Monthly Archives: March 2012

The countdown is on…

Report cards are finished, IPPs completed and signed, and the Demonstration of Learning has come and gone. I love my job but this week I was tired. Anybody else?

Actually, I think the kids are tired too. They seem ready for a mental break. Spring Break is more than a time to jet-set somewhere warm. For those of us in a school, Spring Break is a time to rejuvenate and rest to gear up for the remaining three months of the school year.

Individuals outside of education often ‘joke’ about the hours of teachers. Somehow they truly seem to believe that we only work 6 hours a day and 10 months of the year. If that were the case I could go home at 1 pm each day and not do any work at home… imagine!

It can be difficult to articulate the emotional, physical and psychological demands of this job to someone who has never experienced it. At the end of each day, it can be difficult to leave behind thoughts of the troubled student, the to-do list and the mounds of paper waiting on our desks.

Never fear: spring break is in sight. Enjoy your well-deserved break!

Silence

I can recall many moments of silence in my life. It is in those moments when I have found clarity, made some of the biggest decisions of my life and have even been the most creative. Do kids these days ever have moments of true silence or even boredom? As I was driving at 6:45 the other morning I noticed a van beside me playing a movie for the kids in the backseat. Now, I’m not judging. Just thinking. Are there moments when kids don’t have a television, tablet or telephone in their clutches? Are there moments when they do not have external stimulation? Are there moments when they are ‘forced’ to be creative and just play?

Speaking of stimulation, I’ve noticed that I myself rarely do one thing at a time any more. While watching television, I’m often on the computer. During commercials, I’m flipping to watch another channel. While waiting in line, I’m checking email. While washing dishes, I’m talking on the telephone. Multitasking does not often afford the luxury of deep, reflective thinking.

At one point in my life, I remember finding silence and even experiencing boredom. That concept now sometimes seems unattainable with all of the stimulation around us. We must be deliberate in turning off all devices and choosing silence. How long could you go without your television, tablet or telephone? Does the very idea frighten you? In that silence and lack of stimulation, we might just discover our true thoughts, our true selves.

In moments of ‘boredom’ as a child, my brothers and I would soon be creating worlds out of lego… we would find ourselves outside in a pick-up game of shinny with the neighbourhood kids… the warm playdough mom just made would soon be animals, real and imagined… pencil, paper and crayons came together to create story. In moments of silence, dreams of my future bubbled in my brain. I would hate to rob today’s children of those experiences.

“Nothing is more useful than silence.” (Menander 342 – 292 BC) 

Indeed. Silence can nourish us in unexpected ways. Try it sometime…

 

Our turn to learn!

Last Wednesday, one of my students asked, “What do you do at teachers’ convention?” I explained that convention is our turn to learn, giving a few specific examples. He looked at me intently and said, “Don’t you know those things already?”

On Friday morning, Roberta Bondar answered his question perfectly… we must always allow room to relearn, reassess, reevaluate, shift or change our viewpoint. Our understanding of the world is limited to today’s understanding. We do not know who we will be or what we might discover tomorrow.

So, what did I learn at convention this year? I learned to appreciate much in my life: freedom of speech, access to food any time I please, the view of the sky, the compassion of those around me. I learned to appreciate the predictability of my days and the enormity of my freedom. I learned the power of an individual with a heart open to forgiveness. I learned that though the problems in our world are daunting, education is often the answer.

From whom did I learn this? Amanda Lindhout spoke about the 460 days she was held captive in Somalia. She, and others during convention, reinforced the power of education. It is only in its absence, that we come to realize its power. Lindhout’s Somali captors were boys really, most of them orphaned, all of them with violent, famished pasts: education no more than a dream. As she came to know her young captors over many months, she realized that these boys were much the same as boys their age in Canada… yet without opportunity.

Had these children been educated, perhaps they would not have sought belonging in the violent endeavours of this group. Had these children been educated, perhaps they would have seen how they could have a positive impact in the world. Had these children been educated, perhaps they would seek ways to improve the living conditions of their country. Had these children been educated, perhaps they would live in hope rather than day to day desperation.

Is there value in convention then? Did I shift or reevaluate my perspective? Will I return to school a better educator, a better leader?

I will return with a renewed sense of purpose and a newfound gratitude for this place we call school.

There is always value in learning.