Mixed emotions fill my heart today. I’m staying up, prolonging what tomorrow will bring. As a teacher, I have spent most of my career in such a fabulous place. Thamesford Public School, has been wonderful to me. It will be tough to leave close friends and a caring community for the great unknown.
I do look forward to something fresh, since that’s what life is all about. Change is good, and it’s time I had some. So, I look forward to shorter drives, longer family time, and fresh faces at my new school.
Teachers become attached to their schools. We gain friends and familiarity, which makes work feel like family time. We watch our students learn and grow as they move through their education journey. Tonight I attended grad and was so inspired by the passion and drive those graduates displayed.
Cheers! To new beginnings!
I’ll leave you with the goodbye poem I plan to say tomorrow during the final assembly. I hope I don’t cry when I’m up there since they call me concrete around there. Oh well, even concrete cracks…so let’s just wait-and-see what happens.
P.S. If you’re a teacher….or just curious, stop by my classroom website and check-out our stop motion animation art work. It was great fun! Click on “Ms. Solway’s,” below in the poem title.
To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly. ~Henri Bergson
After you’ve done a thing the same way for two years, look it over carefully. After five years, look at it with suspicion. And after ten years, throw it away and start all over. ~Alfred Edward Perlman, New York Times, 3 July 1958.
I wish I could say definitively, that I’ve always been the type who enjoys change. But that would be a white lie. At times my desire to change-things-up, to try something new, or to adjust accordingly have been my best qualities. As a teacher, things pop up out of nowhere, all the time. Planning a school day, down to the minute, is just pointless and very frustrating. We all work in a place where things pop-up and our approach, strategy, technique, or model needs to change. Change equals growth. Change is when we learn new things, and when we learn what we’re made of.
Yes, there are some who know me who would say that I, “go with the flow”, I’m flexible and adaptable, or easygoing. Other people might say I’m highly specific, routine, and consistent…or constant. What I will say though, is I am far from being: rigid, inflexible, controlling (ummm most of the time), or uptight.
I think we all enjoy change, at some point in time. Some of us demand change to be able to stay interested, engaged, or fresh. Others like consistency and routine because it’s comfortable there, or we like to practice and fine-tune things while they stay in one place (that’s me). These people like change…after they feel they’ve absorbed and grown fully from that encounter, or experience. Really, when the target stays in one place, we can practice over-and-over until we hit it. LOL, that sounded a lot like controlling and rigid. Whoops!
When life gets busy, complicated, or too many things are rolling down at once, I get uneasy and feel the chaos coming. I quickly try to CREATE and FIND routines. I look for calm and serenity by creating patterns and predictability. In some instances, I have found this to be very helpful and effective. But some things in life DO NOT lend themselves to patterns, routines, and predictability. So, approaching them as such, leads to failure and frustration. So, this is where it is better to play your flexible and adaptable cards.
What I do believe is this, change keeps things interesting. When things change, I pay attention, I engage, I tune-in, I’m in the moment, I take in the information, I show interest.
Change is good! We all grow with change and we reengage with life. We meet new people, try new things, learn new ways, and find new passion. I’m due for a change. So, after teaching at Thamesford Public School for the past nine years, I am packing up to head to a school closer to home. It is another step closer to simplifying life, so I can have more fun living it!!
I must admit, I was quite excited when Coach Sue, over at, “The Courage To Adventure Blog” sent me a message to tell me she was nominating me for the, “One Lovely Blog Award”. I am grateful and honoured, to receive this “gift” from one of my favourite bloggers. Coach Sue consistently posts blogs that are inspiring, positive, insightful…and real. When I read her posts, I come away feeling more relaxed, invigorated and enlightened. So, you have to go and visit Coach Sue! Thank you for the nomination!
Like all blogging awards, the “One Lovely Blog Award” has a few requests of the nominee. I will do my best to follow the rules, but to be perfectly honest, I have NEVER been very good at doing that (lol). So, here are the rules:
Give generous thanks to the blogger that nominated you – Check!
Write seven things about yourself.
Make a list of 15 bloggers you admire and let them know how awesome they are! These folks are the next round of honorees for the “One Lovely Blog Award” (I have decided to stick with 10).
Here I go…
Seven things about myself:
1) My mom always called me her third son, since I was an extreme Tomboy from a young age. But with two fully stocked, testosterone brothers; I didn’t stand a chance at becoming a dignified, elegant, feminine lady.
2) I am sort of a published writer…sort of. Upon completing my Honours BA in Psychology, with thesis…my thesis went on to become part of a published article in the journal, Animal Cognition. The title of the article is, Chunking versus foraging search patterns by rats in the hierarchically baited radial maze. This explains a lot about me, doesn’t it? I studied animal behaviour. This does explain why I am such and effective grade six teacher (lol).
3) I played varsity volleyball (power hitter) and varsity soccer (goalkeeper) for the University of Windsor Lancers. Being a goalkeeper for a low ranking university soccer team is a very frustrating experience though, trust me.
4) I love teaching students, mentoring teachers, and doing anything related to learning about learning (that sounds awkward), see #2.
5) I think, operate, and approach life at mach speed.
6) I have struggled with bouts of perfectionism, but I think I have finally perfected my way out of it. Ba-ha-ha-ha!
7) Family time is my favourite time. When all four of us are together, everything just feels better.
Now it’s time to nominate some other worthy bloggers. To be honest, I only visit a handful of blogs because I tend to read every post and all comments. I try NOT to spend endless hours online, so although I do read a lot of blogs, I don’t follow fifteen. Many of the blogs I do visit are more commercial or professional and my understanding is that the “One Lovely Blog Award” is not really something they would re-post or acknowledge. I will list as many lovely blogs as I can. I would urge you to visit them, since they all do wonderful work in their own way.
After a full day of report card writing…I thought I would post a poem I attempted, after hiking one of our wonderful trails at the Lower Thames River Conservation Area. London, Ontario is known as the, Forest City and this is a title we certainly deserve.
Poetry is not really my thing, but I pretend to try every once in a while.
OUR FAMILIAR TRAIL
Out we are on our familiar trail, feeling a warm unexpected breeze.
My young ones march on through the mud, with a squish and a squelch.
Nimble they are, tippy-toeing along downed logs, pressing down in the thick mud.
Watch out! I call out, as mountain bikes whiz by!
SQUACK go their brakes, as the riders’ edge down the steep hill on two wheels.
The vitality in the wood vibrates, with animals, critters, and explorers carrying on.
Out on the pond their long, ebony necks dip-in, looking for lunch.
My young ones race ahead, taking every risk their path has to offer.
They beam with joy, planning every step, through muddy traps and slippery logs.
Detectives we become, seeking out our skinny, slithery friend.
SNAP goes the camera, over-and-over again. Did we capture his urgent attempts to hide?
We leave him be, and carry on to our destination. Civilization awaits.
Up high in the sky, competing with every chirp, tweet, bleat and caw.
Birds welcome this wonderful day in Spring.
Our adventure is complete and we bid farewell to our familiar trail.
Three sessions down, three more to go…we’re half-way there! As a grade 6 teacher in Ontario, I and thousands of my colleagues, are just trying to make it through the dreaded standardized testing period. We’re sweating in thirty-degree classrooms, gnawing on fingernails as we “wonder” what our students are writing, and popping Tylenol in the effort to relieve the stress headaches as we worry about our students.
Everyday, teachers all over the world work hard to design and deliver signature learning opportunities (this is a new buzz word in my school board, TVDSB) to students. We go deep into learning our grade’s curriculum, we research and network with other teachers trying to find new and engaging ways to deliver the curriculum. Then, we juggle every way possible to support our students as they try to learn a few thousand curriculum expectations. So, it becomes very difficult for teachers to sit and watch our students get thrown into such a foreign learning environment, as they write these standardized tests.
In Ontario, students write the EQAO standardized tests. Our testing is done in grades three, six, nine (Math), and ten (Literacy). Students sit down to write SIX sessions of testing. Some schools will take three days, completing two sessions per day, with each session taking 60, to 90, to 100+ minutes (depending on the student). Other schools will simply stretch out the six sessions over six days.
Well, the fact of the matter is, it is very difficult for our students to show their true learning and knowledge when the context for their learning is so severely compromised. You see, all great teachers would agree, students learn best when teachers differentiate:
our learning environment, and
our assessment strategies
When teaching to such a variety of learning styles, teachers work to design ways in which our students can demonstrate their learning to us, in a way that works for them. Quite honestly, today’s classroom is best-managed when there is vibrant discussion, collaborative learning, technology on board, and student choice in how they present their learning. In addition to that, teachers customize their instruction by teaching to small groups, or working one-on-one. Conference conversations are tailored by the teacher, to suit the needs of their students. In my classroom, we all walk away from a conference a little smarter, more confident, and more ready to be successful. This is teaching and learning at its finest, right?
As teachers, when we assess and evaluate our students in everyday practice, we encourage students to:
talk to their peers before writing or testing,
ask for clarification when they don’t understand,
look to the anchor charts on the walls to remind themselves of what is “good”, and
be mindful of our learning goals and success criteria
This is all in the name of student achievement! Well, that is all very well and good. But, then along comes standardized testing, which throws all of these carefully crafted instructional choices under the BUS!
The reason I am venting over this standardized testing model, is simply because the assessment style is polar OPPOSITE to how all teacher inservice asks teachers to deliver their instruction and assessment. So, what ends up happening to our students, is they are put into this completely foreign, alien-like classroom environment and given this one-size-fits-all string of assessment tasks. Students find the experience “abnormal”. They don’t know what to make of it, how to tackle it, or how to succeed in standardized testing conditions. Students feel so awkward (despite test preparations) that even if a they have all the knowledge and skills necessary for the assessment tasks, the environment and assessment style renders some of them, “knowledge-less”.
You see, humans often anchor their learning in context. Our learning is often tied to the exact context in which content was delivered. So, here is where standardized testing messes with the theory of, learning in context. In most classes today’s he context is this: students sit in table groups, brainstorming and sharing their thoughts through lessons and tasks, presenting information to their peers, using anchor charts from the explicit teaching, and checking-in with the teacher for clarification. NONE of this resembles the context during standardized testing. During standardized testing, students are expected to sit alone and in silence, only permitted to ask to have a question read verbatim (not clarified, or reworded), and to compose writing assignments and reading responses without talking about ideas first. Math is done 100% alone without sharing the wide range of tactics for which their peers may have tackled the same problem.
Creating this ALTERNATE context also messes with the student’s level of confidence and willingness to take risks. For example, being afraid of “being wrong” is not a feeling students in my class enjoy. Taking risks in unfamiliar territory has taken me a very long time to combat. So, the moment the desks are rearranged for standardized testing…many students lose their confidence, their willingness to take risks, and therefore… knowledge.
Yes, yes, yes. Teachers do a tremendous amount to prepare students for THE TEST. This post is not about getting into my philosophy of test preparation tactics. I also don’t feel the need to talk about the validity of standardized testing. I am not saying standardized testing should not be carried out. Nor am I saying the teaching and learning in school districts should never be assessed. I’m just trying to say that STANDARDIZED TESTING IN SCHOOLS IS ROUGH STUFF. It is hard on the students, the parents, the teachers, the administrators, the staff, and the district. Most importantly, standardized testing is rough on the NERVES. Thank goodness I am three school days away from being finished for yet another year.
Well, well, well. What can I say? Somewhere along the way…life got in the way of my blogging commitment. I’ve been busy at home doing renovations (they never seem to end), busy with the kids, and busy at work. But, it’s all been fun and enjoyable. I am happy to say, life is in a good place right now. Everyone around me is happy, healthy, and full of energy. You have to admit, this “phase” comes and goes, like a wild bikini style.
“Life with hiccups” has been a very dear friend to me. That is honestly the status I give to my blog…a friend. “Life with hiccups” listens to my every thought, shows compassion when I need it most, and brings in reinforcements in the form of my blogosphere friends (followers) when necessary. For all of you who come here to visit, thank you. A special thank you to those of you who take the time to leave a comment. After all, it’s the comments that distinguish our blogs from basic web pages, right? I’m glad I made the decision to start “Life with hiccups.” Blogging has been an outlet for me and it has turned my desire to write, into reality.
So, I know I’ve left my dear friend here, high-and-dry. But all dear friends are understanding. They come on board when you need them most, and they pick up where you left off, without skipping a beat.
Life is good, so live it while you can. Surely, none of us would prefer to live our lives online, when we’ve got friends and family to be with. Enjoy every day my friends…until next time!
Do you think good health, and wellness are created equally?
If you are in good health, does that mean you are well?
Wellness is one of those new buzz words in our society today. You’ve seen it, right? It’s this word we see posted all around us: in our our gyms, spas, supermarkets, and health centers. Like many of you, I walked past all those wellness posters, brochures, booklets, flyers, magazine headlines, and ads. I have to admit though, I always did a double-take. Clearly, something was resonating with me. In all honesty, I didn’t understand the true meaning of the word, wellness, either. I had always assumed wellness was a synonym for, healthy. Aaaaaand…since I’m the kind of person that never gets sick, I just kept passing-up on this wellness movement (watch where this arrogance takes me later).
The word wellness had a bit of a grip on me though. It made me curious, wanting to know more. I sensed I was missing-out on something big…and THAT is not my style! I enjoyed how positive and motivating wellness sounded when I said it to myself. I loved how the word felt when I gave it time to percolate in my mind. I knew I would explore it…when I was ready.
Well finally, the time in my life had come when change had become the norm. I decided I was ready to research wellness. So, I did what some of the world’s best researchers do…I GOOGLED it. I typed in, “What is wellness?” The first hit, took me to a website called (not even joking), Definition of Wellness. There, wellness is defined as, “a state of health, closely associated with your lifestyle.” I love how Definition of Wellness distinguishes between health, and wellness.
“While everyone agrees that the absence of illness is one part of being healthy, it doesn’t indicate whether you are in a state of well-being.”
When I read that line, my ears began to ring and my body temperature began to rise. I was officially inspired to push to get more out of life. Although I was free from illness, I had been feeling drab, tired, bored, experiencing joint pain, and lightheaded on a pretty regular basis. I wasn’t getting sick, or needing to see my doctor. I was healthy enough ;)…RIGHT? Well, I decided that achieving this “sense of well-being” was a romantic goal to set for myself. It was time to start listening to my body and give it what it was missing.
I took some time to reflect on my health. I wanted to decide what it was that I truly needed, in order to feel…WELL! I wanted physical energy, strength, mental clarity, a positive outlook, enthusiasm, creativity, and the energy to persist. There were many of these components missing in my present state. But you know what? I often struck this yearning down with, “Gee Heidi, you have been LUCKY in your lifetime! You have never suffered from any major illnesses. You’ve only experienced the flu three times, and you get a cold once a year. You’re not on any medications for anything and you’ve only been prescribed antibiotics three or four times in recent memory. Heck Heidi, if the plague ever returned, you’d be the one not to get sick! You’ve been an athlete for most of your life going on to become a Windsor Lancer! You do work out (when you give yourself that time), and you’re not overweight. So, of course you’re healthy. It’s just too bad that you feel like a 70 year old some days.” Well, it’s that kind of arrogance that got me comfortable in the village of good health…but locked-out of the land of wellness!
The paradigm shift got me to begin researching, resourcing, and committing to a new lifestyle, but I did not want to do it alone. In fact, my hubby had already got started and now we’re teaming up to make this another turning point (much like the one I posted about in January) ! I have, neglected to mention that it was a very good friend of mine, who leading by example, has shown me just what changing your lifestyle can do for you. Through countless conversations she signaled there were clearly things I could change in order to rid myself of these chief complaints and cyclical problems. Her book recommendations and referrals to professionals began our journey to wellness. With a therapist, naturopath, chiropractors, and an iridologist on board…we’re experiencing massive improvements in our physiology, psychology, biochemistry and more!
So, my good friend’s guidance, lots of reading, and visiting wellness professionals has shown me exactly what Definition of Wellness is talking about…“While everyone agrees that the absence of illness is one part of being healthy, it doesn’t indicate whether you are in a state of well-being.” I am now beginning to feel the energy and mental clarity that I was truly hoping for. But, I have only scratched the surface.
As I leave you with this post, Good Health vs. Wellness – Part 1, I feel a renewed excitement over my journey to wellness. I was previously foolish, arrogant, and moronic for assuming I was as healthy as anybody could be, just because I was absent of illness. And for the record, the naturopaths and chiropractors were able to prove to me that not only was I missing out on wellness, I was by no means in a state of good health. Now I work to eat right, be fit, and think well. These are the components to wellness. I hope to tell you about how I am working towards this in, Good Health vs. Wellness – Part 2. Until then, I’ll do my best to put my heart and soul into wellness. Step one towards wellness for me was to, THINK WELL.
Nothing will come from having negative thoughts, except more negative experiences. I have read a pile of books over the past few months. The Secret was one of them. The secret talks about how,
“Everything is possible, nothing is impossible. There are no limits. Whatever you can dream of can be yours, when you use The Secret.”
What are your thoughts and beliefs about wellness?
Can you be terminally ill, but in a state of well-being? This question just might drive the motivation for a future post.
As a side note…It felt good to post today. I haven’t written in a long time and I did miss it. I hope some of my followers will drop-in to say, “Hi”.