TJ’s Talk

Chat about teaching, teacher education, business education and lots of other stuff.

Success? Failure? November 12, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — tjordan @ 12:55 am

Often, at the end of the day I come home and think about whether my day was a success or a failure. Whether I am a success or a failure as a teacher and whether my students succeeded or failed today. The people that know me best would tell me that I am being to hard on myself…that I am doing a noble thing by teaching in Northern Saskatchewan…that I am a success and am doing a great job. While I am thankful that I have a great support network, I have some doubts about this. Do I think I have the potential to be a great teacher? Absolutely. Am I right now? No.

It is not enough for me to just be here. I didn’t become a teacher to just be at a school…I became a teacher to make a difference in the lives of my students. My students deserve the best teacher I can be, regardless of where I am teaching. Being in Northern Saskatchewan does not mean that I can be a subpar teacher…if anything it means I have to be a better teacher so that I can reach students that speak a different language, that are a different race, that have a different cultural background, and that have a very adversarial attitude towards school and the people in a school.

Many teachers leave their posting with this school after a short period of time, staying to a second year is a rarety. Maybe it has something to do with the joy, or lack thereof, that Dean Shareski talks about in his blog post, Robbing Students and Teachers of Joy…I am not sure. What I do know is that I want my students to feel joy when they walk into my classroom and I want to feel joy when I walk into my classroom. I want to be part of the solution, I want to make changes that will give my students a better education and ultimately a better life.

I have questions though, how do I make this happen? How can I make changes? What types of changes will exact the most impact? How do you being joy back into a class that have not experienced much success in school and a class where most of the students dislike school? I know there will be no concrete answer and I am searching for what will work for me. Hopefully, I can find the beginnings of an answer before I lose my students or lose the teacher that I want to be.

 

Lest We Forget November 11, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — tjordan @ 11:20 pm

Today is Remembrance Day…today I am thinking about how thankful I am for the people that protect this country. Thankful for the men and women that choose to enter the military, protect and fight for the rights of people around the world, and defend what it means to be Canadian. I appreciate the sacrifice that these people make so that Canadians, and others around the world, can live safer. I am thankful that there are people that are willing to choose this way of life so that others are not forced to. I am safe, free and have the ability to make choices on what I want my life to be…and for that I thank all Veterans, Canadian Forces, RCMP alive and perished that have made this possible.

Remembrance DayTo Remember
Remember Remember the 11th of November. The days the guns were silent. When the trenches were quiet. When the field was calm and quiet. When the tanks stop dead in their tracks. When the skies of Europe were calm and fly-less. As the poppies grow we shall never forget the fallen. Remember Remember the 11th of November.

By: Waynell

One of my grade 8 students wrote this on his own at home and brought it to class yesterday. It is absolutely fantastic and I am so proud of him. He was extremely proud of himself, as he should have been, and he was courageous enough to read his poem in front of the entire school at our Rememberance Day assembly.

When people talk about celebrating the small successes that teachers see every day, this is what they were talking about…instead of being a small success however, this is a pretty big one. Thank you Waynell for being a fantastic person…as well as a fantastic student!

Photo attribute Jason Neumann from Flickr Creative Commons

 

Hard to find the words… October 27, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — tjordan @ 7:55 am

I have been looking at my computer for almost two hours now, wondering what it is that I should write about. There is so much, yet so little to say. I know that might be hard to understand, but have you ever felt like no one could understand what you were talking about even if you told them everything.

That is how I am feeling right now, I am sure that I am being overdramatic. But hey, you can’t help how you feel at times. For that reason I don’t feel as though I have anything to say that will reflect on me in a way that Iwould like it to. So until the next time…

 

Sick, like bad! October 20, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — tjordan @ 10:08 am

I know that makes no actual sense but for the last week I have been pretty sick. I know that some of my family reads this blog and I wanted to let them know that I made it back safely and that I am finally starting to feel better. No worries…TJ can take care of herself! Thanks for caring. I love you all!

 

Seventeen grade 8 students, one teacher, one week. October 8, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — tjordan @ 7:25 am

Yep, that is pretty much the jist of what it took to get my homeroom class set up with their own blog. I wanted to do blogging with my classes for a number of reasons (in no particular order):

  • My students are reluctant writers. Actually most of them are reluctant students. I thought blogging would be a great way to try and motivate them to write their own stories and opinions.
  • Technology has a way of engaging students that pen and paper just don’t have anymore.
  • I want to connect my students with another classroom(s) from somewhere else. Many of my students have limited experiences and connecting with another class would allow them to see the world outside of La Loche and from another person’s point of view.
  • There is a big push to use technology in our classrooms by our school principal, for good reason.

I know that I said that the above were in no particular order, but in actuality the fact that my students are reluctant writers and I want to motivate them to write, is probably the most important reason I have tried blogging with my students. Many of my students have done a great job with their blogs so far, some still need some encouragement, and all need to have people reading their blogs and leaving comments. I think that this is the main way that I will be able to motivate my students to think about what they are writing, to keep in mind proper spelling and grammar, and to actually get them to write at all. I know how I feel when people comment on my blog, it makes my feel as though people care what I have to say and they want to see me write more. That is how I want my students to feel as well.

I have put the invitation out on Twitter (@tljordan if you want to follow me) for my followers to see, hoping that people will comment. A couple of people have been kind enough to do so, hopefully more will decide to comment as well.  As the TeachPaperless blogger says in his post On Blogging and Connections:

…both students and teachers new to blogging need to understand that the life of a post doesn’t depend on it’s being published, but rather on its being transmitted throughout the network. The value of the post depends on the network and the reaction of the network.

Without a network my students might as well just be writing in their journals and hand them into me…no I want to help them build that network that will make a difference in their writing.

Currently, I am trying a few things:

  1. I have asked a few colleagues to comment on a few of my students blogs each. I will give them the blog address and the student name and hopefully they will contribute to my students network.
  2. I have used Twitter to get my students blogs out there.
  3. Facebook messages have also been sent to a few of my friends and fellow teachers so that they can comment if they want.
  4. I have also asked on Twitter and Facebook for a classroom to partner with so my students can further build their network.

I am hoping that one of these things works out…I am hoping that blogging and technology will be what my students need to engage themselves back into at least a peice of education!

If you are interested you can find links to each of the student’s blogs that are in my homeroom, you can find them here. My second class will be creating their blogs by the end of the week and you will be able to find links to their blogs on the same page.

Photo Attributes: Flickr Creative CommonsKristina B, vas0707

 

Shelfari October 5, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — tjordan @ 9:51 am

I have created a Shelfari account, both for myself individually and for my classroom. I still have a lot books to add to my individual shelf but eventually I will get there. I am disappointed that WordPress does not have a widget that allows Shelfari to be on my blog. Blogger does allow this though, so my class shelf will be right on our class blog eventually.

For the class shelf I want to include some of the books that we will be reading this year. I also want to include some of the books that I am using as resources to get the short stories and poetry from. Recommending books for my students to read will also be a use for the Shelfari tool on the class blog.

I think that this tool will be a benefit in my classroom for the students as well as they will establish their own accounts. They can include the books that they are reading in class and write their own reviews of them. I like that it is easy to set-up and use!

 

One of those days! October 2, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — tjordan @ 10:31 am

frustrationIt definitely was one of those days…nothing seemed to go right and as the day went on things got worse. I started the day at 6:30 or at least I was supposed to. Add in a bad decision to hit snooze for an hour and I was already behind the eight ball. When I finally got myself up, I realized that I had left my lunch bag at school the night before so I had nothing to pack my lunch in…nice!

I do have some problem solving skills, even at 8:00 am, so I did get myself to the school, with a lunch, eventually. I went to the computer in my classroom to print of a part of speech review that I wanted to make into an overhead…only to realize that I had not saved it the night before and the computer had for some reason turned itself off…nice x2!

The first two classes of the day were not too bad…although I did have to ask a few students to sit outside the classroom. That is pretty normal routine though by now. Then third period and the computer lab…last night I spent over an hour making a Jing tutorial (that you can see here) for my students. They get to the class blog to watch the video and lo and behold it does not work because the computers don’t have the right player or something like that. $%^^&%$#**(*&^%%^&*&**^&^%$##@$%^&*&**&^^%%$#$#! So after all that work and what I thought was a pretty good tutorial…I had to walk them through step by step. We get to the point of adding a video and YouTube is not cooperating. $%#Y#$&#I#$Y$$(#$&$&$(! So scrap that. Oh did I also mention that there was one student who could not follow along and two others who couldn’t remember their account information. !#%^@&$*^%&#**($!

Have I mentioned that I love my life. But alas tomorrow is another day and after a test, the final chapter of a novel study, and a talking circle my day will be pretty much over and the weekend will begin. TGIF!