Something interesting was brought to my attention the other day in our Con-Ed class, and that was the environment in which we learn and teach in. It made me question, how do I want to set up my classroom? We're consistently being told that lecture style teaching and classrooms just don't work anymore, so why do continue to do it? Wanting to be a Drama Teacher I can confidently say I will never put a desk in my classroom. As an English teacher I hope that my classroom setup will create a healthy learning environment where the students aren't restricted to rows and their desks. My goal as an educator (or a soon to be one) will be break the traditional classroom mold.
In my high school Drama Classes we always had "class in-the-round." Put simply, we had the chairs set up in a circle and most activities took place in the middle of the circle. This "in-the-round" classroom works well in English when teaching plays and Shakespeare. Students can't just sit and read a play/Shakespeare anymore, the only way they can truly understand the text is by reading aloud and acting it out with their classmates. By doing this the text comes to life in a completely different way from simply reading it.
Going beyond these two subjects, more educators are becoming extremely creative in breaking down the walls of the classroom. In the Upper Grand District School Board a new program called Beyond Borders has been created giving Grade 12 students the opportunity of a lifetime to get outside of their schools and get a hands on education. This program offers students 4 U-Level courses: Every student must take the Business Leadership course where they design and run a fundraiser to collect money for a charity of their choice. Just last year they held a golf tournament raising over five thousand dollars for Sick Kids! They also must take their Grade 12 English. They then have a choice between two packages offering either an International Business course or a Philosophy course. For their 4th course they can choose between Advanced Functions or Media Studies. All of their classes are held at the Guelph Youth Music Center, allowing the students to work outside, throughout the halls, or in their lecture/film hall! (Check out their campus by clicking here!) The students also get to travel to Camp Tawingo, a leadership camp, for 4 days. They spend 3 days in Toronto and 4 days in New York City! They go on University Tours, participate in DECA, and so much more!
Check out their website to find out some detailed information, watch some videos of the program and see pictures of their adventures! Click here-> Beyond Borders Website Or check out their Facebook page to see photos from the program and all their events! Click Here-> Beyond Borders Facebook Page
How do you plan on changing things up in your classroom? Let us know in the comments!
And with the first full week of classes complete, first years settling in, friends reunited once again, school is back in session!
However, many of us are already feeling the stress a little bit with heavy readings and papers already being due this week! Having just come out of a café after four hours of reading I too am beginning to feel the heat...Keeping yourself relaxed is going to get tougher as the year goes on, and you may find the stress to become too much at some points. But fear not - I'm here to share a few of the ways that I cope with my stress and keep myself level minded!
For the first time ever I went to a sports game on campus...And it was an absolute blast! If you ever find yourself starting to doze off or getting bored of Netfix - Grab a couple of friends, put on some green clothing and head out to a game at Justin Chiu stadium (Click HERE for the list of home game dates). There's nothing better than going out, showing some school spirit, and cheering for your school as they kick some serious ass on the field! And of course, there's Head Of The Trent coming up (Beer Garden+Rowing+Every Trent Student on Campus=Guaranteed Good Times)
On the note of HOTT - A night downtown is the perfect way to unwind and forget about your problems for a night. Grab a group of friends, get dressed up, and head out for a memorable night!
Not a fan of going outside? Join a club or group! There's so many at Trent that it's almost impossible to not find something you're interested in!
Not a fan of people?! Want to spend some time focusing on yourself? Head to the Athletic Center and go for a run, or do a little workout to clear your mind! OR join a class to keep yourself active!
In the end it's all about doing something that will make you happy and keep your mind off the stress of school for a few hours!
What do you do to keep your stress level down? Leave a comment and let us know!
Many of you are moving into residence or into your new homes off-campus within the next few days, and your first year of university will soon be upon you - It's exciting, nerve wracking, and all quite overwhelming! So to prep you for what is going to be a whirlwind of a week at ISW (or as I call it "perma-camp") I've compiled a list of things I wish I knew before my 1st year at Trent.
1 - Talk to your Professors and TA's Here at Trent we have the pleasure of actually getting to know the people who teach us. If you have a question don't be afraid to approach the professor after the lecture and ask it. Fun Fact: They want you to understand the class and do well! In your seminars you'll have a better chance to get to know the Prof/TA that you meet with weekly - Didn't get a grade you necessarily like and want more feedback? Ask your seminar leader to sit down with you and go over it for in-depth feedback. Many people I know are jealous of the fact that I can sit down and have a coffee with the person who's marking me and get direct guidance as to where I'm going wrong and what I'm doing right - It doesn't happen in a lot of universities, especially in 1st year classes.
2 - Learn how to use the library...And find "your seat" The first thing any of you should be doing is learning how to use the library, and how to find books. You may not need to use it right away, but I guarantee you at one point this year you will have to go through the maze that is the Bata Library Stacks, and you don't want to get lost in there (unless of course you enjoy the smell of musty books, like myself, then feel free to sit down and have a good read). Also, you may want an extra quiet place to do your readings or write that paper that's due tomorrow - So find a place in the library that you particularly enjoy sitting and privately claim it as "your seat". Remember the area where it is, that way you don't spend 20 minutes looking for "the perfect spot" and you'll always have a nice view of the river or of Bata Podium to help get you through that 10 page essay!
3 - Regarding "the paper that's due tomorrrow": Start it early. How early? The week you get the assignment early. Just trust me on this one folks. You don't want to spend an all nighter writing a 12 page research paper. It's not worth the stress and cramping hands. I know. I've been there.
4 - Make time to Waste Time By starting that paper early, you're giving yourself extra time when it's done to go out and have some fun. Don't put things off just because you can. You'll end up having to write a paper while the rest of your program goes out for the Con-Ed Social, and you have to see pictures of everybody having a good time without you...So yah, If I'm not being clear here, do your work early.
5 - It's Impossible Not To Make Friends! Don't worry. By simply being at ISW you're already interesting. Who are you? Where do you come from? What's your program? So many questions! So many new and fascinating people! SO MANY FRIENDS!
6 - Take Care of Yourself It can get stressful, it can get overwhelming, you will be busy working on three assignments at once. But don't forget about yourself. Go to the gym, take a walk around campus, shower, brush your teeth, take a break!
7 - PARTY! HAVE FUN! But remember, you have a paper to write, and a solid 3 hours of reading to do tomorrow! We all need a break, and the best way to unwind after a long week is to party hardy! But, as Nanna George would say, "If alcohol is God, Drinking is the bible. But, you get to choose how religious you want to be. Also, nobody wants to hold you up as you vomit. That's nasty." Coming from a 65 Year-Old, I feel confident in her advice...
8 - It's Okay To Call Mom Or Dad We all do. Plus, they appreciate it more than you know.
9 - Don't Compare Marks! This is a bit of a personal rule that I picked up in High School. Comparing marks will only do 1 of 2 things. 1) Make you feel like a bag of crap 2) Make someone else feel like a bag of crap It's not worth the stress or sadness. Focus on yourself and how to improve where you went wrong. And, nobody likes it when you brag.
10 - Don't Worry - You'll Do Fine! You got here. Now all you have to do is "be here" - If you get what I'm saying.
Enjoy your 1st Year! It flies by, and sooner that you know it you'll be on Christmas Break wondering where the time went.
Don't forget!!! Join us on Sunday September 8th, for the FIRST YEAR SOCIAL! It will run from 12-5 at LEC! Meet some amazing upper year students and everybody from Con-Ed in your year! Oh, and there's free pizza...Just sayin'.
Enjoy ISW, Welcome to Trent (and Queen's), Have Fun and Make Some Friends! Cheers, -D
We're just going to take a small break for the remainder of the summer holidays! The blog will resume at full speed late August/early September! Be sure to check our Twitter @TrentConEd for occasional updates throughout the summer!
A few weeks ago I posted a little story about the question I am asked most at family gatherings - "Why are you becoming a teacher?" With a little help from Haley and David I bring you the reasons why we want to become teachers!
Haley had this to say: I want to become a teacher because there's no better job out there for me. No other job more fulfilling, exhilerating and because I know that even if everyone else in the world wants to be a teacher too, that I can still bring something of my own to the table. All you Con Eddies, think positive. We have the ambition, and the attitude to give this job our all! Fear not about jobs, we have what it takes! David had this to say: I've been asked why I want to be a teacher so often by now it doesn't phase me. For me it's because I don't think I'd feel complete in most other jobs. I need to feel like I'm a valued contributor to society. I need to feel good about what I'm doing, not just my pay cheque. I also need to be challenged on a daily basis with new and interesting challenges. Being a teacher you never know what's going to come your way and that excites me. Each student is different, so setting students up for success is a challenge each and every time. Moreover there's so many pathways I can take once I'm in education. I feel like the better question is why not? Sure, you could use the job market statistics. Being a math major I know that if it was left to random chance I would not get hired. The big thing to remember is that the hiring process isn't a stochastic process. It is entirely related to input. What does a tough job market mean to me? It just means I have to put in 10x the effort and never give up. It's not that there are no jobs, but rather that the jobs have steep competition. I need to be that one person in 500 who gets the job and I believe that's entirely possible. Haley and David both make a good point. I feel like teaching is just the right job for me. I know that I can bring something special and unique to the classroom that nobody else can and that's why the job market doesn't scare me. Somewhere in this world there is a classroom waiting for me.
The question is simple - "What's wrong with the American education system?" The answer however, is not. Waiting for Superman is a riveting documentary that follows four elementary students fighting to get a better education in America. "to get a better education" - It sounds kind of weird doesn't it? Personally, I've never had to think about getting a good education, because I was getting a top notch education like everyone else. These kids are in an education system where the high school dropout rate in some places is as high as 60%. These schools are known as "dropout factories", 1200 Grade 9's go in and only 300 Grade 12's will come out. These children are being pushed through the education system with inadequate reading levels. Grade 9's on average enter high school with a Grade 3 reading level and will graduate with a Grade 5 reading level. How can something like this happen? That's what the film goes into great detail in explaining, and I will not because I can't quite wrap my head around the whole issue.
It's hard to review a documentary, so I figured I would discuss the main story and overall point of the documentary (this is where I get a little hot and bothered). If the statistics are correct, the four children in the film are almost guaranteed to not graduate. Their future and their education lays in the hands of chance. Each of them has put their name into a lottery to get a spot at a local charter school. A charter school is one that runs independently from the local school board. A charter school receives public money and none form the government, giving them extreme flexibility when it comes to regulations around curriculum. Pretty much, these schools produce graduates and academically outstanding students. hundreds of kids apply tho these schools with only 25 spots per grade (sometimes less). For these kids, this is their only chance at success in life.
This is why I'm bothered. For these bright, happy kids with big dreams of the future the only way for them to attain their goals is to go to a charter school. But to do so, they have to get a number and hope that the odds are in their favour. The government officials blame the failing schools on failing neighbourhoods. But in reality it's the other way around. These neighbourhoods are failing because the schools aren't educating their students and as a result they dropout and the cycle begins again. It is mind blowing to me to think that thousands of children are going into high school, and only a few will graduate and go on to be successful in their lives just because they grew up in a low income area. Nobody should have to put their dreams in the hands of a man pulling some bingo balls out of a cage.
I can't begin to go into all the details that the documentary covers and I strongly suggest you find the film and watch it. The trailer is in our Articles & Video page, check it out. I also suggest watching Sir. Ken Robinson' s video at the top of that page as it discusses many of the issues covered in the film.
I fell behind this month with the blog - my apologies. I've begun working full time, but I am back on track now, and to make up for it I will have another blog for you all tomorrow answering the question, "Why Become A Teacher?"
Now that I'm back home and settled in, my parents have begun to drag me out to several family events. Of course the first thing everybody says to me is, "OH! Look how big you've gotten!" (I find it hard to respond to this because they're either making reference to my height, or my freshman fifteen. Either way I just awkwardly smile). This statement is generally followed by the usual "What are you going to school for?" To which I reply, "I'm in the Queen's-Trent Concurrent Education Program." With a slightly tilted head and a puzzled look on their face I expand for them so they don't do the awkward laugh, nod, and smile like they understand what I've said. "To become a teacher". Their eyes widen, look me up and down and say, "Ohhh...Well...Good - uh - Good for you..." Their eyes begin to look for someone else to talk to. Apparently, studying to become a tacher makes others afraid to continue a conversation with you. More often than not, they will fail to find someone and they follow up with another question, "And what do you want to teach?" This is where I really get the odd looks (remember, I'm a 6'3" 200+lb male), "I'm hoping to become a high school Drama and History Teacher." At this point the person I'm talking to looks at me like I should be put in an insane asylum. Apparently being a male studying to become a Drama Teacher is puzzling to many older people. And the Pièce de résistance, "Hopefully there's a job for you when your done! What made you choose to be a teacher when there's no jobs out there?"
Most of the time I have a hard time answering the question. Why would I choose a career with few jobs available? This is where I need you! Why have you chosen to become a teacher? Leave an answer in the comments below and I'll compile them all into a blog for the end of the month.
Next week I'll be blogging about the documentary "Waiting for Superman" - Watch the trailer in our Articles and Videos page.
It's starting to look like they just don't want any new teachers getting jobs here in Ontario. Teachers were not too happy with the passing of Bill 115 and now it's going to be the new and currently unemployed teachers who aren't going to be too happy. When the controversial Bill 115 passed, so did Regulation 274, which describes in great detail how principals are to hire new teachers. The new, provence-wide regulation goes like this:
-A new teacher must apply and get hired to the daily supply list and once on the list they can only supply teach. - Once the teacher has taught 20 full days over a 10-month period, they can apply to get on the Long-Term Occasional list. -HOWEVER, only the five most senior applicants with the appropriate qualification can be considered for a Long-Term Occasional position. - Only Long-Term Occasional teachers with a minimum of four months’ experience can apply for permanent contract positions. Again, only the five most senior applicants with appropriate qualifications will be interviewed. - There is no room to consider other skills a teacher can bring to the job, such as being able to speak other languages, or play the piano, or coach a team.
After discussing this with an old teacher of mine, put quite simply she said, "I would have no job! I've never supply taught a day in my life!" April King, a teacher at my old high school was first hired on as a Long-Term Occasional (LTO), and was lucky enough to be given a permanent contract position after only 2 years. "I personally don't think it's fair," says King, "I don't think that it necessarily ensures that the best suited teacher for the job actually gets the job." And she's completely right. As another teacher of mine said to me, "Just because people are in top 5 of seniority does not make them a better teacher than those at the bottom of the list. There are some that have been on the list for ages -decades even - and haven't been hired on permanently for a reason." Think back to your primary and secondary school days. Remember those supply teachers who, when they walked in the room you immediately went, 'ugh, not him again.' There are, to be blunt, some supply teachers out there who really shouldn't be teaching. And if they get to be considered for a permanent job just because they have the "qualifications", over someone who clearly has a natural talent for teaching, cares for their students and is passionate about their subject seems absolutely, completely, 100% W-R-O-N-G. Give me one good reason why someone with seniority deserves that job more than someone who truly cares about what their teaching. Anybody? Didn't think so.
Getting on that supply list is a challenge in itself, but then having to get 20 days in 10 months just to be able to apply for a spot on the LTO list where you might not even get a job is even more ridiculous. And on top of that only the five most senior will get on the list, meaning that most of us won't have a fighting chance in getting on that list! But, to put the cherry on what is turning out to be an extremely disappointing banana-split, "There is no room to consider other skills a teacher can bring to the job, such as being able to speak other languages, or play the piano, or coach a team." You could legitimately have a Drama Teacher who has never been on a stage once in his life time outside of a classroom. This blows my mind to think that the government would enforce something like this. But like I said, it's starting to look like they just don't want any new teachers getting jobs here in Ontario.
Not all hope is lost for all teacher hopefuls! Many boards have their own hiring policies and want to keep them. The government and the new Education Minister, Liz Sandals (my hometown MPP), are opening talks with our union to discuss this and many other new regulations that have been passed that are hurting future and current teachers. Maggie McFadzen, spokesperson for the Upper Grand District School Board said, “It puts a lot of work on school boards as we have to put together a roster and hire based on ranking. It creates hassles and it’s quite confusing." Sandals has managed to get teachers back to doing their extra-curricular activities, and to calm the uproar that occurred over Bill 115. For our sake, and those who are currently about to enter the job field, that she can fix this problem as well.
Tell me what you think, how you feel, and what you think should be done about this in the comment section below - All the best, until next time. - D
First off, let me introduce myself - My name is Dylan, I'm 6'3", blonde, I love dogs, midnight walks on country roads, and the sound of a cows moo. But enough about me - You probably want to know about the blog...As CESA's new Communication Coordinator I have decided to borrow an idea from our previous C-C (and new Vice-President) Christina Hoffman, and take it a step further by creating this website.
But, I need your help! If you ever find an interesting, thought-provoking, or entertaining article, video, picture, activity, or any other resource regarding Education send it to our email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be sure to post it up here as soon as I can. Do you want to write for the blog? YAH YOU DO! Just write up your blog post, click on that fancy button on the picture above and then BAM! Your blog will be sent to me and I will post it for the next weeks blog!
I hope that this will be a fun resource for all of us, and if you have any suggestion please send them to me via the e-mail above! I hope you enjoy the blog, and everything this website has to offer you. Have an amazing summer and make sure to leave your thoughts in the comments below - I want to know what you think!
Our first official blog post will be published this Wednesday, April 24th!