Blackout Poetry

I don’t even remember how I was introduced to the work of Austin Kleon, but I have done blackout poetry with my students every year since. I was incredibly proud of my students today, pouring over books and newspapers, searching for the poems hidden within. My vice principal even dropped in for a minute for another reason and said, “Look how engaged your kids are!”

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Terry Fox Inquiry

Thank you to two students who chose to share their learning this way:

Les plantes bizarres

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CREATE: The Value of Art in the Classroom

Today my students completed the final session of three sessions with CREATE artist Tanya Rogoschewsky. Tanya looked at paintings by Emily Carr with my students and talked about her influences. My students then created paintings, drawing on her for inspiration.

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Full disclosure here: my students don’t get to paint as much as I would like them to, mostly because of the mess factor. We are in a classroom in the portables and are a long way from a sink for clean-up, making painting a big undertaking every time we do it. It was fun watching my students paint, though. Some who are not generally artistic or drawn to the arts really got into it and it was fun to see the visceral painting style of students who are generally more athletically inclined.

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I believe in arts in the classroom, not only because it complements other areas of the curriculum (in this case: Canadian heritage), but also because I think students should be exposed to art and be encouraged to make beautiful things. How sad would the world be if we streamed kids at such a young age and asked them to put themselves in rigid categories?

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What being a student taught me about being a teacher

Recently, I found myself in a “Yoga for Runners” class and had an “aha” moment about my teaching. How often as an adult do we find ourselves in the position of learning something new? Not nearly often enough is my answer, especially if we are teachers.

I have been a runner since I was a teenager. I don’t claim to be very fast or to be able to go very far, but I do LOVE it. I decided to add yoga to the routine because all I was doing was pounding my body with the same old same old four times a week. I have done yoga before but it never really “took”. I do love the dim lights and the quiet, the incense and the chanting, but I am the kind of girl who needs a runners’ high. I want to feel like I have worked hard. I never really felt like I was amongst my tribe.

Yoga for runners blew my mind:

I showed up in my running tights and thought, “meh… They’ll do the trick.” Little did I expect every other yogi and yogini to look like me! The room was full of Nike and Sugoi and not the hemp and bamboo I had expected. They all had feet like me: rough, and bent. Every other yoga class I had been to was full of people who seemed to respect their feet more than I did, but this class seemed to be full of people more interested in where their feet could take them. I found power in knowing every one of those runners had a tight front body and a weak back body. Camel pose that goes straight up and down at best? Yup, that’s me. There is power in finding people with like interests.

I found myself wanting feedback rather than wanting to disappear into the background. The teacher demonstrated, described, and provided feedback. She used words, a demonstration, and sometimes a hands-on realignment of our position. I was not afraid to get it wrong! Rather, I was more concerned with getting it right. There is power in being allowed to make mistakes.

Several times she said, “There is no judgement only practice.” That right there? That blew my mind! I was not right or wrong but on a continuum towards my best me. How freeing to not be afraid to get it wrong! She provided us with feedback and then let us try each position again. The feedback came in the middle of the practice, not at the end where I would have forgotten before the next session. There is power in just-in-time feedback.

She guided us to the ropes and wall hooks where I was incredibly intimidated: what torture device is this? But she made it fun! My first inversion! Did I look like a fool on the outside? Probably. Did I feel like a five-year-old on the playground on the inside? Absolutely! Let’s not forget the value of play in the classroom! There is power in fun!

The class was Robin Hilton’s Hips and Hams at the Bodhi Tree and I highly recommend it. I also highly recommend putting yourself in the student role occasionally and experiencing the slight discomfort of learning something new.