Reflecting on this Past Year

…..today I’m officially a senior citizen

There has to be a better designation than senior citizen when you turn 65. I know there are many perks when you reach this age but it also comes with labels such as golden oldie, old fart, grandma, oldster, senior, geezer, geriatric, old-timer and blue hair. Even though I’m a proud grandmother to Winnie I don’t feel old.

 

I look back on this past year and am proud of what I’ve done and happy to have such amazing friends and a wonderful family. I knew that this was the year to retire from teaching. I still loved the job but there were days when I was just plain tired and sometimes I didn’t feel that I fit in anymore. I didn’t want to be one of those crotchety old teachers that criticized younger teachers for doing things differently.  Sometimes I didn’t like what went on but I wanted to leave on a happy note so I kept quiet for the most part. The only people I would share my views with were people closer to my age and those who were also retiring. I have to admit that some of my favourite teachers were those much younger than me. I loved their humour and zest for life.

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Of course the students are what kept me going as a teacher. They weren’t always easy to teach and over the years the job grew increasingly more difficult but in the end the love and gratitude I received in the form of cards, art work, letters of appreciation and countless hugs made it all worthwhile.

This past year I’ve seen my own children continue to grow into responsible and amazing adults. They are all married now and our one and only grandchild is growing like a weed. She is my pride and joy.  Last night she kept saying Oma birthday, Oma birthday while rolling around in her crib. She clearly knows everyone in the family now and can say everyone’s name. She picks up at least 10 new words every day and we have to be so careful what we say in front of her.

My retirement is not quite working out the way I thought it would. I was hoping to do more travelling but it is still early days. Last May my father moved into our house. At 90 he’s still very independent but we’re a little worried about leaving him for too long. So far the longest we’ve left him alone is four days. We’re hoping to travel to London, England in November to visit with our son before he leaves to live in New York City in the coming year. Someone recently asked me if Dad was coming with us. We’ve tried to convince him to make at least one more trip to Germany to visit his brother. It looks like that won’t happen for at least another year, God willing, and I’m not sure if a trip to London would be in the cards for him as well. We’ll have to wait and see.

So as I turn 65 today I can honestly say that I’ve had a wonderful life. Now I look forward to my next adventure and hopefully I’ve inherited my father’s genes so that I can enjoy the next 30 years of my life with the same joie de vivre.

Two More Days!

…..the count down continues

One more day with the kids and then a PA day for cleaning up. The irony is that it seems like all I’ve been doing for two weeks is cleaning, cleaning and more cleaning; however, as soon as I start a new art project or pull books for discarding I seem to be right back where I started from.

Joanne suggested that I take photos of the every day things that I see all the time as a visual record of my life as a teacher. Here are a few shots taken after I’d cleaned the library. Unfortunately it doesn’t look that way at the moment. Outside the library a gallery of art that my students have done is on display and further down the hall is Ms. B’s class, Ms. C’s class and the office.

Making Funny Faces

…..what to do with the kindergarten class for art in June?

I’m always pondering on what to teach to my art classes, especially the kindergarten classes. I get inspiration from numerous sources, i.e., books, on-line classes, Pinterest, other teachers and Facebook.

Recently, two artists that I follow on Facebook were posting great portraits that they had made from crayons, markers, pencil and collaged papers. They were intended to be fun and somewhat abstract. I really thought that my kindergarten class could handle a similar assignment. I quickly made up a sample and drew some basic shapes that I used to show them how to put together a face. Here is my sample:IMG_2328

As usual the kids ate it up and created some fantastic faces. Unfortunately I didn’t bring my camera to the class so I don’t have any photos to share of their work but I did repeat the lesson with my grade 3s. I added one extra element to their lesson and that was adding watercolour as one of the mediums that they could use.

Here are some of the finished pieces. I love them all.

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Thank you Stefanie von Hoesslin and Jill Kuhn for inspiring me.

Ten Days and Counting

…..retirement is close at hand

I don’t normally count down the days to the end of the school year but this year is different. I’m finally retiring from teaching after 35 years of service.

I know some teachers who when they know they are retiring start the  count down from the first day of school in September. This is not my style but as my last day approaches I’m starting to feel that my life is about to change. I’ve written three speeches for three different retirement parties that all took place in the space of one week. The first one was for my principal and good friend, M, the second one for my longtime friend, L and the third was for me.

All three parties were very different. The first one was a sit-down dinner in an Italian restaurant, the second in the nursing home where L’s dad lived and mine was also in an Italian restaurant but less formal with finger foods being served.  All were special in their own way and I loved them all.

M’s party was held at her favourite restaurant. The meal was excellent and the speeches were warm and personal. M’s family was there and both her youngest sister and her niece spoke. They were funny and touching at the same time. L and I gave our speech in the form of a report card, which the staff thoroughly enjoyed because it was a bit of a roast but in the end the message was more serious. When M spoke she talked about how and why she came to be a principal.

L really wanted her father to be able to attend her retirement party and for that reason she booked the ‘party’ room at the nursing home. There was a piano player who played the entire evening in very comfortable surroundings. There were couches and overstuffed chairs situated around the room where people could sit and talk and listen to the speeches. Friends manned the wine table and servers walked about the room with canapés. The highlight of the evening took place when L and her father sang together and at the end of the evening L sang a solo. Three former principals came to the party plus family, friends and colleagues from school. It was a very musical evening and the accolades about her teaching career, especially those about her choirs, were very fitting for a much loved music teacher.

My party was the last one, held on Wednesday of this week. It took place in a restaurant literally up the street from where I live. My husband and I had eaten there on a couple of occasions and thoroughly enjoyed the food. My family, including little Winnie, friends from years past who were now at other schools, retired friends, neighbourhood friends, life long friends and colleagues from school attended. I was especially honoured when my very first principal from 1976-79 arrived with his wife. I wanted the party to be casual and fun. The finger food was amazing, the aperol spritzes refreshing and the cake and desserts delicious. My friend P, was the MC for the evening and he kept everyone laughing. Three of my friends used the Wizard of Oz as their theme for the speech they gave about my time with them at the school where we all met and worked at for eight to ten years. There were so many wonderful speeches that it would take too long to talk about each and everyone of them. I had the best time and will never forget the thought and care people put into planning my special day.

 

Ballerinas

…..a few weeks ago The National Ballet Co. came to our school and demonstrated the fundamentals of ballet and the preparation that takes place before a show

Our entire school population, from kindergarten to grade 5, were lucky enough to see the show and ask questions of the dancers. As a follow-up I did an art lesson with my kindergarten classes and used a picture book about Degas and the little ballerina, Marie to demonstrate some ballet poses and highlight some of the work that Degas created.

I showed the classes how to draw a simple ballerina, using chalk pastels. Some of the boys asked if they could draw male dancers and I was interested to see how they would do that since I spent so much time showing them how to draw a tutu.

As always, I was blown away with their creations. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

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A Busy Week

….when it rains it pours

This past week was the week I dreaded the most because many of the events that I organize and other special events and meetings that I take part in took place in this one week. On Monday the parents organized a very special luncheon for the staff at our school. The library was pretty much closed so that they could decorate, set up the tables and put out the food. As always there was so much food that the staff didn’t have to bring lunch for the next three days.

On Tuesday we had a soccer practice after school and then I drove to the warehouse to pick up an order of paper that I needed for my book making workshop on Thursday. When I got back to school I had dinner with the principle and then we waited together for the parent council meeting to begin at 7:00. I’m the teacher rep for these meetings. Needless to say by the time I got home it was pretty late.

On Wednesday we had another soccer practice after school so I started to set up for my workshop earlier in the day. I cut enough paper for about 60 books and I typed out the names of the 60 students who would be attending the special Forest of Reading Celebration. I placed the lists in the attendance folders so that teachers would know which students needed to be released from class. I would have stayed later and put more things out but I was reminded earlier in the day that I had bought a ticket to see a stage production that one of my former colleagues and dear friend was the stage manager for. I went home to have dinner with my husband and then left shortly after to get to the church on time for the musical extravaganza. It was actually very good.

On Thursday the day started with a bit of a wrinkle in our plans. The photographer for the grade 5 year end photo had to be rescheduled and it happened to fall on the same morning as the Forest of Reading Celebration. Four of the six teachers that were running the workshops that morning also had to be in the photo. Luckily my right hand woman, MC, was able to call down the grade 3s and 4s and read to them for a few minutes and then got them started on the art activity of bookmaking.

After the photo was taken the grade 5s went to the gym where two of my friends and colleagues hosted a drama/dance workshop based on one of the books from the Forest of Reading that I had read to the entire school. The book was The Artist and Me. I wrote about it in an earlier post. I went straight to the library to help MC with the bookmaking. This year I chose three easy designs and the first group mostly chose to make the accordion book.

At lunch the participants in the activity day went to the gym where they were served pizza, juice and ice-cream bars. All the teacher expert readers were invited as well. After the food was devoured the children went outside for lunch recess and the teachers had a bit of a break.

In the afternoon our visiting author, Sue Irwin, arrived with her props and extra copies of her book Safety Stars. She talked about her love of hockey and how she came to write a children’s book about how hockey evolved over the years with new safety equipment. She also tried to talk about the process of writing but the children had questions mostly about hockey which she happily answered. 9781459408470

At the end of the day I handed out special awards to the students who had read the most books. The goal was 12 but the top students had read 30, 39 and 41. Every student who attended the celebration also received a gift bag with a pencil, pen, book mark and stickers and one book of their choice.

After school I had one more soccer practice with the girls before their tournament the following day. On the way home I took the car through the car wash.

On Friday the girls’ soccer tournament took place. There were only three schools participating on this day. Our team won their first game 7-0 and lost the second game 4-0. It was a really chilly day but I’d rather have that than a day sweltering with heat.  We’re not sure if we’re moving on. If we are it means more practices. I guess we’ll find out on Tuesday. On the way home tonight I went back to the car wash and complained about the dirty water that they used to rinse the car. I didn’t notice the spots all over the car until the next morning. They gave me another voucher for a car wash so I decided to use it right away.

Ah, finally the weekend but there is no rest for the wicked. On Saturday I did three loads of laundry, cleared more things from the basement, started to take out my summer wardrobe and put away more winter items. I cleaned bathrooms, tidied my father’s apartment and vacuumed and de-cluttered the living room. We drove to the mall to get some new keys cut and buy some light bulbs and batteries. I checked out Winners while we were there but it was late in the day so I didn’t have time to try anything on.

Today is grey, cool and it’s pouring down rain at the moment. We went out earlier and picked up some meat from the boys that my husband coaches. It was some kind of fundraiser for one of the many activities that they’re involved in. We spent a couple of hours relaxing over coffee and just talking. Now that we’re back home we’re resting up a bit before we head out again to do more errands, i.e., grocery shopping, garden shopping and checking out fences for our backyard.

Tomorrow is a holiday in Canada, Victoria Day. Traditionally it’s the weekend where  a lot of people head up north to open the cottage. I was hoping to do the same but I knew if it was cold and raining I wouldn’t be making the trip this weekend. Only once did I go up in May when the conditions weren’t optimal and I vowed I’d never do it again. My daughter and I froze and left early. We’ll see what tomorrow brings. Perhaps we’ll visit a friend or drive to Hamilton or continue cleaning up around here and maybe we’ll start putting in our garden.

Cheers!

 

Geometric Fish

…..it’s easy to draw fish using geometric shapes like rectangles, squares and triangles

For a recent kindergarten art class I read a counting book that was illustrated with funny little fish that came in all shapes and sizes. The illustrator created simple fish shapes with ovals, triangles and square shapes. I demonstrated how to draw a fish using a combination of these shapes. A square, turned to look like a kite, for the body, triangles for the fins and tail and circles for the eyes.

Each student was give a sheet of watercolour paper and a variety of crayon colours and they were instructed to draw at least three fish and some seaweed. I also taught them the trick of making circles with white crayons that would appear magically when they added their watercolour paint.

On my second visit to the class I taught them how to water down the paint and do a wash across their picture. We also talked about using colours that would blend nicely if they wanted to use more than one colour for their background. Again they did a wonderful job. I’m always amazed at how uninhibited young children can be with a little instruction and encouragement from their instructor and peers.

In this class we learned about contour drawings using simple shapes, crayon resist using watercolours, blending colours and using space effectively.

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