Archive for the ‘teaching’ Category

Ramping Up Summer

Summers at home with the boys have basically been a free-for-all, trying-not-to-kill-each-other, kind of experience. This year, inspired by Nicole & Maggie’s recent post, I’m trying something different.

It’s called STRUCTURE.

My boys need it, especially since they’ll both be in school come September (E will be going into grade 2, C into junior kindergarten). BUH-BYE super expensive daycare!

E has two weeks of summer camps (first one is science/multi-sport, second is outdoor/nature-based), and will be home otherwise. C will be at daycare Monday/Wednesday/Friday, and home otherwise. We will also be going away in mid-July to visit my family in Alberta.

So, here are my rough thoughts so far:

For E (between grade 1 and 2)

  • Reading time each day (15-30min?)
  • Writing practice each day (1-2 workbook pages)
  • Learning piano with me M/W/F (15-30min?)
  • Math practice on T/Th (1-2 workbook pages)
  • Weekly journal entry
  • Other educational activities: puzzle books (he likes word searches and mazes), electronics and robotics kits, flying drone
  • Video game time and unstructured play-time of course (board/card games, lego, etc).
  • Summer goals: learning to ride a 2-wheel bike; learning to knit

C loves doing homework when E does, so hopefully this will work. I have a couple pre-K workbook, so he’ll work on:

  • Letters
  • Numbers
  • Reading time
  • Other educational activities: puzzles, his codeapillar, colouring
  • He’ll also get screen time & unstructured playtime
  • Summer goals: writing his name legibly; not drive me insane!

For both (T/Th):

  • Soccer practice
  • Arts & crafts
  • Field trips!
  • LOTS of outdoor time/exploration

Any thoughts or suggestions for kids that are 3.5 and 6.5 years old? What are you doing with your kids this summer?

 

 

Moving Target

I became a certified high school teacher two years ago, and I’m a couple weeks away from completing my first year of teaching in the public school system. I started the year with a long-term occasional position, where I was teaching grade 11 and 12 physics. Three months in, for many different reasons I won’t get into here, I went on a medical leave. Since returning to work, I have been a daily occasional teacher.

There have been things I’ve absolutely loved about this work, and things I’ve absolutely hated.

The nice thing about being an occasional teacher (long- or short-term) is being able to “test the waters”. I’ve taught in many different schools, grade levels, and subject areas. And, since I’ve been hired by one school board, I have job security. That means I have the ability to take the time to find what gives me the most joy and satisfaction before looking at more permanent job options.

Just recently I’ve applied to another school board (the one I’m in), a part-time professor position at a college, and a full-time professor (teaching) position at the same college.

I realize that DH’s full-time, permanent, well-paying job gives me the privilege to be able to do this, so I’m grateful that I’m able to explore these opportunities as I try to hit the forever-moving target of my “ideal” career (is there such a thing for me – I’m starting to realize I’m someone who loves change in this part of my life).

 

Bye-Bye 2016

I have been doing year-end reflections on this blog, and really wanted to do it this year again (even though I haven’t been writing nearly as much). To start, here were my goals from the beginning of 2016:

  • I  would like to make progress toward a more stable work situation ✓
  • I would like to get back to spending more time doing (and enjoying) things I love like knitting, reading, and cooking ✘
  • I would like to move more and feel more energized ✘
  • I would like to enjoy the time with my family more ✘
  • I would like to either make our home more livable or move to a house that suits us better ✓

Family

E started grade one and is learning how to read. C has entered his threenager stage. DH and I found two awesome babysitters who kids like, and we’ve been doing date nights more often (but not enough). We stayed at a hornet-infested cottage in the summer, but had some good times too!

Home

After looking at our options, we decided that we’ll stay put. So, instead of looking at real-estate listings, we began thinking of how to improve our home. We added serious colour in our kitchen, DH built a mudroom area in the basement,  we replaced the huge bed & desk in the office with awesome Murphy bed/desk, and we took down hedges at front of our property.

Health

I played soccer this summer, but have decided it’s just not the sport for me. I signed back up at the YMCA, and have been using it much more for swimming and yoga. I’d like to start playing badminton this year and get back to riding my bike.

Mentally, things really went downhill in the Fall, and I stopped doing all the things I know I need to do to have a happy life (eating/sleeping well, exercising, reading, knitting, time with friends). With my time off, I’ll be focusing on making this a priority.

One good thing with my long drive to work (1hr15min each way), I got through a LOT of audiobooks, and hit 13 books for 2016. Check out what I’ve been reading here.

Career

I began the year by teaching at university/college levels, and I quite enjoyed it, but realized quickly it would not be a sustainable career option (low pay, limitations on how much I could work, nowhere to grow).

In the summer, I took 2 additional qualification courses to make me more marketable to public school boards. I got hired by one board as a supply teacher, but didn’t get on to the local board (which is the goal).

I did get my first public high school teaching position in September (what’s called a long-term occasional assignment, where supply teachers fill in for permanent teachers on leave). I was teaching grade 11 and 12 physics, and the contract was until the end of January. Unfortunately, I had to leave early due to overwhelming stress/anxiety. I’ll get back into the game when I’m ready, but will only be supply teaching.

 

There’s my 2016 in a nutshell! Stay tuned for what my hopes are for 2017.

It’s almost OCTOBER?

Yeah….sorry about that! Things have been crazy!

I was hired by one school board, botched an interview with a second (closer) school board, then got hired by the first to cover a long-term leave for a physics teacher!

So, I am now teaching grade 11 and 12 physics at a public high school about 1.25 hours away. It’s two periods a day, so that gives me the other two to get my work done, so I can come home, pick up the kids, make dinner, put them to bed, then work some more usually :PIt’s been 3 weeks since I started, and it’s been a roller coaster! From having massive panic attacks about not being able to do it to really enjoying it. I’m loving being in the classroom, but the prep is a lot of work – though at least I was expecting that!I often feel like I don’t know what I’m doing, or that I’m missing something, but I’ve been told that will go away in about 15-20 years of teaching. So, I’ve got that to look forward to!It’s been scary, exciting, fun, and aggravating all at the same time, and that’s just what makes life interesting, isn’t it? If you want to read more about my journey and experiences, check out my teaching blog: Joyous Understanding.October is a big month in our family: both boys have their birthdays, Thanksgiving, my “re-birthday” (has it been 3 years since my stroke?), Halloween of course, and just the awesomeness of Fall.How are you doing?

Ignoring or Avoiding?

I can’t decide if I’ve been ignoring or avoiding this blog. I miss it, and I am constantly coming up with thing to write about, but never end up doing it. I think this is for 2 reasons: 1) I know it takes time, and there are so many things going on that it drops down the priority list, and 2) I know my readership has dropped off because of lack of posts and writing just reminds me of that.

Anyway, I’m going to keep writing when I can because I enjoy it 🙂

First, an update on things!

I finished at the private high school before the Christmas break, and now I’m teaching at the local university (astronomy) and college (math). I’m quite enjoying these courses, and would like to keep teaching at this level.

This brings me to the most frustrating thing of all: jobs. I am still not in with the local school board (I ignorantly thought my 10+ years work experience in education and my own PhD+BEd education would get me in the door, but I was wrong). The university/college teaching jobs are term-to-term. so no stability there either. It can be super frustrating finally KNOWING what I want to do with my life and not have the options to actually DO it on a regular basis. But, I’ll keep plugging along and hope things continue to crop up, and eventually get a long-term post.

Family-wise, we’re deep into the terrible 2’s with C. And we thought E was bad when he was 2? Oh no…C is showing just what 2 can be to the extreme. His TTs are epic and nothing like I’ve ever seen. Thankfully, he can be really funny, happy, and just plain silly. He’s a huge risk taker too, which is much different than E.

E is amazing us with his intelligence lately. It’s awesome to witness his learning and how he LOVES to learn! He’s going through his own behaviour issues: he’s starting to talk back to us when we need to discipline him. This is very new to us, so we’re trying to get a handle on how to deal with it (most things seem to just make it worse).

Home-wise, we’re still flip-flopping on whether to do renovations or move. We agree our first step should be to get some designs and quotes on renovations to see if we can get what we need for a reasonable price. DH is going to a home show this weekend to connect with some contractors who can come and do this soon.

That’s our life right now – I hope that my posts will become more conversational rather than lists! How are you doing?

Guilt Reigns

I had been struggling with the decision of whether or not to leave my current job for the past month or so. There are many reasons why I have been considering this. Some are personal, others are job-related, but mostly because other opportunities have presented themselves.

I have signed on to teach at both the university (first-year astronomy course) and the college (first-year math), and both start in January. I will also be volunteering with a high-school physics teacher. These are great opportunities to investigate more options in the field of education, and I just couldn’t pass them up.

So, even though I have many, MANY, good (even excellent!) reasons to leave my current job, I still feel THE GUILT!

“But I’m leaving right in the MIDDLE of the term!”

“Are they going to be able to find a replacement for me?”

“Is the student going to be negatively impacted because of me?”

and don’t forget the favourite:

“Everyone is going to think I’m AWFUL!”

I spoke to numerous people about this decision, both inside and outside education, at different points in their careers, and asked their advice. One central theme was that the only person who will look out for me is myself.  And if there’s one thing in the time since my stroke is I need to look out for myself.

So, yes, the guilt is there, but it will lesson with time (isn’t time amazing for things like that?). And, come January with all of its new starts, the excitement will overtake those feelings. I’m already getting excited!

So, how’s that work thing going?

Well, thanks for asking! It’s been busy, stressful, anxiety-inducing, fun, wonderful, rewarding…I LOVE it and I HATE it all at the same time.

As I alluded to last time, my days are pretty crammed full with teaching. That means I have to prepare my lessons, assignments, test, etc. during other times – meaning evenings, after the kids go to bed, for the most part. The lucky part is all three of my students are taking the same course, so that – in theory – means 1 prep (or one class to prepare for).

Of course, what happens in theory and what really happens are completely different things. Because I’m teaching one-on-one classes, each student can have a more personalized educational experience. Often this means creating and re-creating my lessons and assessments, how they will be marked, how much they will count for in the overall mark.

There is the dealing with the students themselves and their needs – not just educationally, but emotionally, mentally, and even physically (one of my students broke their arm). Since this is high school, you can imagine that this part of the job is not the easiest.

Then there is interactions with the parents, which is done far more often than in public school – at least once per week, but often times more, especially if there are issues cropping up (either academically or behaviour-wise).

There’s trying to keep track of the other courses, extracurriculars and school events so things don’t fall on students all at once, and to make sure they’re getting the required 110 hours to get the credit (classes have to be made up if one is missed – unlike with regular classes).

Needless to say it has been exhausting on so many levels. I was asked to teach a different course for the next term, and have had to back track and decline because I just don’t think I can handle it right now for my own well-being. I need a break.

To all the teachers out there, I don’t know HOW you do it, especially if you’re full time and teaching different classes – and that’s not even considering extracurriculars, volunteering, your home life and other things going on. From the two months experience I have, this job is HARD. I had no idea how much work it was, and how emotionally draining it is.

So, if you are a teacher: have a drink on me tonight! If you know a teacher, please THANK THEM for everything they do. It really is a thankless job.

Next up for me: continuing to teach one of my students (they’re taking 2 terms to do the class instead of 1), and I’ll be teaching a first year astronomy class at the university, as well as a first year math course at the college, in January. Depending on how that’s going, I might volunteer at a local high school and/or take a course myself to add more qualifications to my resume.

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