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Ham and Cheese with a Side of TV: Does TV Belong in the Lunch Room? 0

Posted on November 07, 2016 by Allison Dyjach

I believe television is going to be the test of the modern world, and that in this new opportunity to see beyond the range of our vision, we shall discover a new and unbearable disturbance of the modern peace, or a saving radiance in the sky.  We shall stand or fall by television – of that I am quite sure.  -E.B. White, 1938

“Our teacher lets us watch movies during lunch. Can you put one on for us?” This is a question that I get asked about 50% of the times that I supply teach in an elementary classroom. I have been supply teaching for a year now, but no matter how many times I get asked this question, it always feels like I am being put on the spot, and I can’t seem to come up with a quick answer.

My hesitancy on this subject is complex. It’s not because I am against the idea of children watching TV or movies in school; it’s not because I don’t trust them telling me that their teacher allows this; it’s simply because I don’t know how I feel about television and movies becoming such a regular part of a student’s daily school routine. I am completely undecided and wishy-washy and noncommittal when people ask me whether I think it’s a good idea or not. I have to say that during my Bachelor of Education studies when we were tasked with writing our personal philosophies about what we value and believe about teaching, whether or not I was going to let kids watch an episode of “Magic School Bus” or “Arthur” during snack time did not come up.

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TVO Kids offers hundreds of educational television shows for children to watch online. Image from: eurovisionshowcase.com

So. I am stuck. Obviously when it is left in a teacher’s supply notes, or all of the students are telling me this is a normal routine, I allow it. My job as a supply teacher is to follow through with whatever plans the teacher has left, and if a class is used to watching the latest video from TVO Kids while they munch away, then so be it. But, what happens when I am no longer a supply teacher, when I have my own classroom and I begin to make decisions about what routines I would like to carry out with my own students? Does the TV still come out?

You see supply teaching is a multifaceted position. Although it is not something that many of us want to do long term, it does come with several great perks. Every day, you are faced with a new classroom with new rules and routines, student dynamics, and student abilities. This can be frustrating and tiring at times, but to me, being in a new classroom everyday means that I come home with a notebook full of new ideas for anchor charts, phys ed games, language activities, or number talks that the teacher left for the class. Each day I get to “test out” certain teaching methods that the teacher has put in place, and then decide whether this is something I might use in my own class one day.

I have been exposed to both sides of this experiment—TV and no TV—in every grade K-8, but for some reason, this is something that I still can’t seem to make my mind up about quite yet. There are still so many questions that seem to float around my head every time I try to make sense of this idea in my brain:

 

Isn’t TV bad for kids? All they do is watch TV when they get home. Don’t they need to socialize?

Yes. Kids need to socialize. They need to learn how to carry on a conversation with their friends, peers, lunch monitors, and teachers, and what better time to practice this skill than break time? The students are left to their own free will, and it is up to them to create some sort of structure and use their social skills to decide how they want to spend their lunch period. Everyday they get the chance to explore how the flow of a conversation works, how turn taking works, or how to enter a new conversation happening beside you. If students are spending their lunchtime staring at a screen, are we taking away a large opportunity for social skill development?

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BookFlix is an online site created by Scholastic that pairs children’s fiction books with non-fiction ebooks and movies to encourage reading and knowledge exploration. Image from: bkflix.grolier.com

But what about the kids who struggle with unstructured social situations?

I remember being this kid when I was younger. If my friends in the class happened to be away one day, lunch seemed like the loneliest, most uncomfortable 30 minutes of my life. I was stuck at my desk alone with no one to talk to and no self-confidence to change that. I would have loved having a small show to watch to take the attention off my feelings of isolation and stress. Or what about kids that get teased during breaks when the teachers on duty aren’t looking, or the students that simply don’t get along with many of their classmates? Television steers kids away from social difficulties they might be having, and instead provides them with a distraction that can keep their lunch break entertaining and bully free.

Ok, so now we’re just using television as a “quick fix” to underlying issues in a classroom dynamic?

See when we phrase it that way, it doesn’t sound so great. We often complain that “kids these days” are not independent enough; their resiliency is lacking and they aren’t able to problem solve the way we used to. Is giving them a TV show during lunch simply feeding into this idea of students no longer being self-sufficient? Because students can’t socialize in a respectful and quiet manner, we provide them with something that doesn’t allow them to work on those skills but instead ploughs over and makes them irrelevant? With a movie on at lunch, students don’t have to talk to a single one of their classmates if they don’t want to. No talking, no problems. But could that be harming them in the long run?

But Allison, the kids love it don’t they?

Yes. They do. They undoubtedly do. Everyday they get to watch a little fun snippet of a favourite show while they sit and eat their lunch, and often the teacher has chosen an educational show where the students get to learn about science or history at the same time. They are exposed to new content and knowledge that they might not have time for in their regular classroom schedule, or might not be able to access at home. The class also gets to engage in an enjoyable shared group experience. They can use those experiences to relate with each other, using it to inspire a group inquiry project, or as a conversation starter at recess. It could almost be coined a bonding experience. Keeping children entertained while also educating and connecting them always seems like a win-win situation.

And sometimes the teachers love it too. Last week I taught at a school where every junior classroom had something playing on the projector screen, and it was the easiest lunch duty I had ever done. Every class was silent, kids were sitting in their desk eating their lunch, and all I had to do was make sure kids tidied up their garbage when the bell rang. I was happy, and they were happy.

But there is still a part of me that wonders if this is a good thing. Teaching students that indoor voices and respectful language need to be used during lunch can be a never-ending task, but is distracting them into silence going to benefit them any more? Is TV a distraction from all of the learning skills we should be instilling upon our students? 

There is no real conclusion to this post, because I still don’t have a solid conclusion in my personal teaching philosophy about all of this. I would like to hear what you think, what you use, what has worked and what hasn’t. There are no rights or wrongs to these questions, but I would like to hear some of your ideas about steps in the right direction or ideas that might seem completely wrong in your classroom.

I still feel like I am being put on the spot by trying to make sense of it all, but maybe the next time a student asks me, “could you put on a show for us during lunch? Our teacher always lets us,” the answer will be a bit more than an, “um, well…I suppose…sure. Yes.”

 

 

 

 

 

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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

https://tribktla.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/table-thinkstockphotos-495842183.jpg

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
    44aa6dce773d6c97d0a4f568ad48b940

    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

basket iconbase, basket, full icon
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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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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Resource Bank: The Classroom Tourist 0

Posted on January 16, 2015 by Allison Dyjach
Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 1.10.08 PM

Just some of the wide variety of topics that are addressed on theclassroomtourist.net

Do you ever wish that you could take a week off to tour around schools and explore everyone else’s classrooms? Gather new ideas for seating plans, anchor charts, and bulletin boards? Well, the Limestone District School Board has made that (almost) possible! The Classroom Tourist (www.theclassroomtourist.net) blog is a relatively new project started by the Limestone District School Board K-12 Program Team, which features blog posts filled with innovative ideas and advice for Primary-Junior educators. The group travels throughout the LDSB to interview teachers or teaching teams and literally acts as a tourist in their classroom. They take pictures, ask many questions, and learn all about some of the teacher’s favourite teaching techniques and classroom setups. Also, the site is set up to easily search for tours based on a large set of tags, so you can find classrooms that specifically highlight math resources, new ways to create success criteria, and more.

If you are ever feeling a lack of inspiration or want to try a new classroom setup but don’t know where to begin, I highly recommend going on a few “tours,” they are sure to get the gears moving again.

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