Do schools need a Principal?

Do schools need a Principal?

Honestly, today I am lost for words. Not in the sense that something shocked or surprised and I don’t know how to respond, but in the sense that I don’t know what to write about. Usually, I have an opinion on everything and anything but today/this past weekend I’ve just been unsure of what to write. Monday is my blogging day and I try to have something posted on this day.

So I tried, really hard for my huge fan base who have been dying all day to read my post (Just kidding I have like three followers) I’ve searched my Feedly and nothing has sparked my interest. I’ve scoured twitter, #edchat seeing if anything caught my eye. Nothing. But then I was on my Tumblr and now my Tumblr hasn’t always been used as a professional account but I’ve recently switched it over from personal use. I was scrolling through my feed not really looking for anything in particular. When BAM! “A School Without Principal? Yes, really.” Shows up on my feed.

I’m instantly curious about this article. Basically to sum it up if you don’t feel the need to read it yourself (I think you should go check it out) is that there are several schools in the United States that are solely run by the teachers in the school. These schools aren’t run like public schools, they are for parents and/or students who struggle to find connections in public school. They are also an extremely project based school where the teacher teaches students indirectly.

 

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At the teacher-powered Avalon Schoo, project-based learning is a key aspect of the school’s curriculum. Taken from the article.

 

I think that it is interesting having a school with no “top dog” for lack of a better word. How do they make sure that all teachers are consistent and similar across the board? They do mention having a vote on school policies which may work, I would love to get more information on this. But is this creating more work for teachers? It seems even if it is, it is not putting too much of a strain on teachers. One school (Avalon) has a retention rate of around 95% a year.

These kinds of school would definitely be interesting to actually take a look at.  I like how retention rate is well above public schools. We always hear about teachers quitting the professional within 5 years of working but Avalon seems to be doing something right. One statistic from “Why Do Teachers Quit” says anywhere from 40-50% of teachers quit within the first five years of teaching. Which is unbelievable! I can’t imagine in 5 years hating my job that I quit.One thing I didn’t really agree with is how they say there aren’t enough principals who are supportive of teachers. Now I can’t speak for everyone but I have never had a problem with my principal being unsupportive.

One thing I didn’t really agree with is how they say there aren’t enough principals who are supportive of teachers. Now I can’t speak for everyone but I have never had a problem with my principal being unsupportive. I liked this blog post about supportive principals.

What do you think of teacher-led schools? How do you think it would be like without a principal?Do you think principals are valuable in the school? Or can they be replaced with teacher committees? Is this what we should expect in the next couple years to rise? I would love to hear other peoples thoughts!

 

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Are You Ready to be Scared?

Are You Ready to be Scared?

My phone has had a brutal week. First I ended up using all my data with 12 days left of the month.

12. Days.

I recently read Mr. Ryan McKillop’s post about having his phone FaceBook free for the last 3 months. My eyes bulged when I read that too, don’t worry. But being data free I realized how often I was checking my social media sites and it was frustrating at first not having them load whenever I wanted them too. 10 days later I seem to have broken this obsession I hope. I now only check it when I am at my home since it doesn’t work anywhere else. (yah, yah I know I could hook it up to other wifi’s but the university one is just not fast enough).

But honestly, this wasn’t the worst thing to happen to it this week. This morning I wake up to the sound of a text message. In my groggy state, I tap on my app and wait for it open. I wait and wait and wait some more when it suddenly dawns on me that there is something not quite right. I start tapping all over the screen and realize that my phone has frozen. Before I even have a chance to restart my phone it shuts off and starts to boot up again. I think to myself “this is weird, oh well.” But here is the thing it never finishes. Every time it starts up the LG screen shows up and stays on for 30 seconds and restarts again. Crashing over and over again. Are you scared yet?

I can feel the withdrawal already happening, I got the shakes! It’s been less that two hours and I have already asked my boyfriend to pass me my phone several times even though I know it doesn’t work. I am at a loss right now. Without my phone I have already showered, gotten dressed, ate breakfast, washed dishes, and written a blog post. I don’t know what I will do with all my time. I will be venturing to SaskTel today to see what they can do. I just know I will be getting a loaner phone and the only phones I have here are a broken iPhone 4 and a Samsung Flip Phone.

This flip phone was from like grade 10. That’s like 6 -7 years ago!! I plugged it in this morning has a joke and it still works. BOO! AH! I am not sure what I’ll do if I get stuck with it. I guess I’ll become a T9 pro texter again.

I know this week’s blog prompt was about social activism but since I was missing due to the flu/cold I decided to tell you a horror story. I will be reading/commenting on my fellow classmates blogs to catch up what I missed. But if anyone has any tips on fixing/restarting LG G4’s please don’t hesitate to comment. I am desperate. Fingers crossed SaskTel is nice to me today.

“I Wanted to Save Your Life”

“I Wanted to Save Your Life”

The one sentence that stood out to me the most.

Last week we had the opportunity to attend the Woodrow Lloyd lecture delivered by the Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair on Wednesday night instead of having our usual ECMP class. Now I couldn’t attend this lecture in person because of a wicked cold I have been battling but thankfully it was being broadcasted live and I could listen in.

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Photo courtesy of the Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair

Justice Sinclair explained to us how he and many other aboriginal children/people were ashamed of their heritage. When he pried from his Grandmother, “why don’t we speak Cree or Ojibwe in our home? Why must we only speak English?” and her reply was “I wanted to save your life” is the most heartbreaking thing to hear. I couldn’t imagine growing up feeling like I need to hide my heritage.

Many people don’t see how even generations later it is still affecting families. They can’t just “get over it” as I hear many people say. We need to change the way we educate ourselves. We need to change the way we educate our students. We need to better understand each other.

I find myself to be very uncomfortable with this topic because of my lack of knowledge. How can I teach if I don’t understand it myself? I am not saying the University didn’t do a good job at educating us but I feel like I don’t have enough to make a valid opinion. I was definitely ashamed seeing all my other colleagues incorporate Treaty Education into their lessons and classroom and see the amazing things they are doing. Why can’t I do what they do? Why can’t I be as confident as they are? Thankfully Justice Sinclair reassured me so I don’t feel ashamed for my lack of knowledge. I do know that to better myself and better my teaching skills I need to start becoming more knowledgeable. I need to make the first steps and start learning things I don’t know. Thankfully there are so many people willing to help and listen to my concerns and help me become the best I can be.

Dream Big

Dream Big

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Photo Credit: symphony of love via Compfight cc

Lately, I’ve been thinking about dreams. Not like my last post about what goes on in your head when you sleep. But, something that you’ve wanted for so long to do or experience.

To tell you about one of my dreams, we have to go back a couple of years. 2011 to be exact when I was 16 years old. During Easter break that year I got to go to London, Paris and Rome with my Mom, my Sister and a bunch of other people.

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Here we are at the Colosseum! Look how young and dorky I look! Throwback Thursday only it’s Monday.

It was a school trip that was held by a neighbouring school that anyone could sign up for. But the biggest thing, when I went over there I fell in love with London. I said on that day I would eventually come back. Honestly, if I wouldn’t have been accepted in the Education Program here in Regina, my backup plan was to au pair (nanny in another country) in London. Wouldn’t that be strange! I wonder what my life would be like.

But back to reality, I got accepted, enjoyed most moments here, and now I am on a job hunt.  So how does this fit into my dream? Well, I have been looking into going and teaching in London starting in September. I’ve had several phone/skype interviews with agencies and have finally found one I like. I’m looking into schools and getting ready to meet headmasters. Somebody pinch me, please!

I am beyond excited for this experience but terrified at the same time. I have never lived on my own and now I am planning to move overseas. I’m going to miss my family, boyfriend, and fur babies more than anything, but I know I’ll regret it if I don’t do it. This has been something I dreamed about since I was 16 and now 5 years later my dream might become a reality.

Have you ever had a dream so close you could reach out and grab it? Did you ever regret not doing something? I would love to have any someone tell me about their international teaching experience.

Inspiration From An Unlucky Source

Inspiration From An Unlucky Source

Do you ever have any dreams that feel like they are real life? Do you ever wake up in a the middle of the night wondering if that was a dream or if it really did happen? Maybe these aren’t dreams but nightmares? While you sleep do you think about what is going on around you?

The dreams I usually remember are almost directly related to what I am doing with my life. During internship, I don’t know how many times I would feel like I was in the classroom but I would actually be dreaming. But they weren’t dreams in my case more like nightmares.  The most reoccurring  one is where I lose control of the classroom and I stand in front with my mouth gaped open, students running around throwing things and my co-op sitting in the back furiously writing notes and shaking their head. Similar to below but instead of adults it’s a bunch of middle years.

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Photo Credit: smashthirteen via Compfight cc

Spoiler Alert: It never happened. But it doesn’t change the fact I would wake up drenched in sweat, terrified that I was having a premonition of how my day was going to turn out. Falling back to sleep was always the hardest.

But how is talking about dreams relate to inspiration? Well, let me tell you, just last night I had this dream. Not a nightmare. A dream (thank goodness) It was this fantastic, interesting, wonderful dream. And I can’t remember it. This dream was so amazing that I remember thinking “wow this would make for a great game to play in PE” while I was asleep. But here’s what I do remember:

  1. We were in the forest and there was this giant tree fort. It had several rooms with bridges connecting everything and it went in this huge circle.
  2. There was a princess, a bear and 2 other main characters.
  3. We were playing tag and only certain characters could catch other ones. Like rock, paper, scissors. (rock beats scissors, scissors beats paper, paper beats rock) If I could remember the other two characters it would be wonderful.
  4. We could only tag the people who you were above. Like if the bear beat the princess, the bear could only tag the princess and no other character and the princess couldn’t tag the bear.
  5. We all ran in the same direction, but couldn’t pass someone if they were in a house.
  6. And nothing else.

I’ve been trying to rack my brain all morning because I thought I could actually use this game. Instead of a tree fort, it would just be a circle on the ground and instead of houses, I could use hula hoops. But for the life of me, I can’t remember what the goal was or how the game ended.

So, here is my challenge for you during. Invent this game. Please. If you have any suggestions on how to fill my gaps or how you would play a game like this, let me know! I would love to figure this out.

Anyone else have dreams that inspired a lesson, game or activity for your students?

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Photo Credit: tavorro via Compfight cc
What I Have Been Raving About All Semester Long

What I Have Been Raving About All Semester Long

Last week in ECMP 455 we had a lovely presentation by Shalayne McDermit and Kylie Harder on Mathletics. If you’ve never heard of it I would recommend going to their smore page and reading about, like right now. It’s okay I’ll wait.

You back? Good. I learned a lot last week about Mathletics and it inspired me to write my own post, but it’s not about Mathletics. During internship, I had first-hand experience with the program IXL. Now if you never heard about IXL this is the post for you. There is definitely some benefits and problems with IXL but I think the biggest thing to remember and I probably will say this a couple times throughout the post, IXL is NOT and I repeat NOT a substitute for teaching but extra practice for the student.

So what are the pros?

  1. It is a different way to work through problems than assigning textbook questions or handing out worksheets.
  2. If it gives “feedback” instantaneously. I say “feedback” such as if a student gets a question wrong it immediately shows them how to solve problems like that and how to solve the exact problem they just did.I like this part because in a classroom of 24 students it is hard to go around and help each individual one.

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    Screenshot from IXL on feedback
  3. It shows a live feed of how the students are doing. When I had given back my math class to the teacher I got to sit and watch from the computer how the students were doing. It showed which students were in need of help, who were doing just fine, and who were excelling.
  4. It is aligned with the Saskatchewan Curriculum from pre-k to grade 12.
  5. They have an awesome analytics, I still get an email often telling me how well my class is doing.  Check it out below.Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 5.32.24 PM
  6. Students can win prizes for finishing work. I honestly don’t know why this is so exciting for students but they definitely enjoy how many prizes they receive.

But, what are the cons?

  1.  It can be a little pricey. For parents looking to buy it for their kids, it costs $99 a year or $12.95 monthly. For schools and/or teachers, I don’t know the exact price, it would depend on how many students there was. I want to say during internship that the school I was in paid $900 (I don’t know why but that answer is stuck in my head) this was either for the whole High School or for both the High School and Elementary School I don’t know for sure.
  2. The points system is brutal! It is extremely hard to get to 100 (or mastered) but really easy to lose points. Once students get past 80 they only receive 1-2 points for every question they answer right but lose 5-8 for every wrong question. This can be extremely harmful to students confidence since even a slight mistake can be detrimental to their success. As you can see here, in the beginning, you advance extremely fast (60 points 4 problems). But it got slower the more problems I answered. On question 10 I answered it right and went to 92 but the next problem I got wrong and dropped 8 points!Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 5.51.54 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 5.52.46 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 5.52.28 PM
  3. It can get old fast, it was nice to use every once in a while but I would never want to implement it as an everyday activity.
  4. Once they get 90 the go into the “challenge zone” and the worst part is if they get one wrong even when they are 99 they get dropped into the 80’s. I already said this once before but I saw the frustration on so many faces. As well I saw kids scared to make a mistake because they didn’t want to drop. You should not be scared to make mistakes!
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Photo Credit: rebamerrill via Compfight cc

So how did I use it? Well, I never made students get 100. My goal and the teacher I was working with both that 80 was more reasonable. If students finished their work early it was great to say go on and practice this skill. As well I did see students excited about learning math. I had some students who went and tried grade 12 math. These were grade 8’s learning about matrices, which I thought was pretty cool. They did do learning on their own during this time which I would never do in my actual lesson, but how do you tell a student “no don’t learn grade 12 math by yourself”?

So, now that you know about IXL, what are your thoughts? Would you use this in your classroom? What do you think about the scoring system?

 

So Many Passwords…

So Many Passwords…

Okay, everyone, I have found the site that will save you plenty of time. It’s a gift from heaven in fact. I was browsing my feedly this evening trying to find other blogs to add to my reader I did a quick search and found The P.E. Geek and it took me one of his most recent articles, Top Apps for PE Teachers – Part 43. Which led me to this awesome site called LastPass.

If you’re like me and can’t remember any passwords or constantly use the same password over and over again this is the site for you. I always joked if someone could figure out one of the passwords they basically figure out all of them.

Basically, you create an account and you start adding any websites that you may have an account for. This takes a little work since I couldn’t figure out a way to add them without logging out first and re-logging in. If you figure out an easier way let me know I still have lot’s to add!

This is also a google chrome extension so I downloaded it straight onto my web browser and now whenever I log in or create a new account it asks to save my password.

Another awesome thing about this site it gives you a “security rating” which basically tells you how safe and secure your passwords are. When I first added some accounts I had a security rating of like 27% (whoops), 5 out of 8 accounts I had logged in had the same password. Seriously someone could have hacked my accounts easily.

But what is really helpful is that they can generate passwords for you. So on my amazon account, I clicked a button that said “auto-change” and it did exactly as it sounds. It generated a new password, logged me into amazon, changed the password and updated my information all while I took pictures of my cats.

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I mean seriously how cute are these two?

Now you can see I’ve upped my game and changed most of my passwords and my security rating shows that.

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It’s really cool when it generates passwords because it is just a series of letters and numbers (ex. 8dyjTy76f this isn’t a real password as well) I would definitely recommend getting this extension if you are like me and only use 1 password, now all I need to remember is my master password.

Anyone else have problems keeping track of passwords?