Tuesday, 20 September 2011

To Blog or Not to Blog.....

I have been experiencing significant anxiety over having to blog my thoughts, views and ideas as I progress through this chapter in my life – teacher education. Part of this is not having the time to physically sit down and take time out to compile my thoughts – however, there’s more to it than that.

I have managed to take some time to read and view my colleagues’ blogs and after reading their blogs and those of other educators that I’ve discovered online, I always come away with the same thought – “WOW!” The insights, thoughts, views and ideas that have been shared via blog are all very profound, interesting and thought-provoking.

Hence my anxiety….dare I actually say the words? Here goes…am I good enough?? Will I make a fool of myself??

This thought is quite ironic since those who know me personally know that I am an outgoing, fairly confident person. I have no problem speaking out and sharing my views – whether it be with friends, colleagues or classmates. I stay true to “say what you mean, mean what you say”. I’ve never worried about “being judged” or “what will people think?” as long as I remained respectful and true to myself.

From a young age, I was taught to “be myself” and I never hesitated to do so. So, in Grade 5, when all the girls went crazy about the latest boy band (NKOTB), I stuck with my favourite music (hip-hop/rap) never worrying about “being different”. When I thought it would be “cool” to get my nose pierced, as a tribute to my heritage and culture, I didn’t hesitate to do so. Safe to say, I was the only kid in Gr. 7 to make such a bold statement (in the 90s) and I was “persecuted” by peers for my choice, but I didn’t care. This was my way of expressing myself.

So why, at this point in my life am I all of a sudden afraid to share my thoughts and views?? Well, first, the sharing platform is one which I’ve never used before. But that’s not really it. After much reflection, I’ve realized that its actually quite scary to “put myself out there” – out where? Out into cyberspace…where my classmates, instructors, education colleagues and other can read my thoughts and “judge” me. Whew! That’s scary! What if they think I’m a raving idiot?

So now I am faced with a few choices. I can forget this whole blog idea (along with this optional tech course that I am taking), I can continue to blog but in a more “professional, scripted voice” or I can just “be myself” and take a personal risk. What would you do?

I believe I will have to take some advice from Nike and “Just Do It”. I will take the risk and “put myself out there” – the REAL me, not a scripted, edited version of me. I have to be true to myself and practice what I preach. I have told my kids a countless number of times “be yourself” and I guess its time that I take my own advice. So here goes….wish me luck!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

It Will be Worth It...

I have a confession to make....during my 8Y59 (computer tech) class today, I (once again) considered dropping this optional course! I've considered this multiple times always rationalizing that I am already overwhelmed with balancing the required B.Ed. courses and being a mom and a wife, SO bottom line is that I do not have time for all this extra work!!!

That said, I am enchanted by the potential world that this course is opening up to me. So here I am, at midnight (while my family sleeps), browsing the blog of my VAT (Virtual Associate Teacher) and I find justification for my enchantment! Shelley Wright is a high school educator in Moose Jaw, SK and I've stumbled upon her reflections in June. http://shelleywright.wordpress.com/2011/06/29/june/

Among other interesting things, she says:

"I realize that over the past 10 months I’ve become a completely different person than who I was a year ago......A year ago, I wasn’t on Twitter. Now my PLN is invaluable.....A year ago, I didn’t really blog. Now it’s part of who I am. It’s how I actively try to make sense of the world. And it has connected me to people who challenge my thinking and help me to be a better teacher."

In another post, Shelley talks about the "flipped classroom" - a concept that is both mind-boggling and fascinating to me! Definitely something that I want to try during my practicum!

Reading these blog posts shows me the potential that this course holds for my personal and professional growth. It gives me the reassurance that all that we are learning in this tech course truly is applicable in real life.

We are being taught a variety of methods and strategies for effective teaching, yet when I read through this educator's blog, I am more convinced than ever that technology is the way to go! Sure, it will be challenging and a lot of work - as are most rewarding things in life!

I'll have to remember all this, the next time I get overwhelmed by all this "extra" work!

Note: Our instructor has made every effort to make this course "non-stressful", however as a busy Mom and new student, just finding the time to sit at a computer is quite difficult! (Hence my blogging at midnight!)

Changing Education Paradigms

So here I am in my second week of my B.Ed.at Brock U. Week 1 was was full of "how to be an effective and engaging" teacher and how "socratic" teaching is not the most effective strategy to use all the time. This came as quite a surprise to me! I graduated from my B.Sc. in 2001 - a full decade ago - and my entire university learning (except labs) was all about listening to lectures, scribbling everything down, memorizing it and "spitting it" back out on the final exam! I have to admit that I remained slightly unconvinced but then my colleague Iain showed me this amazing video which reinforced a lot of what we are being taught.

Here's the video - check it out! Thanks Iain! (http://ibraithw.blogspot.com)

Friday, 9 September 2011

Week 1 Assignment Questions

  1. Why am I taking EDUC8Y59?
  • I believe that to be an effective and engaging teacher in an intermediate school setting, it is vital to stay current with the latest informational technology and to be able to apply it regularly in my lesson plans.
2.  What is my view of technology in education?

  • In this day and age, children are exposed to a variety of technologies at a very young age.  Young children have been exposed to regular use of computers, the internet, cell phones, tablet devices and a variety of electronic gaming devices such as Nintendo DS, PSP, Wii and Xbox.  Children, for the most part, really enjoy use of these technologies in general.  If we are able to harness that interest and direct it into learning and education via technology in the classroom, we will be able to couple the pleasure and "fantasy" derived by electronic technology with the ability to teach/learn a variety of different concepts in the classroom.

All About Me!

I was born in Toronto and grew up in Markham (northeast of Toronto).  I graduated from high school after 4 years - back then that was "fast-tracking" since high school was actually 5 years.  I entered a B.Sc. program in Microbiology at University of Toronto (Scarborough) and completed 2 years there.

In 1998, I married my sweetheart, moved to Guelph and transferred to University if Guelph's Microbiology program.  In my first year there, I took some biochemistry courses as my restricted electives and discovered how much I enjoyed this subject!  As a result, I changed my major to biochemistry, and used my microbiology credits towards a minor.

I completed my Hon. B.Sc. with a Major in Biochemistry and a Minor in Microbiology in Dec of 2001 from the University of Guelph.  Through-out my education I worked part-time at my husband's laboratory and continued working there full-time after I graduated.

At the lab, I had a variety of opportunities to broaden my skills and experience while working both in a technical position in the laboratory and an administrative position in the office.  I learned a great deal about office management and customer service!

In August 2003 we were blessed with a beautiful baby girl, Raadha and the following November we welcomed another blessing - our little boy, Raam.  So began the "Mom" chapter of my life.  It was hectic and exhausting but also the MOST rewarding job of my life! Raising these babies into functional human beings was quite the task, but I managed to do my best at it.

When the kids started school, I returned to the laboratory as a technician and tried to balance work and family.  Whilst attempting this, my daughter begged me to "help out" in her kindergarten classroom.  The day I did, sealed my fate!  I was welcomed with open arms by her most wonderful teacher and I made it a point to volunteer in the classroom on a regular basis.

I took that summer off to be home with my kids and as the summer came to an end and I was looking at going back to the lab, I realized that I would much rather be working with children.  On a leap of courage and faith, I told my husband that I would like to apply to a position that involves working with children as opposed to in a lab.

I was immediately hired my the YMCA-YWCA of Guelph and started out in the child care.  I then moved on to the Youth & Preschool Dept. where I relished planning and running the preschool program and youth programs.  I especially enjoyed teaching the cooking class "Kids in the Kitchen" - teaching 6-12 year olds how to cook!

I continued my volunteering in my childrens' classes and expanded this to volunteering to teach "Art Image" lessons as well to Gr. 5 and Gr. 6 classes.  I finally had found my passion for teaching!

I channeled this passion into creating and running an educational after school program for children.  I also worked for Mad Science, as Mad Scientist "Beaker" and thoroughly enjoyed teaching science to primary students.

Throughout all this I was given very positive and encouraging feedback from a variety of different people and this always led to the same question of "Why aren't you a teacher?  You'd be a great one!"

So, once again on a leap of faith and courage I decided to apply to B.Ed. programs at Wilfrid Laurier University and Brock University.  The application process was a bit stressful and imagine my surprise when I found out I was accepted into the programs!!

I had my choice of P/J (K-Gr. 3) and J/I (Gr. 3 - 6) ate Laurier or I/S (Gr. 7-12) Chemistry & Biology at Brock University.  Though all my educational experience has been with primary and junior students, I decided to challenge myself and accept the admission offer from Brock University for the I/S program.

So here I am - starting University again after 10 years!  It will be interesting to see how well I can juggle being a student, a mom and a wife all together!