Digital Portfolio

Change – is uncomfortable, sometimes messy, challenging and most importantly needs the willingness to take the next step. Making a digital portfolio is a necessary tool in the 21st century as an educator, however the ability to gain the skills and confidence to be proficient and even exemplary takes many hours of work, learning and failing. Blogs, Twitter, Remind are only a few mediums that allow a teacher to leave their digital footprint for themselves and their students. Today’s professional development was another step forward in being “uncomfortable” with my learning. I have learned a lot of great ways to connect with parents students by using technology, but today was a great reminder that it is a journey of constant reflection and learning how to improve my knowledge to increase my pedagogy.

I learn some practical lessons today and one of the most valuable lessons I learned today was to become more conscious and familiar with the Teaching Quality Standards of which I am measured as a teacher. By keeping this at the forefront of my practice, I will be able to reflect about how my instruction and deliver is being effective for my students. As I move forward in my educational journey, I embrace the the feeling of discomfort when it is sparked by learning. Therefore it can be said that the mark of a great teacher is someone who is able to facilitate a student through that type of learning. Time to make some changes and additions to this digital portfolio.


Final Sub Story

The school year has come to a close and that means my journey as a substitute teacher in Halifax, NS comes to an end. I have been privileged to work for Halifax Regional School Board, Armbrae Academy and Sacred Heart School of Halifax. All 3 school boards have been an enjoyable and fruitful experience for my professional career. There are a number of great skills and strategies that I will be taking with me to my own classroom. I organized the fruitful experiences as philosophy development, strategies and behaviour management.

1. Philosophy Development

A. High Expectations – no matter the classroom, or the students in the classroom – having good standards yields good results; having excellent expectations can yield excellent results!

B. Stay on top of EVERY student in a “busy” class.

C. Appreciate different teaching and learning styles in the school. It allows for diversity and diversity is a great lesson for everyone!

D. The wheel doesn’t need to be reinvented – but you don’t have to ride it until it is flat! Adaptations and change can be a good thing sometimes.

2. Strategies 

A. For each unit/topic/subject, have 1 independent project that students can work on when they are finished their work early. OR having a “finished early” folder that has fun activities, projects and games etc.

B. Have simple and clear consequences or as my old boss said, “say it, mean it, do it!”

3. Behaviour Management  

      i: Individual Strategies

A. Move students quickly if they are not being productive and disruptive.

B. Green, yellow, red – a behaviour strategy that physically has each student’s name on an object (cloths pins, velcro, popsicle sticks). If a student is at red, then they need to take a time out and write a reflection of the behaviour. If a student receives their name on the red 3 times, then they write a letter or have a phone conversation with home. Yellow means a student needs to refocus and if behaviour gets worse it will move to red. If students are behaving and working well they stay on green.

C. Individual reward system (many options)

D. 5 min free time, computer time, leader position in class, prize etc

         ii: Group strategies

A. Class point system: everyday the class starts with 3 stars on the board, if it is too loud or the class gets off task, I take one star off the board as a consequence. At the end of the school day, the students add the total to daily tally, and once the students receive 100 stars they receive a reward.

B. Training and repetition for class routines is essential.

C. Listen and talk box – It is known as the Listen and Talk Box because the person standing in the box will have the class’s attention immediately. Tape a 2′ x 2′ box on the ground. Whenever a student or the teacher stands in the box, everyone needs to be quiet and listening. (works similarly to chiming a bell/sound to get everyone’s attention) If students don’t immediately listen or try and abuse the use of the box, then necessary consequences will immediately follow. Hopefully it works, I’ll let you know in September!

As much as I have enjoyed my year travelling from school to school, “cherry picking” great ideas from classroom to classroom, I am excited to get back into my own classroom. I am excited to be moving back to Alberta, and to teach in a great school board like Parkland School Division. Next year I will continue blogging and I am sure I will create another tab for the coming school year. Thanks for a wonderful experience, Halifax!

Click here for more subbing stories.


Gaby Ferzli

Endings Mean New Beginnings

Everyone knows that the month of June is the beginning of the end of the school year. The end of a school year can be happy and exciting or it can be stressful and difficult for students, parents and/or teachers. Each year brings about new challenges, opportunities, successes and failures that once reflected upon by everyone can bring to focus if goals, dreams and aspirations were achieved. Whenever there is an ‘ending’ to something, reflection of the past events can be excellent an teachers for future endeavours.

Students, parents and/or teachers may feel excited about the coming summer because it was a successful year or they may just be ready for a break. Also, they will have developed valuable skills, knowledge and friendships. However, there are times when the ‘end’ of the school year can be difficult for a student, parent and/or teacher. Change can be unfamiliar and that can be very stressful. New routines and relationships cause anxiety which may be an uncomfortable feeling that many people don’t like to encounter directly. Ultimately, the ‘ending’ of something marks the beginning of something new. Whether the school year was a wonderful year filled with joy and laughter or a difficult year that has had lessons to be learned; it is important to remember that the best direction to move in life is forward.

Since my year was filled with both successes and difficulties as a substitute teacher, I will take my own advice and continue forward! As I embark on my journey back into my own classroom, I am very excited and eager to share my lessons from this past year with my up coming classrooms of tomorrow.

Until next time. 🙂



Top 10 Reasons I love being a School Teacher

As I have mentioned in my previous posts and pages, I am a substitute teacher in Halifax, NS. Currently I have been at the same school and classroom for the last 6  weeks and it is refreshing compared to the ‘normal’ subbing of one building to the next. I thought I needed to ‘take a step back’ and reflect upon the top 10 reasons why I love being a school teacher.

Top 10 Reasons I love being a School Teacher

1. I love laughing with students. Here is a quick story (I have replaced the actual names of the student).

The school day is finished and students are putting on their coats and about to head home.

Ben to Kyle: “Hey Kyle, look at this!”

Kyle: “Hahahaha that’s so funny” Ben you’re so funny. How are you so funny?

Ben: “Because that’s what I do, I make people laugh, watch this. Hey Mr. Ferzli,”

[Ben does a funny face, with a goofy smile]

Mr. Ferzli: “Hahaha, Ben you’re very funny, you do make people laugh”

Ben: “I know I am, that’s what I love to do” [Giant smile on his face]

2. I love collaboration with colleagues.

It is very powerful to learn, work and develop relationships with colleagues because every conversation or PD enhances my ability to deliver effective and powerful lessons.

3.  I love watching students collaborate with one another and learn from each other.

My supervision/duty is always more enjoyable when I watch students organize a game of soccer on their own, organize a game of four square or create an imaginary game with a group of students. It is similar to one of those great feelings you get as teacher when you teach a lesson and quickly the students own the lesson and the create a masterpiece that they are extremely proud of.

4. I love connecting with students on a level outside of the classroom.

Coaching is a passion of mine,  but I quickly forgot how wonderful it is to see the joy on the students faces when they get the opportunity to play an organized activity. I was fortunate enough to be able to coach a senior high senior boys basketball team a few months ago, and have started Wednesday lunch intramurals.

5. I love reading to students and I love listening to students read.

The stillness in class, the occasional laughter and the attention that can only be brought about by listening to a story. Reading is not only one of the greatest skills a student can learn in school but it is also a way to relax, enjoy a leisure activity and entertain those around you.

6. I love challenging students outside their comfort zone to gain their deepest learning.

“One finds limits by pushing them” -Herbert Simon

7. I love when learning happens through playing games.

Recently, I discovered the wonderful joy that simple games like “multiplication war” or “multiplication or division bingo” brings to children. There is a time and place for instructions and lecturing lessons, but I firmly believe there is a time and place to learn through play too!

8. I love watching students express their personality and when they share their strengths.

Every morning to start the school day,  the students come into my class to a song. Before the end of the song, the students need to be in their desk, silent reading. This is a morning routine which gives direction and an immediate task to get into the right mind set to learn. Monday to Thursday I usually play acoustic guitar or classical music, but on Friday I let a student pick a song. And for the last three weeks, the Friday song has been “Happy”  by Pharrell Williams. And lets be honest, who doesn’t love this song? Each week I have observed more and more students dancing before they sit down and read. What is really awesome to see is how the typical reserved quiet student becomes more and more comfortable when they see others around them being comfortable to dance and be silly. The best part is to watch the transformation with students with everyday routine.

9. I love when students discover their passion in the classroom, school and extra-curricular activity.

It’s no secret, people learn outside of the walls of a school, especially kids. It is wonderful to see how adults, teens, and kids begin to become passionate about something. The first time a student saw a “just dance” video played as a break in class, many were shocked and I even had one very keen student ask, “are you allowed to play that in class? ” While I had a chuckle, I noticed a student break out of his shell. In fact, throughout the day he kept saying how much he loves to dance at home with that game. He even said, “I’m going to be a dancer for life.” It was special because I thought of events like talent shows, tournaments or fundraising where students get to display their talents that they don’t normal get to show. Ultimately, education should be the foundations for students to find and develop their passions.

10. I love the feeling of cultivating a classroom and a school culture.

Some of my favourite memories as a student were not necessarily just great lessons, they were great school experiences such as a bike-a-thon, school celebrations, intramurals and team sports. Therefore, as a teacher, I provide opportunities for students to learn and grow in a collaborative environment. Also, having set up cooperate learning strategies for students I have been able to cultivate a classroom that enables students to interact with one another for learning.



Organization is Key

Lights, camera, action.” As a teacher, the camera is always rolling. Whether you are skating at the local rink or in between the walls of the school, students watch your every move. Whether it’s a messy desk, inappropriate language, or getting caught picking your nose, you’re going to elicit a reaction from somebody. As such, every day I am finding it more and more important to be organized as a teacher. Especially in a profession where teachers need to be flexible and willing to change plans quickly and think on their feet. But by being constantly organized, a routine and expectation for students and the teacher can help establish stability in difficult situation.

While completing my education degree, I was advised to begin my professional portfolio. One of the elements that I included was my daily promises or as I titled it, “10 Commandments to Teaching Daily.”  I created this simple declaration to be a reminder of the founding principles to my teaching philosophy, one of which is organization. As I have been in education for 3 years now, I am beginning to cement my learning and develop my philosophies as a teacher. However, it is crucial for a great classroom teacher to have pedagogical foundation that includes organization, and I know I am not going to waiver from this ‘commandment.’ I have outlined the importance of organization in three categories: organization in planning, leaders are organized and organization can impress.

Organization in Planning

My commitment to and belief in the necessity of organization has been informed by various sources. Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People touches on the idea for slowing down to speed up. This asserts the need to prioritize. In my first year of teaching, my former principal would often remind me of the importance of making sure I “put first things first.” He advocated that I use “5 Big Ideas” to help guide and organize planning for the year. This meant that I prioritize by planning in an organized way that targeted the most important outcomes of the year and work around those Big Ideas. Through my experience, I have noticed the success of the students coincides with organization of both the classroom and the teacher. Therefore, establishing effective long-term and short-term plans are vital elements to be a highly successful teacher. Organization allows for effective planning to take shape and form in your classroom.

Leaders are Organized

Moreover, organization is like a cold, it’s contagious!  By keeping an organized workspace as a teacher, the students have a positive example to follow.  My first year principal would always remind me of the importance to “do as I do” and not, “do as I say but not do as I do.” This can be exemplified through an organized workspace. Requiring students to maintain a clean workspace while not maintaining one yourself, is hypocritical.

It can be overwhelming to think about the daily tasks that a teacher is responsible for. However, a clean and organized workspace helps the teacher to be more effective and productive while an organized classroom creates a positive learning environment. I have experienced a direct correlation between my desk being messy and both the student’s desk and the classroom being messy. It can be a quick downward spiral that can be easily avoided with regular cleaning for an organized work space.

Also, organization is a key skill for students to learn at an early age. Once they develop this positive attribute and habit at a young age they are more likely to carry these skills forward in life. So, when they learn how to keep a clean and organized desk, they will understand the importance of a clean binder, workbook or computer folders.

Organization can Impress

Another benefit of organizing your desk is to ensure the first impressions from substitutes, colleagues, parents and students are positive. Maintaining a clean work space as a teacher  provides a clean and welcoming feeling. This helps to contribute to the positive classroom environment that every teacher strives to have in their classroom.

If there are any thoughts, comments or suggestions for strategies for organizing, please share it with the world in the comment section.


Introducing my Portfolio

The creation my portfolio has made me reflect on who I am as a person and as an educator. I am proud to have a vast overlap between my profession and my personal life. Although I value a balance of work and personal life, my passionate personality allows me to love the work that I commit myself to. As a professional in education, I am interested in the interactions with colleagues, students, parents and other stakeholders in the educational world. My digital footprint to the world begins with my professional portfolio in education. This website describes who I am as a person, while highlighting my qualifications.

The wonderful opportunities that I experienced through athletics has impacted my character and my personality.  I appreciate the values and character I developed through positive role-models in my lifetime in athletics. As I move forward in my coaching career, I am inspired to challenge and motive students to become their best self in sport and in life. However, I would never have been given those opportunities if it was not for all the great teachers that pushed me to achieve excellence in my education.

I have always taken great pride and have had wonderful fulfilment in helping others. I embrace the opportunities to help others develop their passions and pursue their goals and ambitions in life.

I hope to accomplish the following with this website:

  • Continue to grow and learn as a leader in education.
  • Maintain the most current and best practices in education.
  • Transparency with communication with parents and students.
  • Connect with other educators around the world.
  • Promote healthy living and athletics in education.
  • Allow myself and students to express personality.

Yours in Education,

Gaby Ferzli

Beginning the Journey of a Professional Portfolio: Purpose and Passion

When I began my professional portfolio, I thought about how I wanted to be remembered at the end of my career. In education, this type of planning is referred to as “beginning with the end in mind” (Backwards by Design planning). Steve Jobs challenges you to live “as if you would die tomorrow” and I believe that this philosophy can instill purpose and passion in everyone. As I welcome myself to new Professional Learning Networks (PLN), I am excited to share my knowledge, resources and experiences to hopefully enrich other educators.

As I establish greater roots in education, I am motivated to use technology, athletics and personality to give students purpose and passion for their learning.  As a third year teacher, I have embraced the challenge of moving across Canada, from Edmonton, AB to Halifax, NS . I am currently enjoying being a substitute teacher while trying to motivate students to find their passions in life and on a day-to-day basis.

It’s time to lead by example for the students to see the wonderful opportunities that blogging can create for themselves. Thank-you for taking the time to read my blog and explore my awesome pages! 🙂


Gaby Ferzli