I Did My Homework

I know I’m a little late getting to this, but considering that December is one of the busiest times of the year, I am glad that I could fit it in.  This “homework meme” has been circulating on twitter for a few weeks now, and is probably best described as a twitter chain letter.  Let me start by saying that I usually break chain letters.  This one I didn’t, though, as I like the premise…it’s meant to help us get to know each other better. However, in my crazy schedule, I ended up being tagged by not one, but FOUR other people, so my homework is a little more in-depth.  Here’s to you, Karen Lirenman, Michelle Baldwin, Sarah Dalzell and Jodi Pulvers!  Thanks for wanting to get to know a little more about me. I hope that the people I tag at the bottom of this post will follow through, as I would love to get to know more about you.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  4. List 11 bloggers.
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.

11 Random Facts About Me

1. I am an introvert.  I can put on the mantle of an extrovert when I need to (like during presentations or while teaching), but it exhausts me and I need quiet time to recharge.

2. I was a competitive swimmer for 12 years, and coached swimming for three years. My parents have a pool and I swim every day from June-September.

3. I *HATE* cilantro.  I can’t even pretend to like it, it ruins meals for me.

4. I was in a car accident two weeks after I started my first teaching job and was off work from September till December…not a great way to start my career.  I was rear-ended and suffered whiplash that affects my life to this day.  Back pain is part of my life and it frustrates me that my physical wellness isn’t what I’d like it to be. Some days after school I literally can’t walk because my back hurts so much.

5. I am married to Shawn and we have known each other since he was born.  My mom and his dad went to high school together, our dads taught on the same junior high school staff and we were family friends who saw each other a couple of times a year all our lives.  We were destined to be together. Shawn and I were married 8 months after we started dating.  We already knew each other really well, so why wait?

6. I am very loyal. If there is a business that makes me feel like I am a valued customer, I will go out of my way to support it.  Three such businesses are Restaurant 62, Fable and Tinhorn Creek Winery. They are owned and operated by good people and you should check them out. To quote the theme song from Cheers, “you wanna go where everybody knows your name.”

7. I don’t like being copied or doing exactly the same thing that someone else is doing. I usually find something else to do to show my skills and step back so that the other person shines or tweak what I am doing just enough to make it special for me.

8. I love musical theatre.  I always loved performing (how can I do that as an introvert?) and am thrilled that my boys both love performing, too.  I can’t wait to see Shrek The Musical this February (David is Shrek and Matthew is Pinocchio)!

9.  I sang in Jazz Choir and Concert Choir all through Junior High, but unfortunately my High School didn’t offer anything like that.  Those days in Jazz Choir were some of my best school memories.

10. I love traveling, and half of the enjoyment of my travel is in the planning and anticipation.

11. I love to share a meal with family and friends.  Sharing food is a great way to build community.

Karen’s Questions

1. What is your favourite season and why?
I love the summer…sunshine, sand and swimming. Notice the name of my blog? 😉

2.  If you could travel any where, where would you go? Why?
I would love to go to Maui…that is where I feel most at peace.

20120720-094414.jpg

3.   Runner or walker?
Walker. Running hurts my back.

4.  What scares you?
Heights.

5.   What is one accomplishment you are proud of?
Raising my two teenage boys to be amazing men.

6.  What have you been served, that you ate out of respect, but really didn’t like it?
I can’t even tell you what it was because I honestly have no idea, but there were a couple of dishes that I tried when David and I were in Beijing that I didn’t really care for.

7.  Water  or snow sports?
Water! I really don’t like the cold.

8.  Have you broken any bones? If so which ones? How?
No.

9.  Where’s the furthest you’ve been away from home?
Beijing, China…I traveled there with my son, David, when his band played on the Great Wall.

10. What is/are your comfort food(s)?
Mashed potatoes.

11. What’s the biggest surprise of your life?

The first time I was asked to present a workshop.

Michelle’s Questions

1. What’s the happiest thing you can think of?
Spending time with my family on vacation (i.e. no cell phones, no wifi, no tech)!

2.What DO you want to be when you grow up?
I would love to be a travel agent. It makes me happy to plan travel for others.

3. Favorite Monty Python quote?
“Always look on the bright side of life.”

4. What’s the worst time zone?
Eastern Standard Time…a little nod to Dean Shareski, but I confirmed it when I traveled to Toronto last winter.

5. Do you have any weird food issues? Describe.
See above…I *HATE* cilantro.

6. Describe the scene in front of you right now.
I am sitting in my living room, looking at my lit Christmas tree and my piano with a cherished manger scene on top of the piano. Our window looks across the Fraser Valley, but I can’t see down there right now because it’s dark and rainy.

7. How many books are you currently reading? Which ones?
One. I am just starting Chris Hadfield’s An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth.

8. Tell me something you’re proud of yourself for doing/being, but too modest to “toot your own horn.”
I am really proud to have organized and hosted EdcampKinder Abbotsford last year. We had 42 participants and many said it was the best Pro D they have ever experienced.

9. If you could make up a name for yourself or change your name, what would it be?
Hmmm…I really like my name, but I also love the name Mickey, which is the nickname my Gramps gave me. I loved the name so much it became my online persona.

10. Who is someone you wish more people knew about on Twitter and/or blogs?

Dan Village, my recently retired principal.  I can’t wait for him to write a book, but in the meantime, here is his best blog post: 10, 9, 8, 7….

11. What is your favorite education story from your experience?

My most exciting moment from all my 24 years of teaching was when I started blogging with my students and their parents commented back.  That “aha” moment when my students realized they were writing not just for me was very powerful.

Sarah’s Quesitons

1. Favourite breakfast meal?
Bacon, eggs over easy, hashbrowns, homemade biscuits and fresh fruit. I love having big breakfasts with my family on the weekend.

2. One CD/Album you would take with you if you were trapped on a desert island for 10 years?
Chris Botti’s “When I Fall In Love”

220px-When.I.Fall.In.Love.Chrsi.Botti

3. If you could live a day in a movie, which movie would you pick?
White Christmas

MV5BMjA0Mzg0OTU0OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNTM4MjY5._V1_SX640_SY720_

4. Cats or dogs?
Neither…I’m allergic. 😦

5.  If you could spend the day with anyone (deceased or living) who would you pick?
My husband, Shawn…he is my best friend and the time we get to spend together is precious.

6. Weirdest thing you have ever eaten?
Octopus…can’t say I’m a fan.

7.  You have a round trip ticket that will take you anywhere in the world, where is it taking you?
Maui, of course! 🙂

8. Share an embarrassing life moment…

I was a little embarrassed and shocked when I ran into Dean Shareski, Alec Couros and George Couros all at the same time (Dean recognized ME!) at the ConnectEdCanada conference this past May.  I have no idea what I said or if my words made any sense at all.

9.  Favourite season?
Summer…answered above, too.

10.  If you could/had to live in another era for a week…which era would you choose?

The 1950’s.

11.  What is your karaoke song?
“Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey

Jodi’s Questions:

1. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be and why?
Maui…because I love the island and the aloha spirit there.

2. What is your biggest regret?

Leaving things unsaid.  My introversion has prevented me from saying many things that probably should have been said.

3. If you could change one thing about yourself physically what would it be?
I would love to lose weight.

4. What is your favourite colour and why?
I love turquoise. It makes me happy. It was also my granny’s favourite colour and it is my mom’s favourite colour, too.

5. Favourite food?
At the moment I am craving a nice thick, juicy steak, a baked potato with corn on the cob, but really any food made with love is my favourite.

6. What is your best childhood memory?

All the fun times I had swimming with my brother, sister and cousins.

7. What is the weirdest animal you have held/touched?
A snake.

8. Where is the furthest place from home you have traveled?
Beijing, China…and I would love to go back!

9. Most recent book you have read is?
I read Chris Van Allsburg’s The Polar Express to my class on Friday.

10. What are you most proud of in your adult life?

I am very proud of my family. We are not perfect, but we really work hard at having good relationships with each other.

11. What is 1 thing on your bucket list?
To see a Broadway show in New York City.

11 Bloggers I’d Love To Know More About:

1.Mardelle Sauerborn

2. Liane Loeppky

3. Amy Murray

4. Heidi Echternacht

5. Brooke Haller

6. Heidi James

7. Natasha Kardos

8. Melody Watson

9. Faige Meller

10. Stacey Garrioch

11. Dan Village

Questions for You:

1. What is your favourite travel memory?

2. If you could travel anywhere in the world and money was no object, where would you go?

3. What is your favourite meal and why?

4. If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be?

5. If you weren’t a teacher, what career would you pursue?

6. What is your favourite way to spend an entire day by yourself when you have no obligations?

7.What is your favourite song?

8. What is your favourite book?

9. What is your favourite movie?

10. What is a perfect “night out” for you?

11. Who do you love to spend time with most of all?

Please post links to your responses in the comments.  Cheers everyone!

Dear New Principal…

As my staff and I say goodbye to one of the best principals I have ever worked with, naturally we have a bit of anxiety about who will be stepping in to lead our school. Transitions at school are never easy. The teachers who have nurtured and taught the students and have put their energy into making the school culture what it is are rightfully protective of the history and traditions that have been established. So, with that in mind, I am writing this post. Perhaps whomever we will call “principal” will read this and come to understand that they are being welcomed into a well-established, caring school community.

Dear New Principal,

Welcome! We hope you enjoy your time at OUR school. We are a caring, vibrant community and we want you to feel a part of our team. Please be respectful of all that we have worked for here. We are not perfect, but we are doing our best for OUR kids.

Please spend some time in the staff room and in the hallways just talking with us. It is here that you will find out who we really are as people, not just as teachers. Take some time to get to know about our interests and our passions. We will do the same in getting to know you. Know that we all have lives outside of school and as much as we love our jobs, our own families will always be our first priorities. Relationships matter.

We hope that you will spend time in our classrooms. Not just to formally observe our teaching strategies or lesson plans (of course there is a time and place for that), but to get to know our students and the class culture. Seeing us interact with our students on a day to day basis will tell you far more about who we are as teachers than formal observations. The students will respect your authority more if they can see you as a friendly, caring, supportive principal first. Take time to play with the children. Play is where you learn, and playing together helps us learn about each other. Relationships matter.

Spend some time talking with our parent community. They put hundreds of hours of volunteer time into our school and raise thousands of dollars for their children’s and our staff’s benefit. Listen to them. It’s their children we are teaching and supporting. Relationships matter.

Please trust us as professionals. We have many years of experience and university study on our resumes. Some of us may even have more teaching experience or training than you. We are here to do what is best for our students and I hope that you respect our professional judgement. Respecting our professionalism is part of building good working relationships. Relationships matter.

Please don’t micromanage. If you respectfully ask us to do something, we will do it. We are a team and may need reminders, but please trust that we will accomplish what we set out to do. Relationships matter.

Effective communication is key. Email is great for broadcasting information, but please allow us to come and talk with you in person when we have important issues to discuss. Seeing someone’s body language can really help discern the heart of the problem or the important things that need celebrating. Having you available to talk to is key to building relationships. Relationships matter.

Above all, we ask that you become part of the TEAM at OUR school. We all want what is best for OUR kids, and we hope that our staff can be a unified, compassionate group of educators who put our students needs first. Relationships matter.

Welcome to OUR school!

Sincerely,
Your New Staff

P.S. Having a sense of humour is a good thing, too. We love to laugh! 🙂

***Please note: This letter was not written by my staff, nor does it necessarily reflect their views. I have chosen to write it with first person plural pronouns, as it represents the type of community that my school is. It is not an “I” school with individuals working separately, but a “we” environment where we all try to work as a team.***

Happy Retirement Mr. Village!

As the schools around the district take a break for Christmas holidays, our school is now in transition from one leader to the next. It is extremely bittersweet to say good-bye to Dan Village, my principal for the past two and a half years. He is moving on to another exciting career, and I am extremely happy for him. Dan has been an amazing leader, encourager, supporter and friend. I wish him all the best as he moves on to the next stage of his professional life as the General Manager of the Abbotsford Soccer Association.

Below you will find a collection of tweets I (and a couple of others) have sent over the last 12 school days. I had originally wanted to write a song entitled “The 12 Days of Dan”, but I think actually tweeting out my thoughts is more appropriate, as that has allowed me to send out a positive thought each day to show everyone else just how lucky I have been to work for such a great person. Happy Retirement, Dan!