Obituary: Mamacita, One Hell of a 1999 Grand Prix SE

I said goodbye to an inanimate object on Friday. It’s weird how parting with belongings can bring up emotions, but watching this car roll out was a bittersweet thing.

In September of 2013, I bought this beauty from the fine folks at Personal Touch Auto in the Soo after test driving it.

It sounded like a large waterfowl as the muffler was toast, so the first fix was to quiet it down. The guys there worked their magic and got it road safe, and I was off.

I drove it to Collingwood in September just after leaving a short summer job. It was packed to the tits in ski gear, cooking equipment and clothes.

I had a pretty cool opportunity to work in Thornbury for an interesting company. During my lunch breaks each day, this car would take me up and down the rolling hills of the Beaver Valley.

Proving to be a beast in the snow, I spent two winters in Collingwood commuting from town to TSC and beyond. Because I mostly used it as a winter beater, I decided to leave the snow tires on for three full years.

When Jason and I were both jobless in Collingwood this past fall, we decided to pack up and move back to the Sault. We towed this beauty behind a UHAUL cube truck on a sketchy dolly, much to the complaint of her struts.

She showed signs of fatigue after last winter, which was spent mostly at Searchmont with an occasional commute to the Sault or down the line. The head gasket leaked coolant, which was fine for the winter but the freeze thaw from three winters was enough for her.

Despite her aging condition and major lack of safety, we decided to tow her with the Dodge down to Huntsville when I got hired in May. Once again, I was living out of this car and various condos and it was great! My cat didn’t think so, but she survived.

This car had proven to be a real asset for my 100 km return commute to Burks Falls. Because of this, I was able to work at a middle school and develop some skills and meet people in the area.

Only once did she break down. It has been a damn hot summer and I forgot to top her up with coolant. She overheated on highway 60 just before I merged onto 11. A quick top up put her back on the road.

Sadly, this was one of her last trips. Once school was out, I took her to get an oil change at one of the local garages in Huntsville. The veteran mechanic warned me to fix the brakes, as they had almost completely rusted out. Because I live on Highway 60, I decided to leave the car be for a bit.

One day, the tire went flat in the yard. Not knowing what to do, I decided it might be time for this car to see its peaceful end.

I heard about Kidney Car through a friend. The nice thing is that they pick your car up and salvage the metal and such. With the proceeds they fund programs for people with kidney issues.

Watching this car get towed away was strangely sad, as it was basically the little engine that could. But I am happy that I didn’t keep it as it is basically a flying death trap!

Goodbye 1999 Grand Prix, your 243000 kms were well done. Rest easy!

Section 23: Two Different Schools, Two Great Days

I am happy to say that I supplied for two Section 23 groups in different locations today and yesterday. Both settings were indicative of great programming and caring staff. I have been to a few of the high schools now, and until this week I have never seen such productive learning behavior from teens.

The small group, individualized instruction with differentiated learning techniques jived well with these particular students. Students had access to appropriate resources and technology, and thrived in both rural and urban school environments.

Despite the fact that these students have more challenges than I could begin to imagine, they showed grit and perseverance. They put a smile on their face and keep moving. I can safely say I aspire to teach this interesting division on a more regular basis!

 Have you worked in Section 23 classrooms? I would love to hear your stories. This is by far one of the most interesting programs I have encountered thus far!

Default Teaching Strategies

As an Occasional Teacher, I typically default to the following strategies. I have listed them in what I believe to be the most to least effective. However, I use some of the “less effective” strategies more often due to time constraints, keeping with routine as well as technological difficulties.

  1. Inquiry Process
  2. Media Presentation
  3. Discussion
  4. Readers Theatre
  5. Read Aloud
  6. Manipulatives
  7. Socratic Dialogue
  8. Storytelling
  9. Independent Reading
  10. Game

Primary and Junior Grades Default Style

Typically I will start the day off with a read-aloud if I am not left with other plans. I use storytelling and discussion strategies to learn about the students.

If the group has strong readers, I may initiate a readers theatre to maximize engagement.

For math, I usually default to using manipulatives (if possible) to demonstrate concepts.

If students are behaving well, I reward them with a game or media presentation.

Inquiry learning is structured and guided for this age group, but if I feel like I have good control, I will encourage students to research topics that pertain to the day’s reading.

Intermediate and Senior Grades Default Style

If I am left without full-day plans, I will broadcast my laptop or phone to Chromecast or Apple TV and play an age appropriate, socially relevant YouTube video on the Smart Board (media presentation).

After this, we will have a discussion and Socratic dialogue about the media.

If internet and broadcasting technology is not available, I will default to independent reading as it is accessible, expedient, meditative and relaxing for students.

Once I figure out the flow of the classroom and students are behaving appropriately, I may get into some group storytelling to learn more about the students.

If students are ready to learn and are behaving appropriately, I will typically allow them to do some guided or open inquiry using the laptops, Ipads or library.

As an Occasional Teacher, what are your default teaching styles? Do they change from school to school, and grade to grade?