July 22 – U

363/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Wow, only 3 more gratitude posts left including this one!!  When I started this journey a year ago, I was a little nervous as to if I would have 365 people to thank.  I didn’t want it to come down to posts such as thanking my mailman for the flyers he delivers in that they were the ones that led me on to some awesome deal!! ; )  Early on in these posts, I started hearing from friends that so and so had made “the list”.  I didn’t understand what that was until I was told that it was my “gratitude list”.  That put some pressure on me to say the least as there was now a “list”.  I didn’t want it to be a list and I didn’t want it to be some type of contest.  Then I heard that some people mentioned they were in the 80s and others were in the 200s!  I do have to make it clear that I haven’t had an order as to who I thank and thus whatever number gratitude post it was has no relation to ranking.  Most posts are the night before or a couple of days before.  Yes, I saved my dad for his birthday as I did with my children for theirs, my mom was first because well she is my mom but save for them and the final two gratitude posts, no one had a day or a number.  The list by the end of Sunday is far from complete.  I could thank another 365 people who got me to where I am today and this is what today’s gratitude post is about – to all of the people I didn’t name and there are hundreds of you that have impacted me!  So many former students, co-workers past and present, family members, inlaws, bosses, professors, fellow students, random strangers, neighbours past and present, friends, backhanded gratitudees (bullies and the like), service providers, celebrities etc, etc – just so many people who have made me who I am and to all of you un-named in this past year, you are part of this gratitude journey just because you were not personally mentioned here doesn’t mean you weren’t recognized by me.  To all the new people that will come in to my life, thanking you in advance as some of you will change and influence me in new ways.  Thank you to all of you who came along with me on this 365 day journey as well.  Your encouragement and support has gotten me to this end point.


July 15 – school’s out forever

356/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  This gratitude post is for every former student who has stayed in touch with me/kept in contact with me.  For those who are on my Facebook feed and will give an occasional comment or a like on some ridiculous life event that I have posted, I appreciate you.  For those who spot me in a restaurant or pub and come up and shake hands/give me a hug, I am honoured.  For those who are going about their life be it at an event or working in the community and I happen to be there unknowingly and you go out of your way to say hi, I am moved.  For those of you who throw out a text and ask to connect over beers/movie/dinner, I feel privileged.  For those of you who take it upon yourselves (years later) to send me a shout out telling me how I affected you positively, I am beyond words.  I feel I have been very fortunate to have become a teacher but it’s all because of the amazing former students that I got to work with.  The majority were from Burnett – 16 years’ worth!! I have only been at McNair for four years so the legacy is just being created as of yet but there are the rare few that fit into this category and I was only in Vancouver for two years at different schools and thus, made minimal connections.  Although this gratitude post might be short in length, it’s huge in how I feel about the students I have worked with – just because you didn’t get a personal shout out during this past year doesn’t mean you didn’t impact me in some form as we all have different ways of connecting but thank you to all of you who have passed through my doors but more importantly to all of you that I still “connect” with.

June 29 – McNair

340/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I didn’t think this group was going to make the cut but it has. Last night was the McNair staff year end windup party and it was epic! I realized as I was socializing that I enjoy these people and that I have made quite a few friends over the last four years and I didn’t think I was going to when I first started. My initial two years were basically hell but I am also to blame as I believe I made it a self-fulfilling prophecy in that I was not going to like McNair and I made it happen. I also tried to apply out of the school to other jobs at other schools but each time I did, someone who was laid off got top priority for the jobs I wanted. This was the first year that I didn’t apply for any job and that is when I realized that I actually like it here. Yes, the students at this school have a lot to do with it but the social being that is me thrives on the relationships and I’ve built and I’ve built quite a few good ones with co-workers here (sadly having to say goodbye to a few of them today as they are leaving the school through no choice of their own). To my colleagues and friends at McNair, thank you for accepting me into the school when I really didn’t accept myself here and for bearing with me until I made McNair my home. I look forward to working with my McNair buddies for years to come – okay, six hopefully before I retire! 😉 In your honour, I will be sipping many a drink on a patio as summer is officially here!

June 27 – Burnett

338/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  If you’ve read my Facebook posts in the last week, you no doubt have heard that I finally have consciously decided that I belong at the school I have been teaching at for the past four years – in fact, I had not unpacked my boxes in all those years on some subconscious hope of perhaps moving back longing for my old school – Burnett.  It was not the students, it was not the building, it was not the teaching load – it was the people I worked with at Burnett.  I remember upon leaving to teach at UBC (7 years ago) that I made a goodbye speech and in it, I was able to talk about a significant event that I had with each and every staff member from the janitor to the principal, from the secretary to the teaching assistant, from the teachers to the business assistant – that’s how involved I was with the social aspect and making connections with all of my co-workers.  Of course, I didn’t know everyone on a deep personal level but I did know many and I valued that.  Tonight, was a Burnett year end party and I was invited as I was and will always be (according to the hostess) a Burnetter at heart.  I was excited and as soon as I got there, instantly old friendships were rekindled and current ones were tended to.  I missed talking to my friends but I also realized that I have moved on of course physically but more importantly psychologically – the unpacking of the boxes was both literal and metaphorical.  Yes, Burnett was my first real home for sixteen teaching years as I was only in Vancouver for two years (at a different high school each year) but I am no longer a part of the current Burnett.  That doesn’t mean that I no longer associate with the school but now I accept and associate with the Burnett staff but belong at McNair – that’s where I am supposed to be.  Tonight’s party revealed that Burnett had an amazing staff that I worked with over my career there and I am very grateful for sharing the space with such awesome people and want to thank everyone who made my time there enjoyable and I am so glad that I still keep in touch with so many of you – you made me that much of a better teacher!  I do the Breaker Wave in your honour!

June 20 – 12s

331/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  So here we are at the end of another school year.  Sadly, they are going way too fast and becoming like blurs which means I’m aging real fast (only 6 years away from retiring full pension – yikes!!).  The thing that keeps me going though is the grade 12s that I teach.  I love having intelligent, insightful conversations for the most part and I also love the fact that they get my sense of humour and I absolutely love pushing the educational envelope and they love ripping it open to get at the content.  I give props to my elementary comrades – I could never do that job.  First of all, I don’t like being touched without my consent – thus, having all these young hands pulling and prodding me would drive me crazy and second and more importantly, my sarcasm would be wasted on them and of course they would go home crying and I’d be fired 😉  Now these grade 12s – they amaze me with their talent and knowledge and insight.  I mean this year I taught a guy who was a  wicked videographer, a guy who just said it like it was, the girl who became the second person ever to score 100% on the psych final paper, the girl who was the psyvivor winner who played it amazingly well, the braniac accounting student…the list goes on and they were all in grade 12.  Each and every year, I am inspired and my love for teaching increases that much so.  I am already looking forward to next year’s crop of grade 12s and what they will bring to my classes as I have taught several of them in junior grades.  Yes, I have won a lottery in life to be able to wake up every day and go to work in a job that I absolutely love and a big part of that is the Grade 12s that I get to work with!  Happy grad to this year’s crop, and happy lives to my former Grade 12s and I can’t wait to work with my future Grade 12s!  I throw my proverbial grad cap in the air in your honour!

May 30 – international life

310/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Okay, I’m going to admit a flaw in myself.  A teaching flaw.  I was one of those teachers who prefer his students in class all understand and dialogue in English.  No, not because it makes my job easier (although that is a great benefit that some of my teacher brethren and sistren may take for granted based on where they teach) but rather, I feel that the students who can’t understand me are at a loss and might be hating the class.  This phenomenon of more and more non-English speaking students is becoming quite common place in grade 11 and 12 (especially in Richmond where a lot of funding comes from International Student enrolment).  I know that I, as teacher, need to respond to the new face of the classroom but then I decided that perhaps not.  Yes, I use a lot of group work as I feel it’s beneficial for students to be working with different students and if I were to all of a sudden eliminate that aspect, I really wouldn’t be doing English speaking students as well as International students any favours as the educational experience would be watered down by catering to a smaller minority in class.  The other thing I learned from having International students is that most, if not all, want the true Western educational experience.  I have students from Venezuela, China, and Brazil in my classes and I am finding that almost all of them have competent enough English to have a conversation and try hard to do the work.  I, as well as the regular students, have benefitted from the International students’ experiences when we hear about what their home schooling is like.  I am not saying that all the International students are forthcoming but those that do share enlighten me and keep me teaching the way I teach as I have been told that although it is quite different from what they are used to, they enjoy it and are learning.  Thus, I am glad that I got over my initial aversion to having non-native English speakers in my class as I have greatly benefitted from what they have brought to my classrooms.  Do I want a whole class of non-native speakers – oh hellz no, I taught ESL/ELL learners for one year and that was enough 😉 but a good balanced mix is what I prefer and look forward to as everyone benefits.

May 18 – i’m runner-up

298/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  New workplaces are tough.  No matter how competent one is, there is still that feeling of stepping into unfamiliar surroundings and being judged because you are the new person.  I worked at my old school for a good 16 years getting very comfortable and having my own “place” and not realizing I needed a change until I actually did it.  I ended up at UBC for three years and then have been in my current teaching role at McNair Secondary for four years.  Being at this new school has had its challenges and rewards as you would have realized from some of these gratitude posts.  If not for a select few people that I met and bonded with, I would have found a different work environment.  Yes, I absolutely love working with the students at the school – diversity personified but what puts any job over the top for me are the co-workers.  My first year, I was trying to find my place with the staff and that is when I met Dave; however, we have become better friends and colleagues as the years have progressed.  What drew me to Dave were two things: first off, he is one of the absolute nicest guys I have ever met.  He sees/can find the good in everyone and has on several occasions got me to rethink my perceptions as I just have evil tinted glasses 😉  But seriously, he has a perspective that has really had influence on me especially coming into a new environment.  The second reason and oh so more importantly, Dave has immaculate fashion sense!!  I have never been second to any man when it comes to fashion; however, here I am at McNair and I’m runner up – yup, I feel your pain Miss Colombia!  He’s one of the first guys that I have asked about shoes!  LOL Yes people it’s 2016 and we metrosexuals (that’s so 1994!! 😉 ) can talk about clothing and I can admit it when a guy has impeccable style and Dave so does.  On a serious note though, we have talked educational philosophies and I’ve been enlightened by him on a number of occasions and I am very glad to call him my friend and so glad that I work with him.  Thank you Dave for bringing me into the fold, checking in on me, stopping by in my class to share teacher stories and for just being an all around awesome guy!  We should all be so lucky to have co-workers like you!

May 10 – the quirky ones

290/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Left of center.  I’ve heard that about me.  I’ve also heard that about some of the students that I have taught over the years.  I have never taken it as an insult.  I am proud to be far from the norm – yes, as a child I longed to be in the center but got so used to being on the outside that I made it all mine and shifted the view of what center was.  Throughout my career, I have taught those kids who are left of center.  I see myself in them.  I want to be their advocate but more than that, I want them to have a place in my classroom.  I didn’t have that and that’s one of the main reasons why I went into teaching – to make the difference for someone that was rarely extended to me.  I was reminded of that today.  I have had a student in my classes for the last three years.  He is not “special” in that sense of the word but he is different.  He can read social cues but chooses to ignore them.  He participates and is opinionated and says things that at times don’t make traditional sense to the chagrin of his classmates.  I allow him to express himself as there is insight behind his observations but at times, even for myself as teacher, it is draining but I am reminded that everyone has the right to feel a part of the classroom.  Yes, today he took it in a different direction and the dynamic shifted quite quickly but I was cognizant that I had to ensure that his feelings were respected as well as those of others in the class.  It was a difficult task but students like this one are what keep teachers on their toes always thinking a few steps ahead.  I knew which action NOT to take – shut him down completely, reprimand him, talk down to him – those options are limitless but as I noticed him becoming aware of what was going on in the classroom, he started to get embarrassed and withdrew especially because I interjected by telling him to stop as the conversation started to devolve and fellow students were getting riled up.  I knew I had made a mistake in that moment for him and I took it upon myself to find him during lunch to no avail and eventually had a heart to heart after school giving him encouragement, talking about the positives over the last three years but also respecting perspectives of others.  In the end, given his intelligence he was able to understand what I was getting at and I also understood the point he was trying to make – life lesson for both him and myself. Yes, today was a day with a not so great teaching moment but more importantly it was a learning experience.   I have all sorts of students and usually the focus is on the easy ones but the quirky, out there ones are the reason why I went into teaching and those are the students I need to be reminded about as those are the ones that may relate to me and I could make a difference for.

May 2 – biz ed

282/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Have you ever downplayed anything about you?  I realized today that I have been for about 30+ years.  When I am asked what I teach, I rarely if ever mention my Business Education courses – Accounting, Keyboarding etc.  I almost always say Psychology and Marketing.  I reflected today and know exactly why – people often assume that given a Bachelors of Commerce degree in my background and my subject area, I must be intelligent but intelligent in the classic sense of the word.  I am far from that person but I totally relate to their assumptions in that I have/had the same notions about fellow Business teachers.  But today, at a Pro D meeting with my colleagues from the east-side schools from the Business Education arena, I realized that in fact we were all very interesting and did not typify the view one (namely me) has of such teachers;  old, archaic, stuck in their ways, curmudgeonly, lacking a sense of humour, focused, numbers oriented, Business is their life, robotic humans.  In fact all of us – ranging from close to retirement age down to freshly starting our careers, were lively and humourous, cracking jokes and making light of our job situations in times of declining enrolment.  None of us came off as the stereotypical Business Educator.  None of us were complaining.  All of us had personalities.  This reflecting got me to thinking about other Business Educators within the district and outside that I have worked with and yes, I can say that the majority do not fit the stereotype – yes, there are some who do but that’s what makes a stereotype enduring as there will always be people who fit it.  But for those of you outside the Business Educator box, so glad you bring that perspective to our career and broaden the definition of what it is to be a Business Teacher.  No, I’m not ready to start introducing myself as a Business teacher but I might be ready to add that I teach Accounting in addition to Psychology and Marketing 😉

April 30 – not a lone Wolfe

280/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  I’ll admit it – I’m a bit, okay, a lot superficial.  I really don’t pay attention to news or politics; however, I can tell you who got voted out last night from most reality shows!!  Okay, if I’m being honest, I also didn’t vote for most of my life.  I only started voting in the last 5 years.  Before you lose it on me, hear me out.  I felt that an uninformed vote was worse than no vote and thus, I refrained from voting for most of my life.  I didn’t and still don’t trust most politicians and would rather not vote with the understanding that I can’t complain because I didn’t exercise my right.   So backtracking – I was working at UBC and would have to do the hour long commute and one political season, all the candidates for mayor were on the side of the road with their entourages and there was Green Party candidate Michael!  All by himself.  For that entire week, he was there on his own every morning during the rush hour commute.  Yes, the other parties had hordes of people waving signs and balloons but there was Michael on his own and that got to me.  I did some research on the Green Party and realized that my views were totally what Michael and the party stood for.  Yes, that was the first year that I voted because I felt represented because the party’s views were mine and I felt that my vote, although not making a difference in the overall big picture, mattered in that it was what I believed in.  Fast forward about 5 years and here I am in a new teaching position at McNair and who is teaching with me but Michael!  I am amazed by him!  He is the first person that I’ve met who 100% lives by what he preaches – he started an Environment club.  He created a sustainable courtyard.  He spends countless hours outside of the classroom ensuring that students who are interested in things outside of the curriculum (other than sports – argggh!!) are able to express themselves and be a part of the school community.  I also have to say that any event I hold – from a Cancer fundraiser to a social gathering to a reality pool invite, Michael is right there supporting me!  I am so glad that I have gotten to know him over the last 4 years but I’m even happier that he has had a lasting influence on me because of his concern for the environment and our carbon footprint.  Here’s to you my buddy Michael, I turn off extra lights in your honour!