Reflecting on a FABULOUS year!

Welcome to 2019!

Wow 2018 was a fantastic whirlwind in so many ways. Looking back I feel extremely blessed and proud of everything that happened in 2018. This post is dedicated to reflecting on those incredible moments as a teacher, my top 8 ‘WOW’ moments of 2018.

Disclaimer: I tried to pick just 5, but it was too hard.

This year, I have some new goals for myself in my classroom and as a teacher. As I am goal planning for 2019 with my students this week, I feel compelled to give you insight and inspiration on how I’m looking forward and where you could push yourself to do the same!

Here are my top 8 ‘WOW’ moments of 2018:

  1. Opening the Cultural CenterIMG_0577
  2. Community Support NightIMG_0896
  3. Speaking about English Language Learning and Pedagogyimg_1620 (1)
  4. Writing an article for the Alberta Teachers Association
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  5. Sharing my passion on some awesome Pod Casts, check them out!
  6.  Starting my Masters of Education!

     

  7. Classroom Makeover!
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  8. AMAZING moments with my kiddos

     

I feel like I could write a book about all of these experiences- it was a fabulous year! Obviously the challenges also existed and obstacles were not absent; however, the pay off after all the burnout was worth it.

2019 goals are to continue the momentum, to push myself but remember what is important- my students, myself, and the people I love.

What are your goals for 2019?

Cheers,

Miss Rylance

 

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Practicing Life Long Learning

This year I set out on possibly my craziest journey yet- balancing being a full time teacher AND starting a Masters of Education degree! Although it has been a wild balancing act of tying to maintain my sanity, my excitement in the classroom, and an array of assignments- I have absolutely loved every second!

I think the challenge for teachers is always to keep growing and improving themselves when we are tasked with so many different challenges in our professions. I believe that when we take time to fill our own buckets and replenish the knowledge bank in our own hearts and minds then we can arrive so much more ready for our kids. I think especially as teachers, we must push ourselves to keep learning and growing in many elements of ourselves, just as we expect of our students.

Honestly though, I know what you might be thinking; “ya right life long learning, I cant even keep up…”. Don’t worry I get it.

In my first year of teaching, I felt like the life long learning thing was too much. I was sent to so many professional development days, was challenged to read so many books, went back to University in January of my first year… it was a lot. And I can tell you that there definitely is a time and place in our lives where we are prepared to accept new things.

The solution that I have come to learn is that it is not necessarily about a TON  of different things at once that challenge us to grow to keep learning. But at times, is just little things that could be little pushes to grow in our lives. Some examples could be; reading a book over a few months, listening to a podcast once a week, setting daily reflection time. Life long learning is sometimes small meaningful steps not large leaps.

Throughout this first semester of my Masters Degree, it has definitely been one of the large steps for me. This semester has been a ‘TSN turning point’ in my life. Meaning that it has directed some change in me (just as a turning point could in a sports game) to propel an outcome that may have been different if I had not gone down this path. The people that I have met, the questions that have been asked of me, the reflecting I have done, the assignments I have been challenged to complete- have all truly been a game changers.

I know I still have a long journey ahead of me, but for now I am feeling grateful for the gift that this degree have given me (so far). I am eager for the next chapter and I am also motivated to continue smaller life long learning pieces into my life.

I hope you take some time for your own personal growth.

Cheers,

Miss Rylance

Creating a Cultural Centre

In a changing world, society is shifting from a place of borders, religion, race and gender to a place of higher acceptance and unity. Although our world is slowly getting there, there is still a constant struggle to strive for that acceptance and as we fight to help usher in an understanding, in classrooms the struggle is even more real. In a world of divide, we as teachers, are very strongly faced with the reality of having to address in inequality while creating a place of acceptance in the walls of our classrooms. As youth face their own demons of coming of age, media, societal pressures, and academic pressures, they are also faced with the larger hurdles of personal difference. The question when dealing with youth is not if they will face those hurdles but when and how they will work to overcome them.

As teachers, speaking the truth, giving students multiple perspectives and opening well rounded conversations are some of the weapons we equip ourselves with to begin the battle. But, I felt that a larger space for inclusion was required.

In Canada, we pride ourselves on promoting multiculturalism and openly supporting newcomers to Canada; however, when reflecting on the practices that the schools have in upholding that pride we were falling short. To some degree, assimilation is required in order for families and students to find success in society: knowing and understanding English, having access to education, career options, and support from friends and a community are all a part of the antidote for success. However, are all those elements truly available for newcomers or are the struggles being ignored or assumed fixed? AND do newcomers feel that the culture, language or religion that they came here with is admired and celebrated or do they feel pressure to leave behind an identity that they once new?

I believe that there are many complexities to the questions I felt compelled to ask surrounding this subject and as a new teacher, I felt even more helpless knowing that policy and order above me speak larger hurdles to overcome. But, I knew that there was something within the realm I had control over and that was to begin acting as the bridge between new families, the school, the community and what I could offer as a friendly face.

My solution: create a Cultural Centre within my school.

The vision I had was to create a place where culture could be celebrated, accepted and practiced and where my students would have a safe haven to be entirely who there were without pressures of assimilation. I also wanted it to be a place of global awareness where others could learn about each other, root for each others success, and grow by knowing and loving their differences. I also wanted it to be a place where my students could learn and practice English and where it was ok to fail and try again with guidance. I also wanted a place where families could come to seek community support and know where to find it so that they entirely felt safe within their new community. All of these things were the seeds of where I saw my centre moving.

To my surprise, as I started researching how this was going to happen, many centres like this had not existed… or at least in the cyber world. I knew at that moment my vision had to be mine entirely. After a few months of planning and envisioning and researching my visions became a reality.

On January 11, 2018… my centre was complete. On January 12, 2018 I had a room full of students eager to start using the space- my vision has come true and its healing powers had started.

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In the first day of its use, I had a grade 5 student read to me a book in her first language- Tagalog. It was the first time in my time as a teacher that I opened up the idea to my students. I told her, today you have two options; you can either read in English or Tagalog. She looked at me in disbelief that I was giving her that option knowing that as she read to me I would not understand one word and she without hesitation said- Tagalog.

As we were reading, she lit up with enthusiasm and explained to me throughout the process what was happening in the story. After reading the story in her language, we read the same story in English and she explained to me the differences between the two stories and read the story in English with little problems. Without the student knowing, I had challenged her giving her a book 2 reading levels higher than where she was reading at in her class- and she crushed it! As a teacher I was glowing knowing that she felt excited sharing with me her culture and language, but also I was thrilled knowing she was learning.

The best part was after we read it she opened up to me about how she was waiting for a space where she could read the long words in a language she knew because when she reads the long words in English they are hard. She also told me that it reminded her of her home country and how the kids she knows living there would love this book because their first goal is having a good future. At lunch, the same little girl brought 2 English speaking students to the centre where she read to them in a language they did not understand because she was so excited to prove to them her individual greatness.

Although it was a lot of work, and the goals of the Cultural Centre are growing and moving it is officially happening. My hope is that this frame work can be used in other schools with similar goals.

If you have questions or want to personally check it out- let me know!

Cheers,
Miss Rylance

Shattering Myths About Teachers

In my life I always come across people who have to put their two cents in when I tell them I am a teacher. I often get comments like, “those summers off will be really nice” or “working until 3:30 everyday is going to be a walk in the park” or my favorite “those who can’t teach”… In my experiences so far this year, I can’t even begin to explain how those myths about teachers and teaching are wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I love having a summer break to look forward to; however, the amount that goes in behind the scenes is the undocumented element that make teachers the worlds true super heroes.

In this post, I am going to uncover some of the myths behind teaching in an attempt to shed some light on the crazy, amazing profession I am apart of. And for those of you who are reading this who aren’t teachers, perhaps you will gain some empathy for the battle ground we face every day.

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Myth #1: working until 3:30 everyday is going to be a walk in the park…

LOL. In the 5 and a half months that I have been a teacher I don’t think I have left school at 3:30 once and I guarantee most teachers will agree.

The 7 and a half hours that I see my students is ‘on time’ of this profession. The time where I am persuading, presenting, teaching, creating, inspiring for 7 and a half our of the day. That time does not count the time I am preparing for what is going to happen in the 7 and a half hours every day, organizing extra curricular events and activities, meeting with parents, marking, emailing, creating report cards… all of that happens on my own time.

Now don’t get me wrong, I WANT to put in that time because of the benefit it has in my day and in my opinion is required.

Myth #2: those who can’t teach…

Most likely the most offensive of them all, but most likely the most wrong of them all. Here is the thing about being a teacher, being a teacher matters 100% of the time everyday. I am making impacting decisions that may change my students’ lives every minute, every day. The people I work with choose to make those impacting decisions with me every day. At times, I have to make split second decisions and live with what ever actions are going to come after that, and most of the time I don’t even have time to weigh those odds.

There are so many facets of being a teacher; teaching the lessons, marking assignments and tests, writing report cards… that’s the easy part. It’s the part about how you have 120 different humans in your classroom every day with different challenges and struggles, with different successes and triumphs that is the hard part.

Being a teacher matters 100% of the time. Being a teacher, requires an extra-ordinary kind of person.

Myth #3: If you went to school, you know what teaching is…

I often get people trying to give me tips about being a teacher. Although I love hearing feedback and am very open to how I can improve as a professional, it is difficult to hear the constant comments about “how this one teacher in high school used PowerPoint so I should too”, or “do you do any cool activities with your students because the best teacher would do this”.

The reality is, I am constantly and consistently innovating and changing, trying new things, old things and the unimaginable with my students. My university education, life experience, and learn from it moments along the way… are helping me be the best I can.

The reality is, if you went to school you don’t know how to be a teacher.

Myth #4: It’s your job, you get paid for it…

As a first year teacher, with 4 years on university the reality of making a $100,000 salary is not in my near future. The extra overtime and the bonuses for doing good work don’t exist in the profession I chose.

The reality, teachers I know have second jobs to support themselves and their families.

The reality, we may not be paid in  dollars, but we are paid in the difference we make every day, the smiles and laughs the students share in my classroom, and the appreciation for being a person that my students will remember forever; in this sense, myth is correct in that I get paid for it.

I could continue with the realities of the profession I love and admire so much. I wouldn’t change it for the world and I hope by reading these realities people begin the appreciate the work that happens behind the scenes.

 

Cheers,

Miss Rylance 

Life Long Learning!?

When I was in grade school I never really understood when my teachers always said they were life long learners, until I became a teacher. Every principle and passion I try and hammer into my students about reading more and exploring more, clearly rubbed off on me when I decided after just one semester of being “graduated” to go back to school.

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Now, you might be thinking…
“Wow she is a first year teacher who is trying to have a life and she is going back to school”…
Why yes, I am. AND here is why.

Once I got into the classroom, I was so eager to engage all the tools I learned in University and test out all the ideas and information that had been marinating for the past 4 years, and I did. But then as my ideas expanded, I realized where my short comings as a professional were and where my students needed more from me.

Yes, I am my biggest critic. Yes, I in reality don’t have time. But, as a part of making a pact to myself that I would reflect the person that I want my students leaving my classroom as, I decided to do it.

There is something that will always and has always been rumbling inside of me to improve myself. But, the question of if I jumped the gun and decided to go back too soon is also something running through my head.

Here is what I know so far, I am excited to be back. I am newly inspired by my classmates and professors. And, I am getting fresh material on how to make my classes better. Stay tuned in a few weeks when papers are due, report cards are happening and I have exams.

But right now, my ‘few times a week’ night class is going to be the newest adventure for this first year teacher.

Let me know what you do to stay fresh and keep you passion brewing!

Cheers,

Miss Rylance