Wednesday, January 20, 2016

I. Hate. Paper.

Yes, a pretty bold statement, but one I think I need to get out.  Yesterday I experienced perhaps the most stressful hour of my math career.  I gave my grade 1/2 students a "paper test". That's right, just as you read, a paper test.  What an epic fail!

Let me back track for a minute. I am a part of a great opportunity within my school to work with a grade level team (me + 2 others, so not a huge team!) to do a student work study work with a focus on mathematics.  We met last week to discuss the vision and path we wanted to take and thus, created a pre-test for students to complete as a starting off point.

Fast-forward to yesterday. I feverishly worked through my lunch hour to prepare the small packages of manipulatives and paper test for each student and then gathered everyone up at the beginning of our usually exciting math class.  Students were excited asking what we were going to learn today until I calmed them down and started my explanation.  I started out with what we were going to be doing today was not going to be something that was going to be marked for their report card and that it was something that was very different than we are used to having.  I pulled out a package with the manipulatives and the paper and immediately there were hands in the air asking 1,000 questions.  I went over each question one by one and I could see some confidence in their eyes still, so there was hope in my heart too.  I was holding onto that hope because I knew that we had done each of the questions in isolation before, but never in this format.  I sent each student away with their package and almost instantaneously everyone's stress levels rose through the roof.  Because it was a pre-test for the work study, I could not give direct explanations as to what I was looking for in each question.  I read and re-read each question what felt like 100 times to try and ease their anxiety of having this paper in front of them. All of this brought be back to my EQAO days, minus the age of the kids.

With a quick glance at "the paper" and their faces when each child handed in their work, I knew I had just destroyed them.  They looked discouraged, defeated, confused and unmotivated.  This crushed me.  I also knew that they could answer each of those questions had I asked for a verbal response or been able to give them a marker and a piece of chart paper.  I felt deflated as a teacher.  What had I put my students through and how can I make it easier for them?

All of this to say, I hate paper.  My students are used to manipulating, drawing, collaborating and discussing their ideas and learning that when I put a piece of paper, better known as the "test" in front of them, they have no clue how to handle it.  I felt so frustrated with their outcomes and sad towards how they felt they did.  I shared these feelings with my principal and she reminded me that it's not a bad thing that they didn't know what to do and that there are some students that had I put the same paper in front of them would have eaten it right up and known exactly what to do because that's all they know.  All they know are worksheets.  All my students know is manipulating, discussing and collaborating.

Today we're going back to our manipulating and active learning.  There won't be another "paper" until the post-test comes up in a month from now.  Until then, I'll be making it up to my students with snap cube & pattern block free time!

Monday, January 4, 2016

2016: One Word Resolution

As many of you know and am assuming have found me via Twitter, I am a self-confessed Twitter addict.  I check several times a day and addmittingly have it open on the second tab on my school computer all day long.  Over the past week or so I have been seeing numerous posts about a one word resolution and how people are resolving to stick to this one word.  It got me thinking...what would be my word.

While studies show about only 8% of people stick with their new year's resolution, some years I have been in that 8% while many other years I have fallen out of it. (Check out this post here as a prime example!)  I am proud to say that I am nearly finished last year's resolution (was preempted due to being pregnant with #TeamOlivier), so I'm considering myself back in the 8%.  Back to this year though...thinking of one word that I could stick to being better at or changing throughout the year and all I could think of was ME.  My resolution is going to be all about ME.

It sounds selfish of sorts I'm sure, but this year I am going to start putting me first more often.  Ever since becoming a mother almost 3 years ago, I haven't been the number one person I worry about.  I moved farther down the list last year when #TeamOlivier was born and now I think I'm in a position to be number 1 again.  I watch as DH has been off with the little ones for almost 7 months now and how he has managed to still put his needs out there while the kids are still fed and played with, the house gets tidied and he manages to get out to do the things he loves.  I figure, why can't I?!

In many of my brain whirls over the last few days I've been thinking what I want to happen by focusing on me.  I want to get back into the pre-baby shape I was in (best shape of my life by the way!); I want to make time to go out with my friends on a regular basis (drinking wine in a trendy restaurant sans kids was amazing!); I want to go for a massage more often (that's why we have benefits right?!); I want to do things with my kids my DH thinks are silly or unimportant, but that will make me feel like a good parent.

All of this to say, I have started the first 3 days off well.  I have been able to workout everyday so far and have taken #TeamAmelie out just the two of us to play in the snow.  Although, I have been unable to put myself first in terms of just letting the kids play so I could get some school work done, I don't regret playing Mr. Potato Head or watching Finding Nemo with them.

Also as a part of my resolution, I want to find me time to do more writing.  There are always a 1000 +1 things swirling in my head, yet I don't get any of them out.  (Thought in my head right now: "Wow, you're ambitious...when per say are you finding all this time?!)

So, here's to 2016 and more of ME. If you had to have a one-word resolution what would it be? Why?

Sunshine & happiness, today & forever!

Stephanie :)