Thursday, 24 November 2016

Day One: Monday, November 21, 2016

Today was the first day of the newest professional development I've taken on.

This year I am teaching 7/8 and I am uncomfortable. Daily. Minute by Minute. I'm a creature of habit and comfort and everything is new, my students luckily are not. Some I have known for years, some I have known since I taught them in Grade 5, that helps, a little. The curriculum although similar is foreign, some of the challenges, new. The team teaching where we integrate multiple subjects with inquiry (which by the way is an amazing way to hit many birds with one stone!) is amazing but again new. There are few comfortable moments as I wade through this new experience, I am reminded of not only why this was a good thing and why I enjoy routine oh so much.

Okay back to the point of this, so I am feeling uncomfortable but I am forging ahead and I see there is PD regarding writing. . . .the piece of the language program I loathe, for no other reason than the fact that I can write, I enjoy writing but I struggle to show others.  It's the piece I avoid, that I slot at the end of the period, the piece of I search out resources and colleagues alike for assistance. I decide to go for it, I'm already uncomfortable, might as well keep the theme going!

So I arrive and it is within the first five minutes that I realize I am at the wrong location, panic sets in, now I'm late.. . . I debate not going. . . .realizing I have few options I leave to head to the proper hotel. I am hesitant to go in, the session has already started and now I have to go in late. I walk in and immediately am greeted with "Hi Kathleen!" Crisis averted. I panic as I look for my colleagues sitting at the far end and settle in as quickly as I can.

The good news: I am more comfortable than I thought I would be, the one back table has colleagues from Tweedsmuir who I met before I even got on the supply list and was running a before and after school program. There's another colleague I met earlier in my career who is incredibly techy and inspiring! The table in the middle has my teaching partner from a summer of literacy camp and a colleague from social justice task force. The table beside us has a teacher who I met during my practicum at Locke's, my table has my two new colleagues this year and I sit across from a colleague I supplied for in my first year of teaching.

Full circle. Almost every table has people from every part of my career, my comfort level is rising.

So it begins and the ideas are flowing, people are saying great things, and I realize how much I have to learn but also that I was doing some good things too. (Before you say it, I know I am hard on myself, it's just the way I roll).

My notes from the day are spotty at best as the Chromebook I have brought is almost dead. I find out we immediately get a writer's notebook to use, it reminds me of the years I have given students one and the possibilities it could contain, I also lament at how plain the ones I last gave out were and decide if I hand them out to another class, the first day we will do them up to make them less boring, my new one is beautiful with a lovely quote on it.

Annette our leader mentions that we will learn to create a community of writers and I am not so concerned with this. I have done this before and it went okay, room for improvement but I've done it. Examining beliefs around writing. . . .well you can see where I'm at . . .personally I'm okay. . . .professionally I avoid it at all costs as I doubt my own abilities. Then I see the words that puzzle me most

"We will investigate what writers do"

I'm not even sure what I do when I write, the words just pour out of me. . . .for better or worse, I am aware I write way too much, which you might have noticed from this post. So what am I actually doing? How am I crafting what to write? How do I form my paragraphs, where do I draw my inspiration from?

I'm not sure.

I am excited at the prospect of bringing writing back in to my life. When I was in elementary school in grade 7 or 8 I had a red and black notebook and I wrote essays and poems and whatever I wanted, the book is long gone. . .or in a memory tub at my parents but eventually I stopped. I like to think university killed not only my love of reading but also my enjoyment of writing. Reading has come back slowly, tempting me with pop culture best sellers and comedian biographies. Writing, not so much. This blog last had a post written in 2014. . . almost three years ago, at some point I started this blog as a way to share my classroom and my learning. . . .

but I had a hard time keeping up. I felt I owed my readers more than a paragraph so if I couldn't write a worthwhile post I wouldn't write at all. . . .which brings us to three years later where I show my classroom work on Instagram mostly under a classroom account.

I want my students to get excited about writing, in junior I had students who wanted to write instead of read and I thought that might be one of the best problems to have. Now in intermediate my time seems even more limited, there is no free writing, even fitting in the independent reading seems tricky some days, so how I do reach these kids? How do I get them to want to write, I think it would be good for all of them, if for no other reason than to help deal with teen angst and sort through emotions.

Tomorrow my teaching partner and I have a common planning period and I am going to show her all that we did today and see what we can work in to our already busy plan.

I want those writers to come back.

As the day ended I felt overwhelmed but happy, it turned out I had more going on with my writing program than I realized and writing was so much more than essay writing. Why my brain had reduced it to this is beyond me. It doesn't have to be complicated and long, that is only one form that we see!

I'm looking forward to this, I've already been examining my life and looking to see what I can change for my own balance. . . .add writing to the list of essential oils, crossfit and mindfulness.

Yep I'm still uncomfortable but that's okay, learning can't always be easy and comfortable. I read somewhere that it's when we are most out of our comfort zone that the learning truly starts, as we stretch our minds and souls to grow.

It's time to grow.

Kat :)


  1. Thanks Kat, great blog. I agree with your comment about leaving the comfort zone. The strongest tree in the forest is the one that had to fight its way to the sun! I can't wait to grow with you Kat. You're my soil. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Being ok with uncomfortable is a sure path to learning! Thanks for sharing Kathleen. I appreciate your transparency. Know that you are not alone as we muck about in writing together.

  3. Kathleen, I love the honesty with which you write. It takes courage to not only venture outside of our comfort zone, but to make that journey a public one. All the best as you return to the world of blogging.

  4. There is something about teaching intermediate. We get sucked in to preparing students for high school and sometimes we loose sight of creative writing time. Bring your passion from junior to intermediate and share your amazing talents with your students:)

  5. What a fun read...makes me feel better to know that I wasn't alone in my "comfort" zone! Based upon what I just read and what I have seen in your examples, I would say that you should be well on your way to feeling more comfortable. Thanks for sharing.