Monthly Archives: October 2014

Day 38: Terry Whitmell, Principal (Brampton Centennial SS)

Peel21st Project 188

I’m Terry Whitmell, Principal of Brampton Centennial SS, and I’d like to share my greatest learning today: people are much more forgiving of our shortcomings, than we as educators are ourselves.

I woke up in the middle of the night, realizing that I had volunteered to contribute to this “What I learned today” blog, and that the email confirming this had been read quickly, and then quickly forgotten in the daily rush. I also realized that my “scheduled” date was likely a week or so ago (it was actually October 16… and today is the 24!). Immediately I felt embarrassment, and then panic. Was there a blank entry on the blog page, with my name at the top? Were there a group of Peel educators, thinking I was irresponsible or disrespectful?

So, this morning I sent an email to two of the organizers, and received the most…

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Making an Elsa Braid

*Disclaimer – this isn’t a school/teaching related post.  It’s a mom/family related post.  I try to stick to my professional side but sometimes the two are woven or sometimes I’m just so excited about something from my family life I have to share.  This is one of those times.

I have a 5 year old daughter.  Halloween is coming up and as you can probably guess she’s decided to be Elsa for Halloween.  She decided in June that she was going to be a My Little Pony and I was excited because I found the cutest costume online to make her.  The Party City Halloween costume flyer came to the house the first week of October and she changed her mind… in October… I knew finding a dress to fit her would prove to be difficult.  I was right.  Good thing my husband’s Nana is a great seamstress and she made Keelyn the perfect dress.  Keelyn has a short bob and she’s been insisting that her hair isn’t right for Elsa.  We tried the wig but it was too messy for Keelyn’s likes.  We decided to repurpose one of her play tiara’s into an Elsa tiara and hair.

Keelyn chose the tiara and from our winter craft stuff she chose glittery winter things to decorate it with. We also used light yellow yarn and braided it to cover the arms of the tiara and glued it into place. We added more yarn to make the bottom thicker and braided it into the two smaller braids. If I could do it again I’d make the length more consistent as it looks a bit sloppy at the end where the yarn lengths taper. It was Keelyn’s idea to glue in some sparkly things on the braid. She’s pretty proud of it and I’m happy because I got to contribute to her costume as well!

Super easy Elsa braid. Use yarn, an existing tiara, hot blue, and winter glittery things :)

Super easy Elsa braid. Use yarn, an existing tiara, hot blue, and winter glittery things 🙂

I think she likes it!

I think she likes it!

Day 31: Shivonne Lewis-Young, Teacher (Massey Street Public School)

My entry for the Peel Project 188

Peel21st Project 188

My name is Shivonne Lewis-Young and I’m a grade 3 teacher at Massey Street Public School.  As a co-organizer of this project I’m very passionate about it and I am truly grateful to all of the contributors.  It has been wonderful reading about all of your experiences.

Brampton A’s #everyday

LewisYoung #1The last couple of weeks have been really exciting at my school.  We’ve had the opportunity for our whole school to  participate in the #cardboardchallenge, we walked to see the Box Trolls Movie in celebration of that event and wrapped up with a school wide parade to see all of the amazing creations.  The students loved the experience and in my classroom it has and will continue to serve as a jumping off point for inquiry.

Another exciting opportunity was the Dreams & Education Tour by the Brampton A’s (National Basketball League of Canada)  I wasn’t sure…

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Professional Learning Day

Today students were not at school and while it was eerily quiet there was certainly a buzz of learning happening.  As a staff we were engaged in Professional Development or Learning as I like to call it.  Our focus was numeracy and we used EQAO and diagnostic assessment data to look at our areas of need.  While I am not going to give a full recount of our day I wanted to highlight that I was really proud of the people I work with and myself.  I feel like we pulled together and highlighted our strengths and needs and have drafted a plan that we can focus on and move our students forward.  Sometimes I leave Professional Learning feel overwhelmed but I feel inspired and fired up to work together on our numeracy goals.

Happy World Teacher’s Day

Today is World Teacher’s Day. I’m spending the morning snuggled up on the couch with my two favourite little people. We are watching Umi Zoomi and our fire place is on. We have a busy day of errands, mostly party prep for Keelyn’s 5th birthday party this week. My husband Phil also an educator is outside building our fence (he’s wearing shorts and a toque 🙂 ).  It’s actually a pretty fantastic way to celebrate.

I’ve been teaching for 11 years now and I feel that finally I’ve found my groove.  I am much more confident as an educator. Thanks to the connections (both online and offline) I’ve made I created a style of teaching that works for me.  I’ve become a risk taker and I no longer take things personally when a lesson I prepare doesn’t work out.  I am able to step back and reflect and either move a long or shift my focus and try again.  I make decisions in my classroom based on the needs of my students in fact everything I plan and craft up is with those unique 20 individuals in mind.  In a lot of ways being a teacher is so much tougher than when I first started.  I’ve been a mom for almost 5 years and a lot of the time I had to dedicate to professional learning, running extra curricular, working on committees is now refocused on my family.  It’s been tough to balance.  My daughter has recently broken her arm and when I’ve been off with her for appointments I’ve had to push back on the feelings of guilt that were building with being away.  I had to tell myself out loud “my family needs me!”

Teaching is certainly not glamorous and I often think I should have chosen a job where I could wear stilettos but I love that I am a teacher.  I love the connections I’ve made to kids and colleagues and as I reflect back on my practice I’m glad I became a teacher!

Be sure to thank an awesome educator today!


The Downside to Being a Connected Educator

Pernille Ripp’s blog is one of my favourites. I always find my self nodding in agreement when I read her posts. This post about the downside of being a connected educator was not any different. I never really put words to the idea of downsides but they are certainly there. Thanks for posting this Pernille!

Pernille Ripp

I have written a lot about all that being a connected educator has done for me.  I have written a lot about how I would not trade it for anything and that I hope others will choose to become connected as well.  I have written about how being a connected educator has enabled me to have connected students, which has radically changed the way I teach.  And yet, I have not talked about the downfall of being connected much.  Not like this, not in this way.

Yet, I think in honor of Connected Educator month, (which is a strange month anyway because aren’t we always connected?), I think it is time to discuss the downfalls.  Those things that I deal with from being a connected educator, because after all, if I am going to encourage others to be connected, I think I need to be honest about all that it…

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A Little Bit of Honesty

Today I was honest with my grade 3 students and I think it surprised them. In fact, I don’t think they believed me at first.

I shared how when I was a student I did poorly. I had mostly C’s and D’s on my report cards. I wasn’t motivated to complete my tasks and would often scribble sloppily to get it done rather than taking my time and effort. My spelling was awful, I overused comma’s, my basic math number sense skills shocking and my cursive was a disaster at best. I can vividly remember learning cursive in the fourth grade. When we became “neat enough” we were given a blue ball point pen to do our school work with. I was the last person in my class to get one. My teacher said with a scowl when she handed it to me “Your cursive is still awful but you are the last one in the class to get a pen so here.” It still makes me emotional and ashamed when I think of that moment. For years I avoided writing cursively. I’m learning it all over again with my students.

I was so uninspired by my education that in grade seven instead of doing our big animal research project I had materials spread around me about penguins but I never actually completed a project. I lied to my teacher and tearily said “I did hand it in.” I guess she believed me as she said I saw you working hard on it and you’re such a nice girl. For the record, I was given a B on that project – one of my best marks in elementary school.

It wasn’t that I didn’t have potential to do well. Or that I didn’t have great educators, generally I did. I liked my teachers but I was terribly shy so asking for help when I didn’t understand something just wasn’t going to happen. I felt awkward and uncomfortable around my peers. I felt different like I couldn’t relate to them. I didn’t get them and I know for sure they didn’t get me.

I loved learning. I remember making elaborate butterfly life cycle models and painting them with my mom and bringing it proudly school in the third grade. As a Kindergarten student I was very interested in Dinosaurs and when my classmates shared for show and tell what they were going to be when they grew up I proudly proclaimed -a palaeontologist and my teacher was awestruck! I knew dinosaur names, facts, and details and created volcano models. I was fascinated by constellations prompted by winter Girl Guide hikes I remember even getting a star machine for Christmas one year that was accompanied by a tape. I would spend evening after evening listening and learning. I loved nature, collecting seeds, leaves and rocks. I read novel after novel. Young Adult, Adult didn’t matter I always had a book in hand. My parents purchased us an kids animal/nature encyclopedia set and I read all of the books cover to cover, over and over. When I think back to myself as a child I’m shocked I didn’t end up in a science-based career, but I failed grade nine science I wasn’t good at it.

I want to reiterate that I had great teachers. I was just an out of the box student that didn’t fit within the makeup of our school system.

I needed to share my struggles and then my success story with my students today because I needed them to understand that I understand. Success is so much more than an A or B on a report or a great score on a standardized test. This is why I am trying to dive more and more into an inquiry based program. The spark comes from the students and hopefully it reaches those out of the box thinkers.

My daughter is me. She wants to do her own thing all.of.the.time. She loves birds, insects, reptiles and nature collections. Her favourite netflix show is Magic School Bus (or My Little Pony). She’s soft, sensitive, shy but strong in her convictions and is great at advocating for herself. She fits well into an inquiry based world and I hope that her future teachers will get her.