Four months ago, I began teaching inmates in two of Ontario's maximum security jails. The experience has taught me a lot in a very short amount of time. I'm learning about an alternative universe that exists in parallel to mine. I'm accessing a dimension which is completely divergent from the one I was born into, and I'm still trying to digest it all.
Troy Aossey via Getty Images
As a Canadian, it's hard to believe it's possible for teachers to successfully educate 104 children of different grades in a single classroom. Where children sit on a dirt floor, have an empty stomach, don't have sufficient school supplies for their needs. Children excited to be in school, no matter how far they had to walk under a blazing sun.
Klaus Vedfelt via Getty Images
Grammar and academic writing can sound like pretty dry topics, and may not necessarily spark the imagination of your students straight away. Fortunately there are some tips and tricks available to make sure your lessons are properly understood, and your students feel interested and get involved in the topic.
Sylvain Sonnet via Getty Images
Having a positive classroom environment and solid relationships with both students and parents can make any teaching professional's life so much easier. But a happy classroom, comfortable students, and supportive parents don't simply happen by themselves. Instead, they're the result of hard work and preparation.
Oko_SwanOmurphy via Getty Images
As I have written previously, I am the spouse of a teacher and spend a lot of time with teachers. I'd like to start the new school year by reminding you of some truths about teachers. So if your child comes home and complains about something that happened at school give the teacher the benefit of the doubt.
cyano66 via Getty Images
While the first day of a new school year is usually daunting to say the least -- Will my teachers like me? Will I like my teachers? Who's in my classes? Will people be nice to me? -- nothing compares to walking into the classroom for the very first time. This is especially true for the new teacher.
Zia Soleil via Getty Images
As our lives became more hectic and lifestyles more busy, the traditional model of family also shifted. No longer were women staying at home, living out their lives as "domestic goddesses," and increasing numbers of men were shown to be not particularly handy when it came to making and fixing things, and that was okay. But now, our kids don't have those skills at all. What happened?
PeopleImages via Getty Images
I may have never taught you, but I want you to hear this: I feel I know you. I taught you, kid. Or versions of you. Taught you in kindergarten, in Grade 3, again in Grade 5 and in Grade 7. You moved quickly through the years. And now you are finally here, at the pinnacle of your secondary schooling career. You've reached the top, kid. This is it.
Greg Halinda/Canadian Press
I know that the August "me" and the May "me" are just two totally different people. Autumn was made for teachers. Ahh, yes. There is no time quite like fall and the beginning of the school year for assessing prime teacher performance. Fall is just our best time. We're at our peak. On our game.
Christopher Futcher via Getty Images
Fellow friends, as we care deeply and mourn the great losses of our friends in far-flung parts of this great nation, as we grieve for Fort McMurray -- as we grieve for others: may we never forget that it is the care that binds our hearts together, knitted tightly and perhaps even eternally with cords of love and compassion.
Kindergarten is not what it used to be. It traditionally was a place with time for inquiry, discovery, creativity, invention, innovation, imagination and wonder. With the shifts in thinking, it has become in some jurisdictions an environment subjected to the perils of standardization, conformity and primarily cognitive-focused learning. If full-day kindergarten is ever to truly be a success story, it must return to its roots and core values.
We are doing a huge disservice to our kids. We are raising a generation of children who are going to be incapable of succeeding in the modern era. They are being taught to be egocentric and to give up, often before even trying.
damircudic via Getty Images
Children need time to imagine, play, create, be curious, read, write and dream. Children need time to explore and discover. Children quite simply need time. And without that time, they will become anxious, agitated, fearful, worried, nervous, restless, apprehensive and uneasy. The state of their mental health becomes a huge concern merely based on the decrease of time they are allotted during the school day within which to function as typical four and five-year-olds do: with child-like, playful abandon.
As necessary and significant as teachers know curriculum is to our work and calling: you must also realize that we will throw it all under the bus if it means assisting a child. We will put it all on the back burner if our students need us to teach them life lessons that will help them be better friends, better citizens, better people.
Wavebreakmedia Ltd via Getty Images
"The world only spins forward," wrote Tony Kushner. Schools, on the other hand, too often only spin. Or they get stuck altogether. When they do, blame does not always lie tidily with teachers, adminis...
damircudic via Getty Images
What does "learning" look like? It's still fair to say that the lecture format is core to many educational programs, but technology is advancing and creating opportunities for technology-enhanced and online learning to be more experiential, more flexible, and more engaging.
altrendo images via Getty Images
Teachers: we have this year to write a part for ourselves in a child's life. To write a scene for ourselves in a student's life. To influence a young person, a teenager, a young adult in the writing of their life account. It might seem a small role. But we are crucial in that we are those who can make a difference.
Sometimes as teachers I feel we forget that we have priorities. There are some things more important than others. Curriculum is necessary, but if the house is on fire, that document is not coming with me. Outcomes are necessary but if the room is under threat, I will not give them a moment's notice. Lesson plans are useful, but if a child's life is at risk, that carefully laid-out plan for my day would be the last thing on my mind.
You've heard of the recent attacks on women's healthcare in the States, but in Canada, we're feeling the impact too. For 50 years, Planned Parenthood Ottawa has been there for our community, providing unbiased counselling, education, advice and support. But it's become increasingly hard to do our work. Planned Parenthood is under attack, by people who oppose healthcare for women and the trans community, who don't want youth to get the education they need, and who dedicate themselves to cutting our funding every way they can.
Shutterstock / Rob Marmion
We are not taught to notice, we are taught to do. Told to get out our pencil and pens. Get out our paper, and write. Read. Discuss. Speak. Told to turn to page five and then fashion a paragraph. Told to answer six questions on page 32.
I am coming to realize more and more all the time that the overall public perception of teachers on the outside is at times negative. That perception is characterized by whininess, over-pay, indulgence, laziness, self-centeredness and servility. This image will probably remain until change occurs, both within and without education. Teachers are at times unaware of the image we occasionally present to the public. Perhaps it is time that we as teachers begin to re-invent this negative image
Jupiterimages via Getty Images
No matter who that special teacher is, they've likely received their fair share of mugs, wine and chocolates over the years. This year, what about something a little more meaningful? Here are five suggestions for meaningful teacher gifts.
Dear teachers, Quite honestly, we can hardly believe the school year is quickly coming to a close. But we also realize that this last mile toward the finish line is a treacherous one. This is the reality of the work you teachers do. Believe us: your acts of kindness do not fall by the wayside unnoticed.
Dear Politician, It's election time again. I did hear your address to a large group of parents at a Home and School forum recently. And I happened to catch you saying that you had not been challenged...
kristian sekulic via Getty Images
As you can imagine, many university teachers loathe this site completely. In fact, it's not so much a teaching evaluation, as a review of the student experience in the class. It completely ignores all important contexts of where the course fits in the program of study, and why the teaching methods chosen were used, resources available to the teacher to help teach the course, and other necessary background information.
How can we ensure that when students are engaged in their studies, they get the best possible chance to absorb and process all of the information which they receive when sitting in a class? I will be...
STEEX via Getty Images
I am not talking about setting a bar for best using either personality or teaching style as criteria. What I am maintaining here is that bringing your BEST SELF to work means bringing the self that cares.
Relaximages via Getty Images
I remind myself that as a teacher, I need to give myself permission to be a human. To make mistakes. To feel pain. To be a real live person with ISSUES and STRUGGLES and HEARTACHES and SORROW. We as teachers don't completely check our lives at the door when we come to school.
Image Source via Getty Images
I thought for a while that work tires me out more than it used to because I'm getting older, that I just don't have as much energy as I used to. But, um, I'm 31. I'm not exactly shaking hands with the dude in the black cloak.
Jupiterimages via Getty Images
This is all I could ever really hope for as a teacher -- to be a safe haven and a soft landing for my students to fall on. Everything else is secondary. I strive to be a person my students know will be there for them, each day and every day, through all the moments, both shining and otherwise.
Digital Vision. via Getty Images
Mrs. Szathmary's patience with those of us for whom sports didn't come naturally was endless. She would examine gymnastic routines over and over and over again, offering guidance, support and recommendations on how to do it just a little bit better. Have you had a teacher who changed your life?
While I clean shelves and wipe down cupboards, readying things for those little bodies and minds, I ready my own mind. Clean out the cobwebs, so to speak. I need my head to be in the game, need my thoughts to be organized. Need my mind to be clear. For when all is said and done, it's not the classroom that houses the potential and possibility to make this year the best one ever for my incoming class: it's me.