Category Archives: teaching

Things I’ve Learned as a Supply Teacher

Although I was fortunate enough to have landed two LTO (long term occasional) assignments since becoming an occasional teacher, I’ve learned a few things during my days as an on-call supply teacher too:

Bring something for the headache.

Wear comfortable shoes.

Arrive as early as possible to review the day plan and make sure the resources listed are actually on hand. And to use the washroom.

Don’t forget to pick up the attendance again at lunch.

If you can mispronounce a name, you will.

Count kindergarten children before and after they so much as walk through a door, every time.

Always make sure there are smocks before getting out the paint.

Bring a whistle. And something to write with. And it wouldn’t hurt to bring your own white board markers. Really.

No matter how clear the lesson plans seem to be, the students will ask you a question about the assignment you won’t be able to predict–and probably won’t be able to answer. (Bonus: when you are the classroom teacher, be sure leave explicit instructions. And an answer key where necessary.)

Kids love it when you know Percy and Junie B. and Chester and Babymouse and Raina and Geronimo and…

Even if you have to speak to “that” student over and over again, she’ll still smile and wave and say hello the next time you are in. You should do the same.

Nothing beats a good read aloud.

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My Kid Just Said (Part 35)

“I would answer it’s ‘possible’ that ‘Superman will fly through our classroom’, because what if they were filming a Superman movie near the school, and the guy playing Superman came through the window? It could happen.” BB#1, almost 10 years old, while completing his math homework.

It is likely Probability is not going to be his highest report card mark…

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My Kid Just Said (Part 34)

“We had to make a prediction about whether or not the animal in the story would survive, and I said yes, because these guided reading books never end in tragedy.” BB#1, 9.5 years old.

I suspect he’s right about that…

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Happy New Year! Even If It’s Almost March…

So, looks like I haven’t posted yet in 2014. Whoops. That whole life getting in the way thing again. I’ve started composing a few posts here and there in my head but never seem to have the time to actually put them down on screen and hit publish.

It’s been the longest winter ever, with no real end in sight. Really wish we’d booked that March Break trip we were thinking about last summer…Beautiful boys are well though, knock wood still no mystery fevers for BB#2 since the tonsillectomy. Just honest-to-goodness cold and coughs. BB#1 may or may not have had an episode, but it was pretty mild. So this is good.

For myself, I’m learning that teaching is a bit like parenting. Even if you go into it knowing it will be hard, it is harder than that when you are actually doing it. And part-time? Really isn’t. I sometimes even dream about being in the classroom, if I’m not lying awake thinking about how to teach a particular lesson. Hence the lack of posting this year

But spring has to come sometime! Hopefully I’ll have time to write again before next winter arrives…

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Filed under career, parenting, periodic fever syndrome, PFAPA, teaching, the beautiful boys, Uncategorized, working parents

Long Time, No Post

Or at least, it feels that way. So, what’s up with me? Work! I managed to get a long-term occasional (LTO) teaching post that is perfect in a lot of ways, but not surprisingly, has meant a steep learning curve and many hours outside the classroom getting up to speed. Which doesn’t leave me a lot of time for blogging or much else (a lot of people will be getting cash or gift cards this holiday season)! I am looking forward to the winter break to spend time with my beautiful boys (and also to do some major planning for my class for the New Year! “My class”. Wow.)

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Who Cancelled Halloween?

Being the new kid is always hard, but when friends of ours moved out of the neighborhood recently, their two girls looked on the bright side: they would finally be allowed to wear costumes to school on Halloween! Their previous school is notorious for not allowing observation of any holidays, and even schedules picture day on October 31 (I can only guess to discourage kids from skirting the rules by wearing orange and black or any other Halloween-themed items). While I get why the administration might have done this, to be honest, I’ve never met parents of kids attending this school who are happy about the complete absence of celebrations there.

Meanwhile, my children have attended two different schools only minutes away, and have always been allowed to wear costumes to school on Halloween (though the ban on masks and weapons and weapon-like accessories has meant BB#1 has worn a plain black robe twice now, once as a wandless Ron Weasley and once as a sytheless grim reaper). Same neighborhood, same diverse population, same public school board—different rules.

I’m not certain how I feel about banning Halloween in public schools. Like many others my age, I remember being excited about going to school in costume, doing Halloween-themed activities and basically goofing off that day. I’d like for my kids to enjoy that too—what’s wrong with having a little fun now and then? But if it means other kids feel excluded, or some families feel they must keep their children home for the day, is it really worth it? I’m not so sure.

It’s not like my kids wouldn’t have the opportunity to dress up if they weren’t allowed to at school. Halloween isn’t cancelled. Families can still decorate at home, carve a pumpkin, hand out candy, go trick-or-treating if they choose to. I also loved Christmas Concerts back in the day, but have absolutely no problem with schools today having more inclusive Winter Concerts. Again, it’s not like families can’t still observe Christmas if they wish, however they wish—last I checked, schools still close for two weeks around this one day! And while I am personally already looking forward to having the boys home in December, [opens another can of worms] I have to wonder how appropriate it is to continue to build the school calendar around Christian holidays—is that truly reflective of the Canadian population today?

Fortunately, instead of banning holidays and celebrations in an effort not to exclude anyone, the schools my boys have attended take the opposite approach: they celebrate and encourage discussion of a variety of religious and cultural days. And I’d like to think that through learning some of the ways we’re different, children will learn to appreciate the ways we are the same.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to help my kids figure out costumes that are both cool, and acceptable for school…

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Oh, Canada: Change Is Hard

Last year I went with BB#1’s third grade class to a heritage schoolhouse to experience what a typical day was like for children 100 years ago. So we learned about such quaint, outdated practices as corporal punishment, addressing the teacher as “ma’am”, and singing “God Save the King” each morning.

I know: some of you are surprised that once upon a time, our national anthem was not, in fact, “O Canada”! But it’s true! Then times changed. And so did our anthem. It wasn’t actually that long ago either, Canada as it is today is pretty young in the grand scheme of nationhood. And probably, people resisted at first. Probably they said stuff like, “people are oversensitive these days” or “what a silly change” or “why are we rewriting history” or “if we change the anthem to suit one group, pretty soon other groups are going to demand other changes”. Or even “if you don’t like OUR Canada the way it is, get the @#$%! out!”*

Sadly, Twitter and the internet comments sections on news sites didn’t exist back then, so we can never know for sure.** But I think it is safe to assume some people reacted much as they do every time someone makes the suggestion that the lyrics to our current national anthem be changed ever-so-slightly in order to include the other half of our population: you know, our daughters.

What’s particularly ironic is, the lyrics have already been changed at least once. They weren’t actually handed down from on high, written on stone tablets***. We can and do change these kinds of things to reflect the current society (did you know at one time women were denied the vote in this country?) And life goes on. Okay, so “thou dost in us command” might be difficult for modern-day Canadians to sing, but the proposed change to “in all of us command”? Seems like it would roll off the tongue. And hey, we’d get to lose that pesky “thy”! Win-win.

Of course there are always the “there are bigger fish to fry” folks, who suggest activists focus on a more important issue than a few words in a song. Classic distraction technique. Okay then: If it’s no big deal, why not just make the change? Or better yet, let’s change it to “in all thy daughters command”? Because of course, when we say daughters, we really mean “everyone”, don’t be so sensitive! After all, it’s just a word, right?

*to these people, I have to say, in the words of Jack White, even though he was speaking to Americans: “Why don’t you kick yourself out, you’re an immigrant too.” (Unless they are First Nations of course.)

**actually I’m sure there are archived letters and newspaper clippings on the topic, if you would care to do the research.

***which brings up the whole issue of “god” in the anthem of a country where we’re supposed to have a separation of church and state. Let’s just say, I don’t sing that line either, because atheist.

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