Inquiry instead of boxes.- #6

esci 6Inquiry based, interdisciplinary learning is beneficial to environmental education in many ways.  Bringing in environmental education into other subjects and realms in the classroom, allows students to engage on a much deeper level with environmental concerns.   The environment becomes more than just a science concern.  In Language Arts we can learn to write letters calling for action, in Social Studies we can learn see that caring for the environment is part of our social responsibility and how the environmental concerns affect our communities.  It brings these concerns to a more local level that young children, can see and understand the impact.  Also incorporating environmental education into our daily classroom lives allows students to start at their level to begin to make an impact while, learning what needs to be done in a larger way to make a global impact.  It is not so overwhelming and scary to small children to start with small concerns.  It also develops a sense of responsibility at young age, that hopefully grows as the children grow.  Most of all interdisciplinary studies of the environment take it from a just science concern to a concern that affects all parts of our lives.  Children will then be able to find their own reasons, to act on their level.  Inquiry cycles can take you places you never thought where connected.

In terms of environmental inquiry cycles, the only one that I have ever been apart of was the one we did for this class.  I have guided inquiry cycles in the past, when I homeschooled my older children.  In one instance it was a very open cycle.  At the time I didn’t know he was engaged in an inquiry cycle.  I thought he was just following his interests and because as homeschoolers, we didn’t have to look at outcomes and indicators, I could allow it.  He took his interest from airplanes and their design, to aerodynamics, to how birds flew and their anatomy.  He delved into the two world wars.  In this inquiry cycle, all I did was take him to the library for information and books (no google at that time) and answered questions when I could.  He learned so much more than I would have ever thought to teach him or could have taught him on the topic.   Almost 15 years later, he still retains that knowledge.  As I go through my journey to be a teacher, I wonder how I can bring that type of inquiry and interest into my classroom with so many students.  I know we can cover every subject and that students will learn so much, but how do you do that in a classroom with 20 or more students.  It was a very easy thing to do with just three students and no outcomes and indicators to worry about.

Effective Principalship- week 12

In our lecture about principles, I was surprised at some of the responsibilities a principle had.  I also whole heartedly agreed with some of the points.

In our turn and talk, my partner and I valued the same qualities in a good principal.  We both thought that a principal who developed a meaningful relationship with their students, staff and the parents, was key to a positive learning environment and experience for everyone.

Principals having to deal with the broader community other than just the students, parents and staff was something I had never considered.  In the Regina Catholic Division, I knew the principals must deal with the Church community as well, but I figured that was the extent of it.  I guess because most schools are in residential areas the principals are required to form relationships and deal with conflicts that arise from school traffic (foot and vehicle) and the inconveniences that may cause the residents.  I imagine they must field inquiries from the local residents, that may or may not pertain directly to the school.

The third thing I learned about was how the STF recognizes the importance of the principal in setting the tone in the school and community.  I think sometimes quality leadership goes unrecognized in the importance it plays in the atmosphere of the work place.

I don’t know that I had an aha moment with this, but I made a couple of connections.

I volunteer at my boy’s school, and the principal there is one of the most caring, passionate teachers, I have ever met.  He seems to take his job of creating a calm, inviting school very seriously.  Most of the teachers, comment that he is fair, and all the students think he is great.  This man knows every one of his 300 plus students by name and many of the parent’s names as well.  He lives the ideals of a principal we talked about in lecture.  I found that at my volunteer placement for this class, the principal at that school also creates an inviting learning environment.  I often see kids at his office, wanting to work at the table in his office.  He also seems to know every child by name.  It is a pleasure to walk into these schools, you feel very welcomed.

In contrast, I had a placement, where the atmosphere was tense to say the least.  In the meetings, it didn’t seem like there was a lot of respect from the teachers.  People didn’t seem to matter.  I understand that a principal is busy and that not everyone has a fabulous memory for names and that may be the case here.  The teachers in this school weren’t willing to help each other, there was a lot of talking behind others backs from the teachers I worked with.  It was interesting to me that I was never introduced to the staff, and in fact the principal never seemed to remember who I was or why I was there.  It was a little disconcerting after having so many positive experiences with teachers and principals.

My question:

How do you handle a work environment that is less than positive from the top leadership?


Teacher Identity- Week 10.


For this blog I am going rogue and ditching the 3-2-1 format.  I am just going to share my thoughts on my teacher identity.

I enjoyed reading Krista Yerks experience of first year teaching and how it changed her identity.  When I was young and thinking about going into Education I had an image of myself teaching, similar to what Krista described, heels clicking on the floor as I walked, in perfect control of everything.  Some of that image was because of what I saw, and some of what I chose to see.   Teachers were my idols, my super heroes as a kid and even as a teen they had to do something news worthy to change my mind about their perfection. As a mature student and future teacher, my mind still holds the teaching profession in high regard, almost to perfection.  That perception fuels my identity as a teacher.  Being older also helps me temper that perfect image.

My identity as a teacher is shaped by who I am now and who I was, unlike Yerks, I don’t feel the need to get rid of the old Pam to become Mrs. Milos.  I think my past has shaped me into who I am today, and those experiences help me to understand certain situations better than some.  The collision of my past with the new ideas I learned in ECS 110 and expanded that knowledge in this class, has also given me a greater sense of what it means to be anti-oppressive. If I ditched the old me, I wouldn’t have a reference to how far I have come, that journey is very important for me to reflect on and to see as I embark on my teaching career. That recognition will help me to give myself grace, when I inevitably mess something up.  I will be able to see my mistakes as a learning experience, and to do better next time.  My past has also given me my life experience, and I will be able to avoid some of the pitfalls that new teachers fall in to. My age is not fool proof against mistakes and I will make rookie mistakes too.  However, I can’t let my past get in the way of evolving my identity as a teacher.

My past has shaped my thoughts and actions and helped to propel me forward.  Without acknowledging my past, I don’t think, I would able to embrace anti-bias education.  I find myself with each passing class, developing a passion for being the best anti-bias teacher I can be.  To get rid of the old Pam, to become the teacher, robs my students of the knowledge I have gained.  Now all this doesn’t mean, I live in the past.  It means I take that experience, analyze it with what I did know, with what I have now learned, usually for the better and proceed in more enlightened way.  I feel using the past, to apply to the present, gives me a well-rounded identity, that will allow me to continue to evolve and adapt to the future as well.

I think we need to embrace who we were, who we are, and who we will be.  Everything we have learned and did to this point in our journeys to be teachers has shaped us in some way. Lessons learned are applicable in our class rooms.  Use who you are to move forward, because I feel we can’t separate our identities into neat little compartments, nor should we.   Me being a mom shapes so many parts of my life and interactions, I can’t separate that out, neither can I separate the teacher side of me out when I am with my family, nor should I.  Sometimes the different identities work in conflict with each other, but that conflict makes us stronger, wiser and able to handle so much more.

Some food for thought? How does your current identity work with being a teacher, what lessons can you bring to teaching?