Friday, August 15, 2014

What will the Future Hold for our Students?

This has been a question that has permeated my thoughts all summer long. With the Alberta curriculum changing, (in what I consider really interesting and positive ways) and with the speed of change with technology being practically immeasurable, what will it look like? I participate in several Twitter chats, and one that really gets my gears turning is #whatisschool.  I love the exchange - I leave every chat energized and proud to be in this profession.

Some of the ideas discussed amaze me. Moderators Craig Kemp and Laura Hill stretch the minds of chat participants with questions like, "What will our places and learning spaces look like?" Or this hum-dinger: "How do we prepare kids for jobs we don't know exist?" How about these ones: "What will the skill set be for the future, what are our kids going to be teaching their kids, and what on Earth will they need in their tool boxes?"  The conversation immediately spawns several opinions on the spectrum of pro, con and indifferent to tech. 

Coming from Alberta and schools that have had technology available to them, I have been somewhat spoiled, I suppose. Of course, I am all for the use of technology; but I believe deeply that it is only as useful as the plans you have for it. That is, unless you have chosen and mapped out a purpose for the tech to serve in order to guide students,  it will be about as useful as giving a dog a screwdriver. I have been guilty of this in the past, but have tried earnestly to use tech in more meaningful ways this last year.

One thing I tried with my students this year was using the Minecraft craze to my advantage in French class. My students learn their vocabulary and language, then may choose a variety of project-based assessments to demonstrate their knowledge. For my La Maison unit, kids drew, created from wood/cardboard/marshmallow (I am not even joking) and Minecrafted their homes, then explained them en français. It requires great effort up front, but is a huge hit and kids stay pretty engaged because they are doing what they learned as well as what they love.

In order to pull this off, of course, students received a very explicit rubric and knew exactly what was expected of them well beforehand. I answered every question imaginable in regard to format in that first class. I found it delightfully easy to give good marks because everyone put in a solid effort and had something they were proud of...even the "low achievers." It was all about setting students up up for success.

Now maybe it's the special educator in me, but I am a bit of an idealist. I believe that with enough effort, time and love, every child will feel the glow of success and achievement. And according to Carol Dweck, author of Mindset, that is exactly the point. Kids and adults alike get frazzled trying to grasp that unattainable brass ring of perfection. Dweck's research had shown, unequivocally, that a growth - oriented mindset, rather than a fixed - oriented, talent and luck based mindset, is the true champion in the end. What's the "magic" ingredient? Effort. That's what counts.

I can most certainly admit that I have had a fixed mindset about certain things. I was once told that perfectionism is the teacher disease. I always demanded perfection from myself, yet never expected the same of others. That is setting quite the high standard for myself, n'est-ce pas?

For example, until this summer, I truly believed that I always was and would always be a horrid cook. Was this absolute judgment upon myself substantiated? Yeah, maybe when I was much younger, a few people said things that discouraged me....but lately? No. It really boiled down (excuse the cooking pun) to effort. I was discouraged>I stopped trying>I didn't improve.

In the midst of redefining my goals for myself that put the biggest rocks first, I realized that my lack of cooking "ability" has really been doing a disservice to my family. With the help of my Big Rocks, Dweck's assertion that we all can improve, and my cheer squad of friends and family, I learned how to make twenty new dishes. I just had to suspend my fixed mindset. I had to be willing to try, fall, get up, fall again, try again and most importantly, put in the effort. Et voilà! Suddenly, I'm not so scared to try cooking new things. My family has raved about my new-found skill and confidence in the kitchen. Now I can bring this forth into other parts of my life.

Isn't that what we want our students to be able to do? To be scared that they might fail and try anyway? This, my friends, is the real reason we teach. This is why I question...  #whatisschool supposed to be? What will it be? And most importantly, if we think with an open mind, what could it be? We have the greatest reason in the world to discover the answers - our kids are totally worth it.

Merci beaucoup!
Mme Poulet

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Are You A "Yes" Man?

I am. I am the first to offer to help, to volunteer, to take on the next task.
I proudly stand and wave my hand if there is a job to be done.
Here's the problem with that.
When I was younger,  I had such energy and enthusiasm that I could balance university full-time, working full-time, a full - time social life, dating, volunteering and family with a smile. Sure, I wasn't sleeping, and every year or so I would hit a wall of exhaustion and be hospitalized with some asthma - related issue....but I somehow crammed it in.
Then I became a wife, mom and a teacher. Suddenly the energy became laser - focused elsewhere and I quickly forgot the Shannon beneath the Mom, Honey and Madame. I still tried to be Mrs. Yes, though.
As educators, it is our job- nay - mission to be role models. I fall short of what I expect of myself as a teacher. Of course, I expect myself to be nearly perfect.
As a mom, I do the same. I do not ever want my child to feel that she was forgotten, put second, dishonored as a result of my "other 200 kids"- her own words.
This has caused me to cram parenting, teaching, report cards, marking, cooking, wifely duties, cleaning, dog - walking, baseball tournaments, shopping, commuting, volunteering at baseball and school council bingos, church, organizing and buying a group gift for my daughter's teacher, sending emails and organizing things as president of Alberta Teachers of French, cleaning and packing up the temporary classroom home that I had this year, rewriting all my documents, scanning old ones, submitting all of them and applying for jobs and going for interviews.
All in the last two weeks. Exhausting read, n'est - ce pas?
Where does that leave me?
Well, suffice it to say there are moments for us "yes men" when the Big Rocks simply DO.NOT.FIT. Everything felt important to me.  How could I be forced to choose?
I managed this with relative sanity, but my "Health" Big Rock got tossed out for the time being. My "Happiness"  Big Rock was temporarily suspended. And I felt like my mother, wife and, most importantly, SELF Big Rocks suffered the most.
So last night, with my classroom jammed into corners of my house, I sat down and literally went through my Big Rocks.
I took them all out, washed them with love, re-labelled them and meditated upon them.
It was then that I realized that I had a rock for happiness, health, family and students, but had none for me, my husband, my child,  my friends. So I labeled the family one with friends too- as my friends are like family. I made one for my kid, one for my husband, one for me. There are seven and that number cannot change. How I achieve happiness will change and embodies my Habit 7. Health needs will evolve.  So will all my life, but now, my priorities are set.
As a yes man, I want to add more rocks- but for now, the seven I have are absolutely all my bucket will hold.
It is summer break, and it is time to get back to knowing my Big Rocks closely again!
Have you labeled your Big Rocks?
À la prochaine, mes amis!
Mme Poulet

Saturday, May 31, 2014

What are YOUR Big Rocks?

This year has been a doozy to get used to. Nothing beats changing everything you know about yourself in one year.
This time a year ago, I was coming into my comfort zone with myself. I was focused, rested, buoyant and thrilled for the future. Though I am almost all of those this year, rested I am most definitely not.
You see, this year, I decided to really focus on my Big Rocks. Do you know what your big rocks are?   Once you do, it is a lot easier to decide how your energy should be placed. 

I know one of the big rocks I have to work on is my weight- I am the first to admit it and point it out. I deeply acknowledge this is a big rock and do have strategies in place.
This year, because of the move, I had a deep awareness that it takes much more energy to commute and teach full time than it does to either not commute or to work part time and commute. So I made my big rocks work and family.
And, to be honest, this year my house has been a mess. I used to believe a perfectly clean house meant everything. I am less inclined to believe the same now. I watch only one TV show - at all. Maybe one hour a week. If I am online, it is for teaching or learning purposes - for the vast majority of the time, anyway.
I have taken a leadership role in a volunteer professional organization, created a bond with amazing students who continually gratify my sense of awe, see kids living the 7 Habits and their parents even speak it!
I have done almost every unit with a project in place, added countless technologies to my repertoire, hosted PD sessions, taught kids to do plays in French, had chats on Twitter with my students and their author hero David Bouchard.
I have been there for every baseball game and practice for my blessing of a daughter. Sometimes I even help with practices. We even figured out how to get her there early! I've made time to volunteer as her room rep, sit on her parent council, help run her school dance and allow for her to have six million sleepovers. At least six million.
I have made time to give her teachable moments and have the tough talks with her. Hubby and I have worked hard to make sure our tween, who tests limits at times, doesn't grow into the teen who has zero respect for the rules.
My beloved husband and I rarely see each other due to differing schedules, but when we have been together, we have made sure to make family time really meaningful. We have achieved financial, emotional, mental and spiritual goals as a family this year in addition to blasting through our own personal goals individually.
I have taken the sage advice of the 7 Habits Signature Training and its wonderful facilitators. With my fortune of having taken the program twice and seeing the results at the Leader in Me Symposium, I truly believe it does what it says it will do.
I can proudly say it has with us. I can also humbly say that more big rocks are to come.
Thank you, Covey Family and #tlim for your life-changing inspiration.
Can you see the Leader in Me?
More importantly, can you truly see the leader in you?
À la prochaine, les amis!
Mme Poulet


La vie selon le miroir d'arrière-view

C'était une longue année très occupée, mais j'ai appris plus que je réveillée qu'était possible.

J'ai réussi avec le Leader in Me avec de ma classe - quelquefois oui ; quelquefois non. Dès enfants oui; autres, non. Après il y a 7 années, enfin j'ai pris le courage d'essayer la programme AIM. Mes quatrièmes l'adorent! Grâce à #aimlang, #langchat et à #abtfsl,  je ne me sens pas seul au monde des profs français encore. Merci à tous : d'être mes inspirations, soutiens et camarades.

J'ai exprimé avec beaucoup de technologies à ma salle de classe. On a joué avec le Voki et beaucoup de #google. On a utilisé : Google Slides, Docs, Pictures, LucidCharts, Forms et pendant quelque journées, on fera un Google Hangout avec une autre classe!
Ces technologies me rendre très hâte au sujet du futur! L'apprentissage et l'enseignement va changer pour toujours, à mon avis. Allez - vous changer votre enseignement aussi?

Je ne dormais pas assez cette année.  Je m'ai plongeais dans l'eau froide de changement et je suis tellement heureuse comment ça m'avait changé. L'année prochaine, je voulais faire de plus avec des Chromebooks. Je vais utiliser Remind avec mes classes. Je vais continuer d'être courageuse et changer le monde, un petit cerveau à la fois. Comment allez - vous changer le monde?

Enfin, j'ai beaucoup de fierté en moi même, parce que, s' il y a des fautes ou non, j'ai écrit ma première poste de blog en français.  Ça prend beaucoup de courage,  mais sans courage et croître dans moi même,  est-ce que c'est vraiment possible de donner le même à mes étudiants?  Je ne pense pas.
Quelle sont les plus importants habilités du 21 siècle qui est le plus important à vous? Comment est-ce que vous le faire avec votre classe?

Nous avons un grand et important travail à faire.
Si vous voulez, s'il vous plaît,  ajouter les commentaires!
À la prochaine, les amis!

Mme Poulet

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Time Matrix Strikes Back!

Life can take you some pretty funny directions, can it not?

When I first went into University, I wanted to become a child psychologist. Though it is still on my bucket list, my plans veered toward a career of writing. I found, however, that if I did not have the muse, it was extraordinarily forced and mechanical.

Such was the blog this year, I suppose. Though, to be fair - I have been one busy hen!

We have been very lucky at my school to experience myriad amazing things. My students used the muse of David Bouchard's writing to create legends, which helped them carve a totem pole of their chosen Spirit Animals. While they had fun learning about this, I worked on their 7 Habits understanding and am excitedly repeating the Signature Program myself.

I have had the opportunity to participate in a Mentorship Series through my school division, which I have found very useful in setting my stage for teaching. Oddly, the longer I teach, the hungrier I am for PD.

And, as I take, so shall I give. As the elected president of Alberta Teachers of French, I am putting on an unconference at Pigeon Lake in 2 weeks, and presenting a PD session this fall at the SLIC conference in Edmonton.

After all, if I expect my students to be leaders, doesn't it begin with me?

Thank you to all who inspire me to better myself. Through their guidance, I, too, can be a guiding light.

Madame O