Things I Learned Yesterday…

I have a bucket list. In fact, I have several bucket lists scattered around on bits of papers and in half written journals. Doesn’t everyone?

For the longest time my bucket list was pretty average. Go travelling, write a novel (I’m working on it) learn how to do a handstand (still working on that one as well) and fall in love (how freaking cliched…right? ahem … right? Still haven’t fallen in love so…). From all accounts it looked like my bucket list was just a random list of ideas…but, this weekend, I knocked something off my bucket list.

I did an adventure race.


My gallbladder tried to kill me…

I have the best excuse for not updating…

Previously I wrote about my hospital stay here. This was back in April and I was popped on the waiting list for an elective laparoscopic cholecystectomy which was supposed to be done in May …

Fast forward to the end of May where I found myself back in hospital. The doctor who would have done my surgery was going to be away but said that the surgery would definitely be a go for the 9th of June. So, I was in hospital until the Saturday and then I was off until the surgery.


The Small Pleasures – or an Incomplete List of Small Pleasures…

I still consider myself a new teacher even though I’m nearing the end of my fourth year. And, in ways, it has gotten easier but it is still a hard job. It can be unforgiving being a teacher – and it isn’t just the teaching part. I’m not going to complain about the amount of hours because we all know that. We know that teachers in all facets of school work really hard. I’m more focused on the small things that make everyday great – and yes, most of it revolves around teaching. I have used this prompt in class and it has worked well with students:

I’m sure I saw this on writingprompts but there is also the URL to the author’s blog down the bottom.

The junior students really loved it and we shared our ideas in class. My seniors, however, were confused. They didn’t understand what a small pleasure was and were reluctant to buy in. I ended up having to share my list – and I made them write nine of their own – because the number nine, to me, is an incomplete number.

So, here is my list:

  • the sound of gentle rain in the middle of the night
  • the smell of fresh cut grass
  • the first cup of coffee in the early morning
  • seeing the trees change in autumn
  • talking to my nieces
  • finishing a book in a day
  • a nice cup of tea
  • fresh strawberries in yoghurt
  • crawling into bed after changing the sheets

You may notice that there are no small pleasures from school but you must remember that this is an incomplete list of small pleasures. There are many things that I enjoy about being at school. The joy on students faces when they learn something new is a popular one but a new favourite of mine is the fact that students come to my classroom to say hi. Or lean in my windows and shout out my name. Or who sneak into my class and expect me not to notice that they are juniors in a senior class or vice versa.

So, the purpose of this post was to remind each of us to look at the small things that bring us joy. Especially when we are feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Sometimes, the small things remind us that the big things will come when they come but there are always small pleasures to help us through our days.

Leave your incomplete list of small pleasures below…if you want to.

Peace and pancakes.

Edit: I wrote this post on the 15th of March but had to back date it in order for it to post. Sigh. I will figure out this glitch, I promise.

What are you passionate about?

Parent: “You seem so passionate about your subject. What else are you passionate about?”
Me: “Oh I love reading and gaming and using these ideas in the classroom. I really want students to understand that they have different options with regard to…” 
This is a typical interaction that I’ve had with various parents over the last few years of my teaching. The whole idea of discussing what I’m passionate about scares me at times. It means that I am giving voice to something that I keep hidden and, once it’s out there, it’s real…

When I find myself thinking about this question or being asked it I often pause and quickly deconstruct two things: the person asking and the question itself. Maybe deconstruct is not the right word but it is the right sentiment. What do I mean by this? Well, my answer will differ depending on the person who is asking. Not by much but by tone, gesture or even by exaggeration. I also have to think about what I am truly passionate about. And, does the person asking truly want to know or is it a filler question – the kind of question that, as a teacher, I have fallen back on when trying to get students to focus or when trying to identify the students who may be struggling. Filler is the wrong word, focus is the “F” word that I am looking for.

I need to know about the person asking and what their motivations are in asking such a question. And then I need to decide which of my pre-prepared answers will I spring on them. We all have these answers – I’m passionate about running or I’m passionate about saving the environment. Broad answers that sound correct but may not be entirely accurate because to truly reveal what you’re passionate about to people involves trust and knowledge. You have to trust them with the truth and hope they add to your knowledge rather than leach it away.

One other thing to consider – think about on what you were passionate about ten years ago, five years, one year? My passions have changed. And this reminds me that my students passions will change – subtly or in broad dynamic strokes as they begin to realise who they are as a person.

So, what am I passionate about? Depends on who’s asking but I will give you my filler lists and, maybe someday, I will give you my real list.

Learning. Classic teacher response but I love learning new pieces of information, filling up the filing cabinets in my mind with random knowledge that I can whip out at a whim. I have been toying with the idea of attempting my Masters degree but we’ll see. Sometimes fear gets in the way of the passion. But everyday I like to find out something new. Something interesting that might not mean much to others but means something to me. I’m definitely a magpie or a crow.

Travel. And my students know this since I remind them constantly that one of the best things that they can do is travel – nothing like eating crickets in Cambodia or tasting tea in Vietnam or downing a churro at Disneyland. I have a bucket list in my mind and I will continue to tick things off as I go. There is something about going into a new place and finding myself completely disoriented and then finding food. I quite enjoy food.

Sharing knowledge. Not just the knowledge needed to pass tests but the knowledge that there is more to the world than school or the town they have grown up in. I constantly share knowledge – even if it isn’t wanted. I guess that’s partially why I enjoy teaching because I have a (sometimes) captive audience who challenge me every day to extend them. I want students to share in this love of knowledge and learning.

My challenge to you is to think about what you are truly passionate about. Have you done anything to develop that passion or, like me, have you put your true passions on hold while you try to figure out if they are what you really want?

I also want you to think about your students and what they are truly passionate about and how we, as educators, guide them and also show them that it is okay to be passionate about maybe collecting toy dinosaurs…

Peace and pancakes…