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Why I’ve Always Wanted to be a Teacher – May 8, 2017

When I was little I would play teacher with my younger sister, cousins, and kids from
around the neighborhood. I would give them spelling tests and pretend to take attendance, and I
loved every second of it. I always got made fun of for wanting to be a teacher, but that did not
matter to me. I was extremely lucky to grow up with some incredible teachers along the way, and
a few made significant impacts on me as a person. My grade three teacher made the biggest
impact on me. After I left elementary I went back and volunteered in her class for years
afterwards. I still go in occasionally and spend the day helping her out in class. In high school, I
took as many work experience classes volunteering in classrooms as I could. There was never
any question what I wanted to do, and being able to gain some experience in the field throughout
my schooling only solidified my decision.
After my first semester of University my grades were terrible and I wondered if I had
made the wrong decision. University did not seem like the place for me at all and I was
miserable. I took a semester off to work and regroup. It was terrifying for me because I had no
plan B. I had planned on going to school for teaching my entire life and suddenly, I felt
inadequate. After taking a semester off it reassured me that teaching was indeed what I wanted to
do, and I needed to do whatever I had to do to make that possible. So, I went back to University
and worked as hard as I could. It was not easy, but I pushed through.
Throughout my experiences in the classroom and through my first experiences at
University I really realized what being a teacher really meant. It is not about grading papers or
teaching lessons. It goes much further than that. I excelled when teachers took an interest in my
life, and I suffered when they did not. My goal in becoming a teacher is to be that teacher that
makes a difference in a student’s life. I want their classroom to feel like their second home, and I
want to fight to connect with even the toughest students. I know how big of an impact a teacher
can make, and I want to be that impact for students.

Qualities of Effective Teachers – May 15, 2017
I found it interesting that Keith wanted us to distinguish between "good" and "bad"
teachers and effective and non-effective teachers. I think this allows for improvement and growth
rather than simply assigning a status to a person. A teacher may not be very effective, but if they
care to learn and grow, they can easily become effective. Whereas a "bad" teacher is more of a
reputation and hard to get away from.
From the class discussions today it is pretty easy to see that everyone has had experiences
with effective and non-effective teachers. It is also interesting that many of the qualities that we
came up with overlapped in so many ways, but we were each able to explain them differently. I
think this is a testament to the fact that effective teachers must possess the qualities we came up
with, but be able to apply them differently in different contexts with different students.
Some of my favourite examples of qualities of effective teachers that we came up with:
-Takes an interest in the student outside of the classroom, forms individual relationships (I think
this is really important because as Keith has mentioned, you may be the only positive aspect of a
child's day.)
-Lifelong leaner (I think teachers should take part wholeheartedly in Professional Development
days. They are organized for a reason, and as it has been mentioned numerous times, it is very
important for teachers to constantly be learning and reevaluating the way they teach.)
-Invested (We've all had that teacher or professor that's been teaching for a few decades, and they
are tired, lazy, and ready to retire. Despite your exhaustion, you chose this profession for a
reason. You should be invested, dedicated, and innovative all the way through.)
-Creates a safe space for learning (Only one group really mentioned this today, and I think it is
super important. The atmosphere affects your attitude. A warm, welcoming, bright and fun
classroom will be more effective than a dark, cold room filled with desks and chairs.)
Those are just a few of the qualities that were mentioned today that I really connected with.
However, there obviously isn't a recipe to follow to become an effective teacher. Each individual
will form their own philosophies, and I think that is part of why Education is such an interesting
career path!

Surprising, Interesting, and Questioning – ATA Workshop Reflection – May 26, 2017
When I first heard about the ATA workshop I figured it would be three hours of boring
policy stuff, just talking about what the ATA is and what it's all about. What really surprised me
was that the presentation was not at all what I was expecting. Rather than lecturing about policy,
Dan used fun, engaging activities to give us the material in a different way. Along with his many
activities, Dan was a phenomenal speaker.
I found it really interesting that the ATA really isn't what I thought it was. I figured it was
mostly just legal and policy-based (like a union). I didn't know that it offers so many
opportunities for Professional Development and innovation in teaching. The question I have is
how does the ATA ensure that teachers participate whole-heartedly in the many opportunities
given to them? I knew many teachers growing up who saw Professional Development as a waste
of time, and either didn't participate or didn't take advantage of the experiences. For Alberta
teachers to be at their best, and to stay updated on new teaching innovations, should it not be
mandatory for teachers to participate in these opportunities? I know that school districts have
mandatory days set aside for Professional Development, but to me it would only make sense that
there was mandatory Professional Development Alberta-wide.
The presentation certainly exceeded my expectations, and all of the opportunities in
teaching that Dan talked about really inspired me to bring my whole self into the classroom, not
just the teacher part of me.

Inclusive Education – May 31, 2017
I am actually really glad we have spent so much time covering Inclusive Education, and
discussing both the benefits and challenges of it. It seems like such a no-brainer thing these days,
like "of course we should have Inclusive Education!". However it is still a relatively new thing.
When I was in Junior High, there was still a separate classroom for the "Special Ed" kids. All of
the coded students, with their overwhelming variety of needs, were tossed into that class with
one teacher (an EA) and an assistant. I can't even imagine how hard it had to be for the adults in
that room, with ten or more different kids with unique needs requiring constant attention. I
believe that Inclusive Education today is far more desirable because it allows students to be a
part of the school community, and allows for more equity between students.
For Inclusive Education to be successful, obviously there are a variety of things that need
to be present. First, the need for it needs to be recognized. Without recognizing the need, it won't
receive funding. Without funding, students who should have an EA with them at all times will
suffer because it is not in the budget. For example, my Mom works as an EA and last year she
was put with two of three Autistic, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant triplets. By the end of the year
she could handle them just fine, but to start off it was extremely tough and she was stretched to
her limit. Second, there needs to be constant innovation surrounding the resources available for
Inclusive Education. For example, in my classroom there are a variety of options available for
kids who are having a tough time with the regular learning environment. Some of these include
fidget spinners for kids who have trouble paying attention, and noise cancelling headphones for
kids who get overwhelmed in the loud environment. Kids' needs are constantly changing, and so
should the tools used to address them. Third, different ways to change standard learning need to
continue to develop. I think that differentiation, accommodation and modified learning are
fantastic methods to address different learning styles and different assessment needs. As the
years go on kids will develop more difficulties, and the schooling system should always be
changing in order to adapt to them.
One difficulty that I have with Inclusive Education is that I can see it being a challenge as
some of the tools are extremely distracting when they are supposed to be helping kids focus. For
example, every child in my classroom has a fidget spinner and they are a constant problem. They
are always getting taken away from kids or kids have to be reminded that their attention should
be on the teacher or their school work over the spinners. I find it difficult to address this
challenge because (as far as I know) the fidget spinners are a school-wide initiative. So you can't
just ban them in your own classroom, so how do you limit the difficulties when you can't
eliminate the problem?
While Inclusive Education is a broad topic, covering far more than just "Special
Education" and different methods of learning and assessing, I have found it very useful that we
have spent so much time covering it. Especially with having a substitute teacher my first couple
days of practicum, I have certainly noticed a broad range of needs in kids, and this has helped me
know how to address them.

Fears and Excitement – June 5, 2017
After being in the classroom for a week now I feel like I'm getting the hang of classroom
routines and getting comfortable enough that I can start asking more questions and really making
the most of my experience. As I am sure we have all seen and experienced, there are many highs
and lows to a day in a classroom, and we only see half of it! My TA is definitely one of the most
patient people I've ever met. I have yet to hear him raise his voice, but the students respect him
and follow his rules because they want to, not because they have to. He has a relationship with
each and every one of them and truly shows what it means to cherish every single student.
After being in the classroom, one of the biggest fears that I have is that I will have trouble
managing the environment in the class once I am by myself. There are a couple of students in my
class that are always off task, and you have to be on them every second to ensure that they are
not falling behind. Right now (including me) there are three extra adults in the room, but I can't
imagine how hard it must be when my TA is by himself. I would certainly be open to learning
strategies for how to manage the class as a whole, and it is something I plan to talk to my TA
about.
One thing that I am extremely excited for is when I get to PS III and the classroom
becomes my own. I am excited to have my own group of kids, to teach how I want and to
organize the class how I want. I love learning from other people, but I look forward to the day I
can implement the things I have learned and will continue to learn. I want to be able to use my
own ideas, and learn through my own experiences what works and does not work. I want to have
the individual relationship with each of my own students. I have heard over and over again that
when you get to PS III the students become "your kids" rather than someone else's class, and I
cannot wait to experience that for myself.
Ed 2500 so far has exceeded my expectations by a long shot, and I am loving every
minute. I feel like this is exactly where I am supposed to be, and actually getting into the nitty
gritty of it all has helped me to realize what I am confident with and what I need to work on. I
think it is important that we all commit to being lifelong learners and constantly strive to
improve ourselves and our teaching, because our students deserve the absolute best. I definitely
do not want this experience to end, but I look forward to taking the next steps in my journey!