My name is Deanna Toxopeus and this is my professional blog. Here I talk about teaching and share resources. If you are looking for my class blog, please head here.
I have been teaching since 1999, so I am fast approaching my twentieth year in the business. I currently teach grade 7 & 8 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, but really, I have taught almost everything. I am a History specialist at the Intermediate level but have become a Math teacher. I enjoy teaching Math so much that I took a course from ETFO this summer to ensure I get to keep teaching this subject in the future. I also possess my Special Education Part 2 and my ESL Part 1. As part of my Special Education training, I took additional certification in Integration of Children with Exceptionalities in the Regular Classroom, Learning Disabilities, and Gifted Education.
So why the blog?
It’s hard to talk about yourself this way, but I have been encouraged by colleagues to share my ideas with the world. I have been repeatedly told that I am a creative and caring teacher and that others would benefit from my ideas. And I always thought I could do it later. “Later”, I would tell my friends, but something happened this year to show me that I had to stop saying “Later”. For many reasons, I needed to say “Now”.
So here we are.
Weird Name. What’s going on?
The name of this blog comes out of who I am as a teacher.
Shenanigans comes from my love of old-fashioned language. There are many words in the English language that have, sadly, fallen out of use. Shenanigans is one of these. I use it to describe the goofing-off I observe from students in class. They aren’t malicious about it, just silly and not thinking. I use the word with students, colleagues, and admin, so I am known for it.
Muffins comes from my tendency to use pet names with my students. “Sweetheart”, “Dear”, etc. are part of my vocabulary. I use them in place of students’ names all the time. I used to think that it was because I had a hard time with names at the beginning of the year, but then one year after I dismissed a class, a student hung back. He was a student who faced many challenges and was often alone. “Mrs. T,” he said, “The only other person who calls me sweetheart is my mom. Thanks.” And then he left my room.
It was a good thing I had a preparation period right after because I burst into tears. It was at this point that I realized that there are students in my class who need to hear that there are people at school who are happy to see them. My using those pet names may have started for selfish reasons, but I have continued it specifically for students like that young man who reached out to me. For a variety of reasons, “Muffins” has become my go-to name.
And it has become an interesting bit of culture in my class and school. Most students accept it as me being me. Some students object, claiming they are not a muffin but rather a cupcake or some other baked good. I tell them they can be whatever pastry they want after they graduate. Which leads to flights of fancy. “I am going to be baklava!” ”I want to be a donut!” “I am going to be a lemon pudding!” And the day after graduation, I refer to the grade 8s as the “students formerly known as muffins!”
So Muffins & Shenanigans seemed to be the perfect name of the for this blog.
I look forward to sharing ideas with you as this blog develops.
P.S. You can follow me on Twitter.