Author Archives: Penny Senior

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Go off and interview those whom your action plan will benefit is what I was told…..so I did.

As I began each interview with my “why” (thinking about the importance of being a woman and being financially literate, imagining how empowering this skillset is over a lifetime and teaching my students to have a voice and choice in their future), it became increasingly apparent that each and every one of us has a story to tell. During the interviews, each person was true and authentic to themselves, and I want to really give a big shout out for their intimate answers and sharing of their personal journeys. 

Who did I interview? I started with three grade 11 students who took my financial literacy class in grade 9, just to hear what they remember or have done in the past 2 years. Then I approached three teachers from Grade 6, 9, and 11, to hear their perspective of integrating financial literacy in the classroom. Finally, I had an interview with a wonderful woman who worked on Wall Street for 5 years, came back to Canada and became a partner for a Financial Planning Company (with many adventures in between). 

In the end, we all want the same thing, and thus the 3 insights that I took away from this process are:

  1. Students, teachers, administration, parents, guardians, future employers, etc. all see value in teaching financial literacy in the classroom. The impact of real-world scenarios taught within the school system is that it will prepare our students for life after high school.

  2. Teachers, students, administration are concerned there is no time to develop this skillset within the current curriculum expectations. But, if there was a resource where teachers could grab a quick problem-solving question or real-world example from a bank of prepared options, they could include financial literacy in their classroom program, just not as a discrete unit. This would also allow for cross-curricular integration, not just in math class.

  3.  We live in a virtual world where money is no longer a tangible item and this concept needs to be taught. Having a ‘budget’ is often discussed, but not how to budget. It is important for our students to understand the online aspects of saving, spending, and investing.

As I sort through my research and resources I am struck by a few comments from my students that I would like to share and really highlight why this action plan is so important.

“Our parents are financially stable and take care of us. We lack experience and opportunity”

“As a kid in our generation, we are so tempted to consume more. This influences us to spend when we don’t have enough.”

“As part of my culture, it is taboo to discuss money when you are a child.”

We are the endgame before our students hit the real world. Let’s make sure they are prepared for what’s about to hit them!

 

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Approaching this next step in my Cohort 21 adventure was, to say the least overwhelming!  I had such a broad topic, but great ideas (or so I believed). Eventually, I took my own advice to my students and drew a big picture brainstorm… I was looking at the impact on students, teachers, parents, myself… and then my awesome coach said one word… WHY?

“Create a vision board, define your why clearly, give us your back story and use your empathy, which I can so clearly see you have,'' was the advice Sam @swelbourn gave me. It seems so easy when she says it… yet so hard to write it out on paper!

So I will start with my why…
Why am I here at Trafalgar?
Why am I participating in Cohort 21?
Why am I leaning towards financial literacy and business for my action plan?
Why do I want my students (and my own children) to be financially literate?
Why do I want my students to put their money in the right place?

It all comes down to three things: mindset, skills, and real-world application.

My backstory is pretty simple, I grew up poor. I was raised by a single mom, who didn’t work because she grew up with the belief that the “father worked and the mom stayed home to take care of the children". And then, they divorced. We grew up using welfare, food banks, and sometimes living in the dark with no electricity or heat. I went to work at the age of 14 to help support our family of 5. Eventually, I graduated from university with a $46,000 debt (which I am happy to say was paid off before I was 40). But I had no concept of investments or even how to balance a budget because it wasn’t taught at school and I certainly didn’t learn it at home.

Working at Trafalgar has provided me the opportunity to promote women and finance, to demonstrate the importance of life skills, to help my students extend their knowledge, and to help them to make connections between learning and the real world. It has and will continue to allow me to foster confidence and self-assurance  within my math classroom. Today I am thinking about the importance of being a woman and being financially literate. I am imagining how empowering this skillset is over a lifetime. This is one way that I will choose to empower the girls I teach to have a voice & choice in their future.

My action plan for Cohort 21 is developing, by starting with a look at women and finance. I plan to extend this learning into providing teachers with the ability to implement a program in their classroom; perhaps with a continuum throughout each grade, perhaps with a resource for teachers to access, perhaps with an assistant to ease implementation?

As I  work through my ideation process, I realize that I will need to interview both students and teachers before I can really identify my action plan. I am excited to begin my interviews and will report back soon. 

I welcome any feedback, suggestions, or connections to help me out in this process! 

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c21_logo_mediumWelcome to you Cohort 21 Blog. This journal is an integral part of your Cohort 21 experience. Here you will reflect, share , collaborate  and converse as you move through the C21 Action Plan process. 

This is your first post and an opportunity to share a little bit about yourself as a learner and leader. Please respond the to the following prompts below:

1) Reflect on your own personal learning journey and K-12 education. Identify one learning experience that you can point to as having made a significant impact on some element of your own growth and development. It could be that teacher and subject that really sparked significant growth or a trip that opened your eyes to a whole new world or way of thinking or a non-catastrophic failure that you learned so much from.  Briefly describe the learning experience and identify the various supports, structures, mindsets and relational ingredients that were put in place by the teacher or facilitator that directly contributed to your growth and success. 

When I first began teaching 15 years ago, I was eager and enthusiastic (to say the least). I was excitable (still am) and my Director of School pulled me aside and said, "Penny, you need to control the intonation of your voice. It's very high pitched and excitable. The students will pick up on this and you will have a massive headache by the end of the day because they will all sound like you.".... I was thrown back a little, and then processed what she was saying. The energy that you bring to the classroom is indeed mimicked by the students (positive and negative). She had me sit down with a mirror and practice how I was talking. It was weird..uncomfortable...mind blowing. I saw myself as the students saw me. We worked through not only my volume, but also what I was saying. We worked on this for the entire school year, I tested the theory of energy levels, volume levels, and mindset. It was fascinating and really gave me a full understanding of the impact I had on the students (and vice versa!)

2) What is the one Learning skill (MOE) or Approach to Learning (IB ATL) that you feel is MOST important in this day and age? How do you intentionally build it into your curriculum and develop it in your students throughout the year?

I feel the most important Learning Skill is Collaboration. When developed students are able to accept various roles, share the workload evenly, develop peer to peer relations, think critically, resolve conflict, have their own opinions, support those opinions through sharing, but then also positively respond to other's opinions. Through collaboration we can all learn something new. This is built into the curriculum with group and partner work, Think, pair, share, comparing solutions to a problem, (open ended math questions are the best for this!). In advisor we discuss different options to conflicts that could arise (or have already). Accepting that your solution may not be the best is part of collaboration and self learning. 

3) Insert an image below that best captures the essence of that Learning Skill or ATL.

 

https://weand.me/2018/09/10/55-quotes-to-spark-engagement/