Days 10-13

Ok.  I know I’m cheating by clumping some days together.  I accept that.  Would I like to write every day?  Yes.  What’s stopping me?  Nothing. So here goes.

Day 10:  Sharing 5-4-3-2-1

5 Random Facts About Me:

  1. When I was around 1, I had a cast on my leg and I’ve never entirely been sure why.  After about 6 weeks or so, I kicked it off.  It flew across the room and landed in perfect shape, no cracks or breaks.  I still have it – signed and everything.
  2. When I was 13, I purposely separated myself from my cousins while visiting one of them who lived in Toronto.  I had never been to Toronto before (I was from a very rural area), and wanted to find out if I could get myself from downtown back to my aunts’ home on my own.  I was successful.  And also in trouble.  Admittedly, I deserved it.
  3. I was in a 7.4 earthquake in Turkey.
  4. The year prior to the earthquake, I was in The Ice Storm of Eastern Ontario/Quebec.
  5. If I could get any tattoo, it would be of a lighthouse.

4 Things From Your Bucket List

  1. Hot air ballooning over a desert – Cappadocia would have been my number one choice but it has been getting too congested so somewhere else.  Haven’t decided yet.
  2. Sailing.  Never done it.  Want to.
  3. Go back to University.
  4. Australia.

3 Things to Hope for as an Educator

  1. That my learners have the opportunity to complete the program in the workplace.
  2. That the workplace experience expands (more options).
  3. That I can arrange guest speakers that motivate and inspire the learners to pursue their dreams (which I also hope to do, but would also appreciate corroboration).

2 Things Laugh/Cry as an Educator

  1. I’ll have to come back to this one.  You want me to share my emotions?

1 Thing You Wish More People Knew About Me

I’m passionately committed to this calling; I can’t always distinguish between work and play.  I know that this revelation might fly in the face of the above sentiment, i;e;, not willing to share emotions, and to be honest, it does feel a little weird.  Almost uncool.  I mean, in the staffroom, you don’t want to appear to love your job too much, right?

But here’s a secret.  I do.  I can spend hours reading through other blogs, articles, learning new technologies, and planning how to apply this knowledge in the classroom.  I’m often asked “well, how long did it take you to prep that lesson”, and of course, the inevitable “you didn’t work on that over the weekend, did you?”.

I own it.  I’m not cool.  I like my job.

DAY 11: Favourite Part of the School Day

photo (6)For me, and I know that I’m a little different than others responding to this blog challenge, it’s the hands on component.  After we’ve done the skill building exercises, discussed the theory of a particular challenge – when the learners are actually producing, that’s when I can really see what they have been able to absorb.  I can watch how they interact with each other in a team to problem solve, to work through possibilities, and to build the leaning tower of straws.  Or produce their “how-to” videos.

And then I hear those magic words:  “It’s time to go?  Are you serious?”  That’s when I know that they were fully engaged.

DAY 12: 5 Year – Teaching Changing

Okay, here’s where I can talk tech again.  Keep to the theme of this blog.  A wise man once told me that technology will never replace teachers, but teachers who use technology will replace those that don’t.

The classroom, as we see it, is changing quickly, as is the pace of technology.  It can definitely seem overwhelming, because there are so many apps, avatars, LMS’s, blog tools, interactive games, etc. that a teacher can use, that it sometimes can be frustrating.  How do you know where to invest your time? You don’t want to spend hours learning a piece of software that soon becomes outdated?  But maybe that’s not the point.

Learning to learn technology is key.  Learning how to navigate this awesome, connected, and fascinating world can only serve to help both the instructor and the learners.  I have not yet had a single student say that their experience using the LMS wasn’t worth the work.  I think I’ve mentioned this before in this blog; even the learner with the least amount of computer experience has told me that she learned skills that she knows are in demand, and was proud of this.

How is teaching going to change in the next 5 years?  Web 2.0 will morph into something else.  Increasing scope of materials available for classrooms.  Increased connectivity.  Increased emphasis on accountability of educators – tracking learning, tracking teaching, etc.  I think accountability is a good thing.  Keeps the fires burning.

Day 13: Top Edtech Tools I use In the Classroom

Absolutely, without question, is my LearnIT2Teach Moodle 2.0 LMS.  I can not envision having a class anymore without an LMS.  And I’d prefer it to be Moodle.  If funding gets yanked for some reason or another, then there are other options out there (Edmodo, Schoology) that I would use.

Another Edtech tool I use every single day in my classroom – does a Smartboard count?  It is on, and used every day.

Why?  The learners have access to course materials, videos, review activities; they can discuss concepts, create their own classroom glossary complete with pictures, and they can message me.  The calendar tool keeps them all apprised of upcoming events, assignments due, guest speakers, etc.  The learners feel a sense of ownership of the class when they are connected with an LMS.  They contribute.  They complete a task and receive feedback via email.  They can work through optional assignments on their own.  I can direct them to tasks that will help to work on their individual language challenges.

Day 9 – Biggest Accomplishments in Teaching

I started my students on a journal project last year.  In their journals, the learners were to answer a specific  STAR behavioural interview questions in a particular way.  They needed to use specific and concrete examples.  

Who says there is no place for story telling in an adult ESL class?  Whoever says that, well, they’re wrong.  Stop saying such nonsense.  You need to know how to tell a good story, with a clear introduction, details and conclusion (wait, did I just describe an essay?)

Anyhow, the activity was sometimes like pulling teeth.  It really required some thought, and skill in recording the experience on paper.  I advised the learners that it is much easier to recall these experiences at a job interview when you have previously written them down.  And not only that, it is easier to deliver a consistently well-told and well-planned response, without the hmms, and uhs, and round about thinking, not getting to the point, etc.

One day a learner came back to me, excited and flushed.  She had just had a panel interview, and they had asked her not one but two of the questions I had had her write about in class.  She nailed the interview and was super excited.  She had been interviewed previously, but felt it hadn’t gone well, and that she hadn’t been prepared.  I believe that entry level job has since led her elsewhere, and I am very proud of that fact.

Lesson learned:  you’re never too old to work on your story-telling skills.

Day 8 – What’s In Your Desk

Forgive the bullet points…

– a folder containing the last 3 years of agendas for staff meetings
– chopsticks left behind by colleague who had room last (can’t toss them)
– monopoly playing pieces minus the dog. Dog has been missing for months
– each and every single thank you card from my adult learners from the past 5 years
– a small rock from Australia
– a service bell, slightly broken
– an assortment of writing tools, chalk, Smartboard pens, overheard projector remote, business cards from supply teachers, elasticity,
– blank thank you cards for guest speakers
– aha! Those rubrics I had been looking for

Day 6 & 7

Day 6

Explain: What does a good mentor “do”?

Day 7

Who was or is your most inspirational colleague, and why?

Mentor

I’ve never had a mentor.  I will have to use my imagination on this one.  A good mentor would be someone with experience and passion in your field, and who has chosen to share his or her insights and expertise to the mentee. A good mentor is patient, and reliable.  He or she makes time to be a part of the mentee’s initial career take-off.  I think a good mentor would also be someone who has a genuine love and passion for teaching, and who wants to engender that spirit in newly trained teachers or instructors. I don’t think a mentor’s role is to tell the newbie what to do, more to listen, to ask questions, and to offer up their own experiences, leaving the newbie to take from the conversation what he or she will.

I think that the relationship can be reciprocal.  Newbies often  come into the profession with an eagerness and excitement that can fade away as the years pile up.  This excitement can be contagious and invigorating.  A good mentor should have a decent sense of humour; I often rely on my own as a defense against the cynicism and apathy that can occur in any field over time.  I’ve taken on newbies in my classroom who need the hours for their TESL O certification, so in a way, I guess I have been a mentor.  

Inspirational Colleague

Ah, this blog is known to some of them, so not sure I’d want to inflate anyone’s ego!    There are a number of incredibly talented, committed women that I work with, now, and have worked with in the past.  I say women, because so few have been men.  But there is one male teacher who stands out, and I was fortunate enough to be able to present a Teacher of the Year Award before he retired.

John was inspirational because of who he was.  Much of what I said above describing a good mentor also applies to him – wise, passionate, committed, dedicated, good sense of humour, willing to take the time with colleagues and students alike.  I actually have inherited his old classroom, so I feel privileged in this regard.

When students speak of him, without fail, they light up, smile, and express how much he is missed.  (He has retired).  He always went the extra mile for his learners, not because he thought he might get some accolades from his superiors, but because he thought it would benefit the students.

Day 4 & 5 – Post a Picture & What Do You Love Most About Teaching

 

Picture10

I’m combining two days into one post.  The first blog question asks you to describe your classroom. What do you see, what don’t you see that you’d like to…

My classroom is a lot like my personality.  Some organization is definitely needed!  I hate to throw things out, so it can also be somewhat cluttered.  In this particular picture, the desks are organized in a  horseshoe so that the learners can be on either side of the table to do the task.  I think it was a product merchandising task with jenga blocks.  I have blocks, puzzles, cowboy hats (you never know), blindfolds, a rubber chicken, a trophy, a glass apple, a Smartboard, a giant craft box and, of course, my Cuisinare rods.

Having done some cleaning over the summer, I can say that my class right now is more organized than normal.  What I do not have in my class that I would really like, are computers for the learners.  I’d like at least 3 computer stations.  I have enough room to set them up.  We have access to a lab, but it would be so much easier and convenient to have work stations right in the classroom.  I know that they would be used.

The second part of the challenge was to narrow down what you love most about teaching.  I love being able to be that bridge for the learners and the rest of their lives.  I love being able to provide guidance and support, and to share with them what it is like to work in Canada.  It’s reciprocal; I learn every bit as much from them as they do from me.  My class is a guided conversation.  What I love to hear are these words:  “Are you serious?  It’s time to go?”

That tells me that they are fully engaged in a task or discussion.  Being able to provide technological competence is also something I love.  I was initially worried about using an LMS in class, thinking that it could possibly isolate some learners.  That hasn’t been the case.

Day 3

image

Today’s challenge:  Describe one observation area that you would like to improve on in your teacher evaluation.

Today is going to be a tough one.  If there is one thing that I know I can definitely improve on, it would be my timing.  I remember the feedback very clearly from when I had last been evaluated, and that was that my timing needed to be more focused.

Just accidentally deleted the remainder if my post and can’t undo for some reason.  What I was saying was, I often deviate from my lesson plan and lead the learners down a different path than the one I had originally chosen, based on class interest and discussion.  Not always a bad thing, and I have a pretty big toolbox now, so one divergent path can often lead back to my main point or theme, but just via a different route.  And this normally takes a lot more time when I do this.

Something I know I need to work on.

30 Day Blog Challenge Task #2 – New Technology

Day 2:  What piece of technology would you like to try, and why?  What do you want your learners to get out of this tech? (more or less)

Didn’t have to think much about this one.  I have been wanting to investigate and fully use Microsoft OneNote. Sort of got my feet wet this summer with it, but it was a short course, and I want to fully explore it in the 12 week program (as opposed to the 4 week class).

I have made learning about OneNote my mission.  So much so that I volunteered to give a peer evaluation of it via web conference next spring.  Well, I’ve always said, if you want to really learn a thing, teach it.  Use it.

Why OneNote? Well, if you followed this blog, you’d know.  Okay, I’ve gotten over my sass for the day…  OneNote is more than a word processing document.  It’s an organizing system that allows learners to collect documents, voice recordings, screenshots, drawings, video, etc.  Learners can even access their OneNote via The Cloud.

Tech Goal #2: Figure out what The Cloud is.  Always kind of a mystery to me.  I’ve heard colleagues refer to saving a doc in The Cloud.  The metaphor of The Cloud is this entity that is above you, looming overhead, but is it white and fluffy, or dark, ominous, Wagnerian?  And can I trust The Cloud?  Who built The Cloud? 

So, to summarize, I am planning to explore OneNote and The Cloud with my group of adult learners.  I think that using OneNote will help the learners to organize material, and to keep track of learning in one space.  The same with The Cloud – if it is what I think it is, then it will be a useful hub that learners can plug into to save and retrieve documents and to collaborate with their peers.