This week I am focusing more on the nutrition aspect of my lifestyle. I have been a really conscious eater for a long time so I do try to eat healthy foods that fuel my body but I also LOVE junk food so my biggest challenge is trying to find a balance.
Since the new year, I have been trying to keep a food journal. I have been carrying a small notebook around with me and writing down everything that I eat in a day. For the most part, I have been successful. I think the benefit of food journaling is that I think a tiny bit more before I eat something “unhealthy” and I am able to see patterns in my routines. Writing down all my foods also helps me track if I am getting enough nutrients in my diet and making sure that I am adequately fueled for my day. The only downside is that I find it makes me feel guilty sometimes if I have a “cheat day”. I have found that if I take a break for a day of journaling when I have a cheat day then I don’t feel as bad. I also think it is healthy to take a break every now and then and not analyze everything so much. I like this habit and will continue to keep a food journal.
I have never thought of myself as an emotional eater. This past month or so though I have begun to become more conscious of my eating habits and what I crave and when. It has been interesting to notice that I start to crave more high sugar and high salt foods when I am overtired or bored for example. I have also noticed that I have a tendency to reward myself with food. For example, if I have a really long day, I think of this as a reason that I deserve a pint of ice cream. This is obviously not ideal behaviour and I would like to become more aware of this so I can stop it. I also think that I overeat when I’m feeling sad or emotional.
I have been trying to find other ways to support my emotions without the use of food. I have been finding that going for a walk or a run is helpful as well as talking to a friend or my sister. Finding ways to reward myself without food is a bit trickier. I often reward myself with buying things like clothes or makeup and this is also not a fantastic habit. I feel like a reward of watching some TV or taking an expensive workout class or having a fancy cold-pressed juice is a better way to feel rewarded.
Overall I am loving this opportunity to become more attuned to my needs and my body and I feel really grateful that I am able to explore this.
This week we had the opportunity to visit the Pacific School for Innovation and Inquiry during class time. This is a high school in Victoria that is completely inquiry and innovation based. As inquiry is something that is discussed and encouraged loads throughout our classes, I found this experience to be very eye-opening.
This school is quite small and does not even looking like a typical school that I am used to seeing. There are 85 students who attend the school and 5 teachers. It was actually in a space that was an office building but they have managed to make it work quite well as a school.
We were welcomed into the school and given an introduction to the whole idea by the principal. He explained to us that this whole school was based on research and that the majority of the students were thriving in this school environment. The students mainly pose inquiry questions and then facilitate their own learning to solve and answer these questions, all while the teachers connect it back to the BC curriculum. Some of the projects that we were able to observe students working on were very interesting because they were not the types of projects that you would generally expect to see in a high school environment.
I had a lot of questions going into this school and feel like I came out with some answers and then some further questions. The principal and those who are very in favour of this school continued to say that this model would work for everyone. I am not 100% certain about that. I think that often times students need more structure and support than just being left to their devices. I didn’t really understand how the students would learn subjects like math and physics concepts through just straight inquiry, especially for things like calculus. I also wondered about accountability for the students in terms of checking in with teachers but it seemed like the school had a good system for organizing various teachers to check-in with various students. Something that I noted was that because it was such a small school, there were no sports teams. For myself, I consider playing sports to have been an integral part of my high school experience, but I recognize that this is often what comes with having a much smaller school. The principal did note that the students have fitness plans and are spending time working on their physical fitness at a local gym and sports center that is close to their school.
I really liked how each learner was viewed as an individual and therefore their day was catered to them. When I was in high school, I often felt as though I was just being pushed along through the process by teachers who didn’t really know me or care about me. I often felt like I was not given enough independence and that my teachers did not trust me, as I was a teenager. I noticed at PSII that there is loads of autonomy given to students and they are ultimately responsible for their own education. I found myself wishing that I was also given these opportunities while I was still in public school.
I still am unsure if this exact model would work in a primary elementary school type of classroom. I could just be being naive or just processing what I have been fed through my traditional public education, but I really don’t know if 7-year-old students would genuinely learn all the things in the curriculum if they were just left to their own devices throughout the day. With subjects such as reading and writing, I see how this could be practised through inquiry but at some point, I feel like the students may require some direct instruction.
Overall, I feel like my mind was opened up to a whole new way of teaching and I am interested to visit an inquiry-based elementary school classroom in the near future to further understand how this can be put in place with younger children.
For our tech. inquiry project, the three of us (Olivia, Maeve, Julia) decided to learn about graphic design. Throughout our daily lives, we are constantly exposed to graphic design through digital and social media and in our everyday tasks. As young professionals starting out in the education world, being proficient in graphic design will be an asset to our classrooms and school communities.
As a starting point, none of really know much of anything about graphic design. We are aware that it is generally a combination of words and images that make up some sort of advertisement or logo, etc. We are not certain about how to do graphic design. We recognize that there are several outlets that we can use to create our own graphics but we are unaware of the differences between the outlets and which one is best suited to our needs.
To begin, we watched several videos about graphic design (like the one below) on Youtube. From there, we were able to learn several of the fundamental ideas about graphic design such as line, shape, and balance.
Our goals moving forward are individually different, but as a whole, we would like to further our knowledge and attempt some graphic designing. So far, one of us has used Adobe Spark (which was free and easy to find) to create very small graphics. The website took some time to sort out and we are still learning what we can actually do with the site. We would like to explore the graphic design world a bit more and explore what kinds of things we would like to learn. We are in a state right now of almost not even knowing what we don’t know so we would like to delve further into this concept that is relatively new to us.
We’d like to experiment with different websites to try graphic design and hopefully, find ones that either doesn’t cost anything or that we can begin with a free trial. Once we become more adept, we will decide on our favourites and how they compare to others.
Both Twitter and Trello were completely new to me. I have been on Twitter to look at hashtags or keep up with trends that are happening (gotta stay hip, right?) but I haven’t had my own account or gone very far into it.
At first, I was definitely apprehensive about creating a Twitter. I just felt like it would be one more social media that I didn’t really need, one more stream of annoying emails in my account, one more password to remember, etc. I did not realize the potential for learning and networking through this social media. After being introduced to the idea in class, I decided to make an account. The process was super easy to create an account, all I needed to provide was a user name (@_teacherolivia) and provide my email and create a password. I have followed the hashtag #edci336 to keep up with this class and I have also followed several educators in BC. Each day that I am on Twitter, I continue to see the benefits that come from this network and the ways in which it connects educators.
To be perfectly honest, I had never heard of Trello and even after a brief introduction in class, still had zero idea what it was. It wasn’t until my one-on-one meeting with Valerie that I realized what it was. I am still very new to the concept but so far I think it is a way to organize projects and to create to-do lists. I am such a list person. I carry around a planner with me everywhere as well as a notebook and a food journal because I feel the need to constantly have lists to keep myself organized. So far I like that I am able to create new lists on Trello and that I am able to move things over once I have completed the task. I also like that my prof is able to share information with me that pertains to exactly what I am looking for. I’m excited to see what else I discover about Trello!
In our class today we had the opportunity to video conference with principal Ian Landy from Powell River. The experience for me was completely new to me as I have only ever done Skype or Facetime calls one on one. Having lived abroad for a year, I definitely have already experienced the benefits of video calls. Prior to moving to France, I was doing interviews for my job via Skype. Once I arrived in France I would regularly Facetime my family in Canada and now that I’m back in Canada, I regularly Facetime my family in France.
I was apprehensive at first about the capabilities of video conferencing in such a large group with 31 students and 2 professors in the group. We used Blue Jeans for our video conference. The technology worked very well though and we were able to learn so much from Mr Landy. He was even able to show us tons of resources on his computer while also talking us through them. I was also super impressed that he was able to hear individual questions that were being asked and that the computer could focus in on whoever was asking the question. One of the students in our class mentioned that she had actually taken classes like this in high school as they didn’t have enough teachers in her rural community, which is super neat.
I think this can be a really valuable resource to teachers in classrooms. One of my goals, when I am teaching, is to have class “pen-pals” with another class either in Quebec or in France. The purpose of this would be for my students to practice their written French and for them to think about another community somewhere outside of their own. It would be fantastic if at some point (with the correct consent forms signed by guardians) to be able to video conference with our pen pals. Overall I was really impressed with this technology and hope to be able to use it again soon.
The information that Ian Landy passed onto was so interesting. I found what he had to say about ePortfolios super informative. I had heard about ePortfolios a few times throughout my degree so far but not to this extent. Prior to his lecture, they had seemed like a ton of work and very difficult to manoeuvre but Ian had a way of breaking it down and showing us what it would look like that made it seem so manageable. I really resonated with what he had to say about abolishing report cards and tests and formal grading. As a student who consistently had Bs throughout middle school and high school (and 3s in elementary school), I really related to what he said about there being such a variance on what a B could look like. I have a sister who is designated as gifted and has consistently had straight As and 100% averages throughout her entire school career and I have never been able to stop comparing myself. I resonated with what Ian said about removing the comparison with grades and percentages.
I also loved what he had to say about taking a sample of the student’s work in September and then continuing to take samples throughout the year to measure progress. This seems like a much more attainable and realistic way to measure progress in comparison to test scores. This way of assessment also removes the stress on teachers of having to complete 20+ report cards all at the end of the term, as ePortfolios are an ongoing form of assessment. Another benefit that Ian described is that ePortoflios are a different view of the child than solely that of what they can do on paper. In an ePortolio, videos and pictures can be added and students and teachers can collaborate on what goes into their portfolio.
I really hope (maybe even when I begin my career in 2-3 years) ePortfolios will be much more prevalent in all schools.
The results from my sugar detox last week were… inconclusive!!! I actually was doing super well for the first 5 days. I was upping my healthy fat intake, exercising, sleeping well, all was great. And then came Saturday night. I was at a friends house with some of my best friends and I ate something with some sugar in it, completely forgetting about the detox! When I realized afterwards, I felt defeated that I was unable to go an entire week and essentially gave up. I didn’t go on a crazy sugar binge though (I had thought I might after a week of deprivation). Overall, I think I would do this again and hopefully, succeed. However, this is not sustainable for me. I love a bit of dark chocolate every now and then, I love honey in my tea in the morning, I reach for granola bars when I am in a rush; all of these have added sugar. I think a more sustainable option for myself is rather than completely demonizing and avoiding sugar, I need to just be conscious of how much sugar is in certain foods and be mindful of when I am eating excessive amounts of sugar.
My fitness the past couple of week has been fantastic. As I have said in previous blog posts, I have always, always, always loved exercising. Because I work at a rec center as a lifeguard and swim instructor, I actually get a free gym pass so that is a HUGE bonus. I find it really easy to be able to go up to the gym and workout whenever I’m at work. I work six days per week so it’s easy to prioritize my fitness and arrive at work an hour before my shift to go to the gym. Prioritizing my fitness is extremely important for my overall well being, including my mental and physical health.
I tend to go through phases of different workouts at the gym. When I was swimming very competitively, my workouts were mainly working on my shoulders and injury prevention as well as building lean muscle to sustain me throughout my races. Once I quit swimming, I switched to lifting pretty heavy weights and building bigger muscles. The problem with this was that I actually got a pretty bulky figure which for myself, I did not like. After this, I started just doing cardio and abdominal workouts as I was trying to slim down and get a 6-pack, I also was heavily into hot yoga. (I’m actually embarrassed to say this because I was so uneducated on fitness back then.) When I lived in Paris, I had a gym membership and a personal trainer and I tried to work out 3-4 times per week. My routine there consisted of lots of Pilates and spin classes as well as standard cardio but not very much lifting. I also walked SO much in my everyday life in Paris just because of my job and living in the city. Over the summer and first semester of this school year, I was doing a bit of a mixture of lifting and cardio which works well for me but I wasn’t seeing major results.
Recently, I have been doing loads of circuit training. My current routine has me doing 3 circuits per week. I do a legs/ cardio circuit on Monday, an arms/ abs circuit on Tuesday, and a full body circuit on Friday. These are actually all Kayla Itsinesworkouts (she’s a super popular Australian trainer). As an example, the circuits look like this:
2 circuits, done twice each for 7 minutes. So a total of 28 minutes of workout
The weight on these exercises is almost all just body weight, so definitely a lot lighter than what I am used to. The number of plyometrics (jump lunges, jump squats, burpees, etc.) makes these SO hard. I try really hard to not take rests but these are so intense. I am usually dripping in sweat after finishing just the first round. I actually worked out with a good friend of mine, Bella, last week because we are both super into fitness and health. She got halfway through my arms and abs circuit and had to stop and do a different workout because it was too hard. The challenging part about these workouts is that they get harder each week for a total of twelve weeks of workouts.
On the days I am not doing circuits, I do cardio. My cardio is either LISS (low-intensity steady state) or HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training). Sometimes I’ll just go for a nice long walk with my dogs and count that as cardio or I’ll ride the stationary bike at the gym for 40 minutes. I also love doing sprints on the treadmill at the gym or at my house as HIIT. I will usually do one-minute of sprinting and then 30 seconds of standing on the rails. I only do HIIT for a maximum of 25 minutes at a time and I try to make sure that I cool down afterwards. I’m trying to only take one rest day per week and even on my rest day I’m trying to at least go for a walk or do some stretching.
My second job is as a mother’s helper where I work with the cutest baby girl and her mama to support them a couple times each week. Typically I’ll strap the baby into the carrier and go for a good 80-minute walk with her for some fresh air. These walks are super hard work! She currently is 6 months old and weighs about 20lbs. So walking while having a 20lb weight strapped to your front is not easy. I also try to treck up some hills near their house to get a bit more of a burn in my legs.
My last little bit of cardio that I am trying to incorporate is swimming. As I’ve mentioned, I work at a pool and I used to be a super competitive swimmer. When I quit swimming, I was in a really bad place mentally and wanted absolutely nothing to do with swimming. Some time has passed through and I am starting to see the light of swimming again. I will usually swim with some of my friends for about 45 minutes on Thursdays between my split shifts. I have an app called Swim Coach (find it here) that I just put in the distance I was to swim and maybe something I was to focus on and it spits out a workout for me. I find it was easier to stay motivated if I have a workout written out. The only downside to swimming is that I usually love listening to music or a podcast while I workout and I don’t have waterproof headphones (yet) to swim with.
I’m trying to prioritize stretching and taking care of my body so I don’t burn out or get an injury. As a cool down after all of my circuits, I’m doing a ton of stretching and walking to get back to my resting heart rate. I also have been stretching in the sauna at work. I have always valued my sleep and am trying to continue to keep that up with a regular sleep schedule.
Overall, I would say my physical fitness is going great right now and I am feeling fantastic.
I found that I really benefitted from the ed camp experience we had in class time today. Our group was focused on the topic of “Are we being too accommodating for students?” with the sub-question “Is discomfort always a negative thing?”. The conversations that spelt from this topic were very interesting given what we are currently learning in our program.
Our group was not in complete agreement on this topic. Some people find that yes, we are being too accommodating and that our students will not be ready for the “real world” when it comes time for them to leave the classroom. Others find that no, we need to continue to accommodate our students and catering to their own specific needs.
A point that was made that resonated with me was a discussion of whether or not comfort and accommodation are exclusive. I find that I tended to feel that if we are accommodating a student, we are making them comfortable. When in reality, we might just be making the experience not traumatic for the student or just a tiny bit easier for a student. This also stemmed the conversation that as teachers, we must know our students know when it is appropriate to push them, and when we need to let them decide how they are feeling and if they are ready for something. This is where scaffolding our students comes into play and when we must build them up to be able to independently succeed.
As a professional, it is imperative to be constantly learning. Especially as a teacher in a world that is constantly evolving and as we work with new and different students each year, we must be prepared to learn and adapt to our new students’ needs and abilities. We must be constantly learning about our students but also about the world that we are teaching these students to understand.