Teaching Philosophy

Recently, Jeezy and I have been in a fog of applications to schools all over the continent. Is the job application process for other professions as time consuming? Every school seems to want something a little different. Between Jeezy and I, we could put together a novel of cover letters. Recently I have been working on my Teaching Philosophy. I find this particular document difficult. When I am speaking face to face with someone, I know my passions come through, but I worry that on paper they aren’t quite as evident.

This is my teaching philosophy that I have sent to a school that follows the IB curriculum. Any suggestions?

 

As an educator, I use an inquiry-based, constructivist approach to learning. I believe that children are naturally curious and it is our job to nurture and encourage their natural desire for information. I teach my students the skills they need to find the answers to their questions and direct them to go deeper in their personal inquiries. I have spent the last six years in International Baccalaureate schools and I strongly believe in the five essential elements of the IB curriculum.

I consistently seek out new research on best practice in the classroom and take part in meaningful discussions in a variety of professional learning communities to explore techniques that promote learning in my classroom. This allows me the opportunity to continually reflect and refine my practice.

I find that students learn best in a classroom where they feel safe, valued and respected. In my classroom, students are encouraged to wonder, ask questions and are given time to find the answers to their personal inquiries. I help my students to develop a growth mindset in which they feel comfortable making mistakes and try things again and in different ways. To meet the needs of all students I use a mix of collaborative and independent work, differentiation strategies and flexible groups. I use creative learning spaces as an opportunity for my students to choose a place where they feel comfortable working, learning and reflecting.

I believe that students should see themselves as readers and writers at the very earliest stages of their learning journeys. I use a balanced literacy approach; establishing a reader’s workshop that that uses a mix of guided reading, shared reading, interactive read alouds, independent reading, reading conferences, book clubs and reader’s notebook. I believe that a love for reading should be the ultimate goal of my teaching. My writer’s workshops include a short mini-lesson where we look to mentor texts for authentic examples of the teaching points, followed by a large block of writing time with student conferences, and always ending with time to share and celebrate their peers writing. I am an avid reader and writer myself, and feel it is important to model my reading and writing alongside my students by sharing my personal challenges, successes and excitement towards literacy.

In my classroom, mathematics is taught through inquiry where we focus on the concepts, this allows for natural differentiation because students can explore the concept at their own level. Students learn how to solve problems in creative ways and understand that there is more than one right way to find a solution. I give my students the opportunity to develop their inner mathematician and scientist while they are playing and discovering indoors and outdoors. I feel that it is important for students to be exploring and learning in nature whenever possible. When planning for all areas of curriculum, I first look for natural connections to the units of inquiry and then create stand alone planners to ensure students are developing in all areas of their learning.

I believe that social and emotional development goes hand in hand with academic development. I use mindfulness in my classroom as a tool to reduce stress, improve classroom management and help my students grow both socially and academically. I take time each day to practice mindfulness in a variety of forms so that my students leave with a toolbox of strategies to bring with them into the world. I have quiet spaces in the classroom where children can go to when they need time to reflect and regroup.

I find that a working partnership with my students’ parents is key to helping my students reach their full potential. I use email, daily communication books, weekly newsletters, class blogs, student portfolios and progress reports to ensure that parents are able to reflect with their child on their learning more effectively at home. I have an open door policy, where I encourage parents to volunteer in the classroom and come to share their expertise with the class.  

I am committed to nurturing a community of learners who care about and support one another and their world. I strive to inspire and empower my students to be life long learners and have a positive impact in their local and global communities. I am authentic in all that I do, and while I may make mistakes, I will never stop learning, reflecting, and growing. I hope that my students see that in me and strive for it in themselves.

 

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Life lesson

Jeezy and I have decided that our time in Asia will come to an end at the end of this school year. It is hard to believe that we will be moving back to North America.

When I left my job in Canada, I was angry. I remember telling everyone, “I AM  MOVING TO ASIA AND NEVER MOVING BACK!”  I did not receive much encouragement and I left holding onto a lot of guilt. Goodbyes were especially hard when no one seemed happy or proud of my decision to teach abroad. It was hard but I can’t imagine spending those 8 years any other way.

Looking back now,  I can see that I wasn’t meant to be in Canada at that point in my life but I think I am now. I know that if we move back, it doesn’t need to be forever and that makes the move so much easier. I have notebooks full of lessons that I have learned along the way (that’s for another post) but the one that stands above all the other is:

“This is my life, I am the only one who gets to choose how I live it.”

It’s mine

It’s not yours

It’s mine like yours is yours

Parents have theirs and their parents had theirs

and you have yours

I’ll live mine and you live yours

      –

No regret

No guilt

No shame

No remorse

        –

Did you hear me

NO GUILT

None

Nada

Zilch

      –

It’s mine

It’s not yours

I’ll live mine

you live yours

        –

We are free

Wait, what should I do?

Co sleeping is wonderful

                                                   You’ll suffocate her!

Breastfeed only

                                                  Supplement!

No bottles

                                                  Pump for freedom!

Glass bottles only

                                                  Plastic, glass will break!

Transport with a carrier

                                                  Hip displaysia is real, strollers only!

Get outside

                                                  Oh god the sun!

Feed on demand

                                                  Schedule, schedule, schedule!

Follow their sleepy cues

                                                  Didn’t you hear me, SCHEDULE!

Soothe every cry

                                                  Cry it out!

Breast to soothe

                                                  You aren’t a pacifier!

Solids at six months

                                                  Why wait?

Help her walk if she wants

                                                  Stop, she’ll be bow legged!

Purée her food

                                                  Not enough texture, baby led weaning!

Baby led weaning

                                                  She’ll choke, purée everything!

Don’t bathe too often

                                                  Scrub that baby every night!

 

The hardest part of having a newborn is learning to ignore everyone’s advice and opinions!

 

Weekly Meal Plans

This past year Jeezy and I have gone through a lot of changes. Bringing Marlowe into the world and deciding that I would take a break from the classroom to stay at home with her were likely the biggest of them all. In an effort to save money  and time this year, (it turns out that stay at home moms don’t make any mom and babies take up a lot of time)  we have been trying to make a meal plan for the week and shop for the ingredients we need. Prior to this, we found ourselves going to the store almost every day to get a missing ingredient or two. Let’s be honest, who can leave the store with just an item or two? In the end we were throwing in treats and special drinks when they weren’t always needed. Since we started this, I have noticed that we are wasting less food and I get a greater sense of enjoyment out of cooking. It has been such a positive change in our lives.

I always start by looking in the fridge in the cupboards to see what we need to use up. I look to my go to recipes to see if we can use any of the leftover ingredients. If that doesn’t work I look to my favourite food blogs and search for recipes that use those ingredients.

Then usually I will ask Jeezy if he has any dinner requests for the week. He usually names off one or two. I choose a couple and then we are usually ready to make a shopping list. We look at each recipe and put the items on the list. Every week, we get more and more efficient at this routine. I used to attach a meal to a particular day but I found that I liked being able to choose from my list each day. You never know how you will feel on Wednesday, you might want to make the easiest thing on your list or maybe you have lots of energy and you want to try the new recipe out. Our latest trick is dividing the shopping list into sections – refrigerated item, produce, Non-perishable items. When we do it that way, we don’t end up running back and forth through the store for forgotten items.

Once the list is created, I always double check that we don’t already have some of the items on the list. Lastly, I add our weekly necessities like fruit, oatmeal, milk etc. Then are ready to hit the store. We don’t have a car in Hong Kong, so we stick to our closest grocery store and bring our bag on wheels to transport it all home. Sometimes we shop as a family and other times I hand the list to Jeezy and let him have at it.

If we try a new recipe and it is a success, we add it to our list of favourite recipes. Having a list of recipes that you love makes meal planning a heck of a lot faster and easier. Every week our list gets just a little bit longer and our meals get more delicious!

 

In case you are looking for some great recipes, these are our top ten recipes:

(I have hyper linked the recipes that we use)

 

Top Ten Favourite Recipes in no particular order:

Dal Nirvana with homemade Naan bread (it is surprisingly so easy and good)

Bbq beans sliders with coleslaw

Feta Quiche

Chickpea shawarma 

Zucchini Galette

Vegetarian French Dip  We use this recipe for the buns

Tempeh Reuben Sandwich 

Veggie Burger

Smoked Paprika potato and Egg Bake

Pizza with whatever you want on it (homemade dough)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I am taking part in twowritingteachers.com Slice of Life Challenge for the Month of March. Come and join us!

 

Our 5 minute marriage

Love is not a piece of paper.

It isn’t a party to say “I do!”

Love is the feeling when he walks in the room,

It is the hand resting on my knee.

Love is not a day to show and tell,

It is definitely not dressed in white!

Love is a kiss goodnight,

It is a tight cuddle in the morning light.

Love is not a box to check off on life’s long list,

It is certainly not improved with a walk down the aisle.

Love is my heart, my words, my actions.

Love is my life with you!

I wrote this poem a couple of years ago. Although my feelings on love have not changed, I might have signed that piece of paper last year.

As I suspected, it hasn’t changed much. Other than having to check married instead of spinster on Hong Kong documents and it has made travel a lot easier with our daughter.

Our wedding day was a pretty comical affair.

The ceremony lasted 5 minutes, maybe less.

The marriage hall had a few fake flowers sprouting from century old flower pots, a row of faded red chairs and a little wooden table at the front of the room.

The officiant was all business.

She told us what to say and where to sign. There were no I dos. No exchanges of rings. No family. No white dress.

It was simply a few close friends that we have met in Hong Kong witnessing Jeezy and I read the strange vows from the placard.

Our talented friend took a few pictures in a park near the Marriage Hall and we celebrated with a casual lunch and cupcakes

 We were home within a couple of hours for a quick nap and went on with the remainder of the day together.

 

I think sometimes we get pressured into inviting everyone we know and feel the need to spend thousands on a special day.

I think it is important to know that you don’t have to have all the bells and whistles to still have a really memorable day.

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Cigarette Smacking

In Hong Kong smoking is far too common. I hate that my daughter and I are forced to inhale second hand smoke as we wander the city. Every day, I am tempted to smack the cigarettes out of lips of the smokers that I pass by.

My daydream goes a little like this:

 

Hello there business man in the tight-fitted suit gossiping about your colleagues,

SMACK

Cigarette to the curb!

 

Hey old lady with the rotten teeth giving terrible advice to the young,

SMACK

Cigarette to the sidewalk.

 

Pssst, hipster with your phone glued to your face,

SMACK

Cigarette (and your phone while I am at it) to the street.

 

Excuse me, ancient man drinking the nescafe while scouting out the best horse for the race,

SMACK

Cigarette straight to your newspaper.

 

Cigarettes are the worst!

 

 

 

One little thing

This little thing happened around this time last year.

It may have been small but it’s impact sent ripples through the universe.

This little thing…

Kept me guessing every moment of every day

Created fear and worry

Lit up the world with smiles

Caused more tears than I thought possible

Had me sit and stare, completely lost in a web of wonder

Push me beyond every limit

This little thing made me a better person

This little thing was you

You.

My little thing.

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I hope you continue to send ripples through the universe.