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

Book Tale: The Lost Girls

We’ve been experiencing some classic “Island Autumn Weather” here in Victoria lately; the wind and rainstorms have been quite impressive!  This time of year always finds me digging through my bookshelves in search of my favourites and “The Lost Girls” usually makes the cut for which books I reread.  I’m currently on my third read through “The Lost Girls” and I am loving it as much as the first and second reads.lostgirls2

“The Lost Girls” is true travel story written journal-style by three female friends nearing their thirtieth birthdays.  All three women worked in publishing/television in NYC during the time this book was written (2010) and they were all essentially slaves to their jobs, pulling insanely long hours at their desks and gaining extra, unnecessary weight on account of how much take out food they consumed on a weekly basis (sound familiar teachers?)  A series of events finds these three over-worked, stressed out friends ditching their jobs, relationships and connections in The Big Apple for the simpler lifestyle of backpackers.  Holly, Amanda and Jen find themselves shedding their NYC selves while spending one whole year conquering their biggest fears all over the globe, making new friends and discovering new passions as only authentic, true backpacker-style traveling will allow.

My kitty, Franklin, trying to model this book for you all.

My kitty, Franklin, trying to model this book for you all.

I love this book so much because it reminds me of my own four month backpacking experience through South East Asia.  I also love that these women were brave enough to escape the monotony of the daily (extremely unhealthy and overworked) grind and seek adventure to help them discover their true selves.  If you need some inspiration from people who take action to make positive change in their lives, this book is for you!

Find “The Lost Girls” website and blog HERE.

A Cause for Celebration

This post has absolutely nothing to do with teaching and everything to do with my incredible husband and chosen life partner, Joel.  Actually, maybe the one tiny role teaching does play in this post is that Joel is largely the reason why I am sane enough to teach and teach well.  Joel followed me to Victoria eight years ago to help me chase my dream of attending UVic to become a teacher.  He’s made me dinner and fed it to me on numerous occasions so I can keep marking/planning/prepping without interruption.  He’s held me close when I’ve cried endless tears over the students I’ve had the pleasure to work with over the last few years.  He always listens to my teaching stories…the good, the bad and the absolutely crazy.  He doesn’t bat an eye when I spend our own money on teaching supplies for my classroom(s) or food for my students who have nothing.  Joel deserves an award for marrying me, truly.  I am not an easy person to be in a relationship with and the fact that I chose teaching as my lifelong vocation, well, that adds a whole new level of crazy to my life!

Cheers to all you life partners of teachers; you are incredible and strong and probably more needed than you know.  We teachers tend to give all of ourselves to our work and our students and come home at the end of the school day with very little left to share.  Thank you, Babe, for being the pillar of support I’ve constantly needed while navigating my way through this career so far.  I couldn’t have done it without you.

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Ten years ago today this cute and awkward nineteen year old boy asked an even more awkward (I won’t say I was cuter) seventeen year old girl to be his girlfriend and the rest is history.  We dated for six years before getting engaged, seven before getting married, and then we decided to get married on our “dating anniversary” because we’d already spent so many years celebrating October 22nd as our anniversary that we couldn’t imagine ditching that date for a new anniversary date.

I’ll do my best to walk you through a decade’s worth of photos of us:

 

Just babies! Note: worst haircut I've ever had?

2005: Just babies! Note: worst haircut I’ve ever had?

Grouse Grind: the first and last time I've ever done it.  Joel has a recording of me hiking and swearing off junk food for the rest of my life, hence the reason why we haven't done the Grind since?

2006: Grouse Grind – the first and last time I’ve ever done it. Joel has a recording of me hiking and swearing off junk food for the rest of my life, hence the reason why we haven’t done the Grind since?

2007: We spent four months in South East Asia.  This photo was taken in Koh Chang, one of our favourite places on earth.

2007: We spent four months in South East Asia. This photo was taken in Koh Chang, one of our favourite places on earth.

2008: The end to our first year in Victoria.  I got a harsh case of strep throat approximately 20 minutes after this photo was taken.

2008: The end to our first year in Victoria. I got a harsh case of strep throat approximately 20 minutes after this photo was taken.

2009: Horne Lake Caves.  We stayed at the Tree Spheres just outside of Qualicum.  For this anniversary we had the same events planned on different weekends.  We ended up figuring out that we had planned the same anniversary adventures (who does that!?)

2009: Horne Lake Caves. We stayed at the Tree Spheres just outside of Qualicum. For this anniversary we had the same events planned on different weekends. We ended up figuring out that we had planned the same anniversary adventures (who does that!?) and obviously we cancelled one of the weekends.

Engaged! We actually got engaged four days before our anniversary because an anniversary engagement would have been way too obvious.

2010: Engaged! We actually got engaged four days before our anniversary because an anniversary engagement would have been way too obvious.

2011: Married! This photo was snapped moments before we legally tied the knot down on Dallas Road in Victoria.

2011: Married! This photo was snapped moments before we legally tied the knot down on Dallas Road in Victoria.

2012: Starting the annual tradition of the wedding clothes! We got dressed up in our fancy clothes and since it was pouring with rain we posed on our condo's balcony with the camera's self timer as our witness.

2012: Starting the annual tradition of the wedding clothes! We got dressed up in our fancy clothes and since it was pouring with rain we posed on our condo’s balcony with the camera’s self timer as our witness.

2013: Year 2 of Marriage, wedding clothes on.  This one was a race against the fog up on Rainbow Hill in Victoria.  Again, self time as the witness.

2013: Year 2 of Marriage, wedding clothes on. This one was a race against the fog up on Rainbow Hill in Victoria. Again, self timer as the witness.

2014: Here we are as tiny specs on a beach in San Francisco in March.  Yes, this is the most recent photo of us.  Unfortunately today's torrential downpour deterred our wedding-clothes-wearing outdoor photo shoot today (that, and it's dark by 5pm now?!) Yay 10 years!

2014: Here we are as tiny specs on a beach in San Francisco in March. Yes, this is the most recent photo of us that I could find. Unfortunately today’s torrential downpour deterred our post-work-wedding-clothes-wearing outdoor photo shoot (that, and it’s dark by 5pm now?!) We might need to cheat a bit and do that photo shoot on a less soggy day.  Yay 10 years!

Karley

Teach it Tuesday: Get Candy, Get Candy, Get Candy

I think I may have mentioned this story on our blog before, but it’s so good and funny that I decided to dig it out again for this year’s Hallowe’en Teach it Tuesday.

Seinfled

I grew up traveling to gymnastics competitions in overstuffed minivans with volunteer parent drivers.  These were the days of cassette tapes in the minivan’s sound system – we didn’t have iPods, heck, we didn’t even have our own walkmans, so basically anything we listened to was heard by everyone in the vehicle.  We (driver included) had to find something to listen to that we could all enjoy.  Enter Jerry Seinfeld’s stand up comedy.

I was raised on Seinfeld’s stand up comedy.  If you think this indicates that I was raised in an overstuffed minivan driving to Vancouver or Seattle every other weekend to compete, you are absolutely correct.  I know Seinfeld’s “I’m Telling You for the Last Time” word for word and to this day I can still pick it up from anywhere in the show.  Yes, I still think it’s hilarious.

Imagine my excitement last year when I found Seinfeld’s Hallowe’en skit put into a children’s book! Oh glory! I bought two copies and showed it to my class immediately and they loved it.  Keep in mind, last year I taught grade 8 so they kind of got the sense of humour Seinfeld is going for in this skit.  Give it a listen and see if it would work for your class:

Another re-share from last year: Meaghan’s Hallowe’en math lesson on percentages.  You can find it for free on our Teachers Pay Teachers site HERE.

Enjoy!

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Guest Post: Ethan’s First Day of Kindergarten

Hi everyone! Meet my cousin’s son, Ethan.

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Ethan on his first day of Kindergarten!

Ethan at three days old.  How is he in Kindergarten already!?

Ethan at three days old. How is he in Kindergarten already!?

Eight (ish) week old Ethan.  Again, Kindergarten!?

Eight (ish) week old Ethan. Again, Kindergarten!?

Ethan started Kindergarten this week and has been waiting a looong time for this special season! In the season of all things new, we decided it would be fun to hear about Ethan’s first day of Kindergarten in his own words.  I texted my cousin, Ethan’s mom, some questions to ask Ethan about his Kindergarten experience thus far.  This is what he has to say:

1) Ethan, tell us about your first day of Kindergarten:  We went on an adventure to the office to find Pete the Cat’s shoes.

2) What was your most favourite part, or the best part, of you first day of school?  The best part was snack time because I got to pack my own lunch!ethan4

3) Were you excited or nervous to start Kindergarten? Why or why not? I was nervous because I wanted to be in my friends Harper’s class and I don’t know if we will be together.

4) If you could give any advice to kids starting Kindergarten NEXT year, what would you say?  (He didn’t want to answer this question, he just kept saying, “No”).

5) Any other comments about starting Kindergarten? I can’t wait for outside time so I can play with my friend Cash who is in grade 2!

 

Sounds like Ethan is in for a great year of school! Have fun, buddy!

 

Karley

 

Aftermath of the Strike

Disclaimer: These words, opinions and experiences are strictly my own.  In no way do I intend to criticize any one person or system, especially my fellow brilliant colleagues, administrators and beloved school district in which I work.

I’m sitting down to write this post at 2am because for the past three nights I’ve gone to bed only to wake up a few hours later with a head completely full of thoughts.  What happened? and What did I do wrong? seem to be the two major questions I can’t let go of right now.

Let’s backtrack a bit.  On Monday we finally started school here in BC after being on strike since mid-June.  For most of my teacher friends the start to the school year has been an experience of mixed emotions and their Facebook status updates say it all: “So exhausted already”, “So happy to be back, already so tired”…you get the idea.  Exhaustion combined with elation seems to be the going formula.   As it happens, I am no stranger to this (totally lame) emotional experience.  Going into this school year I thought I had it made.  I thought getting a temporary contract or a start up TOC (teacher on call) gig would be no problem simply because my past two years of teaching have been pretty incredible in the sense of getting work right away.  I thought that having two years of full time seniority under my belt would be a decent advantage going into my third year as a teacher.  As it turns out, I was wrong.  (Side note: I did have a start up lined up, but we were still on strike for three weeks of September, so, much to my disappointment, I never actually worked in that start up). 

Like every temporary teacher in our district, I’m back on the TOC list this year until I get a contract.  I honestly didn’t expect it to be this challenging to get a contract this year, especially because I landed my first full time contract last year at this time with only one year of seniority.  I suspect the whole lack of contract thing has to do with the recent closure of one school in our district, the closure of a juvenile detention centre and the staggeringly large number of layoffs in our district back in May.  I also suspect the extended strike has something to with the seemingly slow start to the year.  I’ve been driving myself mad with this thought: how does a third year teacher end up with nothing and no prospects at the start of the school year?  I even had the requisite complete and utterly disgusting seasonal meltdown (there were other contributing factors, not just school/work) the other night.  My poor husband just sat there and attempted to console me while I took out all my worry, anger and rage on his brand new lululemon volleyball shirt.  Like most of my meltdowns of epic proportions (they happen about three times/year), I did feel better afterward, but it didn’t fix my problems…in fact, my work related problems kind of just got worse.

So the only thing I can think of is to continue to find some sources of happiness and inspiration outside of the education-based realm, because the education-based realm is just so not doing it for me right now.  My brilliant, wise friend sent me a text the other evening suggesting I find the message in all this work crazy.  She said that maybe this season isn’t meant to be all chaotic and work-filled for me right now.  Maybe I’m supposed to ease into the school year a bit less forcefully and a bit more gracefully.  And the Universe sent me this email the other night at about 1.30am (I was awake in bed fretting from 2-4am that night…I should have just checked my email!)

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So I’m trying very hard to take the advice of my important life-people, as I like to call them, and the Universe itself, and just put all this work crazy and self-created expectation on the shelf.  I’m trying very hard to patiently trust this process, which has turned into an entirely different lesson of patience and trust than the one I learned from my grade 8 students last year.  Who knew I had more to learn on the same topics?

A few pieces of happiness and inspiration I’ve found that are keeping me going right now include:

This book, given to me a few weeks ago from another very wise and soulful friend in education, whom I admire and adore.  I suggest you find a copy and read it if you don’t already know it.

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Our brand new, Pinterest inspired laundry room space, built by my husband (the man is amazing…I now want to do laundry for days!):

Before the demolition.

Before the demolition.

After the renovation.  See what I mean? Laundry for-ev-er.

After the renovation. See what I mean? Laundry for-ev-er.

These two rascals.  Who knew getting a cat, and then adopting his brother ten months later, would be one of the best things for my sanity? Pets are just the best.

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And last but not least, our upcoming Thanksgiving dinner with a random assortment of friends.  Good food and lovely friends is always a winning combo.

 

“Lead me where my trust is without borders” was my main mantra last fall as I entered into my first full time teaching job.  I was warned that asking to “trust without borders” was somewhat of a risky prayer or mantra, if you will, but I dove in head first with that phrase repeatedly running through my mind and heart. I got messy with the whole experience and it turned out beautifully in the end.  So this fall I find myself with the same quote on my lips, asking to trust without borders again, and curiously waiting to see where this journey is leading me…all while trying to stay out of my own head.  Someone should pay me to do this.

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Karley

The Season’s Happiness

(If you are getting bored of me, don’t worry, Meaghan will be back soon with some fantastic travel stories to share.  I promise!)

For those of you who don’t live and work in BC, we have yet to go back to school because of a complex and messy strike in our teachers’ union (and because of a provincial government that is unwilling to budge or bargain).  It’s still uncertain times for public education in BC.  Teacher’s haven’t been working, and therefore haven’t been paid, since the middle of June.  Students didn’t get to finish off the old school year properly OR start off the new school year properly.  It’s tough times all around, really.

Last week’s post was about the uncertainty during this Back to School season.  Writing that post made me a little sad, because summer’s end and autumn’s beginning is by far my most favourite season of the whole entire year.  Back to School excitement definitely fuels my fire during this magical season of temperature changes and pumpkin harvests because it’s just part of the package during this time of year; however, this week little reminders that autumn is on its way have started pop up everywhere and now I am just extremely giddy over that fact that our air conditioning can be put to rest until next June.

The first (and quite possibly) most awesome thing about the season’s change:

Starbucks' seasonal drinks have arrived!

Starbucks’ seasonal drinks have arrived! My eyes literally shone with delight when I discovered this tidbit of information.

I promptly sent a very important text message to my friend, Karen, who knows what is UP when it comes to autumn seasonal changes.  We now have a weekly Jane Austen movie night put in place.

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If I had a Pinterest board (I don’t, believe it or not) for autumn it would be full of comfy sweaters and tall boots, infinity scarves, Swedish farmhouse decor options and the occasional salted caramel mocha.

Here are the other small, yet utterly joyful and autumn-y things I’ve been enjoying this week in between picket shifts:

This is the view from my driveway.  Heavenly, right? A few more weeks and all the leaves in the forest behind our house will be brilliantly colourful.

This is the view from my driveway. Heavenly, right? A few more weeks and all the leaves in the forest behind our house will be brilliantly colourful.

Our first pumpkin harvest of 2014! Our vegetable garden wasn't quite as successful as last year's (our corn and peas had some serious issues...) These little cuties are called "Sweet Sugars" and one particular husband is quite stoked for homemade pumpkin pie.

Our first pumpkin harvest of 2014! Our vegetable garden wasn’t quite as successful as last year’s (our corn and peas had some serious issues…) These little cuties are called “Sweet Sugars” and one particular husband is quite stoked for homemade pumpkin pie.

I couldn't resist snapping this iPhone shot.  How cool is that one red leaved branch?

I couldn’t resist snapping this iPhone shot. How cool is that one red leaved branch?

And finally, road side flower and produce stands with my friend, Nicole.

And finally, road side flower and produce stands with my friend, Nicole. All these flowers, including the dahlias, for $8!  Can’t beat that.

This post is somewhat fluffy and has nothing to do with education, really.  That being said, it’s more about self-preservation for many of us teachers in BC right now.  I’m attempting to preserve my eternal optimism and joy for this gorgeous season by doing as many of my favourite seasonal things possible!  I hope you all can find some space in this mayhem to simply appreciate what we DO have.  Breathe deeply, fellow teachers.  We will and can get through this together.

Now go find a pumpkin spiced ANYTHING and treat yourself.

Karley

 

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.

email

 

Karley

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!

 

Karley