Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ~Elizabeth Stone

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Charlotte, My Dear, I Do Give A Damn

Here's a great quote from Charlotte's Web I came across today...

“You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.”
(
Charlotte’s Web)

Change Is In the Air

So awhile back I started to think about change and what things I could change in my own life to make myself happier. I've been thinking and thinking and thinking and last week I decided that I needed to change schools and find a new venue for myself.

I've been feeling very negative about my current school as I do not feel that I mesh well with many of the staff I work with. I have decided to take control of my destiny and look for new challenges and new endeavours. So I have applied for a few jobs that were posted on Monday as part of the internal job postings at my board. There is an entire series of postings that are internal only as teachers look for new schools and new opportunities. Once a number of posting have passed the jobs will then be opened for external hiring. I applied for the following three jobs:

- Grade 5
- Grade 6 (with French)
- .5 Library with .5 planning time coverage

All very different than my current position of Grade 8, and my last 5 years in Grade 7. I am hoping to do my primary qualifications this summer so I can move down and teach the little friends. I am starting to feel that after 6 years of the big friends, teenagers are not always all they are cracked up to be! I have my second interview tonight and then the third is next week. Wish me luck.

I am very excited at the prospect of change. A new school. A new staff. New students. New routines. And all the growth that comes with newness. I think there is a statistic out there that says most adults change their jobs every 5 years and that seems about right to me. As someone who promotes life long learning I think people just push beyond their boundaries and their own safety nets to learn and develop as a person. Who knows, maybe I'll be an even better Grade 5 or 6 teacher than I ever was at Grade 7 and 8??

I won't know until I try.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

She Said I Could Link!!!

And now introducing.....my super smart, loveable and huggable little sister's blog! Taaa daaaa.


She only has a few posts up so far but once she gets really going y'all will love it.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday Salon- March 28th


As with everything else, it's been quite awhile since I had a Sunday Salon post. Welcome back, and thanks to all those wonderful bloggers out there who post their thoughts on Sundays about their reading. I really enjoy my Sunday blog reading. Everyone seems calmer, thoughtful and relaxed and introspective on Sundays. Maybe it's the impending doom of returning to work on Monday? I like to think not. Be positive! 

I thought this week that rather than post about my novel reading I would post about my blog reading! In the past...wow, almost a year, since I started blogging myself blog reading has become an integral ingredient in my reading diet. I think that ever changing nature of reading blogs. The discussion aspect of being able to comment and receive feedback from the authors. I like the small glimpse into other's people's lives (maybe I was a peeping tom in a past life?) and I like that there is no pressure to read certain blogs, or finish certain blogs the way I sometimes feel about books.

So here goes!

Ms. Mimi at It's Not All Flowers and Sausages has been on quite a rant about the firing of an entire school of teachers due to the poor performance of the students for quite sometime. Poor girl, she's having a baby and keeps getting all worked up. I agree with her point of view pretty much everyday and I find it super comforting to know that someone else out there thinks like me and is as passionate as I am that teaching should be done well for the sake of the children and support is needed for that to happen. My favourite post of hers last week was this one about teacher evaluations, especially seeing as mine is looming. 

I found a new blog this week, In Which a Girl Reads and read an enlightening post about YA romance and rape culture. It'll get you thinking!!! There's more here as well. 

My Favourite Things posted about reusable shopping bags. I don't have these baggu bags, but I don't think using reusable bags is one the easiest things to do to show you love the Earth. Also, turning your lights off everyday not just for Earth Hour.

I just love this no matter what. Every post. Every time. 

Jill at The O.W.L. does an amazing feature about what her Grade 7 students are reading called 7's Up. I love the idea and have asked to steal it for my own blog. I will post about my 8's though, seeing as that is what I am currently teaching. She's also "taking back her blog!" which is a popular post lately, I've been reading about more than one blogger who's getting back to basics and I applaud them all. 

I heart organizing.

I learned about the Book Bloggers Hop this week and discovered some great new blogs, including one that is about books and purses. It's like I found my long lost twin! 

I might try this next week. 

My sister started a blog and cited me as her inspiration. I haven't heard from her if it's cool to put a link to her blog so you all can check it out yet, and believe me she's touchy about that stuff (Jennibean- you are, admit it. If I linked you'd be mad I didn't ask, now that I'm asking and not linking you'll be mad. It's a difficult life, I'm not going to lie! I love you like the Dickens, but some predictability would be good.) My sister is by far the smartest person I have ever met in real life and after only 2 posts I am already in love with her blog (maybe I'm biased? maybe?) and as soon as I can I'm going to post a link for y'all so you can fall in love with her too. 

Brian always makes me think. Always. Thanks. 

To everyone out there, have a good week, a great Sunday, and happy blogging.

OH MY GOODNESS- I totally forgot that I wanted to link to SB who is heading back to work after her mat leave. All the best today, my friend. So sorry to have forgotten.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Food Revolution

Did anyone watch Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution last night? I caught it for the first time, I'm not sure if it was on before last night or not but I must say I sat in shock on my couch for the full two hours and stared at the TV.

Now I will be the first to admit that I don't have children, and I have never had to make 5 breakfasts and lunches a week for school kids but I know that the foods the parents and school administrators on the show were providing to the children are not what one should do. Pizza for breakfast? Not allowing children to eat with utensils? I was scared and saddened by it all.

I hope that the editing of the show was done in such a way to make everything look worse and much more shocking than in real life because if not than those poor children will have an uphill battle for the rest of their lives. I know most of us, me included for sure, can eat healthier and improve our diets but at least we recognize it. I think I was most shocked at the resistance and down right anger displayed by most of adults on that show to the idea that a diet consisting mainly of pizza, chicken nuggets, flavoured milk, and processed food could be bad for the children. How brainwashed has our society become when we are outraged at the thought of providing children with real and nutritious food?

At one point Jamie wants to give the children utensils to eat their lunch with and the school workers are shocked. Children should not eat food with utensils! Hands only! Are they raising an entire generation of cave people? Basically, children in the school did not use utensils, other than spoons, up to the age of 10! No forks. No knives. Wow. I think that's sad. I hope again that the editing was done in such a way to make it look as bad as possible for TV's sake.

There was also a segment where Jamie tests a Grade 1 class on vegetables....and they couldn't name any! Not even potatoes, or tomatoes, or the easy ones! I can see not knowing eggplant or turnip as those may not make the appearance in a lot of households, goodness knows they've never been in mine! The teacher sat through the whole thing just smiling! I would have been so embarrassed. Now, I must say she did take it upon herself to teach the kids about the vegetables and Jamie came back and they could name everyone. But 6 year-olds not knowing vegetables??

Did anyone else watch this show? Can anyone who has children offer insight? Should young children be eating with utensils? I think I will be watching this show for many weeks to come, and while I know it represents a lot of what is bad with TV I really hope to see some light at the end of the tunnel and children who are learning to enjoy healthy food.

So I've Been Reading

Whew, it's been a looooooooooong time since I posted about my reading, well about specific books anyway. Sorry to all my book blogging buddies out there. This one's for you!

In the last two weeks I have completed the following books:

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett


The Lightening Thief by Rick Riordian


The Last Summer (Of You and Me) by Ann Brasheres


Still Alice by Lisa Genova


...and I am halfway through Hero Type by Barry Lyga and Nanny Returns (audiobook) by Emma McGlaughlin and Nicola Kraus.






It's been nice having so much time to read, especially since a week of it was spent down south in the sun. I'm back at work now, and a week into Term 3 and my reading time is already slipping away. This is my first year teaching Grade 8 which means lots of prepping as I need to create new Language, History and Geography units for the curriculum, but I am hoping to continue reading around my usual pace. I mean, I have been planning all year and have still managed to read quite a bit.

The Pillars of the Earth~ Chunkster Reading Challenge and Books to Read Before I Die Challenge book

I loved every page of this monster! If it wasn't 973 pages I would have carried it with me everywhere. I loved everything about medieval times as a kid and did quite a number of projects on the time period so it's not a huge stretch that I would love this book. I have also grown to really love historical fiction in the last ten years. I thought that the characters in this book were rich and well developed and as a reader I was fully immersed in their lives and couldn't wait to see what would happen. The dynamics of a "step" family during this time period was endlessly fascinating and I felt that Ken Follett did a great job of creating some really strong female characters that struggled to live within the patriarchal society of their world. I only wish it hadn't ended, although really, 973 pages! How much longer could it be?

The Lightening Thief~ just for fun

My students have been talking about and reading this book forever, and especially now with the movie coming out it seems like The Lightening Thief is on everybody's lips so I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. A colleague of mine from when I taught Grade 7 uses The Lightening Thief as her main novel study for the year as well, instead of teaching The Outsiders! I just found this shocking because you have to read The Outsiders, it's just how things are done! So I bought the first four books in a box set from the Scholastic book orders for my classroom with the intention of reading them. However, a student saw them on my desk and asked if she could read the first one because they are so popular there is a huge waiting list in the library!! Of course, I said yes thinking I would just read it when she returned it. But then another student saw her returning it and asked to borrow it...now, I felt it wasn't right to say no to kids who want to read so I ended up secretly buying myself another copy just so I could read it!

I read it on the beach down in Florida over my break and I enjoyed. It's not the amazing read that is the Harry Potter series but I can see how kids, especially boys would like it. Any anything that gets boys reading is okay with me! I will read the rest of the series because I want to know what happens and I like to be able to discuss books with my students but I don't think I could say it's one of the best books ever written for kids. The characters didn't really have a lot of depth and the storyline seemed a little predictable to me. But like I said, if kids will read it, and fight over who gets it next, then it must be something good.

The Last Summer (Of Me and You)~ advertised as a beach book, not sure if I bought this one or borrowed it from my sister??

This book was written by the same author as The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants series which is what drew me in. It's Ann Brashere's first novel for adults and I just loved The Travelling Pants books so I figured this would be a home run! Wrong. I spent the whole book waiting for the big tragic event that would turn everyone's lives inside out, as described in the synopsis, but when you finally get there it's not that unbelievable or even that tragic just sad. The characters walked around each other in circles, never really saying what they meant, or felt, or thought. This drives me crazy in the real world so I don't want it to happen in my books! I couldn't put the book down, however, because the synopsis was so compelling talking about a huge tragedy but when I got to the end I was just disappointed.

Still Alice~ this wasn't for a reading challenge, but I bought it in the summer with a group of books and have been wanting to read it for quite a while!

This book was amazing! One of the best books I have read in 2010 and a for a long time. The main character, Alice, starts to forget things, loses her way, has too many instances of "tip of the tongue" and is worried about what's going on with her. She decides to visit her doctor and then a neurologist only to discover she has early-onset Alzheimer's disease which progress much more rapidly than late-onset. This books is a story of how she and her family struggle with the diagnosis and is a look inside the daily life of someone living with Alzheimer's. I had tears streaming down my face while reading this book and I sacrificed sleep just to finish it one night this week. If you have ever had a family member or known someone with Alzheimer's or dementia brace yourself because the memories will come flooding back. I think this book is an important book to read and to talk about. The main character has a startling insight when she realizes how people are going to treat her now. She talks about how cancer survivors are just that survivors, and they are praised for their tenacity, hard work and strength- as they should be! But Alzheimer's and dementia survivors or suffers are shunned away, looked upon with fear, thought to be crazy and sometimes locked away. It's a scary but real look at how we treat people with certain diseases. I would recommend this book to everyone.

And so my reading continues! I picked up Hero Type in Florida at Borders because I liked the cover and was intrigued by the first chapter. I am about halfway through and although I am enjoying it I can't say yet whether it will go into my classroom because I can't yet decide if it's appropriate for my Grade 8's. Nanny Returns was my audiobook choice for Florida because you can "read" without your eyes open on the beach which makes tanning a lot easier in the sun! It will now become my running book as I bought it from iTunes and have it on my iPod. As a former nanny, I loved the first book and could relate to many of Nan's escapades although my families were not rich snobs in NYC, but a lot of the time parents are parents! I'm not sure where my reading will lead me next but I think I am going to put together a nice order from Chapters online very soon.

Happy Saturday everyone!! I am off to "help" with the kitchen renovations- maybe my next post will be pictures of everything completed? Fingers crossed.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Crazy for Books

Indeed I am!!!


Crazy for Books is hosting a weekly meme/ blog hop for book bloggers to network with each other. You can head over to her blog to sign up and read (carefully) through the rules. I am excited for this as I love to learn about new books and new blogs. I am planning a bog post tomorrow on all my recent reading over March Break, etc, and I hope people will learn about a new book as well!

So if you are here from the Book Blogger Hop, please come on back tomorrow!!

Inspiration in its many forms

As I was perusing the Blogs of Note today from the past month or so I came across a gem of a post!! Just amazing. Uplifting. Awe inspiring. Motivational. Perfect? Perhaps!

A Different Kind of Beautiful- Reflections of a School Band Director sums up how I feel about teaching middle school, and how everyone should approach teaching middle school in a beautiful way. And it has come at a great time as I was starting to get bogged down in frustrations and was forgetting at lot of my own beliefs. Does that ever happen to you? I am beyond excited that I found the post "Middle School Band- They Can Sense Your Fear". 

So I want to send a HUGE THANK YOU out there to Joe Wright and his vision of teaching middle school. You have helped me remember why I love Grade 7 and 8. Thank you!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Love Y'all!

Thanks for all the positive thoughts and good wishes from the blogosphere! I feel so much better, plus it's Thursday...my favourite day. Why, cause it's almost Friday, which means it's almost the weekend, which means a sleep-in, which means Saturday morning coffee and snuggling, which means lots of good stuff.

Also, my wonderful, stupendous, amazing, fantastic superb husband pretty much finished the kitchen floor today and it's the most wonderful thing I've ever seen.

I had dinner with my dad and sister. We ate in a small little pub, ate crappy pub food and talked, talked, talked. It's not often that it's just the three of us anymore as I have a husband, she has a fiancee and well, of course, our mom. We used to go for breakfast, just the three of us, every Saturday when we were kids. It was time for my mom to be alone, I'm sure, but for me it is one of my fondest memories. Just me, Jenni and my dad. We played in the playland at McDonald's and he read the paper. We got to eat whatever we wanted, drink chocolate milk and just be with dad.

On the reading front I finished quite a few books over the March Break in Florida and one since I have returned and I want to blog about them but I am still letting my ideas ruminate. I think I will post a great big one on Saturday about all my reading. Just think, teacher friends, only one day till the weekend! And for everyone else too, it's great how that works!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Negativity

There is a person in my life that sees everything, everything!!! has half-full. No discussion is ever complete without pointing out how things could go wrong, possible ways we might die down the road, numerous things to worry about, and, oh yes, how the glass is half-full! It's maddening.

I do not choose to have this person in my life, they were introduced into my life by my marriage and so I have no way of avoiding contact. I find myself nodding only, responding with "umms" and "ahhs" in hopes that the depression will end. Take today for instance, we were expecting our visitors early afternoonish to help with the renovations and they arrived at 4:30pm with no phone call to apologize. Then the whole time they were here there was pointed looks at their watch, and said

"We need to go, more accidents happen in the dark then any other time",

and "I hope you would never order drugs online because they are often not real drugs". (I'm sorry!! Who does order drugs online? I have a perfectly good drug plan through work and a drug store across the road.) 

Then "Here, we brought you a strap for the guitar and a book to teach yourself to play" Ummm, we don't have a guitar... and

"Well then, we should take it back because it's of no use here, oh dear, maybe we made a mistake?"

It's exhausting being that dragged down....le sigh. Not to mention that due to the late arrival none of the planned renovations were completed today. NONE! See, exhausting right?

So if anyone has some positive and happy thoughts to share I would love to hear them because I feel that I am normally a positive person but not today. Nope, not today.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Teachin' Tuesday- How to Motivate 13 year-olds

So, on my long car ride down to Florida last week my best friend and I had some pretty serious discussions about the plight of public education here in Ontario. Opinions were argued and validated through agreement, grievances were aired and vented, sarcasm was used. A. Lot. But one of the the best things I discovered, learned, decided is that using incentives to get students to do their work is okay. My best friend teaches high school and she still offers chocolate bars and other candy to her students so maybe it isn't so bad that I use the same techniques in Grade 8?


Tomorrow during period 4 all the Grade 8s will be brought down to the gym and our Term Three Strike System will be explained. You can get a strike for this, you can get a strike for that, etc because Grade 8s are notoriously difficult during third term when they have obviously become much too cool for school but no one remembered to inform the teachers (notice the sarcasm?). My students will have to stay within a certain number of strikes, I believe we choose 5, or risk losing their grad trip to Wonderland or even their graduation dinner/dance.


Now I know that there will be kids that will not receive a single strike, just as I know there are kids that will receive the 5 allocated strikes and still go on the trip. Ahh,  the joys of consistency (more sarcasm).  So in order to preserve my sanity and reduce my stress load I have decided to initiate an incentive system in my classroom. I am going to call it ...


Gotcha! You were just caught being good!

I started off on Monday with a Pop Quiz! I know, mean teacher right? But this Pop Quiz was all about the rules and routines of my classroom and anyone who scored a perfect 20/20 would be given a prize. I handed out chocolate today to the 9 students (out of 50) who received a perfect score. So I have set the stage, they've done something good and received a prize. Now I am going to spring the main contest on them...

Every time a student follows a rule, like:
1) Hands in their homework on time
2) Has a silent reading book in class for DEAR
3) Gets their agenda signed by their parents on the assigned days
etc

I am going to give them a ballot. At the end of each week I will draw for candy and other prizes, and at the end of the month there will be a grand prize winner of McDonald's or pizza lunch. Great, right?

My husband says bribery, I say whatever gets you through to the end of June!


PS- I will be starting Graffiti Journals in the next week or so as my students read through a Graphic Novel adaptation of Hamlet! At the end of the unit they use all the graffiti they've collected in their journals and create a graffiti wall that retells the story of Hamlet. It's great for the visual and more hands-on learners. My original posts about the Graffiti Strategy are here and here

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Pics from St. Pete's Beach

Here are some of my favourite pictures from my vacation. We stayed at the Trade Winds: Island Grand in St. Pete's Beach. It was a great resort, I highly recommend.
























I miss the sun already! I must say that going away for March Break was probably the best thing I could have done for my own sanity and stress. I feel ready to tackle Term 3 and all the fun that entails when you teach Grade 8. For all those who have asked, I will explain my bribery motivational plan tomorrow!!

Welcome Back...to me! (Be sure to check out the contest link at the bottom)

Back home, back to life, back to school....back to a mess?

Yes, renovations have started on our kitchen. We are putting in a new floor, countertop and tile back splash. Just to give you some history, here is what the kitchen looked like when we bought the house.







And la piece de resistance, here is what the grout looked like between the tiles on the countertop...







Gross....can you believe they made food on that?

Here is what we did to attempt to make it look good... 

1) I bleached the grout and resealed it.




...and we painted the walls green (which I now no longer even like!! Painting will be part of the renovation)



When I returned home from Florida on Saturday night I found my husband and father-in-law hard at work starting the renovations. They had completed all the demolition- the tile floor and concrete sub floor had been ripped up, the tile countertop and backsplash were removed and this is what I came home to...









Now, I know it has to look worse before it looks bad but I really miss having water, and counters and I don't enjoy having my stove in my living room. But I know when it's finished it will be amazing, and I promise to post pictures. I am pretty sure that all the chaos at home is what prompted me to move my desk and re-organize my entire classroom after school today...at least I have control over one area, right?

So, needless to say- due a lack of a working kitchen there is no Menu Plan for this week. It's going to be a fly by the seat our pants, BBQ or take-out week.


PS- Check out this awesome contest from Ramblings of a Teenage Bookworm- 12 books! Wow!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A List

The things I have done whilst (I love the word whilst) on March Break in Florida:

1. Bought 2 new Jones New York Dresses I love
2. Got a tan/slight burn-it'll be awesome by Monday
3. Had St Paddy's Day drinks with friends from home who are also in the area
4. Sent too many texts and made too many phone calls with my cell (ugh- roaming charges)
5. Missed my hubby and got increasingly nervous about the renovations being undertaking whilst (sigh) I am away
6. Got a little irritated by my best friend who I am travelling with- long story, she likes to fix everything for everyone all the time
7. Slept in- a lot
8. Had some great dinner and lunches
9. Had a chocolate wasabi facial- awesome
10. Finished "Pillars of the Earth" and "Percy Jackson Lightening Thief", in the middle of "The Nanny Returns" (audiobook)
11. Didn't call my mom or sister before I left and got in trouble
12. Drank a lot of Bartles & James (not available in Canada)
13. Did not swim in the pool or the ocean
14. Came up with a plan to bribe motivate my students to work hard in third term
15. Feel ready to go home and dive back into real life. I miss my hubby, my puppy and reading all your blogs!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Greetings from St. Pete Beach!

Today was our first official full day in Florida and already I can feel all the stress melting away. We slept in this morning and woke up when we did...no alarm, no time lines, no nothing. I strolled down to the lobby to get a gingerbread latte from Starbucks and then drank it in bed while I ate fruit salad and read "The Pillars of the Earth"...how luxurious is that?

By mid-morning we decided to spend our first day shopping at the outlet malls and then hit the pool mid-after noon-ish. We found some great deals and I am very pleased with the outlets here in Florida- some of my favourite brands- Jones New York, Ann Taylor, The Gap, etc, etc. I am all stocked up on Clinique, new jeans, sun dresses and sandals. Awesome.

We spent a little time by the pool, ate a fabulous Waldorf Chicken salad for a late lunch and are now napping, showering and getting ready for dinner. I can't believe I said no so many times before I said yes to going away. This has been a great trip and really all we have done is drive, sleep, eat and shop! I am looking forward to some more pool time tomorrow and sleeping in again...what a life, eh?

I hope everyone else is having as good a week as I, or that you are planning a vacation in the near future. I promised myself this year that I would balance life and work better so vacationing was definitely the way to go. For the past few years I have taught the after school class two days a week, ran the March Break Day camp and taught a month of summer school. It was time to break that cycle and take some time for ME! Glorious free time to sit and talk with my best friend, to shop and spend all the money I earned working those after school classes and eat, drink and be merry in the sun. Le sigh.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Break Time

I have decided that I am going to take a break for the March Break while I am in Florida. So this will most likely be my last post for a week-ish. My friend is taking her laptop with her so if something awesome comes to mind I may have to post but for the most part I will be on the beach, in the spa or sleeping!! Enjoy your next week or so.

http://justuskids.com.au/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/beach_clipart_sun_falling.png

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Can. You. Feel. It. ?.

March Break is soooooo close. I can taste it. Just two more days and it will all be over for a week. I'll be off to Florida. There will be no children.

Life. Will. Be. Good.

But first...I need to make it through the Talent Show at school tonight, 50 geography presentations and the last day. The last day before any holiday is just crazy. The children are crazy, the teachers are tired and the last bell just can't come fast enough. One year, my principal manually rang the bell early on the last day before summer because she just couldn't handle 3 more minutes!

Two. More. Days.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Teachin' Tuesday- Graffiti Vol 2.0

Finally!!!!!!!

Here are some pictures of the graffiti strategy that I posted about waaaaaaay back when.

My students and I have been reading the Me to We: Finding Meaning in a Material World. There is a part where Marc Keilburger talks about going to Thailand and working in the slums. He learned about poverty, homelessness and child labour. He speaks about how he came with "teenage baggage" and left wiser. So as a class we brainstormed what could be described at teenage baggage and then the students graffiti-ed it on to posters. One side is "positive teenage baggage", and one side is "negative teenage baggage."














The graffiti strategy can involve words, symbols and/or pictures. Have fun, try it out!

Monday, March 8, 2010

One bad thing...

...about being sick is all the sleep you get during the day, and then can't do during the night! I don't want to take any drugs, because at this point I would be all muddled in the morning so now I am just doomed to be tired. Which is worse I wonder? Tired or drug muddled? 4 days before March Break? Probably tired. Drug muddled would mean I would care less about the children's shenanigans, excepting that I received an email today while home sick (yes, I checked my work email while I was home sick- that's another post for another day) and learned that one of my naughty boys was suspended. Ahhhh, early holiday for all.

So here I sit, 11:30 on a Monday night. I feel tired but I can't sleep. I tried counting backwards from 100 but really, that never works. I tried reading my book but I am really enjoying it and then I get all interested and don't want to start reading. I tried snuggling with the hubby and the puppy but they are all hot and it then I got hot and no one can fall asleep when they are hot. I checked my text messages (I heard my cell beep), I checked Facebook- nothing, and then landed here on blogger.

I wish some of you all couldn't sleep either because then I would be able to read all sorts of lovely posts from you. But I take that back, I don't wish sleeplessness on anyone. What a horrible person that would make me.

So what to do?? If I fell asleep RIGHT now I would get 7 hours sleep...would that be enough not to be drug muddled or tired? I do have a Keurig coffee machine in my classroom so that could fuel me through the day especially since I don't have prep till last period. (I mean really, what use is prep last period? The day is OVER!) Hmmm, maybe some juice and another 1/2 hour reading...? Lord, 6:30 will be here before I know it!

Change of Thought

I've been thinking for awhile now that it is time to change...change schools, change grades, change something. It's about this time of year when postings start coming out for openings in schools and teachers start to interview out. Now there was a time when I wasn't nervous about going to a new school, actually I was in three schools in three years. But now I have been in this school for 4 years, I have made some great friends, I know the families and the students, I am seen as a leader on the staff and have been able to make headway with some of my passions- Me to We. So how do you know when it's time to leave and start agains?

So I started with my background... fun right?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sunday Salon- March 7th




Uggggg, I have been sick for the past few days.... so I can't say that this is going to be a very long post. I have had a lot of time to read this week, however, as my report cards are done and I have been lying around in bed trying to get better. 

I finished all of my books that I needed to read for my school board review committee that meets on Tuesday. Unfortunately, none of my books were "excellents" this time although I did have two I thought would be popular with kids: Wilma Tenderfoot and the Case of the Frozen Hearts and Nick of Time: An Adventure Through Time. Both were very cute and fun reads that I think would grab kids. Are they great literature? No. Does it matter? NO! I don't think kids have to read great literature, they will grow into that and as long as they are reading that's a good thing.

I have started reading The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. It is on my Read Before I Die list and will count as a Chunkster (will it ever!!) for my Chunkster challenge. I knew nothing about this book before I started reading it other than it was on the BBC list of 100 Books to Read Before You Die...hence why I choose it for my list. I am about 100 pages in and am really liking it. Historical fiction is one of my faves so it's right up my alley.

I also read another chapter in Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life One Conversation at a Time. This chapter was about the first principle outlined by author Susan Scott- Master the Courage to Interrogate Reality. This chapter was about facing up to the problems that actually exist at work, in your family, relationship, or personal beliefs. Not being afraid to really face what's wrong. Scott talks about the meetings we have all been in, where the boss says something and we all sit there knowing we disagree but no one says on does anything and the problem never gets fixed. This chapter is all about standing up to the problem and facing it head on.  

I am only a week away from March Break and one glorious week on the beach in Florida. I am still deciding if I will take a week's break from blogging or try to keep it up? Not sure. I am looking forward to days and days spent reading and relaxing. The countdown has begun...

Friday, March 5, 2010

Conversations

(This post is probably only going to be ironic to me seeing as I have temporarily lost my voice due to some weirdo cold where my throat doesn't hurt but I cough like a 60 year-old smoker...fun times.)


I attended a workshop last night that I had been looking forward to for quite some time. Last year, I joined a professional community of mentors based on the work of Bruce Wellman. You can see my earlier post about it here, although I should warn you...it's not my best work! Just a passing mention of a few professional books.

The workshop last night was actually a book talk for a text called Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life One Conversation at a Time by Susan Scott. I have been wanting to get my hands on it since I first learned about it and one of my favourite people in the teaching world read this passage to a group of gathered teachers...

Our lives succeed or fail gradually, then suddenly, one conversation at a time. While no single conversation is guaranteed to change the trajectory of a career, a business, a marriage, or a life, any single conversation can. The conversation is the relationship.

I love the idea behind this quote. If you think over the course of your life thus far you must have a millions upon millions of conversations and how many of them changed your life? The news of the death of a loved one? The announcement of a pregnancy? A proposal?

The main idea behind this book is about being present for each and very conversation we have and being prepared to participate fully in it. There are 7 principles outlined in the book, and I won't go into all of them, but at the book talk last night we each chose part of the book to read and then share our thoughts with the group as a whole. I read the sectioned titled "Let Silence Do the Heavy Lifting". It was al about taking the time to pause during a conversation and really think about what others are saying. A few points really stuck out to me...

"...the more emotionally loaded a subject, the more silence is required..." (page 223)

"...the space between thoughts is where insight can make itself known..." (page 227)


I am very excited to get more into this book and try some of the principles out during the conversations I have with my husband, my students and my co-workers. The idea of having really meaningful, important and fulfilling conversations is just fabulous. I think too often we are too busy getting on with life to really live, to slow down and have a great conversation with someone we love, that we adore,  that we once hung on their every word. I want to get back to that place.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Review- The Shadow Speaker

I just finished my second last book for my school board review committee, which is good considering our meeting is next Tuesday! The book is The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okorafor-mbachu. And I am still not sure what I really think about this book.


I don't think I will be recommending it for a middle school audience. I do however, think it would be a great read for high school students. The book is set in a futuristic Earth where magic has returned after "the big change". The landscape continually changes, forests pop up all over, there are mutations in humans and animals. The many character is Ejii, a 14 year-old girl who is struggling to control her abilities as a shadow speaker. She must set out on a quest to strengthen her powers and potentially save the world.


The author of this book certainly has a vivid and interesting imagination. I found myself drawn into the action of the book and looking forward to reading on and on. I did struggle with the unbelievability of the setting, seeing as it was Earth. I normally love fantasy and science fiction books. I love being transported to other lands and suspending my disbelief. However, most of those books are set in different lands. I throughly enjoyed the description of the Ginen world where the homes and buildings are all made of plants.


Overall, I think was drew me most into this book was that it reminded me of the Feminist Science Fiction class I took in university. SB, did you take that class with me? The Shadow Speaker brought me back to when I read Door into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski and Dawn by Octavia Butler. Both of which I recommend to any woman, or lover of science fiction.


Think overall I am still unsure about The Shadow Speaker. I know I enjoyed it, I know I wanted to continue reading it...but I don't know how I feel about it. It made me think for sure. About the role of women, role of pollution, role of racism. A very interesting read for sure.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tuesday-phew!

I am going to take a small hiatus from Teachin' Tuesday today (mostly because I forgot to take my camera to school and could take the pictures I wanted to post! I'll try and get in done for you all tomorrow) and instead I am going to update my to-do list from Sunday. Thanks SB for reminding me!


This was the list when I posted on Sunday:

1. Enjoy a delicious Cinnabon for breakfast (back to the diet tomorrow)
2. Wear my Olympic jersey for luck
3. Start working on the laundry
4. Mark Geography unit tests
5. Finish my report cards
6. Finish the laundry
7. Clean up around the house
8. Watch Canada win gold in Olympic Hockey!

Here is what it looks like by Sunday evening!


1. Enjoy a delicious Cinnabon for breakfast (back to the diet tomorrow)
2. Wear my Olympic jersey for luck
3. Start working on the laundry
4. Mark Geography unit tests
5. Finish my report cards (edited and ready to be printed tomorrow)
6. Finish the laundry
7. Clean up around the house
8. Watch Canada win gold in Olympic Hockey!

I was sooooo caught up in the game and the after celebration I forgot to return to my post and update my to-do list. Thankfully, all was done!

For anyone out there that isn't Canadian I want to take some time to explain what these games meant to us. We have long been looked upon as a quiet, mannerly, polite nation. All of which is true. But there has long been a simmering national pride that rears its loud, boisterous self when needed- during the World Juniors, during the World Cup of Hockey, at the Curling World Championships. This, however, was the first time our national pride was brought to such a fever pitch and was put on display for the world to see. We are a passionate people that love our maple leaf, our hockey players and our national pride.

The Vancouver games have been discussed many times over the past few weeks as a turning point for this generation of Canadians. We are fully prepared to wear out heart on our sleeve, shirt, face, and anywhere else you can put a maple leaf! I, myself have a maple leaf tattoo on my right ankle and my husband has one on his calf. 

We are used to our neighbours to the south being the loud, boisterous life of the party and we wanted in on the action. The Americans sure know how to be proud and we wanted to be proud too! If you want to see a fantastic video that helps explain all this, check this out...


This video brings tears to my eyes every time I see it. I have never been prouder to be Canadian, and even if we hadn't won a single medal I would still be in love with my country. 

This is another great video from during the Olympics- Tom Brokaw Explains Canadians to Americans.


Finally, here is another video from CTV and Stephen Brunt that helps to explain, or tries to explain why these Olympics will be a turning point for Canadian pride. No longer will we be quiet. No longer do we want to.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Monday Meal Plan- March 1st- 6th

I am back again planning out my meals for the week with I'm an Organizing Junkie's weekly meme.


This week is a bit crazy because I have two workshops so that will mean my husband in on his own for two nights, but after all the crazy work he has been putting in (180 hours in three weeks!) because of the Olympics I am going to take him out for dinner on Saturday!

Monday- BBQ Chicken wraps with veggies

Tuesday- fend for yourself!

Wednesday- spaghetti and caesar salad

Thursday- fend for yourself!

Friday- beef kabobs and veggies

Saturday- Date night!!!

Last Words...

Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one's thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world.

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe