Blogs, Aerobics, and Math

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What do these three things have in common? Not a lot but you’ll find all three in this post so get ready for a whirlwind of ideas!

First off I just wanted to share with you some of my favourite blogs to read because this blogging community has been so awesome to become a part of! I really only read teaching blogs and running/healthy living blogs so if you were hoping for diversity you are out of luck…

Favourite teaching blogs

1. Runde’s Room – Between this blog and her teachers pay teachers store I’m absolutely hooked and living in a dream land whenever I’m reading. These are honestly the best most useful posts and ideas. So inspiring! And I cannot wait to put her interactive math journals to the test next time I have a math contract – stay tuned!

2. 2 Peas and a Dog – This is a great (Canadian!!) middle school blogger who has lots of awesome ideas to share. There’s also lots of “link ups” with other awesome middle school bloggers!

3. Teaching FSL – She is an awesome (Canadian again!) FSL teacher! I honestly wish I could be in her class most days. This is a go to place for me when I’m in need of lessons or ideas for teaching French.

Favourite Running/Healthy Living Blogs

1. Olive to Run – This one kind of bridges both categories because she is an awesome teacher too and sometimes posts amazing ideas for the classroom. She is also very inspiring for my fitness goals and has become a part of my support system over the past months – yay for blogging friends!

2. Hungry Runner Girl – Karley and I both love this blog! Janae is an inspiring, positive person who blogs about her daily life as a runner, blogger and mother to a super cute little girl!

3. Glitter and Dust – This blog is a new one to my “must reads” and I’m so happy I found it! She is a university professor in Oregon and blogs about life, running, and fitness. I love her honesty and felt a strong sense of connection when I first read her posts.

Aerobics and Math
Bet you weren’t expecting those to be under the same heading 😉

I’ve been on a fitness kick (yeah, yeah, it’s January… Me and the rest of the world) and I’ve been going to a bunch of different classes with a friend. Last week we ended up at a step aerobics class and let me tell you something… Coordination and I aren’t exactly on good terms. As I fumbled along in class – never really getting the hang of any of it in the whole hour – it got me thinking about the things that we struggle with.

I’ve always been one of those annoying people that just “get” math. I won math awards (Top Grade 8 “Mathlete” on Vancouver Island – woot!) and was often the one to help out friends in class. I think I’m pretty good at teaching math – I can explain things multiple ways, love teaching little tricks and hints, and I ask the big “why” questions to help kids reach deeper understanding.

And I have a lot of patience with math. I don’t mind spending time at lunch or after school to help kids get to that “aha” moment and I am happy to find challenges to keep other students engaged. I have also taken hirer level math that has really challenged me and made me think. But the one thing that I’ve never felt is that completely lost, confused, hopeless feeling that I see on so many kids faces when it comes to algebra or ratios or whatever.

So the other day in the middle of this step aerobics class, while I focused mainly on not falling flat on my face, I realized that I was having one of those moments. I was lost, confused and felt so hopeless. I couldn’t keep up. I couldn’t get it right. I thought I looked silly, even though I truly was trying my best to “figure it out!”

So if that’s how the kids are feeling then I think I get it now… Learning math involves risk and vulnerability. It’s scary to feel totally lost and it’s hard to ask questions when you think everyone else understands. Especially since traditionally math has a “right and wrong” format.

My new goal as a math teacher? To focus on encouraging the risk taking and mistake making. To continue to be patient and excited about math but to also show that making mistakes is how we figure something out. I want kids to flail around like me in my step class – not afraid to try it out even though you might look silly. Because exercise is exercise and learning is learning. Getting out there and trying is sometimes all that matters.

Any favourite blogs we should know about?

What do you think is most important when it comes to teaching math?

Meaghan

Today We Hung Out with an Olympian

Today we hung out with an Olympian.  No big deal.  Actually, we hung out with an Olympic gold medalist.  I have enough Olympians in my life to honestly say that an Olympian is an Olympian and they are all fabulous and inspirational in their own ways; however, the gold medal we all got to hold today was a very special treat! (I had never seen one in real life before).

An Olympic gold medal from Beijing 2008.  It's covered in gold and has a ring of white jade on the back.  Very cool!

An Olympic gold medal from Beijing 2008. It’s covered in gold and has a ring of white jade on the back. Very cool!

Adam Kreek was our guest of honour this afternoon.  Adam is a three time Olympic rower who currently resides in Victoria with his wife and children.  Adam and his mens 8 team competed in Athens (2004), won gold in Beijing (2008) and scored silver in London (2012).  Adam is also a motivational speaker and entrepreneur.  So, this guy has a pretty impressive resume and he took time out of his day to come speak to my grade 8s today – talk about feeling special!

The whole idea of getting Adam to come talk with my students originated back in November when my friend Jess and I saw him speak at Victoria’s TEDx event.  Throughout the day of the conference Jess, Adam and I were tweeting back and forth (oh, the excellent power of social media) and by the end of the day I had scheduled Adam to come speak to my class.  Fast forward a few months and today we engaged in an entertaining afternoon learning about what it takes to become an Olympian (persistence, grit and self-worth are just a few of the qualities).  Personally, because of my gymnastics past, I adored this part of the conversation and hung on to every single word.

Words one of Adam's coaches shared with him before he realized he wanted to be an Olympian.

Words one of Adam’s coaches shared with him before he realized he wanted to be an Olympian.

Eventually though Adam got real with us and took my students on a goal setting journey.  Our afternoon turned into a conversation about setting SMART goals and discovering the winning formula of doing what you love and being successful at it (passion+skill+market).  There also may have a been a few stories about how to go pee on a tiny row boat while out in the middle of the ocean without falling overboard (excellent reenacting skills put to good use).

Adam holding up his Olympic gold before passing it around for everyone to hold.

Adam introducing his Olympic gold before passing it around for everyone to hold.

The SMART acronym for goal setting follows these five “rules” – is your goal: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Timely. Adam took the time to discuss some of my students’ goals with them and even went through the SMART formula to help realign some particular goals (for example, maybe marrying Justin Bieber isn’t actually realistic…time to find a new goal? 🙂 )    We reviewed the SMART goals idea last week in class, but I think my students believe in it more now that Adam took the extra time to deconstruct some of their personal goals.  The teacher in me beamed with pride and joy for my students who dug deep and were brave enough to share their goals in front of their peers.  One of my students wants to be a carpenter when he’s older; I would have never known that if Adam hadn’t given him the opportunity to speak up and share his goal.  Now this student is aware that he needs to work on his knowledge and expertise in carpentry, all while seeking job site experience, while he can.  Another one of my students is working toward saving her hard earned money so she can go to her very first concert this summer (and tickets aren’t cheap!) Again, Adam was able to help this student realign her focus and tap in to what really needed to happen in order to earn the money and buy the tickets.  As fellow teachers, you might think these are easy enough lessons to guide a group of grade 8 students through, but I think the lessons become much more personal and reflective when a highly esteemed athlete is doing the teaching and sharing.

Adam and I, awkwardly leaning into the camera.

Adam and me, awkwardly leaning into the camera.

Today was an excellent, entertaining and inspiring day!  Many thanks to Adam for spending his afternoon talking with my students about their goals and sharing some silly and amazing stories, too.  My class thoroughly enjoyed their time out of the classroom learning about real life.  To learn more about Adam Kreek and his crazy adventures you can watch his TEDx talk from November 2013:

 

Karley

PLN Blogging Challenge

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We were nominated for this challenge a while ago and after much back and forth writing here it is! For the challenge you are then supposed to nominate 11 other teacher bloggers but, well, we don’t know that many who haven’t already been nominated so we are skipping that part (flashback to chain letters in high school – we will probably be having 11 years of bad luck just a warning 😉 )

1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a teacher?

K: I was 16 and having a conversation with a teacher, who also happened to be a family friend. This friend had friends who were international teachers teaching and living in Thailand. The combination of teaching and traveling was enough information for me – I was sold!

M: It had always been in the back of my mind but it was actually during my experience in Katimavik that I decided that’s what I wanted to do. I got to volunteer at a daycare and an elementary school. When one of the teachers at the elementary school had me teach a lesson for her I was just hooked on the job!


2. What aspect of teaching gets you really passionate? Is it a subject, an activity, a connection…?

M: Hmmm… tough one! I get really passionate about a lot of teaching. I’m really on a role with sticking to my new three word motto right now: Creativity, Passion, Compassion. Those are the three things I want my students to have/find and that’s what I try to base my teaching on – Compassion probably being the main one I focus on because most of my teaching is short term and that’s where I always start.

K: For me it’s all about the relationships. Relationships between staff, other teachers in the district and my students. Some of the teachers I’ve met in the past few years have quickly grown to be some of my closest friends. I’m a relationshippy kind of girl, so this works for me 🙂


3. Your dream class pet would be…

M: A turtle!!! Because I want a turtle at home so badly but somebody doesn’t think that’s a good idea… okay, okay they do live like 30 years or something crazy like that but they are so cool! (Karley’s input: If Meaghan gets a turtle NOW, it could follow her around from class to class for the entire duration of her teaching career! Now that’s an excellent idea!)


4. What is one rather unusual but interesting talent or hobby you have?

K: Because of my gymnastics past I’m somewhat of a one woman circus…headstands, tossing and catching clubs with one hand…you get the idea.


5. Write a haiku.

Feet pounding pavement

A rush, sound, feeling, moment,

Wind blowing past me


6. What was your best holiday gift this year?

K: My husband bought me a new juicer this Christmas and we absolutely love it. My sister got me a giftcard for lululemon which I’ve already spent because I can never have enough luon!


7. What is the most valuable piece of advice you were given while on a practicum (or on a job working with students)?

K: Middle school students will think and react in the exact opposite way you expect them too. If you have a cool, exciting lesson play down the cool factor because if you think it’s cool they’ll think it’s lame. (Truest fact I’ve ever been told about middle school students!)


8. Your go-to tool in the event of a zombie apocalypse in your classroom?

K: The knowledge my students possess about zombie apocalyspes…


9. What would make math really exciting and interesting to you?

K: Math would be fun and exciting for me if my friend, and new teacher, Nicole Hulstein taught me! I’ve never seen anyone more enthused about mathematics, except for my high school math teacher – he and Nikki are both brilliant.

M: I’m a bit of a math nerd… it’s always exciting and interesting to me! I really like finding patterns that I didn’t know existed and finding new ways to do things. When students show me another way to answer a problem I get very excited!


10. What was your very first job?

K: When I was 12 I started working for my dad’s garbage company by counting and tallying the month end landfill receipts. This task took about two hours and I was paid by my dad’s company. The money I made never materialized in my bank account though because it was used to pay for my rhythmic gymnastics training.

M: I got a job as an intern for a summer camp – pretty sweet first job! I spent one month at a playground based daycamp when I was 15 and it was such a great time that I did it for the next.. um.. 9 years?!


11. Where was your favourite place to just sit, relax and think when you were a child?

M: I absolutely loved sitting by our fireplace at home with my parents. We used to take the couch cushions off and put them up against the brick and sit there while we read stories – simply the best!

Our last time sitting in that spot before my parents moved...

Our last time sitting in that spot before my parents moved.

Signature

Running Around

While we are taking a diversion from blogging about teaching related topics, how about I share some running stories with you today?

Two years ago you would not find be able to find me out running the trails or ocean side paths.  Nope, not this girl.  Up until summer 2013 I absolutely loathed running.  Actually, let’s be more specific, I haven’t really enjoyed exercising since 2003.  After I “retired” from my rhythmic gymnastics training I took a ten year hiatus from anything overly active or competitive.  It’s not that I just sat on the couch and did nothing for the past ten years (I danced, I played volleyball), it’s just that I didn’t really find any athletic activity to stick with as intensely as I did during my gymnastics career.  In hindsight, this is probably a good thing.

The track I despised during summer camp training circa 2000/2001ish.  I'm the fancy lady in the red t-shirt and white shorts (pre-lululemon explosion, so please forgive me).

The track running I despised during summer camp training circa 2000/2001ish. I’m the fancy girl in the red t-shirt and white shorts (pre-lululemon explosion, please forgive me). Yes, I am running with a walkman and headphones that aren’t earbuds.

My view on running changed in spring 2012 when I decided once and for all that I needed to get over the fact that I hated running.  I convinced a high school friend of mine to register for a local 5k race.  We ran six times before the race and I finished the 5k thinking, “I knew I could do that!”  I didn’t really enjoy the whole experience…but I did it.

Post first ever 5k race!

Post first ever 5k race!  Feeling quite proud of myself.

That same summer I decided to try my first mini-triathlon, so I registered with a friend (different friend from the 5k run) and I actually trained pretty hard for six weeks.  I finished my first mini-tri in 1hr16mins and felt pretty pleased with myself.  I haven’t done a triathlon since then; let’s just say I’m no champ in the pool.

Crossing the finish line of my first mini-triathlon and feeling very accomplished!

Crossing the finish line of my first mini-triathlon and feeling very accomplished!

So, I dabbled in running races and found that running began to grow on me.  Summer 2013 had me running a 5k race with my middle school run club and my first 10k race with my cousins and auntie.  Fall 2013 had me running my first 8k race where I achieved a personal best finish time.  And now…I kind of like running.

A sweet photo my husband took of the start line (5k) from The 2nd Annual Goddess Run, June 2013.

A sweet photo my husband took of the start line (5k) from The 2nd Annual Goddess Run, June 2013.

I’m currently getting physio treatment for a hip injury that I am sure is running induced.  You see, I’m not a particularly good runner.  I doubt my form is very good (hence the hip injury) and my pace isn’t amazing.  I have yet to run a distance longer than 10k.  I’m also not that great at actually sticking to training plans (exercise commitment issues). You might question why I’m even sticking to running because I’m making myself sound like a terrible runner, but I’m sticking with it because I actually really enjoy it now.  It’s taken me two years to get to this point, but I feel currently like a champ because I’ve overcome my negative attitude toward running.

Like Meaghan, I have some big running goals lined up for 2014, including another 10k race and my first half marathon (yes, I convinced yet another friend to join me for the half marathon – it will be her first too!) The half marathon I’m running is on June 1st and it’s called The 3rd Annual Goddess Run. I chose to do this half marathon as my first because this was my first 5k race and my second 5k race – the event is so much fun and for women only, and they hand out chocolate covered strawberries at the finish line.  Amazing.

I'm currently running "Rehab Runs" to help my hip get better in time for the start of my half marathon training program which begins Feb. 10th.  New lululemon run tights help make the rehab runs more fun :)

I’m currently running “Rehab Runs” to help my hip get better in time for the start of my half marathon training program which begins Feb. 10th. New lululemon running tights help make my rehab runs more fun 🙂

What is your favourite way to sweat? Any readers who run out there? Anyone have big fitness goals for 2014?

Karley

Video: Where I Came From…

I was able to do a video for the Faculty of Education at the University of Victoria a few months ago and it has recently come out so I thought I would share it here to show you/tell you a bit more about where I have come from and why I am the teacher that I am today… Enjoy!

 

Meaghan

Travel Tale: Katimavik

You know how there are often experiences and people in our lives that we look back upon and realize how much our lives changed in those moments? This is Katimavik for me.

In case you don’t know Katimavik was a volunteer program here in Canada that brought youth together from across the country to do meaningful volunteer work, learn a second language, experience what it means to be Canadian, and to become a family. I emphasized was because recently the funding for Katimavik was cut – devastating after having seen the positive impact it had on so many people’s lives.

I was 18 years old when I left and looking back I realize how profound the experience was from the moment I left my family at the airport security. As I went to board my plane I was unsuccessfully trying to choke back tears when the woman ahead of me noticed, turned around and came down the stairs to give me a hug. She is the reason I knew things would be okay in that moment and I don’t even remember her name.

In the Katimavik program we spent 3 months in 3 different provinces for a total of 9 months away from home. We lived with 10 other youth in a house or apartment and traveled with the same group. Each house had a project leader who lead the group through all of our necessary weekly tasks. We had no tv, limited Internet, and not a lot of personal space. But we had creativity, energy and a whole lot of love.

There is no way I could condense my nine months of life changing experience into one post here so instead I will give you the important lessons I’ve learned from this experience.

1. The scariest risks we take can have the most inexplicably amazing rewards.

My Katima-Group in our first rotation.

My Katima-Group in our first rotation.

2. Ping pong tables work great as dinner tables.

The perfect size for 12 person dinners.

The perfect size for 12 person dinners.

3. Friends from different backgrounds have so much more to offer.

Our map of where we come from.

Our map of where we come from marked with a special symbol.

4. Small living spaces allow for the most love to grow.

Our first place was a 3 bedroom apartment for 12 people... and it was perfect!

Our first place was a 3 bedroom apartment for 12 people… and it was perfect!

5. Life is better when you let loose! If this means dancing in the streets to Rasputin or painting your face or just laughing until you cry – don’t hold back!

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One of our (almost) weekly dress up nights!

6. Respect is the most important part of living with people and  relationships in general… sometimes a hard lesson to learn when you are 18 years old.

A team building night.

A team building night.

7. Cooking for a big group is a privilege and sitting down to eat with that kind of family is priceless.

Our dinner table every single night!

Our dinner table every single night!

8. You may find home in the most unlikely of places if you are open, willing and with the right people.

Outside our third house.

Teary-eyed goodbyes outside our third home.

9. There are people who will make such a difference in your life that it will physically ache when you can not be with them at times… Even after years of being apart.

Just the best people right there!

Just the best people right there!

10. Never forget the ones you care about and never forget to let them know for life is too short.

A mini-reunion with some Montreal bagels... November 2012

A mini-reunion with some Montreal bagels… November 2012

For you, Julien-Pier. You continue to inspire me to be a better person every day.

Meaghan

Finding the Light

So I’m just going to say it… This girl isn’t meant for teaching on call.

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That’s me!

Don’t get me wrong – I think I’m pretty good at it, I definitely enjoy the everyday aspects of the job and I am so thankful that I was able to get on a list so quickly in a tough city to find work. I just can’t emotionally handle TOCing… I get stressed, angry, upset, exhausted, and anxious when I don’t have work booked. The same things happen when I get a call the morning of to work. I appreciate the work and always say yes but I just have so much trouble with the unknown of it all – Being prone to anxiety isn’t helpful either. And besides the unknown of it all, after having had a taste of full time work this fall I just don’t find the on call work as satisfying.

But the TOC life does have its benefits – Leaving at the end of the day without piles of marking being a major one. Very little planning and prep, getting home when the sun is still out, seeing a variety of different grades/schools/teachers, etc. So my saying when people ask me about my work is that, for me, TOCing is “less job satisfaction but more life satisfaction.”

And this was great in December! I worked a ton and had lots of time to work out and visit with friends and family! January has been a different story – I’ve worked a lot already (first week back!) but I’ve felt a bit more disheartened about the situation. I am really missing the hard work and job satisfaction piece… I may even be missing the marking? I know, I know you all have hours of marking that I could do for you 😉 but I think what I miss is making my own assignments up and seeing how students bring them to life. I absolutely love seeing my ideas turn into something else when given to a student.

Today I decided I needed to do something about my spirits. I spent some time planning classes that I will probably teach someday (yes I admit it daily – I’m a teacher nerd!) and made year plans and lists of things that I would want to do in my classroom. Now I have been taking notes all along like this since practicum but this was more of an intense sit down and make some concrete plans. I pretended that I was guaranteed a class next fall in a middle school that I’d like to be at and I just sat down and worked. I even typed them up and emailed them to myself so I can actually use them at some point…20140108-192211.jpg

It was so much fun – especially since I didn’t have any of the regular pressures of time that come along with actually having a class.

Lately I’ve been really interested in a couple of different approaches to teaching different subjects (mainly centers-based courses, self-directed studies, interactive subject notebooks, and project-based learning) so that is what I spent most of my time on, just trying to think through the logistics of these. Now I’m hoping that I will come across some more excellent examples of these approaches in my TOC work.

Re-framing my point of view has really helped me to look at the bigger picture today. Now I can really see all the benefits I have as a substitute teacher and I’m excited to take advantage of this time because hopefully it will make it easier when I do get my first full time contract.

Any other subs out there? How do you stay engaged in the teaching profession when you are working on call?

Meaghan

Teach it Tuesday: Communication Calendars

Happy Tuesday everyone! I’m just going to take a moment to boast about my class again because we had yet another excellent day in grade 8 today (yes, two consecutive days of awesome…I could get used to this!) I had a few moments in my day today where I really was reminded why I adore my job. Allow me to share with you: 1) Three engaged French blocks where all students were on task most of the time (and we were studying “er” verbs…)   2) Several visit from a student, who has become my little shadow, throughout the day.  This student just likes to come say “hi” and I really appreciate that.  3) A moment of gratitude a student expressed toward me that totally hit me off guard.  Warmed my little teacher heart to the core.  4) Play time.  I’m not sure if I’ve shared this with you before, but I am a blessed teacher because I have a rockin’ EA (Educational Assistant) in my class.  Sadly, we don’t get her in our class full time, but when she’s around, our whole room lights up.  We played a math game during last block today (and our EA played with us) and I’ll have you all know that my class came up with the strategy after playing for only 20 minutes.  I have smart students in my class!

Now for Teach it TuesdayThis communication based strategy I’m going to share is not my original idea.  I learned about Communication Calendars from a brilliant teacher friend of mine and I am not sure where she learned of it from, but I will say this strategy has worked wonders in my class thus far.  Communication Calendars are a method of communication between teacher and student.  I’ve organized a calendar for each student in my class with the week’s dates, a space for the student to write and a space for me to reply.  The calendars look something like this:

CommCalendars

Every morning when I get to school I put the calendars on my student’s desks.  My students arrive to school anywhere between 8.20 and 8.40am; having the calendars ready to go for my students forces them to find a pencil first thing in the morning (a chronic issue with my class).  Some of my students adore writing little notes to me every single day…others absolutely loathe the fact that they have to participate in this activity.  I’ve been doing Communication Calendars a few weeks on and a few weeks off since early November so that we don’t “overdo” it.  Once our morning announcements are over I collect all the Communication Calendars and store them on my desk until the end of the day.  Every day after school I read through the calendars and I reply to each and every student.  Yes, replying takes some extra time out of my day, but I’ve found having this additional method of communication with my students is entirely worth the time.  I have 27 students in my class and it is a challenge to genuinely connect with every one of them each day; the Communication Calendars give my students and me a chance to “chat”, even if it’s just on paper.  So far I’ve learned all kinds of things about my students via Communication Calendar conversations, including, but not limited to: new family pets, favourite birthday presents, requests for a desk change, questions about PE and shared opinions about Korean Dramas (certain kind of soap opera-esque TV show).  If there is one thing I totally know and understand about teaching it is that good teachers know their students. Communication Calendars are essentially another way to get to know your class…try it out with your students and let us know how it goes!

Karley

New Year, First Day, Big Goals

Happy First Day of School (2014) from our corner of the world!

Yesterday: Despite the fact that I had the opportunity to lead a beautiful yoga practice to eleven lovely humans, I’m completely honest when I say I was exploding with nerves and dread all day  whenever I thought about going back to school.  I’ve never needed a break from teaching more than this one that just ended.  I went into the two week break feeling exhausted, hungry, kind of angry, frustrated and unfit (mentally, physically, emotionally). Following yoga I had coffee with a dear friend and fellow educator and she graciously gave me this:

This cute little thing is called  Gratoodle.  The Gratoodle's purpose is to keep track of how many moments of gratitude you express in a day, week, month...your choice.  This first click is representative of my friend's presence in my life - love her! (Already dreaming up ways to use this in my classroom...)

This cute little thing is called Gratoodle. The Gratoodle’s purpose is to keep track of how many moments of gratitude you express in a day, week, month…your choice. This first click is representative of my friend’s presence in my life – love her! (Already dreaming up ways to use this in my classroom…)

Today: Coming out of the two week break I’m feeling alive, inspired, fit (mentally, physically, emotionally), healthy and rested.  Over the break I slept in past 9am almost every single day, I ran, I cross trained, I made nutritious food and I drank coffee with friends.  This break was what my soul needed and it couldn’t have come at a better time.  Yesterday’s anxiety was a total waste of time (isn’t it always?) because today was a fantastic reintroduction to the life of a (new) teacher.  I arrived at school at 7.30 this morning and got straight to work on the following:

-setting up a  fresh, new seating plan

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I hope this new outline helps my messy students take ownership of their learning space. We have magnetic name tags that can move around every week so that every student has the opportunity to participate in all cleaning tasks.

-posting our new (previously non-existant) classroom cleaning schedule

-handing out the next two weeks’ worth of Communication Calendars (more to come on those tomorrow!)

-boiling water for “Fika Lite” (our full blown version of Fika was getting a little pricey for me)

-playing “Shanti (Peace Out)” by MC Yogi on repeat until the first students arrived.  Okay, there may have been a bit of “Wrecking Ball” in there too.  Guilty pleasures.

At 8.20 my early birds arrived and bombarded me with hugs and exclamations of glee because “we were all back at school together”.  Yep, you read that correctly…I am not exaggerating.  Hugs and gleeful grade 8s at 8.20am on the first day back to school.  Shocked?  So was I!  We all had a great first part of the day together and…we got work done this afternoon! I’ve never seen my science class work as diligently as they did today.  I complimented my students all the way through our double block of science, continually stating that I was super impressed by their level of focus and output, when one student simply replied, “Mrs. Alleyn, we just needed a break!” Oh man, can I ever relate.  And then this came to mind…

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I found these notes in my yoga journal from last year’s Yoga Teacher Training. Please excuse my shorthand (Ss = students). I love, love, love it when I find crossover gems like this (school teaching/yoga teaching = same same!)

Sooo, as you can imagine, now I have some new goals for this next term.  I don’t want to return to the place I was in on December 20th (grumpy, whiny, angry, exhausted teacher).  I need to take my own advice (above yoga journal excerpt) and put forth a bit more compassion for my students and myself.  Term 2 is going to be great and I have a few things (besides my new Gratoodle!) that are going to help me maintain a more positive state of mind.

Exhibit A:

Continuing to heal from my running induced injury by cross training after work three times per week.

Continuing to heal from my running induced injury by cross training after work three times per week.

Exhibit B:

I have such amazing friends.  ANOTHER teacher friend of mine (who, sadly, I don't work directly with this year) just happened to pop in to my classroom today and dropped off this gift for me.  Now we have at least three of us reading this baby...hello, book club!?

I have such amazing friends. ANOTHER teacher friend of mine (who, sadly, I don’t work directly with this year) just happened to pop in to my classroom today and dropped off this gift for me. Now we have at least three of us reading this baby…hello, book club!?

Cheers to a New Year, a great First Day and some quality Big Goals!

I’d love to hear from you about your first day(s) back at school and any Big Goals you might have for this year (teaching or non-teaching).

Karley

I am NOT a Morning Person

Although this post isn’t directly about teaching it is about that lovely teacher-life balance problem that we all seem to face. Hope this can help some people out who are like me in the mornings.

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A typical morning of alarms

True fact: I am NOT a morning person. Never have been, probably never will be.

Here is what my mornings were looking like leading up to Winter Break…

6:40 am – alarm buzzes, I hit sleep

6:49 am – alarm buzzes, I hit sleep

6:58 am – alarm buzzes, I hit sleep

7:07 am – alarm buzzes, I hit sleep

7:16 am – alarm buzzes, I hit sleep

7:25 am – alarm buzzes, I hit sleep

7:34 am – alarm buzzes, I look at the time, jump out of bed and quickly brush my teeth/wash my face, throw on whatever clothes are closest, grab a mandarin orange and a Babybel cheese, and literally run out the door to my car…

So this wonderful day by day plan worked so well that I had to buy lunch 3 days a week, extensively annoyed my boyfriend (who gets to sleep later – lucky guy!), and had me feeling rushed and overwhelmed every single day.

Now I know many people who say – you are an adult now just get up when the alarm goes off. Don’t hit sleep. Don’t stay in bed. Don’t rush… I’VE TRIED IT! I swear! It just doesn’t work for me. So instead of pretending that I can somehow change myself into a morning person I’ve given up. I’m a night owl. I stay up too late. I like my cozy warm bed. I prefer 5 extra minutes of sleep to looking my best (or even to looking anything but my worst sometimes).

Time for a new plan…

Making lunches ahead of time is something I’ve been trying to do for a while and I’m slowly getting better at it so I will keep working on that one. I will also lay my clothes out the night before so that I actually don’t show up looking like I just rolled out of bed (even though I do). Do to some health issues, breakfast is insanely important to my energy levels for the rest of the day as well as my mood and ability to be patient – obviously key for teaching! This past week I have planned and been making (finishing this weekend) 48 frozen breakfasts (should last the two of us about a month) that I can pop in the microwave while I brush my teeth/wash my face and get dressed. (No – I’m not amazing or an over achiever or on some crazy health kick – I’m just really really desperate for a plan that will work!) I’m excited about this endeavor and I think it’s a very maintainable plan for my lifestyle (it only took a few hours total to make these meals and we have a decent sized freezer) – Plus it’s very money friendly to make big batches like this!

Recipe #1: Quinoa Egg Cups

I used this recipe as my base and then made two different flavours for these breakfast cups. I think that 2 of these cups with a piece of fruit will be a perfect breakfast for me.

Spicy Version:

  • 2 cups – Cooked Quinoa
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup – Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 cup total of mixed black beans, onions, peppers
  • 2 tbs – salsa
  • 2 tsp – taco seasoning
  • Salt and pepper

Mix everything together, put in baking tray (I recommend using muffin cup liners – lesson learned with first batch) and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Makes 12 muffin cups.

Pesto Version:

  • 2 cups – Cooked Quinoa
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup – Havarti cheese, grated
  • 1 cup total of mixed peppers, onions, and sundried tomatoes
  • 2 tbs – Pesto sauce
  • Salt and pepper

Mix everything together, put in baking tray (I recommend using muffin cup liners – lesson learned with first batch) and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Makes 12 muffin cups.

Recipe #2: Breakfast Burritos

This has always been a “go to” breakfast for me but even this quick and easy breakfast is too much work for me in the mornings – the freezer version will be much better! This recipe is more of a guess and test for me but here is the basics of what goes into 2 breakfast burritos (I just made 12 of them and froze them).

  • 2 tortillas (whole wheat – large size)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup – Black Beans
  • 1/4 cup – Onion
  • 1/4 cup – Red pepper
  • 1 tbs – Taco seasoning
  • 1 tbs – Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup – Salsa
  • 1/4 cup – Grated cheddar cheese

Basically I just sauteed the pepper and onions with the taco seasoning in the olive oil then added the black beans and eggs. Once it was all cooked and mixed together I served it into the tortillas, topped with salsa and cheese, rolled them up and put them in the freezer. Easy peasy!

Recipe #3: Smoothies and Muffins

Okay, I’m not really giving you a recipe here more of a “food plan” I guess. I made 48 of my favourite muffins from the Looneyspoons cookbook (they are called Morning Glory-ous) and then we got some freezable smoothie cups so we can make smoothies and freeze them. You just take the muffins and smoothies out of the freezer the night before to defrost and we will be good to go!

If you are interested in the Looneyspoons cookbook you can take a look at it here (and order it through our Amazon store if you’d like).

Meaghan