Lesley's Lessons and Learnings

Taken from Flikr - fringuellina

One of my all-time favourite educational quotes is “Your students may not remember what you taught them… but they will forever remember the way you made them feel.” I look at a small plaque sitting on my desk that was given to me by a student a few years ago and am reminded of this everyday.

Teaching is all about relationships and connecting positively with kids.  I realize that my job as a teacher goes far beyond the scope of curricular outcomes and objectives for every subject area.  To me, my job is also to be a positive part of a child’s life everyday.  I am not in control of a child’s home life or external factors affecting a child outside of school, so all I can control is what happens inside my classroom and how I make a child feel when they are in my care at school.  I try to ensure my students know that I love teaching them, believe in them, I’m proud of them, and know they are capable of success.  Individual success.  That being said, every child is not at the same place, but we take them from where they’re at… not where they should be or where their peers are, and work on growth and progress their an individual place.

I like to end our day, no matter how difficult it may have been, on a positive note and ensure all of my students leave school happy.   As my students were lined up and ready to go home, they chose which they wanted to give me on their way out the door… a hug, a high five, or a handshake.  I love ending our day on a positive note!  There’s one piece of the puzzle that doesn’t make it quite as easy as before.  Now that I am teaching part-time at 0.8 FTE, I don’t have my students at the end of the day.  Since they are with my teaching partner at the end of every day, I try to do it at some point throughout the day.  I truly do try, but it doesn’t happen every single day, but as often as possible!  I’m working on this!

How will your students remember you?

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From EnvisionsStudio2010

I recently read and was inspired by Jeff Delp’s post relating to identifying one word for 2011.  In my previous post, I discussed my journey of arriving at “my sentence” for this school year and my risk taking that has helped me grow from a rather-afraid-of-technology-integration kind of teacher into one who is blogging, having my students blog, Skyping with other teachers around the world, video editing, and engaging in e-portfolios with my class.

After reading Jeff’s post, I wondered what my “one word” would be for 2011.  It didn’t take me long to decide…

My one word for 2011 is… Believe.

Believe in myself as an individual.  Believe in myself to achieve my personal and family goals.  Set goals, work hard, and believe in myself.  Believe in myself as a mother and wife.  Believe I’m doing the best I can for my family each and every day.  Life is very busy as a working mom of two children, aged 3 and 15 months, but I believe in and cherish the time we spend together.

Believe in myself as a professional.  I am a teacher and I need to believe in pedagogy, my experience, and above all, my love for kids.  When I’m having a rough day, believe that the next day will be better.  Believe that my students know I care for them each and every day. I am also a colleague.  Believe that my ideas are important and contribute willingly.  Take risks and hopefully achieve reward.

When you believe, all things are possible.  Do you believe?

What is your one word for 2011?

"And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."

Taken from:  Flikr Photostream Faerie Girl

It’s the end of August. Time for a new school year. My maternity leave is over. Back to school with lots of ‘new’ things – new administration, new grade, new students. Change is in the air. I knew returning to school after a maternity leave was going to be difficult. As I was gearing up for a new school year and mentally preparing to leave my two babies when returning to work, I have to admit, I was a bit stressed.

I am a huge perfectionist and always have been. I have high expectations for myself and always have. Throughout grade school and university, I always needed to strive for top marks and beat myself up over anything less. Was this a bad thing? At the time, I didn’t think so. It led me to work hard for what I wanted to achieve and to achieve the success I had dreamed of.

On the first PD Day, my new principal showed a short video clip entitled “Two Questions” inspired from Dan Pink’s new book, Drive. One of the two questions focused on in the video was “What’s Your Sentence?” So I got thinking, “What is going to be the one question that drives my year?” More broad than that, what is going to drive my teaching? In conversations with my principal, George Couros, about my control and perfectionism, he suggested, “Risk Taking Does Not Fit With Perfection”. Instantly, I knew it fit. Something I wanted to work on was being more of a risk taker so that I can model it for my students. Being a risk taker to me means trying new things and learning from my mistakes. Knowing that everything will not be perfect is okay. The process of learning never ends and is even heightened as we make mistakes. This included learning about using technology, my Smart Board, our classroom blog, e-portfolios, and the list goes on. To be honest, these new technologies worried a perfectionist like me.

So… how’s it going? I must say, it has been pretty great! I decided to jump right in, take on these new challenges, and try to live my life more as a risk taker. I love using my Smart Board to actively engage my students in their learning, am actively blogging, and have a “Blogger of the Week” program in my classroom. We have our e-portfolios set up and will begin adding to them in the New Year! Further to that, I am learning about social media and am so amazed and excited to have connections around the world. Thanks to a great blog post written by one of my students and the many comments made on it, George connected me with a teacher living in Jakarta, Indonesia, as an expert for a research topic in my Social Studies program. We Skyped in with him and learned so much about the Muslim culture and celebrations. We have a great video of our conversation to look back on embedded in another post on our blog! What an unbelievable experience for my students as well as myself. I have recently created a Twitter account and am looking forward to the connections possible through there and the wealth of knowledge, information, and ideas through the great networks of educators!

The second question in Dan Pink’s video was “Was I better today than yesterday?” What a great reflective question to ask oneself as a means to continually strive for improvement. I am always looking for ways to be a better teacher, communicator, staff member, and leader in our school community. I think it’s important to reflect on my practice and ensure that I’m meeting the needs of my students the best I can every single day. Being able to show my students that I’m willing to take risks and learn along the way has been an important part of my year.

While it has been a challenging year for me trying to balance everything, I must admit I like a challenge! It has also been one of the most rewarding years for me (and it’s only 4 months into the school year!) as I feel I have shown growth already and I have committed to bettering myself, becoming a risk taker, and am trying to be more reflective along the way.

If you don’t already have a sentence, now is a great time to ask yourself, “What’s My Sentence?” and reflect on your day with the question, “Was I better today than yesterday?”

Check out the video below:
http://player.vimeo.com/video/8480171

Two questions that can change your life from Daniel Pink on Vimeo.

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