I have to say that I'm looking forward to the new school year. After a summer of travel and loads of fun, I'm feeling ready to go back into the classroom. On top of my optimism for a great new school year, the past couple of days have brought me some extra inspiration.
First of all, a colleague/friend lent me a book called "What Teachers Make" by the poet/teacher Taylor Mali. I purposely saved it to read at the end of the summer to give me some inspiration before a new school year. Mali is best know for the poem below:
I really enjoyed the book. Currently, Ontario's teachers are in the process of negotiating a new contract with the government, and with that comes anti-teacher comments following newpaper articles online. I've learned to stop reading comments following any newspaper story about teachers, however I made the mistake lately of skimming some, and I read a comment that described teachers as "under-worked, over-paid, and over-benefitted". GROSS. Luckily for me, Mali's book is a wonderful antidote to this attitude. It was a great reminder of how wonderful and important my job, and provided me with great inspiration before the new year.
Also, I have to comment that we are lucky in Canada: our teachers are fairly compensated. Often people complain teachers make too much money. One of the hallmarks of a good education system is that teachers are well-compensated and respected (eg Finland - the best in the world). If teachers aren't, you won't attract the best people to the profession, and students will suffer. You want great teachers? Pay them accordingly. Don't think it's a hard job? Come shadow me. I'll put you in front of my *best* class, and see how you fare, then ask you to teach one of my more challenging classes. Good luck.
Anyway, I think reasonable people will agree with me there.
I've spent the past two days at school working with 40 student leaders to organize and run an orientation day for our incoming grade nines. (This is just one of the many activities that I donate my own time to organize because I see the inherent value in it to students.) This has been another source of inspiration for me. It was an exhausting task organizing the day, but we got it done, and today the leaders did a fabulous job of running the day. Cue to me standing around, doing nothing for most of it. In education, you know things are going well when the teacher has nothing to do. After the grade nines left, I gave my best "you guys are amazing" speech to the leaders, and it felt good that the school year hasn't even started, but I've already had an opportunity to make students feel great about themselves.
One of my favourite moments was when a spunky grade nine tried to grab a basketball out of one of the leader's hands, and the leader said patiently "just hold on, you'll get to play basketball outside, okay?" and it really put the niner in his place (but very kindly). Afterwards, I told the leader that I thought the way he handled the situation was awesome, and you could see him just shine when I gave him praise. I'm so lucky to have this job.
Finally, I'm inspired to create a "Science Wall of Fun" in my classroom this year. I've been an itinerant teacher for years: jumping from this classroom to that one. This means that I'm never in one place long enough to decorate it, but this will change this year: I'm in one place for all of my classes.
The idea for the Science Wall of Fun, came from this quote that I came across on Facebook the other day. It made me really excited to share the amazing-ness of science with my students!
I've come across many nerdy science jokes on Facebook, and I spent about a hour last night printing out my favourites at home (so they'd be in colour). I can't wait to post them. I think this one is in the lead for my favourite!
So those are the three things that have left me inspired for a new school year. Tomorrow, I'm taking the train to Stratford, and my pal Vern is going to be kind enough to drive Ms. Rilo and I back to Toronto. I'm looking forward to having my buddy back!
Hope you all have great long weekends!