Monday, October 17, 2011

Blood Pressure Rising

     Have you ever felt so stressed that you think you can feel your blood pressure in your lips? Even your ears start to buzz and fill up with a pulsing vibration. Today was one of those days. It started out fine enough. Had a good sleep, took my vitamins, had a good breakfast and packed a "super salad" for lunch. By the time I had been at work for 15 minutes, the nonsense started and didn't stop all day long.
      In math class, I felt like I was performing dental maneuvers,  not teaching. Extracting answers from my wee class was like executing root canals. And the chasing for assignments and me! 
      It's about focus, I think. Sometimes, it would be wonderful if all class members focused on the same thing at the same time. I've gotten so that I can spot a "glaze over" from four meters away. Sometimes I look into eyes and see no one there. Is he back at summer camp on the rope swing? Is she anticipating snow tubing in the coming months? Are they all wondering what's for dinner?  My blood pressure rises as I try to get their attention.
     An old teacher friend of mine got so frustrated with a grade two boy that she took a piece of masking tape, wrote "focus" on it and taped it to his desk. Right after that she was in the staff room at recess, when there was a knock at the door. Two little girls were at the door to "report" that they had seen the "F" word taped to little Jeremy's desk. My friend suppressed a giggle and told them she'd look into it.
      Sometimes I wonder though....what is all this stressing and fussing about?  It feels some days that I don't actually take a breath until I get home. I careen from one activity to another, gathering momentum as I fly around. I've set a pace for myself and for these kids that I'm not sure any of can live with.
     So tomorrow I will write on my daybook...LOOK UP. FOCUS on Jesus and share some joy! My aim will be to keep the blood pressure steady. This old teacher is going to find something to laugh at, someone to laugh with and something silly to share with these lovely kids.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Liebster

Fellow blogger, gifted Mary from Beech Croft Tales, (  has honored me by putting me on her list for the Liebster Award.
Now it is my turn to honour others for the Liebster! Check out these noteworthy bloggers:

Leesha tells of her journeys as a beloved child of God at God Walks:

Garth writes about his travels through Africa on a BMW bike at Garth's Africa: 

Maureen provides a clear message of faith at One Day At A Time:

Amy and Ben tell of their preparations, hopes and dreams as they prepare for the mission field in Indonesia at The Eadies MAF:

Belinda points the way to the Lord with grace and beauty at Whatever He Says:


      There’s a student in my grade 5/6 class who is nothing short of brilliant. Where this kid got the extensive vocabulary that he so freely and confidently uses, is beyond me. He is comfortable conversing in complex sentences without ever using “awesome,” “radical,” or “random,” and like many students I meet with daily, does not use the word “like” as a comma. He throws in “dude” now and then, but the word is so competently placed that I smile every time. 

       Today we were working on “similes.” Students were required to do their best to use imagery to compare objects using “like” or “as.” I received the usual “as strong as an elephant;” “as slow as a turtle;” and “as soft as a marshmallow.” I kept inviting them to go further. How can we make “as slow as a turtle” just a bit slower? We came up with “as slow as a three-legged turtle.” That took some doing. Some didn’t get the idea of similes at all. One girl proudly wrote, “the ice cream was a soft as a baby chick.” I could immediately taste a mouthful of stinky feathers. One fellow surprised me by saying, “he was as strong as a mutant wrestler.” This was way beyond this boy’s usual ability of expression and I couldn’t help but ponder on what he watches on television. 

      But my student writer….he wowed me. I told the class that some day we’d be lining up at Chapters for autographed copies of his novels. Grade 6 boys don’t usually come up with things like: “as pretty as sunlight exposed jewels";  "as strong as a workhorse looking for a treat";  "as soft as whipped cream made from scratch"  or "as slow as maple syrup dipped in starch."
       After class, this boy came and told me, for the second day in a row, that I am a great teacher. I thanked him and reinforced my belief in him by telling him he should get a notebook and write every day. He said he would if he had ideas, so I sent him home armed with a list of story starters. And I thought that for one brief moment, that I had reached someone. For it is my highest hope that the atmosphere in my classroom is one of safety, to express, to grow, to be encouraged. Not every student can be a writer. Many struggle with reading, but to move each along the continuum or even to jump start them into a love of reading and writing is my goal as a language teacher.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


     In childhood days years ago, Thanksgiving weekends were spent at my grandparents' cottage on Nottawasaga Bay in Ontario. Life pulsed with bursts of colour. There were no skies like October skies if it was sunny. Gone was the summer haze of humidity. Deep blues and crisp indigo nights reigned. As children, we were beside ourselves in anticipation of that last weekend of the season at the cottage. One more kick-at-the-can to enjoy times with cousins and run wild on the shore and through the reddened forest. We'd rake leaves, jump in the piles and enjoy the dusky smell as Dad burned them in the fireplace. We'd add to our collection of acorns and chestnuts, finding ways to make games with objects of nature.

Grandma, Mom, my brothers and I
       The adults seemed relaxed while preparing the huge turkey dinner and baking pies on Sunday, but at the back of their minds, they knew there was much  to do before leaving for home on Monday. In those days, having an un-winterized cottage, the purpose of spending that last weekend there was to close it up, put it to bed for the upcoming temperature plunge. Water systems were turned off, windows boarded up and bedding was carefully placed in airtight containers in hopes the refugee mice would not reach them. What a bittersweet time it was.

Old Shed near Aunt Alma's cottage - seen better days...

      After hugging the cousins goodbye and having one last look around, we'd pile in the old Chevy and wave at the lake, knowing it would not be until Victoria Day weekend in May before we'd see it again.

Woodland Beach

     Those days are well behind me now. Although I'm tempted to be sad that the cottage is gone and so are many beloved family members,  - Mom and Grandma and Grandpa, there is much to be grateful for. This weekend the weather is perfect. The skies are clear and I'll still spend it with people I love. Thank you Lord for such good memories and many yet to be made.

One Last Look!