Friday, 10 October 2014

Giving Thanks

Today, in honour of Thanksgiving, the Kindergartens reflected on what it means to be thankful. We started the day with a read aloud (not Thanksgiving specific, but rather the general theme of thankfulness, which we should reflect on year round!) and had an interesting class discussion on what exactly it means to be thankful. The class decided on: “thinking and talking about things in your life that you are happy are there”. Students then had a chance to share what they are thankful for. A sample of answers: my family, our classroom, candy, trees that give us paper, nice ghosts, the day, love, and the food our families cook. All answers were interesting and thoughtful.

In an effort to practice what I preach, I want to take a quick second and communicate some of the many things I feel thankful for, especially those related to teaching.

I am thankful to work at one of the most unique, exciting, and stimulating schools I’ve ever come across. For those who don’t know, our school is located on Toronto Island. Yes, I start each day with a calm boat ride across Lake Ontario, watching the sunrise over the water. When we learn about science and nature, we don’t just read about it in a book – we go out an experience it – blue jays, chickadees, snakes, raccoons, tapping maple trees, collecting rocks and leaves, reading on the beach, you name it! Despite being in downtown Toronto, the Islands truly feel like a magical and lush green world where the outdoor learning is endless. Being on the Island provides me with a great chance to explore the world of Reggio inspired education as much of the Reggio philosophy involves the natural world. I feel so very thankful to get to teach in a place that supports this.

I am thankful to be part of a passionate Kindergarten teaching team who all share similar core beliefs about early childhood education, but also continue to remind each other to look outside of their comfort zone and continue to grow. As a team we continue to discover our strengths and also highlight areas we can support each other. Every team member is respectful, caring, knowledgeable, and best of all, willing to always learn more. Jamie, Shelagh, Ali, Madeleine – I am thankful to get to work alongside you all. You all inspire me daily.

I am thankful to come from a family who loves me, supports me, and has encouraged me to move in to the field of education. My mom and sister are both educators – my mom is a primary school teacher, and my sister is a dance educator. My dad, although not a teacher, loves nothing more than hearing us all “talk shop” and reminds me every time I see him how proud he is. I am thankful too to be with a loving and supportive partner who never tires of my school stories and even has gotten used to my constant piles of items around the house that “I’m going to bring into school tomorrow…or next week…or next month”.

Lastly, I am thankful simply to teach. I say it all the time to anyone who will listen (and sometimes those who won’t!), but I truly believe this is one of the coolest jobs out there. Not a day goes by that I don’t reflect on the massive responsibility that comes with our career. Especially being a Kindergarten teacher, we are often a child’s first experience with the school system. The way I look at it, we can either foster a spark and natural curiosity within them, or on the flipside, be the ones that plant the seed that school is “hard” and “not fun”. I never want to be that last kind of teacher. I try so very hard to create an atmosphere where learning is active, fun, and engaging, and mistakes are nothing more than opportunities to learn more. If students leave my room reading, writing, adding, hey, that’s a bonus. But if students leave my room with a genuine love of learning and a positive self image, that’s what really counts – and that’s what will serve them best in their future years of schooling as more "work" comes down the line.

What an incredible job we have – for that, I am thankful!

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