April 12 – the other adult in the class

262/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Times have sure changed.  Yes, that’s a cliché for sure but it’s so very true.  The classroom is so much different than it was 10 years ago.  Definitely different than when I first got into teaching!  The classrooms are much more diverse and I don’t mean by ethnicity, gender, religion, sexuality or anything of that kind.  Classrooms are educationally diverse in that you have all sorts of learners bringing their unique needs, abilities, challenges and requirements to the same classroom.  Integration/inclusion where possible is the norm these days but this post is not to discuss the merits or faults of the system.  This is the reality as a teacher and one must be able to adapt to what one is presented in regards to classroom composition.  For the longest time, I had the typical students you see on television especially because I taught electives like Marketing, Law and Psychology.  Students of differing abilities were few and far between and I rarely saw Individualized Educational Programs (I bet you that isn’t even the term) but in today’s classroom, I have many identified students with adapted or modified programs and I am very thankful for the assistance provided by Educational Assistants (or Special Assistants or Teacher Assistants – the terms vary).  I can say without a doubt that I could never do their job and I bow down to them.  During my early years of teaching, my experience with EAs was rare as I didn’t have designated students in my classes (which is a good thing as the EAs I had kinda needed EAs for themselves!!  LOL).  However, fthe last few years, I have had EAs in my classes because of the differing needs of students that are now identified and make up a classroom and I can say that the calibre of EAs has improved vastly from my initial experience.  I value these adults in the classroom as they are exactly that, adults to assist me in getting my learning objectives across to the students.  I am very grateful to have that extra person with me and I do not use them as a person to photocopy, run errands etc but to help all students in the class.  I have been very fortunate that the EAs that I have had have been so very organized, went out of their way to not only help the student they were assigned to but also encourage other students in class and also helped me design curriculum and write reports and evaluations for the identified student(s).  Often these EAs are overlooked, not acknowledged or sometimes just ignored in a classroom but I can’t even fathom doing my job with learning challenged students if these EAs were not in my class and I always treat them with all the respect they deserve and am so thankful that we as teachers have this assistance so we can meet every students needs to the best of our respective abilities!  I wish the government recognized your worth and compensated you just as fairly.

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March 30 – such a trip

249/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Not only is this a straight forward gratitude post, it’s also a backhanded gratitude post at the same time as I am thanking two groups of people.  Without the shortcomings of one group, the appreciation for the other group would not be noticed, let alone written about.  I have been fortunate over the years to travel on trips within my role as a teacher – be it short ones on a ski trip for a day or a weekend camping trips or coaching/sponsoring for a couple of days to two week long journeys to Europe or Japan.  The students aside, the trips are all about the co-workers who accompany you on the trip.  Unless you are organizer (which I’ve rarely been), you have little choice or say in who is going so the very trip’s enjoyment is based on the dynamics as a result of the staff mix.  I have been to Japan once with three different schools and thus three different adult chaperones and it was a nightmare.  All I did with one of the teachers was argue as I was more laissez-faire in my approach to things and she was by the book, accounting for everything, not veering off the beaten path.  I based extending curfews on student behaviour – she based curfew on the fact that she goes to bed at 10pm!!  There was no leeway on her part so we clashed.  I felt bad for the third chaperone as he knew we did not like each other.  She thought that I would end up getting kids lost or abducted but I had the last laugh when two of her male students decided to take the bullet train during the night to meet up with some Japanese girls they met earlier in Tokyo (we are in Osaka now!!) and missed the return trip.  I knew they were safe but the childish me was like “ha ha ha”!  Because of that travel companion, I have appreciated traveling with others where our personalities just mesh and there is give and take and a lot of flexibility.  I have had this on a trip to Europe with three other sponsors, on trips to Kelowna (or was it Kamloops) for field hockey tournaments, room sharing in Whistler and the list goes on.  You really don’t appreciate good travel companions/chaperones until you have traveled with a nightmare!  Thank you to both types of sponsors as now I choose wisely if I want to go on a trip – be it a day or two weeks – based on who else is going to be going.  Bon Voyage!

February 18 – come Explorica with me

209/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. It’s a few weeks away from spring break and I don’t think my plans are going to come to fruition – traveling to Russia as I just got the go-ahead from doctors but too tight a turnaround for visa applications and approvals 😦 alas, maybe that’s what supposed to have happened. This got me to thinking about other trips that I have taken and today’s share a past memory on Facebook brought forth a picture from a trip 6 years ago. This was a crazy, amazing weekend jaunt to Rome!! Yes, you read that right. As the new teacher leader of a student trip to Europe, I was asked to come to Rome all expenses paid for a weekend to introduce new teachers about the program and to get a taste of where we would be bringing our students. I thought for a moment and then ignored those thoughts and a few months later, was on my way on a red eye flight to Europe. This was also a true test for me – I have never ever been thrown into a situation with total strangers and was nervous if I would connect with people. I got off the flight and a few teachers were waiting for the last couple of teachers to arrive – we were the Canadians. I met Marti and her husband Joey, I met Dolph, I met a few others and we had our initial awkward conversations – hey, brown guy with ultra-blonde hair had to tame himself a little 😉 Then we met the Americans – oh the Americans!! Chuck and Brandon and Ryan and Bennett and Dana – so much fun. That weekend went by so fast but it felt like we were there for a week as we had so, so many adventures traveling in catacombs, drinking copious amounts of wine, dancing into the wee hours, earning nicknames – Passporticus Minimus, exploring the Colisseum (some at night!!), not making meetings in the morning because some of us were a little “too tired” and realizing one of us was not a teacher but a mother of teacher who loved marching (okay, more like singing) to the beat of a different drummer. I made some great friends in those few days and am still in touch with them not only through Facebook but real-life reunions. Teaching instantly bonded us but the love of life was the commonality. To my Explorica group – great memories forever!!

February 10 – sidekick, ball, chain

201/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Every Superhero needs a sidekick to help him or her out. Usually the sidekick is the one who gets the Superhero out of situations by being there to save the day! This is the same in the workplace – there are sidekicks who help out in all sorts of ways and the only reason I refer to one as the sidekick is that they aren’t always the one receiving top billing. I have been both Superhero and sidekick over the years and sometimes even worked as an amazing team of Superheroes but for the sake of this gratitude post, I’m going to talk about a person who supported me as sidekick to eventually where I became sidekick. Early in my teaching career, some of the senior girls approached me to sponsor their cheer dance squad. I knew nothing about the sport but I knew that they needed an adult supervisor. I said yes and then immediately approached two other teachers – one being a counsellor named Moreen. Moreen and I got to know each other at Burnett and although she would never reveal her age (and yes, I don’t have enough decorum not to ask a woman her age!!), we shared the same birthdate! Moreen and I worked on that dance squad with a third co-worker and spent more time with the team than the average glamour sport coach (by this I mean basketball or volleyball) and we had away tournaments all over the place plus we had divas on the team when there was no such term 😉 However, we had a great time and Moreen even went back into her aerobics vernacular and brought out the “kick, ball, chain” routine. The two of us really bonded over this experience and became closer friends after that. We also ended up as two of four teacher sponsors on a trip to Europe and led a small group of students to the Leaning Tower of Pisa and almost lost a traveler in the Coliseum – oh wait, that was Moreen taking pictures 😉 Yes, we had our laughs on that trip. It’s kind of sad that once one moves on from a job, they lose touch with people that were close co-workers but the whole purpose of these gratitude posts is to let them know they mattered! Thanks Moreen for making my time at Burnett awesome and for being a good friend to me! Happy July 25th to us!!

January 9 – what a trip

169/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Sometimes you don’t even realize that a person has had an influence on you until much later – this is the case with Pedro D. I met Pedro as a teacher at Burnett when he joined the department I was in as the Computer Studies teacher but it meant the move of a teacher who was already in the position. Pedro applied and was hired all above board and by the book – but we in the department were sad to see his predecessor go as we bonded with him and wanted him to continue on but we reluctantly welcomed Pedro and I’m sure he felt a bit awkward coming into a well established department. Hey, if I’m anything, I am honest! In no time at all, Pedro became a part of the department and we all forgot about what’s his name – I kid 😉 But yes, Pedro fit in very well with the department and helped me out whenever I had a computer issue or found problems with any of the software I was using in my classes. We all worked as a team and I got to know him well also through social gatherings. However, you really get to know a person when you are traveling with them and that’s what also happened. Pedro organized a trip to Europe for the students and ended up with so many students that he was able to take 3 other staff members as chaperones and he asked me to be one. Although this was out of my comfort zone, I was very excited to go and had a great time – I’m sure he could elaborate on my naivety around a lot of things and my expertise at others – I got to know Pedro really well as the two male teachers had to share a room LOL. But seriously, it takes a lot to fluster him as he is a laid back teacher and has this way of speaking that just brings a calmness to what otherwise could be a chaotic situation plus he is fazed by very little. His leadership style is also the same and no wonder he ended up moving through the ranks and becoming a principal. I was truly sad to see him leave the school but really happy for him. He left in me the love of traveling with students where I have also led a couple of trips myself. Cheers to you Pedro, in your honour, here’s to getting my passport renewed.