To Wear or Not to Wear…

How many teachers out there plan and display their outfits the night before a work day? Anyone? Anyone? Well, let it be known that I, Karley, plan and display my outfits every…single…night.  I confess, I do this mostly to save time (I’m not a big morning person); however, I also really love my wardrobe and I like looking presentable at school.  Additionally, I find that “day before outfit planning” eases my mind before I fall asleep at night.

*Some of my colleagues reading this might be laughing by this point because at least twice a week I’m dressed head to toe in my dance teacher attire (lululemon gear), comme ça:

Head to toe lululemon!

Head to toe lululemon, entirely low maintenance outfit planning.

The topic idea for this post was inspired by our lovely middle school librarian, who just celebrated a milestone birthday.  Our librarian’s birthday request was for staff to wear their fancy clothes to work for a day…so we did!  The Fancy Clothes Day was lots of fun and man, did we look sharp!  I think the most enjoyable part of Fancy Clothes Day was the students’ reaction (they had no idea what was going on).  Numerous whispered comments such as, “Why do all the teachers look so good today?” and “What is going on?!” could be heard while walking through the halls on Fancy Clothes Day.  The students’ reaction alone made me think a little deeper about what I wear to work.

Mirror notch outfit, poor quality photo.

Mirror Selfie…top notch outfit, poor quality photo.

This topic can be pretty personal.  Personal style in our Western culture tends to be a canvas on which we project our emotions, thoughts and personalities.  We show who we are to the world through the clothing choices we make every single day, whether we like it or not.  I remember beginning my second practicum experience two years ago…a time in my life where I just finished working at lululemon and had a well stuffed closet of tights and Cool Racer Backs…no, I am not paid to advertise for them! I remember thinking, “WHAT AM I GOING TO WEAR TO SCHOOL!?” This was actually my biggest concern.  Call me crazy, but I was feeling fairly confident with my lesson plans and extremely less confident with my wardrobe.  I remember my first “Teacher Clothes Shopping Spree”…it was expensive.  It was also uncomfortable (coming from a girl who lives in lulu anything would be uncomfortable).  I could not wait for the school days to end so I could go home and change out of those darn dress pants as soon as possible.  Nothing has changed in the past two years; I still think dress pants are ridiculously uncomfortable, but I am starting to find my fashion groove when it comes to “Real Teacher Clothes”.

My Teacher Clothes purchases for the 2012/2013 school year.  I sent this photo to a teacher friend.  Her reply: " look weird in real clothes."

My Teacher Clothes purchases for the 2012/2013 school year. I sent this photo to a teacher friend. Her reply: “Wow…you look weird in real clothes.”

I’ve found a few essential pieces of clothing have come in extremely useful for this teaching year: a long, black sweater, two pairs of dress pants with a bit of stretch in them (for those days when you’re constantly on the floor with students), three white/beige neutral flowy blouses, and two pairs of boots.  I loved my boots this year, they carried me through our mild West Coast winter.  This small Teacher Wardrobe covered me for my TOC days (only two days per week this year) and my dance teacher attire covered me for the other three days.  I’ve found the dress pants-lululemon combo to be a nice compromise.  I’ve found that my role as a teacher feels more professional when I am dressed professionally.  This might seem like a no-brainer, but I didn’t really understand the role of Teacher Clothing until I became a real teacher myself.  Now I get it and I am very excited to update my professional wardrobe this summer – you better believe there will be some more lulu added to it as well 🙂

Thanks to some teacher friends, here’s a short list of stores that offer seasonal teacher discounts:

Club Monaco
J Crew
RW &Co.
lululemon (only if you have the R&D discount, which sadly, I do not…yet).

This type of teacher clothing is 100% acceptable...on Hallowe'en, or any other time you feel like channeling your inner pirate.

This type of teacher clothing is 100% acceptable…on Hallowe’en, or any other time you feel like channeling your inner pirate.


The Power of Play

This post is dedicated to the memory of Julien-Pier. DSC01386

My soul is aching while I write this because not only have I lost a dear friend but the world has lost an incredible person. JP taught me so much about caring for others and sharing the warmth of a smile with everyone. Most of my memories with JP involve play – making playdough instead of dinner, rushing to ride the roller-coaster at the mall, and  finding Christmas trees in Quebec City. Julien-Pier knew how important it is to have fun in life. I am devastated that I won’t be able to create more memories with him but I am going to share and cherish all of the memories that I do have.

In pre-school and kindergarten we all learn through play and curiosity and then somewhere between grade 1 and high school the play seems to disappear… Is it because we no longer learn through play? I doubt it, seeing as I still learn from playing as an adult. I think it’s easy to get caught up in the curriculum or the classroom lessons and forget about the value of play.

When I started teaching grade 8 this year I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to relate to them, that they would be a lot older than the grade 6’s and 7’s I was used to. And then I took them outside – It was the last 10 minutes of the day and we headed out to the playground. They all stood around chatting for a minute and then the next thing I knew they were running full speed at the jungle gym for a game of tag. In this moment I knew that I would be okay because they wanted to play tag, because they were excited about life, and because I knew they were still “kids.”

Last year I saw a local researcher, Gary Anaka speak at a Pro D workshop. His saying was that “if your bum is numb, so is your brain.” This has really stuck with me and I try to think about it when I plan lessons – how can I get kids moving? Sometimes it’s as simple as putting articles they need to read in different parts of the classroom so they have to walk to read them. And sometimes it’s playing active games that involve concepts we are covering.

I think incorporating play into my lessons has resulted in some of my most effective teaching moments and I wish I had done more of it this year. One lesson that stands out in particular was a review game for some of the verbs we had just learned to conjugate in French. I took them outside and we played a “four corners” type activity in between the trees. (I will try to get this game up on TeachersPayTeachers this summer!) I surprised them by making the review activity fun and active, but they surprised me by really mastering the conjugations. There was a little bit of competition and a whole lot of teamwork, but mainly there was movement and a lot of laughter.

It’s going to be my goal to incorporate play into my lessons more often, no matter what grade I am teaching. Engaged students having fun with their teacher? I think that’s how it should be.

How do you incorporate play into your lessons and activities?
Any good stories about teaching new grade levels?


Extracurricular Activities – Run Club!

In Meaghan’s last post she mentioned coaching and other various extracurricular school activities she was involved with this year.  Meaghan’s an amazing human being…she really does DO IT ALL!  This year I, too, was involved in some extracurricular school activities: Dance Club and Run Club.  This post is going to focus on Run Club!

One of the best things about this year has been having the opportunity to reconnect and work with THIS lady: lovely friend, mentor and colleague, Jess.

…my lovely friend, mentor and colleague, Jess.

A number of weeks back, Jess and I were texting about what we could do together at our school (we really wanted a project).  We quickly decided that we wanted to create a “girls only” run club (inspired by a few grade 8 students in our school); our intention was to run the 5k race at the 2nd Annual Goddess Run here in Victoria, BC.  Two days after this idea was born, we had our first run club meeting and about 30 girls showed up!  As all school clubs go, our numbers evened out.  We ended up with 20 girls, 16 of which registered for the Goddess Run.  For six weeks every Friday after school we met for a health related discussion, a run, and some stretching.  We also hosted some small fundraisers at our recess and lunch breaks to help offset our registration costs.

planning texts

Most of our run club and fundraisers were planned through rapid fire text messaging 🙂

Jess and I really were Team Supreme; between her crazy schedule and commitments and my own, we managed to pull this run club off together.  However, we definitely couldn’t have done this though without our amazing run club girls.  Seeing those middle school girls commit to running with us on their Friday after school time was beyond awesome…they were a joy to run with! In fact, the girls loved run club sooo much that we have decided to keep it going until the end of school! Woo hoo!

Today was the day of our race…all 16 girls came out and were ready to run! Everyone finished the race in 40 minutes or less and everyone had a great time!


Two of our run clubbers, holding hands and showing support for one another while crossing the finish line! So proud of you, girls!

I feel like the luckiest teacher on the planet to have worked on this little run club project with my dear friend, Jess, these AWESOME girls, and their supportive families.  For me, this is what real teaching is all about…community, joy, sharing life experiences OUTSIDE of the classroom walls (when possible), and learning about ourselves along the way.

Our pre-race chant...1, 2, 3 GODDESS! (followed by some spirit fingers).

Our pre-race chant…1, 2, 3 GODDESS! (followed by some spirit fingers).