Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Taking Stock

It's hard to believe that high school exams are just around the corner. They start next week. After that, the remaining 2 weeks of the school year will be spent teaching CTS courses (Career and Technology Studies). These are little one credit courses from the Alberta curriculum system we use here that are needed for a student to graduate. I plan to offer some trumpet lessons in the morning and do a module on contract law in the afternoon. Its hard to believe things are finishing up.

Looking back, my first year of teaching seemed to last a million years. In contrast, the past 2-3 years seemed to have just flown by. Must be a sign of getting older. I know this statement would seem ridiculous to most, coming from a 32-year-old "young 'un". Here in Nunavut, the median age is only 19 so it makes me feel a bit older in comparison. At any rate I now no longer poke fun at my parents for having hit the big 5-0. But I'm not complaining in any way. Today was a good day.

Soccer practice was pretty small which gave me an opportunity to scrimmage with the kids. I'm not exactly a fast runner, so I delegated myself to goalie so that I could observe and provide direction/encouragement as they played. Man, those kids have a pretty hard shot. I'm nursing some sore fingers at the moment. Nothing major that won't be gone by morning. At least my knees held up okay.

Anyhow, where was I headed with this long ramble? This is usually the time of year that I take a look back at things and take stock of what worked this year and also what didn't. On the positive side, I continue to have a good rapport with students which is half the battle right there. I didn't have too many big dust-ups with students, always a good thing. One young fellow I had big problems with at the start of the year has turned out to be quite the asset to my soccer practices. He came by my unit after one particularly rough day in the classroom and we had a great little chat. It's amazing what kids will tell you when you take time to listen to them. Giving a kid an out or a chance to explain their side is one of the most important things I've learned since I began teaching. In my first year of teaching I was pretty quick to adapt an "I'm right, you're wrong attitude" which looking back really didn't accomplish anything other than frustrate both myself and the student.

The other big positive this year is that my level of spoken Inuktitut continues to improve. Finding opportunities to use it can be frustrating when work keeps me busy. But I find it useful to learn the language. I live here so it just makes sense. I've found that I can relate to students' frustrations with expressing themselves in English. The big positive for the year of course was the soccer team's success at Regionals. Topping that next year will be quite the challenge indeed.

Most of my frustrations this year have come from bureaucracy. I can't really comment as freely as I'd like to at times about this but suffice it to say I just wish that people that are supposed to do certain jobs would do them. Fax machines and e-mail are cute toys but speaking to a real person from time to time would be nice. I really wish information was passed along in a more timely fashion but given the size and distances involved up here, I try not to let the glacial slowness of things get to me. Two of my courses are due to be replaced with two new courses starting this fall but I've heard precious little about resources, implementation etc. The only reason I know about the changes is that I snooped around the Alberta Education website and came across the new curriculum docs. Other than that, I feel like a mushroom.

The only other real disappointment was that I was not able to keep the Student Council afloat. It more or less folded a couple months into the school year due mostly to general disinterest. Next year will have its challenges too with the big staff turnover we are expecting to have. In the past I've joined a staff as part of a big turnover and left a staff as part of a big turnover so now I will remain on a staff as part of a big turnover. Full circle I suppose. A little change can be a good thing though so I'm committed to looking at this from a positive point of view.

Time to take a look back, make plans, adjust, adapt and soldier on.