The Road Trip

A good road trip is among my list of top ten favourite things in life.  When Joel and I first started dating he used to pick me up for lunch from high school and we’d drive around our small town and eat burgers or Quiznos.  Ten years later (yes, we’ve been together for a decade) driving with Joel is still one of my all time favourite things to do, which is why whenever we drive anywhere I make him drive, even if we are in my car.

Some of my favourite road trips I’ve been on include, but are not limited to: Côte d’Azur (2012) for ten days, Zac Brown Band concert at The Gorge in Washington state (2013), and our annual road trips up to Shuswap Lake where my inlaws live.


FRANCE (2012)

We went to France for three weeks in May 2012 for our “honeymoon”.  I was just finishing Uni at that time and because Joel married a poor student (lucky him) he got a generous tax return that year, which is how we went to France.  Thanks to our dear friends who own a house in southern France, we were based out of a tiny little town called Prayssac.  We rented a car for ten days, named him Jean-Pierre and hit the coast.  Among our stops were the cities/countries of Marseille, Cassis, St. Raphael, St. Tropez, Nice, Monaco, San Remo (Italy), Carcassonne and Toulousse.  I absolutely loved this route by rental car as opposed to train because we could stop and go as we pleased, listen to and sing along to whatever music we wanted and bring our own pillows with us.  Here is a clip of our most favourite road in southern France, leading us from Cassis to Bandol:

(PS – does anyone watch the British car show, “Top Gear”? We are avid fans, hence the “Babe Gear”…lame, I know).

Getting double parked is all part of the fun experience of road trippin'.  I'm supposed to be doing a "thumbs down".

Getting double parked is all part of the fun experience of road trippin’. I’m supposed to be doing a “thumbs down”.



We are country music fans (and so is Meaghan, so haters you keep hatin’, but we’re just gonna sing louder!) and Zac Brown was on our concert bucket list for quite a while; therefore, I’m sure you can imagine the excitement when Zac Brown announced their concert at The Gorge.  Big deal for us, so we bought our tickets, dug out our passports and planned our lighting quick road trip that totaled 2.5 days and 1050 kilometers.  One of the highlights of this trip, which took place in mid-September, was the unexpected 36 degree weather on concert day! One of the slight letdowns was that after we purchased our concert tickets Zac Brown announced they’d be performing in Vancouver the day after their show at The Gorge.  I was pretty angry for about 15 minutes before I realized half the fun of our experience was going to be our mad dash from Victoria to Quincy.  Trust me, the drive was worth it.  Zac Brown played for three hours without a break and we stood and sang at the top of our lungs the entire time.  I cried twice.



 THE LAKE (annual)

Joel and I grew up in the Okanagan, which essentially means our summers revolved around how much boating we could cram in.  Joel’s summertime childhood was spent on Shuswap Lake at his grandma’s cabin.  Now Joel’s parents and his extended family have a plot of land on Shuswap that has been subdivided and developed into five lots with “cabins” on them (I say “cabin” because really those structures are legitimate houses).  Since moving to Victoria, we usually get up to The Lake twice per year and the drive is entirely worth it.  Not only do we get to hang out with Joel’s fabulous fam/relatives, but we always get some hiking, sailing, swimming, relaxing in as well.  Now that my parents live on the island I am extremely grateful to have Joel’s parents in the Okanagan because they’re keeping us tied to our hometown.  Joel’s parents are never allowed to move (you hear that, inlaws!?)  The Lake is so glorious in any season – we love it there.


See what I mean? Glory.


Last but not least, road trips require a lot of singing and car dancing.  It is important to have a quality soundtrack for long drives, so you can imagine what I’ll be doing in the next few days in preparation for our Canada Day 2014 road trip.  Here are a few of our singalong “must haves” for this year’s Canada Day road trip:

One of us loves Ke$ha the most and let me assure you, it's not me.

One of us loves Ke$ha the most and let me assure you, it’s not me.

Happy Canada Day long weekend everyone! Drive safe and sing loudly if you’re road trippin’.  See you next week,



Stronger For It

Just as Karley predicted… My race recap for our first “non-teaching” post of the summer. You can read more about why we are choosing to not blog about teaching things for a while here.

This past weekend I did it. I ran my first full marathon. And it was… hard, thrilling, excruciating, upsetting, and uplifting. But I did it! And in the end setting out to accomplish something that once seemed relatively impossible is a pretty amazing feeling!

If you have run a full marathon then you will probably understand what I mean here when I say that it took me by surprise just how hard it was. I’ve said this to a few people who haven’t run one and have been met with the “um ya of course it was.” But I was expecting it to be hard, I was expecting to feel like I couldn’t finish sometimes, and I was expecting it to take a lot of internal strength to keep pushing. But it was so much more than that.

I expected to find the first half of the course relatively enjoyable, and I did!


I expected to find it hard to push up the hill at 25 km, but I did that one with ease.

I expected to have people make me smile and laugh and cry along the way, and they did.

I expected to get a surge of energy seeing my amazing support crew, and I definitely did!


I expected to enjoy the energy of the crowd so much that I wouldn’t even need my iPod, but I wouldn’t have made it through without my music.

I expected to enjoy the route through a beautiful city, but I found myself discouraged by the amount of tunnels and highways.


I expected to find the joy in the moment, and so often I did.

I expected to push hard in the last kilometre, but I walked up the final hill choking back the tears.

I expected to cross the finish line with a feeling of complete satisfaction, but I only felt the exhaustion.

The marathon was proof to myself that I am strong and I can withstand a lot. Not once in that entire race did I doubt that I could finish the whole thing (although I was definitely doing the math to figure out if I could just walk the rest at a few points). That feeling when your body and mind are screaming at you to stop but your heart tells you to keep on going? That’s the moment where you realize the power of that inner strength.

It’s hard to describe the mixed emotions that I feel after this journey from deciding I would do a marathon back in December, through the four months of training, up to that finish line… But I am so happy that I took those first steps.

I learned to dig deep. I learned to push hard. And I am stronger for it.

And marathon number two? I’m coming for you someday!








Switching the Focus

Things have gone pretty quiet over here on Tale of Two Teachers.  We didn’t officially plan to stop posting, we just kind of stopped.  We could blame it on this teachers’ strike and all the excessive drama that’s stemmed from it, we could blame it on the super emotional and impromptu “end of year celebration” day we had to whip up on a night’s notice last week, we could blame it on the fact that summer vacation is just around the corner.  But if we’re honest, we’re just so tired.  So, so exhausted.

For both of us, and likely many other teachers in BC, keeping up with the incessant Facebook and other social media related teachers’ strike news is essentially a full time job in itself!  Seriously, if I sit at my computer with my Facebook feed open, new things pop up every few minutes.  Then add everyone’s opinions and emotions into the mix of this political mess and it’s almost a bit too much.  As we’re both inexperienced in the terms of teacher strikes, the past month of job action (and escalation of job action) has run these two new teachers to the ground.

We’ve decided that we will write a year end teaching related post today and then for the summer, or at least a decent chunk of the summer, we will become “lifestyle bloggers” here on Tale of Two Teachers.  We aren’t concerned if people read our lifestyle posts or not, but we do want to keep writing and just need a break from teaching for a while.  We did a similar thing over Spring Break this year.  We hope you enjoy our lifestyle posts, but if you’re more into the teacher posts we write, we wish you an awesome summer and we’ll catch up with you later in August!

Q&A with Karley

Best moment this year…  I had many stellar moments this year with my class, but last week I was given a letter and a gorgeous piece of artwork from one of my toughest, most challenging, most loveable and adorable students.  The letter had me in insta-tears (surprise, surprise).  The student who wrote me the letter has faced extreme adversity, but was able to reflect upon the year as an opportunity of personal growth and change.  It floors me to realize that a 13 year old can be so cognitive of their own social-emotional development throughout the course of ten school months, and yet I am incredibly honoured to be the recipient of such a beautiful, honest piece of writing.  This particular student will remain in my heart for a long, long time.

Biggest challenge this year… The last four weeks of job action (and escalation) have been challenging.  I think this whole job action experience has made me more aware of how public and political my job actually is.  I don’t really know where I stand with those mixed emotions right now; I need more time to let this all settle and resonate.  Ending the year on this abrupt, “just kidding you don’t get to do any fun stuff with your class” note is pretty uncool, in my opinion.  Un.  Cool.

How I’ve grown as a teacher throughout the year… HA! If you haven’t already, go back and read the letter to my class that I wrote and read to them on our last day together.  If this letter is not a reflection on how I’ve changed as a teacher this year, I’m not quite sure how else to describe it.  I think what I learned the most this year is tolerance and patience.  I now know that if I can not only survive, but TEACH a class like the class I had this year, I can do absolutely anything.  I’m not kidding.

Current mantra… I actually don’t have a manta right now.  I am pretty zoned out of the whole school thing, to be quite honest (thank you teachers’ strike for that abrupt mind shift).

Plans for the break…  Not too much, actually.  A few road trips up to see my in-laws, who live on Shuswap Lake.  Some serious house renovations.  Some boating adventures with my parents, who now live a 20 min drive from my house.  Reading.  A lot of reading.  Oooh – and I want to bust out my grandma’s old sewing machine, find a YouTube tutorial on how to thread it (it’s been years, like since grade 9) and then I want sew some yellow chevron patterned curtains.  It’s no vaca to Indonesia, but hey 😉

Goals/intentions for the new school year… Unlike Meaghan, I haven’t given this too much thought yet.  My mind is still recovering from the insanity that was this end-of-year debacle, and I didn’t really spend much time this year thinking about what I want to do next year.  I was pretty good at “living in the moment” this year because I didn’t really have a choice; up until about February I was just trying to survive! I guess my only intention is to get a full time job for next year.  I don’t care where I work, I don’t care the grade level I work with, I don’t care which subjects I teach/don’t teach…I’m open for anything.  So open that in fact I’ve applied for 62 jobs knowing quite well that I very likely will not get one in this round of postings, or the next round.  My hope is for late August, but even then, I’ll take a September posting too!


Q&A with Meaghan

Best moment this year…  Ahhh so tough! I think it was saying goodbye to that first group I had in the fall because although goodbyes are hard and awful, those were the strongest relationships I have ever built as a teacher and I worked so dang hard to get where I got with them. Plus, it put me in a very reflective place and I realized just how much I had learned from them.

Biggest challenge this year…  Looking at the big picture. This year was full of some extreme lows and highs which often made it difficult to really look at the big picture. I am so happy with all of the opportunities I was given but in the moment it felt very frustrating to not understand why things were going the way they were.

How I’ve grown as a teacher throughout the year… I can’t even describe how much I’ve changed as a teacher this year. One of the biggest changes I’ve found is in my confidence, even though I’m a new teacher I still can speak up and have a say when it comes to what I think should be done in different situations. Last year I really took a back seat when it came to sharing my opinion but I am feeling more and more comfortable and confident in sharing what I think I/we should do.

Current mantra… One step at a time.

Plans for the break… I have a VERY exciting break coming up but first and foremost – relax! This has been a really tough end to a great year and I need a break. I am running a youth leadership course for a couple of weeks (yes this is work – but it’s work that I truly LOVE to do!) and we have a bunch of weekend trips planned. The two biggest things for the break are my brother’s wedding and a three week trip to Indonesia! So excited!!!!!

Goals/intentions for the new school year… To change my teaching practice in some big ways – I want to become more hands on (manipulatives, interactive journals) with math, I want to try a centres based approach in French, I want to “re-invent” the fitness run for PE (stay tuned for my ideas on that one), and I want to continue to make the centre of my teaching practice focused on Creativity, Passion, and Compassion.


Thanks everyone for your readership and support during the last ten months of school! Stay tuned (if you want) for our lifestyle posts, coming up soon.  I have a sneaking suspicion the first lifestyle post might be about a certain someone’s first marathon…just a hunch.


Letter to My Class

On the eve of what very well might be our last day of school together, I found it necessary to write personalized cards to each and every one of my students.  I also wrote them a letter.  I cried in front of them today (which caused a handful of them to become teary as well) and I’m probably going to cry again tomorrow.  What can I say?  I’ve always been a crier.


Dear Div. 19,

WOW – what a year we’ve had together! When I came into this class in mid-October I very quickly realized that I had my work cut out for me.  By the end of October my only goal for our class was to become a functioning community of young adults by the end of our time together. You won’t believe how many tears I cried for you in those early days (okay, fine, you probably do believe it!) This year we have come so far and I am so proud of you. You all have grown up so much this year, literally and figuratively. Not only are nearly all of you taller than me now, but many of you are wiser than me, too. Did you know that this year you’ve actually all become MY teacher? Would you like to know what you’ve all taught me this year? Yes? Good, because I’m going to tell you anyhow.

At the start of this year I had only one year of teaching under my belt. I didn’t know how to do teacher things like take kids on field trips, or professionally participate in IEP meetings. I had never done those things before I met you. But those things are practical skills any teacher can learn from any student and you people aren’t just “any” group of students…you’re MY students. This year you all managed to find a place in my heart. You all just dug your way into my heart, put down your lawn chairs, took a seat and refused to leave. You stubborn students. Do you remember when I told you I wouldn’t leave you this year? That I wouldn’t let you get through this year alone, but that we had to work as a team and achieve greatness together? I meant that and you eventually started to believe that, which is when you started to teach me.

This year you taught me to never, ever give up. You taught me that teaching science is really hard, especially when trying to differentiate lessons for each and every student. You taught me more about the importance of connection – that saying “hi” to people every morning is extremely important. You taught me how to let go of perfection. Did you know that I am a perfectionist? I have struggled with this for years and years, but you all managed to crack me this year and you allowed me to let go of expectation and just go with the flow. Please know that nobody has ever been able to teach me that in my 27 years of life! You are brilliant masters! This year you taught me patience – goodness, did you EVER teach me patience. This year you taught me about sorrow, heartbreak and sadness like no other person/people have before. Conversely, you also taught me about unbridled joy and happiness and how to celebrate those things properly. You taught me about being a teenager in today’s world and all the stresses and excitement that comes along with that experience. You let me into your lives through stories about sports, movies, school work, friends, family and a million other “real life” things and I am so grateful for those shared stories. This year you gave me confidence, Div 19. You made me believe in myself as a teacher more than I ever have before. This year you allowed me to spread my wings and grow as a person tremendously. Div 19, you’re all going to be forever in my heart, going down in history as my first ever real class. It has been my honour and ultimate pleasure to be your teacher this year. Thank you, so much, for our time together. I wish you all the best, hope you have a great summer and achieve big goals and dreams in high school! I’ll miss you all more than you know.


Mrs. Alleyn


Now it’s time to bring on the impromptu end of year celebrations! Cheers to my grade 8s, who literally changed my life this year.


My Teaching Vows


I take you, Teaching, to be my fulfilling and engaging career –

Through kindergarten germs and spring break recoveries,

During summer break and in report card season,

From this day forward, until retirement or a new opportunity pulls me away.


I promise to put my heart into you each day,

To let go of yesterday’s struggles and embrace the new day with enthusiasm.

I will treat each student with respect and give everything I can to them,

Each classroom I enter will be an opportunity, not a requirement.


If I am not practicing gratitude and find myself complaining too much,

I will make a change in how I approach you, Teaching.

If the day comes when I can no longer give of myself the way I need to,

I will make the choice to move on and find another calling.


I will demonstrate what it means to be a reader, a writer, a learner –

I will choose to spend my time connecting and redirecting, not punishing or yelling.

Each day I will practice self compassion and forgive myself for imperfections,

For I will find the beauty in this messy process.


Because I take you, Teaching, to be my fulfilling and engaging career –

Through first week exhaustion and end of the year celebrations,

In light bulb moments and in the darkest corners,

From this day forward, until retirement or a new opportunity pulls me away.




Real Life Goodness

This Wednesday post is not going to be deep or insightful or related to school AT ALL, because, let’s be honest, teachers are humans and humans don’t need to hear/read/talk/breathe teaching all the time.  In fact, I think we’re kind of inundated with teaching stuff right now in BC, so I am going to take this opportunity to switch gears and ramble about some real life stuff.

There are some really good real life things going on for me right now! Here they are in photo form.

Remember the half marathon I was supposed to run? Yeah, well, that didn’t happen.  I’m still not running, but Meaghan had the brilliant idea to change our half marathon registrations (she was supposed to run it too) to the 5k race.  We ended up walking the 5k with Starbucks in hand.  Nothing like a solid 55 minute catch up over coffee and sunshine with hundreds of other fit and fabulous women running around us.  Hopefully there aren’t any photos of us on the race’s official website because that would be embarrassing.


My husband and I officially adopted my sister’s cat.  Our cat and my sister’s cat are brothers and now they are reunited, which makes me heart the happiest.  Every night these two felines run around the house and have conversations at the screen doors.  Yes, I am losing my mind.


I went to WalMart recently to buy bribes for my class (this is only a tiny bit teaching related).  I usually don’t bribe my students, but it’s June and somethings gotta give these days; thus, the sugar coated gummy worms.  Unfortunately for my students this particular container of gummy worms did not make it out the door.  We consumed this entire thing in two days. Gross…I know.


On to healthier food options, our garden is starting to flourish!  Yesterday I harvested the first strawberries and they were delicious!


My parents managed to get their boat to the island so last weekend we put it in Shawnigan Lake and cruised around, just like we would do every summer in the Okanagan.  It’s going to be a good summer!


Last but not least, I bought a new car! Goodbye life’s savings, hello sweet sound system.  I’ve only ever owned and driven cars that are roughly the same age as me, so my new 2008 Scion is quite the big deal for me.  My sister thinks the car is “boxy chic” and I would have to agree. (Sorry, no photo).

That’s about all the real life goodness that’s going on for me.  Summer is a mere 3.5 weeks away and I have to say, I am very much looking forward to it!

Share your real life goodness with us! No teaching related stories allowed.

Teach it Tuesday: Compassion Free Write

This is a lesson I did on my contract last week and then did again today while subbing. It is a pretty simple lesson but led to some great discussions and I love hearing what kids have to say on important topics.

First I posted these five quotes on the board and we read through them together:

1. “What we know matters but who we are matters more.” – Brene Brown

2. “Compassion is not a virtue – it is a commitment. It’s not something we have or don’t have – it’s something we choose to practice.” – Brene Brown

3. “We judge when we don’t understand.” – Unknown

4. “You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know when it will be too late.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

5. “Wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it. Right is right even if no one is doing it.” – Unknown

After we read these they each chose a quote and wrote it at the top of their paper. Then they had about 20 minutes to free write about the meaning of the quote and what it made them think about. If they ran out of things to say about the first one they could choose a second one to keep going.

Once the 20 minutes was up I had the students read back through their writing and choose one sentence or phrase that they wanted to share with the class. By choosing one phrase they could choose something that was meaningful but not too personal if they weren’t comfortable sharing. Then we just did a whip around and everyone read their sentences out… It was very powerful!

Out of the two classes I’ve done it with I had three silly responses and the rest (~50 students) said something meaningful, pretty great results for middle school in May/June!

I would absolutely love to hear what your students say if you do this activity. Please share in the comments if you end up doing this activity!