Aboriginal Storywork in the classroom

Not My Story: the title for this one has been in my drafts folder for well over a year as I struggled with the how and why of making space for Aboriginal stories in my classroom. Every time I sat down to write and organize lesson plans I got derailed: ‘These are not my stories.’ ‘Why does this matter to me?'”How do I make space for these stories in particular?”

This year I got to take part in UBC MET’s ETEC521 Indigeniety, Technology, Education and I think I finally have it straight in my head. The course work challenged my thinking; I said many times over the term that the reading was only a small fraction of the work that went into this term. The reading took hours, as masters course work does, but the thinking took days. Some days I dug into conversation with anyone willing to bat around ideas and some days I got pushback and a reminder that a soapbox is not a helpful platform.

I won’t rewrite here everything I put in the academic paper because the link to there work is in my Website. I spent 50 hours on the final project and feel good about what I will be taking into the classroom in the fall. The catalyst for inquiry is Danielle Daniel’s Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox. I would love your feedback and hope that it can be carried into other classrooms, too. The student side of the project is an ever evolving project, so if you have stories you feel I could include to make the site even better I would love to hear from you!

Seek Joy

Dear Students,

Welcome to Grade 3. It’s two days before you get to walk into our classroom and see its unadorned walls and furniture that doesn’t seem to quite be in the right place. I did it on purpose. It’s hard though. I look around at teachers’ classrooms who are clearly excited to meet their students and their walls already wear student names, they have prepared notebooks, they have hung posters. Their excitement to meet students is electric!

So it’s hard for me to open the walls to a classroom that looks unfinished and I want you to know that I left it this way on purpose in an effort to know you better. This space belongs to you as much as it does to me. We will spend the first week planning our space together and making it something that meets the needs of everyone. I can’t wait to create with you!

I know I find joy in so many things: in stories, in coffee on Friday morning, in riding bikes, in my family, in my students, especially when we’re making productive messes. I cannot wait to learn about where you find joy! I want to know what you like to read, where your gaze falls when you get to wander, what you wonder, what makes you so excited you can’t wait to share? In this room, we will be learners, teachers, readers, designers, writers, questioners, mathematicians, engineers, scientists, film makers, friends, seekers of joy! 

Our classroom is ready for you and I hope you are as excited as I am!

Mme Evans

Remember to Breathe

There are days I literally forget to breathe; when I stand at the coffee maker and realize I am holding my breath and don’t know why. There are days I need to remind myself to breathe.

As classroom teachers, we work hard, often skipping much-needed bio breaks in favor of helping a student finish up that last bit of work he didn’t get to or rushing out the door to playground supervision.

We need to remind ourselves that we are not the ones who should be working the hardest in our classrooms; and if we are, our students are missing out on opportunities to reflect and consolidate understanding. Real learning takes time and reflection. That sometimes concepts are only mastered by walking away from actively thinking about them.

Teachers and students do better when we take time to take care of ourselves and remember to breathe.

As a teacher, a mom, an athlete, a masters student, I sometimes feel that every movement needs to be purposeful and that I must remember pick up those copies I made on the way back from recess supervision to save a trip (and who has time for an extra trip?). We (read: I) need to remember that time “off” serves just as important a purpose as time “on”. As an athlete, training is like wringing a sponge, but in order for the sponge to draw in as much liquid as it is able, it must come to a rest; a sponge that does not rest takes in less the next time around. The rest is as important as the work. Learning, I think, is the same.

Remember to play, to laugh, to rest. Remember to breathe.

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!”







Now what have I gone and done?

As I sometimes do over the holidays, when I have a few minutes to sit and think, I go and sign up for stuff. This time around I signed up for the RPS Half and an ETMOOC.

I have found that Twitter has completely changed my PLN, introducing me to tons of new people who share my view of education and with whom I can collaborate at anytime of day or night. My #pdgeeks are awesome!

So I signed up for and Ed tech massive open online course with 1200 or so other colleagues from around the world. I’m very much looking forward to learning and sharing. And I’m a little intimidated by the skill level already demonstrated by some other participants. This is gonna be good!