Saturday 9 October 2021

Teaching at Minus Fifty - Part Four

Teaching at Minus Fifty - Part Four

Sorry for the delay in the updates - been as busy as a one armed paper hanger.

School officially got underway this week, with first classes on the 7th. As mentioned earlier we had our share for fresh water problems getting in the way and that really slowed things down. No harm, no foul: it was good to have time to plan and get further acclimatized to the world of Salluit and Inkusik Secondary School.

Teaching in the North has been nothing but challenging, in the sense that you can pretty much throw out everything you have experienced before and make some major adjustments. Bloom is replaced by Maslow and then some. You have to completely rethink how you teach and pay a lot more attention to the day-to-day lives of your students. It is not like you didn’t think about their well being before; it is just that these youngsters need so much more. Assessment is not a day-to-day activity: getting outside is. No more “stand and deliver” lectures and demonstrations: more “how are you?” and “what can I do to help?” are the quizzes of the day.

I’d be lying if I said it has been easy. It has been hard and I have come home many days filled with self doubt and questioning what I can do with these kids. The reality is that these kids have become my teachers and I their student. There is so much more they can bring to the table than I can. Again, if it is not like I haven’t listened in the past, but the planning is a lot more fluid here, not so structured and demanding. I came home Friday smiling, not so glum, with this realisation: as a lifelong learner this is the opportunity of a lifetime. I wouldn’t say it is quite the Socratic Method but it does have that feel. Trust and care building will take a while, but it will happen. As for meeting the curriculum goals, well, that’s another story for another time. =)

The previous bits and pieces were all about the grade seven’s I work with my colleague Amélie. The art classes are a different story. It appears they’ve never had formal training like this before, with an emphasis on the stories they have to tell via the skills Amélie and I will help them acquire. The classes have been a different sort of challenge, but with a lot of really interesting conversations and discussions.

We’ve had our first frosty mornings, no snow, but chilly enough to remind you that there is a reason why you cover up your head and ears on the daily trek to and from school. And did I mention I get to come home at lunch? That is a remarkable treat - I love coming home to hugs and kisses at noon - nothing quite like it. Thy and The Hunter seem to be adjusting well; I worry a lot about their adjustments to this new life, but like all things, time will help. Hunter had her first cold - 24 hour, welcome to North American virus type fever/cold; quickly abated. Mind you it happened the same time as our first social/get together at the school and when Mommy and Daddy got their second vaccination. Call it a bit of lost long weekend… things happen, right?

So, the adventure continues and so do we. Hope you all are well and healthy; all blessings to you and yours - more as it develops.

PS Our container ship is now 15 days out of Vancouver, having finally left Shanghai/Yantian; I look for it every night at sunset.

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Teaching at Minus Fifty - Part Seventeen

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