Back in the saddle

September 18, 2014

Hello again,

I hope you all had a wonderful summer filled with fun, relaxation, shenanigans, learning, or whatever else you look for in a summer. Mine featured all of the above but since this a blog devoted to my professional development, I’ll focus on the learning:

I started the summer off with a stint in the Ottawa Fringe Festival doing a one-man show titled Portable #3: Not Just another French Class. It documented the trials and tribulations of a ‘fictitious’ first-year french teacher named Mr. Gibson, and featured everything from singing and dancing to slam poetry and impressions of my mom. I consider it professional development because I had to produce it, which gave me a great appreciation for what drama teachers have to do every year with the school play (though I had the additional concern of making back the $750 artist fee required by the Ottawa Fringe Festival). It went very well, though, thanks to the advertising efforts of my friends and family, and it was even an honourable mention for the Critics’ Choice Award. You can learn more at the show’s website.

At the beginning of July, I attended a week-long summer institute hosted by the Jackman Humanities Institute. The theme for the institute was Play, Humour, and Games, so I had high hopes. Though I had signed up to learn about Law and Ancient History, I was placed in the mini-courses for Food and Mount Everest. At first I was hesitant to go – especially since three of the five days were held at U of T Scarborough – but I had already paid so I figured “What the heck? I’ll give it a shot.” Needless to say, I’m very glad I stuck with it. I met some awesome people ranging from kindergarten teachers to history profs, and while the section on Mount Everest wasn’t too hot, the Food course was amazing. The professor was sharp and interesting, and we made a different dish every day while talking about the history and social implications of different types of food. The reading was a bit heavy but I had a blast!

I also took a six week AQ course title Reading Part 1. I kept joking that I was learning to read again – a year of teaching French will do that to you – but I actually learned a great deal about the intricacies of facilitating literacy development in young learners. It was a considerable amount of work so I’m glad I had the free time to do the readings and group work. It certainly got me psyched about doing guided reading with students at school this year.

Lastly, while this might not count as professional learning, I volunteered for a week at Camp Oochigaes as a Canoe Tripper. For those who have never heard of Camp Ooch before, it’s a residential camp near Rosseau Lake for kids with cancer that also runs programs year round in Toronto. It was arguably one of the most fun times I’ve ever had at a camp, and that’s coming from seven summers of camp counselling! The kids were phenomenal and the volunteers and staff blew me away with their energy and enthusiasm. The singing, the paddling, the campfires, the food, the ridiculous moments and the tough times all made the whole experience very memorable and reminded me of why I work with kids. I’d highly recommend it to anyone with one or two free weeks in the summer.

Now I find myself three weeks into the school year and up to my neck in lesson plans, assessments and all the little issues that stem from teaching Core French to boys under the age of 9. Bathroom and water breaks are no longer the issue they once were but my course load has increased and the kids are proving to be every bit as interesting as they were last year. I’m still continuing my partnership with Memarden and I’ve got high hopes for the new interface it features. I’m also thinking that I’ll get the kids involved in lesson creation this year so I’ll let you know how that goes. My primary french class may  never be fully flipped but I’m still stoked about continuing the task I set out for myself last year. Any advice or words of wisdom you could offer would be much appreciated!

To everyone just joining Cohort 21, welcome aboard. It’s a lot of fun and you meet a lot of cool individuals. I encourage you to experiment and try new this, and I hope you all have a great year!

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