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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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?
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.