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Creating a dialogue about what it’s like to be a new teacher.

The Rookie Teacher


Optimism Vs. The Supply List: What I’ve Learned So Far 3

Posted on February 02, 2016 by Allison Dyjach

“Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion.” – Simon Sinek

Scenario 1: Wake up at 6:45am, shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, pack a lunch, pack up your bags, wait patiently. Stare at phone, stare at phone for longer, stare at phone while you still don’t get a phone call to teach. Check email in desperation. No jobs. Force yourself to continue on with the day while checking phone at 15-minute intervals. Continue attempts to be productive, checking that the volume on your phone is still on every hour. 1pm, no use checking anymore. Carry on with your day, go to bed, with hopes that tomorrow will be better.

Scenario 2: Wake up at 6:45am, shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, pack a lunch, pack up your bags, wait patiently. Phone rings, listen for job, accept job, rush around the house collecting your things. Hang out with kids all day, mingle with teachers and administrators, wander around school looking for the bathroom, encounter technological difficulties of some sort, have a great moment with a student, have a challenging moment with a student, remember why you fell in love with teaching. Bell rings, send them on their way, tidy classroom and go on your way. Carry on with your day, go to bed, with hopes that tomorrow will be even better.

Overhead of smartphone with pen

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Every Tuesday and Friday since January, this has been my life. I was one of the fortunate ones that managed to get myself onto a supply list within a year of graduating teacher’s college, but due to a previous job commitment can only supply two days a week for the time being. When I tell my friends excitedly that I have been supply teaching, they ask about the schools I have been to, what I have had to teach, how the kids are, etc. I tell them about how good it feels to be in a classroom again, and a few funny anecdotes that seem to come with each job. Then, this next question always seems to come up: “So how do you know if you’re going to get a call or not?” I laugh and tell them the truth—you don’t. There is no way to know if I will receive one of those random calls each morning. I go on to tell my friends about my morning routine, how I wake up early and am ready to head out the door by 7:30am, in the event that I do get a phone call. I explain all of this to them, and then I am generally met with a look of disbelief. Compared to 99% of other jobs, it may seem ludicrous that I get dressed up and ready to go to a job that might not even exist that day. But, as I said, this is my life.

For the past four weeks I have experienced almost every emotion imaginable when it has come to my job prospects. The first day that I was available to supply and did not receive a call, I spent the majority of my morning listening to sad music and napping on the couch. In contrast, the second time I was left without a job, I read a book, completed a whole list of work for my current online course, applied to summer jobs, did laundry, cooked a healthy lunch, and several other productive and positive things. This is one of the great difficulties of being an occasional teacher. The days that you teach can make you feel on top of the world—feeling like you are making connections and impacting students and inching closer towards that dream of having your own classroom. But then, the days when you sit at home praying for the phone to ring and it simply doesn’t, it can make you feel a little bit, well, defeated.

 

So, advice time. Like I said, I am still very new to this. It has only been a month, so I would say I am still in the “honeymoon” phase where getting calls 50% of the time makes me jump for joy. But there are some things that I have learned already that seem to make a difference about whether I am going to spend the day napping on the couch, or running around the house actually getting work done:

  • Focus on the good. I know it’s hard to; I have days where optimism is not even on my radar (ie. the couch days). But, if you are on a supply list–guess what–that means that that a school
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    This will hang in my classroom someday…

    board likes you. It means that you met with school board administrators in an interview and they thought you would be a good teacher. Your skills are valued and you have the opportunity to engage with students, even if it’s only for 6 hours of their entire lives. Remember why you got into teaching in the first place (hint, to spend time with kids!), so when you’re having a low day, you can think back to some of your favourite teaching moments to get yourself back into your “happy place.” Slowly but surely, you are making a difference in peoples’ lives, and supply teaching is the first step for all of that.

  • That being said, starting out in the teaching world can be frustrating (for those of you reading around the globe, the teaching market in Ontario is a tricky one to navigate right now). Now this is the important part: it is okay to feel frustrated, and upset, and sad, and depressed, and really, really angry. You shouldn’t feel ashamed about being upset, so deal with these feelings in a way that works best for you. Talk with friends or family, write, create art, or work out. And remember, there is a difference between dealing with negative emotions and dwelling on them. It’s healthy to be sad about something, but if you find that the negativity is impacting other aspects of your life such as sleeping/eating habits, social life, or motivation, reach out for help so that you can get the support that you need.
  • Find productive ways to spend time on days off. At this very moment, I am writing this article because I did not receive a supply call today. Enroll in an online course or look into other professional development opportunities; use a day off to prep meals/lunches for the week; start that teaching blog you’ve always wanted to create; or use it to actually make some of the Pinterest teaching DIY’s you’ve been putting off. Just because you’re not “working” doesn’t mean you can’t get work done.
  • People will comment, and question, and try to give advice…take it all with a grain of salt. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me they have a nephew or a cousin or their boyfriend’s best friend went to China or England to get a teaching job…I wouldn’t need a job anymore. I could also get rich from the amount of times people have told me “the teaching job market is so difficult right now!” or that it will be impossible for me to find a job. I am very aware of these things. I did not expect to land a full time teaching job the year after teacher’s college, but yes, I still want to be a teacher. I find that because teaching is such a widespread and public career, it can come with a lot of unwanted commentary. Many people will give you advice that is genuinely helpful; in cases like these, keep your ears open and take all of the advice you can get. But other times, comments can catch you off guard and make you doubt the decisions you have made (maybe you should have gone to China…). But, if you have a passion for teaching and you have dreams of having your own classroom in a school, then this is the route you have to take—don’t let others shake your confidence.
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Another favourite. Thank you, Pinterest.

Do these tips make me an expert? Not a chance. I don’t know everything, but what I do know is that I have a long road ahead of me when it comes to occasional teaching, long-term occasional placements, and part time contracts, so I want to do everything that I can to ensure that I am not in a state of burn out when the opportunity for a full time position does come knocking. Remaining optimistic, taking care of ourselves, and working as hard as possible are some of the only things that we can control when it comes to supply teaching. I’m sure all of you have seen one of those “Attitude is Everything!” posters in a classroom before. Well, those posters aren’t just for students. Attitude is everything and remaining positive in the face of uncertainty can help keep you focused and grounded. Each morning, one of those two scenarios will happen…and it’s up to you to make the most of whatever side the coin lands on.

 

We want to hear from YOU too! What did you do/are doing currently to remain positive during your first couple of months working as a supply teacher? Any advice to share with our readers? Leave a comment below or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter!

 

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New Years 2016 – What’s up Next? 0

Posted on January 09, 2016 by Natasha

Well, it’s official, we have now made it through the first week of the New Year! Personally, I found that the week just FLEW by…maybe I was feeling recharged? maybe the kids had the break they needed to recharge themselves?

Needless to say, we’re back and at it!

photo: planyourmeetings.com

I started the week with community. In each of my rotary classes, we spent about 10 minutes as a group to share about our break and get caught up with each other. With my homeroom, my focus was on setting goals – a large piece of the metacognition process and our Self-Regulation Learning Skill. I was encouraged at the goals that my students set for themselves. My ah-ha moment last year was that we always encourage goal setting, however, we rarely provide the needed time to reflect on goals and take time to celebrate achievements. I have set aside 10 minutes in my weekly schedule (during Language) to have my students check in on their goals. I have them ask themselves 3 questions:

  1. Have I achieved any goals that I can celebrate?
  2. Do I need to start doing something differently to achieve my goal?
  3. Are my goals truly SMART (specific, manageable, attainable, realistic, timely)?
Addie Williams, TPT

Addie Williams, TPT

As a role model, I participated in the task alongside my students. I completed the graphic organizer (shout out to Addie Williams over on TPT), chose three goals to focus on, and completed a paragraph (modeling each step of the process).

Here are my top 3 goals from the task:

  1. I will engage students with hands-on tasks, using technology, and teach the Organization Learning Skill by modeling how to use lined paper. These three things will reduce my eco-footprint by eliminating the need to photocopy.
  2. I will set aside time to be creative (blog, sketch, craft, play more music-looking to starting a Staff Band at school).
  3. I will set weekly fitness goals so that I can be healthy and happy.

We want to know…what are your plans for the new year? How are you going to grow professionally? How are you going to encourage your students to be the best they can be? 

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Setting up an Organized Classroom – The Lounge Podcast: Season 3, Episode 002 0

Posted on August 11, 2015 by Natasha

On today’s episode, Andrew and Natasha discuss what it’s like to set up a classroom in August for Back-to-School! Included are some quick tips, things to think about, and a little insight into classroom management techniques related to organization.

 

Our favourite from this episode:

  • Say “hi!” to people in the building
  • Furniture – enough? too much? where?
  • Family & friend volunteers <3
  • Hit up the DOLLAR STORE!!! (save the receipt if you can get reimbursed)
  • Yard sales
  • Leave lots of space to co-create
  • A world map

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RESOURCE BANK

  • Natasha: Memo Books (4 for $1.00, dollarstore!)
  • Andrew: Thank You cards (dollarstore!)

#TRENDING next time

  • The 1st Week of School
  • Building Community – Classroom Edition
  • Making a Class Website (webinar workshop)

Like what you’ve heard? Have more questions? Contact us:

Andrew: I blog at TheRookieTeacher.ca, or email me Andrew@TheRookieTeacher.ca.

Natasha: I blog at TheRookieTeacher.ca, follow me on twitter @yoMsDunn, or email me Natasha@TheRookieTeacher.ca.

Lauren: Blogs at TheRookieTeacher.ca, or catch her updates on our BRAND NEW Pinterest board – pinterest.com/RookieTeacherCA

RookieTeacher Online
We are always looking for ideas, feedback, tips and tricks of the trade.  Find us on Twitter @RookieTeacherCAFacebook.com /TheRookieTeacher.  If you are looking to get involved with our team, please contact us!

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Long Range Planning – The Lounge Podcast: Season 3, Episode 001 0

Posted on August 04, 2015 by Natasha

On this episode we introduce our new format, plan, and give details about Long Range Planning (LRP). This is a topic that you may want to start thinking about come August, or for our US friends, a little earlier. Keep watching to see Natasha act like a fool by air swooshing… and until the end of the episode for the Resource Bank segment and a sneak peak at our upcoming episodes.note, notes, post it, postit, sticky icon

Our favourite LRP materials:

  • Post-it Notes
  • A blank canvas (a wall or chart paper)
  • Curriculum documents
  • Grade or division team members
  • Assessment/Evaluation checklist (for, as, of learning)

We have discussed Long Range Planning before, with guest host Lisa Dabbs, with a focus on Web 2.0 tips & tools.

Check out Lauren’s blog, “13 Steps to Easy Long Range Planning” where she gives a detailed plan on how to set up a STELLAR math LRP using colour coding!

RESOURCE BANK

#TRENDING next time

  • Setting up an Organized Classroom
  • The 1st Week of School
  • Making a Class Website (workshop)
  • Building Community – Classroom Edition

Like what you’ve heard? Have more questions? Contact us:

Andrew: I blog at TheRookieTeacher.ca, or email me Andrew@TheRookieTeacher.ca.

Natasha: I blog at TheRookieTeacher.ca, follow me on twitter @yoMsDunn, or email me Natasha@TheRookieTeacher.ca.

Lauren: Blogs at TheRookieTeacher.ca, or catch her updates on our BRAND NEW Pinterest board – pinterest.com/RookieTeacherCA

RookieTeacher Online
We are always looking for ideas, feedback, tips and tricks of the trade.  Find us on Twitter @RookieTeacherCAFacebook.com /TheRookieTeacher.  If you are looking to get involved with our team, please contact us!

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R U Ready? 0

Posted on July 18, 2015 by Natasha

Something New Coming Soon

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A Rookie Introduction: Our Newest Contributor…Tony Gong 0

Posted on July 03, 2015 by Tony Gong

Hi everyone, my name is Tony. I’m going into my 7th year of teaching, all with the Halton District School Board. I’m very proud to be first high school teacher to contribute to this website and I’m hoping that more secondary level teachers will join this group.

I’m qualified to teach math, computer studies, and special education. I’m extremely passionate about helping students in all those subject areas. Although I love what I do now, my career got off to a very rocky start 7 years ago. I went into my first year of teaching full of confidence and optimism but things quickly spiral out of control. I was confronted with all kinds of classroom management issues and I felt totally unequipped to deal with them. Despite putting so much time into lesson planning, I always felt like not enough was accomplished day in and day out. Worst of all, I felt I didn’t really have someone that I talk to about my problems. At several points of my first and second year, I seriously thought about quitting this professional.

I’m really glad that I didn’t because now I actually enjoy going to work. I can honestly say that every single day I feel like I’m making a difference in kids’ lives. I hope that I can be of some help to you if you are going through the experiences that I had. I look forward to getting to know you and contributing more postings to this great website.

Cheers,

Tony

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DIY: Fraction Mosaic Board 0

Posted on February 19, 2015 by Allison Dyjach

In my math curriculum class in teacher’s college we were tasked with creating our own math resources that we would use in a classroom of our own. It took me a while to choose a concept to focus on, but being the crafty person that I am, I knew that I had to create something with colours and paper and moving parts–something that was exciting and hands on! After doing some research (I mean searching around Pinterest, really) I had come up with the topic that my math manipulative would cover: fractions! Fractions seem to be a tricky concept that start in Grade 1 and continue all the way until the intermediate grades, so I figured that I couldn’t go wrong with creating a math resource that could be tweaked to work with almost any grade and aid in one of the more abstract concepts in math.

So, I present to you…a fraction mosaic board (inspired by this activity found originally on Pinterest)! I loved that students got to have fun and create something and then find the math behind it, so I wanted to make my own reusable version of this project and share it with you! I promise, this board was very easy, affordable, and quick to make. It took me about 1 hour and cost $10. And I swear you can do this even if you wouldn’t call yourself a crafty person.


 

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Supplies:

  • Cookie sheet (can find at almost all dollar stores now!)
  • Stick on magnet strips
  • Construction paper (4-5 colours)
  • Scissors
  • Washi tape
  • Permanent marker

 

  1. Measure the width of the magnet strip and cut one strip of each colour of construction paper to match the size of the magnets.
  2. Cut the magnet strips into 3 inch long pieces (this will help flatten out the pieces and make adhering the construction paper much easier).IMG_0026
  3. Remove the tape from one magnet strip to reveal the sticky side.
  4. Take one strip of the construction paper and line up the end with the magnet strip. Stick the paper to the magnet.
  5. Cut remaining paper off of the end of the magnet strip. Then, cut the magnet into smaller mosaic pieces (I cut mine in about ½ inch long pieces to make squares)
  6. Repeat until you have the desired amount of mosaic pieces in each colour. I played around with the amounts a lot, but I wanted numbers that would be easy to divide and reduce so I ultimately used 16 blue, 12 red, 14 yellow, 10 green, and 8 orange = 60 pieces in total (tweaked a little bit from the picture below).                                                              IMG_0027IMG_0028IMG_0029
  7. Once mosaic tiles are complete, decorate the cookie sheet however you wish. I used Washi tape to create a table and permanent markers to create titles. In the left column, students can store their tiles, in the centre they can create a picture, and on the right they write their fractions that they made with a dry erase marker

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This can be modified and used for almost any grade when looking for practice with fractions. I also created an accompanying “instruction sheet” that I would most likely put right beside this to make it a centre. And then for older grades, I would suggest extending this activity with follow up questions. I created some questions at a grade 4 level dealing with reducing to lowest terms and looking at equivalent fractions. Accompanying questions could easily be made up for adding or subtracting the fractions, multiplying and dividing, and almost any other related fraction task.

IMG_0023 IMG_0024

 

Feel free to send me a message or leave a comment if you would like a copy of the accompanying documents or have any questions about this DIY! If you have any other fraction, mosaics, or cookie sheet activities that you have done with your students, share them below–we always love to hear new ideas!

 

Allison Dyjach is a Faculty of Education student at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Connect with her on Twitter @AllisonDyjach, or follow more of her Bachelor of Education experiences on Instagram @allisondyjach

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Quick Tip For Tomorrow: Snap Cube Factors 0

Posted on February 09, 2015 by Allison Dyjach

We all know that getting students to learn the factors that go into a multiplied product can be a tricky task, and simply writing out a list, reading it out loud, and trying to memorize it by rote is not going to help a student truly understand what this “factor” thing even is. This past week, I was blown away by this seemingly simple task that my mathematics curriculum professor handed to us. With only a set of snap cubes and a number line, my fellow teacher candidates and I were completely engaged in this problem solving activity.

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Phase 1 complete; all of our factors lined up!

First, each group of 4 was given a bag of snap cubes and a number line drawn out on a strip of chart paper. Then, we hear, “blue cubes represent the number 2. Put a blue cube on every number where 2 is a factor.” Simple enough. Next, we move on to green, which is 3, yellow for 4, red for 5, and so on up to 10. We stack all of the cubes on top of each other to make a bright and interactive representation of all of the factors for numbers 1-24.

Now, here is where the brain switches its function and the real application comes in. We are told to keep all of the cubes connected as they are, but shuffle them around and mix them up for a minute, and then…place them back on each correct space, just as they were. This was a little bit more difficult than anticipated, but eventually by working through each number and finding the relationships between the different colours (as well as some prompting questions from the professor…), we were able to get the model back to its original state.

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Phase 2: time for some problem solving!

After leaving class, I knew I had to share this activity. What a rich learning task for students and a great way to dissect what is actually behind a factor and a product. The only way to truly learn and understand math is to manipulate its components, apply them and problem solve with them. I could see an entire lesson being based on this activity, because if it was able to get a bunch of 20-something teacher candidates’ brains working in overdrive, I’m sure it could be just as engaging in a younger classroom.

Do you have any go-to activities when you tackle factors with your students? Would you use this activity in your class? Share your thoughts with us in the comments or send a tweet our way @RookieTeacherCA!

 

Allison Dyjach is a Faculty of Education student at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Connect with her on Twitter @AllisonDyjach, or follow more of her Bachelor of Education experiences on Instagram @allisondyjach

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A Rookie Introduction: Our Newest Contributor…Michael Marchione 0

Posted on January 30, 2015 by Michael Marchione

Hey! My name is Michael Marchione, a new Teacher Candidate at Brock University. I’m currently completing the Concurrent Education program with my Bachelor of Education at the Junior / Intermediate level. I am super pumped to join an awesome group of rookie teachers, and I will embrace the rookie name! I have been fortunate enough to meet many great people along my personal journey to making a difference in this world, and I look forward to growing and learning alongside such great communities!

Michael Marchione

Michael Marchione

In the last few years, I began speaking up about mental illness and mental health awareness in our world. Since then, mental health has become a huge passion of mine. As an emerging educator, I fully intend to make mental health education an integral component of my educational philosophy and general way of life. In doing so, my aim is to raise awareness and reduce stigma surrounding mental health and to foster communities of acceptance and safety in our schools and growing communities. You can look forward to seeing and hearing a lot about my experiences with introducing and reinforcing mental wellness and positive spaces in schools – I’m so excited!

On top of being a huge advocate, I whole heartedly desire to live by the values of a life-long learner. I want to continue to learn and grow alongside my students and fellow educators. While I may be my own worst critic at times, I value making mistakes and learning from experience and feel that sharing stories and narratives is crucial to learning as a community. And so, you can expect a lot of storytelling and reflecting from my end, and hope that you share and find value in my experiences as I aim to do the same from yours! Here’s to being a rookie teacher!

Take care everyone ☺

@marchionemv

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It’s that time again, Ontario Teachers! 0

Posted on January 17, 2015 by Natasha

4TIPS FOR WRITING REPORT CARDS

That’s right. Time to get out the assessment and evaluation binders, your anecdotal notes, observation records, and conference guides.  Term 1 is coming to an end here in Ontario, and elementary teachers are going to be hard at work planning and prepping the school day and writing report cards.

This means taking a good look at our kids. How they are progressing in all their academics. But more importantly, their Learning Skills.  Since September, how have they been developing these life long learning skills? From organization to self-regulation, responsibility to collaboration, independent work to initiative, it’s our job to evaluate.

I must admit, this time of year sometimes brings me to an odd place, where I contemplate how we assess — I often find it hard to assign ONE final grade, ONE final “E”, “G”, “S”, or “N.” But alas, it’s our job.

On top of an evaluation, our comments are what truly paint a picture of each student and give families a look into life in Kindergarten to Grade 8.

Thankfully, there are strategies, tips, and tricks to thrive
during report card writing time as a Rookie:

  1. Ask for help. Get in touch with a mentor, teaching partner, grade or division team and collaborate. We talk to our kids about the power of collaboration – so let’s not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. Most experience teachers will have a comment bank that can be tweaked or edited to reflect the current school year. If not, starting from scratch with a team is also an option – after all, 2 heads are better than 1.
  2. Reach out to your PLN (i.e., Ask for help 2.0). If you are involved in NTIP, Facebook groups, or have contacts in the industry – get in touch with them. They can either provide you with some help first hand, or encourage you through this time of writing.
  3. Check for school board or ministry documents. Each year, my school board publishes a great”Guide to Creating Meaningful Report Card Comments.” In this document, teachers are informed about formatting, qualifiers, language, and balancing Strengths & Next Steps.
  4. Search Online. There are other guides available out there.  About a year ago, I came across a site called Student Evaluator. “The Student Evaluator was created by teachers, for teachers. An idea that began over 5 years ago, the Student Evaluator has brought together a team of teachers, learning advisers, web design specialists, and software engineers to create an evaluation tool for teachers. We realized that there had to be a better and more efficient way to accurately assess and create report cards for our students, and so we built software to do just that.” I have used their service to help me create meaningful comments.  


Until the end of January, Student Evaluator is offering our
readers a 20% discount by using the code JAN15.
 

Student Evaluator

Happy Writing, Rookie!
Reach out to the Rookie Teacher Team if you need

someone to talk to about Report Cards or any other EduQuestion.

Comment below, join us on Facebook.com/TheRookieTeacher, or send us
a Tweet @RookieTeacherCA & sign up for our Newsletter!

 

 

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