Breaking Out Of The Box

10 Feb

A couple weeks ago my entire math education group was fortunate to go on our OCRE.  Don’t ask me what the acronym is, because I honestly have no clue.  What we got to do was plan a “bonding time” where we were able to bring in guest speakers of our choice to speak with us.  We had someone come in and talk about brain based learning, a speaker about grief, an incredible skype session about assessment, a talk about sexuality, and finally a talk about FASD.  Every single presentation was incredible and I learned so much in those two days it was amazing.  It was also an opportunity to get closer with the students who are also in math, we are just one big happy family.

There were certain points in those two days that I felt like I had really had a huge “A-Ha” moments.  During our talk about grief, given to us by The Greystone Bereavement Centre I realized that although I have felt grief in my life, it isn’t something I really actually understand.  Our class opened up entirely and it made me realize that I am going to have to support children who have gone through some very difficult things.  I also really enjoyed knowing what the Centre had to offer and some of the beautiful activities that I would incorporate into my own lessons, especially in the arts.  In our session about sexuality, given to use by the UR Pride Centre I realized that a big thing I will need to focus on is something as simple as my language.  Language can be taken in so many ways, and for someone in a class who could be confused or feel different, they aren’t going to care about that schooling necessarily and I will need to help them feel safe.  It reminded me of all the research I have done on oppression and of how I want to be able to create the safest environment for all students as possible.

Our talk about FASD was also incredible because it gave so much insight to something I didn’t know before.  Sometimes things like extrinsic motivation are crucial and sometimes they are not.  Our presenter gave us lots of examples and scenarios of things that she has encountered and really gave us a captivating talk.  I am happy to know that there are people like her that work for the school system who are ready at your disposal to help you when you have children in your class that need that help.

The last thing I want to talk about is really a turning point in how I feel about education.  It made me think.  Maybe more than any other time in my education thus far.  We had a skype session with Joe Bower about assessment.  I was lucky to be familiar with his blog, For The Love Of Learning, so I already knew what he had to talk about.  Joe Bower is a teacher who assesses his students, but does not grade them.  What a crazy concept in a society we have today.  I have thought numerous times before this that grading is something that is done wrong, I don’t know if I ever thought it was something you could actually do without though.  But really, what is a grade anyways?  Bower talked to us about how he doesn’t grade, why, and how we could go about doing this too.  A big focus is that we need to get students intrinsicly motivated to learn, and everything else comes from that.  It was an amazing talk, and I could probably go on for days about this so I will just end with something he said during our talk that really stuck with me.

There’s a word that starts with L that we don’t use enough in school, it’s called Learning.

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