Let It Go…

As I’ve entered into this new profession of teaching I have really connected with a lot of people and made some great new friends… It’s really nice to have so much in common with people around you. But on the flip side I have noticed a striking common ground with a lot of teachers – Perfectionism! I’m sure it’s in other professions as well but holy smokes there are a lot of perfectionist teachers out there!

Now perfectionism isn’t something new to me (as you may remember from this post) but rarely have I been surrounded by so many other people striving for the impossible right alongside me! Unfortunately this has made my goal of allowing more imperfection in my life infinitely harder…

This summer has been eye opening for me when I realized just how much of a perfectionist I can be. From planning a friend’s wedding shower to writing compositions for French class, I have realized how hard it is for me to chill out and relax (even on my summer break!)

Enter in my new mantra…


I’m really working on just letting it go. Instead of stressing about not getting an A+ in the course that has been challenging from day one, I’m going to try to acknowledge that everything I have learned is vastly more important than the letter grade at the end.

Instead of stressing about the job I may or may not have in September, I’m going to remember that things happen for a reason and I will be able to find joy in whatever I may end up doing.

Instead of stressing over whether or not my new apartment is put together enough to have people over, I’m going to invite them anyways and enjoy what is set up here.

And the biggest stressor of all for me – I’m going to work to become okay with missing out on some things because it really is impossible to try to be at every social event with every friend all the time (most people probably know this already but it’s new news for me!)

I feel that life was somehow passing me by while I was try to make all the pieces fit in a row. I think learning how to let things go and live in the moment will help me become more of the teacher I want to be.

Next school year I hope that I will not miss out on as many of the little conversations or moments with my students. I hope that I will be more relaxed and able to focus on the beauty in my daily life.


Girl Rising – Go See This Film!

Last night I had the incredible opportunity to attend a special viewing of “Girl Rising” with one of the most inspirational, generous and “game changing” teachers I know (she also happens to be my former practicum teacher – lucky me!)  Take a moment to watch the trailer for the film before reading the rest of this post.

I’ve watched the trailer about ten times since yesterday and each time my entire body crawls with goosebumps, my eyes fill with tears and my bottom lip trembles while I try to hold back those tears.  10×10 has created a magnificent film with the help of World Vision and other NGOs.  The stories the nine girls have to share are, unfortunately, not unique portrayals of everyday life for women in the developing world.  Despite this fact, these stories bring hope, power and perseverance to the forefront of my mind.

Human rights has always been one of my “extracurricular” passions.  I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t curious about civilian lives during a war, genocide or local uprising.  I’ve used this passion to help drive my teaching and my learning for many, many years.  I could talk at length about human rights and the phenomenal worldwide initiatives that inspire me, but for now I’ll leave you with “Girl Rising”.

For more information about “Girl Rising”, its directors and producers, its writers, World Vision and the nine girls presented in this film, click HERE.

PS – The writer for Sokha’s segment (the young girl from Cambodia) is Loung Ung.  Read more about Loung Ung at our newest “Book Tale” here.


It’s the hills that make us stronger…

This is just a quick post of some rambling thoughts…

Right now I’m training for my second half marathon so, besides school, running is taking a lot of my time! Tonight I went out to search for the “perfect hill” to run my hill repeats.

As I was running up this “perfect hill” I found myself feeling a little angry with my pre-run self who seemed to think that a super steep hill was what I needed.

When I get tired during hill runs I try to keep reminding myself that the hills are what make me stronger and a better runner. Tonight though my mind wasn’t as much on the hill as it was on my French test tomorrow and that assignment I didn’t do great on the other day and how overwhelmed I feel sometimes in my class and on and on and on…

It was at this point that I reminded myself that the hills are what make me stronger and better. My hill tonight is that studying I need to do while my friends are all at a barbecue. My hill tomorrow will be working hard to think through what I’ve learned this week and apply it on my test. And next week I will have to do it again.


And just like I feel great right now after my run…

When this course is done the “hills” that I’ve had will make me a better teacher and a better French speaker. In the end those hills are worth every second of pain we may feel!


Book Tale: First They Killed My Father

In 2007, while traveling through South East Asia with my husband, I discovered an amazing woman called Loung Ung.  Loung was born in Cambodia and survived Pol Pot’s regime and the Khmer Rouge’s genocide.  Many members of Loung’s family did not survive the Khmer Rouge’s atrocities, but Loung was able to make her way (with her eldest brother and sister-in-law) to a refugee camp in Thailand, and later was sponsored to move to the USA.  I got my hands on a photocopied version (the only version I could find!) of Loung’s first book, “First They Killed My Father”, when we were traveling through her native country, Cambodia.  I actually bought and read her second book, “Lucky Child”, while in Cambodia, too.  Reading Loung’s life stories while traveling through her home country was a powerful, life changing experience for me.  Because I was in Cambodia (specifically Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Siem Reap and Battambang) while reading Loung’s recollections of the Khmer Rouge and the genocide, her experiences were literally at my fingertips.  Talk about bringing the (true) story to life!

LoungUng This book is an emotionally taxing read, but it’s well worth it.  Loung describes her experiences living in and surviving Pol Pot’s regime.  She also tells of memories with her family and the struggles they endured to try and stay together during the Khmer Rouge invasion.  Since “First They Killed My Father”, Loung Ung has written several more books about her experiences (including moving to the USA and meeting and marrying her American born husband).  Loung is a renowned human rights activist and lecturer and has worked for various organizations such as the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. She is changing the world with every word she speaks. If you enjoy learning and reading about human rights related issues and stories, you will love Loung Ung’s work!


A Little Inspiration…

As you may know, I am currently a research assistant at our local university. We are working on a project about a type of self-directed inquiry called “Transformative Inquiry.” I joined this project in the summer before my final year of university and it has been an influential part of my teaching ever since. In our final year we take the Transformative Inquiry course and it is one of the first opportunities where we are able to really look at our place in this education system: what we bring in as a teacher, what we want to change, etc. Through this process I have really begun to understand who I am as a teacher and what I am going to bring to my students that I feel this world needs.

My "Path with Heart" from my TI Project

My “Path with Heart” from my TI Project

The freedom of being able to look a topic of interest was a turning point for me when it came to the delivery of curriculum in my own classroom. When I took my contract this year I knew I wanted to incorporate some of this style of learning but I wasn’t sure how.

After Christmas, I ventured into the personal inquiry project with my students and it began to take shape. Each student looked at a topic they were interested in and had to research it, talk to friends/family members about it, conduct an interview with someone, etc. And then we looked at their topics with a global lens to see how connections could be made worldwide. The students then had to do a personal, community, and global connections piece and a presentation for the class.

The project was far from perfect… We needed more time on a few parts that I tried to rush through and much less time on other areas. It ran too late into the end of the year and not everyone had the opportunity to present. Some students were confused about the process and very focused on an end result. Some lessons went off the rails pretty quickly and we had to switch gears… But in the end there was a lot of great connections and learning that came from the project and I am so happy that I ventured into the unknown with this one.

My subject connection was to language arts, although I believe you can connect personal projects to most, if not all, subjects. I think writing and sharing about their interests was some of the most effective learning this year. When the students were talking about something they were passionate about they seemed to get lost in their topic and speak from their heart. Their writing was deep and moving – well written and again, from the heart.

I learned a lot from doing this project but the thing that was most astounding to me was watching the students talk about their topics and share the information with each other. In June, when some of the students were presenting, I saw something come alive in the class. There were students sharing very personal information and the rest of the class appeared to be truly listening to their peers. I saw connection and understanding grow between many students. It was amazing to watch and I felt so inspired.

The beautiful words from a student...

The beautiful words from a student…

I received a note from one of my students on the last day of class that thanked me for the opportunity to present to the class about a topic that she did not feel she had been able to talk about otherwise. In this note she said that I had inspired in her a love for English and expressing herself through writing and then she said that she only wished I had found the same inspiration this year. Well all I can say is that I truly did… I am inspired to continue to have students complete personal projects and I am inspired by the passions and ideas that the students have. I have found more inspiration in watching these students share than I ever could while reading or researching anything on my own.

Do you do any personal projects or inquiry in your classroom?

Would you like to hear more about the specifics of my project?

Also, please share some of your inspiration from your students!