Stop Drinking Sour Milk and You’ll Like Your Cereal A Whole Lot More

In today’s society, we always seem to find more pleasure complaining about something than we do enjoying something. I don’t know if the bad makes our lives that much more interesting, or it is a competition to see who is having a worse day than the next person. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve gotten trapped in the “whoa is me” one too many times. And I can’t help thinking to myself…why?

I can’t help but think back to the end of my first year in University – I had just decided that I wanted to transfer into Education. I was pumped, ecstatic, jumping through the ROOF! I could not wait to go back home to tell everyone the good news – past teachers who I have looked up to for years, my friends, old co-workers. I was finally making my passion of helping children a reality. I don’t have any teachers in my family – I didn’t hear the inside scoop of what teaching was all about. All I knew was that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

I remember walking into my old high school to watch my younger brother play volleyball, and I saw many of my past teachers – elementary and high school. They came up to me with arms open wide, excited to hear what I had been doing for the past year at University. They were gleaming as I talked to them about my year in Radiology, telling me they knew that I was going to be successful….but then I told them that I changed…”A Doctor?” they asked. “Optometrist? Nurse?”. The looks on their faces when I told them I transferred to Education was the face you give someone after you pick a booger in front of them and eat it.

Then they gave it to me. They couldn’t believe that I would waste all my brains and talents on teaching. These people, who I have looked up to for years for all their hard work and commitment to myself as a student, an athlete, a musician — All those memories flushed away by those few words. I thought they loved their jobs – they are one of the main reasons that I wanted to become a teacher.

They told me that teaching would be the most difficult thing in my life — that the benefits didn’t outweigh the bad. I was worried..did I make the right decision? Maybe I should stay in Radiology. I don’t want a career that makes me seem like a waste.

And now I’ve experienced it – the hardships, the stress, the hopelessness – and I’m not even in my internship yet. But in this short time I have realized that there is more than that…. I’ve experienced passion, friendship, aha moments, laughter, memories, growth, and love. I have no doubt in my mind that teaching will be the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life. However, I also know that it will be the easiest thing, because I love what I’m doing. Teaching is my passion.

To those who told me that I made a mistake – stop pouring sour milk into my cereal. Stop making me see everything as a limitation and start seeing it as a journey. As a profession, we need to stop focusing on what makes our job sour. As with any career, there are days that you will want to quit – I’ve already had a few and I’m not ashamed to say it. There are those days – however, if we continue to let those negative thoughts run through our heads and drown out the good moments then it will be an awful experience for us until the last day that we hear that school bell ring.

As a society, we should be proud that there are people out there who want to become part of the school system to make a change – to be an advocate for student learning. Just as proud as we are for nurses who want to help those in need, or firefighters who risk their lives everyday. Every job is only as perfect as you let it be.

Today, I am proud to call myself an educator. I have had an amazing opportunity to grow alongside 29 other individuals with the same aspirations as my own, and I cannot wait to see where my journey continues. I am still pumped, ecstatic, and jumping through the ROOF! Because I have the most rewarding experiences of my life right ahead of me.

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When Students Become Your Role Models

When students become your role models, you simply don’t forget.

You think this must all be a dream but it ain’t finished yet.

You see them holding hands and prancing.

It’s obvious they’re friendship dancing.

All taking in this special day of truth and reconciliation

Because of these kids we hope someday we’ll become a stronger nation.

This is exactly what I was fortunate enough to experience today, on April 14th, 2016. It was a special day, not only for myself, not only for the University of Regina, but for the schools around Saskatchewan to be a part of the Treaty Education Day for Truth and Reconciliation for all First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities, families and individuals.

The students I was volunteering with attended the “Voices of the Youth” and “Project of IMG_8276Heart” workshops. Every individual was welcomed into the session with open arms and open hearts. Because of this experience, Saskatchewan grew stronger as a community.

Today, I experienced sorrow for the children and families who were personally affected by the residential schools.

Today, I experienced pain for the First Nations, Metis and Inuit children who are still negatively impacted by the affects of the residential schools.

Today, I experienced humility to be in the presence of Noel Starblanket and other residential school survivors.

Today, I experienced Indigenous and Non-Indigenous children hold hands in dance and praise.

Today, I experienced power between Indigenous and Non-indigenous peoples.

Today, I felt privileged to experience the beginning of a safer, brighter and more collaborative future for all of Canada’s people.

I have never been so much in awe at a child’s power. I had the opportunity to see young people band together and promise to make a change – to make a change that will better the lives of others.

#MyReconciliationIncludes creating a safe learning environment for all students to use their differences as a strength, not a weakness.

#MyReconciliationIncludes helping my students find the strength to be advocates for social justice, peace and equality for all of Canada’s peoples.

 

17 km in a 21 km Marathon

It is 2:30 on a Friday afternoon – and I have just been asked to teach Math — Tessellations. “Sure!” I replied in an enthusiastic tone. I was excited, ready to go. “The kids will love this lesson” I thought to myself (I had been practicing making my own tessellations at home for the past week). Then the students walked into the room after recess and I could see it in their eyes…this was going to be interesting.

No matter how much we think university prepares us to teach – we really have no idea until we are actually out into the real world. No class can teach you how to handle a child that has just eaten a whole container of livewires. No class can teach you how to tell a student who has a championship basketball game that night to stop talking to his teammates. AND especially, no one tells you how to try to teach mathematics to a bunch of 14 year olds on a Friday afternoon.

No matter how exciting or engaging of a lesson we think we might create, it all depends on how each student feels that day – are they going to bite, maybe just a nibble, or are they running away before they even give it a chance. But the most important thing is that we do not get frustrated at this. This might sound strange, but just because they are talking does not necessarily mean that they are off task or not listening. My students were able to combine the high level of energy they had to take part in both my lesson and their other thoughts. And as frustrating as it was at the time for me, I cannot help but look back and think about how that was the perfect learning experience for me. Sure, I might have cried at the very end when my coop asked me how I thought it went, but it really did not go as bad as I thought. We cannot get stressed out about the things that sometimes we just can’t control. And, just because we are right in the middle of that situation, someone on the outside looking in might think it was wonderful.

That’s exactly what my cooperative teacher thought. She saw absolutely nothing wrong with the lesson and in fact thought that it was really great! Just because we think something might have gone wrong, we cannot get down on ourselves too quickly. Lessons will not always work out the way we want them to, and this is going to happen whether we are in our last week of pre-internship or our 40th year of teaching.

After this lesson, my cooperative teacher provided me with the best metaphor for teaching I have ever heard.

The Journey of Teaching

Through the Eyes of A Marathon Runner

You are at the starting line – feeling pumped and ready to go. Heck, I can do this! I have got everything planned, I’ve trained for this!

5 km in – This is easy! The sun is shining the birds are singing. People are cheering me on. Why did I not think of doing this sooner?

12 km – Okay, getting a little tired. Did I prepare enough for this? No one told me about this hill coming up….

17km – I’m dying. My knees are bleeding, I’ve got a cramp on both sides — I’m sweating. I’m done, I can’t go on. I need an ambulance, throwing in the towel…

19 km – Wait a minute. I can do this. I can see the finish line! Keep pushing through you got this!

21 km – You cross the finish line, feeling triumphant. You are not looking back at the dark moments of the 17th km. The next day you begin to prepare for your next marathon.

Don’t sweat it. These last 3 weeks may not have gone as precise and perfect as you initially planned. Your fresh, never before seen or touched lessons are going out into the world of teaching for the first time. There will always be some bumps in the road — you may even get a few bruises, but that is what makes it a journey worth taking.

This is just my first marathon, and I cannot wait to kick butt in my next 1000.

When Teaching the Outcomes Just Isn’t Good Enough

Target for Today – Do not spill hot chocolate on yourself or a child

Try Again – Do not spill hot chocolate on a child

One more time – Ensure that all hot chocolate is cleaned up at the end of the day

For the first time in my entire university and teaching career have I finally come to realize why it is so difficult to fit in every single outcome and indicator in every subject. Within 2 weeks, I have been faced with a skiing trip, high school meet and greet, professional development days and conventions, play days, jig dancing, pep rallies – you name it, I’ve experienced it. Suddenly a 15 day pre-interning marathon has turned into a 9/10 day sprint.

But hey, after a nice sprint you always have room for….hot chocolate?

Regardless of feeling rushed to finish my lessons, I have found something much more significant within this experience than teaching. These 3 weeks, and the rest of my career is all about building a community – strengthening connections with students, teachers and parents. To me, healthy social interaction and the development of relationships is my number one priority as an educator. I want to get to know my students and colleagues beyond our main connection of being at the same school. And for the past two weeks I have had immense opportunities to develop this community.

On the school’s Play Day, Amie and I had the opportunity to man the bonhommehot chocolate station. Because of this, we got to meet every single student in the school. More than that, we got to visit with a couple of parents, one of which used to be a principal within the Regina Public School Division. And I think to myself – in the end what is most important? That the students covered every single outcome, or that we came together as a school and a community to better the lives of students in a more holistic way?

Beyond that, I became one of the school’s biggest sports fans. From the day I arrived at the school to the day I left, I went to every single girls’ and boys’ basketball game. I drove across the city, sported the school’s colours and sat on the front bleachers cheering for the boys’ team in the city finals – that my friends is what teaching is all about. Day after day I was able to build connections with my students based off those games, and we learned more about one another and developed relationships beyond the simple teacher-student role. I am going to miss these students when I leave, not because I taught them, but because I got to know them.

When I made a mistake in my math lesson, one of my students said, “You got this Bro.” And when one of the boys showed me his secret handshake, I knew from there that I was accepted as one of their own.

Teaching the outcomes and indicators are obviously important (if it wasn’t I would strongly be questioning the profession); however, we cannot simply rely on that concept. Being a teacher goes beyond assigning students questions from the textbook. Build those connections with your students. Develop those relationships with your colleagues. And most importantly, become part of a community that supports, nourishes and strengthens each and every child’s experience.

These are the memories that I will cherish the most — Getting a picture with Bonhomme, laughing over spilled hot chocolate, cheering for the kids in my class, being shown a secret handshake and being called “Bro.”

So if you think one of your lessons did not go as well as you wanted it to – look back at the relationships you have created prior to that lesson. In the end, do you think your students care, because you made an addition error…no. They care that you asked them about their weekend, or they saw your face in the crowd of their hockey game. Don’t worry, you got this bro.

Honey, I Shrunk My Students!

I walked into my school over the moon excited – Ready to see my students from last semester, and anxious to rock my very first mathematics unit. However, my experience started out a little differently than I initially expected.

For the last three out of four teaching days, my students have looked a little shorter than usual. Because of my grade 8’s busy schedule — visiting their new high school, adventuring out on ski trips, and preparing for the school’s giant play day — I had the opportunity to explore the uncharted jungles of little people – aka a grade 3 classroom. Now this classroom was not just down the hall – I had to walk down the hall, passed the mangled shoe racks, through the library, and up the stairs into little kid land.

When I first walked into the classroom, I felt like an alien. The students stared at me with wide eyes and whispered to one another trying to figure out what I was. Soon enough, the bold one of the group spoke out, “who the heck are you?” And from there, I knew it was love.  The upstairs of the school is a magical place. Where the young ones roam the hallways and hugs are seen more than words spoken in a day.  I instantly felt part of a brand new community – one that was welcoming and hung on to every breath I took.

This was a brand new experience for me. I had the opportunity to watch the grade 3 students practice and perform their drama skits, take part in their learning experience of multiplication using array boards, and even planned my very own physical education lesson 20 minutes before the class started. Who knew that in 20 minutes I could create a lesson that the students absolutely loved! I do not think that I have had a better teaching moment prior to this experience.

By the end of the week I was every grade 3’s favourite teacher, and they could not understand why I had to go back downstairs to my grade 8’s. However, above them I think I am even more thankful that I got to be a part of their journey in learning how to multiply and divide, to that which a child corrected me that they were learning “timesing, and absolutely not multiplying.” How could I have fallen in the trap of thinking otherwise – thank goodness the students got me back on track.

I am so overjoyed that I have had the opportunity to learn alongside these young, bright students in my 3 weeks of pre-interning.  They have shown me what it means to truly love learning. The fascination and wonder that these students have is humbling to see – which pushes me to try even harder to find that same fascination and wonder in my grade 8 students.

I have gained such a significant relationship with them in that short of a time, which really strengthens why I want to become an educator.  I am excited to see how my journey throughout pre-internship continues, and I am ready to take on the rest of my teaching career full force – no matter which jungle I end up roaming in.

The Write Way to Grow: Why Students Should Blog

I will be honest — I was one of those skeptical individuals when it came to technology. I hated it, it never worked, and I would rather have something paper copy then waste my time with a computer. Is it because I have never actually gotten to work with a computer that works more than it breaks down? Maybe, but I also just never really got to experience using technology growing up, so it was not something that I was used to.

Then, in September 2015, I walk into my ECS 300 class. And to my despair, everything was to be done online, including an online blog and teaching portfolio. Hell rained down on me for I had already created a teaching portfolio in a nice binder laying underneath my bed. And to add to my enjoyment, we were to blog every week about something that occurred in our lives as students and future educators.

I was pretty against the whole idea of blogging at first — I am pretty personal and private, I don’t feel like I have anything to write about that would interest people in reading it, and technology has just never been my friend. But I tried it. The first time was okay, the second a bit better, and so on. I am still learning about how to create engaging and personal blogs; however, I have found a whole new appreciation as to why blogging is so significant, especially in the world of education.

I have been bombarded with reasons why educators should blog — for the purpose of reflection. To learn and grow with other educators facing the same challenges or triumphs as myself. Then I got thinking: if blogging is so important for educators, it should be important for students. Right?

Regardless of my previous dislike for blogging, simply due to the fact that I had no experience with it, I truly believe that blogging can be an essential component to a student’s learning experience if brought forward to them in an appropriate way. So, through my own experience as a student, here are my reasons why students should blog:

  1. It’s fun! Ya ya, I know I said at the beginning that blogging isn’t fun. And many students at the beginning might agree with that idea. But the more and more I get the chance to write down my thoughts, the more I realize how easy and fun it is to let others know what I am thinking in my own space. When you blog, you forget why you are doing it. You forget that in the process of blogging, you are actually learning, and that’s fun!
  2. Blogging is Authentic — Through blogging, students are able to reach real rather than pretend audiences. It provides a sense of purpose behind the words that students are writing down.
  3. Open Reflection/Give Voice to Passion  — how often do we just sit down and reflect on something we have experienced or the thoughts running through our head.  As I said above, I am really private when it comes to my writing style and my thoughts. I even get nervous when I need to hand something into my teacher sometimes. However, through blogging, students are able to show their strengths in different ways, and teachers are able to gain insight on what a student really thinks instead of conforming to what they think their teacher wants to hear. They are able to present their passions, what is important to them by expressing their voice in any way they choose.
  4. Prepares students for digital citizenship — Even though you can essentially write whatever you want in your blog, blogging gives students the opportunity to learn what is appropriate or inappropriate to put online. So, they are learning how to be responsible digital citizens by doing, rather than by sitting and listening.
  5. Develop Connections — Similar to having an audience for their blog, students can learn from becoming a part of the blogging community — learning from others, communicating through similar and different ideas, and opening up their mind to new possibilities. Ultimately, testing our ideas on others is important for our growth. As we gain connections with others, we will be able to create those valuable conversations for that growth.
  6. Creates an Open Archive of Learning – through blogging, students are provided with an online work portfolio, where they are able to see how much they have grown throughout the school year. They are able to recognize their strengths, their weaknesses, their interests, their challenges and their triumphs. It truly is a well-rounded and authentic learning experience.

Even though I was skeptical about blogging at first, it is now one of the things that I look most forward to throughout the week. My mind is constantly spinning about what I should blog about, and this is definitely something that I will continue on with as my career in education unfolds.

I know there are tons of reasons why students or anyone should become part of the blogging community. These are just a few of my ideas. Why do you think students should blog?

When You Can’t Do It All

I was one of those weird kids in school. I always found more satisfaction being a part of all the sports’ teams and clubs instead of hanging out with friends. I enjoyed doing homework, because it made me feel successful. People didn’t like hanging out with me, because I never had a lot of time. People were always telling me to quit trying so hard and give others a chance. I was never really upset that I did not have a huge group of friends, because those that I did have I knew they loved me for who I was. But I couldn’t help but asking myself if it’s true that you need to sacrifice one part of your life just to succeed in another.

Once I got to University, I still tried to be a part of clubs or teams. I started going to the gym, going out with friends. The homework load was beginning to get overwhelming, and it was getting more evident to me that I couldn’t do it all. But I am one of those people constantly fighting for this unrealistic expectation of myself. I got anxiety every time I needed to hand something in, because I was never 100% satisfied with it. How can I even furstrated boyimagine myself handing in or showing anything less? I felt myself getting dragged into this idea that everything needs to be perfect before I show it off, even though I recognized that it is an impossible height to reach. But I tried, man did I try. I isolated myself from my friends, family, my interests. I was stressed.  I was frustrated. I was unhappy.  Life was not good.  I was miserable.  I felt overwhelmed and trapped.  I stopped trying to do the things I liked in an effort to make things better.  I reached a crisis in my life.  All I was doing was working, trying to improve the situation.  I stopped doing everything I enjoyed doing.  My family life suffered, my relationship suffered. I was spiraling downward.

But it seemed like no matter how much effort I put into my homework, it still never seemed good enough for my professors; my effort felt unappreciated or misunderstood. Was I not doing it the way they wanted it done? Am I doing too much the way they expected and wanted me to do something different? So then I tried the opposite. I started disregarding homework as important so that I could go and be with my family, I could go play Volleyball during the week and I could hang out with friends. But then I still tried to put 100% into my homework, only I had less time to do it. I had to get to the point where I was barely handing in assignments on time before I realized that I was losing who I was as a person, because I got so caught up in trying to do it all and being perfect at it all.

I had to get to the point where I could no longer fight for perfection, and to balance my life in the way that I could do my assignments the way I wanted to do them and I could still have a social life. It killed me at first that I was no longer putting 100% into my homework, but in order to do that I had to sacrifice everything else in my life.

Searching for perfection kills, yet everyone is still fighting so hard to find it. Why am I so worried about reaching a certain standard that I lose who I am as a person — my thoughts, better perfectionmy aspirations, my ideas? By trying to fit in and reach the standard, I was lowering my own standards and losing who I was.

It scares me to think that when you put 100% of your effort into something, that you still aren’t good enough. And you find that in every aspect of life. It’s impossible to fit into the expectations of society, yet we are forcing our students to do the same with how they learn in our classroom. We push them to come into the classroom with a positive attitude, with a brain to do everything, and the ability to do it all. We expect them to get the answer right the first time. We push them to be more creative, even though they might have given everything they have into their assignment before. 

I am still a perfectionist and I was and am still scared to do things in fear that I will make a fool of myself — I don’t like doing it unless I know that I am not guaranteed to fail. As future educators, we are taught to allow our students to explore, to do it their way, yet in the reality of us being students, we are not always provided with that same luxury.  How can I ask my students to open up their minds, to experiment, to open their doors wide to the idea of making mistakes, when I have been taught to be afraid of making mistakes. Are we Hippocrates for asking our students to do things that we can’t do ourselves? Or do I let my students know my worries, my fears and my wonders so that we can conquer the journey of making mistakes together.

I don’t ever want my students to experience what I had to in order to feel satisfied with themselves, or to feel that the effort they are putting into their work is being appreciated. Nothing is a worse feeling then when you put 100% of your heart into something, and it is seen as insignificant. I don’t want my students to feel like they need to do something a certain way just to make me happy, or to change how they think, because their teacher does not think the same way as them. I want my students to live, to enjoy what they are doing — to not let one aspect of their life control the other. I want my students to be open to making mistakes, and to not fear that everything they put in front of me will be judged. I don’t want them to do it all – I want them to be who they are.

I had to learn this the hard way — As humans we can’t do it all; so let’s not expect us to.

 

 

 

 

Self-Proclaimed Inquirer

Is inquirer even a word? Who knows — that’s why it is self-proclaimed. I guess someone will have to investigate and find out 🙂

However, inquiry requires more than simply answering questions or finding the right answer. It strengthens investigation, exploration and enhances student’s involvement to become a community of learners.

Moreover, inquiry is not just for students, but sometimes even more importantly for educators. And people, I am not talking about how student inquiry is so much better for teachers.  I am talking about genuine, hardcore inquiry for teachers done by teachers.

As educators we are faced with the challenge and responsibility of engaging students in learning that they develop the skills and knowledge to be able to function in today’s world. The only way that we can expect to do this is if we as teachers experience high levels of engagement ourselves.

I am so excited to learn about differentiating for student ability in the classroom alongside Amie, Emma and Kendra. Even just by discussing with them I have gained a new insight on how the idea of differentiation could be approached. I think that is the beautiful part of inquiry – that we are provided with the opportunity to see things from a different light – to gain different perspectives on the topic to ultimately create our own interpretation and vision and to share this knowledge with others. I am looking forward to seeing the approach that other groups are taking with their inquiry project, and the resources that they discover throughout their journey.

I truly appreciate being given the opportunity to dig deeper into differentiation. I have some sort of an idea how to approach this in my classroom, but I never realized before how broad of a range the process of differentiation is. Whether working with students who need a challenge, those who are struggling, those who lack interest, etc. – every student’s needs need to be taken into consideration in the classroom.

As for the inquiry process, we are taking it slowly for now. My group members and I are looking for information by searching online resources, twitter chats and anything else that we come across. Although there is not a huge amount of searching going on, once we further settle into our roles as students and educators, we will be well on our way by experiencing it in the classroom ourselves, as well as finding other helpful resources elsewhere.

The best part about inquiry for me is that it strengthens my perspective on how I want to implement it into my own classroom. It is like an inquiry within an inquiry – learning about my own topic while discovering how I want my students to do the same. I would never be able to expect my students to take part in such a process if I was not willing to do it myself. It is an amazing way to learn and grow as an individual – to gain knowledge and experience about a topic that you enjoy, and creating a product to share with others that you can take pride in.

Overall, I look forward to further discovering what differentiation is all about with Amie, Kendra and Emma throughout these next couple of months.

 

It’s The Little Things That Make a Difference

Today’s thoughts and media are surrounded with hate, anger, fear and worry. We often blame others for these feelings, and are unable to look beyond the actions taken.

Tragedy strikes us every day – near or far. A tragic event occurred in La Loche, Saskatchewan last week – a young man took the life of four individuals who resided in the small community. News articles and media headlines have been going around – what went wrong in this kid’s life, he deserves to be punished, etc. Is it because he is actually as bad as everyone says he is, or has no one ever taken the time to see the good that he did have to offer? Is everything so wrong in this world or are we just choosing to ignore the good, wholesome joy that can still be found?

Every day I try to read something from the Good News Network – to find something to be thankful for or be inspired by individuals or groups of people who have tried to make the world a place worth living – hope for humanity restored. Some may think that these stories need to be major headlines – 5 year old sews 1,000,000 sweaters for the homeless — no. It is the little things that go on in our lives that we often overlook, because we are so busy searching for something wrong or so absolutely wonderful that it is as though we dreamed it. So, I decided to share some of the positive life stories that I have discovered throughout this week – those that I have read somewhere or have personally experienced myself.

  • Couple’s New Family Portrait Honors “Angel” Children’s Memory. A couple had previously lost their three children, and while getting photos done, the photographer edited shadows of their children into the pictures.
  • A bearded Walmart Shopper is mistaken for Santa, and plays along for the child. She asks how the North Pole is, how the elves are doing making the presents – he role played the whole time for her.
  • The La Loche 18u girls’ volleyball team came to Saskatoon for the Sask Cup, despite the tragic events that occurred in their school just a week earlier. There was a long moment of silence after O Canada, purple ribbons were handed out to each individual attending the tournament (mine is attached to my backpack), and donations were offered to support the La Loche community – especially for the youth who cannot attend school at this time. It was truly an inspiration to see the girls rise above and play in the tournament. Family, friends, community members, and opponents came out to support the girls and found triumph throughout the weekend.

Now let’s turn this around to our students. No matter how much they may push our buttons – no matter how much you may want to kick them out of the classroom — no matter how much you secretly wish they will be sick that day – remember, there is good in everyone and everything. We need to look beyond what is happening right in front of us and dig deeper to find the child we know is there.

As an educator, I want to find the good in every individual; to find the heart and soul that each child possesses; to find the drive and motivation that each child has to succeed. And when I cannot find that, to not just ignore it and move on. To get the help that that child deserves, so that he or she is able to make the right choices and show the world the type of person they can be.

While our fears, our worries, and our biggest nightmares continue around us, we will not let them control us. I will not let my students fear the world that they are about to enter, but rather conquer those fears with passion and move forward together — stronger.

Just Because It Isn’t You, Doesn’t Mean it Can’t Affect You

Last week was quite a roller coaster with the conversations that we had in my ECS 311 class.

A cover of a Parents magazine was displayed on the wall – a mother trying to tame her wild child that was wearing a headdress and holding a tiger in her clenched fist. At first glance this may not be a problem to most people; however, it is a problem for many people.

We had an engaging conversation throughout our class about how it impacted us as individuals – without really going into how it may affect an individual or group of students in our classroom. Some people thought it would be easy to just walk past the magazine, ignoring its entirety. Others looked beyond how it would affect them personally, and reflected on how it could impact someone else, specifically First Nations communities. I was kind of in between – thinking that it did not impact me enough to do something about it, but I empathized for the individuals who felt negatively towards the message that the magazine article was trying to convey.

I never realized how much this topic impacted my thinking until I was in a similar position a few days later. My uncle posted a news article on Facebook about how a number of the Archbishops in Alberta are against schools developing support systems for students so that they can openly and safely identify their gender or sexuality. My uncle wrote some hoorah message with this article, about how he hopes that everyone supports this idea as we need to teach people the ways of the bible.

I grew up in a religious family. I go to church whenever I am home, and I have numerous values that stem from my religion; however, there are also numerous things that I have strayed away from. Such as, because they are instilling this idea that individuals who identify differently than their “original sex” need to be helped. I follow the sexuality that I was born with; however, I still felt deeply offended by my uncle’s position on the matter.

After reading this, I thought that I could just deal with it by continuing to scroll through my feed and ignore it. However, the conversation we had this week in ECS came into my mind and I knew that I had to make my feelings known to my uncle.

Whether something personally affects me or not, as an educator I need to be aware of how certain events such as this can have an impact on my students. Even though he is my uncle, I did not feel comfortable with the negativity and hatred he had towards a community. I unfriended him (sounds funny, but you get it), because I felt that if I just scrolled past it then it was almost as though I agreed with what he said. I had to message him and explain the situation to him, why his words upset me, and how I could not be associated with this idea as an educator.

It worries me that there are parents or people out there who have such strong views towards certain things, and that that strong view is being transferred onto their children. It scares me even more that there are school systems that follow these same values. A classroom, or school, is supposed to be a safe place for all individuals, regardless of their differences. This past week has taught me that as an educator I need to step up for all of my students so that they feel like they can be whoever they want to be in my classroom, and in society. As for students who share similar views as my uncle or who have negative perceptions about the differences that people have, I hope to open their minds to see the beauty in everyone around them.

I am ashamed that something had to negatively affect me in a similar way before I realized how wrong the magazine cover is. As a teacher, I could no longer just think about my own feelings, my own thoughts, and my own perceptions. The level of diversity in my classroom will most likely be more than I can handle somedays; however, I need to master the areas that I can to make each individual feel safe in my classroom. Whether individuals or a community are shamefully being brought down on a magazine cover or in an article, it is my job to even more so now think about others.