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.

Volleyball, Toilets and Trad Music

…..exciting two days

It’s been awhile since I’ve written about my personal adventures and daily routines. I don’t know where the time has gone but being sick and dealing with family members who are also under the weather has definitely put my writing for this blog on the back burner. I’m also trying to get my house ready for our new addition. No, we’re not expecting another grandchild or taking in a foster child. My 90 year old father has decided he wants to live with us. Of course, we couldn’t say no.

Since the March Break I’ve been sick with an ear infection and then with a sinus cold. My hearing has suffered greatly and I feel like I’m under water. I can’t tell you how many times I have misheard what people are saying. Sometimes it can be quite comical but it’s also frustrating. I think I’m getting better but in the evenings my throat gets quite sore. Other than that I feel okay and I haven’t taken any time off from work.

Earlier this week, my friend and colleague, P, asked me if I wanted to be part of a volleyball team and play in a tournament against teachers from other schools. I agreed to do it as long as I felt well. By Friday, three people dropped out and that left us with only six players. Regardless of how I was feeling, I just couldn’t drop out, so I went to the tournament.

When I got there I felt somewhat intimidated by the players from the other teams. I think there was only one other player out of 45 players or more who was older than me. On our team, we had two 26 year olds, two 31 year olds, one 50 year old and me, the almost senior citizen.

Once we started playing, I quickly lost any inhibitions and just had fun. My serves were terrible but by the last game I finally worked out what I was doing wrong and my serves improved immensely. There were six teams in total and to my amazement we made it into the finals. In the seventh and final game we played against one of the teams we had lost against. At that point I was happy to place second. It was in that game that I took some chances and I actually dove for a ball and landed on my knees (no knee pads, of course). OUCH!

I got up quickly and assured everyone that I was okay. I kept playing (there were no substitutes) and in a very close game we ended up winning it all. I think we were all a little surprised but ecstatic. Not bad for a group of people that had never played volleyball together. Afterwards we went out with the team we beat in the finals (they were great sports) and had a drink.

Later that evening when I got home I had a bit of a headache and a sore throat. The latter was from the cold and the former might have been from the fall. I think I jostled my brain when my knees hit the floor. Today, however, the headache was gone and I haven’t suffered any aches or pains from the activities of the previous night. Maybe I should look for a senior’s volleyball team to join when I retire.20170331_201317_resized-2

On Saturday, my husband and I spent the day looking for toilets and kitchen cabinets. When we agreed to have Dad come and live with us we knew that the basement would need some major renovations. We bought a toilet, a grab bar and at Ikea we started to plan out the kitchen. They have an amazing computer program for planning out your kitchen. I think we spent a good hour or more just playing around with different configurations for our tiny little space. When you’re done it gives you a parts list and the total cost of your kitchen.

In 8 days our contractor is coming to the house to start the job so we still have a little bit of time before we make our final decision. The tiles for the bathroom are purchased and the living area is mostly cleared so those two areas can be started on right away.

In the evening Kevin and I went out for dinner at a restaurant not far from our house. In the last year we have become quite close with Will, the owner of Sugar for my Honey. He is always trying new things to bring customers into his restaurant. Last night he hosted a great musical event with live Trad music. The group, Nua, is a Canadian trio, featuring a guitarist, a bodhran player and a fiddle player. If music is food for the soul, this group filled the bill. The event sold out and the crowd loved the food and the music. Here is a video of one of their selections from their new CD, Flow.IMG_1524

Flow (click to open)



Fun, Fun, Fun

….last week’s Fun Fair was a huge success and of course a lot of fun

Last Saturday our school council hosted the school’s 15th annual Fun Fair. Over 500 wrist bands were sold which allowed the children unlimited access to the rides and carnival games. Hundreds of cakes were donated for the popular Cake Walk and this year the silent auction was brought back. Each class made an art object that was auctioned off and numerous businesses in the community donated products and services for the auction as well. It was a huge success.

The day was perfect. The weather cooperated. Parents and high school students volunteered their time to run events. Injuries were minor, a few scrapes that were quickly treated with bandaids. Music was provided by our OA and her husband. The police and fire department let the kids sit in the police car and the fire truck. At least this year the truck wasn’t called away in the middle of the fair. Dads manned the barbecues and the food was delicious.

The fair was easily attended by at least 1000 people. For every child at least one parent or significant adult accompanied them. Teachers came to show support and every year former students return. It’s always nice when they greet you and are sincerely happy to see you again. It was truly a day of fun, fun, fun……..

Collage as an Art Form

….personally I love collage but many people don’t consider it an art form

Yesterday I went to a workshop put on by the art consultants in our board and the topic was Collage. It wasn’t a huge class but there were about 15 teachers there from the elementary panel. We all taught different grade levels but we came with the same goal in mind and that was how to teach the art of collage to our students.

Our instructor took the group down a hallway to observe some examples of collage that had been done by the students at that school. The message that we took away was that collage is not suppose to be a bunch of pictures pasted randomly onto paper. I’m afraid that some of my grade five students are guilty of this very thing and even though we talked about foreground, middle ground and background many didn’t quite grasp how to apply that to their collage assignment.

One idea or school of thought behind collage is that the piece should tell a story. Some of my students were quite comfortable talking about their art but others couldn’t really come up with much of a story. The group at the workshop was given 2 assignments to complete in the hour and a half that we had and this included the lesson and the discussions that followed each assignment. For the first assignment we were asked to choose a post card from the table and then find ‘one’ picture that we could add to the card to create a new piece of art. The new addition was to blend in with the piece and look like it belonged there. Of course I missed the part about using only one picture but a few others did as well. Despite that the things that people came up with were very interesting and unfortunately these first pieces were scooped up very quickly and I didn’t get a chance to take photos.

The second assignment involved choosing an image that had been removed from a discarded art book. The paper is nice and heavy and works well for gluing collage papers onto it. Then we were instructed to pick 2 or 3 different colours of paper to add to the image and finally we had to find some pictures from magazines to add to the image. One of the hardest parts was deciding on which image to choose.

We only had 10 minutes to complete the first assignment and for the second assignment we were given about 40 minutes. It was a lot of fun and we were given some useful tips along the way that we can pass on to our students. One tip is ‘don’t let students glue anything down until they’ve conferenced with the teacher’. Good advice.

When all the pieces were done or at least close to being finished we had an opportunity to tell ‘our story’. I won’t discuss the stories here but maybe you can figure out for yourself what some of these stories are. My contribution is the last piece in the gallery with the netting across the woman’s face.

What if No One Shows Up?

…..these were LH’s words early this morning

Today the parent council from our school hosted a community BBQ. After arranging for the delivery of the BBQ, and organizing the food and drinks, LH couldn’t help but worry about the attendance. It didn’t help that people were surprised when she reminded them that the BBQ was tonight. I have to admit that it slipped my mind and I had to call home to let my husband know that I wouldn’t be home for dinner.

The weather was perfect and when I went outside to lend support for the event the line-ups for food were huge. Luckily people were patient and everyone seemed to enjoy the party. The meat was donated by Maple Leaf Food and LH’s husband did all the cooking. A group of moms and dads assisted with delivering and serving of the food. Clearly my help in this department wasn’t needed so I was asked to be the official photographer.

So with my camera and LH’s camera in hand I walked about and took a lot of photos. Here are a few of them.


So it turned out to be a very successful event. Just goes to show you that if you organize a complimentary event “they will come”. Thanks parents!

The Media Never Gets it Right

….. and the public only hears what they want to hear

It’s never been about the money or more PD time or discontinuing extracurricular activities. It is about taking away years of negotiated benefits at a moments notice, no discussion, no vote….just a quick passage of Bill 115. The ability to negotiate a fair and equitable contract between teachers and their boards has been removed.

In the first meeting the unions were met by solvency lawyers, with no Ministry people in sight. The government was unwilling to discuss rules and parameters for negotiations. As a result, ETFO, the elementary teachers’ union walked away from the table. The attitude was take it or leave it. ETFO always said it would return to the table if there were clear rules and parameters.
Talks between unions and the government are short and problems remain unresolved and yet the minister of education leads the media to believe that teachers are not willing to talk. In recent weeks, a meeting occurred with Ministry people, including the deputy minister  but Broten shut that down. 

The media has been brutal with the teachers. According to them we are to blame for the province’s entire financial mess. Radio talk show hosts clearly have a ‘hate-on’ for teachers. The scenarios and misinformation that they broadcast to the public is shameful and unprofessional. They whip up a frenzy of hate calls from their like-minded listeners and anyone who supports the teachers is quickly dismissed and their calls are cut short.

At our school we have continued with most of our normal, daily activities, including extracurricular activities. The students and community, up until this past Monday, probably haven’t witnessed any strike action by the teachers and yet according to the media all teachers have stopped offering extracurricular activities, extra help and refuse to write report cards. Not true!

As of Monday we have gone on work to rule and every board across the province is participating in rotating one day strikes for the next two weeks. Of course the media is trying to create a crisis by making it all about the ‘poor’ students. Why then is it all right for parents to take their children out of school regularly for extended holidays, competitions and tournaments? I don’t hear the media chastising the parents for doing irreparable damage to their child’s education when they miss days and sometimes weeks of school.

Don’t get me wrong; I know that for some parents finding daycare for their children will be difficult. Tomorrow the parents in my board will be given 72 hours notice so that they can make alternate arrangements for their children. We as teachers, however, have to take a stand, not just for us but for everyone. If the government is allowed to violate the charter of rights and freedoms act and the right to negotiate fairly under the labour relations act who will they target next?

I know that the media will be highly critical when we walk, especially since we are the largest school board in Canada. I need to stop listening to the radio for a few days. I find myself yelling at the box in the corner when ‘they’ get it wrong. They don’t want to hear the truth. It doesn’t make for ‘good radio’.