Friday, November 21, 2014

Reflection of My Own

I finished my first practicum last Friday. I've had to write a couple reflection essays for my classes, but I wanted to write my own reflection here.

The practicum was 6 weeks in a high school, with a full-time teacher (associate teacher, or AT) and their classes. Unfortunately, I had a bit of a rocky start. I was given one placements, but I receive word a couple days later (the Thursday before I was supposed to start) that it needed to be changed. I received my second placement the Friday afternoon before I was supposed to start. Luckily, my AT checked their email and we were able to get in touch before I showed up Monday morning.

My AT was teaching one grade 9 academic science class and two grade 11 university level biology classes. My initial reaction was YAY for the first...WTH? for the second! The last time I took biology was in grade 10! Needless to say, I was worried, but I wasn't about to complain (some other students didn't receive their placements until the Wednesday/Thursday of the first week)!

My worries were for naught, because as soon as the teachers found out my astronomy background, they jumped on the chance for me to teacher the grade 9 space unit. So, I ended up developing and teaching an entire unit - start to finish- for two grade 9 classes with two different teachers!

It was an awesome experience! There was SO much about it that I loved...almost like this is what I was supposed to do, and I felt like I was "at home". The staff were amazing, and I felt like I made great connections with the students. Like I found my calling!!

Working with two different teachers was a great and unique experience, especially since their teaching styles were on opposite sides of the spectrum! This pushed me out of my comfort zone in both directions, and I'm really thankful for that. It was also tough though, because sometimes I felt I was teaching more to the teaching style of each teacher, and not developing my own. But, that's really part of the process, and I think it made me a stronger teacher.

There were definitely some ups and downs, especially in the last few days when I needed to deal with some unexpected behaviours and issues on assignments (like plagiarism). I found that I am definitely a hard-a$$ when it comes to such things - probably a little too much. I blame to many years in the"academy" :)

It was a very self-reflective experience...kind of like becoming a parent. You can talk all day long about what you THINK you would do in theory, but it's a whole different ball game when you're in the field. By the end, I started to think about what my teaching philosophy really is, and it will probably keep evolving for as long as I'm in this profession.

Being a student again  is tough, but it's nice to have some context for all the information we're learning (and honestly, it's a lot easier and a lot less stressful). I'm excited to taken on an independent research project next semester, and to take tidbits here and there that will help me in my second practicum and beyond.

All I know for sure right now is I made the right decision to get my BEd!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Evan the Photograher

Since Evan was a super young baby, he's always been interested in the cameras. Once he started to have the motor skills to hold it and press a button at the same time, he's been taking pictures. Here's his first few at 17 months old:

 Fig. 1: First portrait attempt.

 Fig. 2: first still life.

Fig. 3: First self-portrait. I interpret the use of motion in this piece to mean he sees himself as energetic and exciting.

Every time I have the camera out, he wants to use it, and will take pictures of whatever strikes his fancy. So far he's only used the point-and-shoot, but he really wants to use my digital SLR (so far I haven't trusted him enough with it, but maybe I should).

Here are some more samples:

 Fig. 4: First non-human life photo (2yrs 3 mths)

Fig. 5: Portraits getting a bit better (2.5yrs) 

Fig. 6: Getting a bit more artsy with the framing (3yrs) 

Fig. 7: Getting more action in the shot (4 yrs). 

 Fig. 8: I think the meaning of this photo is too deep for me to comprehend (4 yrs).

Fig. 9: I like the dept in this one (4yrs).

...maybe we have a budding photographer on our hands ;)

Monday, November 10, 2014

It's Taken a Year

It's been just over a year since I had a bleed in my brain and required emergency brain surgery.

One of the biggest deficits I have been dealing with right from the beginning is extreme fatigue. When I was in the hospital for the first month, I needed to sleep 10-12 hours at night, and took 1-2 long naps during the day.

When I went home a month after my stroke happened, it was a struggle for me to get the sleep I needed and to get anything else done. I literally had to choose between having a shower and sleeping. It was frustrating! I just wanted to be normal.

As the weeks and months went on, I required slightly less sleep, but it did not change quickly.

Six months after the stroke, I still needed 9-10 hours at night and 1 nap during the day to function properly. At that point, I started having both kids at home a few days a week, and it was exhausting. I would go to bed at 8:30pm every night.

Once I started school in September, it forced me to cut my naps out. It took me a couple weeks, but I realized I didn't actually need them anymore.

Just this past week, I was waking up at 5am EVERY morning and it was driving me nuts that I couldn't get back to sleep. After thinking about it, I came to the conclusion that it actually wasn't a problem. It was that I was trying to get TOO MUCH sleep. Going to bed at 9pm each night, and trying to sleep until 6:30 or 7am...that's more than 9 hours.

I was so used to needing so much sleep for so long, it was hard to understand that it was changing. Now my sleeping needs have normalized and getting 8ish hours at night is perfect. It only took a year.

One big thing I've learned through this process is that sleep is one of the most important things for recovering from brain damage/injury.

Friday, November 7, 2014

A Leap Month

Since Carter turned 1 year, he's made quite a few "leaps"...just like The Wonder Weeks book predicted.

He's learned so many new things:
- He figured out how to go down the stairs by himself
- He waves goodbye
- He can understand and carry out simple commands ("Can you get me that duck?")
- He LOVES books and will place them in our hands over and over until we read them.
- He can use a spoon to feed himself.
- He has said words like "Daddy, Mommy, and Soo-soo (what we call soothers)" in the proper context (but he hasn't done this consistently enough for us to call one his "first word". That's the problem with having scientists as parents -- we require far more data points than N=1).
- He is walking very easily with something to push (walking toy, chair, box, laundry hamper, anything).
- He has taken steps independently (but, we're not claiming "walking" yet).

The first month of his second year has been a big one for him. Now if he'd only let his brain rest enough to sleep well at night! It's a good thing he's cute --- evolution sure is smart that way.

This has nothing to do with this post, really, but it's just too cute to not share.