A PLN friend on twitter; Johnathan So aka Mr. Bowtie tagged me in a great reflection piece entitled ‘Top 5 defining moments; whats has defined my career’, in this he reflected on his moments; one of which was with his daughter Izzy starting school….so the following is my top 5 defining moments….(at least as I see them at this point in time….tomorrow could be another day – as it should be).
These are in no particular order just as they filtered through my memories…
- Opening my classroom to partnerships; now for me partnerships began as face to face partners within the classroom. Some of my most notables are my classroom Mommies (My first gigs classroom Educational Assistants; Linda and Kathy), these ladies ensured I was well taken care of (ate my lunch, took my breaks, laughed and learned to love my job, the kids and the new profession I just walked into), I thoroughly believe these two incredible ladies began my partnership / teamwork understanding / mindset and know how into what it is now! They among another EA; Starr were invincible, powerful and the best of partners!! They all taught me one thing…..you need to laugh and laugh often! To this day anyone teamed up and partnered with me I am sure would say one thing; he loves to have fun and laugh often! Thank you ladies for teaching me this! Once I walked into kindergarten I had two amazing Early Childhood Education partners in Kim and Krista; again two incredibly hardworking, lovely ladies whom made my practise and the students classroom experience that much more powerful, stimulating and fun as well! I cannot say enough about these two!! Partnerships are not only hired hands; I see my High School Co-op Students / Mohawk College DECE Students / University Teaching Students / NTIP Mentee’s (Natalie, Athena Tiffany, Nicholas, Christina, Presley, Joseph, Cheri and so many more). Twitter / Skype / and digital PLN partnership are so powerful too! All these partnerships have made me whom I am today; someone who loves mentoring and instilling a love and passion for this incredible profession we work in. We alongside our partners can make an impact that will last a lifetime, set memories that will never be forgotten, instill a love for life long learning in all that walk through the doors! These partnerships for me will never be forgotten, names will always be close to heart as they all inspired and change who I am and how I do things today! Take the leap people….make that partnership key as I did….I know consider all these amazing people colleagues and teammates that still inspire me today….align yourself with incredible people and they will bring value to your practise in times when needed!
- That ‘Person’ at work who believes in your crazy antics, ways and methods; for me this ‘Person’ is really two people; Dennis (hired me on my first contract) and Janice. This sounds funny but these two are very similar in nature! They know what they want to see, they push you to go the distance and stand behind you on your journey. They also are great at bringing your head back down from the clouds and ensuring your feet stay planted on the ground too. I always say that the body within the office can impact things within a school, as well as your practise as well. I had a really ‘bad’ experience too, and I went to a very dark and depressing place…but with some guidance I choose to leave a school, community, staff and students I loved, and it worked out incredibly well for me! So, while applying to job be aware of what you are getting into, know what you have to do and understand your place and consider if this IS the place for you! I am moving to a new school this year, in my hometown, where I went to school, where I did my High School, College and University Placements, where my own children go, but the body within the office is someone I trust, someone that will believe and inspire everyone within the building….I know this is the right place for me at this time at Lakewood Elementary! I will miss Hagersville Elementary; my home for the last 4 years!
- The Choice to become ‘Uncomfortable’; this one sounds funny, so let me try to explain this. I was taught rote learning, worksheets, read and summarize, drill and kill patterns and remembering and recalling dates, details, sets in solving long division; when I got outside this traditional teaching method and got uncomfortable and really ‘let go’ my experience and practise with inquiry driven student lead learning soared. I grew more as a person, changed my questioning techniques, conferences, guided which eventually turned to becoming a learning within the journey with each student as well. When I got uncomfortable I started learning more about what was being taught in the classroom, I was a students within my classroom alongside the kids, I became one with them. When this occurred I seen ‘more’ I actually seen why kids were still struggling with wanting to learn, and as any teacher does I adjusted, flipped and changed my ways….the outcome is what I design, how I work alongside kids, partners and colleagues now. When I walk into a situation my first thought is how do I become uncomfortable; because within this IS the growth in learning! I am constantly told my practise is incredibly progressive, totally outrageous and out there in good ways, but not the norm….my response is always ‘Great, I learn more from the kids then they do from me!’ So get ‘Uncomfortable’ people take leap of faith and try crazy, outrageous and becoming a big kid….its so much fun, doesn’t even feel like work and this is the true power of uncomfortably; changing from being a job to becoming something you thoroughly look forward to everyday!
- Getting into the Microsoft Educator Community; now let me start with this….yes we are a Microsoft Board, yes we use O365 all the time, but it is not the be all end all! I love Microsoft products, in fact my Surface Pro 4 is unbelievable!! By far the best computer I have ever had, highly recommend it too people! Working and learning within the MEC I learned so much about accessibility, and differentiation and how behaviour / classroom management could be eliminated with simple DI and mind blowing leveling programs that even the playing field for all! Within this journey I learned that there is NOT one answer for all, not one name but IF you explore everything Apple, Android, Microsoft, Samsung etc….there are so many possibilities we can find something that works for all! My journey took me into the Microsoft Innovative Educator Pathway route two years ago, which lead to the Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert, Microsoft Innovative Expert Trainer, Microsoft Surface Pro Expert last year and just recently a Microsoft Innovative Educator Fellow! Yes I love my Microsoft!! I learned to develop those partnerships through Skype, O365 tools and that distance is no longer problems or issues as collaboration and teamwork can be done despite time zones, distance! Through my Microsoft Connections I learned about Remind 101 (communication tool for home school connections) and became and Remind Ambassador, I learned about Write to Give (Incredible Learning adventure – please see other blog postings) and became a Teacher Ambassador and will be venturing with Write to Give to Africa next August to meet the staff, students and schools in Africa. Microsoft brought me to the incredible team at Fair Chance Learning; Martha and Dustin are amazing people! Lia; whom after meeting her at this years E2 in Toronto feels like one of my previously mentioned EA Mommies….through email and twitter I feel as if I know her for my whole life and that first face to face meeting and hug was something that set a tone and inspired me to continue working on my partnerships on twitter even though they are overseas! Because as Kaylyn Dorland (another inspiring amazing twitter friend and Ignite speaker partner) has seen on her trip this year in Spain; she actually connected and met with a few of her twitter friends during her trip. I met Brian, Lisa and Derek through FCL whom inspire and push me everyday! I love Brian’s crazy ways with anything and everything he does and Lisa’s fantastic video’s of her children trying new innovations and her inspiring coding demo’s and Derek’s passion and energy in his practise! Microsoft has started an incredible journey that I hope is long from being over!! I thoroughly look forward to all things Microsoft everyday!
- My children; now I know Johnathon did this one as well, but I have to totally agree with him! I was a different person, a different teacher prior to kids. I was also a different person and teacher prior to my three amazing kids; Xander (6 yrs), Callie and Abbie (4 yrs my Twins) started school. Xander really struggled and I truly finally seen the ‘other side of the coin’. When parents come to us and state their case, their concerns for their child, I honestly thought I knew what they were talking about….but during my first conference with Xander’s kindergarten teacher (whom was also my highschool co-op and college placement supervisor) I stopped dead in a middle of my parental concerns for my child, totally lost my train of thought and finally seen / understood past, current and future parents perspectives….it was this moment when I was given insight into truly understanding parents! I remember my wife and that teacher being concerned I had a stroke or something…but it was a flash of reality! I have tried to explain this to others, but honestly I do not believe nor think anyone without a child (even without a child IN school) can see and understand this! Not that I am promoting having kids, although I would consider them my greatest achievement in life to date and they challenge and drive me nuts everyday but I love them so much that I wouldn’t change a thing! Xander and my girls are all totally different people, yes my identical twins (whom even have identical teeth…or so I was recently told by the dentist after x-rays) are different…each child is unique, incredible and come with different backgrounds, experiences yet they also come armed with ammo! Just like Johnathon’s daughter Izzy and my son Xander their ‘ammo’ can spark such powerful learning, we as teachers need to see what their arsenal, bag of tricks is and bring it out for all to see! I just had a flashback on a blog posting on ‘My Friend Gabby’ this past year….that was a moment I will never forget…all it took from me was acceptance! All kids are gifts! I thoroughly believe everything happens for a reason and its a comforting notion in hard times, but also uplifting to know at the same time as teachers! Each child is unique and there with you for a reason….find that reason, build rapport and get to know your kids…..when I learned this I took my rapport building to new heights and levels. The best feeling is the last day of school each year as tears run down your face because you love each child and will miss them so much, but the best part….know they will be awesome because of the time you had together!
OK, so there we go, all done, but when thinking and reflecting on this I know tomorrow this list could / should possibly be different! On so it should, having a growth mindset and forward thinking movement the future should always bring forth learning for you, everyday holds something new, every experience and moment can teach you something….grab it, embrace it and learn from it!! Until tomorrow…….