Dear Teacher, You are amazing.

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Dear teacher,

You are incredible.

In the last few days your world has turned totally upside down. You went from ordinary school days of planning, teaching and interacting with students to reminding kids to wash their hands to finding out your school will be closed. You watched as students trickled out of your classrooms heading home to stay safe from a pandemic none of us could’ve imagined. You calmly continued to teach the students who remained in your classroom, while also working to prepare meaningful learning activities for your students to take home during the closure.  

You are thoughtful.

You have thought of so many things in the last few days to try to help students and families.  You’ve made arrangements to communicate with students and families.  You considered access to technology and internet and learning supplies to develop a home learning plan that will best support the learners in your classroom.  You’ve done your best to ensure students have access to food, devices, learning, love, support – whatever they might need. 

You are adaptable.

You’ve adjusted to working from home even if you don’t have a home office or a reliable internet connection.  You might be juggling teaching responsibilities with caring for children of your own at home who need your attention.  You’re embracing technology tools to stay in touch and provide support.  You’re hosting video calls to touch base with the kids who need to ask you questions, who need help with their learning or who just need to see you and connect with you to make things a little more normal.  You’re finding creative ways to connect with students and families, even if they don’t have access to technology.  And you’re also keeping in mind students’ social emotional needs and supporting them through this difficult time. 

You are collaborative

You’re sharing meaningful learning activities.  You are providing support and encouragement to other educators.  You’re sharing resources. You’re inspiring those around you. You are connecting with colleagues that you normally see every day or that you’ve just met online. You’re learning to work together in ways that you never thought possible.

Teachers, you don’t often get the shout out. So, let me shout it for you: you are amazing!

I am so proud to be part of this profession. I’m in awe of how teachers are coming together to support, encourage, and inspire one another.  You give me hope that we will get through this together.  

Sincerely,
Your colleague and friend Leah

If you know an amazing educator, please send this letter their way!


P.S.  I know there are so many groups out there that deserve a shout out for how they are handling this pandemic: healthcare workers, government leaders, parents and more.  I chose to give this shout out to teachers because education is the field I’m passionate about.  I felt like a little inspiration for teachers was needed right now.  This post is not intended to diminish the work of others.  Please, if you see a group doing great things, post a shout out for them too.

Leah Obach is an educator in rural Manitoba.  She works as the Literacy with ICT Teacher Leader for her school division and is the co-founder of KG Education.  You can find her on Twitter or follow the KG Education Facebook page if you’d like to connect. 
If you are interested in teaching, technology integration and teacher wellness, you can subscribe to our free newsletter here
If you are an educator interested in support and sharing, we are currently running a free group for Educators called Stronger Together .  Sign up here. 
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Support Your Wellness With a Good Book: The Year of Living Danishly

Reading is a great way to reduce stress and practice self-care.  We’re committed to promoting teacher wellness, so we’ll be sharing reviews of some of our favourite reads here on our blog!

The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell
5/5 stars

Helen Russell shares her story of moving to the happiest place on Earth: Denmark.  She expertly weaves research and anecdotes with her narrative about day-to-day life in a new country.   Helen Russell explores different aspects of Danish culture and how these factors might contribute to Danes’ extraordinary happiness.  She shares the challenges of moving to a rural area, learning a foreign language and learning to “live Danishly”. Readers will take away some perspective on how the happiest country functions!

I was fascinated and interested right from the beginning of this book.  I loved the story and laughed out loud more than once while reading her hilarious accounts of mishaps and discoveries in a new place.  The research and interview excerpts she included interested me, but were so nicely woven into her personal story that it didn’t feel like reading research. The book often had me thinking if Danes can do these things to increase happiness, maybe we can too! 

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There were two ideas that really resonated with me:

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(1) The Danish concept of hygge (hoog-uh).   

How can we make our lives cozy and comfortable?  Especially right now, as a global pandemic forces us to distance ourselves from others, I think we need to make our homes a cozy and comforting place to be.  (But this idea also appealed to me a few months ago before I was on lockdown)

 

(2)  The idea that how we spend our life matters. 

Russell interviewed many locals and, when asking about work-life balance, one woman explained, “We recognize that how you choose to spend your life is important…. If you work too hard, you get stressed, then you get sick and then you can’t work at all” – Ida

The portrayal of Danish life given by Russell suggests that Danes are much better at work-life balance.  Danes enjoy their work, but also dedicate lots of time to hobbies, wellness and family.

If you enjoy non-fiction and inspirational books, you’ll want to pick up a copy of this one.  It’s got both a wonderful story and interesting research!


If you are interested in teaching, technology integration and teacher wellness, you can subscribe to our free newsletter here

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Tech Tools to Connect with Students

Hey teachers,

I know there is a lot going on in the world right now.  I hope you are well.

As the coronavirus situation rapidly evolves and our school systems are making plans to support student learning, I’ve been thinking about how I can help.   Although we are not yet sure here in Manitoba what exactly the next few weeks will look like, I know that many of you are looking for ways to stay connected with students who are away from school.   For those students fortunate enough to have access to a device and internet, there are some technology tools that may prove useful at this time.  (I do realize that not every student will have access, not every student will have time or a situation conducive to learning at home.  However, in hopes that these tools might help some students and teachers, I’d like to share them.)

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These are great tools that I use in classrooms regularly.  Students can use them to document and share learning, communicate with their teachers and complete learning activities.  They are available for free and I’ve found them to be user-friendly.

(1) SeeSaw – This tool allows students to complete learning activities, document learning with pictures, videos, text and inking annotations.  Whether teachers share learning activities here or students just post some documentation of their learning, this tool has potential to be useful for learning at home.  This is an option that works well even for your youngest learners.

(2) Google Suite for Education – This suite of tools allows students to document learning and communicate with teachers and peers.  You can distribute learning activities online and students can submit their work through the Google Classroom app.  Google Docs gives students a word processor, Slides is a presentation creator, Sheets is a spreadsheet tool and Gmail is the email provider.  Video calling tools such as Google Hangouts may also be helpful for maintaining connections.

(3) Microsoft Office 365 – The Office suite of tools is another option that many students and teachers have access to through their school division.  Using OneNote digital binders and Teams for communication, students can access learning activities and communicate with others.  Teams also offers video calling to stay in touch.

(4)Flipgrid– You can create prompts and questions for students to respond to with video.  It’s fun and a great way to share learning and connect with peers.

I know these tools are not the solution for everyone, but hopefully this helps some teachers and students in some way.  I know that there are many educators working together to collect resources and support students’ learning, so if tech-based solutions are not an option for you, please know that there are many other resources out there!

Let’s continue help and support each other at this difficult time.

Take care.  Stay positive.  Support those around you.

If you wish to stay in touch, you can subscribe to our free newsletter here.

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2020 Creating in the Classroom Learning Retreat

We hosted our Creating in the Classroom Learning Retreat on Friday.  We were so excited to spend the day with an awesome group of local educators!  Our Creating in the Classroom Learning retreat explored ideas for supporting teachers and learners in creating with technology.  We included projects such as book creation, video creation and digital posters.

What is a learning retreat?

Our learning retreat format blends professional learning with wellness and community-building.  We deliver an engaging workshop and lead wellness practices, including yoga and mindfulness.  The small group setting allows educators to connect with a community of local educators.  We also enjoy delicious and nourishing food, hot coffee & tea and the social connections with fellow teachers.  It’s our goal to provide meaningful learning, while leaving educators inspired and refreshed!

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What did our day look like?

We began the day with an all-levels yoga class.  Next, we enjoyed snacks and socializing during our nutrition break.  A large portion of the day was spent sharing ideas for using technology tools to create in the classroom.  We shared Literacy with ICT project ideas, student samples and our favourite tech tools.  Participants were offered time for hands-on creation with the tools that best met their needs.   We enjoyed lunch at our local restaurant and went for a short walk over our lunch break before continuing with the workshop.   Our day concluded with a mindfulness activity and short yoga practice.

What are teachers saying about our learning retreats?

We are really pleased to be able to support fellow educators by providing these experiences.  We’ve had some really positive feedback in response to our learning retreats.  Here are a few quotes from participants (shared with permission*)

“Thanks for the great day! I have tools that I can use myself in the classroom and tools for my students to use! Thanks for the great day and I am looking forward to what you ladies offer in the future.”

“Awesome day full of yoga, wellness and learning! I would love to attend another workshop to learn and experience new tech tools! I love KG Educations PD Days, as they are so different from the normal sitting and listening PD Days.”

“Thanks for a great day. I always appreciate learning things that can easily be applied to my classroom the next week. You ladies always do a great job planning and delivering your PD as well as making everyone feel welcome. I feel grateful to have been a part of today’s retreat. Thank you!”

How can you attend a learning retreat?

Watch our Facebook page and Newsletter for details on upcoming events or contact us to plan a learning retreat in your area!

 

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Support Your Wellness with A Good Book: Where the Crawdads Sing

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

4/5 stars

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This fictional story of a young girl abandoned by her family in the marsh of North Carolina will capture your interest.   What begins as a sad story of an abusive father and his neglected child evolves into a coming-of-age story mixed with murder mystery.   The two intertwining tales tell the story of Kya, the Marsh Girl, and her life in the wilderness. You won’t want to put it down! 

I’ve been seeing this book everywhere and hearing about how good it is.  It had been on my “want to read” list for a while.   I was lucky to receive a copy for Christmas and finally got to dig in to this much-anticipated novel in January.  It was unique in the way it combines two distinct plot lines.  I really enjoyed reading it!

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Compliment Cards: Spread Kindness!

This year, let’s take it beyond Valentine’s day cards!   I think we can spread love and kindness any day and what better way to show kindness than by giving a compliment?   Supporting our students in treating others kindly is an important part of our role as educators.  I created these compliment cards as a fun way to share kindness any day.

Here are a few ways you can use the KG Education Compliment Cards:

  • distribute the digital compliment card template of your choice to students and have them fill out the card and send it to a friend, family member or peer by text message or email
  • use the template for shared writing with early writers – fill it out together for a student, staff member or community member and then send off your compliment
  • distribute the digital compliment card template to students and have them complete it, then post to a classroom blog or portfolio so everyone can read the compliment they received
  • send the template to your staff and exchange them via email or text message as a morale-booster
  • print the black and white PDF template on cardstock and have students write a card for a friend, family member, community member or volunteer

How to fill out a compliment card digitally:

You can either “write” with inking or type using several different options:

  • Apple Markup:  Save the template to your iPhone or iPad camera roll.  Select the image and choose “edit” and then “markup”.  (If you are sending multiple cards or having multiple students use the template, use the “duplicate” option to make several “copies” of the template!)
  • Pic Collage:  Download the Pic Collage free app.  Add the template as your background.  Insert text or
  • Canva: Upload the template in Canva.  Add text boxes for each section.
  • SMART Notebook:  Insert the template as an image.  Write with pens or insert text boxes to complete each field.
  • SeeSaw:  Share the template as an assignment.  Have each student type or write to complete their template and post to your classroom journal so others can see the compliments being shared!

Get the Compliment Card templates!

We’ve got 3 templates for you:
(1)  Compliment Card with prompts
(2) blank Compliment Card
(3) black & white PDF printable Compliment Cards (2 per page)

Get all 3 templates when you join our KG Education newsletter list.  The templates will be emailed directly to you shortly after you fill out this short form!

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Setting Intentions for 2020

As 2019 comes to a close, I’ve been spending some time reflecting on my year and looking ahead to 2020.   Something I started doing a few years ago was setting intentions each new year.   I’m not really interested in making resolutions, but I do like to have some affirmations to guide my goal-setting for the year.

According to Oxford dictionary, an intention is “a thing intended” or “an aim or plan”.  I think the idea of setting intentions was introduced to me through yoga.  Often, a yoga instructor will guide participants to choose an intention to focus on during their practice.  Often, intentions are simply an “I am…” statement.  (Such as: I am calm, I am focused, I am energized.) Somehow, over the last few years, I’ve made intentions not just a part of my yoga practice, but a part of my life.  I thought some of you might be interested in setting intentions too, so I’ll share a bit about setting mine and share some intentions I’ll be working with in 2020.

Setting Intentions for 2020

When I set my intentions for the year, I simply pick a few areas I’d like to focus on and come up with an “I am…” phrase for each one.   I write the intentions down and I repeat and reread them often throughout the year.  It’s probably not a coincidence that I typically review my intentions as part of my yoga practice on my mat in the mornings.

Of course, intention is important, but so is action.  Often, I have more specific goals related to my intentions.  The most important thing is acting on the intentions.  I have to choose to do the things each day or each week that make them true.

For example, one of my intentions for 2019 that I will be keeping for 2020 is I am fit.  It’s great to say it, think it and write it down, but I actually have to do something about it.   For me, this intention is about wellness.  When I take care of myself mentally and physically, I am a better educator and a better person.  I’ve tried lots of different things over the years: working out with a personal trainer, going to the gym on my own, walking, horseback riding, lifting weights, yoga and a few brief, unsuccessful (and horrible) attempts at running.  Right now, what works for me is a combination of yoga practices and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts, in addition to my horseback riding hobby.   For this intention, I set goals for how many times each week I want to workout and practice yoga and then I do my best to stick to it.  I know myself pretty well and I’ve learned to take time first thing in the morning for this… otherwise I’m too easily swept away by other jobs and activities and then feel too worn out to tackle exercise later in the day.  So, by getting up most mornings and heading to my basement to do yoga or work out, I act on the intention of I am fit.

I usually set 3-4 broad intentions for the year and then write down some specific goals related to my intentions.  I revisit my intentions daily.  I re-read my goals periodically and literally like to “check them off” when I meet them.   I revise and add intentions or goals throughout the year if I want to.   I like that my intention-setting “process” keeps me thinking about who I want to be, how I want to feel and what I hope to accomplish for  the year.

Two more of my intentions for 2020 are I am grateful and I am an excellent educator.  As I think more about the upcoming year, I’ll be sharing about my intentions on the KG Education Facebook page if you want to follow along.

If you’re interested in setting intentions, grab a notebook and jot some down for 2020.  If you’d like to share your intentions with us, drop a comment or send us a DM .   

Here’s to an incredible year in 2020!

 

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