2016: The year I allowed myself to be a student in my own classroom

As the school year comes to a close and staff and students are counting down the days until summer, I’m also counting the days until I get to set foot into my new learning space this September at École Sage Creek School. This year more than any other, I’ve taken greater risks, allowed my students to lead and have grown in ways I would have never even imagined. From flexseating, to Hangouts, to coding, to Seesaw, to Twitter, to blogging and vlogging, I have become a better teacher for my students. On top of that, I have become a better learner because this year, I allowed myself to be a student in my own classroom. This was the turning point for me. 

Being a student in my classroom has allowed me to better understand and define my role as a teacher, to practice empathy and to show my students that there are times when things don’t go as planned. Being Type A, I always wanted to micromanage every.single.detail. of every.single.moment in my classroom. Now that I’ve come to realize that placing the power in the hands of my students is where learning soars, I’ve learned to let go of the small stuff. I used to want to be the sole leader- now I adore being a co-leader, a collaborator and a co-constructor in the classroom with my students. It’s impossible to believe we can solely rely on ourselves to be able to do it all. As much I’d like to take the credit for taking these steps forward, it’s all thanks to my village. There’s an entire community of people who have shaped me into the teacher I am today. As I continue to read and reflect, I’m at peace knowing there will be many more (students, colleagues..) that will influence the teacher I will become years from now. I also find relief knowing Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc. constantly has incredible educators hot off the press! I’ll always have a book in hand and a few more waiting on my nightstand! On Twitter tonight, I came accross Rex Ferguson-Baird and I found what he said to be true : “It takes a village to raise a child but it takes a Community to be a village”. This supported the very message I wanted to pass on. Everyone needs a village, not just children.

I’m a life-long learner. I’ve said it before, and I’ll never stop saying it. I love learning. It’s the main reason why I never stopped taking university classes once I got my Bachelor of Education degree. I thought I would have had enough when I completed my post-baccalaureat degree in counselling, but I still felt I needed to learn more so I enrolled in the Master’s program, specializing in Inclusive Education. Learning from and with others is my thing. I used to say if I could get paid to take university classes to continue  to learn and grow, I would earn my living that way. What I didn’t realize at that time, was that I was already doing just that.

Allow me to explain.

A number of years ago, I used to think that I could only learn from attending university. I thought and was brought up to believe that this type of education was considered superior to any other form of learning. Was I ever wrong! Although I would never want to alter or take away my formal education (I value what I’ve learned and take pride in what I’ve accomplished), there’s so much to be said about spending time and learning from people who make you better- whether it be in person, on youtube or from the comfort of a good book.

Last summer I got my hands on Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess and it was the spark that fueled my fire. Throughout the entire read, I wanted to be a student in his classroom. That had me thinking about whether or not my students wanted to be in their classroom. After reading The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros and Learn Like a Pirate by Paul Solarz, I joined Twitter, read blogs and I was hooked. These high profile authors who had such an impact on me were educators who started out just the same. Today, they spread their message to better the system, to spread their passion, to make a difference… and are they ever making a difference!! Simply put, they are amazing, brilliant and what I aspire to become. Even though these authors are Education Gurus, at their very core, they remain teachers and still have those same everlasting qualities. They are kind, caring and compassionnate. They’re human and that’s what makes them so incredible. The people I have connected with through PD and my PLN/PLC are also outstanding. They are my village and my community. Because of them, I am learning more than ever and funny thing is, I am getting paid for it! I’m learning in my classroom with my students everyday as I put into practice what I’ve learned in my spare time.

img_3019.jpgI came accross a picture of dominoes and it reminded me that perspective is so powerful. Some may look at these tiles and see they are falling, crumbling, failing to withstand the pressure of others. For me, this image represents the very opposite. Each domino is standing strong and has a purpose. In a circle, they form one unit, a community. When someone in line falls, there is always someone within reach to catch them, support them and help them get back up. There is always someone to lean on and learn from. That’s what community is. You don’t give up on one another, you don’t all fall down. You help one another get back up and become a stronger unit… and that’s the mentality I plan on having this September as I welcome my 23 new community members into their village.

Everyone needs a village. I’m grateful that in the past year, I feel that I’ve found mine.

 

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