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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

We're almost there

The last week of school before a holiday is always hard, but this is Christmas!  It's even worse.  Especially with Christmas being only a week away.  The kids are high strung and excited, the teachers are exhausted and counting down the days.  Christmas Concert is tonight, and then we can take a little breath.  I know that most parents love the concert idea, but I don't think many know how much time and energy goes into putting on a "little show".
Anyway, I will be more than ready to hit the pub on Friday night, putting it all behind me.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Let it snow!

I was all ready to start December with enthusiasm.  On the first, we went for dinner with friends and on Sunday morning I woke myself up with the chills and it didn't get better.  The Flu had hit it's mark.  3 days later, I was able to make myself appear human again and make it into work.  Our class was supposed to start a few different projects, and we have made a lot of progress with them. 
At home, the decorating is mostly done, but not totally finished.  My cards have yet to go out, although I have collected a bunch of addresses, so those are on the list for tomorrow night. 
We have feet of snow, and I have to say, I can't wait for more!  It is supposed to warm up, which will be too bad because all the great snow we have will get yucky.  I haven't gotten out to ski yet as the temperatures have been so extreme.  We've been sitting at -30 something with windchill for most of last week.  I don't own all the fancy gear to be able to get outside in weather like that.  Good news is, we did see the sun for a few long periods today.  That's always nice.  I am really hoping to get out skiing this week, but it looks like it might have to wait until the weekend. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Happy December!

Today is the day that the self-imposed ban on everything Christmas is lifted!  I have been waiting all week for this day, and with the snow falling outside and all my decorations inside and warmed up, I'm ready to get started.  I even bought a new Christmas album this year.  Along with all the decorating I have two projects that I am going to try to do side by side this year.  One is December Daily and the other is Journal Your Christmas.  Of course I have things happening over in the classroom too, but today is not about work, it's about enjoying the weekend.  Besides decorating, I am hoping to get my Christmas cards into envelopes and ready to mail out on Monday and there's a few emails that I have neglected to return.  Christmas shopping almost done, I really don't want to be out in the shops today with the roads so bad.  It turns people cranky and they harsh my Christmas buzz.
Well off to decorate!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Early start?

The Christmas season seems to be starting earlier and earlier every year.  I have already been to two Christmas events, and today I heard carols in stores.  Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas, but I almost feel tired of it when December actually gets here.  I have to admit though that I do love the shopping and wrapping of presents.  I am going to be doing 2 December projects this year and am trying to get the foundations done before next week.  I will be doing December Daily as well as Journal Your Christmas.  Both are a daily activity, but come from different angles.  We'll see how it goes.  I finished JYC 2011 two weeks ago, you could say I was a little behind.  Oh well.

Report cards go home this week and then we have parent interviews Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  Why is it the parents you see all the time and come into the school all the time, are always the ones that want to talk and the other parents hide?  More than half of my parents did not respond to the interview request, so I'll be doing a lot of phone calls this year.  Such fun!

Good news, my classroom finally has heat in the 20's.  For two years, I have frozen all Winter, but parental concerns were noted and someone finally looked into the problem.  Apparently, my room was a little cooler than normal!  You don't say!  This week was lovely and warm, and I didn't have to wear 2 sweaters during the day.  We have been at -20 (-30 with windchill) for most of the week and not much snow, but it is definitely Winter out there.  We have been talking about time and Seasons at school and as I was reading a little book about the topic, we got to Fall.  The kids looked curiously at the pictures that showed green grass and lovely coloured leaves.  They pointedly looked outside and hands shot up "that book is wrong!  That's not Fall!" I assured them that not everywhere has a foot of snow for Halloween.  It mollified them slightly, but they didn't seem completely convinced.  Oh well, that's life in the North.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Is it worth it?

We keep our snow tires at the dealership where we bought the Forrester. This is a great idea most of the time. It's the two times a year when we have to change them that it proves to be extremely inconvenient. We have to make an appointment, drive for two hours and then hang around waiting for them to be put on. On days like today I have to ask if it's worth it. We had to get up at 7 on a Saturday and of course the weather has changed and it is freezing rain. The highway was a skate rink for a long portion of our trip. We were warned coming into the slippery section by two truckers standing on the side of the road. We pulled over to assess the situation. Lots of trucks were on the side of the highway putting on their chains and two vehicles in the ditch. If we didn't have the appointment and if winter hadn't come so early for us, we would have turned around, but we needed our tires changed. We might have to make some space in the shed.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween is over... almost

Halloween.  That wonderful time of year when kids think of nothing except how much free candy they are going to get and the costume they are going to wear to get it.  That day is over for us, thankfully but now comes the really hard part.  Dealing with kids that have too much sugar running through their veins for the next 2 days. 
Ms Frizzle and the Magic School Bus
My class is really wonderful.  They are a very easy bunch to get along with, but I know for some the next couple of days is going to be hard.  Some will have candy pouring out of their lunch kits and won't really understand why they can't eat it all.  By Friday they will have eaten most of thier stash (hopefully) and then I won't have to deal with it for too much longer after that. 
This year, I convinced my wonderful husband to dress up.  He doesn't much care for Halloween.  I don't know if it's because of the face paint, scary costumes or what, but usually he takes a pass.  This year, he got in on the action. I haven't had a real costume in a long time and it was fun.  Being sick for the last 2 weeks dampened my enthusiasm slightly, but we finished our costumes at 11pm last night and had them ready for today.  It was a fun and busy day, and when we finally turned off the light at 8:30 we were both exhausted.
Last year, we spent about $70 for pumpkins for our two classes.  This year we asked for donated pumpkins, and I was pleasantly surprised.  We had 8 big pumpkins and 4 small ones come in for carving.  It was fabulous!  And the parent support I got was really great too.  I had 6 moms and an uncle come in to help carve.  It was great because I wasn't running around trying to get everything done myself and my classroom was pretty clean by the end of the day.  Whew! 

The big bummer about Halloween this year was the fact it was -15 at 5:30pm and got colder and there was 2 feet of snow.  We got 89 kids this year which was still pretty good, but last year we had over 100.  Still it wasn't windy, so our beautiful pumpkins stayed lit for the night.

Monday, October 22, 2012

On to Winter

or at least that is what it feels like.  We had a snow fall warning for Friday, our Pro D day and I really thought it would hold out until the afternoon.  Nope, we woke up to the snow falling.  It was also the day that I decided to jump into a session in another town an hour away.  Thankfully, my husband loves me a lot and drove me there.  We left after lunch, after hearing about a logging truck that had hit the ditch and closed the road for a short time.  We didn't feel like sleeping over, so we left as soon as we could.  It was a long drive back and the snow really hasn't stopped for that long.  It is now Sunday and it is still falling lightly.  No snow days for us, but it's nice to look at.  Unfortunately, we haven't got our Christmas lights up yet or the gutters done, so I guess that's not going to happen now.  If I'm lucky, the snow will melt and I can convince Chris to go up the ladder.  I have also managed to catch my first cold of the season, complete with aches and headache.  I've already planned for tomorrow.

On days like this;
 we do this;
 and eat stuff like this.
Hope you are keeping warm in your part of the world!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Thank Goodness for Mothers!

The school year is in full swing and we are already facing our first reports home this week.  Along with the actual teaching in my day, there are also meetings about students, workshops to improve and accent my teaching as well as lengthy union meetings.  Fun times! 
Admist all this, my mom came for a visit.  She has been steadily filling my freezer for a week with baking and yummy food so that we can get through the winter.  Ha!  What it really means is that Mr. can eat yummy sweet treats and I have a few less dinners to make. 
The weather has been wonderful, and on Saturday I was able to walk around in a t-shirt and shorts (probably for the last time this year) while Mom and I toured around town.  It has been great having her here and I wish they lived closer so that we don't have to pack so much into a short time. 
Mom came to school for a day last week, and was a little tired by the end of the day.  I had her cutting and laminating for most of the day.  The kids were a little curious about her and I'll probably get questions about when she'll be back.  This holiday weekend, we traveled about looking at scrapbooking stuff, did some gardening and she did some more baking.  Weight Watchers took a hit this weekend for sure.  Mom cooked a wonderful turkey dinner for Sunday and we ate early so Mr. could play hockey comfortably later in the evening.  Today we went for a walk in the Community Forest, even though the weather has now turned cold and damp.  Mom snapped pictures of our forest so she can take them back and show her friends.  My dad called this afternoon to brag about how hot it still was and how he was headed to the lake for a swim with the dog.  I hope he gets a sun burn!
Hope you had a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

and I'm back!

Finally!  My little technology world is back in order.  I had to be home for medical appointments on Friday, so I was able to take delivery on my lovely iPhone.  I'd missed the delivery guy the day before, but he got here nice and early.  Yay!  My message box was full ( I forgot to tell people that my phone was trapped in a box), and it took time to reload all my stuff onto the phone, but I did a little happy dance in my living room after I sent my first text.

My second little piece of happiness is when I picked up my new KOBO.  It didn't work right from the time I got it last Christmas, and after a few quick emails, KOBO sent me a new one with return postage for my old one!  This process was WAY less painful than the one with Apple, and it will make me consider KOBO again when I want to upgrade.  So far it's working like a dream.

Hopefully from now on, my technology works.  Chris says that I am Cryptonite to tech :(  So far Mac has not crapped out (touch wood).

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My iPhone saga

I waited a year to get my phone.  I knew I wanted an iPhone and when I heard about the 4s and the camera, I decided to get one.  I waited and waited and finally got it at the end of June.  I charged it up and tried to text a picture.  Didn't work.  It didn't work the other 10 times I tried it, so back to the Bell kiosk.  She turned it on and off and then it worked.  I'd done that, but nothing had happened.  Then I noticed that my battery was close to 0% by the end of the day, but put it down to using it a lot.  When we went on our trip, the battery was dead every night and I wasn't using it at all.  We stopped at Bell in Nanaimo, where they turned the Blutooth off and told me that was the problem.  Then told me that I'd have to contact Apple with further concerns.  So I did.  We made a special trip to the Apple store in Richmond Center on the way home.  The Genius did a reboot and a diagnostic check and sent me on my way.  When I asked what I should do when this didn't work, he said to go back to an Apple store.  I explained that the closest store was roughly 7 hours away, he kinda shrugged and told me I'd have to call Apple.  I did.  I spent close to 1/2 an hour on the phone the first time and then had to call back to finish the call and spent another 1/2 an hour to be told that a box would be sent by UPS and I would have to send the phone to them.  We don't have UPS (which I explained to the nice man on the phone) and was told that a box would appear the next day.  When came 2 days later, I was actually surprised it came as fast as it did.  I had explained to the person on the phone that I live very far north, and we don't have all the services a bigger center would have, but he assured me that the turn around with my phone would be quick.  
I was very impressed with the box sent by apple.  It had everything I'd need to send the package back, including a little piece of packing tape to seal the box.  I followed the directions and called UPS to schedule a pick-up.  The man assured me that someone would come to the house to pick up my package the next day, by 7pm.  I was still on holidays, so I waited all day for someone to come.  No one did.  They didn't come the day after that either.  So I called back.  The woman I talked to looked it up and found that the 3rd party they use in the area, didn't even respond to the delivery request.  She told me that she'd send it again.  For the 3rd time that week, I told them that we don't have UPS and we don't have a drop off location.  (I've had to meet delivery people in some weird places in the past).  She assured me that they would come out to my school, which is 20 minutes into the middle of nowhere, and pick it up.  I just had to leave it with the secretary.  Yeah right!  I received a message from a person from Purolator from back east somewhere, telling me to contact them and that they were not coming to pick up my package.  Nice.  When I returned her call, of course being 3 hours ahead, no one answered.  Another message left.  Another day lost, with my phone sitting in a box. 
I called Apple back and after explaining the problem I was put on hold for around 20 minutes while the rep found someone else for me to talk to.  Jacob came on the phone, listened to me and told me that he'd look into the problem and call me back.  He did about 30 minutes later, to tell me that there was no UPS in the area (!) and that he was going to have the Purolator people figure it out.  Great.  Another day went by and I received a phone message to call someone at Purolator.  She was in my time-zone, so that helped.  Karen took my info and then emailed me a Canada Post mailing label that I had to tape onto the box and take to the post office and mail!  Had this been done in the first place, maybe I would have my phone.  Instead, it took a week from the day I posted it to make its way to Vaugn Ontario! I have received notice that Apple sent me my replacement on the 21st.  I am just crossing my fingers that it gets here in the next couple of weeks.  I'm still paying the bill that goes with that phone and haven't been able to use it.  
Unfortunately, the good customer service that I have received on the phone has been overshadowed by the rest of this.  Communication people!  It's frustrating when you tell people something and they disregard it.  I am just praying that I get my new phone and it works like it's supposed to.  We'll see.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Bad Luck

As some of you remember, I finished out June with a severe concussion and had an extra week of Summer.  I was mostly better, (I think) and was just congratulating myself on how I had not visited the new Emergency Room at the new hospital.  Yeah, I should have never even thought it. 
On Friday we had a Pro D day at school with a potluck lunch.  I left the staff session we were having to go and put the lasagna I had brought, into the oven.  The secretary had been filling the water cooler earlier, and some how it had leaked.  I did not see the puddle of water on the floor (our floors are always really shiny because we have a great janitor) and as I was going out the door to the cooking room, my right foot hit the water and I hit the floor.  Thankfully, I missed the door jam on the way down, but I did manage to smack my head on the floor after my hip, elbow and hand.  My boss and Chris came out of the session to find me on the floor, then of course everyone else had to come and have a look too.  I was crying, absolutely mortified and hurt.  Great way to end the day.  Chris drove me into the hospital to get my wrist and head checked and then we did our PD at home.  Well Chris did, I went for a nap.    Great end to the week after stapling my finger on Monday morning!  It would seem that I have some bad mojo following me around right now.  Any hints to get rid of it?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Report cards, farts and conversation

 This is a post that I found, I thought I had posted it already...

This month is almost over and I have to say it's been going by quickly.  We have managed to get out a little more than usual.  We went to see a production of "Chicago" that our friends were in and to the pub afterwards for a beer.  That was a big night out. We've visited friends from our last job and I've actually managed to get to a sorority meeting this month.  Not sure I will join again.  I think I need to visit a couple more times before I decide.
This week is the beginning of report cards, and it's my first time using BCESIS.  What fun that is to build all the comments in.  It takes a while just to do that part, but once it's done I have them forever, or as long as I teach here.
I have been following a few education blogs and blogs by teachers.  There is some very interesting conversation going on out there.  It's interesting how easy it is now to share and find information about teaching and learning compared to when I first started teaching 10 years ago.  There was no conversation, or if there was it was local.  Now I can get it with blogs, Twitter and other social media.  Right now I am a lurker mostly, enjoying the conversations and getting ideas.
Right now I am feeling a little behind.  There were so many things that I wanted to do, that I haven't been able to get to.  There are so many things that I feel like I should be doing.  There has to be a balance somewhere.  My fire is a little smaller this week.  I don't know if it's the sudden drop in temperature, report cards or the negativeness that I am picking up on at work.  Maybe all of the above.
One thing that makes my day is the look on a tadpole's face when they get a math concept, or when they have to share that piece of news before they burst.  I have one tadpole that makes me laugh almost daily.  He can also be frustrating, but mostly funny.  Last week and this have been about farts for him.  I'm not sure what started it, but last Friday he was telling off some people for touching the chair pad that he sits on.  (He's a fidgety little guy).  When I inquired he told me the issue.  "Mrs. Nowell some people were touching my chair thing!  I told them they shouldn't, 'cause they were touching my farts!"  I thought I hadn't heard right, as he was so earnest.  "Pardon?" I asked. "Yeah I farted earlier on it and then they touched it!  They touched my farts!"  Usually, I can keep straight faced and divert the attention away, but not that day.  His logic was sound and I burst out laughing- I mean really how could I not?  The bell saved me and as the kids filed out the door I was still laughing.  This is the same tadpole that told me we were taste twins because we like tuna sandwiches with pickles and no onions.   He usually has something that he is bursting to tell me daily, and really he makes my day.  It was great today when he got picked during a performance at the school to play an instrument.

I'm back... kind of

Home-made crayons
Well the last couple of weeks have been CRAZY busy.  I have basically dropped off the face of the Earth and into School Land.
We have stayed late every night and I've gone in on weekends as well. I hope to cut back by the end of September, but we'll see.  There just always seems to be stuff to do!  My birthday was low-key this year as we were both so tired and it fell on a Monday.  I did get these awesome flowers though from a student and her family.  Chris has enabled my itunes shopping with some gift cards for music and apps (just need to get my phone back), and a card for some ebooks (just need to get the replacement Kobo).  For some reason, most of my gadgets have failed and have to be replaced so I'm waiting.
The weather has been fabulous, warm and sunny and it looks like the next little while will be the same.  We have been able to get out and see some people which has been nice and I did get my birthday dinner at Tony Roma's after a walk at the Community Forest with friends. This week promises to be very busy, with a workshop, 2 union meetings and a social evening with the Crafty Ladies. 
I am trying to find some balance and spent some time reading- I'm 6 books behind in my reading challenge!  I've also tried to be crafty, but I'm usually so tired after dinner that I can't find the inspiration to scrap.  Hopefully this will pass soon.  I'm supposed to be exercising too, but that is just not fitting in at the moment.  Soon.  I promise myself.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Getting closer....

We have finished out the summer with a flurry of home decorating/improvements this year.  It's very exciting as we have been in this house for a few years now and really haven't had the time or money to get much done.  It will be very satisfying to step into my house on a cold winter's afternoon and look around at all the bright and inviting rooms.

Basement before
The last couple of days have been spent doing PD on the couch.  There is so much to look at and read!  Every page has at least 2 interesting links that lead me away to more reading.  By yesterday afternoon, my head was full and I was too overstimulated.  I managed to get into my scrap room and clean some projects up.  My room still has too much stuff on the floor, mostly finished scrapbooks waiting for their new home in the basement.

Basement is waiting for furniture
My next project for today is to make some of the cool things I found on Pinterest.  I need to step away from the computer for a while, I'm starting to twitch slightly.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

It's just around the corner

Work is starting again soon, with PD starting next week.  I am loving Summer this year, with all the great weather we've had so I'm not quite ready to go back yet.  I am starting to look at more readings and ideas, but my mind starts to wander when I think of all the start up stuff. 
I went to look at my room last week (which wasn't ready for me to do anything in) and found out that someone had shot at all the classroom windows.  More than once.  It made me sad.  Of course angry too, but mostly sad.  Nobody "knows" who did it, but I'm sure someone has some idea.  That kind of put a curb on my excitement of going back.  I do have some great ideas for this year for in my classroom and some stuff that I want to take on in my school.  I am just having too good of a vacation.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Adventures in home improvement

We had a few days of rest, and then we decided to paint the basement.  As we were sitting down there making our plans of who was going to do what, my husband looks at me and says "why don't we go and see about new carpet".  I didn't want to make any sudden movements as it might make him change his mind, so I calmly agreed.  The next thing you know, we were looking for new carpet AND new furniture for the basement!  It also delayed the actual painting by a day because of all the running around and comparison shopping to be done.  That was Monday.  Tuesday started with us going to rent scaffolding to be able to paint the stair way.  When it finally got set up, I was stuck in the basement for 9 hours.  I painted and listened to pod-casts.  My meals were passed to me through a window.  Luckily, there is a bathroom down there.  Good news, I got the basement painted.  Bad news was we still had to get rid of the old carpet.  That happened Wednesday.  We decided on carpet, went to look at couches and finally got down to the removal of the disgusting-early-80's-peed-on-by many-dogs-carpet.  Back then, they glued the rubber-backed carpet right down to the cement.  What fun!  The carpet it self was so old that it came away quite freely from the backing.  Except the stringers on the stairs.  We got the carpet up and to the dump AND returned the truck we borrowed (thanks to Bryce and Michelle) by 6.  Then I got down on my hands and knees with a putty knife and started to scrape the floor.  In an hour, I only got a 3X3 square done, and not well.  I abandoned the project in favour of pizza.  After dinner I had to get some plants into the flower bed and there was weeding to be done as well.  Thursday came and with it some back and muscle pain.  After some oatmeal with a side of Advil, I went to run errands for the project while Chris tackled the stairs again.  While in CT I came across a floor scraper.  The best $40 I ever spent.  I got the floor done in an hour with that thing.  I tried not to think of all the grossness that was in the dust and wore a mask to keep the worst out of my lungs, but wow!  3 big garbage bags are filled with the carpet backing and we'll need a new filter for the vaccum cleaner because of all the dust, but it's done and ready for carpet on Monday.  Chris has asked that I not request any other improvement projects for quite some time.  I think he may be looking for that commitment in writing....

Friday, August 17, 2012

Back home

We had a wonderful trip South.  It was busy and the weather was great and I got to rediscover parts of the Island.  We did a few nice hikes where Mom and Chris got to practice their photography skills.  There was a big car show, a couple of cruises and a long weekend spent in Victoria with my brother and sister-in-law.   I was also able to catch up with a couple of friends and spend some quality time with my mom garage saling. My mom and her friend are serious garage salers.  They plan it all out, one does the driving while the other manages the map and directions to the next big find.  Hard core!  I got many good deals (much to my husband's chagrin) for the classroom, especially when I told them I was a teacher. 
 We also got to enjoy a couple of fires at the beach, which is something that I haven't done in a very long time.

We are home, enjoying the last weeks of our holidays and the wonderful weather we have right now.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

At rest, finally

After my last post, I managed to relax a little more and then we got down to work on our kitchen.  We (meaning I) decided to repaint this year to freshen up our house.  It was the kitchen's turn and I always think that painting is such an easy task.  In theory it is.  You pick a colour, buy the paint and start painting.  I always forget about the prepping part.  I like to wash the walls, fill holes and dents, pull off trim etc.  Those things take time.  This time I also wanted to replace the old fluorescent light boxes with a new lighting option and fan.  I'd bought those things last summer and had them ready to go.  We were going to paint the ceiling at the same time.  It was supposed to take a day for the ceiling.  It took two.  When the light boxes came off, there was ceiling repair to do and when that mess was actually finished (I had to re-texture the space under the light boxes), the actual painting could begin.  What a mess!  Did I mention it was also 30 degrees?  The hottest days so far, and we were painting.  When the painting was finished the lights had to go up, and one of them could not physically attach on to the ceiling.  A job that was supposed to take a couple of days, took 5.  I'd hate to think what would have happened if we were actually doing any serious renos!  We got it done and it looks great, but it's a good thing I got Chris to agree to paint downstairs before we started.  He was not in a very good mood during this process.

Painting done, we had a day to take a breath and then it was time to pack and get ready for our trip to the Island.  My mom's 60th birthday was happening on the 21st.  We left on the 19th at 6am and arrived at 5pm at our final destination.  We drove for 14 hours on the first day (I had a secret wish to make the final ferry but we couldn't) stopping finally in Hope for the night.  It was a long day.  The following day, we got up after 8, grabbed some breakfast on the run and headed to the ferry.  The weather turned the closer to the coast we got and at one point the rain was pounding so hard, we had to almost yell at each other to converse.  This also made the trip a little scarier, as there was water everywhere and people following much too close.  We got to the ferry after 11am and hung out in the village waiting for the 12:50 sailing.  We had to stop off in Nanaimo for a couple of things, including some Taco Bell, and made it to Mom and Dad's for around 5.  We fell into bed that night exhausted and then sometime in the night, I woke up worrying about stupid little things and didn't really get any good sleep after that.  The next day was tough.

My brother and sister-in-law came up before lunch to help out, thank goodness, as by afternoon I was barely holding it together.  We cooked, decorated and got everything together by 6.  People came, ate, laughed and left by 10pm.  It was a good thing, as I was so tired I nearly fell over a couple of times!
Fun was had by all, but most importantly, Mom.

Monday, July 9, 2012

I just can't do it

I have been reading blog posts from teachers and they are still all about teaching, even though it's holiday time!  I just can't do it right now.  I have been on Pinterest a little and have pinned some ideas that look pretty good for school next year, but beyond that, I can't think about work right now.  I need some time to decompress, reflect from the past school year and enjoy my time now.  As I read through skimmed an article, I realized that my attention was not there and proceeded to "Mark all as read" for all the education related blogs.  I am sorry to those people, as I follow them because I normally like what they say, but for now I'm shutting off that part of my brain and being a part of Summer. 

We are always reminded as teachers that we need to take care of ourselves, but I wonder how many of us actually do it.  Body and mind need rest after a long school year.  I know that there are people out there that don't think that teachers do very much, but we know the truth and so do our bodies.  Just because we are not all gym teachers, it takes an incredible amount of energy to be "on" all the time.  Summer is our rest, our reward for all that worry, stress and energy that we exude for 10 months of the year.  So here's to us and the next 2 months!

Friday, July 6, 2012

I've decided

that I love vacation.  I am still in the first (real) week of vacation, and I am thouroughly enjoying myself.  We have managed to leave the house everyday, but everything has been leisurely and relaxed.

My head is better, and the only symptoms left, that I can tell, is word retrieval, visual tracking when I'm in a moving vehicle, and sometimes noise.  This week really feels like vacation.  If only I could sleep longer than 7 am and I'd be set!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Saying goodbye

I was feeling a little sad because I wasn't going to be at school to say goodbye to my class.  They have been a really good group and we have spent a lot of time together.  Chris came up with the idea of using Skype to say good bye.  He hooked it all up and called me at 9:30.  It was fun to see their expressions.  It went really well.  The TOC in my room is awesome and had most of my room cleaned up for me which will be great when I go out next week. 

I also got some pretty great gifts.  Even now I never expect gifts from students, but I have to say the really thoughtful ones (not the standard mug) are the ones I always remember.  Last year, I got a bird feeder, candles, a gardening bag with gloves and other little bits in it and a decorative piece for my house.  This year, I got a bucket filled with fresh veggies from the garden (yum) a candle for my deck, a yellow rose, some chocolate and a gift card to Chapters (hello, books for the KOBO).  I got lots of fan mail too.  I love the handwritten cards and pictures.  I usually squirrel those away for a page in the scrapbook.  Presents aren't a neccessity, but they are pretty nice.  Who doesn't like getting gifts?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The End is here

The end of the school year, that is.  I have had the last 4 days off and have been resting my brain, as the doctor said.  I have been a little bored, as I can only talk on the phone so much, watch so much and I can't really read and I find I get tired.  So I have been resting.

Yesterday, I finally got my new iPhone 4s.  So that took most of my time today.  I took pictures with it, played with different Apps and added my 10 contacts.  So fun.  My phone envy is now over.  I just have to learn to balance my time a little better.  It is addictive though.  Even now it is calling me....

Monday, June 25, 2012

Fun Day was not fun

UPDATE:  My mild concussion turns out to be a severe concussion and I am off work until next week.  Well that means that my summer has started already.  I tried going to work, but between the noise, the lights and everyone talking to me, it didn't go well.  The doctor wants me to rest my brain.  My eyes goggled out of my head!  Does he not know what time of year it is?  Other than start up, this is the busiest time of year for teachers.  He was unconcerned and handed me a doctor's note saying I needed to be off 5-7 days.  That meant my night was taken up making lists and lesson plans as the TOC is going to have to get my classroom ready for the summer. 

Hopefully the rest and quiet will help me out and I don't have to go back to the doctor.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

What doesn't kill you...

I have had a Kelly Clarkson song in my head for the last couple of days.  Stronger has become my anthem the last couple of days.  I have been suffering with first a respiratory infection that turned into sinusitus for the last 4 weeks.  It has included time off work, many sleepless nights and multiple trips to the doctor only to be told 3 times, that it'll just take time.  The 4th time was the charm and I came away with a prescription for antibiotics.  Within 24 hours of taking this pill, I felt better.  It begs the question then does withholding drugs really worth it?  I suffered for weeks because the mentality up here is to not "over- medicate", which amounts to patients having to beg for medications that will make them feel better.  Anyway, I'm on my way to recovery.  Finally. 

Then Friday afternoon, I decided to walk into a bar on the playground and have a mild concussion.  I can tell you that it feels a lot like a hangover that never ends.  I have spent most of this weekend sleeping.  I wonder what the Universe is trying to tell me?  My head seems to be getting a lot of attention lately.  I had many plans this weekend, but must resort to phone calls to visit with friends, and moving very slowly.  I am just hoping that the symptoms get better by Monday, or Fun Day at school is not going to be very fun for me. 

This is the last week of school for us, and I have to say I am really looking forward to it.  I am going to spend next weekend resting and doing what ever I want.  Yay to summer vacation.  Hopefully, I can stay out of the new Emergency Room.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Identity Day 2012

A couple of summers ago I came across this blog post by George Couros about Identity Day.  I thought it was a great concept and was excited to introduce it to my staff.  As we were new to the school, Chris and I decided to approach the staff with it for this school year.  Things happened and it kept getting pushed back until I had a firm date for June 7 2012.  Like all new ideas in a small community, it was met with uncertainty, but the end result was fabulous!  In my own class I had 20 out of 21 projects come in, and the kids were excited about the day.  It was so great to see how proud the kids were about their projects and interested in other projects around the school.

We had the day separated into 3 parts, from 9:20-10:20 Kindergarten, grade K/1, grade 1/2 and grade 2 classrooms opened their doors for the rest of the school to come in and see their projects.  We had altered books, poster boards, tri-fold boards, a drum set and other great stuff for the school to see.  After recess until lunch, the grade 3, grade 3/4, and 4/5 classes all welcomed us in to view videos, dance presentations, violin and piano pieces, drumming, pottery etc. for an hour.  After lunch we went into the 5/6 and 6/7 classes to see what the "big kids" had done.  The 6/7 embraced the technological side of things and had made short movies about their topic of choice.

I loved the variety of topics the kids chose to tell about themselves and all the interesting ways they chose to share.  At the end of the day, my kids were already planning their topics for next year and what they could do to present it.

Teaching Post

Yesterday, I had a conversation with a friend that is having a hard time.   I have to say that I am feeling very badly for her and her situation.  I am also shocked and appalled at her treatment. 

My friend has moved for temporary contracts.  The contract she is currently under is for three weeks, until the end of the year.  She started on the 4th, teaching in a middle school.  Now, I am not a middle school teacher and don't understand all the ins and outs of that world, but I do have a little understanding of professionalism and courtesy. 

She is covering a leave only until the end of the year.  She did not "take" someone else's job, but she has come into a very uncomfortable situation.  Few people have talked to her at all, one demanding if she's parked in the "wrong" spot, no one has been friendly or welcoming.  In fact they sound downright hostile!  She received access to the grade book of the teacher on leave 4 days after she started and discovered that many students were failing.  Not by a little, by a lot.  The teacher on leave does not accept late work and instead issues zeros.  Late work has come in and when my friend contacted the other teacher, she refused to mark it.  My friend has no real proof that students have been contacted about their possible failings, and the Department Head told her that it is her (my friend's) responsibility to deal with it.  No help offered only told that she'd be "in big trouble" if it's not dealt with by Monday!  How is this collegial?  My friend has met these students only 2 or 3 times and her options are not good ones.  She's had her credentials questioned, left to solve problems that she did not create and has little to no real direction from the AO's.  I have no background information on the reasons why all this is happening, but I am so disappointed that my friend is stuck in a situation that is not only stressful, but seemingly hostile and unfair.   The teacher on leave took all of her course materials with her, emptied her desk (even took the stapler it seems), and has been less than communicative in this whole situation.  I would like to think there are underlying reasons for this, and my friend has just walked into a bad situation blindly, but what a shame.

In this day and age, teachers are under enough stresses from outside our work environment, especially after this year with all the contract issues and job action.  I would like to think that we wouldn't turn on our own people, but support and help when needed.  Teachers need to stick together, build each other up and HELP each other.  The end of the year is rough and it's in the rough times that we need to be there for each other.  I hope the next couple of weeks go a little better and she can get a handle on the situation. 

What advice would you give your friend?

Friday, June 1, 2012

What I have learned today

From reading some news articles today I have learned quite a few little tidbits from different areas of life;

The No Child Left Behind law in the US is still broken and no one can figure out how to fix it.  I had to teach there under this directive and let me tell you, it's very broken.  The kids and teachers are getting left behind with this one. 

The British people really like their pasties.  The government thought that they could help their coffers by taxing this popular snack and the people rose up and protested.  Government has had to go back to their idea banks to replace the taxes they have allowed the rich to keep.

Mitt Romney has decided that letting poor and disabled kids attend any school they want is going to be a big help.  This means that the doors of the rich suburban schools will have to be opened up to the city kids.  I can imagine the parents in Suburbia will welcome this with open arms.

Technology is creating a time wasting hole for young people, especially those from lower economic backgrounds.  Hmm I think this is true for young and old, no matter what your background.  How many times do I go to dinner and see a couple staring at their phones instead of talking to each other.  My own staff room is mostly void of conversations while staff play on their phones or use their computers to watch movies. 

Social media continues to be a big argument in schools across the continent.  Some are crying out against the abuses, some are defending the use in class to help bridge the divide of classroom and real-life.  Students and (some teachers) spend a lot of time using social media for various reasons.  It has been hailed recently as a great teaching tool or augmentation to lessons.  Social media has also caused a lot of problems; inappropriate behaviour by teachers and students, bullying and other unseemly situations.

These are just a few things that caught my eye today.  I'm sure there are more ground-breaking topics, but these are the ones that didn't involve death/war/uprising/debt.  Lots of stories out there about that stuff.  I'm trying to keep things a little lighter these days.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

5 days

of being sick really puts a damper on plans.  I think I have gotten every cold that I missed out on for the last 9 months.  I was feeling better yesterday, and thought that I would go to work today.  I was dressed and everything, working my way through breakfast when I realized that if I went in today it would be a miserable day for all.  Little did I know that there was a funeral going on in the district and they had no TOC's around.  I think there is a mother/EA in my room today.  That would be interesting to see.  Now I lay here feeling slightly guilty.  I just know deep down though that it's not worth dragging myself in.  I haven't received any panicked phone calls, so I have to assume that everything is going okay. 
I think I need a nap.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I am ....

EXAUSTED!  There were many times today that I thought about my boss and wondered how she does it everyday.  Granted, she is not trying to teach a class of 2nd graders at the same time, but still.

I was Teacher In Charge (TIC) today.  I told my husband at some point during the day that I didn't ever want to get my Master's.  Everything was quiet first thing and when I got to almost 9:15 without incident, I thought I was good.  Nope.  Right when I was explaining to my class the job I would have to do today (I've done it before and they know what to do if I need to leave quickly), I could hear one of our Spec Ed students screaming in the hallway.  I went to check it out and ended up being in that situation for around 45 mins.  My kids went about their business and my neighbouring teachers looked in on them.  After that, I managed to get back into my room for 30 mins to do some reading assessments before recess.

ON the way to the staffroom, I hear wailing from another Spec Ed student in the grade 1 room.  I got in there to see the Reading Recovery teacher standing beside here with a firm look on her face.  The little person was fussing because she was mad she didn't get to go outside with her friends.  (She'd decided to waste her lesson time, so she had to make it up.)  I put a quick end to that nonsense and saw her off with the RR teacher.

 I got into the staffroom for a snack, but on the way through the secretary told me that something was in the toilet in the boys' bathroom.  Goody.  I grabbed a piece of fruit before I dealt with that, and just as I sat down, she came back in to tell me that I had 2 clients to deal with.  Fighting on the playground.  One of the students involved was a student I had last year, so I knew how to deal with him.  He spent a few minutes with me in my room after recess until he was ready to go back to class.

I almost got through the next hour of Math (and more assessing) and a lesson on apostrophes when about 2 minutes until lunch, I get a visit from the grade5/6 teacher.  He has sent a client to the office for me.  Apparently, the young gentleman got mad when a classmate returned property he'd stolen to the rightful owner.  He rewarded the intruder with a hard shoulder while walking past.  Now, I wasn't even sure I knew this student, and I was pretty sure he was going to be at least as big as me.  He'd taken advantage of the lunch bell and had buggered outside.  I had him paged back into the office.  We had a chat and he joined the collection of kids I had in the office.  2 kids playing lego and my fighter.  He stayed with me the whole lunch hour and because he had no lunch, I shared some of mine.  We got along fine, and in the end he went back to class.  I told him that if he needed to, I had some space in my classroom for him.  He go the message and I didn't hear of him again.

The fighter got to go back to class to eat lunch and his spot was taken by a 2nd grader who decided that throwing rocks at other kids was a fun game.  I still had the big kid in there, so we all had a talk about throwing rocks and bodies in anger.  Then we talked about video games.  I can only be mad for so long.

I did manage to eat my sandwich before I headed back to class.  We made it through about 20 mins of silent reading, before my fighter showed up with a sour face and an angry TOC.  He'd decided that he "hated all TOC's" proclaiming his innocence all the way down the hallway.  My kids were getting agendas done, getting an art project finished and getting ready for gym.  He took his work to the office to finish while we were in gym and then I used him to start a writing lesson in class.  When he uses he powers for good instead of evil, he's great.  He finished out his day with me.

At the bell I needed to make sure my kids were out the door and noone was left behind.  At sometime while I was running back and forth between the busses and the halls, an older student allegedly choked another boy.  Yay.  I didn't hear about that until 3:30 or so.  I had to make 2 parent phone calls, which were not so bad.  Then I touched base with the Fighter's teacher.

I waved with honesty at those buses today as they left the school yard.  I left at 4pm, exhausted.  I don't know how she does it every single day. 
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