Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Being Mindful in a Difficult Time

To say that the world of Public Elementary school teaching has been a little zany over the last few months is an understatment. Teachers in the province of Ontario have been bashed in the media on almost a daily basis since September. Teachers have been raked over the coals by the Government, by the Ontario Public School Boards Association (OPSBA) and  by parents and other Internet persona that feel that teachers are overpaid, underworked and glorified babysitters for their kids. All of this can bring a girl down. It can make one re-think their career. It can make one cry at night, knowing that you are putting it all out there, day after day, and there are few out there that appreciate your efforts. 

So, I am going to try and stop looking at the media. I am going to think about what I feel my purpose is in the classroom - to teach. To focus on the students and their learning, because that is why I am here. I will be mindfully authentic:  I will pay attention, in the present moment to the truthfulness of the students' origins, sincerity and intentions in a non-judgemental way.   This is a difficult task, but one I am going to focus on during the next few months. 

The transition from FDK to the grade 1/2 class has been a challenge. At first, I started with what I would do during the first few weeks of FDK - allow for open inquiry and play so the students can start to work together and so I can see their strengths. And it worked - for a while. We found an inquiry we were all interested in (restaurants) so we, as a class, had a pop-up restaurant for staff, parents and lunchroom supervisors during our lunch times and during class times. Overall, it was very successful and a lot of learning was done during this inquiry. But then we lost focus. Many of my students were using the open inquiry time to do very little. They didn't know how to inquire. They just thought they had "free time".  So I have changed tactics, being mindful of what these students need to learn at this time. 

I have started a Reading Workshop and a Writing Workshop time period where students can use that time for reading and writing about topics they are interested in. We are looking at high frequency words and different word origins during Word Study. We are having a dedicated Math lesson and each day. I feel we need to have some structure and some of the basics down before we can explore some more topics in a deeper way. We will work our way back to open inquiry - but with some structure in place. And I found some of my answers in the following book. 

Upon a recommendation from one of my PLN colleagues on Twitter, I purchased the book "Black Ants and Buddhists" by Mary Cowhey. 

I was skeptical about another professional resource, as I have several on the go and although there are parts that speak to me, I have never found a professional resource that  has really changed my way of thinking. This book has changed the way I teach. I highly recommmend it as a great read for all teachers. It's practical, humorous and insightful without feeling like it's not attainable. It's definitely worth the money (and it's only 28.00 from Amazon!)

So that's it for now. I will keep you up to date. My apologies for the lack of posts in October, but it was way too zany. It will get better....

Mindfully yours, 

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