Category Archives: giving thanks

Weekend wishes and summer dreams

Oh my goodness, the day has slipped away and I understand how a student can be surprised when deadlines loom and a project is not near done.  “Busywork”- that is what it is called; when one is truly hustling yet has little for others to take note of – despite the energy expended.  

Must be seasonal.  Confession: I enjoy summer school and have for years, participating as a student, teaching as an adult.  Now that it is May, I have the same sense many experience during the last weeks of  August, an expectation of classes and a renewal of sorts. 

With the beautiful weather expected to hold over the weekend and all sorts of local events happening I wish everyone a super pleasant Mother’s Day – if you are celebrating and, if not- a great weekend regardless.

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Unusual ways to celebrate Mother’s day-home and school + freebies

https://secure1.heifer.org/gift-catalog?msource=SOMDD12TW12   This site offers ways to help others in need; purchase a cow and feed a community!

http://www.ploughshares.org/mothers-day?gclid=CMiK5Yun868CFbMEQAodrCALVg

Mother’s Day is May 13, 2012 ( for a list of other dates around the world see below) . It’s easy to send a thoughtful and personalized gift, letting the mother in your life know that you share her wish for a more peaceful, nuclear-free world.

http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/holidays/mothersday/mothers_day  Ok these recipes look so amazing; they are almost non-traditional!

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/05/04/mothers-day-giving-back_n_1478942.html  find 10 suggestions for giving back-http://www.womenforwomen.org/campaigns-for-women/mothers-day.php?src=MD2012PS&gclid=CKTxsauu868CFY0BQAodbVZsZA – helping to build lives post war…

http://www.helpothers.org/cards.php  smile cards have been going around since 2003

speaking of going around- Mother’s day around the world alphabetically organized: http://www.whsv.com/seasonal/misc/42915822.html

More on the history plus some trivia listed under fun facts; http://www.chiff.com/home_life/holiday/mothers-day-history.htm

and for school kids everywhere: for elementary grades

freebies from: http://mrsrubinsclass.blogspot.ca/2012/05/wow.html 

slightly older children may like to help pick out the flowers in addition to creating their own arts and crafts;   http://www.artistshelpingchildren.org/mothersdaygiftsartscrafstideaskidskidsprojects.html

 I have seen the beautiful creations made by a local florist –

  ask for Yien at  http://www.ellisflowers.ca/about-us/our-team    remember to place an order in advance so they can be delivered fresh and on time http://www.ellisflowers.ca/products

Enjoy the day, whether celebrating this week or on one of the other dates globally; Mother’s Day is officially declared:  http://projectbritain.com/mothers/index.html

And if you are like me – the more homemade the gift the better!

 

Sound and light shows

Given the flooding that recently hit the east coast I now realize that the storm I was listening to and seeing flash across my otherwise calm skies managed to leave a great deal of damage in its wake.  This note was written on Saturday evening, August 27th, and upon wakening to news of the flood I hesitated to share it… see post script as well, thank you …

It’s raining, it’s pouring and the last thing I want to do is fall asleep and start snoring…I confess, I LIKE a good rain storm.  The sound and light show this past hour has been terrific, rock concert loud with electricity appearing to be bouncing off the lower than usual flying planes on route to landing.  And I am the only one on my street standing outside revelling in it! It could come from my enjoyment of movies, where rain is such an often used symbol for change, but I; I don’t know, but ever since I first learned about Thor and the others who might be wreaking havoc or simply playing a game of bowling in the sky I have enjoyed contemplating what (other than the scientific facts) might be going on up in the skies. Which brings me back to the Humanities, the wonderful fables, analogies, myths, legends, archetypal legends, and narratives that suggest how rain is both a fertility symbol (plants do need rain to grow) and a cleansing, quieting prelude to new beginnings.  The images are strong and can be found throughout cultures- My front door was wide open, and Nature’s Rain Stick was helping me plan for tomorrow-

The News of Hurricane Irene brought home the strong potent reminder that “Nature” can be a lot more than merely entertaining.  While I had enjoyed the power that the sky was sharing, and been distracted from personal worries by the local storm (Toronto was not affected by Hurricane Irene) many were experiencing horrific scenes:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/americas/irenes-death-toll-jumps-as-us-towns-battle-floods-millions-wait-for-power/article2145442/

“We were expecting heavy rains,” said Bobbi-Jean Jeun of Clarksville, a hamlet near Albany, N.Y. “We were expecting flooding. We weren’t expecting devastation. It looks like somebody set a bomb off.”

Irene killed at least five people in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The first known casualty was a woman who died trying to cross a swollen river in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.

The death toll for 11 eastern U.S. states had stood at 21 as of Sunday night, then rose sharply to at least 38 as bodies were pulled from floodwaters and people were struck by falling trees or electrocuted by downed power…”  (Globe and Mail see ink above)

Not exactly the simple poetry of idyllic walks or fantastic dreams- a harsh reminder to respect nature and our place within it. 

 

 

I do not like my computer right now-

I confess: I find some activities super energizing and others just plain tiresome.  I am constantly trying to “love” learning more about the inner workings of this machine, but know I am not going to become a “techie” any day soon.  In fact, I constantly amaze myself by how much more there is to learn before I will be able to claim to be treating this computer as much more than a glorified typewriter.

What then does keep me slogging away at the keyboard and attempting understanding of computer codes?  An irritating inability to quit and admit defeat.  I want to understand the computer with the same ease and fluency that many of my students exhibit.  Earlier today, my painstaking gathering of email addresses in alphabetical order so that I could issue a (new for me) marketing blurb was something that another, more skilled user, might have accomplished in under 1/2 an hour- and I didn’t feel that marvellous once the deed was done.  Yet creating the brochure had been a lot of fun, and the follow up of sending it forth ought to have elicited, if nothing else, a sense of relief. Done, and done…

The tedium then must be the result of my recognizing that little technique had been exhibited in the actual sending of the mail, just painstaking repetition, and as often happens when I think about learning, I began to wonder how to make the experience not only more enjoyable for myself, but also how to remember that feeling; how to best understand the efforts many students offer- efforts that suggest the students remain confused about where and how to improve their written submissions, just as I remain puzzled over what button I could have pressed to speed up this afternoon’s process.

This machine has “a lot of potential”.  We describe students the same way, and a report might suggest “Bobby is/is not working to ‘potential’”.  But what is potential?  And how annoying to offer that remark on a report without more clearly defining goals and steps that could be taken to achieve them.  As I prepare for the upcoming school year and excitedly look forward to reconnecting with students and their families and hearing from others who are in new situations, I have decided to challenge the whole notion of “potential” and replace the term with others I find more satisfactory: acquiring, achieving, absorbing, demonstrating, focusing on, and uh hmmm, and learning.  And should I see that “Bobby” is finding something tiresome, I will remember what it feels like to struggle with an unknowable task – and change direction.  Learning through doing? Certainly.  But also learning with understanding. Nike may have a point with their “just do it” slogan, but it is also about doing it right.

SHARING OPPORTUNITY!

OPPORTUNITY

by: Edward Rowland Sill (1841-1887)

THIS I beheld, or dreamed it in a dream:–

There spread a cloud of dust along a plain;

And underneath the cloud, or in it, raged

A furious battle, and men yelled, and swords

Shocked upon swords and shields. A prince’s banner

Wavered, then staggered backward, hemmed by foes.

A craven hung along the battle’s edge,

And thought, “Had I a sword of keener steel–

That blue blade that the king’s son bears, — but this

Blunt thing–!” he snapped and flung it from his hand,

And lowering crept away and left the field.

Then came the king’s son, wounded, sore bestead,

And weaponless, and saw the broken sword,

Hilt-buried in the dry and trodden sand,

And ran and snatched it, and with battle shout

Lifted afresh he hewed his enemy down,

And saved a great cause that heroic day.

“Opportunity” is reprinted from The Little Book of American Poets: 1787-1900. Ed. Jessie B. Rittenhouse. Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1915.

 

 

Musings on Power

Got up and took a hot shower this morning and gave thanks for small blessings-

Did everyone enjoy the recent long weekend?  We, my children and I, spent the time from June 30 through July 4 without electricity due to a fault in the power line.  Amazing what we take for granted like the use of a stove, fridge, tv, internet, washing machine, dryer, phone numbers on phone, light in the evening and early morning, and yes, that wonderful hot water.  My kids being younger and imbued with the spirit of adventure took cold showers for the first two days, then accepted a neighbour’s generous offer and showered next door.  And we camped in the city filling a large picnic hamper with ice to chill small items like milk and cheese, and discovered a new use for tea lights when I placed twenty tea lights in a cake pan and by lighting all made a hot plate that really did slowly warm items. We even experimented with a bar-b-que kit purchased at a Shoppers’ drug mart for just over $6.00!  But I won’t even pretend that it was fun.

Now though, when I think of power and what it means to flick a switch and have something/anything turn on, I know the beauty of peace- it works.  I can imagine how ridiculous I must have sounded to the phone operator when calling our energy company to say that our air conditioning unit was controlling our home! It was! The air conditioning unit had somehow become the home’s main power switch and the only way to keep the power running was to continuously turn down the thermostat- at 14 degrees were freezing; I called the company to send out a technician and he put in writing that he had never experienced anything like this before.  Hmm- but didn’t know what to do.  Enter a real electrician and four and 1/2 hours in the hot sun later and a rewired meter box- but- this being the long weekend no hydro inspectors were available to connect the newly wired box to the main line.  And so we waited, giving me plenty of time to contemplate the word “power” and all that it suggests.

We as teachers do have a form of power- and like any type of power this must be handled carefully.   As I work with summer students and prepare for the new school term I am extremely aware of the expectations students have and the pressures they encounter. Like my current home’s formerly blocked power system, (now in working order) often a student will benefit from having the pressure turned down to low to allow for new ideas to circulate.  Sometimes the student may benefit the most when learning is begun anew, with a focus on the here and now, and fresh connections being formed – so that a student may experience his/her own power surge through mastery and control of the process.  A flick of the switch? No- but well timed intervention to encourage growth and renewal. 

 

Summer and Volunteer hours

Often I discuss basics relating to education, and volunteering is one of the better ways to gain experiential knowledge.

I love sharing great websites- what makes a website great?

When a website does offer helpful information in an easy to apply format-

The following comes from Patricia Rossi, America’s Etiquette and Protocol Coach,who is based in Florida, and her comments relating to “Intern Success Secrets” apply to the many students here in Toronto who are gaining community service hours this summer. 

Some tips to help you get ahead:

  • Be professional. Take your responsibilities seriously and treat your internship as if it were a full-time job.
  • Dress for success. Make sure you dress appropriately by observing what your co-workers are wearing. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.
  • Be punctual. Make sure you show up for work on time, including after lunch and breaks. Tardiness is not a quality potential employers are looking for. Also, do your best to avoid missing work. If you must take time off, be sure to request permission in advance.
  • Develop a good rapport with the boss. Don’t complain about the tasks you are given and even offer to do the project no one else wants to do. Don’t underestimate a menial chore, as it is just one more task that teaches you how an office works.
  • Find a balance. Be proactive by identifying office needs. This will demonstrate initiative and motivation. But, be sure to find a nice balance so you don’t appear to be a brown-nose or overly confident.
  • Approach your work with enthusiasm. Even though some projects may not appear too exciting, your eagerness may convince supervisors to give you bigger responsibilities.
    • Watch for growth and training opportunities. If there is a project that interests you, ask a supervisor if there is anything you can do to help. Let them know your interest in the project. Never stop learning!
    • Build a network. Be polite and courteous to everyone and establish valuable connections. Getting to know people in the company may lead to great opportunities. Try to set up informational interviews with various staff members. Always avoid office gossip.
    • Relax and have some fun. An internship probably won’t make you rich, but it has the potential to be very rewarding. Make the most of your experience and it will help get you started on the right career path.

    Wishing you much happiness and success!