I know, I know, it has been a while since I last posted, but in my defence I really have not had much in the way of time. Since school started, in general, I have not really had much time to myself.
The new job is going wonderfully, and I am finally starting to feel like a teacher again. This week, especially, I have had many teacher-moments. I think it is all boiling down to getting used to the kids, the school and the new courses. I have been getting more comfortable with my new courses and so things are going much more smoothly.
The grade 12 classes are, of course, my main priority because they have provincial exams at the end of the semester. Up until this week I was uncertain if I was even going to get the courses finished because I started two weeks late, plus one week of settling in, so we are behind… in both chemistry and physics. I have been working with the principal to fit extra class time in where possible and making minor course changes to ensure we are finished in time for the exams. There is no pressure or anything, it’s just an exam, and if I don’t finish the courses they are not ready for them. Things are looking up though, I have figured out ways to get the courses finished with minimal extra effort.
Right now, inquiry-based learning is a big thing, and so I have been trying very hard to work it into my courses, at least with the junior high kids. Last week I introduced a topic on organ systems to my grade 8 science class. This week they have been spending all of their time in the library learning everything there is to know about them. I was somewhat afraid to attempt to loosen the reigns and let the students direct (mostly) their own learning, but I have been highly impressed so far with how this class is working with it.
I have kids taking out books and bringing them home to learn more about their topics, as well as searching the internet. I have one group who are planning to bring a moose lung to show the class the parts of the respiratory system. How cool is that? These grade 8 kids are working so hard to learn everything they can about their topics, and it is awesome. Best part is, I have minimal work that I need to do to plan for each lesson because I am simply guiding them through the process and making sure they don’t get lost.
Oddly enough, I don’t normally use this style of teaching in my classes because I’ve never really had a lot of opportunity to use it. Also, the only reason I am using it now is because I have a couple special needs students in my class and I have been trying to work as much hands on stuff as I can into the course. While it is not always easy, after attending a “new teacher” meeting a few weeks ago I go myself thinking about how to do this in a meaningful way with the grade 8 class. So far it has been going well, and I have a lot of awesome questions coming out of the student to research. In the end I will be getting a long ol’ write-up from them with all of the information they have accumulated during the 3-week process, a presentation of some kind (PowerPoint, song, skit, or something), and model representation of each system.
Now that this is working so well with the grade 8 class, I am in the process of working on ideas with the principal to use a similar style of teaching with the grade 9 class. Keeping in mind that the grade 9 class has double the behavioural problems as the grade 8 class. From what I have read about inquiry learning, it should almost completely eliminate the problems with behaviour. So, that said, I am working on a thought process to work on with the grade 9 class as well. I am very excited about this, and strangely enough as much as I love my work I have not been this excited about new educational ideas in a while.
I would love to be able to try team teaching in a meaningful way sometime. Have two teachers, two different subject areas, and teach based on the overlap between course objectives, but also using an inquiry style of learning. I have done similar things before, working closely with the Mi’kma’q studies teacher to close over into science, but what I want to do would be much more engaging somehow.
Also, although I am not sure what to do with them yet, I am trying to come up with a way to engage my grade 10 class too. While not a huge class by any mean with only 19 students, 16 of them are girls. It can be a challenge at times to work with them. I had them do little presentations that they had only one class to prep for, and they were quite attentive with each other as they presented. So, for psychology, definitely more of that sort of thing and less of what I have been doing.
So, this is what I am working on. Exciting times on the education front.
I had student-parent-teaching meetings for two nights this week. Good times! I actually enjoy parent-teacher sessions because it gives me an opportunity to talk with adults… and anyone who knows me, knows I like to talk when given the opportunity. Liking the meetings aside, however, it was tiring. That was two nights that James and I were not home from school until after 10 PM.
On another topic, James has been having difficulty with the homesickness. I have had to put up with a lot of guff from him and deal with a lot of behavioural issues. Only towards me, he was fine with everyone else. We met with the guidance counsellor to deal discuss these issues, and I’ve gotta say it has been a lot better.
I am going to be seeking a new neurologist here in Saskatchewan. One of my students in gr. 12 has epilepsy as well, I am going to look into things try to get the name of her doctor in Saskatoon. James is taking 24 anti-seizure pills everyday, and deep down I don’t think they are all necessary. When he misses a dose of Dilantin two nights in a row and nothing happens, yet simply being late for trileptal induces a seizure, something isn’t right.
I think he deserves a second opinion. Who knows, maybe a doctor on this side of the country will have something good to say.
Well, that is all I have for now. Mostly just excitement about my school and work stuff. But isn’t that how it is supposed to be?
Here are some links to a couple of my Google Plus photo albums. Enjoy.
This link is a random assortment of pictures taken along the way from Newfoundland to Saskatchewan.
The link below is a random assortment of pictures from around Saskatchewan / Alberta (since we are only 45 minutes from the border)