Dear 2014

Dear 2014,

I have a good feeling about you.



I can’t wait!

I’m not really a “New Year’s Eve” lover but this year I’m looking forward to the fresh start that the New Year brings. I also have this wonderful feeling that this year is going to be amazing!

I feel very refreshed and in a good head space heading into January. It was a nice break from blogging but I definitely missed writing my random thoughts out and connecting with our amazing readers. I spent most of the holiday visiting with family and friends, running, reading, playing LOTS of card games and board games… and generally just relaxing. We were up with Ryan’s family for Christmas so lots of trail runs and family time, followed by a quick trip up the mountain with more family and a visit with my parents in their oceanfront condo – We live in an astoundingly beautiful place!

I have some resolutions and goals that I will share with you later on but for now here are some pictures of my amazing, rejuvenating holiday so far…


Some of my Christmas card creations… I love crafting – especially during the holiday season!


We hosted a “Whoville” themed Christmas costume party this year. It was a blast and I can’t wait to make it an annual event! (Check out that awesome Grinch sweater I made!)


It was the first year we spend Christmas Day together and also the first year I spend Christmas Day with another family… Very special for me!


We were blessed with some beautiful weather on our mini-mountain vacation but not enough snow for skiing so we had to make do with some snowball fights and sledding.

A big score in the gift stealing game at the mountain! These will come in handy for our 2nd annual Whoville party I'm sure!

A big score in the gift stealing game at the mountain! These will come in handy for our 2nd annual Whoville party I’m sure!


Then it was back down to the ocean to visit my parents (From forest to mountains to ocean – I do love this island!)


And we returned to find candy canes hidden everywhere… We love our friends who definitely keep us laughing! (I even had a candy cane fall out of the oven mitt I was wearing tonight – too funny!)

Happy New Year everyone! I’m so happy to be back in touch – Let’s make 2014 a year of gratitude, blessings, and choosing joy!


Goodbye 2013, Hello Awesome 2014!

Hi everyone! Meaghan and I opted to take a blogging break over the Christmas season, and my goodness, has it ever been a great break! We’ve found the time to really indulge in some of our most favourite things (family time, reading time, exercising time…), but as 2014 draws nearer I’m noticing that some of our favourite bloggers are starting to come out of their week long hibernation and it’s been nice to have some fresh inspiration and reading material from them.  Meaghan is currently in travel mode so she won’t be posting for a few more days, but I’m in a place with internet access so I thought I’d update you all with photos of how successful my break has been so far!

First of all, check out our current view! If this isn't relaxing, rejuvenating and inspiring...I don't know what is.  My husband's family lives on this lake and we are spoiled because we get to come here at least twice per year.

First of all, check out our current view! If this isn’t relaxing, rejuvenating and inspiring…I don’t know what is. My husband’s family lives on this lake and we are spoiled because we get to come here at least twice per year.

We got to celebrate Christmas with my family, who came to Victoria to be with us.  So much fun!

We got to celebrate Christmas with my family, who came to Victoria to be with us. So much fun!

We went for a family skate, thanks to my lovely friend, Tanya, and her family, who rent out the entire rink on Christmas Eve every single year! This was the first time Joel had been skating since 1996...sorrows of a man with size 15s.

We went for a family skate, thanks to my lovely friend, Tanya, and her family, who rent out the entire rink on Christmas Eve every single year! This was the first time Joel had been skating since 1996…sorrows of a man with size 15s.

My parents know how to give gifts! Although my dad joked that this was really a white board when it was all wrapped up, I knew it had to be something better :) I love this piece of art where it currently is in our home.

My parents know how to give gifts! Although my dad joked that this was really a white board when it was all wrapped up, I knew it had to be something better 🙂 I love where this piece of art currently is in our home.

Ummm...we're models.

Ummm…we’re models.

Basking in some snowy, outdoor goodness up here in the Okanagan.  We don't get snow in Victoria.

Basking in some snowy, outdoor goodness up here in the Okanagan. We don’t get snow in Victoria.

I've been doing a whole lot of this...

I’ve been doing a whole lot of this…

I also have been (slowly) getting back into running.  My running this fall has been slow going because I am not a master at the work-life balance, and because I've been dealing with some hip injuries.  I know my pace is slow, but I don't just feels good to be out running again!

I also have been (slowly) getting back into running. My running this fall has been slow going because I am not a master at the work-life balance, and because I’ve been dealing with some hip injuries. I know my pace is slow, but I don’t care…it just feels good to be out running again! Note: I am a well trained athlete, keeping notes of things that might impact my performance, such as “mint lasted 4k”…important!

And Meaghan and I have been setting some BHAGs over text message.  BHAG - Big hairy Audacious Goal.   Thanks to my favourite company, lululemon, for coining that term! More BHAGs in vision board form coming next week!

And Meaghan and I have been setting some BHAGs over text message. BHAG – Big Hairy Audacious Goal. Thanks to my favourite company, lululemon, for coining that term! More BHAGs in vision board form coming next week!

It’s just started to snow up here at the lake again, so I better go get my run in while I still can.  This break has had nothing to do with teaching and everything to do with recalibrating, which is exactly what I wanted and needed.  Happy New Year, see you all in 2014!


The Spirit of Giving

Hi everyone! We hope you are all doing well this evening.  We want you to know we are grateful for all our readers and the Hollywood-famous internet success you have made us in 2013 (obviously joking, but if you could only hear some of the “wait…YOU are Karley/Meaghan from Tale of Two Teachers?!” comments we’ve received, you’d feel Hollywood-famous too).  We plan to take a well deserved Blog Break during the next two weeks.  We love to blog and share our teaching lives with you, but we’ve both worked so hard this term and we need a serious rest.  We will likely post some pre-written book tales and travel tales over the break, but we’ll come back to you for real in 2014!  Until then, enjoy this last post about the Spirit of Giving in Karley’s class.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

This week has been action packed, long, fun, crazy…come Wednesday this is how I felt:

This is my, "HELLO how is it only Wednesday?" face

This is my, “HELLO how is it only Wednesday?” face.  I texted this photo to my teacher friend, Tanya, and she texted me back with a photo of herself drinking her own Starbucks.  Survival mode.

However, despite the December-last-week-of-school insanity, there has been a glowing portion of this week that has set my heart on fire.  A teacher on my team has done hamper backpacks for people who are homeless for the past few years.  He usually takes on this initiative with his own class, but this season we expanded it to all three English track grade 8 classes (a huge undertaking!) For all of December our three classes have been bringing in their own hard earned cash and donating it to our “shopping fund”.  We also did a bake sale (thought up, planned, prepped and executed all within 5 school days) and raised $193 just from selling sugary goodness to our fellow school mates.  In total, our three grade 8 classes raised OVER $600 to go toward our backpack hamper initiative!!  My heart was so happy this Tuesday when we brought all 75ish of our students shopping downtown, with hamper lists in hand.  We spent our money on things people living on our city streets might need during the winter (e.g. socks, hoodies, toothbrushes, long underwear…etc.)  Following our shopping spree we all went to see a private viewing of The Hobbit II in 3D and the three grade 8 French immersion classes joined us there (yes, you read that correctly, six grade 8 classes in one movie theatre).  Tuesday was a solid day out of school!

giving1Yesterday and today some students spent their time organizing and piling up everything we purchased for our backpack hampers; we had enough to fill six backpacks, three female bags and three male bags.  Today my colleague and I took seven of our students to our local Mustard Seed and we gave our bags to some people there who are in extreme need.  It was a humbling experience for students and teachers alike.  Sharing the spirit of giving with students is my favourite part of my job.  I think educating kids to be mindful and caring of and for others is one of the best lessons a teacher can provide.  This natural season of giving has just been the start…I’m excited to see where 2014 leads us when it comes to service-minded learning!  I am so proud of our students.

In addition to all this goodness during the season of giving, check out how long my class’ Gratitude Chain is now:

Tomorrow, our last day of school in 2013, is pajama day! We are going to hang out in our jammies and read through everything we're grateful for.

Tomorrow, our last day of school in 2013, is pajama day! We are going to hang out in our jammies and read through everything we’re grateful for.

Joel and I are off to buy our Christmas tree now, and then I have 26 cards to make! One more day and then it’s a well deserved break for students AND teachers.  Enjoy, everyone!



Teach it Tues-ednesday: The Christmas Edition

Today I am grateful for my wonderful boyfriend who took his lunch hour to bring me the CD I needed for the following lesson – Thank you!

Well – It’s the last week before Christmas break! Are you as exhausted, scatter-brained, and spacey as I am? Just hoping I’m not the only one! Hence why Teach it Tuesday is arriving on a Wednesday this week… But hopefully it will help you out with those last few blocks you aren’t sure what to do with and it gave me a chance to test it out today!

I absolutely love listening to “The Vinyl Cafe” on CBC radio anytime I’m in the car. Stuart McLean is such a great story teller and I love the everyday humor in his stories. I have very fond memories of the Christmas stories in particular and listening with my parents either at home by the fire or in the car. This week I’m in a grade 8 class and I decided that I would incorporate one of my favourites “Dave Cooks the Turkey” into language arts. (I used the CD but you can find it online here).

I made up a sheet that they can fill out while the listen: a four corner activity with a drawing, quotation, connection and reflection. Considering it was the last blocks of the day in the last week of school before winter break they were decently well done. If I was to do it again I would tell them that the drawing, quotation and connection need to come out of three different parts of the story (as some students did the drawing, quotation, connection from the first minute and my guess? Didn’t listen to the rest – ha!) For the reflection I had them write what the thought about the story, what was interesting/funny and whether or not they liked the story.

Here is an example of the sheet and some of the responses that students did:



Winter Break Q&A – Karley

Today I am grateful that Monday is over and that Jane Austen wrote some amazing literature and that people have made her books into movies.

Heading into the last week of school before winter break we thought we would each do a little Q&A about ourselves and our teaching so far this year…

Best moment so far this year…  Getting a beautifully honest Christmas card from one of my more vulnerable students.  I cried.  I also felt (for a moment) that maybe some of my hard work is starting to pay off.  Just maybe.

Biggest challenge this year…  Honestly?  Every single day in my class provides new challenges for me and for my teaching.  I’ve tried more behaviour management ideas than I thought I knew about (still taking any ideas anyone else has!)  I’ve tried to differentiate assignments to meet the diverse needs of my learners.  I’ve grown this tremendous amount of patience…I actually feel like I can handle the most ridiculous grade 8 classroom situation and still walk away from it without losing it.  I am hoping that these challenges turn into small victories come New Year.

Differences from last year… Ha! This year is completely different from last year in every single way. Last year I wore lululemon to school and danced with my students to Beyonce all day long.  This year I still wear lululemon, and I still dance to Beyonce, but my cool teacher points for doing so are lacking because I teach science and French now, not dance.  I appreciate the differences because I know they will make me a more well rounded teacher in the end; however, at least once a week I long to be back in the dance studio, rockin’ out with kids who just love to dance.

This is what I wore to school to teach in last

This is what I wore to school to teach in last year…best.

Current mantra… One more week.  One more week.

Plans for the break… Sleep. Sleep. Sleep.  And exercise.  And get some of my life back.  Since October 15th my life has mostly revolved around my classroom; I am looking forward to reading a book, uninterrupted, for pleasure (gasp!) and for doing what I want to do, when I want to do it.  I’m also 100% honest when I say I’m looking forward to no interaction with 13 year olds for two consecutive weeks.  I love my class, but we need a break from each other right now.  Also, my family is coming for Christmas and we are hosting! I’m very excited to host our first Christmas in our new house!

My fam is pretty awesome...looking forward to some quality time with them!

My fam is pretty awesome…looking forward to some quality time with them!

Goals for the new year… I intend to be more mindful in my teaching and planning.  Some of you who know me might be thinking, “Are you kidding me? You master the mindful!”  The truth is, I don’t.  I have much more work to do when it comes to mindfully planning for all my students.  To be fair with myself, this term was planned out before I really got to know my students, their work habits, and their likes/dislikes.  Next term I hope to keep in mind my most vulnerable learners because right now in class most of them are doing a whole lot of…nothing.  Time to teach these kids how to take ownership!


Winter Break Q&A – Meaghan

Today I am grateful for the light and love of children in this world. There are so many times that the pain and suffering I see in the news or around us every day seems overwhelming but spending time with children whether they be students, friends, or family makes everything seem more worthwhile.

Heading into the last week of school before winter break we thought we would each do a little Q&A about ourselves and our teaching so far this year…

Best moment so far this year…

After the whirlwind of getting a dream job then losing it within a week the absolute best moment so far this year was walking back into the class I had been in originally. They were happy to see me and it felt like returning home to a class and a school that was ready to support me after a really tough week. It’s funny looking back on this as the best moment because at the time it felt so difficult but true support like that is so important in our lives.

Biggest challenge this year…

I get attached easily – to people, to places, to ideas. This year has been full of letting go for me so far and it has been challenging to handle this on a relatively constant basis. I’ve been in a few different classes and built relationships with different staff and students and then had to move on. I’m learning to appreciate the amount of people I get to meet by doing this but I can’t say that it isn’t difficult. I find the most challenging thing is to not let the hurt of saying goodbyes prevent me from putting my whole heart into the next place.

Differences from last year…

Learning the ropes has been huge in this teaching world. I have a better understanding this year of how things work on many levels and now that I’m back to being a substitute teacher I know how to handle myself better in regards to finding and keeping work. Last year I said no to half days in hopes of getting full days and then wound up with nothing – now I know to accept what I’m offered and things will work out. I’m also much more confident as a TOC (teacher-on-call) and I have learned how to put my own spin on day plans left so that I feel like a teacher instead of a babysitter – the kids notice when you put your heart in something.

Current mantra…

Live me. I am working hard on living by my morals and values in everything I do – and I’m far from perfect at this. By “living me” I am making decisions based on who I am as a person and not what I think is expected. It has helped me to let go of things a lot easier and helped me to prioritize the things in my life that are important.


Enjoying the Christmas festivities so far this season!

Plans for the break…

One of my favourite things about Christmas time is having a bunch of our closes friends return to town so there is always something going on. I can’t wait to spend days with the important people in my life! We will be spending lots of time with our families this holiday, including a few days at the mountain for some snowboarding. I will also be reading and running (I’m training for a half marathon).

Goals for the new year…

I have a few different goals coming up… I’m considering training for my first full marathon so that is a big one. It looks as if I will be a substitute teacher for the next little while so my other goals involve reducing my anxiety about getting enough work by looking at the bigger picture and knowing that although every day of seniority seemed to matter so much this year in the long run I’ll get there when I get there. As far as teaching goals go I’m actually not going to set any right now because I don’t know what my situation is going to be and I’m working really hard to live in the moment and appreciate what I have… Not the easiest for this dreamer!

I wish you all very happy holidays and we are so grateful for our readers – thank you for your continued support!


Book Tale: Little House on the Prairie

What you may or may not know about me is that I am a sucker for the 19th century.  In fact, I often find myself wondering if I was born in the wrong era.  I have loved books of this era since I was a little girl and I think it was around grade three when my mom ordered me my boxed set of Little House on the Prairie through the Scholastic book order.  My Little House books have been read time and time again, with the most recent reading happening right now.  I’m currently working my way through “These Happy Golden Years” for the umpteenth time.  “These Happy Golden Years” is a Christmasy, warm-fuzzy-feeling, love story suggested to me as this week’s read by my good friend, Karen.  Karen is also a sucker for 19th century reads and our friendship is essentially rooted in this wholesome literature. Thankfully, Karen is also realistic about how good we have it in the 21st century.  Our text message conversation from earlier this week:



We are completely aware that we are dorks…but we don’t care.

What I love the most about this book (and all Little House stories, actually) is the simplicity, the family values and the wholesome life lessons intertwined throughout all the stories.  Call me old fashioned, but I just adore this literature.  For me, reading Little House offers a precious and unique opportunity to glimpse into a former time in a near-biographical, yet fictional, way.  Throughout the series two of the main characters, Ma and Laura, both serve their time as school teachers.  I love how the beloved and famous author, Laura Ingalls-Wilder, offers pearls of school teacher wisdom in nearly every chapter.  Rereading this book has been somewhat of a reassurance for me, being a new teacher with her first class, because it is in this book that Laura, at only 15 years of age, first experiences teaching her own school.  Here are a few examples from “These Happy Golden Years” that resonate with me:

“Do you think I can [teach school], Pa?” Laura answered.  “Suppose…just suppose…the children won’t mind me when they see how little I am?” (p. 2)  (Not that I am particularly “little”, but many of my students definitely are taller than I am!)

“That is the teacher’s table,” Laura thought, and then, “Oh my; I am the teacher.” (p. 14)  (This goes through my mind almost every single day).

“Then the boys ran races in the snow outdoors [during recess], while Martha and Ruby watched them from the window and Laura still sat at her table. She was a teacher now, and she must act like one.” (p. 17)  (This, too, goes through my mind quite often…like today when my students were playing a song by Beyonce at lunch time and I began singing and dancing in class, and then they laughed at me.  Not very teacher-esque, but I can’t help it!)

“[Laura] was so worried about her school.  In spite of all she could do, everything went from bad to worse. It all started on Monday[…]” (p. 47) (That feeling of hopelessness when you’ve done all you can do and things still don’t and won’t work).

Quality goodness within these pages, I tell you!  Now, if anyone can find me Little House’s Season One, Episode 9 (“School Mom”) online please forward me the link!  It’s my all time favourite episode where Ma teaches Abel how to read, with the help of the rest of the students.  My class would totally make fun of me for admitting this, but it makes me sob.  Every.  Single.  Time.



Hands on Learning

Dinner being ready = me scoring "good wife" points ;)

Dinner being ready = me scoring “good wife” points 😉

I’ve been having some quality friend time lately (these two just happen to both be teachers) and Joel has been working so hard these past few weeks (on our house and at his job); here are our gratitude statements for the past two days.

If you’ve been reading our blog throughout the fall you’ll know that this term has been quite the challenge for me.  I’m two months into my first year long contract and my grade 8 class is slowly starting to come around in the community building department; therefore, our next hurdle is to dig into our curriculum a little bit more.

My class is similar to many other kids their age in that they don’t really love to learn from textbooks, so lately we’ve been doing some hands on learning, especially in science.  Our current unit of study in science is the human body.  A few weeks ago my friend Naomi, of Keane to Be Fit, came in to speak to my class about nutrition and fitness and how these two components of health affect the circulatory system.  Naomi and I planned and implemented a lab that had my students running stairs and doing squats, all while checking their resting and active heart rates.  I will admit that I was a bit nervous to bring Naomi into my class because of some of my students’ behavioural exceptionalities; however, my class rose to the occasion and participated in our lab extremely well.  My class’ engagement with this lab and their respect for Naomi made me realize that they are, indeed, entirely capable when it comes to hands on learning!  This realization made me scrap much of my unit plan for the rest of the term and devise some more tangible lessons.

Naomi and I posing with our science lab on the circulatory system.

Naomi and I posing with our science lab on the circulatory system.

In addition to the circulatory system lab, our life size human bodies have really started to take shape (but they aren’t done yet).  We usually work on these in the hallway because that’s where we can access the most space.

Nervous System

Nervous System

Skeletal System

Skeletal System

Circulatory System

Circulatory System

We also completed a mini-demonstration on how our intestines work…kind of.  Thankfully my husband works for a central vacuum and home theatre company, so I was able to borrow a 33ft “hose hugger” to act as our life size small and large intestine.  We stood out in the hall and staggered ourselves along the hose hugger.  Then we put a floor hockey ball into the hose hugger and squeezed it along the entire 33 feet (i.e. a piece of food exiting the stomach and going into the small intestine, passing through into the large intestine and eventually coming out the colon).  This hands on demo took us longer than I anticipated, but it allowed for some small group discussion (and team work!) about digestion and digestive diseases.  My favourite moment was with a group of students near the “colon end” who were waiting to…catch the poop, shall we say.  While we were waiting for our floor hockey ball to fully digest we discussed the notion of the colonoscopy and its function/importance.  One student said, “Wait, you mean the Times Colonist?” (This won’t make sense to you if you don’t live in Victoria; the Times Colonist is our local newspaper).  I looked at the student and saw that she was serious and then burst out laughing (along with some others).  My reply was, “Nooo…but at least you heard part of the word?”  We’ve joked several times about the Times Colonist- colonoscopy joke since then.

It takes team work to digest a floor hockey ball through a 33ft long vacuum hose hugger.

It takes team work to digest a floor hockey ball through a 33ft long vacuum hose hugger.

A few other fun things to keep my students engaged during this nutty season include our “Would you rather…” board and our Chain of Gratitude.  Every morning when I get to school I write a quick “Would you rather…” statement on the board (thanks to my lovely friend, Jess, for this idea!) As my students arrive to school most of the them usually wander up the board and make their choice by moving their name tag under the option they prefer.  Lots of my students can’t stand the fact that there is no “in between” option and not all of them participate, but I do this every day anyhow because most of them enjoy it.  Our Chain of Gratitude started just this past Monday.  Every morning during Advisory my class has been writing personal statements of gratitude on a thin slip of paper that we staple into a chain.  I have 26 students in my class, so we add 26 new chain links every day.  On our last day of school before our break we are going to read through all 260 links and find out what we’re all grateful for!

Gratitude Chain in the making.

Gratitude Chain in the making.

This is not an actual example of what our board usually looks like...imagine a more messy, scattered version of this :)

This is not an actual example of what our board usually looks like…imagine a more messy, scattered version of this 🙂

Finally, today we took some time to create Christmas cards for a dear, well deserving elderly couple in PEI.  A sweet teacher friend of mine shared this story on her Facebook page and tagged my name in it (which obviously made me want to follow through with the request to heed the call for Christmas cards!)  I’m always on the prowl for thoughtful ideas to share/experience with my class, so I decided we’d take a block of time and dedicate it to Don and Bev.  This was our final product (to be popped in the mail tomorrow):handson9

It’s been happy days in Mrs. Alleyn’s class for the past five school days…I don’t know why, especially at one of the craziest times during the year.  Perhaps my class and I are finally settling into a nice pattern?


Teach it Tuesday: Art-Ish

Today I am grateful for having the ability to act goofy and playful at any age and to have so many similar people in my life!
Just a quick post tonight as it’s busy holiday times for everyone! This is one of my favourite quick, low-prep art activities to do with students. It’s based on the book “Ish” by Peter H. Reynolds (available in our Amazon store if you are interested) – if you haven’t read this it is a must read in my opinion!

Here is my quick lesson that goes along with the book…


Top- cut out shapes, Bottom Left- Students at work, Bottom Right- “Tree-Ish”

1. Read the book – of course! I’ve done this with grades 1-4 but I think it would be well enjoyed by older students as well.

2. Discuss what it means to be an artist and how we can be happy with our work even if it’s “ish.” With older students I like to see the meaning they draw from the book and how we can incorporate it in class. Some examples for student answers have been from keep practicing to always encouraging each other.

2. Give each student a large piece of plain white paper and let them choose from a selection of random coloured cut-outs (see picture).

3. They must use their cut-out as is, glue it on the paper and create something out of it with pencil crayons or markers. My instructions are that the sheet needs to be completely coloured and detailed but adjust this to fit your needs/timeline.

And that’s it! Super easy and the students love picking out their shapes. I love seeing what they end up drawing… a favourite being the “Cat-Boat-Ish” picture I got from a grade 2 student on my practicum – love!


Tales of a Shy Teacher

Today (and everyday) I’m incredibly grateful for the love and support that we receive through writing this blog. We honestly had no idea that anyone would read our random thoughts on teaching when we started blogging (I mean besides our parents, partners, and any friends we could force into it hehe) but the response has been overwhelmingly positive. We hit over 15,000 views this weekend and we have had some of the nicest comments about our blog. The part I love the most is when someone tells me that reading our blog has helped them with their own teaching practice or life. I am also so grateful for Karley and this friendship that has become so vital to my life in every way – more about that below.

So those of you who know me in real life know that I’m incredibly shy in certain situations, those of you who only know my online self might be surprised by this because man can I talk!! I usually describe myself as a shy extrovert – this may seem like an oxymoron but hear me out. I love being social and I love being the centre of attention… but only with people I know. Public speaking comes naturally to me… but I am tongue tied in a friendly conversation with someone I don’t know well. I have been known to talk rapid-fire for hours at a time… but there are many people that could count on one hand the number of words I said to them the first time we hung out. If you aren’t shy I realize this whole concept can be tough to understand – it’s like there is a block in my brain that goes up when I’m slightly less than comfortable. I’m not nervous about saying the wrong thing I literally have nothing to say. I could be in a conversation with a teacher who is my age, likes to run, loves crafting, who is holding the same book I am reading and my brain goes “uhhh… sorry got nothing for ya.” But once I’m comfortable with people I am bubbly, funny, and very talkative.


I used to hate being shy more than anything else about myself, and to be honest sometimes I still do. There were so many times when I was young that I would miss out on something simply because I couldn’t bring myself to be in the situation where I wouldn’t know anyone. There are countless situations where I missed out on an experience or the opportunity to talk to someone I know I would have connected with because I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

But then there are also great moments for me that stand out in my mind – my first job interview in a group setting when I was 15 and I pushed myself to be more outgoing to show my true self (and I got the job!) or leaving home at age 18 to travel across the country by myself and making friends that I will have for the rest of my life. Being shy has forced me to overcome obstacles on a daily basis and I am so proud of these moments that have helped shape who I am.

So how does all this affect my teaching? In so many ways that I could probably bore you all with a book but instead I’ll just narrow it down to a few…

Making professional connections (and friends!) So far in this career I have made some amazing connections with a wide variety of people but it hasn’t been easy. I know I have missed out on a few opportunities already to make strong connections that I wish I hadn’t but that is a part of learning about myself in this realm. I am so thankful for having Karley by my side through this whole “becoming a teacher process” because she helps me so much with these connections. My mom always noticed the pattern of me making good, outgoing friends at important transitional times in my life and I think that Karley was just what I needed during this time because she makes me feel so much more comfortable when we are together and she has introduced me to some pretty awesome people! Pushing myself to do different things that I feel anxious about is still a strategy I use daily. I have joined an art club with some great teachers that I did not know very well and I am really enjoying getting to know these new people. I have noticed that my ability to overcome shyness is affected by my stress level as well so I know that report card time is not when I will make new connections but professional development days are a great time for me to connect.

Blogging. Online is always easier to express yourself which can be a negative for shy people who become hidden by this online presence. So far, for me, I’ve found that it has really helped me to connect with other teachers who have read the blog. It’s nice that they know a little bit about me and it makes me feel more at ease in the situation not having to share everything in a first meeting. Sometimes I also find it difficult after I have shared something vulnerable online and I don’t always want to have that conversation – Please don’t refrain from talking to me about my blog in person though because mostly I love to and it’s also good for me!

Starting up a classroom. I do realize this is hard for everyone in different ways but if you aren’t a shy person think about adding that complete anxiety of opening up to 30 new people every time you start a new class. I find that with a new class I am very slow-to-warm and it takes me a while to hit my stride in a classroom. (For some reason TOCing is easier for this – probably because I don’t have to make as deep relationships). Because this is so hard for me, this fall in particular has been really a roller coaster with investing myself into three different classrooms on an emotional level. But I also see a lot of benefit in gradually building a presence in the classroom. I think it makes room for the student’s personalities more and really helps build a tight community.

I know that being shy is a lifelong challenge for me but I am getting better at seeing the positive that comes out of it and not being to hard on myself. Even just taking a deep breath and speaking my anxiety before entering a situation where I will feel shy seems to help me to get over the initial shyness I feel. I am also grateful to be in a profession with a lot of kind, friendly and genuine people – it definitely makes it a lot easier so thank you wonderful teachers!