about using technology to make connections for both Teachers and Classrooms, so it really was a labour of love.  Here's a look at our syllabus:

Day 1:  Our Whys for Connecting to the world, The Global Competencies, Twitter as a PLN and for Student Connections, FlipGrid, and 2 Digital Guests: Jennifer Casa-Todd and Jennifer Nielsen.

Day 2: Portfolios, the Digital Human Library (Presented by guest Presenter Dawn Telfer - Technology Learning Co-ordinator, TVDSB), BookSnaps, Google Sites, Bogging, online Collaboration Tools (Padlet, Popplet, linoit & ThingLink), as well as 2 Digital Guests: Tara Martin & Emil Sherr

Day 3: Google Hangouts and Mystery Hangouts, The Global Read Aloud, Geo Tools (My Maps, Expeditions, GeoGuesser and many others),  Examples of Units with Online connections (ie, how to put it all together) and 2 Digital Guests: Leanne Hansen and John David Anderson.

So, now that it is over, some reflections on our Highs and Lows:

graphic origin unknown

Twitter:
We shared a graphic about the different stages of Twitter User (see above) and it was interesting to see the wide variety of responses fit almost every one of these stages.  We convinced those who did not have a Twitter account to start one, and for everyone to share their learning using our #OTFConnect.  There was a large distance in technology skills in our participants - but by the end of the three days, they were all Tweeting and at the very least, considering using Twitter to grow their PLN.  An incident that hammered home the power of connecting through Twitter happened on Day 2.  One of our participants was at the Jays Game in the evening and happened to Tweet out a picture of herself at the game with the BlueJays hashtag.  All of a sudden...her Tweet and picture was on the Jumbotron at the Rogers Center.  When she shared this with us the next day...talk about a teachable moment!  It was great to help those participants who had never used Twitter before.  The joy on their faces when they 1. Sent out their first tweet.  2.  Got a response from Heidi, myself or other participants & 3. Got a response from some of our Digital Guests - well it was priceless.

Image result for flipgrid
Uses for FlipGrid infographic from https://braveintheattempt.com/2017/08/18/20-ways-to-catch-flipgridfever/

FlipGrid:
This was a big hit with most of our participants.  They had a lot of fun playing with the tools, but were also very quick to come up with ways they could utilize this great little activity in their classroom (be it for vlogging, Student Responses, #GridPals, PLN, etc).  I had several participants tell me they would be putting this to use right away.

#BookSnap Example by R. Meharg

BookSnaps:
We introduced them to using #BookSnaps (created by Tara Martin if you want to now more, check out her website: http://www.tarammartin.com/booksnaps-snapping-for-learning/) with students to help them first show their learning by creating the graphic and then to share it by Tweeting or handing it in through Google Classroom.  We also talked about how it is a way to share your professional learning the same way.  We showed them the variety of ways they can be created on different platforms and devices.  Suddenly there were all kinds of BookSnaps being Tweeted out - and not only used our hashtag...they tagged Tara Martin...who responded to them!

Image result for the digital human library

The Digital Human Library
Dawn Telfer is a member of the DHL Board - and gave us a great presentation on the great resource that the DHL is.  We had been doing Google Hangouts and discussing the power of having Digital Guest Speakers in our classrooms, but our participants were not sure how to access the guests they might want to have join them.  Boom!  Dawn showed them how to make those connections through DHL.

Google Expeditions AR - the Colliseum in Rome.  photo via Jason Lay on Twitter

Google Expeditions (AR & VR)
There were a lot of squeals of delight when investigating the many different AR & VR options in Google Expeditions.  Being able to manipulate the images infront of them on their devices was a game changer for many of our participants.

John David Anderson


Jennifer Casa-Todd


Our Digital Guests:
Our Digital Guests, who joined us via Google Hangout, Skype and Facetime were absolutely fabulous.  Did we have technology issues?  Absolutely!  We were in an environment that was not our own and unfamiliar to us.  So, of course, our first Hangout had no sound.  Jennifer Casa-Todd was very patient and helpful.  We eventually switched to my phone and used FaceTime to connect.  We attached the phone to the projector directly so everyone could see her - and everyone was really quiet - luckily the sound was loud enough from the phone for all to hear.  Her message about the importance modeling Digital Citizenship and appropriate Social Media use was exactly the message we were trying to get across.  She shared resources with our participants through our hashtag on Twitter and responded to questions both live and afterwards on Twitter.

About midway through day 2 we got our tech issues resolved (only took lots of trouble shooting and two of Western's IT staff!) and all was working exactly as it should after that!

Emil Sherr
Our visiting authors: Jennifer Neilsen, Emil Sherr and John David Anderson were so generous with their time and shared how important it was for them to get to know their target audience and connect with their readers through Twitter.  They all shared that they like to visit classrooms either thru a video link or via Twitter.  It was also enlightening for our participants to hear that our guests were not friends of ours.  We had never met these folks.  We simply sent a message through Twitter.  We asked.  They said yes.  Had they said no, no biggie.  But you never know what will happen if you don't put yourself out there and ask.

Jennifer Neilson
Leanne Hanson
Leanne Hansen joined us for a Mystery Google Hangout.  Our participants did not know who she was or where she was from.  They could only ask questions with a yes or no answer.  It was neat to see how bad they were at this.  Students are very good at this - within a few questions they have the hang of the yes or no format and how to narrow down the location using Google Maps.  Eventually and with a little help, our participants finally figured out that Leanne was joining us from Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.  Special thanks to Leanne for joining us from the other side of the world at 11:00 pm!

Tara Martin

Tara Martin was as real and authentic in person as she is in her book Be Real, and on Twitter.  She was very inspiring and her message of the importance of relationships and cannonballing in when there are things that we are afraid to try or that we consider to be a risk was shared through stories from her life and her classroom.  If you get a chance to hear her speak...take it.  She will get right into your head and heart.

Overall Reflections:
Heidi and I talked about things we would change if we got an opportunity to do this workshop again.  We wished we had more time to get folks blogging.  We talked about Teacher and Student blogs and vlogs, the tools and platforms, but we ran out of time to get them started on a blog and creating their first post.  If we do this again, we would like to ensure there is more time for our participants to blog.  We might rearrange the syllabus or spend a little less time with the Geo tools and more on creating a classroom website or participating the the Global Read Aloud.

I hope we do get the opportunity to run a workshop like this again.  I think the tools and information we shared is important to all and connecting outside of the the classroom walls is essential for our students.

Thanks to Doug Peterson for getting me to submit my proposal, to ECCO for submitting our proposal to OTF, to OTF for giving us this wonderful opportunity, to our Digital Guests for being so generous with their time and open to sharing with us, to Heidi for being such a great co-facilitator (she made good ideas even better ones with her expertise and input) and to all our participants for putting up with us for 3 days, but also for sharing and learning with us!

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Going All In on Flexible Seating

For a year or more now, I've been pondering and experimenting with Flexible Seating.   I've done some research by reading Kayla Delzer's (www.topdogteaching.com)  work and blogs, the wealth of information available at www.edutopia.org, Pinterest, as well as several books that devote chapters or sections to it (and there are many).  I've visited classrooms who have been using some form of flexible seating.  I've thought about: how I enjoy reading and working in a comfortable chair, the luxury of trying out a new book in Chapters and the whole Starbucks esthetic that is so popular, and inviting.

From my research, I've learned that there are many benefits to using flexible seating in your classroom.  (Check out this post to see some of them).  I was immediately drawn to the idea of flexible seating.  It promotes student choice, as they choose where to sit during different activities and learn about where they work best, or don't work well at all.  I love the community building aspects and how the different and more comfortable options result in more communication and the opportunity for more conversation as a class or in small groups.  Certainly the idea of comfy chairs and workspaces makes school more inviting and perhaps, fun?

But, I had my concerns as well.  I have a class of high needs learners, some in wheelchairs, some with visual, or hearing concerns, autism, and all with a Developmental Disability.  I want the room to be comfy and fun, but also inclusive, and accessible to all.  Would the change in seating become a distraction?  Would there be fights over the most popular seats?  Would students miss the "ownership" of their own desks and workspace?  Would the Administration team even support this radical change in classroom design.

Only one way to find out...try it out.  My neighbours had bought a new couch and asked if I knew anyone who could use their old one.  (It was the couch in the "good room", and while dated in a fashion sense, still looked brand new and was cozy and comfy to sit on).  I said I wanted it for my classroom, but I just had to clear it with my Principal and Vice Principal first.  As their new couch was on back order, they were willing to wait for my answer.  So, I pitched the idea to my Admin team and gave my reasons for wanting to try it.  They had some concerns, some of which were similar to my own, and they wanted to clear it with the custodial staff as well.  After some consideration, I was given the go ahead to bring that sofa in.  So, one clear October morning, my kind husband helped me load it up in the truck and carry it up to my classroom on the second floor.  He didn't question why I was doing it, maybe he just trusts that I have good research behind my decisions, or maybe he is just used to having a wife who does a lot of things he doesn't understand.  Happy wife, Happy life?

That's how the experiment began.  With just one couch.



I placed it off to the side of the classroom, by our bookshelves, hoping to inspire more independent reading with it's enticing luxury.  My students came in the room that morning and noticed it right away (It has brilliant pink flowers on it - it is hard to miss).  We started that day with a class meeting about the couch.  What was it for?  Did we need rules for the couch?  When could they use it?  We bantered and brainstormed about it.  They all took turns trying out the comfort level and pronounced it homey, if "rustic" (their word, not mine).  They decided we needed a few "couch guidelines".

1.  No laying on the couch.  It needs to be shared by up to 3 people.
2.  No feet on the couch.  We want to keep the couch clean and respect that everyone in the room uses it.
3.  No one has ownership of the couch individually.  You cannot claim a spot permanently.

These were their "guidelines"  I would help enforce them... if they needed me to, but I told them that the future of the couch in the room was up to them.  If things went well, we keep the couch.  If I needed to constantly intervene to help them with their own "guidelines", then the couch would have to go.

From that day forward, there was often one or more students on the couch.  I was rarely called on to remind someone about couch etiquette.  They did not fight over it.  They read on it, used clip boards to work on it and loved to sit and work on their iPads or Chromebooks on it.

Early in December, they asked if we could move the couch.  Student desks were usually arranged in a C formation around the room, so that we could all see each other during discussions.  If needed, they were re-aranged into small groupings for collaborative work.  The students wanted the couch to be inside that C formation, so that they could sit on it and be more a part of discussions, and in the center of the room.  It sounded reasonable to me.  So we moved it.  It was an even better spot.  It was never empty and it seemed to improve our feeling of community.

Just before March Break, our Principal told us he was replacing all the furniture in the staff room.  The old stuff would either be thrown out or donated.  I asked if I could have 3 of the sturdy, yet comfortable chairs and two end tables.  He gave me the ok, so a few students and I moved them to our classroom before he could change his mind.  The chairs are a hideous dusty rose colour, which match the pink flowers on our couch perfectly.  It was meant to be.

That's around the time that I noticed that my students were consistently choosing the flexible seating options over their desks.  They rarely sat at their desks anymore, and generally only because there were only 6 comfy seats available.  The quality of their work did not change.  I think the relationships in the room improved as they learned to share and rotate their seats so that everyone could use the "good seats."  In June, when I asked them to blog about the things they liked about the school year, the new seating came up in almost every post, right up there with our class trip to Medieval Times and Casa Loma in Toronto.  High praise, indeed!

Just as exams were ending, a friend of a friend offered me her leather couch and another chair.  She was moving and didn't have room for them.  On the PD day, we met her before school started and moved them into our classroom.  On the same day, my Educational Assistants and I moved all the desks out.  We kept a few different sized tables and I ordered some ball chairs.  A relative has offered up her rocking chair after they move in August.  I've included a few pictures to show you how the room looked as I left it on our last work day before summer.


Some tired Educational Assistants enjoy a few moments on the "new" furniture after moving it in and the desks out on the last work day in June.



I don't know if it will work as well as I hope it will.  I don't know if the set up of the room will change, or if I will need to bring back a few desks.  I have a new class of students and don't know if they will respond as well to Flexible Seating as last year's class did.

I do know I've gone all in on Flexible Seating.  I'll let you know how it goes.



As always, I welcome your comments, questions and advice in the comment section below.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

#HockeyMath

The Regular Season

This year my class was a group that without an exception, was obsessed with hockey.  They all had their favourite teams, their treasured players and wore their jersey or team themed t-shirts with pride.  I didn't have to tune into SportsNet or TSN or check the hockey scores on my phone.  I could not get down the hallway before school started without one of my Students coming up to me to let me know how their team had fared the night before.  I'd hear about the goals, the trades, the fights, sometimes they would even ask me to play snippets of the game in our morning class meeting so they could show a great play from the night before.  During playoffs, the pregame show from the Las Vegas Knights was high on the video request list.  Eat your heart out, Don Cherry, these kids bleed hockey!


The Playoffs

You would think that a grizzled and seasoned classroom veteran, such as myself, might have thought of a way to leverage this shared passion a lot sooner.  But, I am sad to admit, it wasn't until just before the playoffs that the red goal light went off in my head, and I came up with #HockeyMath.  The math folks at TVDSB had done a great job in December of the #12DaysofTweetmath, so I decided to try doing our own daily hockey math activities and tweet them out.  It's not a unique hashtag, and it's not the first time someone ever posted hockey math on Twitter.  But that's what I called it, for lack of any corporate sponsorship or sports marketing teams to help me.  Unfortunately, sometimes we got so absorbed in the activity, we forgot to take pictures and tweet them out.  I think we averaged a tweet about once a week during playoffs.  But we had fun with it every day.

We brainstormed around how much math you can find in hockey, and then we started coming up with hockey math problems to solve.  I have a Special Education class, so sometimes they needed a little or a lot of help with this part.  Another resource I accessed to help out was https://hockeymath.wordpress.com/ . This is a great article about various examples of math and science in hockey - and I used it for some ideas to get going.  Some of them were a bit too advanced for my group - but I found ways to break down or simplify the math in a lot of the ideas to use with my crew.

We were looking for patterns on the ice surface.  We looked at the (very simplified) odds of a team making it to the Stanley Cup Finals.  We measured distances on the ice, calculated the area of the rink and the face-off circles.  We calculated the volume of a puck.  We looked at statistics - broke them down into what they mean and why teams use them.  We looked at ticket sales, how to calculate HST on a ticket price and how and why ticket prices grow in value as you get closer to the ice surface.  We looked at the salaries the top and bottom players make and calculated what they make per game.  We became team managers and compared some player stats to see who we would play and who we would bench.  We filled out playoff brackets (for bragging rights only!...OK...maybe the winner did get a chocolate bar) and with each team that was knocked out, we experienced either the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat.  One student ended up with a perfect bracket.  Picked every team right, even the Capitals winning the cup.  Aww Shoot!  I just realised - we could have calculated the odds of being able to do that!

Let me tell you, those kids were so engaged in the math.  My heart gave a little "Whoopie" when I heard one Student say to another, "I hate math, but this is hockey, so it's fun."  And it was fun.  I gotta tell ya, those kids gave it 110%.

The Post Season

With the hockey season over, and the Capitals all wearing their new Stanley Cup rings on the golf courses of the world, I've had some time to reflect on a few things I will do differently next season:

- Start sooner.  I don't think I could sustain it every day all season, but maybe I could cut it back to maybe once a week and run it for a longer period. 
- get others involved.  We were sharing the tweets of some of the things we were doing, but getting some other classrooms involved (board-wide, or worldwide thru Twitter) and maybe creating problems for each other to solve via Google Hangout would be a great way to get at those global competencies and make more connections outside of our building
- get a bit more tech into it.  We were using our iPads to look up info, but mostly used our white boards for calculations.  I'm thinking there has to be a way they could document their learning - collaborative doc, slide show...something.  I'll keep working on that.

If you have any ideas or hockey math to share - please post them in the response section.  I'd love to hear them.  In the meantime, I have a tee time to make.  Isn't that how hockey players are supposed to  prepare for the start of the new season in September?

Blogger's Addendum:
This post was featured on VoicEdRadio's "This Week in Ontario Edublogs" on July 11, 2018 - an Episode I was a Guest on as well.  If you want to check out the discussion between Doug Peterson, Stephen Hurley and myself, check out this link.  We did have some technical difficulties - so I apologize in advance for the sound quality.


#Inquiry Mindset Book Study - C1 post

Image by Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt, InquiryMindset, https://barbarabray.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Screenshot-2018-02-06-11.11.41.png


To get the #InquiryMindset book study going, we've been asked to take a look at this sketchnote by Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt and reflect on which of these characteristics we are feel we are doing well in our classroom.  I think everyone in the study can include passion as something they do well.  It's one thing to read a great book like Inquiry Mindset over the summer (showing a love of learning), but we must be passionate about what we do, if we are doing a book study that has us vlogging on FlipGrid and writing blogs about it...IN THE SUMMER!  So well done, all of us!

As I think about what I do and apply it to this graphic, I feel that my strongest trait is knowing my students.  I teach a High School Congregated Special Education class, working with 10 students aged 14-21 with various Developmental Disabilities.  They are a very diverse group with academic levels ranging from Pre-K to about grade 6.  I'm blessed to have the same great group of kids all day - all year, which is not something many High School Teachers can boast.  I may have them for only one year, or they may be with me for seven years.  The time we spend together means I get to know them and their families quite well.  But, it's not just about time.  As a class, we work hard to build our community and foster a growth mindset - because, and I know you've heard it before, but it is the absolute truth...It is all about relationships.

Without those relationships, students won't feel safe to take a risk or collaborate or share.  Relationships make tough conversations possible.  Without a relationship, there is no trust in me as their teacher, or in each other.  Without relationships, the classroom is not a safe place to ask questions and without questions - there is no wondering, no inquiry.

What are some things I do to foster those incredibly important relationships in my room?
- lots and lots of Tribes activities.  If you have the opportunity to get Tribes training - go for it!
- celebrations - after a tough day, a great breakthrough, finishing a group study, presenting a passion project, or just because it's Wednesday - we pick a song and we dance. 
- starting our day with an informal class meeting/chat to see what's happened, what's coming, where everyone is at
- Passion Projects - if you want to know the things that most excite your students, give them time to explore one of their passions and share it with the class.  We learn so much from each other by sharing these
- #P3 Playlist - the students choose 3 songs that talk about who they are and share them and their reasons for picking them.  The songs are tied to their history, their identity, and a song that just makes them happy when they hear it.  (This activity came from Noa Daniel's Building Outside the Blocks Activities - check out the link to learn more about it).  I cannot tell you how much we learn from each other doing this.
- laughing together.  If we see a funny (but appropriate) YouTube video or a James Cordon or Jimmy Fallon Sketch, we share it.  We take the time to watch it and laugh together.  Maybe this one is a little silly, but starting the day with a laugh does wonders for relationships.  And our class is huge fans of Carpool Kareoke, Broadway Crosswalk and Camp Winnipisake.





There are more, but they are not jumping out of my brain right now, so this is a good place to stop.  I'll never be the perfect Teacher I want to be - but I keep working to improve.  There are many things I'm not proficient at.  But, man oh man, I know my Students.

Friday, 15 June 2018

Commencement: An End or a Beginning?



We've hit the mid-point of June on the calendar.  In a High School that means sports and extra-curriculars are at an end, Field Trips are done, Prom has come and gone, awards banquets abound and we are only a few days away from the beginning of exams.  Classes are reviewing a semester full of work and today we had our year end assembly where we said good-bye to staff who are retiring or moving on to new assignments.  Looming ahead of us is the crowning achievement of the school year, Commencement.  I know that many schools hold their ceremony in October, but ours is always on the last Thursday in June.   Preparations are well underway.  The Commencement Committee is working madly behind the scenes to make the evening memorable. 

Jump forward to the big night: The heat of the gym where we hold the festivities is oppressive.  The Graduates are sweating in their caps and gowns.  The crowd is standing room only as family and friends come to see their Graduate cross the stage and hear the Valedictorian's message of hope for the future.  Everyone is a little tired, perhaps a little cranky from the heat,  but full of excitement, because Commencement is the most important night of the school year.  It's the night where everyone's hard work is celebrated, where students show how they have grown, matured, and earned their way out of our building and on to the next step of their lives, be it the world of work or on to post secondary studies at the institution of higher learning of their choice.  It comes at the end of the month, at the end of the school year and it is the end of their tenure in our building.  It is an ending.  But, it's also a beginning (Cue "The Circle of Life" theme from Disney's The Lion King).



If you look at the Oxford English dictionary definition of the word Commencement, it is "the beginning of something."  For our students, it is the beginning of their adulthood as they move on to jobs, academia, apprenticeships and life after High School.  For staff, it may be on to new roles in the Board, new schools, retirement, or it could be viewed as the beginning of the next class of future graduates who will join us in September.

Right or wrong, I often think of Commencement as my own culminating activity.  The time, and the work, and the investment I've made in my students since their arrival in Grade 9 is about to pay off.  My work with these amazing young people is done and they are on to new adventures.  So it really is both an ending, and a beginning.

Wether your Graduate is commencing from Kindergarten, Elementary School, Middle School, High School or Post Secondary School, a new job or a new role or a new adventure, wether you view this as an ending or a beginning, or just a short breather as they move on to their next step...celebrate it! Take pictures, share a congratulatory hug or handshake, eat some cake, really revel in the moment.  Because you know what?  It really is a big deal.

Congratulations Graduates.
image from


Saturday, 26 May 2018

Racing into June

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The last month and a half of the school year always feels like the last 10 laps at the Daytona 500 to me. No more pit stops.  Petal to the metal.  Running on fumes.  Hoping I can keep the car going at peak performance without getting involved in an accident, or hitting the wall at high speed. Able to see that finish line coming and willing myself to take the checkered flag.

With most of our official Professional Development Days done and the last long weekend past us, we are out of pit stops.  There are no more breaks in our weeks and the weekends are full of events.  There are Retirements to attend, Awards Nights to plan, Prom, not to mention family engagements.  There are so many other things going on at school: like year end field trips, assemblies, and coaching spring sports.  We are starting to work on Report Cards, getting things ready for Commencement, and transitions for new students coming to us in September.  Some of us are dealing with EQAO testing and all the anxiety that standardized testing can bring to our classrooms.  There's Spring shows and year end celebrations and saying goodbye to folks moving on to new challenges.

Oh yeah, and we are still teaching too.  Trying to get all those fabulous learning experiences in before the end of the year.  We can see the end of year finish line tantalizingly just ahead of us.  And we are getting tired.  So very, very tired.

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It's the wild and wacky ending to another school year.  It's the culmination of what we've worked for with our Students.  And, it's the expectation of a rest.

I'm trying to make sure while I'm racing through those straightaways and keeping the corners under control, that I take time to enjoy the ride.  I'm drafting a bit on others, and hoping others will tuck in and do the same with me.  I'm reminding myself how thankful I am that I'm in the race at all and what  a great profession I have chosen to be a part of.  All the while, starting to think about next year and the next big race.

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Fellow drivers, we are almost there.  Hang in there.  Enjoy the ride.

Summer is coming.

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