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

The Rookie Teacher

The End of the School Year 0

Posted on July 02, 2014 by Natasha

The end of the year is an odd time for me.  I think it’s because I can’t identify exactly how I feel…or that I have opposing feelings.  Half of me is excited about the summer (particularly this summer because I am headed to Europe for the first time) and the other half is sad to say goodbye to my kids and colleagues. I spend a lot of time working on community in my class and in the school at large – and for the next 2 months…routines go out the window and I am forced to experience change.

I also look forward to the summer as a time for rest and reflection.  It’s important for us to rest and rejuvenate after a school year.  We work hard and by June 30th we are pooped!  I usually schedule time with friends and family, camping and nature, and sleeping without an alarm clock.  I find that taking in those 5 things helps me get back on my feet.  Taking a good look at what worked and what didn’t and building up my energy for the next school year.

photo: NDunn

photo: NDunn

“The most distinctive of these very good teachers is that their practice is the result of careful reflection… They themselves learn lessons each time they teach, evaluating what they do and using these self-critical evaluations to adjust what they do next time.” (Why Colleges Succeed, Ofsted 2004, para.19)

Sample Reflection Questions (via Teacher Tip, Scholastic.com)

1. Was the instructional objective met? How do I know students learned what was intended?
2. Were the students productively engaged? How do I know?
3. Did I alter my instructional plan as I taught the lesson? Why?
4. What additional assistance, support, and/or resources would have further enhanced this lesson?
5. If I had the opportunity to teach the lesson again to the same group of students, would I do anything differently? What? Why?


I. Reflection Questions To Help You Get You Started:*  (via Syracuse University, ref link)

• Why do you teach the way you do?

• What should students expect of you as a teacher?

• What is a method of teaching you rely on frequently? Why don’t you use a different method?

• What do you want students to learn? How do you know your goals for students are being met?

• What should your students be able to know or do as a result of taking your class?

• How can your teaching facilitate student learning?

• How do you as a teacher create an engaging or enriching learning environment?

• What specific activities or exercises do you use to engage your students?

• What do you want your students to learn from these activities?

• How has your thinking about teaching changed over time? Why?

*These questions and exercises are meant to be tools to help you begin reflecting on your beliefs and ideas as a teacher. No single Teaching Statement can contain the answers to all or most of these inquiries and activities.

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Summer Learning Loss 0

Posted on July 25, 2012 by Lauren

A Canadian study has revealed that summer learning loss is not an equal opportunity issue. According to the research, kids from high income families experience increased reading levels while kids from low income families experience decreased reading levels over the summer months.

I strongly encourage you to check out the entire article: Summer Widens Rich/Poor Learning Gap

photo credit: besteducationapossible.blogspot.com

These results may seem obvious at first, but the research is valuable because it raises the questions WHAT ARE WE DOING ABOUT IT? and WHAT CAN WE DO DIFFERENTLY IN SEPTEMBER TO EVEN OUT THE PLAYING FIELD?

Considerations: summer program availability/ cost, support for parents, school/school board/community/private initiatives, neighbourhood demographics.

The Toronto Star article cites summer literacy camps as an effective way to reduce the summer loss of children from low income families. Unfortunately it seems as though access to these programs is limited and inequitable. For example, in the Halton region I have not heard of any free/low cost summer literacy programs for students; even after a bit of digging I came up with nothing. It is very possible that such programs do exist, but if they are not widely known or easy to find then I would suggest that they are ineffective. Other regions have excellent programs. The Brantford Public Library has been running a 100% free math and literacy program for over 20 years. The library hires university students to provide 1:1 summer tutoring. Each region has it’s own programs; what is available for students in your area?

The Rookie Teacher would love to hear from you. Please join the discussion by adding your comment. Let us know – What will you be doing in the 2012/2013 school year to overcome summer learning loss? How can teachers support low income families to increase literacy skills in our students? What programs are available in your school/school board/community?

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