After a busy summer and final semester of PDP, September has finally come. The first September that I have not gone back to school for as long as I can remember. It feels abnormal and although I would love to be teaching at the moment, I have chosen to remain patient and ready for it when the time comes. That being said, I’ve decided to reflect on the months past on a lovely Friday the 13th. Yes, I used the word reflect after PDP. 🙂
I’ve spent the majority of the summer enrolled in four courses that would double as means of professional development and as the final stretch of courses that would provide me with the teacher certification that I have long desired. These courses included: Numeracy in Society, Law for Teachers, Teaching Social Studies, and Curriculum Theory. Overall, it was a successful semester, some courses were more meaningful than others, and I found myself critically evaluating teaching strategies more so than ever before (especially when it came to assessment). Most courses used fantastic assessment methods such as formative assessment through entry and exit slips, self/peer assessment, feedback and my ultimate favourite, rubrics. I came to appreciate those who made assessment transparent, and lessons as engaging and relevant as possible. I’ve learnt a lot that will help me in my future practice and I am now more confident than ever when I say, timely feedback and transparent success criteria are crucial for learning. But summer coursework didn’t last forever.
Once it was over, I indulged in camping, a trip to Palm Springs and I found myself diving head first into leisure reading. Reading books such as ‘Unbroken’ by Laura Hillenbrand (which evoked every emotion I had in me) and novels by a new favourite author, Neil Gaiman, such as Stardust and Neverwhere. I found a new love for fantasy, and the reading list keeps getting longer. In addition to reading books, I kept up with the twitter feeds, and recently enrolled in a seven week course on Coursera titled Accountable Talk. A course through which I hope to continue to professionally develop and learn how to make the most out of discussions, in-and-out of school. So far so good. As learning happened in a classroom, and continues to happen online, I would not be able to conclude this blog entry without mentioning one of my greatest learning experiences of the summer. I learned how to refurbish a coffee table.
After scrolling through the many (and many) pages of Pinterest and witnessing fabulous do-it-yourself projects, I decided to take up my own and refurbish an old coffee table that had been sitting pretty in the shed. It took a few days for me to find a colour scheme that I wanted, to research and purchase the exact materials I required and to make a plan of action. I was passionate and didn’t care how long it would take, I wanted everything to be perfect. But as we all know, nothing ever goes as planned. Sanding took hours, some nicks in the wood could not be repaired, the double coat of paint took four coats, staining took four layers, and the glossy finish bubbled. Requiring more sanding, staining and re-glossing. The entire project ended up being done through trial and error no matter how much research I did prior. However, with the help of my father acting as a guide, I kept learning from my mistakes and didn’t give up until I had a completed coffee table. A week later, I had just that.
This is a before and after photo.
This process has taught me two things. 1) Hard work pays off. I cannot be more proud of my masterpiece. 2) This project lead to the realization that Genius Hour is truly an amazing concept and that there is so much potential in student passion projects. Talk about taking ownership and pride in learning. I will definitely try to incorporate this into my future practice. But one thing I don’t think I will ever do, is get rid of my re-born coffee table. 🙂
All in all, this summer has been one of learning in both the conventional and non-conventional settings (so to speak) and one of enjoying the little things that life has to offer.
Embracing lifelong learning, and planning my next passion project.