Personal Philosophy of Education, 1998, rev 2000
10 years later... Personal Philosophy of Educational Leadership, 2008 (Pre- and Post)
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In preparing for my student teacher who is allegedly to start in my classroom next month (I got an email back in August, and haven't heard a thing since then!), I dug up my old philosophy of education, which I had to write back when I was in teachers' college nearly 20 years ago. In so doing, I also stumbled across a paper I had to write during my PQP courses about 6 years ago...
While it's true that I miss my kids when they are at their dad's, I will also confess that I enjoy the time to myself.
This weekend, I slept in, did some yoga, biked to get groceries without someone wailing in the back about how cold it was or how their bike wasn't working properly or how their helmet was itchy.... I met a friend for dinner and didn't rush home to release a babysitter, I got a haircut, watched a silent movie with two other friends the next day, and ate a whole container of popcorn myself without having to share.... I answered 7 of the 103 emails still in my in box, read various math articles and teacher blogs, wrote several blog posts myself, had two naps and skyped with my girlfriend in PEI -- twice!!!
I remember a divorced friend telling me years ago that shared custody and co-parenting was the way to go when it came to the kids. Still unhappily married, closeted and constantly exhausted at the time, I thought he was being facetious.
But now I have seen the light.
Although it's still super busy with a full-time (and then some) job, lunches to make, music practice to enforce and school homework to supervise on my own this year on weeknights when the kids are with me, I find that co-parenting in this fashion nevertheless forces me to focus on my children when they are with me... because I am more aware of how precious that time is, and I also know I will have 2-3 nights to myself later in the week to do some of the other things I need or want to do.
So often I see stressed-out parents with half an ear and one eye on their kids, and 90% of their brain trying to juggle 17 other commitments and pursuits... with no break ever from your kids, how can you possibly be a great parent every minute of every day?
I'm sure I'm not the perfect parent, but I know my parenting skills (not to mention my joy of parenting and appreciation of my kids) have drastically increased since I traded in the daily battle for part-time parenting.
To be sure, not seeing my kids every day has meant giving up some control... over what they eat, what media they consume, what dinner table conversation topics they pursue, and where they shop for goods -- and for a control freak like me, that's been a hard pill to swallow. But part time parenting has also meant that when I do see the kids, I'm refreshed and ready for the enriching conversations, the engaging questions and the many life-changing adventures I was often too tired to pursue with them when I was worn out by the everyday grind of former times.
It also means that whichever household Alex and Simon are in, they always come home to a parent who has genuinely missed them and is really looking forward to seeing them again. This works both ways; I notice that the boys are much more enthusiastic and genuine with their "Hey, Mom!" when I see them than they used to be when we were together every day all the time -- what a nice feeling to come home to!
In some sense, co-parenting is the perfect arrangement: Lots of focused time for the kids, and regular intervals of adult-only time for each parent to pursue her/his own, other interests and commitments.
There should be some way to emulate this parenting model for those unfortunate souls who are happily married!! ;-P
Got inspired by Kevin's blog post about flipped classrooms.
He's a teacher just getting started with this alternative model, and something he noted about homework incompletion spoke to me. I loved that he held his students accountable in a way that still supported their learning (he chased them down the next day, and invited them to come in during their study hall and lunch periods to make up the assignment -- not unlike my weekly "working lunch" during which students are welcome to spend lunch in my room completing work).
In my classes, too, some students seem to think that because specific pages aren't assigned out of a textbook that means they have "no homework". WRONG!!
At first, I thought the students were just trying to weasel their way out of doing homework. But then I realised that the more open-ended nature of the homework assignment (i.e. "choose something you need to review, and decide how you will follow up on that") really can be a challenging assignment, even for the most organized intermediate students, if they've had no experience with that sort of independent choice.
By allowing time to complete the top part of the page in class, and using it randomly as an "entry ticket" into some classes, I hope to foster a more organized approach to their independence.
Depending on how things go, I may move away from the sheet in the new year, and into a "homework book" in which they can record a goal at the end of each class or each week.
Once you have piloted the plane you are flying in, once you have pulled back the controls at just the right moment, have felt the instant your aircraft left the ground, and have looked out straight ahead as it did so and realised, "hey, I am actually flying this thing!", it is hard to find any thrill that will match that experience.
Especially if those moments of take-off have included the outlook over a body of water, the sunlight dancing and sparkling off the ripples of the big lake or ocean ahead, with nothing blocking your view as you soar off into the skies... life on the ground seems, well, sluggish. Slow... and dull.
If -- like me -- you also happen to be a cyclist, you may be lucky enough to experience a tiny little bit of that thrill as you sail, slightly more smoothly and at a quicker pace than the plodding footsteps or crawling car traffic so many of us city dwellers are bound to, across an elevated platform such as a bridge, for example.
Today I had the good fortune to be cycling across such an one.
The Sunnyside bridge offered me the ability to capture -- for the most fleeting moment -- a fraction of the adrenaline rush that flying generates. Cycling southbound as the sun danced for a moment across the ripples of the water of Lake Ontario creating a glimmering spectacle of luminosity on this otherwise grey, gray day. The panoramic vista that lay open ahead of me, glinting and gleaming as I peddled effortlessly high above the Gardener Expressway with the wind at my back, was as powerful as the most potent anti-depressant available on the market.
Ahhh, but the moment was too brief, and the other side of the bridge was reached too soon.
In a flash, I was back on earth, the cold biting my face at ground level, and the crosswind creating a nuisance to fight against as I struggled to maintain both my balance and my forward motion with an extremely overloaded and bulky pannier on only one side of my bike.
Without the thrill of the sky opening up ahead of me, the exhilaration of the preceding 3 minutes was gone.
Oh, how I miss flying!
If you've never attempted centers in Intermediate before, it can be challenging to visualize what that might look like. The other day, my instructional coach spent the afternoon in the classroom with me, so I had the opportunity to take a few photos while one of my Grade 7 classes was engaged in their work.
(click to enlarge...)
Based on feedback students had provided us with via a mid-point check-in/self assessment sheet, my colleague and I determined which of the success criteria each student needed the most support with. We used this information to form small groups with which we met to do some precision teaching and provide descriptive feedback as they worked through various tasks.
Other students, meanwhile, worked at whatever center they had left off at last time. With two adults in the room, each of us working with 3-4 students, that only left about 16 students "at large", so there was far less concern about classroom management, as at any given time, one or both of us had at least one of the class's "key players" with us (or if we didn't, there were fewer "audience" members). This resulted in considerably more focused work going on around the room than when I am alone and need to constantly "manage" others while teaching/assessing small groups at my table.
Centers... definitely better with two teachers than one! :D
After writing for several teacher and multiple birth publications, including ETFO's Voice Magazine, Multiple Moments, and the Bulletwin, Vera turned her written attention to prolific blogging for some years, including BiB, "Learn to Fly with Vera!" and SMARTbansho . Homeschooling 4 was her travel blog in Argentina. She now spends more time on her Instagram (@schalgzeug_usw) than her blog (pictures are worth a thousand words?!) Contact Vera by clicking the photo above.
The views expressed on this blog are the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the perspectives of her family members or the position of her employer on the the issues she blogs about. These posts are intended to share resources, document family life, and encourage critical thought on a variety of subjects. They are not intended to cause harm to any individual or member of any group. By reading this blog and viewing this site, you agree to not hold Vera liable for any harm done by views expressed in this blog.