Saturday, December 16, 2017

At last, Christmas Break

With a limp hoorah and a staggering gait, I’ve made it to Christmas. I am exhausted. Physically, mentally and a tad emotionally.
Photo of my mum's Christmas Tree
My mum's Christmas Tree

I’m so glad to be home in Canada for a bit (even if it’s cold). First order of business: get caught up on some Zzzs.

Coming back from our November break, I didn’t think it would be too, bad. After all, we only had 5 weeks to go and sure, they were busy with our school’s production, and parent teacher conferences.. and a full weekend of professional development… oh and coordinating and planning Model United Nations Conferences (local & international)...

Before I knew it, in addition to all the regular class planning and preparation, I had another full load. It felt like both a race and a crawl to the finish line. There wasn’t enough time to do everything I needed to, but then the days seemed to crawl past, posing longer for a picture or two. This last week, everyone could feel it and tensions were pulled taut like string. I like my coworkers a lot, usually, but with everyone on edge, one wrong move and someone would snap.

After having pushed myself over (and sometimes through) these last couple of hurdles to Christmas, I can say that I've learned a couple of lessons about teaching--both about what to do and what not to do.

First: The pros and cons of Google Docs
We use Google Drive all the time at our school. It's a way that we organize files and share assignments between teachers and students. If you've never used Docs before, it's nice because multiple people can work on the same file at the time and you can also leave comments as you go. That being said, toward the end of this last unit, I thought it would be a good idea to have my students share their documents with me so that I could give more specific feedback. Nothing wrong with that, but I decided to have all of my classes do it the same week. Next thing I know I had70-80 documents being sent my way and I was left wondering how I'd give feedback to everyone in time. Maybe not my finest strategy for maintaining sanity.

Second: Have a better plan for assignment submission
This last week was the end of the second unit for all of my classes which meant that it was time to hand in their summative assessments. I generally like to grade a hard copy when I can (digital screens can just be so distractable, you know?), but as I was asking my students to print, I then remembered that I would be doing a bunch of travelling over the holidays and if I planned to get any marking done, I would need a digital copy. So naturally I'm then asking my students to send me a digital copy as well, but for some students, they had 2-3 files for their summative because they kept their research notes over here, but then their written response over there and then their works cited page on which just meant chaos in the grand scheme of organization.

Next time, I will have a plan. I promise.

Third: Always budget for that extra day
I didn't like the idea of finishing our summatives on the last period before the break and so I pushed my students a bit to get down the next to last period. This meant that we could have a bit of a party and relaxation before the holidays. It also meant that if something went wrong (which it invariably did), I had a bit of wiggle room to follow up with students and collect any last minute tasks. I definitely want to keep this in mind moving forward since it worked out so well.

Moving on... insert clever and/or thoughtful ending here.

Happy Holidays!

Love and Hugs.

Things I've learned about France (or at least Normandy)

Well there we go, my second European country. In some ways, very similar to England (a lot of meat and potatoes, fancy churches, pay toilets...