My First Field Experience: ECS 100

Here are some of the highlights from my eight week field placement in a grade one classroom at Hawyrlak School. 

I will forever be thankful to Mrs. Holmes for welcoming me into her classroom with open arms. Her kindness and passion encouraged me each and every day in the classroom.

Week One:
Once the day started and the students came into the classroom, I immediately realized that these students crave positivity. They loved starting off their day with a high five or a hug from Emily as soon as they entered the classroom. When we stood up for O Canada, the students sang loud and proud, and they were absolutely beaming when their teacher complimented their singing skills. The same thing happened when they read their poems on their own as well. 

Throughout the rest of the morning, I sat with different kids while they worked on printing and their reading response. For the most part, once I engaged with a student or told them even just a little about myself, they were telling me all about themselves. That little bit of trust I built with them was enough for them to open up and speak to me. I absolutely loved it. I cannot wait until I have my own classroom and get to build relationships with my own students. I received hugs from at least four little people, and they really filled my bucket (they are working on kindness and “filling each other’s buckets”). The goodbyes and see you next Wednesdays made my heart so full. 

Week Three:
My cooperating teacher does a really fantastic job of ensuring kids have multiple ways to learn. For example, when looking at the calendar in the mornings she will ask a student what day it is, and then ask them how they knew. She will then ask for other ways we could see that, which helps to make sure that all kids have multiple tools and skills that can best fit their learning. She does a similar thing when learning how to print specific letters. For instance, she will draw it properly two or three times, but then she will draw a horribly-done wonky letter, and asks for students to point out her mistakes. This lets the students see the right way to do it, and the ways that they should not do it.

Week Seven:
In the classroom, the students use a program called Raz kids. I had the opportunity to use it with some students and they absolutely loved it. I asked a couple students if they would rather read a real physical book or on the iPad. They both said the iPad. With some nudging, they told me they like how it highlights the words so they do not have to use their tracking finger. They also like the questions at the end because it seems like a game. 

Mrs. Holmes is doing an advent calendar, and with each new week they explore a holiday. I think it is so important that this classroom is actively celebrating diversity. This week they talked about Eid. Next week she even has some parents coming in to talk about their Eid traditions. I love how she is not only including this family in their classroom learning, but it gives this family a safe space to share their culture. Because of Eid, the grade ones have looked at the moon cycle. When I was asking the students about why they like their iPads, two students immediately told me about their app (at home) that shows them the different moons, stars, and constellations. We both agreed that it is really cool. He even related it back to how the moon cycle is important in Eid. I was so happy when he made that connection. 

Final Field Reflection

My placement in Mrs. Holmes’ grade one classroom definitely confirmed that I want to be a teacher. Although I would still like to teach secondary, I enjoyed every minute with her amazing students. 

The moment I met the students I knew that they absolutely craved positivity and encouragement. They start off everyday with a smile and, either a hug, fistbump, or high five from Mrs. Holmes. A classroom across the hall on the other hand, played loud cheerful music as the students came in to get them excited for the day. Not only does this allow the students to create a relationship with their teacher, but it also ensures that their school day starts off on the right foot. I genuinely believe that every student would have a more positive school experience if they were encouraged just a little bit more. I absolutely love the idea of playing music before class and I would love to do this in my own classroom. I think it would help to raise energy levels and make my classroom much more interesting and welcoming.

I also noticed that it is integral that the students have a sense of trust in their teacher, as well as their classmates. Making mistakes is often scary and intimidating, yet Mrs. Holmes ensures that her classroom is a safe space. Because the students know not to laugh or make fun of others if they do not know the correct answer, students are more open to sharing their learning and, in turn, making mistakes. If a student does happen to make a mistake, Mrs. Holmes would help guide them to the correct answer with a smile on her face and her tone not faltering. I think that because her facial expression or tone does not change, the students do not feel ashamed when they are incorrect. This stuck out to me because in high school and even university, teachers and professors do not hide their disappointment when a student’s answer is incorrect, and quite honestly it has no positive impact on the student. In fact, it makes the student feel foolish and not intelligent. In some cases, this can cause students to resent education and learning. I am going to practice being mindful of my facial expression, body language, and tone when speaking to people, especially students. 

Additionally, this placement has helped me to further appreciate and celebrate diversity in the classroom. Unlike my elementary school experience, this classroom was full of a range of exceptionalities, ethnicities, races, personalities, etc. A specific memory that will forever warm my heart is how the students care for and treat their classmate with an exceptionality. They did not treat him as if he were different, but they would help to keep him on task and be where he needed to be. This helped me realize just how possible inclusion is. Similarly, the students learned about different cultural celebrations and their traditions, such as Eid, Diwali, Hannukuh, Kwanzaa, etc. If a student in the class participates in one of these celebrations, they will contribute and help teach the class. In some cases, their parents would even come in to speak. This opportunity allows the students to recognize their differences and learn about each other. I believe doing this at such a young age will break down barriers and allow these students to be more accepting. In my own classroom, I would love to have students teach about their own culture as I believe it is important to learn from someone who actually lives that certain way.

An aspect of Mrs. Holmes’ classroom that I adore is her flexible seating and I would love to employ these in my own classroom. In the classroom, there are traditional chairs, hokki stools, floor mats, and crates with pillows on them. She would also like to add a standing table to her room if it is possible. Not only are the students excited to have different seating arrangements each week, but it gives them an opportunity to recognize how they learn best. As a person with ADHD, I can understand the importance of diverse seating. It would have absolutely changed the way I learn, and I hope that using these different styles in my own classroom will help students as well. 

As I entered this field placement, I was curious about how technology would be utilized in such a young classroom. Technology was only prevalent in my classrooms during the latter part of my elementary experience. Mrs Holmes’ classroom takes advantage of the smart board and school provided iPads. The smart board is used as a white board, projector, or to play videos. While using the iPads, the students use a reading program that also aids their comprehension skills. However, technology does not rule the classroom. I believe that it is so important for young classrooms to limit technology so that the student’s screen time is limited to allow for cognitive development. I feel that these students have a wonderful balance of tangibility and technology in this classroom.

This impact this classroom has had on me is stronger than I could have ever imagined. I am now absolutely positive that this is what I was meant to do. The multitudes of good mornings, high fives, and smiles have raised my spirits each day. The looks of frustration and piles of eraser shavings have helped me realize that this career is worth it. The train of hugs and thank you card filled my heart but also my eyes with tears. I am certain this is my future and I am even more sure that these students will be my future as well. 

Flirting with Feedly

Navigating the Twitter world can definitely be challenging. There is just so much going on, and it is sometimes hard to find what you’re looking for. But, like everything these days, there is an app for that! Well really, it is an RSS reader. To help me explore and genuinely use Twitter as a useful platform, I decided to use Feedly!

Deciding what sources to follow is rather easy! You simply search the topic you’re looking for, and a list of sources that post that type of content appears. When a source appears, it will tell you how many followers it has, the average amount of articles it posts and how frequently, and a short bio. You can then click on the source and read the different articles they have posted. 

I have not yet started to use Feedly to its full potential as I am having a few technical difficulties (perfect timing, right?). Albeit, I have started to follow a few sources who share some amazing resources! So far, I have mainly started to follow sources that frequently post about ed tech (which is quite fitting for this class). 

A source that I find and quite enjoy is Edutopia. They post short YouTube videos, which is sometimes refreshing after reading articles and textbooks all day. Currently, Edutopia is a mix of tips for online education, as well as anti-racist education. Both of which are extremely prevalent as a result of the recent Black Lives Matter movement and the switch to remote learning due to Covid-19. 

Another source that I followed is TeachThought. TeachThought shares about 3 articles a week, so they are present in my feed but not overwhelming. They share a variety of topics on education, but the one that caught my attention is “20 Ways to Bring Joy Back To Your Classroom”. They also share many resources about virtual learning and digital spaces which is very relevant. 

I am really looking forward to finding sources that are pertinent to me and my followers! 

A view of my Feedly account!

x Paige Hamann

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in Athletics.

Hey everyone!

Thanks for tuning back into my learning project. I hope you had a fantastic week.

Last week, I introduced the course I am creating and explained a little bit about why I decided that it was necessary. You can check out that post here!

This week, I decided to analyze the answers from the survey and decide on the major course topics. If I am being quite honest with you, reading the survey results is not easy for me. It reminds me of the time I spent struggling, and it makes me think of how many other people are struggling too. I know that it is not something to become hung up on because we are working to make a difference in this area, but it still absolutely breaks my heart. I guess that’s what happens when you’re an empath!

But, let’s dive right in to the results from the survey! I shared this survey on Instagram, but it is not yet closed because I would like to allow others to share their experiences as well. However, there have been 93 responses thus far. Out of the 93 responses, 82.8% said that the sport they played had a negative impact on their mental health. 79.6% of responses said that coaches specifically had a negative impact on their mental health. This is incredibly alarming to me, and likely to you as well. It is clear that there is a serious issue in the athletic community, but it appears as if there is little being done to change that. That is why I chose to actively address this topic. That 82.8% of responses should not exist. 

The survey also listed the following statements, and asked people to select the aspects that had a negative impact on their mental health. The numbers following the statement indicate the number of people (out of 93) and total percentage of responses that agreed the statement negatively affected their mental health. 

  • Pressure put on yourself. 86  92.5%
  • Pressure from parents. 39 41.0%
  • Pressure from teammates. 42 45.2%
  • Pressure from coaches 70. 75.3%
  • Injury. 48 51.6%
  • Language used by coaches. 33 35.5%
  • Language used by teammates. 25 26.9%
  • Stress from a busy schedule. 73 78.5%
  • Wanting to quit the sport. 51 54.8%
  • Negative self-talk. 69 74.2%
  • Lack of encouragement. 62 66.7%

Additionally, the survey asked to explain why the participant’s mental health was affected by the previous statements they chose. Here are a few snippets of their responses. 

  • “The coaches would make me feel attacked with the terminology they used”
  • “The coach frequently made comments about weight… and told me she thought I would’ve been skinnier coming back from a 6 week liquid diet after surgery”
  • “Sometimes it’s so hard to keep pushing yourself when you’re not getting results and all you have is negative feedback”
  • “Having coaches personally target me with angry language made me feel really incapable”
  • “Even after a win the only thing I’d hear from coaches and parents were critiques, and even though I think it’s helpful, the way it was communicated made me feel like I was doing everything wrong”
  • “I felt like I always was needed to perform and couldn’t have a bad day. There wasn’t time for me to struggle and be down and feel emotions during practice or game”

We also asked the participants what they wanted future coaches to know, and what we can do differently to ensure that athletics have a positive impact on the mental health of athletes? Here are some of their answers. 

  • “Just because somebody needs to hear harsher words as motivation in a game or competition doesn’t mean they don’t need encouragement and softer language once it’s over”
  • “Make sure there is an equal balance of tough love as well as reassurance”
  • “Training and competition is not the only place stress comes from”
  • “Get to know your players and realize that one style of coaching doesn’t fit everyone”
  • “Coaches should learn about positive body image and ways to promote it with their team, as well as promoting healthy habits surrounding the athletes’ bodies”
  • “Have regular conversations with your athletes, get to know them personally, recognize when they are ready to be pushed and when they need a break”
  • “Talking to a player individually after a game or during half-time and speaking kindly to them or showing that you care can go a long way”
  • “Always check in on your players, even the ones who seem happy”

Lastly, the survey asked the participants what had a positive impact on their mental health. Here are some of the responses. 

  • “Coaches that make a point of caring about you as a person”
  • “Having team bonding exercises where we talked about mental health & got vulnerable with each other”
  • “Conversations with other high level athletes who have had other mental health struggles like mine”
  • “One time, my team was going through a losing streak, we had lost 4 games in a row and were in a rut. We were all feeling so much pressure, and in turn were playing stressed and poorly. Recognizing this, my coach cancelled one of our practices leading up to the next game, and replaced it with yoga and a team dinner. This really helped us to get back on track and in the next game, we beat the number 2 team in my city. We played so much better and were so much looser and had way more fun! Our coach recognized that our team mental health was affecting our play and helped us through it”
  • “I once had a talk with a coach who had struggled with mental health. In hearing her story, I was able to understand where she was coming from and also put to words some of the struggles I had been facing”

Ultimately, the survey responses reiterated a few major ideas. 1) Athletes want to be cared about as human beings. 2) Athletes want to be encouraged. 3) Athletes want to  be respected. 4) Athletes want and need communication. 

  1. Athletes want to be cared about as human beings. From my own personal experiences, chatting with others, and the survey responses, it has become clear to me that athletes want to be seen as more than just an athlete. They want to make real life connections, and they want their coaches to care about their lives outside of the sport. 
  2. Athletes want to be encouraged. Athletes tend to fixate on their own mistakes for longer than needed. This means that they do not need their coaches to continually focus on them as well. Instead, athletes need to be given constructive criticism and encouragement so that they are able to move forward instead of dwelling on their past mistake. 
  3. Athletes want to be respected. Athletes want their emotions, bodies, and skills to be respected. They want their coaches to acknowledge their emotions and allow them to feel that way. They don’t want to be forced into unhealthy habits or be ridiculed into having a body that the coach thinks is ideal. They want coaches to know that people will be at different skill levels but that each player has a specific role. 
  4. Athletes want and need communication. Communication varies person to person and that needs to be addressed. Coaches need to acknowledge how their players like to communicate so that safe space is there when they need to confide or share. 

I think that these four ideas will be the main topics in the course. From here, I will begin researching the major topics to create content. I definitely think that creating the content will be the most difficult part of this project. Things might change along the way, but I am expecting that! 

Thanks for reading!

Until next time, 

x Paige Hamann

Coaching Coaches: Mental Health Edition

I grew up as an elite athlete. I started playing basketball in grade one, and I excelled right from the get go. In grade five, I joined a track club where I quickly became successful. No matter the sport I played, I would thrive. In 2012, I qualified for the North American Championship in Hershey, PA, where I placed seventh in the 800m. I played on multiple provincial basketball teams, and started on my high school’s Senior basketball team as a freshman. 

In grade ten, I suffered through the peak of my severe anxiety and depression. I had suffered with mental illness since approximately seventh grade, however it worsened more than I ever could have imagined. On May 15th 2017, things took a turn for the worse. A teammate of mine from my U15  Sask season committed suicide. Tori’s death completely changed my life, and I miss her every single day. After Tori’s passing, I fell into an even deeper depression. On July 26th, while on a U16 basketball trip in Langley, I almost took my own life. Thankfully, I reached out for help at the last second. 

The Youth Caring Award 2019

Since then, my life has changed completely and I am grateful to wake up everyday. I have taken control of my own mental health, and taken initiative in my community. I organized Mikans for Mental Health, which raised over $5000 for Family Service Regina in 2018. I have spoken at multiple I Got Mind events, and the Sask Advocate “Now in My Day” conference. In September of 2019, I was honoured to receive the Youth Caring Award from The Caring Place. In March 2020, I raised $3000 through my little photography business and the Porch Project. The funds I received from the Youth Caring Award and the Porch Project have been donated to Inside the Box: A Mental Health Initiative. 

WOOF. Now, to the important stuff! Inside the Box: A Mental Health Initiative is a non-profit organization that I started in July! Inside the Box aims to promote mental health and well-being in athletics through awareness, conversation, education, and reflection. We have an amazing executive team and board of directors. I decided to start this organization because of my own negative experiences with mental health and sport, and I know of many others who had similar experiences. I also realized that suicide is greatly affecting young  athletes in my community. I recognized this, and decided to try and make a change in the athletic community. 

One of the logos for Inside the Box

We decided that we wanted to create a course for coaches due to our own experiences as an executive team. Coaches are typically major role models, and whether they know it or not, have an unbelievable impact on their athletes’ mental health. This can be a positive or negative impact. We want this course to help coaches be a positive force in their athletes’ lives, while minimizing the negative impacts they might have. 

In order to move forward on this project, I knew that I would have to create an outline. But, I asked myself “How the heck do I make an outline for this?”. So… guess what my first step was? Researching outlines for the creation of an online course. Yep, that’s right. I researched an outline to help me make an outline. That just seems so silly to me, but I now in fact have an outline for this project! So here it is:

  • Research outlines for creating online courses. Here are some of the sources I used: Learn Worlds, Thinkific, and Foundr
  • Create my learning project outline
  • Create a survey to send to athletes. This will help us determine what to put in the course!
  • Decide on a course topic
  • Research the subject and speak to professionals 
  • Plan the course outline 
  • Write learning goals and objectives
  • Choose eLearning platform
  • Create course content
  • Upload to platform
  • Test launch and gather feedback
  • Launch and market

I created this survey for any athletes to fill out. We will not be using it for research purposes so I was not worried about technicalities. This survey will just help us determine what athletes are struggling with so we can add to our course!

This project is a HUGE task! I have to ensure that all information I include is accurate and relevant, and will not end up harming the mental health of athletes to come. I will be communicating with professionals quite regularly, so I am not worried at all. There is a possibility that this project will not be entirely completed by the end of this course, but that is okay!

I am so excited for the opportunity to work on a passion of mine in a University class. I hope you enjoy this journey!

x Paige Hamann

Hey there!

Welcome to my blog. I am super excited that you are here!

My name is Paige Hamann and I am currently a second year Secondary Education student majoring in Social Studies and minoring in English. Bring on all the social justice! 

Here are some fun facts about me:

Buehrle J.A
  • I am the Founder and President of a mental health non-Profit organization. 
  • My favourite colour is pink, but I have really been digging earthy colours recently
  • My family names our dogs after Blue Jays players. We currently have a one year old dog named Buehrle J.A (after Mark Buehrle and J.A Happ)
  • I have always wanted to start a blog but was too anxious (this is a fabulous excuse to overcome a fear)

Yes, I was scared to start a blog… I know it sounds silly, but as someone with severe social anxiety I was terrified of what people would think! Would people even read it? What if I ran out of things to write about? What if people think I’m weird? “What ifs” can be deadly. 

However, Edtc 300 is making me say sayonara to my fear of creating a blog. So instead of simply drowning in my anxiety and resenting this course, I have decided to embrace my “what ifs”. What if people actually like the things I write? What if this method of writing and communication is an amzing outlet for me? What if this blog helps me to make connections with other educators? Most importantly, what if this blog helps me to overcome my other fears? It’s all about perspective.

I think educational technology is one of the coolest tools ever! In a few months, I can definitely see myself being a edtc nerd… but I am more than okay with that! People today are more immersed in technology than ever before, and it only makes sense for educators to take advantage of that. 

Although elements of technology have been present through the entirety of my education, I only started to appreciate the extent of it in eighth grade. My grade eight teacher really appreciated technology and so our classroom dove right in. We actively used twitter in our classroom, and we even planned an entire field trip to downtown Regina via Twitter. Our class really learned how to communicate with our community in safe and meaningful ways.

I feel that although technology was definitely used in my schools, it was not used to its full potential, and that is totally okay! I do not feel that I missed out on anything because technology was not omnipresent in my classroom. That being said, if I can learn how to utilise technology to grow as an educator and engage my students, then I am absolutely on board!

Thanks for reading & joining me on this journey!

X Paige Hamann