Moments That Matter: My Year in Review

Wow….my last blog post for the 2010/2011 school year.  The year has gone by and I’ve grown so much!  As I look back and reflect there are so many amazing things the contributed to my growth as a teacher and many moments I will never forget.

Best PD Discovery?

Twitter!  I met so many educators I never would have known otherwise.  I tune in almost every Monday to #sschat and I’ve even been asked to moderate a special All Canada edition.  What an honour!  Twitter is like being able to pick and choose any PD you want and attending whenever you like.  Picture a whole year’s worth of conferences and you didn’t even have to leave your school/home.

Best Change to My Teaching Practice?

The elimination of rubrics in favor of criteria lists.  This is based around the TC2 model of critical thinking and I believe this was a huge gap I had been overlooking for so long.  I hated rubrics although I didn’t want to admit it.  The wording, the categories, the limitations….yuck!  Now we go through checklists and the kids tell me if they have the requirements and how well they think they accomplished them.  Works way better!

Favorite Actual Conference That I Physically Attended?

The Middle Years Conference in Edmonton, Alberta.  This had less to do with the actual conference itself and more to do with the fact that my entire middle school team was there.  We bonded, we went to sessions, I met several people I knew from twitter for the first time.  I brought home with me a sense that I am moving in the right direction as a teacher, and a strong sense that I need to change the way I teach Math…..more on that later.

Favorite Project?

This had to be the amazing drink contest.  It was supposed to be about how advertising and propaganda works but it turned into so much more.  They had so much fun simply inventing their drinks (trial and error mostly) and in their need to know how many supplies to buy to make enough drinks they learned more about ratios and proportion then when I actually taught that unit in Math earlier this year.  They were self driven and so engaged that one afternoon I was ten minutes late getting back to class (due to a  parent meeting that ran long over the lunch hour) and I came back to find they had started without me!

Biggest Personal Learning

My favorite thing at the end of the year is to give my Grade 8’s the “Ultimate Quiz”.  It’s actually a quiz all about me and my life to see if they actually paid attention to the things I told them about myself throughout the year.  It’s ridiculously long but they have fun making up answers to questions they don’t know and we all have a good laugh over their more creative answers.  (Did you know I’m only 24 and went to Harvard where I minored in brain surgery but only after I won a Nobel Prize for my work on Time Machines?)

One of the questions I ask, however, is what their favorite memory is from Grade 8.  And in addition to reading their answers….two days later I listened to the Grade 12’s go through their favorite memories from school as well.  Not one kid mentions the tests they wrote, the projects they did, or the homework they may or may not have finished.  They are always crazy things that involve their teachers and their friends in the moments outside the classroom, or perhaps the funny things that happened in the classroom but had nothing to do with class.

It’s the relationships we build with kids that they remember in the end.  Everything we do in a day?  All the curriculum we teach?  All the lessons we pour our blood, sweat, and tears into?  Not that it’s not all important, but in the end it’s not what the kids remember.  It’s us.  As human beings, not as teachers and students.

My Quest For 2011/2012

I have three goals:

1.  To eliminate testing as much as possible in my classroom (and to stay strong in the battles that will come with that.)

2.  To expand my use of social media in my classroom to connect my students to their entire world, not just their small town.

3.  To get more connected with other Canadian educators and specifically, those that live in my province.  Get ready Twitter, I’m coming at you full force in Fall 2011.

And I’m sure I have many other goals I will seek to obtain as well.  I’m a bit of an over achiever – just ask my husband.

So here’s to all of you who survived another year and are looking forward to your summer break.  I will see you in the fall where we begin the journey of yet another year.  Take care, unwind, de-stress, and most importantly…come back 🙂

















About Cherra-Lynne Olthof

I've been a middle school teacher for my entire career (which began in 2001). Like my students, I too am a life long learner. My goals include helping my students to achieve their goals, support them in their learning, and to encourage them to think "beyond the grade".
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One Response to Moments That Matter: My Year in Review

  1. Nathan says:

    Hi Cherra-Lynne,

    Thank you for sharing your reflections and experiences from the past school year. As a grade 8 teacher, I know the challenges of keeping them engaged, but from the sounds of it, you have that mastered!

    I agree that Twitter has become one of my most trusted tools for PD. I look forward to seeing you around the ‘Twitterspere’ in the months to come.


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