A Post about Uncertainty

Uncertainty seems like a great word to describe this “Back to School” season.  While we try to keep it light, joyful and inspirational here on our blog, there are times when the harsh truth of reality peeks through and when that happens, we do our best to acknowledge it in an acceptable manner. 

I’ve been going back to school for 22 years, granted the majority of those years have been in student-form.  This will be my third back to school season as a teacher and I can honestly say…I am not excited. 

I don’t know what’s wrong with me?  Usually at the start of August I’m ready to start lesson planning again! I’ve been to WalMart in the past week and I saw all the aisles full of school supplies, excited families checking items off lists, and I want to be those people because I LOVE back to school shopping, but I just can’t get there this year.  I think I am discouraged.  In my young teaching career I’ve never experienced a strike like we are going through right now.  In fact, in my entire career as a student in public education I’ve never experienced a strike like this.  I must admit that back in late June/early July when the media was on fire with teacher strike news I chose what I viewed and read very carefully.  I have a tendency to get anxious and worked up about these kinds of things and because I was just finishing one of the most challenging years of my life (thank you grade 8s, I love you!) I chose to take care of my self and not fully engage with the media reports.  Call it self preservation, if you will. 

And then the media went quiet and no one knew what the heck was going on all summer long.  And now we’re exactly one week away from potentially getting back to school and we STILL have no idea what’s going on.  To top all this off, I don’t have a job (yet).  I wasn’t actually expecting a job going into September because I know there are many people ahead of me who have more seniority than I do, so I wasn’t expecting to walk in to my own classroom on September 2nd; however, I WAS expecting to walk into a classroom on September 2nd and help a school with a start up subbing gig for a few weeks. 

I’m not even going to get into the financial piece because most people just don’t like reading about that.  Just know this: it’s a good thing I saved the majority of my paycheques all year long.  It’s also a blessing that my husband is not a teacher.  Enough said.

My non-teacher family members (ie. all of them) keep asking what I think will happen with this strike and my honest answer is, “I don’t know!”  I renewed my car insurance the other day and the car insurance lady asked me what I thought would happen.  I don’t know.  I ran into one of my dear students from this past year the other day, she’s so excited to go to high school, and she asked me what I thought would happen; I told her I didn’t know.  What I do know is that this whole situation is messy and unfair.

Now, in this last week of what should be our summer holiday, teachers are back on the picket lines (voluntarily).  Hmmm.  I don’t even know how I feel about that!?

I don’t really much about anything these days; however, when this email from a student I taught this past year popped into my inbox the other day I smiled.  It bothers me when people say this strike is NOT about the students, no matter what teachers say.  In my opinion, the only reason why I do this job and love this job is BECAUSE of the students.  I need to publicly thank my student for her impeccable timing and kind words – a reminder of why I chose this profession in the first place.




Your Secret Life

This post is somewhat of a silly, one-off, nonsensical kind of rambling.  What I would do if I wasn’t a teacher…

Some of you might think I’m nuts for bringing up this topic of discussion considering I have only been teaching for two years (but went to Uni for seven years to get here!)  Don’t get me wrong, I love and adore my career choice and wouldn’t change it for anything. But do you ever have those moments where you tap in to your secret life and think, “Yep – that’s EXACTLY what I would do”?  I definitely do.  Asking people (adults, young children, students, etc.) what they would do in their secret life is one of my most favourite questions to ask.  A long, long time ago I wrote a post about a fun advisory/CAPP activity I created about this very topic.  You can find that one HERE.

If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you will likely know that my first ever teaching contract was a dance teaching job, which is still talked about in our house with a high-pitched, sing-song voice exclaiming: “best-job-everrrrrr”.

Photo courtesy of Nadine.

Photo courtesy of Nadine, who happened to walk into the studio one day and find us all like this.

This photo oozes awesomeness, creativity, athleticism, silliness (hello, child wearing green clown wig??), participation and plain ol’ good times!  I never felt so on top of the world as I did in this job.  I felt as if I owned that little studio and the students I was blessed to work with just filled up that space with their absolute INSANE energy every single day.  I witnessed students transform in this space in the time frame of 8ish short weeks (the school’s exploratory rotation schedule). I saw kids who were shy and quiet blossom into incredible leaders of their groups and go on to lead dances.  I saw kids who had a dancer within them shine through and become a rock star in the studio, while remaining a “behavioural challenge” in the classroom.  I saw kids who had no formal dance training whatsoever come into the studio, soak in all the energy we had to offer, roll with it and bravely try something new.   I saw one child in particular with a severe exceptionality come to dance class, go home, learn dances on her own, and return the following week(s) with new moves to teach us all.  At the end of the course rotation she performed, on her own, in front of her entire grade 8 class and did not miss a single beat.  The class was shocked and I was, of course, crying my eyes out next to the sound system.  After this girl finished her performance she proceeded to invite the girls in her class to join her while she led them through the dance moves.  The coolest part?  All those miracles I witnessed that year teaching dance did not come from me…they came from the kids because we had the space, time and flexibility to do and be what they wanted, while pumpin’ the jams as LOUD as we wanted.

You see what I mean? Best. Job. Ever.

Anyhow, moving on.  In my (not so) secret life I would definitely be a backup dancer for Beyonce OR a sweet choreographer, like NappyTabs from So You Think You Can Dance.  Don’t laugh – I’m being real!  Important to note: I’m not that good.  I’m not trying to tell you that I’m a good dancer…my sister trumps me in hip hop, although I can do a pretty solid second position demi-plie. Let’s just say being raised a rhythmic gymnast leaves little muscle memory space for twerking (to all my grades 8s who read this blog, yes I did just say that).  But I love to dance.  I love to move.  My brain just works in way that gets things when movement is involved.  Like how my husband can learn how to demolish a bedroom and rebuild it from the studs, electrical and all, just because he “sees it at work”.  I don’t get it when he draws a 2D floor plan and explains how the room is going to look once complete, but I DO get it when my living room (or couch, or car…) becomes a dance floor and my brain has the space to think in movement. My best ideas come to me while dancing for real, or in my head.  It’s all learning.

And when I get the chance to watch shows like So You Think You Can Dance I literally beam with joy and tears the entire time while couch dancing because it’s just so, so good.

Watch this:

This episode was aired last Wednesday and I’ve watched this dance approximately ten times a day since then.  The female dancer, Jasmine, is nuts.  Who moves like this!? And the creative genius behind the whole thing is the coolest couple on the planet, NappyTabs. Needless to say, I’ve book marked this dance to show to whichever dance club I end up running this year.

And this:

Two of my grade 8s from “the dance job year” learned this entire dance and performed for us – it was incredible.  This song became our unofficial theme song in the studio and if this ever happened in my school cafeteria, I would die happy.

There is just something about dance and teaching/dancing with young people that lights my soul on fire.  And with that I

One of the best nights of dancing in my life! Bare feet, ocean breeze, sandy "dance floor", all 53 guests participating, sweet playlist...three hours of nonstop dancing.  My legs were so sore I couldn't walk for a week.

One of the best nights of dancing in my life! Bare feet, ocean breeze, sandy “dance floor”, all 53 guests participating, sweet playlist…three hours of nonstop dancing. My legs were so sore I couldn’t walk for a week.

close this rambling post about what I would do in my secret life, if I wasn’t a teacher.  What would YOU do? Are you brave enough to share? I hope you all spend a few moments today thinking about how you can get more of your secret life passion involved in your real life jobs…work becomes much more like “work” that way!