Steeped Education

Learning is rarely something that occurs in an instant, but instead over time spent in contemplation, reflection, and consideration. Often times, in my University classes, information is spat out without any thought to how that information is being received or processed by myself or my peers.  To be honest, I learn very little from the majority of lectures I attend (I think I just felt my wallet cringe). Instead, I find myself learning best when I review the information presented in conjunction with writing down different thoughts I am having regarding the material.  I spent years of my post-secondary career cramming for finals and hoping whatever I had shoved into my mind would stay in there long enough to be regurgitated the next day.  This method usually didn’t end well.

Photo By: Astro Guy

I imagine this may occur in a similar way with K-12 students.  Teacher’s have a lot to get through in a given year and may not take the time that is required for some students to process various lessons and material.  I think as an educator I will need to either allow my students the time required to be steeped in the information being taught and to give opportunities for reflection. I look at the tea-bag in my mug slowly infusing the water surrounding it, I think of knowledge being a teabag slowly releasing understanding until the water is forever coloured differently.  I like the idea of  a Steeped Education, where students are slowly infused with knowledge instead of simply cramming information in, only to be thrown-up later on an examination with no real reflection of consideration of how the information they have been taught affects their lives and their communities. As the Tim Horton’s commercial expresses, steeping coaxes out the flavour.  My hope is that through steeping knowledge, I, and my students, are able to coax out understand.  Thoughts?

Why do I want to be a Teacher?

Photo By: Schristia

The road that led me into my decision to become a teacher is one that was/is full of unexpected twists and turns.  When I was nearing graduation from high school, I had been actively involved with my churches youth group and really enjoyed mentoring young people.  This led me to choose taking a Youth Leadership program with the intention of becoming a youth pastor.  My first attempt at post-secondary education did not end all that well (described here), but I still found myself led to work with students. Through a mix of connections and luck, I was able to land a job in Fort Qu’Appelle as an Education Assistant in their high school. This job confirmed that I wanted to work with young people and that I really enjoyed working within the school system.  My past experiences of failure will help (I think) me to connect with students who have always thought they are not ‘good’ at school.  I firmly believe that failure is one of the best teachers and hope to help my students learn through their failures.

Photo By: mlleOO

The first chapter of Becoming a Teacher asks its readers “Why do you want to become a teacher?” and proceeds to list a number of reasons why people choose to become teachers.  One of the exercises in the book shows twelve different reasons why people become teachers and then asks the reader to rate them on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being ‘Very Applicable’ and 5 ‘Not Applicable) as to how relevant these reasons where to their decision to become a teacher. This is how I scored myself:

A Passion for Learning: 1 –I hadn’t thought of this before reading this chapter, but I really do have an extreme passion for learning.  I love having new experiences, seeing new things, and challenging myself to learn something I don’t know. 

Success as a Student: 4 – I had moderate success in high school, but my first experience with post-secondary education ended in failure so I’m not sure this had anything to do with my becoming a teacher.  The success I am currently experiencing, though, affirms that I have made the right choice in a career.

Good Sense of Humour: 5 – Do I have a good sense of humour? That’s really hard question for me to answer.  I guess I think I’m funny at times.  That said, this did not play into my decision making at all.

Positive Attitude Towards Students: 2 – Working as an aide, I loved being able to encourage students who thought they were not ‘smart’ enough to do well in school.  I like interacting with students (even the ones considered ‘trouble-makers’) and love seeing them try their hardest.

Tolerance Towards Others: 5 – Though I would consider myself a very tolerant person, I cannot think of a time I have ever though “Hey… I’m tolerant… I should become a teacher.”

Patience: 3 – This attribute did not play into my choice to become a teacher, but once I had decided to become a teacher, it factored into deciding to be a middle-years (Grades 5,6,7,8) teacher.

Good Verbal and Writing Skills: 4 – I am glad that I have some communication skills, but I think I would have chosen to become a teacher without them.

Appreciation for the Arts: 3 – I like going to the theatre, the symphony, and concerts, but those didn’t play into my choice. I did, however, have amazing experiences with my Drama teachers in Jr. High and High School.

Experiences working with children: 2 – I really like working with young people.  I feel that they bring out some of my best attributes and skills.

Other Teacher’s in the Family: 4 – Though I have other teachers in the family, their choice in a career played very little into my choice to become a teacher.

Encouragement from family members to enter teaching: 1 – The most important people in my life have told me that they think I should be a teacher and I think this played heavily into my choice to become a teacher.

Desire to serve students and the community: 3 – Community is something I want to be able to foster throughout my life, and I think teaching will be an excellent way of helping me to do this.  That said, I didn’t decide to become a teacher specifically because I would get to serve the community and students, but is a perk of my choice.

Photo By: mike@bensalem

Out of the list here, it is pretty clear to me that my choice to become a teacher is most related to my passion for learning and on the encouragement of my family and close friends.  This initial idea is than confirmed and supported by the personality attributes I have and my desire to see growth in young people.  So… I guess that’s why I want to become a teacher.

Back Into the Swing of Things

It feels like it has been an eternity since I’ve sat down to write a post for this blog.  I could blame my lack of writing on the busy holiday season, or on the fact that I was having too much fun with my free time in between semesters, but the truth is I have felt completely uninspired to write anything. It is not that I haven’t pondered anything or had anything interesting happen to me over the last couple of weeks, but I’m just not sure how to start again, or where to take things.

Maybe I’ll start by just catch up to today. Holiday’s this year were AMAZING.  I was able to be home in Winnipeg for the first time in a number of years for Christmas and really enjoyed seeing my family. I think my favourite part was watching my little cousins be caught up in the wonder, mystery, and joy of the season, but I also enjoyed stuffing my face with all of the Christmas treats. I also was able to spend a couple of days with my wife’s family and had fun watching hockey, relaxing, and eating with them as well

The Holiday Season is now over, and its time to get back into the swing of things with work, school, and home life.  This semester I am taking 5 classes which end up including 3 different volunteer projects. I will be observing and assisting in a classroom,  working with an ESL student in another, and have the opportunity to choose one area of volunteer for the third.  I’m thinking I’m going to choose something that has to do with students who have special needs so if you know of any places in Regina  that need some help, please feel free to leave them in the comment section and I’ll take a look.  I am really looking forward to being able to get out of the classroom and actually interact with students and workers in the field. I also have a feeling they will give me some good experiences and some interesting stories.

My wife and I have also decided to do P90X (at this moment, I’m on Day 5 of 90).  P90x is a workout series that I’m hoping will be able to help restart my healthy eating and living habits.  I have written before about losing weight, and I’m hoping now that I can take things to the next level with this workout.  Maybe when I’m finished, I’ll post some before and after pics.

Well, I guess that’s everything for right now.  It feels good to step out of my writer’s drought  I hope you were able to spend some time with family and friends this Christmas and also to take sometime for yourself to reflect and refocus.  Enjoy the hot weather we’re having by taking a stroll with a friend, family member or pet. Peace.