Monday, April 16, 2012

Getting back into the groove

The last post was a bit of a rant about the lost of early dismissal and the lost of ten teaching days.  I have to say it was nice last summer to have three extra weeks to work with our "struggling" students.  My class was composed of our students who had finished grade seven except for two grade six students, one of whom is in my grade seven this year.  She has had a really good year academically.  She feels the summer gave her a great start, she went to homework club ( a program ran once a week in our first two terms by through our Community Schools program giving our students one on one tutoring from a high school or college student), and she got  hooked on reading.  She is now a B to A student. 

In the last two weeks I received two new students, each from the Philippines.  They have taken English in school but it is not their first language.  They both have moms who have been working in Canada seven or eight years and now the family has been reunited.  Lots of transitions.  This is quite common in our school.  The Philippines have many trained professionals but jobs are not plentiful there and the wages are not sufficient often to support a family.

My new students can read and write English but not at grade level here obviously.  They also have to face a different curriculum and they are entering a class in April.  Fortunately we had parent teacher interviews this week so that I was able to spend a bit of time with the parents learning about their situation and the students' background and giving them a few suggestions to help their children.  I have another student who entered the class in March from another district who came from Central America after fourth grade and is now in Grade Six.  She is a smart girl who has done incredibly well learning English but again she has needed some extra supports.  For instance, in the last three weeks our Latin American support worker has been in several times.  And now things are going well. 

I am very thankful for my class who are so welcoming and helpful to our new students.  I can assure you it takes more than one teacher to teach a class.  It takes students teaching each other for one thing.  My students are great about helping each other with their math for instance or teaching each other how to use various technological tools. 

After our vote next week we will probably enter a new phase of job action due to government basically stripping our contract.  For instance, there will be no class size limits, no limit to the number of students with special needs.   In this new phase, we will probably drop extra curricular activities, activities we volunteer to do with our students outside of the teaching day. This is hard-any new activities for our Me to We club are now suspended for instance.    On the other hand, I get to take my class  on field trips again as I can collect money. What can I say?  We don't like this but the idea of going on strike and watching our money go into the government's hands again is not appealing, but the whole situation is frustrating.

The government has paid less and less of its budget on public education through the years.  It's cheaper to give more money to private schools or pay for stadiums or whatever, or waste money on testing that the media and Fraser Institute try to use to compare schools.  

Anyway I go back to class today, knowing what I do is valuable and worthy no matter what my employer thinks.  The government doesn't think much of teachers but they always seem to think we are miracle workers who are able to teach any number of students with any number of needs...

I promise next blog no more ranting...

Just looking at my pictures you can see we had another great story telling session at Moberly Arts Centre.  Everyone planted onions in the herb garden as part of our Fire theme.  The session also featured some cooperative games that the students really enjoyed as well as working on our Bear and Scorpion saga... This week we also had our first Human Eyes Youth Made workshop, which the students really enjoyed as well and really made them think in different ways.  Grade six students have been working on projects on poverty with our teacher librarian and the grade sevens have been finishing up their Ancient Rome projects.  Most of our grade seven students spent a day at John Oliver a couple of weeks ago while the rest of the class was able to do some training to help be better Peer Helpers.  You can see in the pictures that they are still making good use of the ipads.  And yes we do find time for Math and Language Arts and Science and French... Busy times!

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