My June Survival Guide

So this has been my first year teaching in the month of June. And I think I’ve learned more about teaching in June than anything else this year! (Well that might be a bit of an exaggeration… But still!)

So many “wish I’d known that” moments… Here is my advice to myself for teaching in June

1. NO PROJECTS! Don’t assign projects due in the middle of June. The kids don’t want to do them and I sure don’t want to mark them while I’m trying to do report cards.

2. KEEP IT SIMPLE… I thought they talked too much in class the rest of the year? Just wait! June is the cant sit down, can’t stop talking, can’t pay attention month of all months! I am learning to keep my instructions short and virtually fool proof the closer we came to the end of the year.

3. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. No matter how much I am in love with my job by June I am tired! Soooo tired! Don’t plan to do huge, elaborate, takeshourstoplan lessons or activities! And please just try to get enough sleep because it will never feel like enough!

4. PLAY GAMES! I will never be more thankful for my 8 years of summer camp experience than I am in June. Games, games, games… My saving grace!

Field Games

Field Games

5. KNOW THAT TIME WILL NOT BE ON YOUR SIDE… Between all of the talking, the yelling, the assemblies, the field trips, and the craziness that June brings – I will never have the class time I think I have! Don’t plan too much and don’t stress when it doesn’t all get done… It’s June!

6. YOU’RE IN THIS TOGETHER. Remember that the kids feel done and so do I… I think reminding each other of this fact is helpful in remaining respectful to each other and somewhat productive.

7. IT’S FOR THE KIDS! In the end, those kids come first and matter the most. Soak up every last minute with those beautiful souls! Have those meaningful conversations and take time with each and every student!

So I had a lot to learn this June… But guess what? I survived! And although it was truly crazy and frustrating and joyful and stress-inducing… It was totally worth it! I’m so glad to have those last few weeks with my students and have the time to spend without worrying as much about the curriculum or marking or assessment.

In June, I got to enjoy playing games and chatting. I got to shake their hands as they graduated from middle school. I was able to reflect on those little things that matter the most. I built better relationships with my students. In June, I learned a lot as a teacher and a person… and in the end I had a great time!

Being new in the district I am unsure about job prospects for next year but it worked out so well this year that, although I’m a little anxious, I am mainly just excited to see what is up next!

Can you add to my list of things to remember in June?

How was your last month of school?


Let’s Talk About… Politics!

So here in BC we just had an election this week – which means there was a lot of political talk in schools (and everywhere else!) During a discussion with a friend she asked me how I teach about politics without letting my personal views sway students one way or the other. I explained how I like to draw the opinions out of conversation from students and tap into their critical thinking skills but this question really got me thinking about what and how we share political information with our students.

I really believe that being an informed voter is more about critical thinking than anything else – especially with the heavy role the media plays in everything! In middle school, critical thinking skills are often at the root of daily lessons, but when it comes to political discussions they are at the forefront.

About a week before the election I was subbing in a class where I had to teach a Social Studies lesson about the platforms of the different parties and help students discover who they wanted to vote for in the Student Vote the following week. Being an opinionated… mmm VERY opinionated… voter myself, I had to consciously think about the words I was choosing to explain different party platforms. There were many important issues in this election (Enbridge pipeline in particular) and it was really interesting to hear what the students thought of the main issues.

During this lesson I discovered what a wealth of knowledge these students have and how their own passions are really going to drive their ideas of what is important. Like the student who said he didn’t care about “any of this voting stuff” until the issue of care for people with disabilities came up and struck a chord with him personally. Or the students who thought taxes should be eliminated altogether until we brainstormed the things that would be lost without tax money.

These students had so much to offer in terms of their ideas and opinions that by the end of it I realized how little my opinion even mattered in the discussion. I could really see how much richer the discussion was when there wasn’t a right answer or easy solution. It was an amazing experience witnessing this group of kids digging deeper into those real questions: “What do I care about?” “Why does this matter to me?” “What kind of future do I want to be a part of?”

Let’s just say that this teacher was learning a lot! …And hopefully the kids were too (BC is definitely in need of a young generation of voters!)

How do you approach political discussions in your classroom?

What is the best way to engage the indifferent when it comes to these conversations and debates?

The most important part of Democracy...

The most important part of Democracy…