Teaching and Reffing

Recently, a fellow blogger posted his thoughts on Hockey and Teaching. You can read Donovan’s post here.

He talked about how reffing a hockey game relates to teaching.

Just recently I was at my hometown’s basketball game watching my brother play. The school I graduated from was, and still is, very much into basketball. So when it was the championship game and my brother and his team were up against a challenging school, the crowd became very involved in what the two refs were doing. They were constantly yelling at the refs who were just trying to keep things as fair as possible. Of course, it didn’t help that our team was losing but it wasn’t nice to yelling at the refs. Both the refs had been around the school lots. One graduated from there and the other taught there a few years ago. Some people in the crowd were calling out the ref’s names which is not being a fan of your own team.

Finally the refs became irritated and told one audience member that if he was going to keep it up then he would have to leave the gymnasium. That quieted the crowd. After the game, the one ref left the gym immediately and the other one broke into tears. It was horrible to see.

Even though our boys lost, it was still an intense basketball game to watch. As a spectator, you need to just cheer on your own team and not beak the refs who are doing their best to control the game. Same with teaching. Parents need to support their children in school and realize that the teachers are doing their best to help them learn.

I can also relate to this incident because I’ve reffed volleyball a few times and some of the audience members comment on the calls that I make. Being up on the stand, though, is very intimidating because you are the one making the calls and ultimately choosing whether or not the team wins. Same with teaching. We assess students’ abilities on learning certain subjects and, a lot of the times, choose whether or not they should continue onto the next grade.

Donovan’s point about teachers working together and coming together as a whole is very important. When I was learning to ref volleyball, I was with a senior volleyball ref every time I reffed a game. I was glad I had someone to answer my questions if I was unsure about what to do in a certain situation. That was the best way I learned how to ref.

Overall, there are many similarities between reffing and teaching. Both of them require patience, knowledge, and skill. Someday I will take up the challenge of reffing basketball.

Standing up for Yourself

Recently I had a conversation with my cousin about students being bullied.

She told about how her nephew was being picked on and then he finally decided to stand up for himself and not be pushed around anymore. This young boy is only in elementary school and he was already being bullied. He ended up punching his bullies.

It was a very interesting story she told me and I felt sorry for the young boy. She said that after he stood up for himself, he started having more friends and began to feel included because he wouldn’t let anyone pick on him anymore.

I don’t think students should be reprimanded for standing up for themselves. Though I don’t think that punching and physical violence is the best answer, being called names is terrible and can stick with students through their entire lives. I think this video shows this best.


Blog Changes

I decided to make a few changes to my blog after I listened to Sue Waters talk to us in our class. First, I changed my title to just “Helyn’s Portfolio” so that it would be more specific and people would know who’s blog they are browsing. I changed my theme, too, so that my title was on top and underneath the main title I just added “Helyn van Staveren’s teaching portfolio”. The theme, too, is also mobile friendly which is nice when people or I need to view my blog on their phones or smart devices. I went into the Mobile settings and made sure everyone would see my posts on the front page — just to make things easier for everyone.

I set up two categories, “ECMP355” for the class I’m and also, “Teacher Thoughts” just so that when I write posts that relate to teachers, they will have their own category. 

I’m also starting to incorporate more links into my posts, like the two you see here. Those will help everyone stay connected as to what I’m talking about in my posts. People reading this post may want to visit Sue’s blog about making blogs better so I added her blog link to her name in the first paragraph. 

As for the pages, I have some created. One that I did at the beginning of this semester was my “About” page. This will be good for people who want to know who I am before they read any posts that I’ve written. The other pages were from another Education class and I’m sure there will be more that I will create in the near future. 

Internship – 1st post

September 16, 2013. 


I am in a small school – K-12 and 180 students — for my internship. Instead of being in a high school classroom, I’m in a Grade 6/7 class. At first, I was disappointed to hear that because high school English is my specialty. However, once I entered the classroom on the first day of school, I began to enjoy the students. They were so ambitious and fun to be around that I immediately felt at home with them. 

I taught my first drama lesson not long after that and it went completely wrong. I took the students to a different classroom where there was lots of space and they were crazy. The boys in the class didn’t want to pay attention to my lesson so I didn’t get much done. I had to do some scolding and be rather firm throughout the entire lesson. After speaking with my co-op, she said that we will try it again tomorrow. 

I took a different approach and re-did the entire lesson. We stayed in the same classroom and I was firm from the beginning of the lesson and carried it through. It went over extremely well. My co-op and I took them outside because they had to present their tableaux. 

The days that followed that lesson I had some of the students asking me if we were going to do another drama lesson so that made me feel great about the lesson. 

The next week, I worked with the grade 10s and ran a lesson with them on short-short stories. I had so much fun working with them and getting to know them. We began to develop longer stories based off of the short-short stories. 

The internship seminar was just last week so my co-op and I went to it. I enjoyed hanging out with her and getting to know her. The seminar was a wonderful experience. 

Today, I really took over my first class — ELA 6/7. I had my lesson plan figured out and my target sheet ready (my target was about making sure that the students were on task. I also developed a unit plan for the 6 and 7s and figured out the outcomes for each. When I taught the lesson, I had to go back and forth between the two grades — get one grade started on something and then go to the other and get them working on something. the 6s began a suspense unit while the 7s worked on a media/communications unit. It was very interesting to have to plan it out so that each time I went back to the grades, they had something to work on. 

When I spoke to my co-op afterwards, she said that the lesson went over really well and she enjoyed the content that I had presented to the class. I got through all my material for the 7s but for the 6s I didn’t get quite as much done as I had hoped. That was okay, though, because for tomorrow’s lesson that’s where I will pick up – the 7s will have time to do a mini project and the 6s will begin reading a story on suspense. 

So far, great time teaching the 6/7s! I am already learning lots. More ideas to come! 

Social Justice Resources!

What Do You Know About Racism?
Pete Sanders and Steve Meyers. Copper Beach Books, 1995. A children’s book from England that directly addresses racism with clear definitions and realistic comic strips. Gr. 4/up.


Open Minds to Equality: A Sourcebook of Learning Activities to Affirm Diversity and Promote Equity (second edition)
Nancy Schniedewind and Ellen Davidson. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1998. This resource inspires teachers to teach for justice and provides classroom-ready ideas that work. The lessons integrate various curricular areas and are presented in a sequential fashion. Includes an excellent resource bibliography.


Teaching Economics As If People Mattered: A High School Curriculum Guide to the New Economy
Tamara Sober Giecek. United for a Fair Economy, 2000. Field-tested by high school teachers, this innovative economics curriculum looks at the human implications of economic policies.

My Always-Changing Teaching Philosophy

I did not really know my teaching philosophy before I went into the three-week block. However, when I was asked to bring my teaching philosophy I brought a copy of my entry essay into the Education program. When I read through it, I managed to find pieces that did reflect my teaching philosophy.

In the essay, I talked about two teachers that reaffirmed my decision to become a teacher. A line that I had written was, “As a teacher, I want to bring this excitement and appreciation for learning into the classroom.” I believe that this hasn’t changed for me because I do want to bring my excitement about English into the classroom. However, I realized that it is a challenge to be excited about something when the students look back at you with blank faces as you ramble on about Grimm’s fairy tales. This event that happened was when I was team teaching an English A10 class and we were talking about foundational stories. We had the students split up so that each group would take the Disney version, the Grimm’s version, and the kids’ version of the Grimm’s. We did this for three different stories for three days in a row and I became excited because I love Disney movies and I love to compare them to the actual Grimm’s version. I would try and let the students talk and tell me about the differences between each of the three. It was challenging because not every student will love English the way I do.

Another part in my essay was about a teacher who “assisted and inspired me to become a dedicated, organized and passionate student” and that I will “bring those great skills into my future classroom. This statement is very true because I am dedicated and passionate about English and I found that I did bring those skills into the classroom. Organization, though, I found was a bit difficult. I had one binder that I kept everything in and I found it hard to keep track of everything. I need to become more organized when I do my internship placement.

The final sentence that I wrote in my essay was “I look forward to being a part of my students’ lives and being a part in the classroom.” This was very true for my three-week block because I did get to know the students I was with. I had fun speaking with some of the boys in my A10 class about trucks and how Ford is better than Dodge. I do want to be a part of my students’ lives and show them that I do care about their education.

Finally, I had the eye-opening experience that not every student attends class and hands in every assignment. I come from a small Kindergarten to Grade twelve school where everyone attended every day and if they didn’t somebody knew why they weren’t at the school and everyone handed in assignments. So because of this experience, I expected to have students in full attendance and hand in every assignment. When I went out to my school for the three-week block, I was shocked to have only half of the students hand something in to me. Also, I found that I didn’t even get to meet some of the students because they didn’t even show up in the three-weeks that I was teaching at. On that note, I am glad that my school doesn’t give late marks because I feel a lot of students would not pass their classes.

Overall, I believe that my teaching philosophy is developing slowly. I believe that students should be given a choice in almost everything they do and that teachers are just there to guide them. Even something as simple as “Can I go to the bathroom?” could be answered with “My concern is that you are going to miss an important part of my lesson. You choose.” Giving students authority over their own decisions gives them full responsibility on everything they do whether it’s on assignments or simple requests.

Final Thoughts

I wanted to write another post to finish up anything major that happened during my last week of pre-internship. 

On Thursday, I had one lady who thought I was a student. I was with the drama 10 class and they had to  go to the computer and do a survey on technology. The lady who was running the survey online looked at me and asked, “So are you not doing this? Do you need a computer?” I was a little bit shocked because I was wearing a high-waisted skirt and heels and I thought I looked fairly professional. I did find it a bit funny, though, because I guess it means I still I look young!

On the same day, I gave students a choice in period four! They were finishing up an assignment and by the end I went around to a couple of students who I knew were not finished the assignment and said, “You can either hand something in now, not hand anything in, or email your main teacher by tonight with the assignment and then she can pass it on to me.” Some of the students knew what they were going to do right away and so most of them handed in what they had finished. 

In that same English A10 class, this one student kept getting distracted by his two friends. This final class, I went up to him and said that maybe he should think about moving to a different location to work alone — like the front of the room. He agreed. When I spoke to my co-op about this, she said that he knows that he needs to work by himself and sometimes he will take initiative and move himself. I said that we should have moved him from the beginning but she said that we shouldn’t always baby them because they need to learn themselves. I did agree with her. 

Overall, a great experience! I really enjoyed it and my co-op was fantastic. My adviser was also fabulous!! I really enjoyed the school and getting to know my students. They were a lot of fun and I would definitely go back to that school.