by Myra Auvergnat-Ringuette, elementary school teacher
St-Jean-Berchmans day school
There are those encounters that leave you indifferent, and others that change you forever. In my opinion, life moves way too fast for us to wait for change to come knocking on our door. We must provoke these moments, encourage them to come and whisper in our ears that we can see further, see differently.
This is what I did last December. I had the chance to spend a day at the Au Millénaire pavilion located in La Baie in the company of passionate people, teachers and students. These meetings will certainly have inspired me to do differently in my class.
I invite you in my head (thank you for wiping your feet before entering!) To see the repercussions that a crazy dream can have ...
* * *
The story goes the day after my visit to the Au Millénaire pavilion ...
Children trickle into my classroom, smiling at me, looking for their friends with their eyes. They exchange their reading book for tonight and will settle down for the 5 day period. Posted in my doorframe, I greet my colleague at the end of the corridor.
- Did you see the link I sent you last night? She asks me.
- Yes it is perfect. We can use it in our workshops. Your weekend? Were the guys in a tournament?
She rolls her eyes, but I see her smirk. Does she even know how much I admire her courage and strength of character? I think I don't tell her often enough.
Small high-five to the two students who have just arrived almost not running in the corridor, then I find myself looking at my class. Not looking: observing, analyzing ...
* * *
Crossing the Park with Catherine Lapointe and Stéphanie Dionne is the equivalent of pouring a flint of coffee straight into your mouth and then lying down on Freud's sofa and talking about gardening. It goes all over the place, but there is definitely a common thread: passion. You know, that little je ne sais quoi that you can read in the eyes of some people and that makes you want to follow them to the ends of the earth. Imagine that our goal is to visit an innovative school in La Baie. Our souls as educators feast on the landscape and the encounters that await us at the end of the road ...
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I will sit down near the small group doing free writing. In recent days, the new trend has been songs. We might get an impromptu performance before dinner. In a corner, two girls alternate reading a story. I'll bet you a coffee that you couldn't guess who's struggling and who I suspect is gifted. I have to intervene with a few students who have decided to embark on a table competition with the energy of a tennis player at Wimbledon. The set will be tight.
I remember the smiles of their students, the energy that emanated from every square inch of this institution. However, it is the serenity of the place that calls out to us when we enter the Pavillon Au Millénaire.
* * *
The warm welcome from the secretary and the director lays the foundations for this day, which begins around a good coffee. As if we were meeting old friends. We sit in the office of Marie-Josée Villeneuve who offers us to listen to the history of the school. A story that begins with a dream that has come true at lightning speed. From a team united around the same objective: make school a lively and innovative environment.
And it is certain that it disturbs when you decide to shake up old habits, well-established rules, but you have to remember for whom these decisions were made: young people. What interests us is human, not monetary. We therefore begin our visit with a small idea of the complexity of the files to be managed when running two schools with rather different mentalities. No need to remember that asking which one you prefer would be the equivalent of choosing your favorite child. Sometimes it's a matter of affinities, but the two definitely have something to make the other evolve. While they may be different in many ways, both matter and evolve.
We certainly could have continued chatting with the lovely headmistress, but to be fair we had butterflies in our stomachs just at the thought of venturing into this school. We start with the modest gymnasium where the Hogwarts-style library is also attached. Catherine cannot resist the toboggan which is seen as an exit in this little literary cocoon. A slide later, we go along the general store to land in paradise.
(My opinion is completely biased for this next part, you find me sorry.)
A kitchen in a school? No, THE kitchen. Except that a beautiful place is worth nothing without THE food technician who, a smile on her welcoming face 24/7, receives groups every week to live the kitchen; learn about healthy lifestyle habits in a concrete, lively and stimulating context.
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"Could we prepare a recipe for healthy cookies to close the theme on food?" »No, allergies ...
For a girl who loves food as much as I do (tall fan dessert since 1984), it is a blow to have to put aside such a great learning opportunity. I console myself; there are several ways to involve students in their process of deepening knowledge / skills. Just look up and see what's going on around us. You know, what is called "real life".
* * *
Kindergarten children came home from recess, their cheeks flushed with the December wind. A smell of salted vegetables hung in the kitchen.
They sat down, eager to taste the soup they had prepared under the watchful eye of their teacher, another passionate who walks the corridors of the Au Millénaire pavilion every day. “Be careful, it can be hot! Exclaims a child. "It smells good, it smells a little salty", adds his neighbor. Meanwhile, Marie-Claude is tasting edamame beans (madame beans, for the intimate) to the curious little ones, that is to say everyone.
I attend, while reveling in the concoction of these children filled with well-deserved pride, at this show by wondering what comes to upset me the most in this yet so simple moment. I am still in the process of constructing an answer.
Then, two managers take charge of preparing a cart with glasses of soup for staff to enjoy. Was it the teacher's proposal, an initiative of the children? Seeing the reaction from both parties, I would tend to say: whatever. The classroom doors open, one after the other, and each time the children are received in a warm, sometimes humorous way, but always benevolent.
I decided to take the opportunity to continue my little overview, meeting here and there my friends who took part in this educational journey, crisscrossing the premises with their eyes sparkling with curiosity. The care that has been given to the aesthetic aspect of the establishment is undeniable. My colleague Isabelle takes care to examine every detail. I know that she not only observes the beauty of the place, she also assesses the effect that such a setting can have on children.
Each class has a different theme, creating a particular harmony between each level thanks to a "buffer" room. The latter makes it possible to double the space of each class. The pupils can gather there to work, to seek a little calm, to collaborate with their classmates, to prepare a particular project with the support of a guide. In short, the possibilities match their creativity and the trust that teachers place in them. You will understand that the development follows what some call a trend: the flexible seating. I prefer to see it as the natural evolution of things. Children do not have assigned places and to keep clean. They are all responsible for the spaces they use and take pride in keeping them in good condition.
Once the shock has passed, we observe the students. In a class of 3e, they are building a wordlist on the PicCollage app to enrich their next writing project. I play curious and ask them how they find it, working with iPads. Honest question, honest answer: we'd rather play games, but that's okay also when work is fun.
I take a look at the attached room consisting of a stage and suspended lights, creating a particularly warm atmosphere. Some students stage a play in Spanish, guided by their facilitator. What a great way to discover a culture by familiarizing yourself with a third language. I try a few words in greeting, thank you to my two years of CEGEP in languages, and I return to play the investigator.
Crossing the hallway, I find myself in the undergraduate classes. The theme: from nature to the city. Once again, the students work in sub-groups, performing various tasks specified in their work plan, accessible at all times on their tablet. A hint of concern crosses me: these children also write on paper, don't they? Of course, answers Karine, their teacher. What a pleasure to discover that she is also a fan of writing workshops. One only has to look around the classroom to discover the importance of literature and creativity. And what about his project " Cooking with classes ". I think I made a new friend… “Let's be fans of each other,” École branchée Audrey Miller invited us at the most recent Clair conference in New Brunswick.
I finally go to the premises of the 3rd cycle, where we can find the famous room of seats suspended in the clouds. Once again, I am amazed by this original setting, but it is the four-legged students on the classroom floor that capture my attention. I just landed in an introductory robotics session. I take pleasure in observing my colleague who was recruited by a team of young people to give them a hand in solving their programming problem. The ease that these children have in communicating with others fascinates me. At the same time, if I can trust the welcome we received, it is not surprising ... these children definitely have models around them who will allow them to flourish, to grow in confidence and who They might even want to do things differently, too.
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Several months have passed since my visit to the Au Millénaire pavilion and I was afraid my memory would fail when I finally started writing this article. I was scared by the idea of not doing justice to what is being done there, of forgetting names, projects, ideas… Then, I realized that it was impossible to do justice to this. middle in a simple text. You have to live it for these people to leave their mark on you. Just as you have to go and watch your colleagues teach, attend conferences that throw you off balance, and screw you up trying new projects that take you out of your comfort zone.
So thank you very much because, thanks to you, I dare a little more, I hope a little better and I definitely see bigger.
TVA report on Millennium cuisine (seen on Facebook