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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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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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Ask a Rookie: The Lounge Podcast: Episode 14 (season 2) 0

Posted on April 22, 2014 by Natasha

rookie-logo-podcastOn today’s show, Andrew and Natasha meet again to record another episode of The Lounge Podcast.  But this time, we are joined by Rookie Team Member Sarah Lowes to answer questions from a soon-to-be Faculty of Education student, Allison Dyjach.  She asks us everything from our time at teacher’s college to tips on grade 6 drama to keeping a work-life balance.  

If you have any questions that you would like answered – comment below, send us an email (info@therookieteacher.ca), @reply on Twitter @RookieTeacherCA, join us over on Facebook.

Watch the episode live here, thanks to YouTube & Google On-Air Hangouts or search for the audio podcast on the iTunes Podcast directory.

Whole Class Assessment

Whole Class Assessment, A.Blake

Quick Tip for Tomorrow 

  • Allison: Silent Ball!
  • Andrew: Full class assessment (*note: laminate*)
  • Natasha: Google Drive > Documents > Tools > Research (right within the document!!)
Google Docs Tools Research

Google Docs Tools Research

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

Andrew: I blog at TheRookieTeacher.ca, or email me Andrew@TheRookieTeacher.ca, I am currently focusing on pinterest as my social media project.

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

Sarah: I blog at TheRookieTeacher.ca, follow me on twitter @sarlowes.

Allison: Follow on twitter @AllisonDyjach.

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About Allison:

Hi my name is Allison Dyjach and I am in my fourth and final year of my undergraduate degree in Child, Youth, and Family studies with a minor in Psychology at the University of Guelph. My love for working with children began when I started working at summer camp at 16 and since then I have worked with people of all ages including working as a don in residence, running extracurricular activities for English language learners at my university, and helping to run a recreational therapy program for seniors. I discovered my real passion for education when I had a 6-month practicum placement in a grade 6/7 class which led me to apply for teacher’s college. I currently work full time as a co-op teaching assistant at the Child Care and Learning Centre at the University of Guelph, which is a daycare on campus for children 16 months old to 6 years old.

Her Questions for us:

  • If you had one tip of how to make the most of teacher’s college, what would it be? What do you think is the best way to make the most of the program and experience?
  • During my school placement I always found English a difficult subject to teach. Kids would often give me their pieces that they were working on to proof read, and after reading some of them I knew they didn’t meet the standards of grade 6 writing, but I found it really challenging to essentially teach kids how to be better writers. I could tell them to expand their ideas or write in longer sentences, but that didn’t usually do the trick. Do you have any strategies that you use to improve student’s writing to meet the standards that you’re looking for?
  • From my experiences, when students start to get older in grades 6, 7, and 8 that also means that all of the drama starts in the classroom. Students gossip about each other, exclude people, are friends one day and enemies the next…how do you try to maintain a drama free classroom?
  • Do you have an ideal desk setup in your classroom? Do you always like to keep your students in groups or individual, or does it vary for every class or even for different times of the year?
  • Something I struggled with when I had my teaching placement was bringing my problems from work home with me. When I was working with a student with some serious behaviour difficulties in the class I would find myself getting stressed out about it and spending my nights racking my brain for better strategies to work with them, or if they had a bad day in class it could put me in a bad mood for the entire night. What are some ways to combat bringing that stress home with you and maintaining a proper work-life balance?
  • I always hear from people that as soon as you get into teaching you should work on getting ABQ’s right away. Are there one or two ASQ’s that you absolutely recommend or think are essential for a new teacher to get?

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