My Teaching Journey
I have been sharing lots of tips and strategies for getting started with back to school lately. I think it is time to shift gears. This week I am going to share a bit about my teaching journey, what I've been doing lately, and how I have stayed motivated throughout the pandemic.
I have wanted to be a teacher since I was five years old. I still remember teaching my stuffies, my pets, my siblings, and even the neighborhood kids. We would set up "school" in my basement and we would practice doing some of the things I was learning at school.
I find this very interesting now as I look back because I was very shy when I was young. I remember finding it difficult to join in during activities and I was often found playing alone in the dollhouse during free time at kindergarten. I gradually began to make friends and participate more readily and as I grew older, I was able to widen my group of friends and join different groups. In high school I joined the future teachers club and started tutoring young children.
When I first started teaching, communicating with parents was the most difficult thing for me. I had no problem being animated and teaching the kids, but speaking to adults still scared me. I had to learn to do this and become more comfortable with adults if I was to be able to effectively communicate during conferences and other interactions. It took work, but I learned to do so.
I am now retired and I am able to strike up conversations with others, even people I don't know. My grandkids often say that whenever they go anywhere with me we meet someone I know. My daughter even asks me if I know a person after she sees me talking to someone. They find it hard to believe that I was shy and afraid to talk to adults because they see me interacting easily now. It goes to show that you can learn to do things that are uncomfortable when necessary.
I would venture to guess that there are many other teachers who can identify with this. You can be an introvert and still be a good teacher. You are there to make a difference for the kids, and if you feel strongly about this, you will work through the uncomfortable things to make it happen.
From music to primary classroom
I began my teaching career teaching elementary music. My husband was an elementary music teacher, so it was a common interest for us. (We still teach several ukulele groups.) I ended up teaching French Immersion music at 2 schools. I continued with this for a few years, and finally had the opportunity to teach part time in a primary classroom teaching grade 1/2 and part time French Immersion music at one school.
Although I enjoyed teaching the music, I loved teaching primary and finally moved full time into a grade 2/3 classroom. I continued to teach a noon hour ukulele group as well.
Projects For Kids
Throughout the years, I became passionate about finding ways for my students to share their learning in different ways. Projects became a regular part of my instruction. We would have at least one big project, if not two, to share with the school and families each year. It was amazing to see how the kids thrived with this approach. You can find out more about some of these projects here.
Small group instruction and reading centers
I also became fairly adept at creating and running centers for guided reading and math. I enjoyed being able to provide a wide variety of activities for the kids and I learned early in my career that it was important to work with small groups and differentiate because there was such a wide range of needs in the classroom and whole group instruction wasn't reaching everyone. When I had parent helpers, or educational assistants available, that was bonus, but often there was a shortage of extra help and I had to figure out how to still make it happen. You can find out some of the tips for doing this here.
Student led conferences
Student led conferences were a new thing back in the nineties. Not many teachers were willing to give them a try. I decided to do so, and I didn't look back. I found them empowering for the kids, and the parents seemed to find them beneficial. It was so good to see the positive interaction between the kids and their parents. If you want to learn more about student led conferences, check them out here.
Fast forward many years, and I am now retired. I was tired of the politics, but I still loved teaching, so I began volunteering at the school. I did reading and math groups until the pandemic hit and volunteers were no longer allowed into the school. I had also been tutoring in math, reading, and French. When they stopped allowing others into our homes, this had to stop as well. This was really tough for me because I wasn't ready to stop teaching. I needed to find a way to keep going.
Luckily, I was able to stay connected to a couple of the teachers in the school and provide them with help and resources. This motivated me to continue sharing tips and strategies. I started to create resources to complement these strategies and I continued to communicate with my friends. I also took some courses that helped with my product creation and blogging.
Final words and a tip
Now that some of the restrictions have been lifted, I am hoping to be able to return to my volunteering in the fall. I miss being with the kids and seeing them light up when they understand something.
Well, there you have it. A brief history of my teaching journey and where I am now. Next time I will continue to share more tips and ideas with you. I wish you well as you continue to venture into a new year with a new normal. Before you go, here is a final tip.
Remember to take what you learned throughout the pandemic and use it to enhance your future teaching. Don't dwell on what didn't work, focus on what good came out of it. If you look closely, you will find some positive things.
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About Me Charlene Sequeira
I am a wife, mother of 4, grandmother of 9, and a retired primary and music teacher. I love working with kids and continue to volunteer at school and teach ukulele.