This week in Ottawa for the Prime Minister’s Awards For Teaching Excellence has been an outstanding and unbelievable one, but also one of much new learning. I’ve had the opportunity to meet and converse with incredible educators from across Canada. The things that they do in their classroom leaves me speechless (from an Early Childhood Educator that had his young students critiquing art in a university-level course to an elementary teacher that has a cancer experiment (created by children) getting launched to the International Space Station). While the purpose of this award is not for the recipients to receive professional development, I have without a doubt, received some amazing PD over these four days! Here’s a look at some of my new learning:
1) Re-look at my Social Studies Program, and consider ways to turn the classroom into a museum of learning. On Tuesday, I got a chance to visit the Museum of Civilization, and it was such an incredible experience. Through artifacts, oral presentation, and posted information, I learned so much about the First Nations Peoples prior to 1713. It was like I was experiencing the Grade 5 Social Studies Curriculum first-hand. This is when I started taking photographs, collecting brochures (that were available), and recording little snippets from our tour guide, so that I could bring this amazing experience back to the classroom! Now the students can see and hear what life was like in this time frame. They can read and learn (even from first person accounts) about the history and conflicts. When I initially set-up the provocations along the back counter in the classroom, I saw this as an opportunity for students to connect to the curriculum … but maybe they need more than this! Let them look, explore, talk, and question as they get to walk around and see (on a mini-scale) what I got to see on big-scale on Tuesday. I can’t wait for this idea to evolve more!
2) Bring in the historical voices. Before I left for Ottawa, we had a grade team meeting, and our vice principal, Kristi Keery-Bishop, spoke about the importance of first person accounts when studying history. We looked at some resources available online to help us with this. Then this week, I met Leigh Brown, an amazing educator from Winnipeg that works at the Children of the Earth High School. She spoke about her students of various native backgrounds, and the stories that each of them can share. Leigh’s willing to set-up a Skype call with my class to have a group of her students share their family’s history, and help my students understand this Social Studies topic in a whole new way. I can’t wait!
3) Make reading, breath-taking! I’m not exactly sure how to do this, but I’m determined to find a way. On Tuesday afternoon when we toured Parliament, we got a special tour of the Parliamentary Library. The moment that we entered the room, there was stunned silence! The room is really just one filled with books, but between the lighting, the multi-levels, the variety of resources, and the incredible space, we were all left breathless! I want my students to feel this same way when they see books. I want them to want to read! So while I don’t have a Parliamentary Library-sized classroom, I’m determined to make the most out of the space I do have to celebrate reading. Any suggestions on how to do this would be great!
4) Celebrate excellence! Over breakfast on Tuesday morning, a group of us were talking about how we can thank those people that nominated us for this award. One person mentioned that we should “pay it forward.” Maybe we won’t nominate someone for this exact award, but we will take the time to recognize those individuals that go above and beyond. I love this idea! Let’s celebrate excellency every single day, as there’s certainly numerous people at our school and across the world (I know many from Twitter) that deserve to be recognized for all that they do! So Paul, one of my many “thank yous” to you is to take the time to recognize these incredible people — it‘s worth the time!
A special “thank you” to all of the people behind the Prime Minister’s Awards, and all of the incredible educators that I’ve had the chance to converse with and learn from since Monday! This will be a week that I’ll never forget!
So great to see your enthusiasm coming through in all of this, and I love the connections you’re making. The proofreader in me just wants us to celebrate “excellence” though – not excellency. 🙂
I LOVE the parliamentary library. I did an amazing experience several years ago (which you would love) called the Teachers’ institute on Parliamentary Democracy – it was amazing, and one of the best parts of all was getting a behind-the-scenes tour of the library – we just got to wander, after hours, and look at anything we wanted – I got my nose into a local atlas of my community from the late 1800’s. It was incredible. Did my undergrad in Ottawa, so you were hanging out in some of my favourite places (I’ve always been a political junkie, and I actually got to tour the museum of Civ before it opened, ’cause I was working in the field at the time). Keep sharing – it’s great to see your ideas growing.
Thank you so much, Lisa! Thanks for the editing too. 🙂 I thought I fixed it, but I guess that I just did in my head. 🙂
Your program in the Parliamentary Library sounds amazing! What a fantastic experience. This is definitely something that I’d love. And the Museum of Civilization was incredible. I would LOVE to go back there again and spend more time.
Thanks for all of your wonderful comments and continuing to always push my thinking!
Congrats aviva, I have learned so much from you and your post. You truly are a remarkable teacher and a well deserved award winner.
Thank you so much, Jonathan! I’m so glad that we’ve connected through Twitter and blogging. It’s been great learning from you. Thanks for pushing my thinking … especially in the area of math!
Congrats Aviva! So happy for you!
Thanks Maryann! Much appreciated!
Congratulations again, Aviva. Love that you chose to take a moment of celebration and use it as a chance for professional reflection as well.
Enjoy this wonderful moment as you’ve earned it!
Thanks Melissa! I think it’s important to use any opportunity we can to learn and reflect on what we’re already doing. I’m very excited to try some new things when I get back.
I love the idea of paying it forward, Aviva! I need no thanks in return for nominating you. There are many great educators that invest so much of themselves in making the world (and schools) a better place. Those are the heroes that deserve the recognition. You already do a fantastic job of recognizing and inspiring others so that is a natural fit for you. It is just sooo rewarding for me to see you enjoy the accolades you truly deserve for the countless hours you have invested in ALL students (and not just the cheery, bright ones that anyone can teach)!
So proud of you!
Thank you so much, Paul! I thought that Jared’s comment from yesterday would be the last one to make me all teary-eyed, but I was wrong! 🙂
I think that it’s so important to “pay it forward,” and take the extra time to recognize those people that go out of their way to do more. Dean Shareski touched on this point in his comment on yesterday’s post, and it’s such an important point to remember.
And, on another note, I have to admit that one of the things that I like best about teaching is reaching those students that are more difficult to reach! This is when you know that you’ve really made a difference. (I actually wrote about this in my “Teacher Talk” that should be up on the website soon.)
Thanks again, Paul! I feel very fortunate to learn from/with you every day!
Love reading your posts Aviva!!!!!
Thanks Emily! I really appreciate you reading these posts.