New Year Intentions

Tale of Two Teachers is going to take an official holiday break, but before we go, here are our thoughts on New Year Intentions.  Wishing you all a happy season of joy and light and love.  See you in 2015!

Karley’s Thoughts

A while back I stopped consistently using the words “goal” and “resolution” and I started replacing those words with the word “intention”.  In my opinion, the word intention gives space for reshaping of the goal or resolution – it allows for a plan to be made, and have that plan change.  Fluidity and flexibility is key for me; having a newborn baby at home no longer allows for concrete plans so instead we now call our plans “ideas”.  We say things like, “We have an idea to get groceries today” or,”We have an idea to attend that volleyball party”.  Sometimes our ideas happen and sometimes Charlee demands we do other things instead, like sit on the couch for three hours and snuggle.  We are okay with this change of plans ideas; this is our life now!

Because I am not teaching for the rest of this year I decided that my New Year Intentions don’t necessarily need to be about teaching.  That said, I have a sneaky suspicion that these non-teaching intentions might end up having a dramatic impact on my teaching practice once I return to work next school year.

Intention 1: Give presence.  You may have seen this lululemon video making its way around the internet (note: this video does have a less than desirable word in it; view with caution!)  This is my first New Year intention because since Charlee was born I have become much more conscious of how much I use my phone.  My sister told me the other day that I don’t actually use my phone very much presentcompared to others, but I know I could decrease the usage.  I am aware of how babies learn by watching and I don’t want my daughter to be reaching for my phone to play with when she’s not even one year old.  I also intend to be more present in other areas of my life (relationships, diet, exercise).  You can count on me to keep you posted on the progress of this intention!

Intention 2: Work (out) hard.  Two days before I found out I was pregnant I ran my longest distance (14km) in a pretty good time.  I was ten weeks into training for my first half marathon and I was in the best shape of my adult life.  I decided to stop running because the week after I discovered I was pregnant I had a hemorrhage.  That hemorrhage scared me enough to cease all intense physical activity.  I told myself that I would start running again in February 2015 once the baby was born and I was healed.  This is still my plan and I can’t wait to start running again – this time I am training for the lululemon half marathon in August.  Until then, I intend to slowly rebuild my strength and conditioning.  I have a long and difficult history with body image struggles, most of which has been dealt with, but there’s something about gaining 35 pounds in eight months that makes a person a wee bit crazy.  I intend to be gentle with myself, but I am also determined to be an incredible role model for my baby daughter.  I never want her to hear me put myself down because of how I look/don’t look; therefore, I intend to work (out) very hard this year.

Intention 3: Finish what I start.  I’m a fantastic starter and a terrible finisher.  If you don’t believe me, come and see the plethora of half completed Pinterest projects I have strewn about my house!  This year I intend to finish what I start.  I know I’m going to have to start small because this quality does not come naturally to me.  For example, I really need to put my clothes away after I do laundry.  I also really need to put my dirty dishes in the dishwasher instead of on the kitchen counter.  These things sound lame, I know, but I’m confident once I practice enough and get good at them then the whole “finishing Pinterest projects” will actually happen!

Wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year!

Wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year!

Meaghan’s Thoughts

Last year I chose one word for my New Year’s resolutions and it was “intentional.” I wanted to try to make sure (almost) everything I was saying and doing was in line with my core values, beliefs, and life goals. I became much more focused on what I wanted and put a lot of effort into working toward some big goals/plans… I worked hard. I trained and ran a marathon. I traveled to a new country. All in all it was productive, amazing, and honestly – tiring! This year my focus is going to be on balance.

#1 – Balance with work:

I am going to keep work at school and not bring too much home with me – I have been practicing this method for a while and it has worked well. I am also going to be very specific with the areas of teaching I am going to change and work on so that I don’t overwhelm myself trying to do everything at once. Also, I am going to continue to ask for help from amazing friends and colleagues so that I remain inspired and feel supported.

#2 – Balance with fitness:

I am very proud of myself for running my full marathon last year – Very proud! It was an amazing experience and I learned so much about myself in the process. But it was absolutely exhausting! I ended up taking about three months off of running afterwards just to mentally recuperate and I am still dealing with some of the physical healing six months later. This year I am going to get back into training at a reasonable level (although I might choose to do another marathon, I will not be doing the bulk of the training during the busiest time of year). I am also going to balance my running with strength training, yoga, pilates, and massage/physical therapy so that I continue to take good care of my body.

#3 – Balance with my time/priorities:

I am busy – always have been, probably always will be. I really like being busy for the most part and I’ve enjoyed the process of combining important aspects of my life in order to fit different things in. I’ve been making more of an effort to run with friends so I can combine my social time with my fitness. This year I am still taking online courses, teaching full time now, and I will be training for a half marathon. I love all of that (well… maybe I don’t LOVE the courses haha) but I need to make sure that I am feeling balanced with my time alone and social time too! If this means skipping a workout or not staying late at school, then that’s what I need to do! I am determined this year to be more balanced with my priorities so that I can be happier and healthier!

What are some of your New Year Intentions? Share with us!

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The Student-Mama

I know.  Equal parts ridiculous and adorable.

I know. Equal parts ridiculous and adorable.

As a new mama I’ve been placed back in to the role as a learner.  I am a “student-mama”, if you will, and nothing made this more glaringly apparent than the eleven days Joel and I spent learning from and about Charlee while she was in the special care nursery at the hospital in Vancouver.

First things first, the nurses in the special care nursery are a seriously incredible type of nurse.  During my recent hospitalizations I’ve come to learn more about the nursing profession; don’t get me wrong, all nurses are amazing, but special care/NICU nurses are just that extra touch of exceptional.  We saw a large turnover of nurses during our eleven days, and of course we had our “favourites”, but each and every single nurse taught us something new about taking care of our premature baby and we couldn’t be more grateful for the knowledge they imparted on us.

I mentioned in our family blog how amazing Joel has been since Charlee was born (the man has always been amazing, but he’s taken it to the next level in the last few weeks!)  Because of my c-section and high blood pressure I was somewhat out of commission for a few days, so Joel learned all that he could right away from the nurses and then passed those new skills on to me as soon as I was able to move around post-op.  I thought that I’d have a decent understanding of how to feed a baby her bottle because, you know, I grew up playing with dolls!  Turns out, dolls don’t move around and squirm quite as much a real, live baby.  Dolls also don’t spit up or choke on their milk (at least the toy dolls of my generation didn’t…)  Needless to say, a session of serious hands on training was in dire need.

Here’s a check list of a few essential things we learned during Charlee’s stay in special care:

-how to feed her (both breastfeeding and bottle feeding)
-how to burp her
-how to change diapers/deal with crazy diaper rash
-how to swaddle her
-how to bathe her (not an easy task!)

Baby boot camp is paying off in spades and we've only been released for five days!  Here is Charlee and me, doing some 3.30am hot laps around the kitchen/living room while stopping to refuel along the way.

Baby boot camp is paying off in spades and we’ve only been released for two weeks! Here is Charlee and me, doing some 3.30am hot laps around the kitchen/living room while stopping at the fridge to refuel along the way.

We practiced these few things continually while the nurses were constantly by our side making suggestions, adjustments and assessments to and of our practice.  Keep in mind, these nurses were also tending to five other babies and their parents as well.  I must admit that I cried a decent amount of tears during this rigorous baby boot camp (if any of my students from last year are reading this, I KNOW…the crying).   I recall thinking this THIS must be what it’s like to be the new and quiet student in the rambunctious, fully functioning classroom – all things running smoothly around you while you silently melt down and curse the fact that you’re so out of the loop.

Being a student-mama in the special care nursery is very much comparable to being a student-teacher in a classroom.  The student-mama is guided and taught by skilled professionals, like the student-teacher.  The student-mama is given a whole whack of strategies, tools and opinions to “help cope”, like the student-teacher.  The student-mama is completely, 100% overwhelmed from the start, like the student-teacher.  All I can say for sure is that I am entirely grateful for my practicum experiences AND my yoga practice because both those trainings kept me (mostly) calm and focused while chaos in the form of screaming babies and wailing heart monitors swirled around us.  The student-mama (and papa) is also given gradual release of responsibility when it comes to care for their baby, like the student-teacher, except the “baby” becomes the students in this case.  Every day in special care Joel and I took an increasing amount of ownership over Charlee’s care.  For example, we were merely an audience for her first bath, but the second and third baths we did on our own.

Our baby girl is over one month old now; therefore, I have had ample time to think about how this little human has taken full charge of becoming my teacher in a mere matter of weeks. Charlee has reset the scale on what it looks, feels and sounds like when maintaining one’s patience.  I thought my class from last year had taught me enough about patience, but it turns out I was wrong!  Nothing requires more patience than dealing with a screaming, hungry baby at 3am who will not eat despite the fact that she’s ravenous.  When these situations occur I notice my jaw gets really tense and I clench my teeth, my shoulders rise and my back starts to hurt and I get really snippy and rude.  It’s in those moments that (most times) I’m learning to take a deep breath and change my actions and attitude toward the screaming hungry monster.

This is her best hungry monster face.  I'm so glad we caught it on camera!

This is her best hungry monster face. I’m so glad we caught it on camera!

Charlee has also taught me how to slow down and appreciate the tiniest of accomplishments.  I’m noticing that while I adore being at home, I tend to go a little crazy if I don’t make it outside at least once a day.  Charlee and I have started to venture out a little bit in the form of attending doctor’s appointments,  Christmas shopping and forest walks behind our house.  The other day I finished off “thank you” cards for people who generously gave us gifts, did some laundry AND made the bed.  One month ago those tasks would have taken about twenty minutes to complete, but now they take me all day to attend to.  These days I definitely celebrate the fact that I get some little things done.  Charlee constantly reminds me that it is all about perspective.

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I’m thinking this year of maternity leave with Charlee will become a fantastic learning experience for me.  I am confident I will head back in to the classroom next fall with a whole new view on this teaching profession and I have my tiny, five week old daughter to thank for it.

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Karley

Teach it Tuesday: Class Sneak Peak

So I’m not feeling very inspired and creative at the moment… A LOT going on the past few weeks! I don’t have any creative new lessons for you but here is a sneak peak into our class work for these last few weeks before Winter Break.

Language Arts – We are currently working on a Novel Study for The Giver. This book definitely has its pros and cons for teaching with the full class but it is one of my absolute favourite books and sometimes I feel like that is reason enough to do something (as long as you match it with pedagogically sound activities) because I can bring in the excitement I feel for the story. There are also lots of tie-ins with popular books these days like The Hunger Games and Divergent.

Math – We are working through a unit on Fractions, Decimals, and Percents. My favourite thing so far has been taking the time to conference with (almost!) every student to discuss how they are doing and areas they need help with. I feel like I’m being much more attentive to the individual needs of my students this unit and I’m hoping that it helps!

Social Studies – Our unit right now is about Ancient Egypt and since we are coming close to the end we have been having some fun with different activities. The favourite right now is our “Mummified Potatoes” that are currently going black in the classroom. I do love the hands on learning though!

French – We are continuing with our French Centres but I have adjusted some of the stations to fit a Christmas theme (the game and the vocabulary – I’m waiting on a couple of books to change up the reading station).

PE – I am teaching French to another class so I don’t get to teach PE regularly anymore but I did get to hold onto my Friday morning fitness block. Last week we did some Tabatas for our workout which was pretty fun! I love getting a workout in with my class first thing in the morning.

What is your class up to these days?

Meaghan

Long Time No Chat

Well hey there blog world! It’s been a while! Sorry for the lack of posting… Karley is busy being a new mom and equally exciting (not!) I’ve been busy with end of term/report cards. So let’s do some catching up tonight…

Besides teaching I’m finishing up my online course, trying to spend time with friends and family, and keeping up some running/yoga. For teaching, I’ve been working away three days a week in my contract and subbing most weeks on my other two days. Also, I have managed to sign up for a lot of professional development opportunities that have me super excited but sometimes a little overwhelmed – More on these another day! I’m still working away at my goals of improving my math teaching and trying creative things (like centres) in French. Math is feeling like a bit of a roller coaster these days, sometimes I feel like I’ve mastered it and sometimes I feel like crawling into a small space and hiding out… sigh life of a new teacher. The French centres have been going really well and I’m loving the time it frees up in instruction that I can spend in small group settings with my students.

And now for the best part of tonight’s post… Some exciting news!

An amazing friend surprising me with Starbucks and a sweet little baby visit to celebrate my news!

An amazing friend surprising me with Starbucks and a sweet little baby visit to celebrate my news!

I got a job! And not just any job… I get to stay in the grade 7 class I’m in now until June and instead of 3 days a week it will be FULL TIME! This really couldn’t get more exciting for me… Oh wait! Except I should tell you that one of my good friends is also teaching grade 7 on the same team (just down the hall) for at least a couple of months. Seriously?! Is this real life?! Things just feel like an absolute perfect fit.

All this excitement has led to a LOT of exciting new planning and dreaming for me so be prepared for the overload of new ideas that will most likely be dominating my posts in the next couple of weeks.

What are the best parts of this contract?

  • Teaching grade 7 – My favourite
  • Teaching with a good friend
  • Being at one of my favourite schools in the city
  • NOT BEING ON CALL ANYMORE – See ya later cell phone! (Well not quite…)
  • Having job security for 6 whole months!
  • The freedom of teaching a class til the end of the year and being able to really, truly do my own thing

Well that’s about it for me –

How are you, lovely readers? We miss hearing from you!

Meaghan