The image below was created by the kids, so there are a few spelling mistakes. But, as said by one of our amazing teachers, spelling, like life, isn't always perfect. But it can still be honest, heartfelt, and beautiful. So, with that, we hope you enjoy this beautiful piece written in combination by our students and our fantastic Ms. Tori. A wonderful way to start Spring! Thank you VVA!
“Can you name 10 things that make Via Vita unique, that you love and appreciate about your school?”
It’s a question I’m sure most of the kids have thought of from time to time but one that I was curious to see be put into words. As I stare at the wonderful 60 faces in front of me, eager to participate, I can not help but have a sense of immense pride. Pride in my kids, in my work team, and in the environment in which I have been honoured to become a part of.
As I stand at the front of the room in Buddies with my fellow teachers in tow, I am amazed at the level of critical thinking these kids bring to class every day. Without hesitation they create groups that involve all ages and designate a writer and “techy” who copies down the information and then prepares it for our Menti project. Menti (as the lovely Ms. Rhiannon taught me) is a brainstorming website that allows multiple people to add words to a central idea or question. The best part is the ideas that come forward more often are the ones that grow in size. It is reflective of that age old classroom question “so what’s our big picture, what is our major focus”, without standing at the front of the room in a lecture-style lesson. As we rotate around the room, it is clear that the kids mirror many of their fellow teachers’ style of classroom management. They prompt their friends for answers to our question, and are patient for the ideas to come out rather than move on to the next student. Some of our older students engage with focus activities or adapted questions to help our Pre-Kindergarten kids feel acknowledged and involved.
All in all the lesson goes according to plan, and as we come back together to share our answers with the Menti Cloud projected on to the wall, I cannot help but feel that twinge of excitement to see what the kids really believe sets our school apart.
Their excitement grows with each word that is typed and submitted, and while they smile, laugh, and point I cannot help but feel that sense of pride again. It wells up in my throat as I observe the things that I know in my heart are important to their learning, but that you sometimes wonder if they are picking up on. Music, daily physical activity and kitchen are the first to be thrown up on the board, and it is amazing to see how they value the impact that daily life skills have on their growth. Values like kindness, buddies, and helping others are quickly added; compassion training that is close to all of our collective hearts. After school is added by another student and I feel Ms. Hilary grab my arm, and with a giant smile she goes, “Look, I’m up there!”
“Of course you are Hilary”, I think... we couldn’t do this without you.
As the word 'kind' builds it’s way up to the centre (being the most common word they think of), I stare at these beautiful future adults. If the one thing we could bring to them every day is how to be kind to each other, I know I would never have another moment where I question myself, “did I make an impact today?”
Buddies lesson for the day: never underestimate the value of kindness in a child’s education. It will truly inspire everyone around you. It is something I have seen every day since I joined Via Vita Academy, and I cannot express how thankful I am to work in an environment that values this quality.
And knowing that our kids believe it sets us apart too?
Well, there’s something kind of magical about that, isn’t there?
From the very appreciative,
Please welcome Ms. Tori Portman - another fantastic new teacher joining Via Vita this fall! We are eager to get the year started with this enthusiastic, kind, and talented team player. Enjoy getting to know Tori with her recent blog post as she prepares for her first year, of many, with us at VVA!
Hi everyone! My name is Tori Portman, and I’m one of the new teachers joining the Via Vita Academy family! In my many years of adulting, and trying to stay a life long learner, it has come to my attention to pass on my recently acquired knowledge:
We are all continuous works in progress.
Isn’t that amazing? How has it taken me so long to realize this and yet we teach our students constantly to persevere, and know that another day, another year, or another change is right around the corner? So I think if there is any advice I could not only pass on to my fellow students or staff, but to myself, it is that we all deserve a chance to take a breath when it comes to growth.
I have always struggled with not being “immediately” perfect at a skill, or lesson, which has run over into my teaching ability as well. Why didn’t that lesson go perfectly? Is it obviously my fault? Why couldn’t I get it on the first try? Realistically, when do we ever get something the first try? Those odd opportunities when we have already mastered a skill, or find out we’ve been lucky to figure it out right away, but these are unrealistic expectations to meet on a daily basis.
So for this year, I have reminded myself to breathe, reflect, and realizing I am still building up the teacher I hope to be one day.
And that’s ok! Really!
I tell my students constantly that one day does not define their abilities. So why should we put the pressure on ourselves as adults, as educators, as parents to think the same rule does not apply? We are constantly rearranging the building blocks of our life and I hope take time for myself to do the same this year. This school seems to provide it’s staff and students exactly that space. Lesson didn’t go well? Try again tomorrow! Try it differently! Have someone there to tell you it’ll be ok and provide you with whatever support you need in that instance. What more could you look for when trying to find your “forever home” as an educator. Already from my few weeks of working at Via Vita, I can see the relationships and constant building up that staff and students focus on rather than breaking people down and reminding them of the faults they are usually self-aware of from the start. I can not contain my excitement at the success not only my students find, but that I hope to find within myself. Self-positivity is something I constantly preach in my teaching values, but not always something I practice actively. If I had primary goal for this year, it would be that. Someone remind me I said such coherent ideas when it’s December and I’m looking for somewhere to hibernate and de-frazzle my brain.
As a teacher I am ready to promote this theory. As a fellow learner with my students I am looking forward to practice building myself up every day.
Look out 2018-2019 school year, Tori Portman is coming atcha!
*insert power pose with ultimately clumsy results here*
A Work in Progress
Please welcome our youngest writers in the school! Ages 4 and 5, our Pre-K & K class, with the help of their teacher, Ms. Meghan, has written their first blog post! Hint: Our classes pick their own class names for the year. This year, the youngest and smallest decided to pick Pygmy Shrew as their class animal! Other classes are the Coyotes, Bobcats and Moose. Common language for Via Vita, but we realize the rest of the world has no idea what we're talking about! Enjoy the read, straight from the mouths of our youngest, and especially inquisitive, students!
One day the Pygmy Shrews went to school. We wake up at home and we get dressed in Via Vita Clothes. Then we eat breakfast so we don’t get hungry. We get in our car and go to Via Vita. We get our jacket and boots off, then get your lunch box and bring it into the gym. Then you play in the gym with toys and friends and with imagination. After a little while we clean up then go upstairs for Morning Meeting. We sit quietly with everyone in the school and put your hand up if you have to say something. We have a morning talk and we talk about suff that’s going on and what is happening. We then read the quote and its about hard stuff and its about anything, important things, so we can learn. Then we sing O’ Canada and start the day.
We read books, like Annie and Jack’s story, and we go on Epic! to read whatever we want. We can’t go on other peoples things, but we can watch other peoples books. We like books about kitties, big foot, and dogs, and sharks! We draw pictures about what we read and then we sit in a circle and tell about what we drew.
Before we leave the room we have to do our sight words. We wash our hands and we sit with any of our friends in the whole school, like the big kids. We play outside in the snow, hide and seek, sledding, and throwing snowballs at everyone but we don’t hurt them, we throw it at their legs.
We go inside and the big kids help us hang our coats and snow pants up and we line out boots up against the wall. With our teacher we do our weather, the things of the day like the calendar and numbers. Then we draw a picture and write of anything that we like!
In the kitchen, we get dishes out, we stir up the food to make it mixed all together. We can cut stuff too but we use these round things to cut, knifes are sharp, be careful! We put some stuff in the oven, or it goes in the heater on top. The food is yummy and tasty. It can be sour, yummy sometimes. We make cakes for birthdays for everyone, and sing with candles and it’s happy!
We learn about the world so we know what’s around and so when we go somewhere, we know stuff like how stuff is made.
Gym can be Taekwon-do where we kick and punch, but not at people. It can be outside at the playground to play. We do Yoga adventures. Sometimes it is with the big kids, and sometimes the big kids show us how to do stuff they can do. We like to play with them because they help us and they are fun.
The other teachers come and teach us, too! Ms. Adele does music and we sing, dance, play games like pretend, and we practice what we’re going to do for the next show. Ms. Yolanda does art like painting and colouring and cutting. Ms. Alicia does French and we say Bonjour, and Merci. We do french songs. She also does patterns and math.
At the end of the day we do Chores. Like clean the kitchen, sweeping the floors, vacuuming upstairs and downstairs, wipe the walls, clean the stairs, clean the sinks, flush the toilets, and wipe down tables. The yuckiest job is compost because its smelly and yucky. The best job is vacuuming, toilets, wiping the whiteboards. Those are easy peasy!
Then we go home, but sometimes we don’t want to. We want to stay at Via Vita. It’s fun!
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!