As August rolls along it's getting harder to escape those familiar words: Back to school.
While students gear up for the new school year, what are the teachers doing? "I was going to school in the summer," says Robyn Evans, a teacher going into her ninth year as an educator and entering her first year at Irwin Park elementary in West Vancouver. When she wasn't taking classes at the University of British Columbia finishing up her teacher-librarian diploma, Evans was taking care of her children, Paisley, 5, and Lochlan, 2. And when she was lucky enough she made time for herself as well.
"I have two kids, so I've really tried to take time for myself," she says. "One of the things I've been doing is running every day."
But the fun is almost over for Evans as the last couple weeks of August approach and the transition into school mode begins. While her students might be starting to go to bed earlier, Evans is doing that and more.
"I've also been making sure I'm ready to go at the beginning of the school year," she says. "Planning activities for students, meeting up with other teachers, organizing my classrooms. There's a lot to do."
This year is a big step in some new directions for Evans, as she's not only going into her first year at a new school, but she's coming back after two years on maternity leave.
"I'm always excited to go back," she says, adding the start of the school year is kind of like Christmas. "You get to meet new kids and they get to meet you. There's a lot of excitement around the beginning of the year."
Not to mention she's doing something she's never done: working with Kindergarten students. "I'm excited and nervous at the same time because my daughter will be starting Kindergarten in the fall as well," says Evans. "So it's like we both get to start together."
Evans is also spending a lot of time getting mentally prepared to be in a new school where none of the students know her.
In fact, most of her work as a teacher is preparation and not necessarily during class time.
"Obviously I'm busy from 9 to 3, but my work really starts after three," she says. "Marking, preparing the next lesson, maybe preparing for a teacher on-call."
When asked if there are any myths about teachers she would like to dispel, Evans answers: That all teachers are mean.
"Not all students think all teachers are mean, but sometimes (teachers) might be a certain way for the benefit of the students, or to have them follow certain routines or structures that are in place that are for the students' benefit."
And perhaps the most important myth to dispel of all: That teachers are going to give you lots of homework.
"I know for myself that the philosophy around homework is definitely changing," says Evans. Rather than giving homework for the sake of homework many teachers only give meaningful extra work that builds on the lessons taught that day rather than heaping on work that only forces the same lesson at students again and again.
"For instance in math, you may have math homework every day but generally now it's going to build off what you've learned that day rather than just getting you to answer 50 questions of the same thing," explains Evans.
Evans says she is excited to start the school year, and, just like many of her students, she's a little nervous too.
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