Living with Intention

These last few weeks have been a roller coaster of emotional highs and lows. Spring break brought a much needed pause in the insanity and busyness of being a new teacher.

Spring break gave me the greatest gift of all… a new FIANCE! And I am over the moon to share that I will now be making the remarkable shift from Miss to Mrs! The day that he asked me to be his wife was the best day of my life, met with joy and so much excitement for our future… a journey I can’t wait for.

IMG_3038.PNG

The weeks coming back, and most teachers know were difficult. The shift to the last chunk of the year. The push of trying to motivate students past the spring break brain while still trying to see the silver lining.

Although it was difficult, lots of awesome things happened. 

  1. Awesome Japanese Cultural Field Trip for social studies!
    IMG_3188.jpg
  2. Cooking using second language vocab in Ukrainian!
    IMG_3195.jpg
  3. Sharing my knowledge about cultural links to language acquisition at a community networking event!

    Facetune_12-04-2018-11-12-56.JPG

All of these things make my heart so happy in thinking about the growth my students are experiencing.

However, tragedy also stuck our community. On April 6, 2018 a terrible accident involving the Humboldt Bronco Hockey Team happened leaving 16 dead and 12 injured. This accident sent ripples through our country, our community, and my family.

Being in Canada, it is easy to identify with these boys and this tragedy. Everyone either plays hockey, has a child who plays hockey, or knows someone who plays hockey. Most people have experienced long bus trips across the prairies. People know the dedication, determination and passion that these players had and the incredible future they had in front of them. All of these elements break the hearts of Canadians. For the players, coaches, trainers, announcers, first responders, families, friends… for everyone.

For my family, it struck a chord deeper. My brothers grew up playing competitive hockey and as my Dad puts it ‘ there is one degree of separation between everyone in the hockey world’. We knew these boys. My sister loved one of these boys. My brother played in the same league as these boys. The reality of loss has been draped over my family.

IMG_3167.JPG

It has been so hard. 

In all of this. I have been trying to determine why. I have been trying to understand how good could come out of this situation.

But then this happened. 

A country standing behind a team. Behind players. Behind Canadian boys. Uniting together regardless of belief, religion, background, values… with one vision it was understood that with intention we were one.

AND my students become my beacon of hope.

IMG_3253 (1).JPG

I took this as motivation to find the why.

I believe that it is integral that we live life with intention every day. I am not talking about goals or dreams (which are also important). I am talking about the little things. 

  • Taking time to answer a phone call from a loved one when you really ‘don’t have time’.
  • Exchanging a smile with the person making your coffee in the morning.
  • Telling the people you love how much they mean to you.
  • Doing things daily that make you happy.
  • Doing the things that scare you.
  • Sweating, and rewarding your body with exercise.
  • Eating the cheese pizza even if it isn’t good for you.
  • Take the trip.
  • Spend the money.
  • Stress less.
  • Be late.
  • Slow down.
  • Live with intention everyday.

My heart breaks for everyone suffering from this loss, and I pray for you, the people who we lost and all the people who are still fighting for their lives.

But as our Country moved forward, and pick up the pieces… I challenge you to find your daily intention.

#HumboldtStrong

Miss Rylance

Advertisements

Feeling Lucky

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

My sisters and I had the chance to visit Ireland for the first time last year and since that moment my love for Irish culture, traditions, and appreciation of life has grown so much.
IMG_1692.JPG

My favorite part of being in Ireland was learning about their pride and experiencing the brilliance of their culture and this week I was excited to bring that culture into my classroom.

Each year, I remind my students of the greatness that St. Patrick ushered into Ireland and how we can learn from his perseverance and persistence he encompassed in working to free the Irish of oppression; however, this year I took it a step further in my class. I took a moment for gratitude.

IMG_2128.jpg

I find that sometimes it is important to stop for a moment and ask ‘why am I lucky’, ‘what am I grateful for’, and in the spirit of the Irish and those lucky charms that were floating in the air I tasked my students with an awesome St. Patrick’s Day Escape Room.

It was my first time facilitating an escape room for my students and I loved it and so did they. They used QR codes and their technology at each task, were engaged, working together, learning about their faith and St. Patrick and building critical thinking skills- it was awesome!

IMG_2155.jpgIMG_2145.jpg

Shout out to ‘Oh the Humanities’ for this awesome find!

I also took a minute and asked students to reflect on what they feel lucky to have! It was perfect for a quick reflection, building empathy, and a writing task to start class.

IamLucky.JPG

Here is a link to my teachers pay teachers account for your FREE download of this awesome resource. 

Of course, after the students reflected on their luck, they were rewarded with the leprechaun cookie. This piece of gratitude from me was to remind them that I am lucky because I have them. My students are truly my lucky charms and they remind me of that daily.

IMG_2105

PS. Check out my awesome St. Patty’s outfit!

IMG_2133.jpg

Have a Lucky St. Patty’s Day!

Miss Rylance

Here’s to all the Women!

Potentially the thing I am most passionate about is strong, committed, graceful women in the past, present and future. The women that have gotten us here, the women who are working to be amazing today, and my amazing students who are going to grow into those amazing women.

As March began, I was so excited to usher in International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month. Not only to shine light on influential women in the world and in history in my classroom and with my students, but also to celebrate the amazing women and mentors in my life today.

In my classroom, I often take time to make my students aware of AMAZING women who have shaped history, taking the extra moment to give them information and build awareness. BUT I love that this month gives us an excuse to celebrate the weakening gender gap and cheer on the greatness that has become.

Some things I did in my classroom this week to promote Women’s History:

1. I partnered my grade 8 class with a grade 6 class and together we created a wall mural to celebrate women in history (which will be displayed out of my classroom)
If you want your own… check it out on Teachers Pay Teachers!

2. Since we are doing poetry in English, I got students to write a bio poem about a a woman who in their opinion has shaped history positively.

For those who aren’t familiar with a bio poem check it out!

3. Daily quote of the days/ Morning Music selections were all by women

It is so important for all of my students to understand all facets of history and our world and I challenge you this month to take the extra little bit to make sure they know the significant women who are a part of the story.

This week, I want to dedicate my post to all the incredible women and mentors in my life. I want to say THANK YOU to all the women who continually inspire, push and support me. You guys all know who you are, but truly from the bottom of my heart thank you. You are all my ‘why’ every day.

To my students, thank you for continuing to find in you the motivation to do amazing things. I can’t wait to see what you do with the amazing abilities you have. 

I recognize that it is because we support each other that greatness is possible and I feel honored to be chosen in your tribe.

Image-1

To all women out there, lets support each other.

Cheers,

Miss Rylance 

 

Random Acts of Kindness

This week, I was blown away with the amount of kindness, positivity and love my students embodied.

I often talk to my students about the importance of being kind to others in hopes of trying to mold them into good people. I do my best to open their eyes to difference and how to appreciate it in others. I try and build empathy in them to understand that everyone has different struggles and they may not always look the same as yours. BUT most importantly, I try and prove to them that we are all created in the image and likeness of God, and that will look different in everyone.

This week, it was even more important to point those things out to my students.

As random acts of kindness week was among them, I challenged them to reconnect with empathy towards others, acceptance, and how they showed leadership and kindness to one another. There were so many school wide initiatives that my students participated in that promoted kindness and anti- bullying.

These included:

  1. Pink Shirt Day: a nation wide initiative that stands up to bullies and get students to wear pink in solidarity with those trying to combat bullies.

    IMG_1481.JPG

  2. A pledge kindness wall: our school’s foyer was decorated with paper that required students to pledge kindness by signing their name along with a hand print and give someone an awesome shout out.

    IMG_1374.jpg

  3. Kindness Family Feud: the student council as our school put on a school wide family feud where questions regarding how someone could show kindness were incorporated.

    This included: how can you be kind to others, how can you show kindness to yourself, how can you show kindness in your community (just to name a few). There was a students team and a teachers team and this friendly competition really got all the students engaged and thinking about how they could show kindness.

    IMG_1537.JPGI was lucky enough to be on the teachers team, and the awesome costumes really showed our team spirit!

Some of my favorite things that happened this week were in the walls of my classroom.

At the beginning of the week I challenged my students to do 2 things that would promote kindness, love and positivity. They did not have to do either activity, they could do one, or both but I encouraged them to at least try one.

The two they could choose from was either to:

a) They had to take a sticky note and write one thing that they were going to do this week for kindness. This was a pledge to themselves that they could keep safe on the back of their phones, in their binders, in their lockers or any place that would remind them. AND I did not have to see it, so it was only a pledge to themselves. 

b) Write a card to a teacher, or person in their life that has made an impactful difference and write them a heart felt message. 

IMG_1410.jpg

I was so blown away with what my students came up with and how EVERYONE at least chose one of the two options to do. It made my heart sing with joy that they wanted to embody the ‘kindness’ spirit.

Throughout the week, I was even more honored that many students in my class and in other classes chose to write heartfelt messages to me. I felt so blessed and honored that they felt the desire to let me know that they appreciated me and it truly filled my bucket with joy.

IMG_1501.jpgIMG_1503.jpg

My random act of kindness was to give back to my students.

I don’t think often enough that they are thanked and told how wonderful they all are and how much I appreciate every one of them. I decided to take my own advice and write each of them a personal heart felt message of why I thought they were so wonderful. Along with the little note was a ring pop, because they truly are my little gems (corny but awesome… I think;)

IMG_1380.jpg

This act reminded me how important it is to create those extra little experiences for our students and how those small gestures go a long way. I think that it proved to my students how much I really care, and although I hope that how much I value them is in the level of lessons I plan and deliver to them, it is the extra little bit that truly makes is special.

IMG_1394.jpg

If you have not done a little something for your students lately, I challenge you to do something this week. It doesn’t have to be large, but reminding them how special they are is truly important in the process of relationship building.

I hope you received a random act of awesome this week.

Mental health is such an important element of what happens everyday, and although we embed it in everything we do, having a week dedicated to its importance is crucial.

Cheers,

Miss Rylance 

 

Creating a Class Mission Statement

As the half way point of our year approaches I think it is important as teachers we have a refocus time for our students.

Recently, I attended a Leader in Me Symposium where they discussed the value of having students using key habits and principals in the classroom in order to have an organized and driven life outside the classroom.

One of the suggestions that came out of the symposium was to create a class mission statement. Now, I had heard of class mission statements before; however, I had never implemented one in my classroom. The more I heard about the value of having all students on the same page and driving towards the same common goal, the more I wanted to implement it myself. Especially because I knew my students needed a ‘mid point reminder’ and extra push to get them to the end of the year.

This week the first class I did with my students was a mission statement creation. I took 2 blocks out of my day to dedicate to goal setting as a class- and it turned out AWESOME.

Here are some steps I took to help my class create a team mission statement.

  1. As a class we brainstormed what a mission is. I asked the students questions like: “what comes to mind when you hear the word mission”, “who does mission remind you of”, “who that you know has been on a mission”. I loved the words and discussion that came out of those prompts.

    IMG_1284.jpg

    Essentially the students came out with 2 separate streams. The first were qualities of a mission which included words like ambition, goals, danger, risk, success, motivation. And the second was people who they know who have missions like 007, mission impossible, batman, inspector gadget.

    Then we talked about how all those individuals encompassed the qualities that were necessary to carry on a mission and I told the students that we needed a mission of our own to be our own 8R 007.

  2. Then, in their groups I gave them large paper and 4 questions that they needed to answer as a class.

    -Who are we?
    -Why are we here?
    -What do we want to accomplish?
    -How will we make this happen?

    IMG_1286.jpg

    As a class I gave them 5 minutes to answer each question in their groups. It was so incredible to see the team work and answers they came up with!

  3. After that, I posted all the papers on the board, we went through each question and found the similarities that the groups came up with.
  4. The groups then went back into collaboration mode and I challenged each group to come up with 4 words that described the answers that we found as a class. The 4 words had to describe the 4 most important things that they felt needed to be a part of our mission.
  5. Then I took all the words that the groups came up with and created a word cloud. This was now the new mission of 8R. I posted it on the wall in my classroom for everyone to see everyday, as a reminder of what is important for our class.

    IMG_1293.jpg

I loved this activity because it brought my class together to refocus on the goals for the rest of the year. It also reminded them of their purpose in grade 8 and both what they wanted to accomplish individually and together.

If you have not created a mission for you classroom or school, I highly recommend doing it. It is a simple reminder to students where we are moving as a class and what they are expected to contribute in and outside of the classroom.

IMG_1304.jpg

If you have any other strategies for mission statement let me know!

Cheers,

Miss Rylance 

 

Time to Reflect

Have you ever felt like life is moving 10000 miles per minute and you don’t have a chance to just stop, take it all in and reflect? The last few months have kind of felt like that for me.

I feel so grateful for opportunity, learning and all the brilliant things that have been coming out of life lately, but with those things has also come with a lot of hustle and bustle.

This week, I decided to dedicate my blog post to reflection. An element I believe has been so important for my first few moments as a teacher and I think it is going to continue to be important as my passion continues to grow. This blog ‘Surviving Teaching’, has been entirely started for the goal of documenting my successes, struggles, and moments so that I could learn more from myself and hopefully others could as well.

I am going to section this post into 2 parts: 
1. Learning 
2. Soaking it all in

Section 1: Learning

As teachers, I think one of our largest passions is learning. For most teachers who I have worked with, one of the biggest things that keeps them driven is the desire to continue to learn more and better themselves and their pedagogy along the way. One quote that I absolutely love by Albert Einstein is “when you stop learning, you start dying”, and I believe as teachers this is even more true.

We are inherent life long learners continually striving to be better. I think I even have a greater desire than trying to make myself better, I call it the learning itch. 

Picture a large purple rash all over my body that is slowly turning me into the purple people eater that can only be cured by learning more and more… and I have a lifetime case of it. – the learning itch.

I have combated this itch by attending a multitude of conferences and professional development sessions over the last little while which have included the NCTCA teachers convention and the Leader in Me Symposium (which was AMAZING… I will definitely dedicate a whole post to that in the future). But also through personal reading and networking.

IMG_1205.jpg

I sent my brain on a mission this month to read 3 books which I chose based on recommendation from an author I saw last year. And man… these three reads have set my mind on fire. So far I have read 1.5 of the books and hopefully am on track to finishing by the end of this month, but it has definitely ignited that ‘make yourself better’ bug within me.

IMG_1036.jpg

**All 3 books are linked in my resources tab for you to purchase!**

I think personal learning is so important as a teacher, not only for your pedagogy but also for your own well being. Continuing to learn and improve yourself as a new teacher is so important. SO many people know SO many incredible things that I feel like I don’t even know a fraction about.

New teachers out there, step one is to get yourself on twitter and follow all those amazing teachers who are posting ideas and reflections themselves, and step two is to get your self reading.

Section 2: Soaking it all in

I think too often we don’t leave enough time to fill our own buckets outside of our teacher world and this week I really made it a priority to soak it all in.

I have written blog posts before about striking that dreaded work life, personal life balance; but sometimes getting a shot in the arm reminder of it is what we need.

In my classroom, I hope that my students learn beyond my classroom and fill their minds with cultures and experiences that I can’t give them in the realm of my four walls. And sometimes it is important to remind yourself to do the same.

I decided to take a weekend trip to the Rocky Mountains (which is really close to where my city is), and although it was just 3 days of a change of scenery… it is sometimes all we need. An outside walk, a cup of tea at a new cafe, a catch up with old friends is another way that we as busy and crazy teachers can take time to soak it all in.

IMG_1002.jpg

This week, our news was flooded with gut wrenching news of more teachers and students who lost their lives to gun violence.

Moments like this cause everyone to reflect.

As you hear families and friends of loved ones who lost their lives speak about the tragedy they reflect, governments and leaders reflect, communities reflect… but also teachers have been reflecting.

As I reflected this week, and my heart broke for all those effected I thought about all the moments as teachers we need to take time to soak it all in. To be grateful for amazing students and achievements, and to soak in the fact that no matter what we are making a difference everyday.

This week, I challenge you to reflect. Reflect on what you are grateful for, on what you have learned and how you are going to continue to learn, and how you are going to deal with the itch that is inside all of us to continue to grow.

Things I am grateful for: my family, my friends, my puppies, my students, my school, my country, and the laws that stand in between Canadians and gun violence. 

IMG_0221.JPG

Cheers,

Miss Rylance 

 

Social Media in the Classroom

This week, I thought I would change up my post a bit a talk about something that I have recently gotten a lot of questions about… so here it goes! Your guide on navigating social media in the classroom!

In my first year of teaching, I realized that I needed to figure out a way to connect with my students on a personal level by integrating who I wanted them to know me as, as well as what we were doing in the classroom. The answer to this open and sharing culture that I wanted to build in my classroom was clear with my grade 8 students- social media.

Here are a few things I did to integrate social media in my classroom:

  1. Teacher Instagram Account
  2. Fresh Grade
  3. Pen Pal Schools
  4. Twitter
  5. Class Blog… TBDinstagram-png-instagram-logo-2-png-8-de-abril-de-2017-927-kb-3500-3393-3500.pnglarrybird-2.jpgdownload.jpglogo-penpal-schools-square-white_2.png

This first strategy I had was to create a ‘Teacher Instagram Account‘.

This account would be a way for my students to access personal things about me, as well as things that I would post about cool things we did in the classroom and informational points about what I needed them to know.

Initially, I was a little nervous. As a new teacher, I felt guilty that I may be treading in uncharted waters…no one at my school had ventured down this path. I had so many questions: was I aloud to post images of my students? what would parents think? would this still allow a positive teacher/ student relationship? All of these things did flash through my head and I knew that I needed to set a clear perimeter around how this account would run.

I then did some research, talked with my principal and realized my idea was totally do-able. SO… I did it.

IMG_1077

AND… it worked amazingly. I had students (and their parents) connect with me on social media and at first, although not all students were on board, I definitely have the majority of them following and checking into what I am posting. I have students asking me to highlight their work, and I find it to be a great communication tool for them as using the direct messenger feature it easy for them to navigate.

AND I even had a handful of teachers at my school follow my lead and create their own accounts themselves.

If you are a new teacher- I highly recommend making this happen!

I realized as I went through this process that the world of teacher instagramming is HUGE and it is another great way connect with others.

In my opinion, exposing students to social media positively and giving them the tools to use it in a way that will benefit themselves is crucial for the digital literacy and cyber world that we are all living in.

If you don’t allow students access to technology and social media outlets that they want to use then you are not equipping them with the necessary tools to and be successful.

I compare it to never giving a child candy and forbidding it and then one day exposing them to a whole jar. The child would obviously feel temped to eat the whole thing, would probably get sick or get a cavity and not know how to regulate themselves. It is the same if we compare this to social media. If our students are banned from using it or it is not properly taught and regulated in the classroom, then one day when they are exposed to it with no rules, they may not know how to control themselves with use or could go down avenues that are not healthy. It is so clear that teaching proper social media use and modeling it as their teacher is so important to student success.

I am also using an online portfolio program called Fresh Grade, this program is school mandated and is a great social media platform for students to share their work with their parents in a controlled way.

I have mentioned before… BUT Pen Pal Schools is an incredible site that connects your students online to others students around the world allowing them to practice ‘Pen Pal’ skills online. This is a great way to teach students skills to be able to talk to people online correctly and give them a purpose for proper email writing, how to engage with someone online you don’t know, and how to use online chat programs that they could see in their lives.

Twitter has perhaps been my most favorite social media discovery as a teacher. It has exposed me to a whole world of digital networking that has allowed me to share my ideas and learn from so many other teachers around the world. My students are not necessarily using twitter themselves but they are benefiting from the professional development I am seeking from exposing myself to new ideas… if you have not gotten yourself hooked- DO IT.

IMG_1079.jpg

I am ALSO in the process of integrating a class blog… more info to be announced!

Regardless of the outlet you use to get your students more engaged, I have found that connecting my classroom to social media has had lasting effects in the relationships I have built with my parents and students. Even 5 minutes a day of social media with student engagement can go so far.

Follow me on Instagram
Follow me on Twitter 

Let me know your tips on social media integration in your classroom!

Cheers,

Miss Rylance 

 

 

Community Support Night

As I began my journey in the world of working with English Language Learners it was evident that a bigger connection between the school and community and family was needed. I think that was the seed of all the initiatives I started with attempting to connect all components that would make new families to Canada successful in their process of establishment.

The answer of how the entire family would be supported in their process was so clear to me because of the large supports that are available within our county, city, and province for newcomers to Canada. I decided to contact all those organization that provide support to immigrants to Canada and bring them together in a Community Support Night to  attempt to bridge the gap between families and the community but also our district and schools to the support available externally.

IMG_0906.JPG

I think that there is a lack of knowledge within the school system of what type of support we can be guiding our new families towards, mostly because we aren’t those new families ourselves and the need for us to seek it out is not apparent. For those new families, the understanding of where they can access help and how may seem daunting of intimating and trying to be that connector was my newest challenge.

At our Community Support Night, we had 10 organizations that agreed to come together in an informal ‘fair’ type of environment. Each organization set up a table with their supports outlined and a friendly face for any questions to be answered. I also set up a spread of snacks and hot drinks to make the environment more welcoming and open.

IMG_0893.jpgIMG_0898.jpg

With this, we had some wins and some things we can grow from.

Areas for growth:

  1. I would definitely try and get students more involved. Initially when I was looking at this I wanted it to be something we presented to them and something they could access. However, I feel like more families could have come and could have been reached if they were there.
  2. The amount of families that attended were not as many as I anticipated. Reflecting on this, I feel as though having a separate night where families needed to take time off work and bare the Canadian cold was not the best idea. I think potentially pairing it with a night that invites families already like an open house, or three way conferences would have worked better.

Wins:

  1. All the organizations had an amazing opportunity to get their message out to our school board and connect themselves with how they could help.
  2. Many teachers from within the district and our school came and met with the organizations to learn more about how they could use the help and expertise they provided.
  3. Some families were able to come and learn about the supports available to them.
  4. We built a stepping stone for our district and our school to be able to show new families that they are supported and we are willing to help them make these connections.
  5. We found a place for families in the community where they met others that will be able to help them build a network.

IMG_0896.jpg

As I reflect on the way our Community Support Night went, I feel proud that we were the innovators that ushered in the change that our community and school board needed. As someone who truly cares about the well being of the families in our school my hope is that they know that they are supported and they have a place to come to if they need help.

I now have a Community Support board full of supports in our Cultural Centre and it is a place where new families will have access to the second they come to our school.

IMG_0904.jpg

My challenge to continue to connect new families is still there, and potentially it will always be, but we definitely progressed in bridging that gap this week.

Cheers,

Miss Rylance 

PS. Check out this awesome article published in the Sherwood Park News about our Cultural Center!

articlelink

Language is Identity

This week, I pondered hard about the value of language when describing someones identity. As the cultural centre was built and the global cafe was established the importance of having confidence and pride in ones first language was so prominent for my students. However, as a second language teacher I also see learning a second language as a difficult path for an adolescent when trying to form who they are because of the struggles and hardship that come along with language learning.

As I spoke to previously, having books in the cultural centre that are multilingual and are available in languages we find in our school has been one of the greatest successes thus far. Initially, I thought that having games and a ‘chill’ space would be the grab for students, and don’t get me wrong it definitely is for some students, but mostly I find students wanting to come to share their language with the books.

As I was reflecting this week, it became obvious why…

because supporting ones “native language sends a message that their identity is valued”.

I found this quote floating along my twitter feed from the lovely Valentina Gonzalez and I could not agree more. By showing my students that I valued having them share their first language, I supported their identity as a English speaking Canadian, and a person who had another component to them as well.

As we know as teachers, along with wins there are also struggles and losses.

On the flip side of this, I had another experience this week dealing with student identity that gave me a different perspective.

Being a Ukrainian as a Second Language teacher, I find that incorporating a new language and culture with my students is an amazing gift that I give to them but, it can also be a struggle. As my students are nearing an age where constructing who they are is an important part of their social life, speaking a second language and being a part of something ‘different’ isn’t always the most appealing thing

this week the struggle was real. 

This week when my grade 7 and 8 students were required to participate in a Winter Concert with the Ukrainian Bilingual students at my school. Through the whole week I felt like I was convincing them it was a cool and amazing thing, I felt like I was struggling to motivate them and encourage them to be their best on stage and through the whole process I was feeling like a failure as a teacher. I struggled with trying to understand why they could not see and understand the same amazing value that I saw, or realize the brilliance of knowing and owning a second language.

Now, as I was counting my wins from my EL’s, I was trying to figure out how my second language learners of Ukrainian were going to buy into the fact that embracing their identity as second language learners and speakers was something that was going to shape their identities positively.

Here are some strategies that I moved through to help my students understand:

  1. I gave my grade 8 students a leadership role with the concert. They each had an organizational component to complete which included creating programs, tickets, order of the show, prop committee, and supervisors of younger classes. 

    This worked and was awesome. It made them accountable for the whole thing!

    IMG_0796.JPG

  2. Instead of getting my older students to do a play like the other classes, I delegated each student an EMCEE part that incorporated language and research of a component of culture. This made the concert seem more sophisticated- in their eyes. 
  3. I incorporated cooking! My grade 8 students cooked a traditional Ukrainian dish called Kutia (a wheat berry pudding with honey and poppy seed) to distribute to the 200 concert goers after the show. They love to cook, and we incorporated a component they could be proud of by sharing it with everyone.

    Kutia.jpgIMG_0772.JPG

  4. I stressed the value and importance of a second language. 

    Now,  if you are a second language teacher reading this you’re probably thinking “ya I do that all the time”, and I of course do as well BUT this week was unique in that I had a hurdle to jump.- I spent a whole class on this. 

    I started my showing them a youtube video on the values of a second language from the world economic forum. Check out video: http://wef.ch/2lBtOW0 

    langvid.JPG

    Then I showed them the academic path that taking Ukrainian through their education could offer. For example, I stressed the importance for University entrance. 

    I then shared my own story and how a second language could be transforming. 

  5. I followed through with allowing them to be leaders at the night of the concert.

And…

It worked.

My students blew me away with the amount of accountability and pride that they had throughout the whole evening. They were leaders and were mature and were everything that I envisioned them being from the beginning. Their parents loved it and the feedback was tremendous.

I was even proud at the way they carried on throughout the rest of the week. They congregated together in the cultural centre at lunch time and were more focused in class time. They made me proud to be a part of their development as language took on a component of their identity.

I learned lots this week in terms of how language can be integral into the shaping of someones identity. Whether it be my English learners being able to preserve their first language and share it in my cultural centre, or my second language learners finding how being different fits into themselves.

One thing to me remains obvious: learning a second language is hard work, and there is limited immediate gratification.

In sports, you win and find immediate gratification and pay off and you learn quickly what is required of you to win again. In languages, harder work is required and for students a lot of the time, hard work is difficult to do. But in the long run, the gratitude and satisfaction that was accompany knowing and preserving language is a gift that no one will be able to comprehend.

As a teacher, second language teachers have a harder job trying to engage students constantly and help them understand the payoff. But I can tell you as I am living it, that the work is worth it because…

the payoff is eternal.

I hope you have a great week,

Miss Rylance

 

Hosting a Global Cafe

When thinking of strategies to get students using the new Cultural Centre space that I created within our school, it was evident that on top of working closely with my English Language Learners during the day, a larger gathering purpose was required. In the first week of it’s launch, I had HUGE success with the use of the centre. Students were in at lunch, students were asking me in the hallways for times they could come in the space, and even one day when I was on supervision and had to close the centre early- students were disappointed!  All of these things, proved the success of my vision. I knew from the beginning that the way I could measure the centre’s success was how often it was used and my first week proved it was going well.

 

I did however, find a problem. The centre was speaking to a specific group of students seeking a place and a voice in our school- the new comers to Canada and our school community- and not the rest of the student body. As I thought about ways to engage the rest of the students a very evident answer came my way…

Host a Global Cafe

Now, how this was going to happen and how I would execute it was the next hurdle.

My vision was to hold a lunch hour where all students could come in, share each others culture, talk to each other (like a cafe), and become more culturally aware and interconnected.

As I thought about it more, the requirements for the Cafe were simple:

  1. I needed to have food, and ‘cafe style’ drinks
  2. I needed to have activities to students to engage in to become more interconnected.
  3. I needed to get ALL students aware and comfortable to use the space
  4. I needed it to be a nice, warm and inviting space

So I did just that, on Friday at lunch I hosted my first Global Cafe.

I went and bought cozy cafe type drinks and snacks to help set the ambiance of my cafe experience as well as to lure students in who may not initially want to come to a global cafe. Keep in mind, I am trying to appeal to students age 11-14… food was key.

I then posted on social media and in the school announcements a plug about coming to the cafe. It was short, brief, to the point, and simple. I would have the 5th and 6th grade classes come at the first half of lunch and the 7th and 8th grade classes come in the second half.

IMG_0697.PNG

I also had ready to go activities for the kids who attended. I had access to the books and games that I use for language development as well as conversation starter sheets that they could use to get to know each other and learn about their diversity.

IMG_0698.jpgIMG_0703.jpg

The amount of success the Global Cafe had was INCREDIBLE! 

It was absolutely more than I could have ever imagined or dreamed of.

I had students sharing experiences regarding their family’s place of origin surrounding a map I have up, I had students reading in other languages, practicing English and helping each other, I had students just hanging out and using the conversation cards, I even had students who felt like they just needed a place to belong to go an share in community. It was wonderful.

IMG_0709.jpgIMG_0706.jpg

In the second half of lunch when I opened it up to the grade 7 and 8 students, I even had a line up out the door and around the corner to check it out.

IMG_0720.jpgIMG_0723.jpg

Although some may say that hosting something like this as a teacher it is overwhelming and a lot of work, it truly wasn’t. The students were as excited about all the different elements of the cafe and the centre as I was and the feedback was so great. Students were respectful and knew that it was a place of acceptance and I feel like they knew that because of the aura I created in this space.

My hopes for the Global Cafe are that it continues to grow maybe weekly or bi weekly and all students continue to feel comfortable using the Cultural Centre.

Thanks for sharing in this WIN as a new teacher,

Miss Rylance