Let It Go…

As I’ve entered into this new profession of teaching I have really connected with a lot of people and made some great new friends… It’s really nice to have so much in common with people around you. But on the flip side I have noticed a striking common ground with a lot of teachers – Perfectionism! I’m sure it’s in other professions as well but holy smokes there are a lot of perfectionist teachers out there!

Now perfectionism isn’t something new to me (as you may remember from this post) but rarely have I been surrounded by so many other people striving for the impossible right alongside me! Unfortunately this has made my goal of allowing more imperfection in my life infinitely harder…

This summer has been eye opening for me when I realized just how much of a perfectionist I can be. From planning a friend’s wedding shower to writing compositions for French class, I have realized how hard it is for me to chill out and relax (even on my summer break!)

Enter in my new mantra…

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I’m really working on just letting it go. Instead of stressing about not getting an A+ in the course that has been challenging from day one, I’m going to try to acknowledge that everything I have learned is vastly more important than the letter grade at the end.

Instead of stressing about the job I may or may not have in September, I’m going to remember that things happen for a reason and I will be able to find joy in whatever I may end up doing.

Instead of stressing over whether or not my new apartment is put together enough to have people over, I’m going to invite them anyways and enjoy what is set up here.

And the biggest stressor of all for me – I’m going to work to become okay with missing out on some things because it really is impossible to try to be at every social event with every friend all the time (most people probably know this already but it’s new news for me!)

I feel that life was somehow passing me by while I was try to make all the pieces fit in a row. I think learning how to let things go and live in the moment will help me become more of the teacher I want to be.

Next school year I hope that I will not miss out on as many of the little conversations or moments with my students. I hope that I will be more relaxed and able to focus on the beauty in my daily life.

Meaghan

The Power of Play

This post is dedicated to the memory of Julien-Pier. DSC01386

My soul is aching while I write this because not only have I lost a dear friend but the world has lost an incredible person. JP taught me so much about caring for others and sharing the warmth of a smile with everyone. Most of my memories with JP involve play – making playdough instead of dinner, rushing to ride the roller-coaster at the mall, and  finding Christmas trees in Quebec City. Julien-Pier knew how important it is to have fun in life. I am devastated that I won’t be able to create more memories with him but I am going to share and cherish all of the memories that I do have.

In pre-school and kindergarten we all learn through play and curiosity and then somewhere between grade 1 and high school the play seems to disappear… Is it because we no longer learn through play? I doubt it, seeing as I still learn from playing as an adult. I think it’s easy to get caught up in the curriculum or the classroom lessons and forget about the value of play.

When I started teaching grade 8 this year I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to relate to them, that they would be a lot older than the grade 6’s and 7’s I was used to. And then I took them outside – It was the last 10 minutes of the day and we headed out to the playground. They all stood around chatting for a minute and then the next thing I knew they were running full speed at the jungle gym for a game of tag. In this moment I knew that I would be okay because they wanted to play tag, because they were excited about life, and because I knew they were still “kids.”

Last year I saw a local researcher, Gary Anaka speak at a Pro D workshop. His saying was that “if your bum is numb, so is your brain.” This has really stuck with me and I try to think about it when I plan lessons – how can I get kids moving? Sometimes it’s as simple as putting articles they need to read in different parts of the classroom so they have to walk to read them. And sometimes it’s playing active games that involve concepts we are covering.

I think incorporating play into my lessons has resulted in some of my most effective teaching moments and I wish I had done more of it this year. One lesson that stands out in particular was a review game for some of the verbs we had just learned to conjugate in French. I took them outside and we played a “four corners” type activity in between the trees. (I will try to get this game up on TeachersPayTeachers this summer!) I surprised them by making the review activity fun and active, but they surprised me by really mastering the conjugations. There was a little bit of competition and a whole lot of teamwork, but mainly there was movement and a lot of laughter.

It’s going to be my goal to incorporate play into my lessons more often, no matter what grade I am teaching. Engaged students having fun with their teacher? I think that’s how it should be.

How do you incorporate play into your lessons and activities?
Any good stories about teaching new grade levels?

Meaghan