"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing it is stupid."
- Albert Einstein

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Appreciation & Kindness

So administration. I must say, I raise my hands to people in admin - principals, vice principals, secretaries, regional principals, special education coordinators, all of the FNSA/FNESC team - it is an extremely challenging and difficult job. You have to be ready for the unexpected, prepared for whatever comes your way. Much like teachers, however instead of dealing with only five year olds, the age range is limitless. Something which I thought I was prepared for. I am a people person, a social butterfly if you will, and I genuinely enjoy communicating and interacting with the public. In high school I got the Miss Congeniality Award and the Most Talkative Award - something back then I was freakishly proud of. Not so significant now, ha! However, I was not prepared for the different personalities you open yourself up to in a job like this. I am so used to working with five and six year olds who love me. If I have learned anything from the last three months, it is just that. This role has made me appreciate my students that much more. I adore my little ones. I love their spirit, passion for learning and their innocent character.  Everything we do in this line of work is to help ignite passion, create, shelter and prepare these innocent characters for some of the joys and hardships that the world will throw at them. We want to keep them little forever, and completely safe from harm. We want them to truly, deeply, believe in the fact that the world is theirs - they can do whatever they want to do, if they work hard and believe in themselves. We want to shelter them from the negative, toxic people and situations that could potentially cause harm to their identities or feelings. We want them to be prepared, to develop positive work habits at an early age that will help them to be successful at any age throughout their lives. 

All that said, we both want that. Principals, teachers, education assistants, all of us. We want to help. It is in our blood. I recently was told, "I'm trying too hard to help people." At first I was pretty upset, after all, this person was trying to cause harm to my reputation, and trying to hurt me. Then I thought about it - I'm trying to hard to help others? Is that really a fault? If that is the worst that someone can say about me, I think I am doing a pretty gosh darn good job. It takes a special type of person to work with kids, some days I don't think I'm up for it. My patience isn't always there, or I might be struggling to find alternative ways to teach a concept...but, at the end of the day- I want to help. I want to make peoples lives better. I want them to have every opportunity in the world to be successful, whatever 'successful' may mean to them. I want them to be happy. So as I was saying, it takes a special kind of person to teach. That said, it takes an equally special kind of person to lead and guide a school. It takes someone who has a giant heart, a kind soul, and the ability to see three steps ahead, planning appropriately for any and all situations. I'm not claiming to be these things, but I aspire to be. I have learned so much from my mentor, former principal, and friend RC that I want to believe I am ready for this. I want to believe that I have encompassed his teachings combining them with my beliefs and practice to prepare me for the next the next three months. He has shown me what it means to be committed, giving your everything for a cause, and to never give up on the kids (even if some parents may want you to throw in the towel). Kids are kids. They deserve the best from us, all of us, all the time. They cannot control who they are born with as parents, just like they cannot control what socioeconomic class or race they are born into. So, we do everything in our power to help, to give children the chance to be children. To pause their games on their iPads and to play. To learn fearlessly. To take chances. All of it. 

The countless lessons I have learned in the last three months have given me a new out look on education. One thing stays true - true as a teacher, true as an 'acting principal', true as a human - appreciation goes a long way. I appreciate my little ones and their minds. I appreciate the opportunity to learn from them daily. I appreciate this crazy, beautiful journey in this crazy, beautiful life. 

All my Love, 

Miss C

Friday, 8 April 2016

Failure and a puppy.

Failure. Why are we so afraid of it? What does it even mean? My boyfriend and I just got back from Mexico, where I FAILED to workout everyday. I still enjoyed every second of my time there, and wouldn't change it for the world. I also FAILED to post a blog in over a year. ONE YEAR. My goal was to spend more time reflecting, more time perfecting my practice and recording my anecdotal observations - what has been working, what hasn't, what I did, what I should have done. But again, I FAILED. You get so caught up in life, you forget to stop and make time to just be. To just reflect. I'm sure I've said those words before, but here they are again. To be honest, I thought I was busy back last year - I had no idea what I was in for. So I will recollect myself, rebuild, and keep pushing. Keep dreaming big and aiming high. Failure is a terrible word, but it is only as bad as the meaning you associate with it. 

I'm going to start back in September of 2015 and do a quick recap of what we've been up to. This year my theme for my classroom is "Miss C's Big Top Learning - Step right up to the greatest class ever!" Let me tell you, it has been just that. A circus. Of course, one of those animal free, circuses. We do not support animal captivity in the slightest. In fact that is where I will start... Check out our room, complete with a circus tent reading corner!

Before I go there first we must acknowledge the elephant in the room (yes you can expect a lot of circus, animal puns - and you're welcome). This year was full of changes. We had a new principal start at our school, a new teacher, and a new EA. I must be honest, our new additions were wonderful people with great ideas that would help our students. They came optimistic and excited for the near year and willing to take on some challenges right out of the gate. But the thing is, these brave new souls were replacing two of my very dearest friends. Ouch. Something that I had become accustomed to over the last three years was about to change drastically and I didn't really know how to cope with that.

So anyway, back to the animal thing... We started our year off with our annual whale watching trip to Telegraph Cove. While we didn't manage to see any killer whales, we did witness a beautiful performance by the humpback whales. The waters were rough, the weather was wet. But we had an amazing day. 

My class this year has a very unique set of dynamics. We have three PreKs, four Ks and seven Grade 1s. This year I was privileged to have a very young group of students. You know, the ones who still possess the magic of being a kid? The ones who genuinely see the good, and the fun in any situation. The ones who love to learn, play, sing, dance, and be silly. The ones who are not obsessed with technology and enjoy playing creatively outside with their friends, digging to China! Anyway, they are a wonderful group and I adore their spirits. 

This year we spent a lot of time focusing on the four seasons. Where we live, we only really have two seasons - rain and non rain - so teaching concepts to students who cannot experience them daily is difficult. With the help of technology, songs, books and a few field trips we came out with a concrete understanding of ALL seasons. One of my very favourite days was when we took a field trip to Pumpkin Fest at Coastal Black Estate (three hours on a bus each way, but totally worth it!). If you live in the Comox Valley area and haven't been - you MUST check it out www.coastalblack.ca ! The girls there were FANTASTIC, and the whole day was a dream. The kids got to pick pumpkins after having some serious fun in the hay maze, pumpkin ring toss, seeing the animals, feeding goats and having some apple cider. 

The rest of 2015 was some what of a blur.... a happy blur. But a blur.

So the academic side - I know, I know what you're thinking. But how are they performing Court? What is the data telling us? 

Well my friends - are you ready for it? 

At the beginning of the year my Kinders were 25% grade level, and 75% well below. These numbers haven't moved too much - except for the fact that their Phoneme Segmentation Fluency shows 50% are performing at grade level. Their NWF Correct Letter Sounds shows growth as well with 25% at grade level, 50% approaching and only 25% below. 

As far as my Grade 1s - At the beginning of the year 67% were performing below grade level, 17% approaching grade level and 17% were at grade level. I am happy to report that their middle of the year benchmark showed dramatic improvements with 60% performing at grade level and 40% approaching!  I am so proud of how hard working these little ones are. They take such pride in their work and get so excited when they beat their previous scores. 

I know, wow. There is one more thing I forgot to mention. Alex and myself have become the Acting Principals of our school.  Our principal left at Christmas to further her career with the school district, and we had completed interviews offering someone the position, who unfortunately turned it down. We also lost our new teacher and our new EA, making for a crazy amount of changes for our kids. So Alex and myself stepped up, we split the position, decided to come in earlier, stay later, and rearrange schedules so that we had a little bit (I mean thirty minutes a day) of administration time. All while teaching full time. That my friends, is a whirlwind and a whole other blog entry in itself. I will speak to it soon, right now I need to take Ollie for a walk. 

Did I mention I got a puppy?! Oliver (aka Ollie, OliveOil, Olliebear, Olster) is a 7 month old Labradoodle whom I am completely in love with. He got neutered this week, and now is supposed to be laying low, which is killing both of us because it is my last few days of Spring Break and all we want to do is go run at the beach or find some hiking adventures. Anyway, again I'll save that for next time. 

For now, be kind to one another. 

All my love, 

Miss C