Saturday, November 23, 2013

Going to an art exhibit and finding a bonus ticket...

Somehow lately I have been finding this blog overwhelming and it doesn't get done!  When I look back at this blog I notice that my first blogs were much shorter which probably helped.  Also when I was teaching I always had too much to write about and I  could even share projects and lessons, what we did in class etc.  I am still volunteering at my old school and there are things I could write about but it is different.  Also one would think that since I am retired I would have more time for blogging but I just end up doing other things it seems.

Yesterday I went to the Vancouver Art Gallery with a friend who being an accredited volunteer with Tourism Vancouver is able to get in free and take a friend, and yesterday, that was me.  We ran into someone I knew who told us that we had to see the exhibit on the third floor and due to that, after checking out the main exhibit on the first floor, about famous Haida artist,Charles Edenshaw, which was very good and which we both enjoyed (and this was my friend's second trip to see this exhibit, and having been to Haida Gwaii etc it was very interesting to me as well ) we went up to see the photograph exhibit on the third floor.  But on our way up to the third floor, we were stopped dead by the glimpse of colour on the second floor.  Now the Edenshaw exhibit was really kind of black (argilite) and grey and with muted light to protect the totems etc. so the burst of colour on the second floor really caught our attention.

This was an exhibit by a Korean artist who is Paris based, Kimsooja.  There is a very good video on this website that I would recommend watching.
The Vancouver Art Gallery is a small gallery so each of the three exhibits takes up one floor.  Our attention was first caught by the hanging over the stairwell at the beginning of this blog.  A bigger version hangs in a gallery in Brussels.  Then we went into this room and walked through the beautiful hangings shown.  I love experiential exhibits like this-plus I love colourful fabrics...

Now about now a guard told me I wasn't supposed to be taking pictures so I basically did stop as we went into the other galleries.  We were fascinated by her use of bottaris, which are beautiful cloth bundles in which Korean women kept their valuables or what they needed to carry.
We also liked the exhibit which is videos of her in busy world cities just standing observing, as she says like a needle...We also liked the installation where a screen changed colours with what sounded like heavy breathing to make it happen and then became beautiful buddhist type chants.
I did steal another picture though.

This is a truck carrying bottaris.  And there was a video showing the journey across high mountains. Anyway she also has a website that looks absolutely fascinating so check it out!

Thinking about this exhibit, I was reminded of going to an exhibit here of drawings by Toulouse-Lautrec.   There was also an exhibit of Japanese prints that influenced the Impressionists greatly.  I loved that exhibit far more than the main exhibit . I love going to something for one reason but discovering something totally different.  It is such a bonus.  Such a great surprise!  I keep thinking that this retirement thing is a chance to discover...

Saturday, November 9, 2013

What I have learned about retirement now that it is November

Almost a month has passed since my last post here!  And what exactly have I been doing?  So today I decided to write about ten things I have learned from being "retired"!  Last August I wrote seven things I had learned from teaching sixth and seventh graders so now what I have learned from being retired?

1. It's fun being a tourist in your own city.  I realized when a friend and I flew to the San Francisco area this summer and then did a road trip to Santa Barbara, that we made the most of our time.  I decided I really wanted to do that in my own city.  Sure there are the things you have to do and should do but you really need to be a tourist in your own city and see it with fresh eyes and this is something I have enjoyed doing this fall.  Now it helps if you live in a city with so much natural beauty and so many things to do like Vancouver but I can honestly say that for the last 33 years since I have lived here except for my first year here when I didn't initially teach, fall was a bit of a blur because I was so busy teaching...

2.  An iphone is  wonderful.  I resisted getting one and only ever had the simplest type of cell phone because I feared the addictive quality of always being "connected" but I love always having a camera with me and I think I have taken some great pictures with my iphone5 and it takes so little room, even less than my small digital camera.  I have a pedometer on it so I know how much I walk as well.  I always have a book to read on it.  And I can check on things when I want.  I send pictures galore.  It has helped me with my Spanish as I have two great aps Duolingo and Mindbits on both my phone and ipad.  I can use it instead of printing out tickets.  I really love it.

3.  I love taking pictures-I always have.  One thing I did when I first moved here was take photography lessons which I really enjoyed.  I did a slide show every year at school, and I have megatons of slides and photo albums and zillions of pictures on this computer to prove my love of clicking, but I think my skills as a photographer with my iphone have really improved as I have really taken so many pictures the last few months. I still love taking pictures-capturing beauty particularly, and getting to share these moments with others.  A friend invited me to an amazing facebook group of wonderful people who share their photos from all over the world and I really have realized it's actually possible to make  friends virtually.  The pictures are a door.

4. Having a bit of a schedule is good-but free time is nice as well.  At the beginning I set Tuesday mornings aside to work in my friend's first grade class.  Wednesday I spend the first half hour at another school, reading to her kindergarten students while she conferences with her first graders who are independently reading.  During basketball season I coached before school Tuesday and did games after school Thursday and usually an extra practice after school Friday but volleyball is on now so I am free until I coach basketball in January.  I have continued my regular fitness and yoga classes Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday nights I do Spanish.  Monday and Friday are my totally free days where I can decide what I want to do.

5.  I love working with first graders.  My teaching career has been very varied which was great.  The last four years I taught sixth and seventh grade and Angela's class was our buddy class but I really wasn't working with first graders.  I loved working with them when I was a resource teacher, I love teaching kids to read, and I love how they are such their own people at this age.  Anyway it is great doing this each week-just going in and working with Angela and her class.  I love it!

6.  I don't miss all the responsibility.  I went on two field trips and it was work, especially with the k/1s but it was fun and I didn't have to plan it or worry about it.  I totally believe in field trips but they are a lot of work for teachers!  I loved just helping!  And from experience I know retired teachers are the best helpers on field trips because they totally "get what needs to be done"...

7.  I loved the drama but I don't miss the drama.  When you teach grade seven there is no lack of drama and it makes for lots of excitement.  Also sixth and seventh graders have a lot of energy and they gave me energy but it's really enough just to go visit.

8.  I don't miss all the work.  I actually like planning units and seeing the process and results and I liked assessing and figuring out what to do next.  I loved watching kids succeed.  I loved the kids as well and they made me often laugh.  But it was a lot of work!  Probably two hours of prep and two hours at least of marking a day... Also I took on ipads and maintaining a class blog and a moodle website and that was a great deal of extra work as well.  Then there were report cards and all the other extras I did at school.  It was non stop and each year there was more work it seemed.  There are apparently 9 to 3 teachers but it just isn't in my nature to be one.

9.  I really like to learn.  I went to Spain a year and a half ago and wished I knew some Spanish so I signed up for Spanish One last September with a friend.  I enjoyed it but wasn't sure I was ready for Spanish 2 and my friend had had enough of Spanish and moved onto French.  I also found it took quite a bit of time so I left it there.  This year I decided to try Spanish 2.  First class I almost left as I didn't understand much of anything and thought I should take Spanish 1 again but it got better.  From years of conjugating verbs in French, that comes more easily to me in Spanish.   I found great aps to fill in my Spanish One gaps and I did my homework.  I think I am doing really well each week until I get to class but by the end of class I am always laughing and I feel good about it.  I don't have any natural aptitude for languages but I sure know more than I did a year and a half ago, and I really do love to learn!

10.  Some things haven't changed too much but that is okay.  The attic is still not organized.  I did finally fix a lazy susan in my kitchen cupboard.  And it's Remembrance Day weekend and I still have bulbs to plant and I haven't had the heart to put the lawn furniture away but the good thing is I know that world isn't going to collapse if I don't get something done on the weekend because I have week days to do it.

11.  And I am even coping with short days and November.  The time changed Sunday and I missed the first early nightfall because I went to a movie.  But I wasn't impressed this week with the short days and then torrential rains but I got through them.  I just made sure that opened my blinds as soon as it was light.  A friend and I braved the rainy elements and had a delightful afternoon in the west end with a Japanese lunch at a new restaurant to me, and a visit to Roedde House, where I had never been.  I had incredibly beautiful walks in Queen Elizabeth Park and at Spanish Banks when it wasn't raining.  Last night coming out of the Pacific Rim Fairmont I even almost embraced the night as it was so beautiful looking at Canada Place.  And when the sun shone warmly as it did yesterday morning I really appreciated it.  Now if there is too much rain I may be soon looking for cheap getaways...

12.  Time-I love having time.  I actually get my library Fast Reads read on time.  I have time to spend
with friends.  I have time to find out about interesting things to do in the city.  I still don't have enough time to get boring jobs done of course.

Anyway these are a few things I have learned since I have been retired.  A few years ago I was "given" a financial planner by my bank and he asked what I wanted to do when I retired, all I could think of to say was travel.  I think he thought I was a bit strange.  That also may explain why I wasn't in a hurry to retire.  Strangely,  I haven't gone anywhere other than Victoria or Whistler this fall and haven't even made any real plans.  I actually nixed a couple of plans.  I have lots of places I want to see and I will, but somehow this fall I have been happy here and feeling very fortunate and appreciative.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

more on retirement

Well a few weeks have passed since the last post and I seem to have fairly easily slipped into being retired!  What have I noticed?  Well I don't seem to rush as much and am not sure how I did what I did especially in September.  I still got a cold (guess I could blame it on volunteering at school).  I have coped with the first torrential rain storms when I wasn't working.  I was so busy I hardly noticed the weather once I was at work!  I still have small household tasks I haven't got around to doing!

I madly blogged about my neighbourhood walks initially on my travel blog but as the weather deteriorated I wrote less but still have a few entries I could be writing.  I am coaching soccer and as always learning as I go!  I read to kindergarten students each Wednesday morning for one friend while she has checks her grade one students' reading as they  Read to Self.  Tuesday mornings I spend at my old school beginning before school with a soccer practice (often in the gym due to rain) and then mainly in a first grade class but have other projects in the works.  As always I admire the work of my former colleagues but see too many gaps in the system!  Thursdays after school are soccer games for the next couple of weeks.  Thursday nights I have begun Spanish 2 and I can assure you there are moments when I think I am way over my head but... I seem to spend an hour or two a day working on the Duolingo app on my iphone to fill in my Spanish gaps (if there had been a test on Spanish 1, I think I would have barely passed!).  After school Fridays I have tried to work in a couple of soccer practices as well.  I went to a couple of classes at the Apple Store and picked up a couple of pointers.  I can't say I have actually done more yoga than previously but I may...  I walk more and still go to my usual fitness classes.

The farthest I have been motivated to travel is Victoria with a friend overnight and that was fun.  Holly
the cat is contented that I am finally staying home!  I have had more time to spend with friends (well those ones not tied down to full time working).  I have taken a little advantage of the Fringe Festival and International Film Festival and have booked a couple of sessions at the Writers' Festival.

It's honestly good!  I have tried not to get to go nuts in the volunteering department.  I feel as if I am already tied down enough with what I am doing.  I want to go to Whistler and am wondering when as it is.  Sometimes the choices seem never ending and it is hard to choose what to do!

I have to really watch how much time I spend on facebook-I found two addicting groups-one of people who take pictures around the world and another for people from the Eastern Townships.  I kid you not. I have fallen in love with my iphone so I am connected everywhere it seems, not that I talk on the phone any more than before though.  I love taking pictures with my iphone.  And then of course I can post them to Facebook.  It's always nice to have people like your pictures...

I am actually happy that I have adjusted because honestly, I was worried a bit I would not!  But I love having more time!  I can go to a bird sanctuary after reading with the kindergarten students.  I loved being able to see a movie on a Wednesday afternoon, especially a movie made from one of my favorite non fiction books, Tracks.  I love having time to have long conversations with friends over coffee!  But I also love being able to see and work still with students.  I don't miss hours of preparation and assessment though.

I am still wondering about living on a retirement income especially with a house that always could use repairs and improvements, and of course I would like to travel as well.  But for now I am really just trying living in the moment... It is a privilege...

Sunday, September 15, 2013

On retiring-or what it feels like not to be back in school!

My classroom near the end of school...
I wrote this post once and managed to lose most of it.  I wonder if that is significant!  Hmmm...

As last reported I left school as soon as I finished teaching my last class to go to Quebec for my high school reunion.  A couple of weeks later I returned but I didn't have the heart to face my classroom until the first of August.  It seemed to take forever to sort and clean out and I left a lot of materials behind in the end, but quite a few seem to be in my attic as well!  I still hadn't finished the process when I left for a couple of weeks in California.  Finally a couple of days after I returned I dragged eight boxes home.

I have made it through the first couple of weeks of retirement.  I have to admit it seemed strange in a way having an extended summer vacation.  I haven't had a free September since I moved out here 33 years ago.  I found myself thinking back to that time.  I had been paid to quit my position in Quebec due to a surplus teaching situation due to changes in language legislation.  I had just finished my master's degree during the summer and with my husband starting a new university teaching position and having to finish a doctorate at the same time I didn't bother applying for a teaching position until I got here.  I also was perhaps contemplating new career possibilities etc.

I missed my friends, family, and my old school in Quebec but it was exciting to be living in a new city. We were basically house sitting a beautiful big old apartment in the West End right at Nicola and Beach so I had a view of the beach from the kitchen and in easy biking and walking distance of Stanley Park, Granville Island etc.  I took advantage of my free time volunteering at the Planetarium Gift Shop, taking quilting lessons, etc.

Classroom after cleaning out...
So 33 years later I find myself once again gainfully unemployed in September.  And I have to admit it's been a bit up and down and around.  And I really feel like I am in the process of figuring it all out. It's very different than my usual September.  September usually passed in a blur as I was so busy. Exhaustion was the operative word.  I loved it but I was exhausted.  This year has been different.  Most mornings I have gone for walks, walks in different neighbourhoods.  And taken lots of pictures and blogged about my walks in my ipad travel blog.  I have gone for coffee and lunch a lot. I have gone to my usual yoga and fitness classes.  It's helped that we have had amazing weather!  

Everyone kind of asks me about plans and I really I don't have too many yet!  I am doing a bit of volunteering at my old school. It's fun to see the kids and my old colleagues and it also reminds me of how hard that work is for them.   I am planning to take another Spanish class.  The weather seems to be rainy again so I am going to work on cleaning out the attic this week!  And I am going to keep walking...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

In case you want a trip to California...

I am posting on my travel blog as I go. Here is the Link
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Montreal-Mont Tremblant-Peterborough-Kingston and home...

Perhaps I should provide a map!  I returned to Montreal on July 1st, missing the East Hatley Parade.  It's always a bit of a relief depositing a rental car!  The next couple of days I was in Montreal, staying with my friend, Linda, and spending time with her family.  Linda lives very close to the Montreal Botanical Gardens and they are well worth a visit.  They are huge!  You can also visit the Biodome which is great and if you like insects, the Insectarium.  Currently, there is an amazing display entitled Mosaicultures Internationales 2013.  There are about 50 amazing works by horticulturalist-artists from many countries.  I was impressed by some of the displays at Epcot Centre last year and by the living statute Puppy by Jeff Koons at the Guggenheim in Bilbao but to see this many such exhibits was amazing.

Then Linda and I drove up to Mont Tremblant in the Laurentions where we stayed a couple of nights at  Club Intrawest, a bit more luxurious than the Bishops' residence (but at $50 a night I shouldn't complain).  We had a lovely unit complete with a lake view and use of a nice pool and several hot tubs.  In Quebec, towns seem to keep getting renamed and the nearby lovely town of St. Jovite is now called downtown Mont Tremblant while there is the new village at the base of the mountain built when the resort was redeveloped, and the original village of Tremblant on the lake.   Anyway it was a lovely, relaxing couple of days.

Back to Montreal where I spent a few hours in Old Montreal with my childhood friend, Anne Marie, who I hadn't seen probably for 30 years.  Old Montreal is one of my favorite places and it was fun to wander around with Anne Marie.

More excitement in Montreal was Linda's niece and new nephew-in-law's condo.  In Montreal you can buy a brand new condo with over 1000 square feet for $250 000-unbelievable in Vancouver!

Soon on Sunday, Linda and I were off again, this time on our way to Peterborough, Ontario where our friends Anne and Barrie live.  Anne, Linda, and I did a year at Queen's University in Kingston doing Bachelors in Education while Barrie was there doing engineering.  My first really big trip was with Anne and Linda when after a year of teaching we went off to Europe.  Anne and Barrie had our visit totally planned.

Our first full day, Monday, Anne, Linda, and I visited a local art gallery and had lunch on the canal.  Then we met Barrie at their son's lakeside cottage.  I got to go swimming in another lake and even did a bit of canoeing.  Rain had been a bit of an issue during this holiday.  Never have I seen Quebec and Ontario this lush and green in July.  On Sunday we had  driven into Peterborough with huge black skies.

Tuesday we did a run into downtown Peterborough and my cousin's daughter and her husband and very cute toddler came to visit.  Later we were off to a production of Fourth Line Theatre, The Winslows of Derryvore.  The rain held off and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  The play began at 7:00 and the audience and the production were outside in this beautiful setting.  I have always loved summer theatre but this experience was totally unique complete with real horses.  I love how this theatre uses real history and turns it into theatre.  Having been in Northern Ireland last summer it was particularly fascinating looking at a piece of its complex history, a history the writer's ancestors were a part of and history that had implications for this part of Ontario as well.

In doing a bit of research into Fourth Line Theatre I discovered that there was a butter tart war on in Ontario.  I had been a bit surprised driving in to see a sign advertising butter tarts but after reading the article I could see what all the excitement was about.  If I had more time no doubt we would have done more direct research but we did manage to do a bit of tasting at DooDoo's Bakery in Bailleboro on our way back to the 401.  We were impressed!  For more information on the the Kawartha Northumberland tour here you go!

After a bad traffic jam we eventually made it into Kingston where we had planned a stop.  After a late lunch and a swim at our hotel, we spent a lovely evening at my friends', Vicki and Gavin's.  An extra bonus was getting to see fireflies (we don't seem to have them in Vancouver).  The next day we had a lakeside breakfast and a quick poke around the shops in downtown Kingston but no time for the market as we were off to visit my cousin, Nancy, for lunch, on our way back to Montreal.  Another fun visit complete with tea served on my grandmother's china!

one of my cousin's gardens
Back in Montreal the Benoits hosted a retirement dinner for me, and we did a bit more light and window covering shopping for the new condo.  So many choices!  The next morning I packed up, and Linda drove me to Pointe Claire where I spent the day with my friend, Janice and her dogs.  We also met my friend, Val (who had kindly fed me a delicious breakfast two weeks earlier on my arrival) for an ice cream.  Pointe Claire Village is always one of my favorite spots.  It's also easy to forget you are in Quebec because you still don't hear much French there.  In this trip I  seemed to bounce back and forth from English to French, French to English depending on even where you are in the city of Montreal.

Eventually I was pack on a plane, this time watching the sun setting across the country, rather than rising.  All in all a great trip, not that I was able to see everyone I would have liked but definitely getting to have some fun times with lots of great people in some beautiful places!  And now I have some pictures that need adding! Done!

Here's one I had to add...
stormy skies coming into Peterborough

Thursday, July 25, 2013

High School Reunion and a visit to the Eastern Townships-part one summer vacation

North Hatley
 I am still trying to decide if this entry belongs on this blog or my travel blog!  I kind of think that to qualify for the travel blog one needs to do the blog when you are actually there, but due to some technical difficulties that didn't happen this time.  I also took the lazy way out and posted bits and pieces on facebook.  So here begins the saga...
First I wouldn't recommend taking the Red-Eye special to Montreal after teaching the last week of school and then getting in a car in a raging rain storm.  I found myself falling asleep as I finally escaped the rain and was speeding down a relatively deserted autoroute on my way to Lennoxville.

Fortunately when I began to veer into the right lane I did wake up and stayed awake until I made it to
just as river goes into Lake Massawippi 
the dorm at Bishop's where I was staying.

The Eastern Townships are very pretty and one of the prettiest towns is North Hatley.  My father's ancesters were early settlers in this area and I lived in the house my grandfather built until I was almost eight and went to first and second grade in North Hatley.  When I was in second grade we moved to a nearby town, Waterville.  Waterville is also pretty but the kind of place that gets left off maps!  The next town is Compton, birthplace of Louis St. Laurent, former prime minister, so it gets on maps.

favorite corner of North Hatley
I spent grades three to nine at Compton Waterville Intermediate School, a school with about 120 kids.  There was also a French Catholic school.  Anyway when we finished ninth grade we had to go to Lennoxville to finish grades ten and eleven. So here I was on my way to a Lennoxville High School reunion.  I also ended up going to university in Lennoxville as well and that was my destination, Bishop's where two main events of the reunion were taking place, and where I was staying in the dorm.     I was looking forward to a nap but needless to say, I couldn't get into my room until four o'clock so just had to go shopping at the Hatley outlet where of course I ran into friends originally from Lennoxville but now fellow BCers.

a bit of the Bishops' campus
After a bit of wandering around downtown Lennoxville, I finally checked into my residence room (no updating in 45 years I can assure you and of course, on the third floor with no elevator, and I promptly went to sleep.  When I awoke I thought that the meet and greet and already begun and I raced to get changed.  With umbrella in hand I walked over to the Student Union Building but a couple of people I didn't recognize and who didn't seem overly friendly told me that the festivities didn't begin until seven so I had a few minutes to kill.  I decided to check out more of the campus as I hadn't been there in years. Here are a few pictures-you can see why when I went to visit Oxford I felt a sense of deja vu.

It started pouring rain and it was seven o'clock and from a nearby porch I could see people arriving so I decided to brave the reunion.  It was busy and crowded.  I looked around the room and didn't recognize anyone and I was struck that everyone looked old!  Later I had the realization that the youngest person attending the reunion was probably 61!  I fetched myself a glass of wine and found a perch at an empty table.  Soon people I hadn't seen in years recognized me and soon it was a really nice experience, making my trek seem worthwhile!  There was much laughter how the lettering on the name tags needed to be in bigger print!

The next day I slept in, not surprisingly and missed breakfast at the nearby dining room.  The campus seemed busy with families there with kids involved in summer sports camps.  Later this summer Sherbrooke and Lennoxville are hosting the Canada Games and Bishops is one of the sites that will be being used.  Hungry I set off for Tim Hortons as I knew they also had free internet.  The place was abuzz with discussion of the reunion. I hadn't really planned to go to the memorial service at my old high school but seeing as I was near I decided to go.  I had to admire how the committee had done so much research as to who was no longer alive.  There was even a bagpiper!  Next I toured around our old school with several of my former classmates.  The rooms seemed so much smaller and it was funny how much we started to remember...I only went to school there for two years but some of my friends had spent from grades one to eleven in that building though they remembered how you couldn't go into the high school wing if you were in elementary and vice versa.

The house my grandfather built
I spent the afternoon going to Waterville where I lived from the age of eight in a house we sold after my dad had a massive stroke about 25 years later.  I visited my childhood friend, Nancy, and had planned for a swim until a massive thunderstorm descended.  Later I took a picture of the farm I lived in until I was eight and spent a bit of time at a favorite store in North Hatley before going to visit my cousin Ken and his wife Maryse who live on the same property Ken has lived his whole life.  Then I was back in Lennoxville for more festivities.

It was very convenient staying in the residence as it was just steps away from the pub where the dinner and dance were to take place.  There weren't as many people as the night before but it was still very well attended and again fun catching up with old friends.  A grad who worked for the local radio station was on the committee and here is a link to hear a few interviews with other grads.  My friend, Steven, got the award for coming the farthest as for the last six years he had been teaching in China.  Well there was the inevitable class picture of course so here you go! I think our class actually had the most grads return!

view going down King Hill in Sherbrooke
Sunday there was a brunch but since it wasn't until 10 or so and I woke up early I decided to drive into the city of Sherbrooke and have a look.  Although I moved away from this area when I was 21 and moved to British Columbia when I was 29 I have returned many many times especially when my parents and then my aunt were alive but often in Sherbrooke I was just buzzing from point A to B so a Sunday early morning is a good time to go exploring.  I think I had forgotten how steep King Hill was for instance.  I also remember doing my driving test there and never having to parallel park, something I quickly had to learn to do in Montreal!  Much stays the same-the gorgeous old houses, but much has changed...

Howardene in Sherbrooke
The final event was the brunch at the local legion hall.  And it was delicious and a nice note to finish on.  I think the organizers were really pleased with how everything had gone as well they should have. I enjoyed visiting with people I hadn't seen in years and others that I try to see regularly.  And we all have this bit of shared history.  I recently read an article that I thought was quite helpful in explaining the history and changes that have occurred in this area in Quebec.  I have to admit that as a high school student I loved where I was from but I yearned to leave and explore the world and I have been fortunate to do so.

view from the Littles' cottage
 I ended my trip by spending the afternoon and early evening visiting my cousin, Bud, and his wife, Marion at their cottage.  This is also where I spent my teenage summers as we had a cottage there that we sold them.  Later they sold that cottage and bought one by the lake.  They also own a lovely house in the town of Ayers Cliff that they have restored.  I have so many fond memories of Lake Massawippi, the lake that runs between North Hatley and Ayers Cliff.  And jumping in that lake seemed the real start to summer!

I initially thought I would write about my whole trip in one entry but that didn't really work out.  I promise to be more succinct in my next entries!  And what does this have to do with later literacy?  I actually think that I received quite a good early education in all my schools-North Hatley, Waterville, Lennoxville.  I also learned lots of life lessons growing up in small communities.  Recently I was chatting with a friend about her reservations about full day kindergarten for her not quite five year old.  My kindergarten was a small family farm on a road where I knew every family.  My summer days were endless...

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

the very very last week of teaching...

Hmmm... three thousand miles away it's hard to believe I have only finished teaching last Thursday.  I know I really felt as if I was on a marathon especially as I was leaving basically immediately for Quebec to catch my high school reunion (for another post).  Was I really going to make it through a grad assembly, two all day field trips, the teachers' union dinner party celebration for retiring teachers and another retirement party and still make it on that plane?!  Well I did!

Graduation assembly... our school has a tradition of a graduation assembly where parents and the rest of the school come together to celebrate the completion of eight years of school.  Now some may think this is a bit much but I thought it was quite nice the first year I came and I still enjoy it but it meant a weekend of calligraphy of certificates and torment over who should get what prize etc. Their individual projects were so good that I decided they should present to the rest of the school which they did for the first two periods and that went very well.  They were allowed to go home at 11:30 but there was a problem because the slide show about the graduates somehow never was completed.  It was finally completed by one student's older sister minutes before the assembly!

It was all very touching-and the valedictory speeches were well delivered.  A couple of primary classes left a bit early but some made it to the bitter end.  About half our students had been in our school since kindergarten and remembered all the years they had watched this assembly and now it was finally their turn.

Tuesday was our big day going downtown and and exploring, with lunch at the Spaghetti Factory.  All went well except for a silly incident a block from the school on our way back, resulting in one student missing our day at Playland, the local amusement park.  Tuesday night was also the retirement party put on by our teachers' union.  In spite of exhaustion I had an absolutely lovely time.

Wednesday went very well at Playland-no incidents and it was actually quite relaxing for Clara and I, which was good as I had a retirement to attend and washing and packing to do at home.  The retirement was fun and nice to celebrate a wonderful teacher's career.

I couldn't believe when Thursday finally came.  I even got my slide show finished for the final assembly... I was a bit teary eyed when I was presented with a huge hanging basket and later a gift certificate at a garden centre from my staff.  The class was rather quiet-I think Playland wore them out!  We had our traditional picnic in the George Park with our reading buddies.  And then returned to school for the handing out of my "for fun" certificates and report cards.

And finally it was over-with lots of hugs all the kids were out the door released into summer.  There were plans for a water fight in  George Park but quite a few of the boys were back for Open Gym as they said there were a lot of girls and they were dangerous!

I carted with help, the huge hanging plant the staff had given me etc. and spent a  few very busy hours before it was time for the red eye special!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

the last week of heavy duty teaching

I made it through the week!  My last real teaching week although I am not sure how much teaching there was but there was lots of learning I hope!  I know school isn't over but what with presentations for other classes in the library, our graduation assembly, two field trips, another school assembly, and a picnic with our buddies in grade one next week I knew this was my last real week of at least attempting to teach.

We started the week on the roof.  When my class
realized the teachers were having a barbecue on the roof the night of the intermediate musical, they wanted to go on the roof so that I promised them that one day we would read on the roof.  With reports of rain for most of the week, I decided if it was happening it had to happen Monday.  It was rather fun.  And they actually did read.  At the end of our 25 minutes, I did let them explore a bit and they couldn't resist kicking a ball found up there a bit, until our Special Ed Assistant and I pointed out that they were doing this above Ms. Pavao's room.  Then she ran up to tell us her room was shaking as if there was an earthquake.  Of course they had stopped by then!

We had our last session in the series, Coping with Life's Ups and Downs, put on by Lu and Tiffany from the B.C. Crisis Centre.  This has been such a good experience teaching the class and me how to be more mindful and giving strategies for dealing with stress.  This week took some deep breathing and using STOP (stop, take a breath, observe, and proceed).  In this session we learned not to jump back and forth between what we think is bad and good but try to notice what is happening and realizing what we might think is bad could actually be good etc.  Just observe...

That afternoon was really special as well.  We had Luella from Compassionate Eye came and brought her brother, Robert, the founder.  That was so exciting and I know the kids treasured their kind words.  Here is a little bit of the video clip.  And Sharon from Room to Read was there as well and gave us a copy of Room to Read founder's children's  book, Zak the Yak, the that we have now placed in our school library.  Here is a bit of the clip of Sharon's speech to the class.  The kids had a lot of fun planning and executing lemonade and freezie and bake sales.  Both these ladies had earlier given  presentations about their organizations and taught the kids some great strategies for fundraising that I know they will continue to use in the future.  I am also going to put a copy of Julia's review on the pages section of this blog...  So in addition to fundraising of our Me to We Club for Free the Children, this class raised just over 1800 dollars for the Vancouver Food Bank, the Downtown East Neighbourhood House, the Union Gospel Mission, the Nepal Library Foundation, Compassionate Eye, and Room to Read.  The lesson I learned from this was to try to put as much responsibility in the hands of the children as possible.  Then the ownership is theirs not mine.
visitors.  We had cheques to present to two of our favourite charities.

Letting go isn't easy for any of us, most of us.  And in our final projects I really did let go.  Each student was able to pick their final project.  I did ask them to try to show the habitudes we have been working on-self-awareness, imagination, creativity, perseverance, passion, and courage.  When I initially saw some of the titles, I almost backed up into making them do projects on Ancient Rome, but I thought-let's just go for it.  They were told to have them ready for Wednesday (my advice to them learned at the school board, is always have everything ready a day early in case of emergencies) but the presentations were Thursday.  Of course we ran out of time Thursday afternoon and had to finish them off Friday morning.

I have to say they were kind of wonderful.  We went from wolves to rap musicians to the Philippines 
natural wonder- an underground river, to Golden Retrievers, to How to Play the Guitar, to Dance, to Lemony Snickett to Finding Nemo to Vancouver's riots and the Olympics.  Needless to say the kids were totally engaged in the subjects they had chosen.  Each one got up to the front of the class and presented loudly and clearly about something deeply personal to them.  There were posters, models, dioramas, prezis and power points.  Students were given quizes and music and dance lessons.  We all felt as if we were being eaten by a grizzly bear.  We got to touch a real bow and arrows one student had made.  Students did research and then made the material their own.  I found out things I never knew-I mean did I know that the famous American architect and urban planner, David Hudson Burnham, has a park named after him in Baguia, a city he planned in the Philippines?  On Monday we will share them with other classes in the school.

Friday was a very special day.  Our staff and students had planned a beautiful assembly for our principal and myself as we are both retiring.  It was kind of a weird experience sitting in my empty classroom Friday morning for a bit, knowing they were practicing, and there was much going back and forth as my students put final touches on various projects with our teacher-librarian (not all I have yet seen). And I have to say it was magic, the perfect summation of my wonderful four years at this wonderful school.  There was the slide show I had put together for my retirement celebration and then the whole school sang a revised version of Cindi Lauper's True Colours for me, accompanied by several of my students on guitar and piano.  There was a prezi put together by some of my boys complete with a video illustrating that homework comes before basketball playing (as if?!).  There was a lovely speech and a presentation of a plant by two of the girls (the speech was also written by one who got shy about presenting) and I have many cards and posters from my class and different classes in the school.  This was followed by a different but similar presentation for Jim, who has been the school's beloved principal for seven years.  The second graders even took him on a trip to New York to see his favorite musical, Chorus Line.  Of course none of this could have happened without the work of our totally amazing staff.  One more thing to do in the midst of report card writing and end of the year finishing.

But the day wasn't over.  I had 28 valedictorian speeches to hear and two to be picked by the class to be read at our ceremony Monday (in the end there will be four).  In fact we had to stay until 3:15 to finish them and they weren't quite as entertaining as the presentations but they were wonderful.  Again it isn't easy to get up in front of your peers and say deeply personal things.  I had thought I might not have time to hear them all and thought of short listing but it's hard to evaluate a speech until you have heard it ,and I think it's important that the kids pick who they want to represent their class and everyone has an opportunity to speak.  I will post them all and make a book of them.

So it's a weekend that will include writing certificates and making up humorous awards for each person in the class and making final decisions on more serious awards.  I also will work on a final slideshow for the school's final assembly Thursday.  But it was a great week even if I didn't get the final science and French lessons in... Next week is really about cementing in those final memories for the kids and for me!