July 22 – U

363/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Wow, only 3 more gratitude posts left including this one!!  When I started this journey a year ago, I was a little nervous as to if I would have 365 people to thank.  I didn’t want it to come down to posts such as thanking my mailman for the flyers he delivers in that they were the ones that led me on to some awesome deal!! ; )  Early on in these posts, I started hearing from friends that so and so had made “the list”.  I didn’t understand what that was until I was told that it was my “gratitude list”.  That put some pressure on me to say the least as there was now a “list”.  I didn’t want it to be a list and I didn’t want it to be some type of contest.  Then I heard that some people mentioned they were in the 80s and others were in the 200s!  I do have to make it clear that I haven’t had an order as to who I thank and thus whatever number gratitude post it was has no relation to ranking.  Most posts are the night before or a couple of days before.  Yes, I saved my dad for his birthday as I did with my children for theirs, my mom was first because well she is my mom but save for them and the final two gratitude posts, no one had a day or a number.  The list by the end of Sunday is far from complete.  I could thank another 365 people who got me to where I am today and this is what today’s gratitude post is about – to all of the people I didn’t name and there are hundreds of you that have impacted me!  So many former students, co-workers past and present, family members, inlaws, bosses, professors, fellow students, random strangers, neighbours past and present, friends, backhanded gratitudees (bullies and the like), service providers, celebrities etc, etc – just so many people who have made me who I am and to all of you un-named in this past year, you are part of this gratitude journey just because you were not personally mentioned here doesn’t mean you weren’t recognized by me.  To all the new people that will come in to my life, thanking you in advance as some of you will change and influence me in new ways.  Thank you to all of you who came along with me on this 365 day journey as well.  Your encouragement and support has gotten me to this end point.

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July 5 – facing challenges

346/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  I’ve mentioned on several occasions that working at UBC for three years with adults who were becoming teachers (student teachers) was the greatest professional development opportunity I had for my own teaching practice.  I not only instructed these men and women (ranging from their early 20s to late 50s) in methodologies but also viewed and supported many of them during their respective practicums.  The greatest challenge for me was in this latter area as sometimes I would not see eye to eye with the classroom instructor in that they thought the student teacher was not up to par; however, in hindsight, that was the greatest growth for me as I was challenged to work with two different adults and offer suggestions while trying to maintain relations with both parties.  Two of my – yes, I still refer to the student teachers as mine 😉 – student teachers that I really enjoyed working with were D and M (from two different years).  They were both men with young families.  They both came into teaching for all the right reasons.  With both guys, I had great conversations and I also had a lot of respect for them in changing their respective careers in which they were making much more than a starting teacher but deciding to go with their passion and enter teaching.  I was D’s and M’s practicum supervisor and got to see them teach in the classroom.  Although they were at two different schools, at two different times, they both ended up with sponsor teachers who had these lofty expectations in regards to work load, revisions, classroom management etc (perhaps forgetting what it was to be a student teacher so long ago).  Both of them rose to the challenges they faced but at times not to the satisfaction of their school advisors.  These two situations presented me with some of my greatest learning during my entire time at UBC.  I knew both D and M would go on to be great teachers and I recall having several conversations with them about their own expectations but to put those aside and just to get through the practicums.  I also learned how to be a support system for them and to give advice especially when I did not agree with the critiques.  I honed my diplomacy skills working with the advisors, refined my motivational skills and really worked on my people skills.   I didn’t know it at the time that all this was taking place for me as I just wanted the two of them to have successful practicums and in the end, they both did and ended up with jobs.  I am pretty sure that both of them wouldn’t have wanted the practicums they had but I also think they are better teachers as a result.  I am virtually positive that they helped me during their practicums as I’m sure that wasn’t their goal at the time but both D and M made me into a better educator.  I thank you two and I hope you enjoy teaching as much as I have and do!

June 21 – one awesome student teacher

332/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  As I’ve said on a couple of occasions, one of the greatest professional development opportunities that I have ever had as a teacher is when I was seconded by UBC as Adjunct Teaching Professor.  I taught student teachers how to teach but I got to learn at the same time.  My learning took place when I got to be in their classes to watch them teach.  First year was pretty damn easy as I was tasked with teaching and observing only Business Education teachers and my degree was in Commerce and I had taught, with the exception of Accounting, all the businesses classes under our huge curricular umbrella.  Second year, I was asked to – okay, directed to – observe Social Studies teachers as I also taught Law and Psychology.  I didn’t see any similarities with those subjects and Geography and History or junior Socials but UBC did.  I ended up being in Nikki’s class and faked my knowledge for the first few beginning classes but then soon realized that the subject matter was secondary to Nikki’s actual teaching.  I didn’t realize that in my first year but in that second year watching Nikki, I definitely knew that what you are teaching takes backseat to how you are teaching.  Nikki rocked it.  I couldn’t believe how inventive she was – yes, I have “stolen” a few of her methodologies and have been employing them in my classes today.  Her enthusiasm for teaching and her wanting to learn from me for teaching ideas was refreshing.  We had some great conversations after her classes and I had to choose her as one of the top Student Teachers when it came to awards time because plain and simple, she just blew it out of the park.  I can say that there were a few who were in the program just going through the motions to get their degree and weren’t really into teaching for the sake of teaching but here was Nikki who reaffirmed in me that this is what teaching was – dare I say that I saw myself during my practicum year in Nikki.  Thank you Nikki for being one of those student teachers who reinvigorated an old-timer in his career and for allowing me to see that there are young, passionate teachers out there and when I have to pass over the baton, knowing that there are the likes of you coming into the profession!  Haven’t talked to you recently but so hope some district has scooped you up – here’s to you!!

April 18 – latin lessons

268/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Back in 1991, I was enrolled in the teacher education program at UBC as a student teacher.  I loved it.  I tried hard and the rewards paid off.  The practicum wasn’t that difficult for me as I had great advisors and although I did have a couple of unique experiences that I’ve written about such as never being evaluated by my advisor ;), I learned a great deal about education but even more about people.  One of the people that I met only briefly during a spring course was a Latin guy from someplace in South America but he had a lasting impact on me although sadly I don’t remember his name and never kept in touch (we were not in the days of Facebook back then).  He was a fellow student teacher in my Anthropology class and we, with two others, ended up working together on our final culminating project.  We decided to conduct an anthropological study on Graduation as a Rite of Passage.  Here we were filming the graduation ceremony at my practicum school with interviews being completed with students, teachers and parents when my fellow partner told me that this was all new to him.  I was in shock to say the least!?  He explained that in his country, they didn’t celebrate graduation in this way – it was a non-event.  This whole process was foreign to him but fascinating.  I didn’t know how to respond but then asked him to be a part of our project as a subject even though he was a part of our group.  I told the other group members and our project took a slight but important turn – assuming that people were familiar with a concept.  That was the first time I realized that I saw things a little too ego-centrically at time and that people may not be familiar with my frame of reference.  It was an important lesson for me and one that stays with me to this day when I’m in my classroom – people don’t necessarily know what you think they may know and to be aware of it.  Yes, we ended up getting a perfect score on the project because of the anthropological twist to our study but the more valuable learning took place during the process thanks to my Latin project partner and for that I am forever grateful!

April 15 – time of Grace

265/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  UBC is when I came out of my shell but I was also trying to figure out what type of shell I had been in as well.  I tried many looks – yes, I sported the asymmetrical hair with the funky patterned shirts and neon pants (total 80s guy).  I also tried on personalities but the true, overexcited, loud, fun person eventually surfaced.  During those UBC Commerce years – probably the most conservative of degrees I could have chosen – I met quite a few people and made friends with a few as people as well.  One of the people who was in my option of Marketing was Grace.  I don’t think we ever spoke as I had my own partners for projects and she had her own people.  We were in a couple of required classes together but other than that, she would have been like any other person in the degree – a fleeting memory.  However, two years later, I decided to change paths and get my Education degree.  I did my practicum at Charles Tupper in the Business department and who was a teacher there?   Grace!   She recognized me immediately and started talking to me and I will be honest, I had no clue who she was but feigned recognition.  I think she may have figured it out LOL but it was great having Grace there.  She gave me invaluable advice about teaching and especially about how to work with my practicum teacher sponsors (her co-workers).  At the end of my practicum, I didn’t really think I’d see her again but we kept in touch via email but fast forward two years and I got a long term sub gig at Britannia Secondary for who – yup, Grace!  She was involved in a car accident and I took over her classes pretty close to the start of the school year.  Of course, I had to talk to her almost weekly about the subjects and what I should be doing and that is when we started becoming friends.  I saw her at conferences and we started exchanging Christmas cards, shared child rearing stories and advice about life, immigrant parents – the list went on.  We made efforts to connect back in the day although it’s tougher now as both of us are busy with life.  Thank you Grace for being that mentor that I needed starting off my teaching career and for being a good friend over the years.  Here’s to reconnecting again.

April 11 – student teachers

261/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  The greatest professional development experience of my teaching career was being able to work with individuals entering into the profession but not as a school sponsor but as their instructor/mentor when I taught at the university level.  Engaging in dialogues with the student teachers where questioning of pedagogy took place was something I didn’t do on my own while teaching my classes in high school.  You get caught up just keeping your head above water when you are teaching so this “break” of sorts from the classroom allowed me to ponder ideologies that I had never reflected on.  But the more rewarding aspect of working with these newbies was watching them teach during their practicums and thus, this gratitude post goes out to those that I worked with during their practicums.  I was amazed by the innovative ideas that these teachers, yes, teachers came up with and I will freely admit that I stole a few and use them in my repertoire today.  They renewed my passion for the classroom and after three years, I was ready to go back and did miss the high school classroom.  I am very fortunate through social media that I still keep in touch with these men and women and I revel in the successes of “my student teachers” or my brood (if there was a male equivalent of a mother hen, then I’d be that).  I am so glad that I worked with so many awesome teachers in the university classroom and also in their classrooms and learned as much from them as they did from me.  To my student teachers, here’s to you and thanks for the great professional experience I had from 2009 – 2012 which I still remember fondly to this day.

March 13 – debits to the left, credits to the right

232/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I’ve taught a lot of teenagers over my years – probably nearing 4500+ students. That’s a huge number now that I reflect on it. I have also been fortunate enough to teach adults at UBC for 3 years – probably about 150 during that time. That’s a lot students I’ve had influence on but as I’ve mentioned over these gratitude posts, there are several that also impacted me. At UBC, I taught the adult students in the Education program to become teachers. I got to know about 8-10 on a different level each year as I was fortunate enough to watch them teach in the classroom during their practicum. Once they finished the program, I kept in touch with many of them to see how they fared hoping all of them ended up with permanent teaching contracts joining myself in the awesome profession of teaching. One of those adult learners was Colin D. I not only taught him the required courses in the teacher education program, I was also his adviser during his practicum. This guy, as a student teacher, was amazing. I still remember some of his hooks to start off lessons and his knowledge and use of technology inside and outside of the classroom was amazing, You know when you have an awesome teacher? When they can make Accounting interesting!! He creates educational music videos – his one for Debits and Credits is used by many Business teachers – yes, myself being one (also inspiring me to have my students create their own business videos)! He also did so well on his practicum that he ended up co-authoring the Accounting textbook used by most high school teachers. If that’s not accomplishing something during your practicum, then I don’t know what a successful practicum is. Thanks Colin for giving me ideas and inspiration as I ended up being tasked with teaching Accounting upon my return to the high school environment. Your students are very fortunate to have you as their teacher but we in education are also very fortunate to have you as one of us. I look forward to seeing and hearing about what you come up with next!