Back to the Studio

Well, the 2014/2015 school year is in full swing now and jobs are being posted and filled every single day.  At the start of this week I was anxious for jobs to close and for my phone to start ringing.  I managed to fill up my week with TOC work, which is great, but I still really wanted to land a contract this week…and I did just that.

I finished off last year completely burnt out and looking back, I can see exactly why that was: second year teacher, first full time, full year contract, grade 8 (challenging enough in itself at any school!) and seventeen out of twenty-seven of my students had IEPs, other designations, were ESL, or had undiagnosed or in process diagnoses going on.  I worked so hard last year; there was never a dull moment.  Of course I do not regret a single moment from my job last year, but if you’ve been reading our blog for a while now, you’ll know and understand how much energy and time I put in to my grade 8s.  Going into this school year I was prepared to take the first job that came my way, but I was actually offered two jobs that I declined before I said YES to my new job for the year.

It was hard to decline the two jobs I was offered before I finally accepted my current position because I was antsy and just wanted a job, any job.  However, the amount of work I put into last year’s class kept lingering in the back of my mind and I wasn’t so sure that I had the energy to pull that off again right away.  I decided that this year I really needed to make an effort to regain some life balance and put my health, my sanity and my priorities before any job title.  After all, I plan to do this teaching thing for my entire working career so it’s probably good to learn this lesson early on!


The good news is that I’m going to be a dance teacher again this year!

 Some cool aspects of my 2014/2015 job:

-it’s at a high school (say what?! High school!?)

-it’s not full time (I’m excited about this because I can fill my afternoons with subbing if I want, or I can come home and like, make a really healthy dinner…something that rarely happened last year).

-while it’s not full time, it’s enough work to secure benefits and seniority while still saving a bit of money (important!)

-it’s creative and it’s still learning/teaching, just in a different capacity (read about how much I value out of classroom learning here).

-the students I’ll teach will actually want to be in the dance class because they chose to be there (I’m hoping I won’t have to deal with one behaviour issue because of this).

-I will get to work with some of my grade 8s from last year, and some of my dance students from two years ago (excited!)

-I know I am good at this job (not trying to be snarky here, but last year’s job was a massive learning curve for me in which I felt incompetent 95% of the time.  I am really excited to plan/prep choreography instead of science this year…not that I dislike science, I just need a switch right now).

Anyhow, I feel as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulders since I accepted this job.  I’m excited and feeling the energy we’re going to create in the studio already!  My soul is set on fire to get going on Monday; I am ready to have the most fun possible with my new high school students.  In the meantime I leave you with this fantastic music video.  Can we just take a moment to appreciate that Enrique and Sean Paul are making a comeback…together? Ha.  I mostly just really love the group dance parts of this video:

Keep filling you souls with what makes you shine, people…it’s the only way you’re going to love everything that comes your way in this life.


Teach It Tuesday: French-English Dictionaries

If you have taught French (or another second language) I’m sure you have heard one of the following questions on a daily basis:

– Can’t we just use Google translate?

– What does ______ mean in French?

– What does ______ mean in English?

– How am I supposed to look that up?

– Is _____ masculine or feminine?

And the list goes on! Most of these answers can be found in a little invention called… The French-English Dictionary! french_pb

And as easy as these seem to be for us to use, most kids actually need to learn how to use them and they need some practice using them too. I created a little activity to help me teach how to use some of the important aspects of the dictionary.

Also, and honestly maybe most importantly, it helped me to answer the “Can’t we just use Google translate?” question in a way that the students actually seemed to understand! (My answer – Google translate can have its place but when we look in a dictionary we can see synonyms, masculine/feminine, verb/noun/adj/adv, etc. and sometimes we need that information just as much as we need the word itself. And based on the sheer amount of times I hear the questions above, I think the students really understood that we DO need to know these things!)

To teach proper use of the French-English Dictionaries, I had the students working in partners on a “Dictionary Hunt” (available from our Teachers Pay Teachers store here). The hunt took most students the whole block and some needed a little extra time. It also kept them engaged enough that I was actually able to walk around and help partners with mini-lessons on using the dictionaries.

The directions in the hunt had simple things like “Find the meaning of this French word” to more complicated ones, such as “What are two French words that can be used to show the meaning of _____?” I also had students look up whether or not words were masculine/feminine or nouns/verbs/adjectives.

If you are making your own hunt here are some suggestions for things to include (the more practice with the tricky steps the less questions later on!)

  1. Choose words near the split between English/French sides of the dictionary to make sure students understand it’s divided into two parts
  2. Ask for the feminine form of certain words because they are often listed in the form: avocat (m), -cate (f) and students need to learn that the dash means to leave the root of the word the same
  3. Flip your questions back and forth between using the French and English side of the dictionary to give more practice searching for the right word

After we did the Dictionary Hunt we moved on to searching for vocabulary for our first unit in French. I had the students look up the words for the topic, write the English word, the French word, the part of speech, and masculine or feminine. It worked out well as a way to put their new dictionary knowledge to the test!

As always, please let us know if you use the lesson ideas here! We love to know how things work or don’t work for our readers.