My third and final reason for starting a blog this summer is because it has been an incredible year of growth for me (fortunately not just around my middle)! Lucking out in my selection of professional development seminars and workshops, as well as starting at a new school, which is always an opportunity for growth, resulted in a year jam packed with learning and progress. And because there is so much crossover between parenting and teaching strategies, I feel like not only my teaching skills improved, but my parenting skills as well.
Since the beginning of my teaching career, I have worked in three different schools, each providing me with different and rich learning experiences. Although I am definitely a creature of habit and sometimes resist change, my most recent change of schools this past fall reminded me of the learning opportunities a transition can provide.
Since my return from England in 2009 and up until last year, I taught at École Varennes, a school in the same division I am currently in. I settled in quickly at this school, and fit in in no time with the tight knit staff. These were special years for me and an experience I will never forget. The student population at École Varennes is fairly multicultural and also socioeconomically diverse. I was always very impressed with how early on the students at Varennes learned to be tolerant and respectful of each other and their differences, a skill that will serve them well in life. My time in the classroom at École Varennes, as well as in Student Services, was chock-full of hands-on learning experiences. Although I took part in some valuable professional development workshops, I really feel like most of my learning there happened through observing my colleagues and navigating a variety of situations and challenges as they arose. I worked with an incredibly caring, patient and extremely hardworking and skilled staff, and I learned so much from my colleagues and the administration team there. Although it was eventually time to move on, I definitely left École Varennes with a heavy heart.
My years at École Varennes were a stark contrast to my prior experience at ACS Egham International School, an inquiry-based private school in England. The teaching staff and the student population at ACS were very transient, and this didn’t provide me the closeness with colleagues that I find so important and valuable. Although equally multicultural, if not more so, almost the entire student population there was very affluent, and the demands at this job were much different to those I have experienced since then. Although my experience there was brief, it too came with much learning, especially in regards to the benefits of project based and student driven learning, the details of which I will save for another time.
Skip ahead 10ish years to where I am now, École Marie-Anne Gaboury, which coincidentally is also where I went to school as a kid. I started the year off very nervous about what it would bring, and about leaving my friends and the comfort and familiarity of my job at Varennes behind. Thankfully, the transition went smoothly. I was quickly reminded that kids are awesome, entertaining and exciting no matter the school and was happy that they quickly welcomed me into their community. Sharing an office with my Student Services partner Margo, and working in such close proximity with her all day long, also meant that we quickly came to know each other and share our expertise (as well as a love for coffee and all things chocolate). This was also a huge contributing factor to the aforementioned growth and progress that happened this year, and although the chocolate resulted in growth in other areas, I am mostly referring to the growth that happened as result of the opportunity to collaborate with Margo.
This collaborative rapport with Margo (and other colleagues at the school), as well as the opportunity to participate in many top-notch seminars and workshops resulted in a a huge year of learning for me all of which I can’t stop talking about, and hence the idea to start a blog. My family and friends are very tolerant of my need to babble on and share about my passion that is teaching (and parenting), but this only lasts so long before I feel like I need to give it a rest. I figured a blog would be a good place to indulge in this need to share with like-minded people! I thought if others happen to read, great! If not, I figured at minimum, it would still be a great way to reflect on, and document all of this learning.
What were your most memorable learning experiences this year?