Pregnancy and temporary contracts

After having ranted on my German blog Vertretungsblog about the unfair and unlawful treatment of myself at my current school, I still feel like summing it up here.

I currently have a temporary contract my the primary school I’m working at. The initial contract was for the maternity leave of a colleague, and the extension of the contract was for the second part of maternity/parental leave she is taking. The first contract ends mid-January, and the extension was explicitly promise to me several times.

After telling my principal about my pregnancy though, the following happened:

  • I told him in confidence, but when I came into school to sign the papers for a medical examination (needed to continue employment where children are involved), a lot of my colleagues congratulated me. He broke the confidentiality agreement he is legally bound to.
  • While waiting for the results from my blood test, I called the principal to ask when I would be able to sign the new contract. He told me he wasn’t sure anymore, considering my pregnancy. He broke he law, using pregnancy as a reason not to employ me. 
  • When I returned to school this week, a lot of students knew about the pregnancy. Someone, without my consent, spoke to students about my pregnancy.
  • When telling my principal that I had decided not to stay, for various reasons, including a new position elsewhere, he told me he was glad, because he didn’t have to feel guilty. He, and I quote, stated that he didn’t want a third pregnant woman on the team and that it would be hard to find a replacement when I leave for maternity leave. See above.
  • He also stated that he wished he would have kept me on for a week though, as the school is scheduled for inspection. Slap in the face!
  • Later that day I was told my some colleagues that my pregnancy and the principal’s decision was also discussed in a team meeting, that I was a) not invited to and b) not informed about. My pregnancy was discussed without me being present and without my consent. Privacy laws…..!!!!

Sad, frustrated and disappointed. Shocked. But also looking forward to my new challenges. I am not sure how to proceed with this, but I think everyone should know what kind of thinking is going on in the heads of some people these days!

Creative educators!

We always talk about creativity in regards to the learners in our schools. But what about educators? Of course most educators are creative in many ways, but what about fostering and nurturing that creativity? 

And what happens to educators that find their creativity is not thriving in their current environment? I recently discussed this with some friends and this is what they said:

  • look for a new post/school
  • move into a more creative job
  • aim for change from within
  • start your own school/place of learning

And the latter, yes, that has been on my mind for so many years. And even more so since I moved back from international schools to the state system. 

Create your own…. that’s just such a wonderful thought. But where to start?

Where do we learn?

The classroom is traditionally the place where learning takes place. This is, of course, not true anymore. But where does learning take place in this days and age, for the children at my school, ….

  • at home?
  • outside?
  • everywhere?
  • worldwide?

The answer would have been easier for me when I was still a PYP teacher. And even as a class teacher in Germany this wouldn’t have bothered me so much. But I’m wondering where my students really think their learning takes place. I often hear them say something along these lines:

  • learning is stupid
  • i don’t want to learn
  • I hate school

Which is not what I want to hear. For them, learning means school, and school means many challenges. But what about their learning outside these four walls they call the classroom? What about the experiences that we don’t officially count as learning? Why don’t we make them more aware of this?

Learning is everywhere and can be anything: Something to take back to school and beyond next week!

 

Using a tablet in education

Teaching in the state system, I’m limited in what technology I can user with my students.

However, I’m planning on exchanging my planning book, note book and calendar with something else… I always thought that using my laptop would suffice, but I never started using it that way.

Now I’m planning on giving a tablet a try. I’m a flexible operating system user, using an Android phone,  a Mac laptop and a Linux desktop. What I’m really curious about is what other educators use in their classrooms.

I can see myself using the tablet for :

– lesson planning
– note taking
– taking photos as evidence
– calendar
– presentations etc

So, what do you use or would you use and why?

Diary of a teacher: Struggle in grade 7

Grade 7b is an extremely diverse class. In Maths, I have 13 students as the “basic course”. Of these 13, many seem to hate Maths. Nothing new there, I hear you say? To me it is… I want my students to feel like they CAN do Maths, do feel like they know what it’s for. But grade 7b is far from this.

After sick leave last week, I got back today to someone telling me, the kids are sick of fractions. But when I got to class, I quickly realized that this is not it. The kids were extremely overwhelmed by the most basic questions. So we backtracked…. and it seems like we have to go way back before we can catch up. 

This is where the trouble begins… the curriculum says they have already done this. Formally speaking, the 13 students in the basic course, who, according to last year’s teacher, were the ones who couldn’t do it and didn’t want to do it, have no time to catch up. 
No worries, we will. 

So what do I do with these Maths-hating, “I can’t do Maths”-saying, generally occupied with other things and problems teenagers? 

  • Make sure they have some positive experience… start off with something they can do or that is relatively “easy” (and at the same time use this period to set boundaries and rules, which is another thing the class struggles with).
  • Focus on the main aspects of fractions and decimals in order to get to what is meant to be done according to the curriculum
  • Make them explain and reflect instead of completing typical drill-based exercises
  • Allow time for us to get to know each other

As far as behaviour goes, that’s another story for another day. But we’ll get to this! I can already tell you that grade 7 will probably be my main opportunity for learning this year and as such, you will probably read more about them as we go along. Thanks for reading and please do post your comments, ideas and anything else!

Reflection on my state school experience, and the start of something new

My previous post was full of hope for many posts about my new school. But I was overwhelmed with the events at my school. Not necessarily in a bad way, but there was not a lot of freedom for me or my beliefs.

The primary school I was at was very traditional, and as I took over responsibility for English in grade 2, I was busy setting up a non-existent curriculum and trying to live with the fact that we were unrelated to anything else going on in the school. I guess it wasn’t a PYP school, and I was so used to having my own class and using a trans-disciplinary approach, that teaching in this way was rather unfulfilling and clashing with my own ideals.

During the time I was supporting class teachers, I was shocked by the amount of textbook and workbook work… the fact that first graders who were naturally so curious and excited, were quickly turned into “page-turners”, kids who wanted to be done with the phonics workbook first, or who didn’t want to be bothered at all.

I am not trying to blame anyone. I guess I could have stuck around to try and change things. But when the end of the school year approached, I was still not sure if my contract was to be extended. And so I looked for a place better suited for my educational philosophy.

In German state systems, there are primary and secondary schools, but also special (needs) education schools. The special ed schools are divided into the following categories:

  • social and emotional development
  • learning disabilities
  • hearing
  • seeing
  • language/linguistic development
  • physical disabilities
The core difference is, that class sizes are much smaller and that students are not taught to a strict curriculum, but an individual approach. Just as special ed is everywhere in this world, I assume.
When I started applying for openings, I decided to give it a go. And now I am finding myself a few hours away from my first proper school conference at a special ed school for learning disabilities.
I will be mainly placed in grade 5/6 (mixed grade) with another teacher, and taking on the main responsibility in that class for Maths and English. I will also be teaching English in grades 7, 8 and 10.
Needless to say, I’m nervous and excited. But I hope to settle in soon, to be able to stick to my belief that inquiry-based learning is the way forward and to find out how this will work in this particular school.

Education and Technology?

This morning I woke up and thought: Why do people make such a big deal about technology?
I ask myself that, because it is so much part of my life, it is “natural” to me.

Shouldn’t we just accept technology into our classrooms just like we accept books, maths manipulatives, and playdough in kindergarten?

Why is it that schools do not reflect “real life” anymore? How come schools lack so far behind? Is it really the teachers who do not use technology? I doubt it!

Just some thoughts this morning, but I will make it my mission to “naturally” deal with technology this year, to authentically integrate what I integrate into my everyday life anyway. And to help anyone who wants to do so as well! Yes!

Happy Saturday!