Saturday, January 27, 2018

The Month Of January

The winter semester began in the dark.  It was the middle of dark season and 9am outside looked more like 9pm.  I would be teaching four classes again, a full course load, in teacher-speak.  The classes were also the same: Grades 10 & 11 Social Studies, Grade 10 English, and Grade 10 Guitar.  Add in extra curricular activities and being the school’s Professional Development Coordinator, this semester was going to be really busy for me.  I reminded myself to take frequent breaks to prevent burnout.
I’ll give you the very quick run-through of what I taught in all four of my classes because the content I teach is mostly same from the previous years.  (There are more than enough topics to select but not enough time in the semester to cover them all in detail).  The month of January was devoted to teaching European imperialism in Grade 11 Social Studies, and grammar, literary elements, and short stories to my Grade 10 English students.  My Grade 11 students studied globalization and my guitarists learned the basics of playing & handling guitars.  I also introduced them to music theory, notation, and playing as a group.
Several high school students signed up for afterschool recording.  If you recall the Hitmakerz Workshop from last September, Kelly Fraser & Thor donated a mobile music studio kit to the school.  There is a lot of musical talent in Arctic Bay and I was determined to give aspiring artists the opportunity to get their voices heard.  The afterschool recording took place in my classroom on Fridays.  Students who signed up could have an hour or two-hour sessions.  While the student(s) worked on their musical creations, I moved my work to the library.

The cadet marksmanship & biathlon teams have been busy improving their shooting & skiing skills over the weekends.  The biathlon competition is first, taking place in Whitehorse, in February.  The biathlon team goes cross-country skiing for about an hour out on the ice and then shoot the Daisy air rifles for another hour inside Inuujaq School’s gym.  I run the shooting range.  The cadets practice shooting prone & standing.                     

The weather in Arctic Bay in January is relatively cold, but not as extreme as it is in February.  Minus thirty-five degrees is a good day if the sun is out and there’s no wind.  If you’re properly dressed then the temperature is not that bad at all.  Making sure you’re getting your daily dose of Vitamin D during dark season is more important.  A lack of Vitamin D can lead to irritability and restless nights.  Driving a skidoo is fun as long as you’re fully buttoned up.  Otherwise, be prepared for frostbite and windburn.  I always completely cover my face when I drive my skidoo.  You don’t mess with the cold Arctic.

Near the end of the month, the students got two days off because the teachers were having a professional development workshop.  The Government of Nunavut was introducing new professional development & self-reflection evaluation standards and they wanted all teachers in the territory to be familiar with the new materials.  John & I were introduced to the new packages in Iqaluit last September and now it was the staff’s turn.

The workshop was taught by the school principal.  There was a PowerPoint presentation, plenty of handouts, and several group activities.  Of course, there were snacks & coffee breaks to give our minds a break.  It will take too long to fully explain the changes so I’ll just give you the Coles Notes version.  There’s a little more paperwork, most of the terminology from the old versions have remained, there will be more meetings with school administration, and the government really likes the colour green.  (The coloured version of the new handouts are all green).
At the end of the workshop, we were given feedback sheets to fill out.  The Department of Education wanted to know what we liked and what parts needed to be worked on.  We all hoped the department would read our comments & suggestions, as well as the comments & suggestions from all Nunavut teachers.      

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