November 9

LOCUS

LOCUS Logo7
LOCUS was one of the best experiences I had while attending Wilfrid Laurier University. LOCUS (Laurier Off-Campus University Students) is a program designed to aid the transition into university for first year students living off-campus and attending Wilfrid Laurier University’s Waterloo campus. The program provides first year students with academic, social, and personal support to ensure that off-campus students do not miss out on the on-campus experience if they decide not to live in residence.

I held four different roles while being involved with the LOCUS program:

  1. Vice-President of Finances and Administration on LOCUS House Council (2011-2012)
  2. Off-Campus Advisor for a community of 27 students (2012-2013)
  3. Community Advisor of LOCUS’ House Council (2013-2014)
  4. LOCUS Coordinator (2014-2015)

Being the LOCUS Coordinator for the 2014-2015 academic year was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I had the opportunity to instill and develop leadership skills into my staff team, as well as lead them in a direction that best meets the needs of the first year off-campus student population. This position taught me so much about myself; about my own leadership capabilities, my ability to lead a group, and my passion for teaching others. There is no better feeling than helping first year students with their transition into life at Laurier, and the LOCUS Coordinator position really opened my eyes to how amazing it is to be a Laurier Goldenhawk!

CoordinatorSpencer

November 8

Aviva Community Fund Submission

A few weeks ago, I started my Bachelor of Education placement at Pinecrest Elementary School in Ottawa. Two years ago, grade one students wrote a letter to the principal to persuade her to look at the primary yard and consider their dreams to replace the old play structure. The following September, the same students and all their primary friends were shocked to come back and discover that the condemned play structure and the beloved monkey bars had been removed over the summer and they were left with only sand. It was a very sad day for Pinecrest primary students. Since then, the primary students have had nothing but some wooden “soccer” posts and a giant area of sand.

B&W
A large number of Pinecrest families are not able to participate in extracurricular fundraisers, as many of the families live in apartments or public housing surrounding the school. They rely on the safe space at school to play and explore.

When I first heard about this issue, I knew I had to get involved in some way. I worked with the staff at Pinecrest by taking some photos and creating a video that we have submitted for the Aviva Community Fund. This was all in an attempt to receive a grant that we could use to provide these young students with the play yard that they deserve. Here is the video that I created for the submission:

What’s even more incredible is that my video was featured in the Ottawa Metro! Check out the screenshot below:

Metro Article
Unfortunately, Pinecrest Public School was not chosen as one of the finalists for the Aviva Community Fund. However, it was incredible to see the school and the surrounding communities really come together to support this project. We also learned a lot about this grant process and hopefully we can use this knowledge in future submissions so that we can achieve our goal of building a safe and fun playground for the deserving primary students.

November 7

Safe Classroom Management

YouTube search: “Teacher gets in fight with student”

Results: “About 1,140,000 videos”

What is happening to our education system? How is this happening? Perhaps more importantly, why is this happening?

Safe Management (1)In the summer of 2015, I received my certification in Safe Management, which is a crisis intervention training program. This training help me immensely in my role of working with individuals that have varying disabilities, but little did I know just how relevant it could be to my future profession of teaching. More than anything, this training exposed me to the reality that at one point or another, we all can get agitated and act out, despite how we typically act on a regular basis. What is important about this is recognizing what is happening, why it is happening, and how to deescalate the situation.

This idea of recognizing what is happening is outlined in Safe Management’s Aggression Escalation Continuum (displayed below). There are four levels of aggression presented: subtle, escalating, imminent, and physical. At each of the four levels of aggression, appropriate responses are presented as an indicator of how best to deescalate the situation. While teachers may never experience being the target of physical aggression, it is important to understand what to do in those situations, especially since we are responsible for the safety of every other student in the classroom.

Safe Management (3)
The Safe Management training further defined each of the aggression behaviours by providing examples of the verbal, psychological, and gross motor indicators associated with each stage of the aggression. And they didn’t stop there. They also provided the appropriate staff response to each of those behaviours.

Safe Management (4) Safe Management (5)

However, there is more to creating a safe classroom environment than just preventing aggression. The training covered many important topics other than aggression; risk management, relationship management, behaviour management, and physical intervention concepts were discussed as well. The chart below addresses topics relating to relationship management, while presenting strategies and techniques to successfully achieve the outlined principles:

Safe Management (2)
There are so many different approaches that teachers can take to addressing a student acting out, and it doesn’t always have to lead to a power struggle. While some teachers choose the humiliation method of addressing student behaviour, there are a number of reasons why this method is damaging to students. There is a great article on Edutopia that discusses student humiliation. Through further research on the topic of classroom management, I came across a number of useful resources. Edutopia had an entire database designated to classroom management resources.

I must say, the best resource I came across was from the Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI). CPI has a program that is very similar to Safe Management entitled Non-Violent Crisis Intervention. They constructed a manual especially for teachers called “Remain Calm & Respond Right When A Student Challenges!“. I strongly recommend that teachers and Bachelor of Education students should check it out!

Ideally, students will enter our classrooms each and every day with a positive attitude and an eagerness to learn. However, if it means that I get to keep myself safe while also keeping my students safe, then I will learn about as much classroom management as possible.

September 27

Hometown Poem

Waterloo

Wandering Waterloo
Flat like a meadow
Smells like success, opportunity, education
Hustle and bustle of people going to work
Everyone seems to have an idea that changes the world
I wanted to teach ever since I told my Kindergarten teacher so
Leaving Waterloo meant I got to start the rest of my life
I hope to be a teacher that changes many lives
Approachable yet confident demeanor which commands much respect
One smile can change someone’s life
Constant and unmeasurable growth

September 23

My First Day of Community Service Learning

(It still blows my mind that I am now considered a teacher-candidate…)

Today officially marked the first day of my 8-month placement at Pinecrest Public School in Ottawa! Despite prepping my belongings the night before, waking up extra early, and grabbing a large regular coffee from the Tim Horton’s around the corner from the school (convenient, right?), I was still fairly nervous for my first placement of my Bachelor of Education.

Name Tag
The day started with a tour of school and its many resources. Albeit an “urban” school, Pinecrest is gifted with a massive property, featuring two soccer fields and scenic green spaces. What’s even better is that the classrooms have large windows that let in a great deal of natural lighting, which is something that not many schools can brag about. The school has two gymnasiums, one of which has a stage that the school performs plays on. Another amazing feature of the school is that has a woodworking shop – yes, Pinecrest is a K-8 school with a tech shop. Needless to say, I felt like I was in a high school! That is, until the bell rang and the students came inside…

Pinecrest3“Was I that small in grade 7?” was the first question that ran through my mind. But after that thought left my mind, I was excited to see the diversity of the students that walked through the halls. I was very impressed with the sense of inclusion that the student population exuded, proving yet again that the younger generation is the best example of how we should accept and celebrate each others differences.
Pinecrest2As the day continued, I jumped right into the role of a teacher, assisting students understand various concepts in Math, Language, and History. I also got to see the class in action as they had their music class. They were all learning how to play the ukulele – how awesome is that?! (Shout out to the recorder I got to play in grade 7…) I will admit that one of the biggest challenges I will face, no matter what class I teach, is remembering names. That skill just wasn’t a gift I was graced with, but I was proactive and requested a class list so that I could practice before next week!

Among the many programs that Pinecrest offers, about 6 students from my immediate class utilize the ESL (English as a Second Language) and ELD (English Literacy Development) programs. The ELD program is a new concept for me, but I am amazed with each new success story that I hear from the program. I am very interested to learn more about what goes into the program and potentially spend some of my CSL placement there.

The first of many projects that I will work on during my time at Pinecrest involves the school’s playground. Unfortunately, the playground was torn down 2 years ago when it was deemed unsafe, but has yet to be replaced. That being said, the kindergarten and primary students are left with a sandbox where the playground once stood, the extent of their “play area”. In an attempt to be awarded a grant from the Aviva Community Fund, I have taken on the task of creating a video of Pinecrest’s playground situation that will be submitted. Needless to say, I’ve been brushing up on my video editing “skills” and will be collecting footage next Wednesday, just in time for next Friday’s deadline. Fingers crossed that my video submission lead to Pinecrest being considered for funding!

Ideas are flowing, passion is ignited. I’m looking forward to round 2 next week!

 

 

September 10

Extending-My-Family at Extend-A-Family

My main job for the summer of 2015 was working at Extend-A-Family. Extend-A-Family Waterloo Region (EAFWR) was founded in 1980 by parents of children with developmental disabilities as a way to build friendship and nurture community in Waterloo Region. In the beginning, the “Extend-A-Family” program matched supported families with other volunteer families in Waterloo Region. Over the years, EAFWR has added additional services to continue to meet the needs of individuals and families in our community.

I am very grateful to had been hired as the Summer Program On-Site Director! The On-Site Director helps to lead the implementation of a summer program for individuals age 13 and up, with a physical or developmental disability. Some of my responsibilities included: hiring, training, supervision, community outreach, administration, booking, evaluation, etc. In my role as the On-Site Director, I was a positive role model and exemplified the values that EAFWR represents in the community, while overseeing the development and implementation of an inclusive, person-centered summer program.

AKA, it’ was an AWESOME summer, and I hope to return next year 🙂

EAF