Teachers ready themselves for new school year

Nathan Liewicki
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Back to school preparations winding down

Starting Sept. 2, Tana Arnott will no longer be making regular 100-kilometre round trip commutes from Moose Jaw to Rouleau. Drinking her coffee at work as opposed to on the highway is another bonus she is happy to embrace.

Amanda Leik, fills tinfoil bowls with oatmeal and cinnamon sticks in her pre-kindergarten classroom at Westmount School on Tuesday. Leik, 23, is one of a number of Moose Jaw-based teachers preparing for her first full-time year as a teacher.

After teaching at Rouleau School for the last six years, Arnott is making the switch to Peacock Collegiate for the 2014-15 school year, where she will be teaching Grade 9 English, as well as Grade 11 and 12 History.

As for the preparation work she has put into the new school year, Arnott told the Times-Herald Tuesday that the planning quadrant of teaching has been easier, but the assessment area will be more difficult.

“I’ll definitely be doing more marking, but I won’t be doing as much work planning my courses.

“Last year I taught about 10 courses and this year I’ll be teaching three,” she said. “Last year I had 45 students and this year I’m going to have 150.”

Although Arnott admitted that the biggest transition for her will be “getting the lay of the land around Peacock” and finding her place.

Although the number of classes she will be teaching are significantly fewer in 2014-15, Arnott explained that she has done more preparation ahead of this year’s first day of school than she’s done in recent years.

“I usually go back the last two weeks in August just to get my feet wet, get organized with the outcomes and what my plan is for the students, and get the classroom welcoming,” she said. “Definitely a few more days were put in this summer getting my classroom organized because of the move.”

Unlike Arnott, who has been preparing “full throttle” since the start of August, Amanda Leik has been preparing for the upcoming school year at a different pace.

The fact that Leik, 23, will be teaching pre-kindergarten is one reason, as is the fact she will be starting her first permanent full-time teaching gig.

She interned teaching pre-kindergarten at Westmount School a couple of years ago, and covered a maternity leave last year, but she’s ready to welcome 32 students – 16 in the morning and 16 in the afternoon – to school starting Tuesday.

Preparation-wise, Leik said the most difficult thing for her has been setting up her classroom, even though there are certain set up rules she abided by.

Her first day in the classroom was Aug. 5.

“Classroom setup is important and you want to invite play,” she said. “You want them to be stimulated that way.”

Without a defined curriculum, teaching simple life and social skills to pre-kindergarten students (ages three and four), Leik noted that choosing themes – the first one revolves around apples – and applying them throughout areas of the classroom was the easiest aspect of her preparation.

Having taught at Westmount previously has also made preparations easier for her

“You aren't that shy person trying to find your way around, so that has made a world of difference,” she said.

Leik described teaching pre-kindergarten as a place where she feels “most at home;” that includes the messes that you are sure to ensue.

"I love messes,” she said. “I love getting ooey-gooey and messy, so I'm prepared. But I don't know if my custodians are."

Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks.

Organizations: Rouleau School, Times-Herald, Westmount School

Geographic location: Westmount

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