From Our Community: “How do you get ready for the new year?”

With a new year school year approaching, we asked members of our community how they prepare!

A little about each teacher:

Kelsey is a 24-year-old entering her first year of teaching. She’ll be teaching Grade 9, including math, ELA, science, social studies and health in a remote First Nation’s community.

Jordan is a 26-year-old into his second year teaching Grade 1 French Immersion.

Chris is a 39-year-old teacher of 15 years. She teaches middle years Visual Arts and EAL support in the mornings and Grade 3-4 Reading, Math, Science and Art in the afternoons.

Laura is a 27-year-old going into her third year of teaching early years. She taught kindergarten for 2 years and will be teaching Grade 1 in the fall.

What are you most excited for the new year?

Kelsey: I am most excited to meet my students and learn what they like and don’t like. This is my first year teaching, so everything is new and exciting for both myself and my students. I am young, which is a new thing for the school, so I am also excited to see how my presence as a young teacher changes the atmosphere of the school and community.

Jordan: The most exciting thing would have to be that sense of all the new possibilities, because you could teach the same subjects and grades, but each group of new students is like a fresh start. It’s also a chance to see how the curriculum can grow and relate to the world around the students and the community.

Chris: I am most excited to experience my first year of looping with my multiage Grade 3/4 class. As this is my second year teaching multiage, I know half my class already. I don’t need to build relationships with my grade 4’s as they already know my expectations and I understand how they work. I also have natural leaders in the classrooms who will support my new grade 3 students.

Laura: I am most excited to meet my students, get to know them and dive deeper into their interests. I also get to spend a full day with my students compared to our half-day Kindergarten classes. I am also excited to learn about Grade 1.

What are you the most concerned about?

Kelsey: I am most concerned about gaining access to proper learning resources. Being that I teach in a remote fly-in only community, I don’t have the same access to educational resources as other educators. I want to ensure my students have the same education as all Grade 9 students in Manitoba, so getting those resources will be essential. With the closing of the Manitoba Teachers Library, I’m not sure what that will look like now, but I will make it happen!

Jordan: The biggest concern always seems to be if my personality and that of the individual students will work well together. Everyone sees the world in such different lights and I, as their teacher, have to mould in a way that I can best be there for them.

Chris: I am most concerned about teaching full-time for the first time since having kids and also beginning a Post Baccalaureate in Education.

Laura: Having enough time to create and develop quality lessons; to connect with my students in a meaningful way; giving my students enough time to ask their questions and find the answers to those questions

What is at the top of your to-do list?

Kelsey: The top of my to do list would have to be building relationships. Teaching in a community like I do, everyone knows everyone. If I fail at building relationships between my students, everyone will know, and therefore no one will trust me. Without that relationship, no trust can be built. My students have every right to a strong education, which means getting them to come to school. If you like your teacher and have respect for them, it makes coming to school a little bit easier for everyone.

Jordan: Friend circles. Behavioural patterns. If you don’t know or understand the way my students work then I’ll never truly be able to teach them. This also connect with setting up an open and strong connection to the families of my students. We have to work together to best support the student.

Chris: Organisation is at the top of my to-do list. That is organisation in my classrooms, digital and paperwork, and personal life.

Laura: Create a welcoming atmosphere where students can ask questions, take risks, take ownership of their learning and generate a love of learning.

If you had one wish for the new year, what would it be?

Kelsey: My wish for the new year would be that my students see value in gaining an education and want to graduate Grade 12. The graduation rate of Indigenous students is much lower than that of non-Indigenous students. My students, being from a fly-in only community, have to leave their home after Grade 9 in order to get their Grade 12. Some have never left the community in their life, so the transition can be hard, and many are not successful with attaining their Grade 12. I wish the gap in the educational achievement between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students was filled, but a wish is not enough to do that. Action needs to take place, and instilling a belief in the importance in education is the place I am going to start.

Jordan: I hope that all my students will find moments that they feel successful and learn to harness that then apply it to other aspects of their lives. We are not all experts or masters, but I hope they will be able to spread their confidence and see that they are special in their own ways. As well that I have a never-ending supply of pencils. A boy can dream.

Chris: My one wish for the new year would be to have all students finish the year having experienced success as a result of my teaching. I want students to know they hold the power to learn and that anything is possible.

Laura: That my students and I will be curious, creative, collaborative, critical thinkers, and discover how to be good citizens.

What advice would you have given yourself as a new teacher?

Kelsey: Being that I am a new teacher, and this will be my first time teaching on my own, I want to remind myself that it’s okay to not know everything. It’s okay to try new things and experiment. It is a learning process and I cannot be hard on myself. Burn out is a major concern to new teachers, so if I can be gentle on myself this year, I have done my job right. Also just have some fun!

Jordan:  Learn to not sweat the small stuff. You are going to have days where your plans go out the window and you fall flat on your face, but you just have to pick yourself up and take it for what it is. As well take time for yourself. We often get caught up in work every evening and over the weekends. You need to be your best self to be the best that you can for your students. Go to the gym, the spa, read a book that you like that’s perhaps not about educational pedagogy, just do something for you as a person.

Chris: As a new teacher I would have told myself to stop striving for perfection, enjoy the crazy chaos that teaching is and understand when I have done enough. I will never be able to do all the things I would like to support my students, time is not finite, but I can prioritise the most important things and still have the same student success.

Laura: Seek advice and guidance from those around them in their school/division – I was fortunate to have a mentor (my student support teacher) who I could ask questions, plan with and watch teach. Be flexible in your teaching, sometimes you think you have an amazing lesson and your students are not engaged it is okay to stop and maybe try that lesson another day. Be prepared and organized, there is a lot of paperwork, notes, and assessments. Take time for yourself, I was told that your first year is a year of survival and it is stressful, but it is so rewarding and you need to take time for yourself to be the best teacher you can be. It’s about balance.

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