Saturday, July 19, 2014

It's a "Bright Idea" to Collaborate

For this month's Bright Ideas blog post, I wanted to share a personal anecdote from the recent TeachersPayTeachers conference I attended in the U.S. There's a moral to this story.

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I was sitting in one session, waiting for it to begin and took advantage of the spare moments to introduce myself to the woman next to me. Someone behind me heard me say I was from Ontario, and she and her friend got my attention to see if we happened to be from the same area. As it turned out, I'm from north of Toronto, and they were from the London area. At that point, one of the women kind of lost interest in trying to identify any connection saying "How would you know us from so far away?"  I persisted though... and guess what? The other teacher is a Core French teacher who belongs to a facebook group that I admin!  It's very exciting for me to establish that kind of connection with someone. (Lisa, I would have let you know about this post, but there are over a dozen teachers with that given name, so I wasn't sure how to establish which one you were!)

My thought was "why SHOULDN'T we have met in some capacity before?" Just because we are from different cities, different school boards... why not consider the Internet as your virtual school hallway? Yeah, you gotta get out of your own classroom and make an effort to find out what's happening with someone else. Yeah, it takes a little effort and a little time but look at the benefit. Energized teaching, improved learning experiences for your students, maybe avoiding spending $200 on a resource that might not be as perfectly suited for you as you thought... or finding out that it is, and having someone help you word your pitch for the principal!  Maybe saving time on planning a lesson if you swap a few PowerPoint mini-lectures you've each put together or co-plan some learning centres.   Isn't it worth it? I sure think so!!

I met many of my "colleagues" from around the world in Las Vegas... and hopefully I'll blog more about that soon (but I accidentally deleted my draft post!! So, starting from scratch on that one, and I'm not sure that you aren't all sick of hearing how much we all LOVED this opportunity to network and learn together.)

If you enjoyed this bright idea, please consider checking me out on Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter for more great ideas and sharing. For other bright ideas from more than 70 different edubloggers this month, browse through the link-up below and choose a topic or grade level that interests you.

Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Not enough Subs? Freebie for on calls

What happens in your school when someone is absent and there is no supply teacher available to substitute teach?

Some arrangements I'm familiar with...
  1. Classes are collapsed so that a few students from the teacher-less class join several other classes.
  2. An unqualified teacher is assigned to the class (This practice was in place in my board about 8 years ago, but was eliminated at some point, and now seems to be making its way back into consideration)
  3. Other teachers lose their planning time throughout the day and the class without their regular teacher has a series of teachers who work within the school but don't normally teach this group of children.
Scenario #3 is what we've typically been dealing with in my school for the past 3-5 years. The "deal" according to our teaching contract is that on call coverages can be assigned, and planning time is to be paid back to teachers within a reasonable amount of time. Of course, in May and June, it seems perhaps some substitute teachers are a little less desperate to be working every day. The prospect of paid back planning time at the end of the year seems rather silly, except for perhaps those teachers changing locations who are desperately trying to get a classroom packed up while still keeping a room full of youngsters in check and engaged... not an easy balancing act!

Here's a little freebie that you can tuck in the front of your day plans binder, or somewhere else that's convenient for you to track the no-OT coverages you've provided & help ensure that you receive the planning time that you are owed.  (OR at least that the pay back periods are evenly distributed, and it's not just people who complained most loudly who get squared up in a reasonable amount of time!)

Hope you're enjoying your summer so far!

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