I have been teaching in the Surrey School District in British Columbia, Canada, since 2002. The majority of my career has been spent working in a designated inner-city school teaching upper intermediate students. I am very passionate about the benefits of Kieran Egan’s Imaginative Education approach to teaching for both students and teachers. By sharing the theory of Imaginative Education with my grade 6/7 students I feel I am giving them the opportunity to take ownership of their own education as they move on to highschool.
My posts on imaginED will focus on two things:
1. Reflections on my lessons and how various Heroic Qualities present themselves.
2. Observations of how/if students recognize Cognitive Tools in action and how they put the tools into use themselves throughout the school year.
NOTE: Are you new to Imaginative Education? Explore the range of posts about it on this blog! Including podcasts.
The Heroic Classroom: Before the School Year Starts
August 25, 2019
School is 9 days away.
If you’re looking to find a blog that gives you tips and tricks for spending July 1 until Labour Day weekend prepping and planning for September in your classroom… you’re in the wrong place–try Pinterest. If you are stalled in your enthusiasm for teaching and every year is running into another one with no clear anchor or cruising plan then this is a blog series for you.
I think at this point I would consider myself a veteran teacher. The true clue that I am no longer a newbie is that I have stopped having the August-Teacher-Nightmares. No more waking up in the middle of the night frantically wondering if I know enough about the periodic table or the levels of Canadian government. Or even, do I have enough books for novel study groups. No more dreaming of how many challenging or high needs kids I will get this year. Was Johnny on my tentative class list?! What am I going to do with him? That kids has a rep! He’s only 11… but still!!
Don’t get me wrong, I still think about these things but I no longer lose sleep over it or go overboard planning anything in the summer. You know as well as I do that those carefully planned lessons usually go right out the window as soon as September hits. Mine usually sits in a beautifully labelled folder with all the procedures, materials and assessments copied out and ready to go. Each September I move the folder to my desk ready to execute. Every December it goes back in the filing cabinet. Why do I keep it? Security mostly and, of course, a good chuckle when I think about how many years that folder has moved in and out of the cabinet with the same numbers of copies still paper clipped and accounted for.
My main focus each August is to just think about what I would like the overall Heroic Quality of the classroom to be. I started doing this a few years ago when it dawned on me, finally, that I wasn’t giving the kids enough time. Time to ingest, time to absorb, time to produce, or even time to take pride in their work. This big shift in my thinking coincided with a huge change in the BC Curriculum. After looking through the changes and steeping in them for awhile it occured to me that Time needed to be my Heroic Quality of the classroom, not the theme, but the quality.
I’m not sure what the quality will be this year but I seem to collect them. Time will be on my mind but I am looking for a new one. As soon as the school year progresses I will be on the hunt for this new Heroic Quality. I will demonstrate and watch for Time action but, more importantly, I will just observe and write.
The Heroic Quality of the year tends to find a way to show itself. I hope you come back and find out how my search is going. Until then, enjoy the last few days of summer and stay off of Pinterest!
The Heroic Classroom: September
September 5, 2019
Quality of the Day: Connection
Today is the second day of school. My usual schtick is to sit and gab and gossip with them. Most of the kids already know me when they come into Grade 6 because I am the LiD Lady. I’ve been handing out Learning in Depth topics for the last 1..2..3… has it been 9 years already? They know me and know the routine so jumping right into LiD is perfect for an hour of ‘get to know you time’. I don’t like wasting the first week. I taught them the word ‘rigorous’ yesterday and explained that it was ok to sweat it out on assignments. If I gave them all work they could do with no problems then I wasn’t doing my job. Hmmm! Could ‘sense of accomplishment’ be my classroom Heroic Quality this year? No, too obvious.
So today is about explaining the theory of Imaginative Education and the practices I work with in the classroom. I don’t see any need to keep my teaching theories a secret from the students. By the end of the year they are fluent in IE and can appreciate, practice and have the power to implement it themselves as they are moving through their academic career. Teaching students about Heroic Qualities first to ease into IE theory has worked well for me in the past. Today we went through the list of
Heroic Qualities and they each choose a quality they didn’t know. I was then able to assess dictionary skills while they discovered and reported on the meaning. After that, each student chose their own top five qualities from the list. It was an interesting way to get to know the kids a little bit better on the second day of class. Humor won the race with this group. Followed closely behind by Kindness, Creativity, Curiosity and Calm. Hmmm… this sounds like my kind of class.
Other posts by Christa Rawlings
Check out this post in which I describe why I use cognitive tools in my teaching: The Selfish Teacher
Using Cognitive Tools to teach Place Value to Grade 6 and 7 students: Place Value and Really Big Numbers