Tag Archives: schools

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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To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate: Is There a Question?

During my BEd studies, I got called out by one of my professors for talking in class. She had made a dismissive comment about people choosing not to vaccinate their children and relying on herd immunity to keep them healthy.

“Not necessarily,” I commented to the pregnant woman beside me, not quite as under my breath as I’d thought.

The professor asked me to explain. I told her that some people felt the vaccines were riskier than the diseases they were meant to prevent. They weren’t necessarily relying on other people to keep their children healthy—they actually accepted that they might get sick, and hoped they would build up natural immunity. It wasn’t simply that they were OK with the rest of us pumping chemicals into our kids so that they didn’t have to.

Being Canadian, she later apologized to me for any offense, and I apologized in return for interrupting her lecture. And we both made it clear that our own children were, in fact, fully immunized.

So why was I defending anti-vaxxers? When my children were born, I had questioned vaccines, or at least the number and frequency of shots they were scheduled to receive. I came into contact, at least online, with other parents who were concerned—not so much about the (now disproven) autism link (though there were some of those), but with the idea of injecting their perfect babies for what they considered treatable illnesses in this age of modern medicine. There was a certain sense in the arguments.

I could also understand questioning standard medical advice. Already as a new mom, I’d learned that doctors aren’t perfect, and don’t always agree. If I had listened to my OB, I would have believed there was no benefit to delayed cord cutting, because she hadn’t heard of it in 2004. If I had listened to the nurses in the hospitals where my sons were born, I wouldn’t have succeeded in breastfeeding. If I had listened to my pediatrician, I never would have breastfed past 6 months, and would have let my baby cry himself to sleep. If I had listened to my family doctor, I would have accepted that my sons’ PFAPA was a series of viruses. Heck, solid feeding guidelines changed by the time my firstborn was 6 months old, and have changed at least once since then! So it was no surprise that some parents weren’t in a hurry to get their babies vaccinated, no questions asked.

In the end, my husband and I did ask questions, and chose to go with our instincts and our doctors’ recommendations (it helped that they were parents of young children themselves and could honestly tell us they’d chosen to vaccinate their babies). But I could still understand that other parents might not make the same choice.

So I find the current anti-anti-vaxxer backlash that I’m witnessing online and in the media quite interesting. I find myself agreeing more and more with the idea that we need to work together to keep ALL children in our society healthy, and that science isn’t evil. As some have pointed out on Twitter, peanut butter is not welcome at schools, so measles shouldn’t be either.

But then again, most years we’ve resisted the hype and chosen not to get the flu shot, and apparently that was a good call this year. So what would I do if it was suddenly made mandatory?

Note: edited to add sixth paragraph, February 7, 2015.

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My Kid Just Said (Part 38)

Playing the app Head’s Up. The card is “Road Rage”. Our hints:

“When you’re driving…”

“…someone’s really angry…” [shakes fist]

“…might yell ‘you idiot!’…”

BB#2’s guess?

“Bus driver!”

In case you were wondering what it’s like riding on a school bus these days.

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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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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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