Please, Step Forward

4 Feb

Imagine you are a student in a class.

You are asked to answer questions regarding your culture.

You are given a sheet of statements, which you scale from 1 to 5.

The higher your score, the higher you felt like you feel accepted in society, regarding your culture.

A low score meant you were more inclined to not feel accepted in society, regarding your culture.

You have a lower number than anyone at your table.

You are asked to write that number on a sheet of paper, and then arrange yourselves in the class from lowest to highest.

You stand on the low side, not the very lowest, but there are many people higher than you.

You are then asked a series of questions, and if you agree you step forward.

How many people are male?

You stay where you are.

How many people are female?

You step forward.

How many people have more than one degree?

You stay where you are.

How many people have immigrated to Canada?

You stay where you are.
(It is important to note that one person in the room steps forward)

How many people are aboriginal?

You step forward.
(It is important to note that you are one of two people in the room to step forward)

There are no more questions.  You sit down at your table.

Hold up.  Lets rewind 5 seconds, to just before you were asked this question.

In the milliseconds before you step forward you ask yourself a question.

Am I going to step forward?

You decide you have two options.

1) You step forward and you tell everyone who you are.  There could be looks, you could be the only one, you could hear whispers… who knows. It could change how people respond to you in class. You will be defining yourself as “The Other”.

2) You don’t step forward.  You might not feel comfortable with everyone in the class, the trust isn’t there. You lie about who you were.  You feel guilty.  You feel like you are being ashamed of who you are.  No one else will know though, and no one can judge you.  Except yourself.

What do you choose?

 

The most important question to ask in this scenario is should you have been placed in a situation like this to begin with?
During school… in a class?

Would we do this with our students?

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Staying Positive

21 Nov

It’s been awhile since I have written anything.  I’d like to say it’s because I’m super busy and have no time, but really I just have fallen out of practice.  I am in my internship and they are so many new and interesting things happening, that by the time I debrief with my Co-op teacher, my mom and dad, and my best friend, I have no time to share it on here!

Today it is time to share something.

It’s obvious that most kids hate math.  Who are we kidding… I hate math most days too.  I teach a class that does Workplace and Apprenticeship over two semesters, which is twice the time it normally takes.  These kids hate math… a lot.

The behaviour in the classroom up to this point has made complete sense.  The kids dislike math for numerous reasons, the two main reasons being low confidence and a bad attitude.  Math has such a negative stigma, and because of their previous poor experiences, the students have not been very open to learning math.

With low confidence and poor attitude brings a bigger disturbance.  Bad behaviour.  Not only are these kids struggling with the math work, but also struggling with being in a class with a poor environment.

While approaching the current unit I am teaching I focused on one main thing.  Time.  I have broken everything down to the smallest concepts possible, and take that one day at a time.  Considering they get twice the time of a regular course, there is freedom to do such a thing with my class.

In the last three days, the entire environment of the class has changed.  I gave the first quiz of the unit, and the lowest mark was still passing, with the highest being 100%.  The day after this they asked to have another quiz… so I gave them one.  Yesterday, every single student worked on their assignment, finished in class, and corrected it.  This rarely happens, almost never.

The change has been their confidence.  They believe that they are able to do this work, and the behaviour has improved.

I’m not always the biggest supporter of grade, it’s a topic I struggle greatly with… but the way our society has been set up, thus far, has been associated with them.  No matter how much they could think they understand the material, or even with me telling them that, until they saw the percent they got on the quiz, they didn’t believe it for themselves.

It’s not just the grade that has made the difference, obviously, but if you were to ask the students what changed, that would be it.

I want to work towards making sure it’s always a positive and confident environment in the classroom, regardless of the grades.

A Day In My Life

12 Sep

This semester I am fortunate enough to be interning at Peacock Collegiate.  I am in an amazing classroom, with an amazing teacher, teaching math and science (sadly no art).  There are so many wonderful things to talk about just not enough time in the day.  I am so exhausted!  Teaching is so draining that by the end of the day I’m ready for a nap.

And fortunately for me, the last class of the day is grade ten math… It’s a great class, if only they didn’t talk.  This is an example of what I listen to:

kid 1: ya whats up mang?
kid 2: chillin you?
kid 1: dece bro.
kid 2: che-ya.
kid 1: i know mang.
kid 2: holy.
kid 1: dude, three day weekend.
kid 2: noice.
kid 1: dont worry about it.
kid 2: mang?
kid 1: dont worry about it.
kid 2: hey are you chillin or buying a calculator?
kid 1: thats just my chump change.
kid 2: you dont even know how to use it.
kid 1: yeah mang its all G.
kid 2: this pencil wreaks man.
kid 1: hey man. chill.
kid 2: principal man yeah he wouldnt even care about that shirt he’d be like ya man im ripping.

Now, I’m not that much older, but I can’t understand them at all.  I know all this slang, I hear this slang around my own peers, but not this bad.  They don’t make any sense, and I think they know this.  Each time I hear the words “mang” and “chillin”  I cringe.

I am taking a seriously long look at how I speak, I never want to sound like that.  No more chillin for me I guess.

Dece bra mang, I’m out.

Crushing A Positive Attitude

31 Aug

A short lesson on something you should NOT do.

 

Regardless of ones own opinions on personal school and high school experiences, keep the following in mind…

 

When the kids express to you how excited they are to begin school in the fall, and they can’t wait, do not:

a. Tell them they are stupid for being excited about something like school.

b. Call them a loser or dork for being so excited.

c. Tell them to never be for excited for school again..

 

When the kids are doing math problems for recreation, and enjoying them, do not:

a. Tell them math is stupid and boring.

b. Make fun of them for liking math.

c. Tell them it only gets harder and they will never understand it.

 

As sad as it is, these young ages may be the only time when kids are actually excited to go to school.  Kids don’t get sarcasm.  Please don’t crush their spirits, it could make the difference in the future.

Give 100 Percent?

28 Jul

Working at a daycare has shown me many things and given me much insight into how children behave, and more specifically, how they learn.  The kids that I work with are so incredibly eager to learn, it almost makes me jealous.  They want to know everything, and they seem to retain anything they find interesting.  When i tell them stories, or work on the different topics that we are learning about, they have an ambition to learn just because it interests them.

It’s amazing.

In no other teaching environment, and i have been in with all grades, have I witnessed children who have such a drive to learn.  They want to do math just because they think it’s amazing that I can show them how to do it! I know it is probably a lot different being in a daycare rather than a school, but there is still a much different attitude towards what they are learning.

Then one day I noticed a cancer.

It spread so quickly through the children that I barely noticed the change.  The change took a week to get rid of though.

I gave my students a word search to work on, just as a task to keep them focused for twenty minutes, and to go through some Ancient Egyptian vocabulary with them.  They were so excited each time they found a word.  They wanted to finish the task and find all the words because until they found it, I wouldn’t tell them what it meant.  They were racing, and excited, and wanted to learn all the new words.

Then I went on my break.

I came back, and the person who took over for me started marking the word searches.  100% ‘s filled the pages and stickers and the kids all came running to me to tell me they had all got 100%.  No more cheering for their actual accomplishments, just excitement for the mark that was written at the top of the page.  When I asked if they wanted to learn all the words, they simply said they were done because it already got marked.

These are 5-8 year olds.

I was incredibly disheartened.  If they didn’t get a sticker and 100% they didn’t want to do it.  They lost their intrinsic want to do the activity.  For a week I had to decline their pleads to mark their work.  Now they are finally back to wanting to learn for their own reasons.

It’s sad that a race for marks can start so young.

Four Year Old Entertainment

5 Jul

Not only did we learn about dragons and ice, but the four year olds and I did some other fun activities.  One afternoon I really needed them to stay focused and quiet for a long period of time, and work on their fine motor skills.  We made candy necklaces!  I just dumped fruitloops on the table and gave them each some fruit flavoured dental floss and they strung away, then when they were big enough I tied it around their necks.  Not only were they busy for close to an hour beading, they enjoyed eating the necklaces all afternoon (being careful only to eat while they were sitting down).

We did lots of different kinds of painting and crafts, but my favourite was the scratch and sniff strawberries.  I mixed red paint with strawberry bubble bath, so when it was finished drying they scratched it and it smelled like strawberries.

We made sail boats using “halfs”, where they had a full shape and had to fold it in half in order for the shapes to make the boat.  It was the week of fathers day so we also made a fathers day craft.  They painted little boxes red and we labelled them “Dad’s Toolbox” and filled it with numerous items like smarties – for the days when you aren’t so smart.  (If I find the poem we used I will put it up here).

The only issue I had with this was that I wasn’t comfortable doing father’s day activities.  Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate fathers and all they do for their kids, but I am also aware that many kids do not have fathers.  Especially working at a non-profit daycare, there are a lot of kids who just don’t have dads, or their dads are not in the picture.  Very similar with family trees, I find this topic rather uncomfortable to approach without not including some kids in the classroom.  Our group of kids had a fathers day party and all the dads and grandpas were invited to come, and of course one kid didn’t have a dad that came.  It was upsetting having to see the child not feel included.  One girl didn’t even come in, and I’m sure it was because there wasnt a dad or grandpa to come in.  I think there is ways of handling situations better than how it was handled in our situation.  I think sometimes people just forget that a family looks different for every person, and we need to stop looking at just the conventional family life we have socially set.

I Am Ebenezer Bleezer

5 Jul

This is much over due, but I thought I might as well continue on with the week of ice I did with my kids at the daycare.  First we did popsicle paintings.

I had a picture of a popsicle and they had ice cubes that were filled with cherry jello and they had to paint them.  Another person I worked with suggested putting tempura paint in water and in a dixie cup then sticking a popsicle stick in it to paint with (I would have done this if I wasn’t worried about my kids eating them!) They also really enjoyed eating the jello ice cubes.

Another activity we tried was experiencing melting ice.  I took freezer bags and filled them with individually wrapped candy, rings and rubber balls, and filled them with water and froze them.  Then they each had their own giant ice cube to melt.  The trick with this is not letting them hold the ice too long or their hands get cold.  We had a water table filled with warm water and they all melted their ice cubes and discovered their treasures.  They were also excited to see how fast a tub of warm water could turn cold!

We practiced our numbers by doing a connect the dot ice cream cone.  They are only four, so their curriculum says that they only need to recognize the numbers 1-5 (I think) and know at the very least up to 10.  I documented how well each kid did, ranging from kids who could barely do 1- 3 on their own, and kids who could go all the way to 30.  It was an interesting activity to see the different developements of the children.

The final activity we did was making ice cream.  It was a very cool activity (haha get it? cool?)

We took one large freezer bag, filled it with ice and two table spoons of salt.  Then we took sandwich bags and filled it with 1 cup of milk, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla.  Then we made sure to seal both bags, after putting the smaller bag inside the bigger.  Then we shook… and shook… and shook…. and it surprisingly turned into ice cream! We played tossing games and hot potato and they were absolutely amazed when it was solid.  Then we made sundaes.

To wrap up the ice, we read the poem Bleezer’s Ice Cream Store.  (I had it memorized, thank you very much)  They loved it, so we all made up our own ice cream flavours and they drew pictures of the amazing creations they imagined (sadly I have no pictures).

It is a couple weeks later, and they are still talking about the ice, it was a very fun week.