So we are six weeks into the school year and even though I’ve started at a new school in a new position, it feels like home.
Huron Heights is a wonderful place to work, but more importantly, to learn. One of the main characteristics that permeates through the school is the culture. It is obvious that respect and excellence are the core values as demonstrated daily by students and staff alike. I have three wonderful classes full of students who take pride in themselves and their learning. I have also been very pleased with how open most of the students have been to demonstrating their creativity and thinking outside the box even if it makes them uncomfortable. The fact that all three classes have been willing to take risks (especially in the media strand of the English curriculum) has made for a very enjoyable and rewarding past six weeks in the classroom.
Huron is also one of the pilot schools in the WRDSB for the Chromebook 1:1 project which means that all of our grade nines and tens have their own Chromebooks. I have two grade ten classes (one academic and one applied) each student has their own device which makes technology integration seamless. Also, in that almost all my students used their Chromebooks last year, they are unbelievably comfortable when it comes to working digitally. They use Google Drive very effectively to manage their files, almost all students work in multiple Google Classrooms, and use other various tools and apps easily to demonstrate their learning. I’ve really appreciated that when I ask students to complete a task in their own fashion, they have an idea of what works for them (Gdoc, Gdrawing, Gslides, Piktochart, etc.) and they take it upon themselves to choose what works best for them rather than me dictating how the learning is to happen. I also use a website for my daily lesson plans and have noticed that many students just leave it open in a tab and refresh the page on a daily basis. I love that they are being proactive about their learning and know how to find all of our resources.
Our school is also a MSIP (multi-subject instructional period) which means that our classes are only 60 minutes long. I know there is quite a lot of debate about this style of timetabling, but so far I love it. I think it’s great for the students to have that period to “travel” or visit a teacher for extra help or finish work from class. I have a lot of grade nines in my MSIP period, and they have gotten extra help from some of the senior students in the class which I think is so important to maintain the sense of community in the school. It forces the students to engage with others in the building that they might not come into contact with on a daily basis and is especially great for fostering connections and learning opportunities across the grades. Naturally this means that I have 60 minute periods for my classes. It is a great length of time for me, personally, as I am someone who can lose focus after an hour. I feel that the students also appreciate that length of time as there is much more variety to their day with this timetable which is especially important at the applied and college levels.
Finally, I’m really appreciating my new colleagues. I feel so welcomed and valued and that alone makes the transition smooth. Huron’s staff is full of energetic, enthusiastic, and passionate teachers who care deeply for their students.
I am (again) blessed.