New Year’s REVOLUTION

I’m not much on resolutions. January is full on dedication and then, BAM, life gets in the way. Not for me, not this year.

So I decided to go for a New Year’s Revolution this year. I’m changing my life. Don’t get me wrong, my life is phenomenal but I’m working on myself – to be a better person. So…how?

1. Seven Habits:

Our school division sends all staff to intensive Covey training. I did it a while ago and while it has stayed with me, it hasn’t been at the front of my mind. This year I’m going to put it at the front. How will I do that? I mean it is all fine to say that I’m going to put it in the forefront, but how will I guarantee that I won’t forget my focus come February? Luckily, my school is moving forward with the Leader In Me training, so I will have the opportunity to continue to explore the 7 Habits with my students. Awesome!

2. Healthy Habits: I weighed 268 pounds last week.

Is your mouth hanging open? I mean, what the WHAT? Did I just tell you my weight?

YES I DID.

Before I announced it over my blog, I showed my weight to the people I work with.

YES I DID.

I am running a Biggest Loser Challenge at work. 19 brave souls agreed to weigh-in in front of me, so I weighed-in in front of them.

IT WAS SO LIBERATING!!!

I love myself. I’m okay with my weight. What I don’t enjoy is my bad back, or the possibility that my knees, back and gut could stop me from playing with my kids. So there you go! I decided that was enough and I would lose 25 pounds and maintain that weight loss for a year. I’m 11 pounds down in one week. I know, that is a big loss. Don’t be concerned that I’m going crazy with it – I have been really dedicated to being mindful about my intake. And I’ve eliminated most processed foods and diet pop. I like my junk in the trunk so I’m not looking to become anything extreme. I just want to be healthy and ready to splash in every puddle I can with the little men.

So there are 19 people in our challenge. 11 of them weighed-in after one week. Total weight loss was 38.5 pounds. HOLY WOW! I’m so proud to be working with a staff that is dedicated to modeling healthy choices.

So there you go, my New Year’s Revolution. May your 2013 be revolutionary for you!

 

UPDATE: After 3 weeks, I’m down 15 pounds. Awesome! I’ve stalled a bit…but I’m adding more exercise so that should change. And as for Leader In Me, I’m part of our team’s Lighthouse Team, so it is going very well! Woot Woot!

What do a 17 year old and a 10 year old have in common?

My new teaching assignment has moved me from teaching grades four to six to grades ten to twelve. Whoa. Paradigm shift happening! There are so many things to learn.  Here are some things I have realized during my last two months of work. (warning: some/most/all of the following insights are generalizations. I do realize that each student is different etc.)

High School students:

  • have a greater frame of reference. They will jump on any piece of information they deem incorrect!
  • force their teachers to be far more humble due to thepreviously mentioned insight.
  • expect their teachers to stretch their grey matter on a regular basis. This is why I have frequent headaches.
  • constantly fret about their futures and wonder what in the world they will do with themselves in one, two or three years. So many people give them so many opinions they do not know what to make of themselves.
  • are on the cusp of adulthood. This fact scares the crap out of them. They often respond with indifference or attitude. For the love of all that is holy, never say the words, “this is an adult conversation” or anything that resembles these words. It is so condescending to a high school student.

It isn’t all different. There are many similarities which I believed have helped me create a successful high school classroom.

High School students:

  • want to be heard and respected. Their opinions matter.
  • want to feel that they are worthwhile.
  • want to play. See the photo below!
  • want to be kids. They may be almost adults, but they want to savour the last few drips of adolescence.
  • want to feel safe with their educational staff. They will push the boundaries and that is what they should do. We have to be the place they can learn how far those boundaries stretch.

Wow. What these past two months have taught me is that the biggest difference between a 17 year old and a 10 year old is height. I love my job!

 

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Three Little Words

When I am frustrated, sad, annoyed or pretty much any negative emotion, these three little words can melt it all away.

Especially when said by my two year old.

I just look at him and say, “I love you Jack.” And he replies with, “I wove you Mommy.”

Done deal. This girl is realigned.

Guess what?

Other people need to hear it too.

The other day, my friend heard some bad news. I texted her, we chatted via text for a while and I ended with an “I love you”. Her response told me that that was what she needed me to say, and I should be saying it more often.

My husband and I say it every night before bed.

My mom says it every time we talk…and it usually is accompanied with some silly sounds. (I….love….you-boo-boo-boo-boo.)

When my grandma, my brother or my dad says it, I’m usually stunned for a few seconds. They don’t tend to say it often. It is implied. That’s fine because that’s their way.

With these three little words, comes great responsibility. I’m 35 and can’t be acting like I’m on Jersey Shore saying I love you to every person I encounter. Nope, I have to say it because I mean it. And if I’m saying it, I do mean it.

So, make an effort to say it to people you love and make that effort soon!

That’s Why It’s Called Work, Not Fun.

My husband is very lucky. Almost every day, I pick him up from work downtown so he can be home quickly and doesn’t have to take the bus. (I know, I deserve a medal.)

Every day I ask him how work was and if anything exciting happened. His answer is almost always the same, “It’s better now that it’s over.” This answer is mind-boggling to me.

Every work day for almost fifteen years, he has hopped out of bed, had breakfast and made his way downtown to his work station, worked for eight hours and then come home. He rarely has work related stories other than a couple of comments on how his co-workers are doing. Our conversations about his work are short.

If he dares to ask me about work, I could go on for hours. I tell him about the kids and the quirky things that happened. I tell him about interesting conversations I had with my colleagues. I chat about strategies for dealing with behaviours in the classroom and ask for his advice. Oh, did I mention I’m on maternity leave? I’m not even in the classroom right now and I still have things I can talk about!

Okay, so yeah, I’m a good talker. But that isn’t the point. I love my work. I get up in the morning and am excited to go in. Sure, sometimes I don’t feel like it and I get cranky, but those moments are few and far between. I want to be at work. I find it invigorating and interesting. I can’t imagine not being there.

I asked him (several times) how he could go to work for eight hours and not have anything interesting to say about it. Isn’t that boring and fulfilling? His reply was and is always, “That’s why it’s called work and not fun.” He tells me that most people feel the same way as he does: work is a means to an end. It’s something people do to live, not live to do.

Thank God I’m a teacher. My work IS fun, IS interesting and IS fulfilling. Even when it is hard or frustrating, I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. I live to teach and couldn’t imagine going into an unrelated field.

I guess I’m just lucky.

 Have fun at Teachers’ Convention this year!

Home Alone: The Parenting Experience

I went to my work place for a baby shower a couple of weeks ago. Frank is my second little boy and he was born on December 3, 2011. A carbon copy to his brother, he is sweet and a good sleeper. I am a very lucky mom.

I was thrilled to visit with colleagues and, as is the teacher way, conversation quickly moved into shop talk. I prompted the ladies around me about my former students. I was so curious about how they were adjusting to the new teacher. I wanted all the educational gossip.

I went home feeling very loved by my colleagues who cooed and made faces at my little angel. It is awesome to see the reactions a little one brings.

Interestingly enough, I felt exhilarated by all the information I had gathered about my school and the people in it. My colleagues said over and over that time passes too quickly and so I should savour my time at home. Honestly, I miss work.

Sometimes being at home with a little one (soon to be two since my two and a half year old is in day home full time until February 1st) is boring. There is only so much t.v. I can watch before I start looking around for stuff to do. Reading is a great option, but a little hard to do while breastfeeding. (I am on my third attempt at The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.) I try to get my running around done but again, it is easier to breastfeed in the comfort of my own home.

Speaking of home, being there with the baby is overwhelming. I have been forced to confront my “house projects” face on. So as I sit there, feeding the baby, I see the piles of stuff that needs organizing, the laundry that needs putting away and the areas that need to be cleaned. (ALL AREAS!) “Revel in the new baby. Cuddle. Bond. Enjoy the quiet,” I whisper to myself. Does anyone actually do that? Instead, I try to mentally plan how to organize this or that so when the baby sleeps, I can get it done. I plan finances in my head. I think about ways to fill my day. I think about my neglected blog…oy vey.

And I beat myself up for feeling bored, overwhelmed or anything other than the bliss that is (supposedly) motherhood at home. Fortunately I have met some other mothers who feel the same. Of course, we aren’t supposed to and so we talk about it in whispered tones during our play-dates. Why whisper? Why have we been sold this ideal of staying at home that isn’t easily accomplished for most? And why do we feel guilty when we don’t gush thankfulness for being able to stay home?

Well, I accomplished one of my million goals: I wrote a blog post before the end of January! I think I will try to get ahead of the laundry before I go to pick up my big boy!

Thoughts from Home

So today is the first day of my maternity leave. I sit here after a five-day fall break wondering when I’ll go into labour and meet my new little boy.

I have a lot of time to think.

In my thoughts now are the students who are in the classroom with my replacement learning to read and respond to a different person’s body language, expectations, rules and reactions. I’m worried and hopeful.

Maybe she’ll reach those kids I wasn’t able to. Maybe she’ll be the Math teacher I wish I could be.

Why would I be concerned about what’s going on when I’m a free woman? Free to watch all the pvr’d TV I want!!!

Because I read a book and saw a speaker.

I read a book called Born For Love: Why Empathy is Essential – and Endangered by Dr. Bruce Perry. I went to his session in Edmonton and listened to his passion for the neuro-development of children. He helped me understand my students better and changed my perspective on my role as a teacher in a classroom with severe behavioural issues. I finally felt that I was able to change things I was doing to help students feel loved, appreciated, needed and wanted.

I care about my students more than I ever thought I would. Sure, I get annoyed when we work on a unit and the evidence of learning is there one day and the next day is seems to have disappeared. But after having read Dr. Perry’s book I realized I’m dealing with kids who have had so many struggles already and they may not be ready to learn. My job is to push forward while knowing that I will have to repeat myself innumerable times and hope that one day, it will click. By caring, I am helping to open the door to learning.

So once again, I feel that my first principal who told me (with my best interests at heart) that I was too soft and needed to create more distance between myself and my students, was mistaken. The passion and caring I feel about my job, my students and their lives is what makes me a better teacher. The fact that I am at home, thinking about my little school, the students there and the staff I left is not me being weird or controlling. It is a demonstration that I want those kids to succeed, those teachers and our EA to be empowered to be the best that they can be and have a successful year. I know they will. I believe they will.

If you teach kids, you need to read Dr. Bruce Perry’s book. It will break your heart and give you hope for what can be if we recognize children’s need for love and understanding from all the adults around them. I don’t need to be “the teacher” for all my students. I do need to be an understanding, compassionate and loving person for anyone who needs me.

A Change in Approach

Sometimes life is full of surprises.

Our division has been hard at work changing our reporting process. If you would have told me that I would be singing the praises of a new report card three years ago, I would have scoffed. What is wrong with the old ways? I had marks on my report cards and little to no information to go with the marks and I turned out fine. My parents trusted my teachers to use their professional judgement and they accepted my marks and my precious few comments. (Please pretend to be shocked and surprised when I tell you the comment often was about my love of the social aspect of school.)

Imagine my surprise when I realized that there is another way. Imagine my shock when I realized it was actually more pertinent to the parents and guardians. Our new report cards better reflect student abilities. They actually speak to not only what they know but HOW THEY LEARN! Fascinating. So the nerd who used to sit beside me spouting off three digit by three digit multiplication in middle years will still have his validation while the struggling student such as myself who could not do the multiplication the way the teacher wanted me to, but could still find the correct answer will as well. Awesome.

I feel like our new reporting system validates my job. Anyone with Google could potentially find the answer to any question. With smartphones and iPhones and all our little devices, we have access to all the information one could want, and then some. Yes, we still need a base knowledge, but now we need teachers to guide students into the correct information, the skills and attitudes from the front matter of the curriculum. And yes, it has always been there, but now we will finally, as a whole division, place emphasis on it.

That is a beautiful thing.

I said during my final PD session before my maternity leave, that I was jealous of the teachers who would spend the year prepping for the new report card that our school group will use in the fall of 2012. Surprisingly, I truly meant it.

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