We are thrilled to share the inspiring words of this super teacher as our guest blogger this week! Retired now, but her passion and love for teaching continues to influence us all. Her support and advice, throughout the years, has deep roots in the foundation of this school, more than she'll probably ever know! This wonderful woman, Cherie Kennedy, is the mother of Via Vita's Co-Founder, Adele MacLean. She writes about Reading Aloud to Children, something we at Via Vita share a passion for, as well. Enjoy!
"Aww, please, Ms. K., don't stop reading now! Please, just turn the page, just read one more chapter!" Now, that was exactly what I had wanted to hear. All the effort I had put into reading and searching out wonderful books and creative prolific authors was well worth it.
As a retired teacher, I miss many things about teaching young people, but reading a delightfully funny, mysterious and surprising story to a group of students is most definitely at the top of my list. I really miss the privilege of witnessing their sense of wonder when they learn something new and surprising. Instilling a passion for reading through reading aloud was just one way to see this sense of wonder.
Keep in mind these were grade 6 students, the ones who are more interested in anything but what their teacher might be trying to impart. Some were already strong readers, some were just getting into reading and then others were not really seeing the benefits from reading, as yet. Reading a book aloud gave all of the children a chance to truly appreciate children's literature and authors.
Many believe that true reading occurs when we can "picture" the characters, the setting, and "feel" the emotions. While I read aloud, students would draw something they pictured and write about it. Later, as they shared what they had drawn, their sense of wonder and imagination was enriched by hearing what their peers had to say. As well, they spent some time predicting what might happen next in the story based on what they had learned about the characters and their situations. It certainly wasn't just the top readers who would share in these sessions, all were eager to share their ideas, opinions and make connections to other books, movies or events in the news.
During these 20 to 30 minutes of Read Aloud, a group of 30 students were totally focused and engaged. Of course, I soon realized that the best time to have this Read Aloud session was at the end of the school day. The last 30 minutes are often times we, as teachers and students begin thinking of other things, not school! Therefore, having students discuss our class book on the way out the door was a pretty cool thing for a teacher to hear.
Chosen for their characters, humour, mystery, and suspense., I give you my top 10, in order only because I had to list them somehow. These 10 are taken from a much bigger list in my head and experiences that are so wonderful to read aloud. Bonus if authors were Canadian!
Written by Cherie Kennedy
We were teachers first.
We spent oodles of time prepping activities, building learning centres, labeling book bins, and planning out each lesson goal.
We wouldn’t leave until every little detail was perfect and then we’d enjoy a quiet night reflecting on moments spent teaching.
And then we had kids of our own.
Well, we still spend copious amount of time prepping and primping each little detail for our students. We still wake up in the middle of the night with ideas for lesson plans and reflections on the day’s events with our students. But we come home now to spaghetti noodles on the floor, bums to be changed, screaming spats to settle, bedtime stories to be read, and umpteem amount of parenting philosophies to practice, preach, or give in to.
Time may be spent reflecting on those years before, as well, but we wouldn’t change the way things are now for second. The trials of parenting, be as tough as they are, have, in many ways, made us better teachers. We’re grateful for every nose to wipe and boo boo to mend – every ounce of effort is worth it. It's brought a sense of real life and perspective to the job.
We tip our hats, or perhaps raise a glass (of coffee), to the parents we share this pride with!
Top 15 Things We Have Learned As Mothers That Have Made Us Better Teachers
1. Silence is good, it’s sooooo good, until it goes bad. Cherish every moment, for you never know what’s lurking around the corner.
2. Controlled chaos is most definitely a real, and quite productive, thing. A way of life, really. And that's okay. Learning can be at its best when things are loud and messy.
3. Trusting your gut ‘spidey sense’ is a gift. Use it. Always trust your instinct and know your children. Stay in tune, keeping one eye on everything. Sooner or later you'll have them convinced you have super powers because you can always bring out the truth. Once you build that trust, they'll never doubt you.
4. Fresh air makes a world of difference. Start over. Take a breather. Step back. Know when to switch things up. Get outside. Let the sun soothe you. Move around. Play. It’s good for all of us, at various points throughout the day, to just get outside and see things from a different perspective.
5. Technology does not teach social skills. It may work wonders at keeping them quiet while you get something done (like check your email), or that new app is brilliant at engaging them in math, spelling, reading, writing….. but technology doesn’t get sad. It doesn’t feel angry. It doesn’t smile, laugh or give a hug. It doesn’t look you in the eye or reach out for a hand shake. Remember part of growing up involves learning how to work with and be around others, to trust and support each other, and to respect and know ourselves. Sometimes living and learning is simply done by being human, and being around other humans!.
6. Always be prepared. Actually, this may have been a lesson from girl guides, but it has never rung truer to our ears until we were parents and teachers. Always pack snacks, activity ideas that require no materials, and have a plan in your head. Things happen and they always turn to you to figure out what to do next.
7. Mistakes make us stronger. If you don’t try, you’ll never know. If you get it right every time, you’ll never know what happens when you get it wrong. It you always win, you’ll never understand what it feels like to lose. Mistakes help us learn how to do better the next time, they help us take ownership of lessons learned and grow!
8. Pick your battles. Know how hard you can push. Sometimes, it’s better to leave it. Try again another day, or don't revisit it at all. Read the situation and know your children.
9. Sometimes (most times) you need to let them figure it out on their own, especially if you want them to apply it again someday. If someone always does it for them, they learn to think they are not capable of doing it on their own. However it may make you cringe, resist the urge to take over, hold back! We know it's hard! Let them make this their moment.
10. Crying and Boo Boos are part of the process. For everyone involved.
11. You get what you get and you don’t get upset, spoken from the mouths of preschoolers, this life lesson can be applied to it all. Be grateful for the experience, it goes by fast.
12. Keep it simple. They don't need, nor often really want, you to over do it. Most of the time they don't even realize or understand the amount of effort, time and money that goes into it anyway. They measure in love, care, and whether you're there with them. We forget how little they really need to be happy and healthy. Keep things simple and everyone will be better for it.
13. Don’t sweat the small stuff. There will be bigger battles ahead that need you.
14. You are their teacher. Not their best friend. Sometimes they’ll hate you because you told them how it really is, but they’ll thank you, later (much later).
15. Raising responsible independent individuals is hard. We all feel it. We're right there with you, in the classroom, and at home. We get it. But, we also know that it's all worth it, every ounce of effort. Keep it up.
Tell us - what would you add to the list? Or, which one resonates with you the most? To all the parents out there, this one's for you!
This post was written by the founders of Via Vita Academy, Adele & Meghan, both extremely proud Moms and Teachers to amazing kiddos To learn more about them, click here.
By the time anyone else reads this, I will have deleted and rewritten it 100 times.
I could talk your ear off about this, but ask me to write it down and I feel like I’m standing in front of the class without my homework completed.
I will sum it up the best I can. Here we go.
Olivia is our daughter and our only child. I’m not biased (well a little maybe) but I can say that she’s pretty wonderful – she’s smart and funny and can charm practically anyone, not saying that she doesn’t frost my hair for free, but for the most part an awesome kid.
She loves school and her friends. So, when we started noticing that she wasn’t loving school as much as she did, and we kept hearing the same story about the same kid doing and saying the same horrid things, we took notice.
I won’t get into the all the details but we knew it was time for a change. We wanted her to have an awesome education and an awesome experience in school, so we started talking to our friends and family about private schools – this made my father exceptionally happy as he wanted her in private school from day one.
I looked at a lot of schools – probably every one in Metro, in fact, and then I heard about Via Vita from a good friend. I started checking it out on their website. I loved what I saw – I saw what I wanted for my daughter. A school that celebrates individuals and brings each child’s talents into the classroom – awesome! Life skill education – right on! Arts and Physical education daily – bring it on baby! Wait….. what is this inquiry based themed learning thing they mention…..hold on….let me read that part again….oh okay….PERFECT! SIGN ME UP! The entire mission statement, philosophy and core values are what education should be – it’s what every child should be exposed to.
What we want for our daughter is the opportunity to thrive in her school environment and be challenged as she learns. We believe she will have this here. We believe she will gain confidence in this environment.
We are excited for this change but we are also nervous - are we making the right decision, are we pulling her away from her friends – is that going to cause problems, what if she has a hard time making new friends? Every parent probably has those concerns when making a change. We believe it is a change for the best and is what’s best for Olivia.
I think she is going to be just fine – in fact – she is already telling me that she is going to be a better cook than I am and can’t wait to use the stove!
Welcome to Our Blog
Each post is written by a supportive member of Via Vita Academy, be it a teacher, parent, student, community member, who is invested in the topic of education. Take a read and comment below!