If I had to describe my first day as a first-year teacher at my first school in one word, it would be: nauseating. I was so sick with worry and nerves this morning that I almost threw up. And this isn’t even at a school I’ve never been to before, it was my first-year practicum school. So it’s not like I was walking into a school I didn’t know, I actually knew quite a bit about this school before I even arrived. But that didn’t change the fact that I was nervous as hell.

Today and tomorrow we have the honour of hearing Rick Lavoie speak at our school. If you’ve never heard of Rick Lavoie, you need to watch the embedded video. When I first arrived at this school (whose name I can’t disclose for safety reasons), we watched a video titled “F.A.T. City” (Frustration – Anxiety – Tension), and it changed the way I thought about LD kids. Though the clip above doesn’t cover this scene, there’s one where he talks about “trying harder.” It’s really funny because he makes it so obvious how ridiculous we as teachers look when we loom over students and say to them “just try harder.” What does that even mean, try harder?!

The talks today and tomorrow are focused around Mr. Lavoie’s new book, “Motivation Breakthrough: 6 Secrets to Turning On The Tuned-Out Child.” Though I haven’t had a chance to read the book yet, the focus has been on motivation and what that means. We spent some time today debunking myths about motivation. Something that really stood out for me was the discussion around motivators. I hadn’t realized that a child can be motivated if we meet their primary and secondary needs. Once those needs are met, the student is far more likely to open themselves to learning. By primary needs, we mean hunger, thirst, space, rest, expiration of waste, etc. and secondary needs are things like status, inquisitiveness, affiliation, power, autonomy, achievement, etc. We didn’t get into the details of motivational strategies, but we got a brief look at the list: people, prestige, prizes, projects, praise, and power. I’m really excited to hear more, he’s such a good speaker.

It’s so amazing to finally have a classroom, a place that I will probably end up calling my ‘second home.’ I get to share the classroom with another teacher, who will be my teaching partner, but I was given my own desk, filing cabinet, and bookshelf. Though I don’t have any posters yet or many things to put on the shelves, I look forward to the chance to decide what will occupy that space and being able to organize it the way I like. It’s a pretty cool feeling.

Over the next couple of days, there’ll be meetings, planning and more organization, as well as some intensive learning about things like IPPs. I’m really excited to see how things turn out, and I can’t wait to get started with the kids next Tuesday.