Archive for the ‘teaching’ Category

Bye-Bye 2016

I have been doing year-end reflections on this blog, and really wanted to do it this year again (even though I haven’t been writing nearly as much). To start, here were my goals from the beginning of 2016:

  • I  would like to make progress toward a more stable work situation ✓
  • I would like to get back to spending more time doing (and enjoying) things I love like knitting, reading, and cooking ✘
  • I would like to move more and feel more energized ✘
  • I would like to enjoy the time with my family more ✘
  • I would like to either make our home more livable or move to a house that suits us better ✓


E started grade one and is learning how to read. C has entered his threenager stage. DH and I found two awesome babysitters who kids like, and we’ve been doing date nights more often (but not enough). We stayed at a hornet-infested cottage in the summer, but had some good times too!


After looking at our options, we decided that we’ll stay put. So, instead of looking at real-estate listings, we began thinking of how to improve our home. We added serious colour in our kitchen, DH built a mudroom area in the basement,  we replaced the huge bed & desk in the office with awesome Murphy bed/desk, and we took down hedges at front of our property.


I played soccer this summer, but have decided it’s just not the sport for me. I signed back up at the YMCA, and have been using it much more for swimming and yoga. I’d like to start playing badminton this year and get back to riding my bike.

Mentally, things really went downhill in the Fall, and I stopped doing all the things I know I need to do to have a happy life (eating/sleeping well, exercising, reading, knitting, time with friends). With my time off, I’ll be focusing on making this a priority.

One good thing with my long drive to work (1hr15min each way), I got through a LOT of audiobooks, and hit 13 books for 2016. Check out what I’ve been reading here.


I began the year by teaching at university/college levels, and I quite enjoyed it, but realized quickly it would not be a sustainable career option (low pay, limitations on how much I could work, nowhere to grow).

In the summer, I took 2 additional qualification courses to make me more marketable to public school boards. I got hired by one board as a supply teacher, but didn’t get on to the local board (which is the goal).

I did get my first public high school teaching position in September (what’s called a long-term occasional assignment, where supply teachers fill in for permanent teachers on leave). I was teaching grade 11 and 12 physics, and the contract was until the end of January. Unfortunately, I had to leave early due to overwhelming stress/anxiety. I’ll get back into the game when I’m ready, but will only be supply teaching.


There’s my 2016 in a nutshell! Stay tuned for what my hopes are for 2017.

It’s almost OCTOBER?

Yeah….sorry about that! Things have been crazy!

I was hired by one school board, botched an interview with a second (closer) school board, then got hired by the first to cover a long-term leave for a physics teacher!

So, I am now teaching grade 11 and 12 physics at a public high school about 1.25 hours away. It’s two periods a day, so that gives me the other two to get my work done, so I can come home, pick up the kids, make dinner, put them to bed, then work some more usually :PIt’s been 3 weeks since I started, and it’s been a roller coaster! From having massive panic attacks about not being able to do it to really enjoying it. I’m loving being in the classroom, but the prep is a lot of work – though at least I was expecting that!I often feel like I don’t know what I’m doing, or that I’m missing something, but I’ve been told that will go away in about 15-20 years of teaching. So, I’ve got that to look forward to!It’s been scary, exciting, fun, and aggravating all at the same time, and that’s just what makes life interesting, isn’t it? If you want to read more about my journey and experiences, check out my teaching blog: Joyous Understanding.October is a big month in our family: both boys have their birthdays, Thanksgiving, my “re-birthday” (has it been 3 years since my stroke?), Halloween of course, and just the awesomeness of Fall.How are you doing?

Ignoring or Avoiding?

I can’t decide if I’ve been ignoring or avoiding this blog. I miss it, and I am constantly coming up with thing to write about, but never end up doing it. I think this is for 2 reasons: 1) I know it takes time, and there are so many things going on that it drops down the priority list, and 2) I know my readership has dropped off because of lack of posts and writing just reminds me of that.

Anyway, I’m going to keep writing when I can because I enjoy it 🙂

First, an update on things!

I finished at the private high school before the Christmas break, and now I’m teaching at the local university (astronomy) and college (math). I’m quite enjoying these courses, and would like to keep teaching at this level.

This brings me to the most frustrating thing of all: jobs. I am still not in with the local school board (I ignorantly thought my 10+ years work experience in education and my own PhD+BEd education would get me in the door, but I was wrong). The university/college teaching jobs are term-to-term. so no stability there either. It can be super frustrating finally KNOWING what I want to do with my life and not have the options to actually DO it on a regular basis. But, I’ll keep plugging along and hope things continue to crop up, and eventually get a long-term post.

Family-wise, we’re deep into the terrible 2’s with C. And we thought E was bad when he was 2? Oh no…C is showing just what 2 can be to the extreme. His TTs are epic and nothing like I’ve ever seen. Thankfully, he can be really funny, happy, and just plain silly. He’s a huge risk taker too, which is much different than E.

E is amazing us with his intelligence lately. It’s awesome to witness his learning and how he LOVES to learn! He’s going through his own behaviour issues: he’s starting to talk back to us when we need to discipline him. This is very new to us, so we’re trying to get a handle on how to deal with it (most things seem to just make it worse).

Home-wise, we’re still flip-flopping on whether to do renovations or move. We agree our first step should be to get some designs and quotes on renovations to see if we can get what we need for a reasonable price. DH is going to a home show this weekend to connect with some contractors who can come and do this soon.

That’s our life right now – I hope that my posts will become more conversational rather than lists! How are you doing?

Guilt Reigns

I had been struggling with the decision of whether or not to leave my current job for the past month or so. There are many reasons why I have been considering this. Some are personal, others are job-related, but mostly because other opportunities have presented themselves.

I have signed on to teach at both the university (first-year astronomy course) and the college (first-year math), and both start in January. I will also be volunteering with a high-school physics teacher. These are great opportunities to investigate more options in the field of education, and I just couldn’t pass them up.

So, even though I have many, MANY, good (even excellent!) reasons to leave my current job, I still feel THE GUILT!

“But I’m leaving right in the MIDDLE of the term!”

“Are they going to be able to find a replacement for me?”

“Is the student going to be negatively impacted because of me?”

and don’t forget the favourite:

“Everyone is going to think I’m AWFUL!”

I spoke to numerous people about this decision, both inside and outside education, at different points in their careers, and asked their advice. One central theme was that the only person who will look out for me is myself.  And if there’s one thing in the time since my stroke is I need to look out for myself.

So, yes, the guilt is there, but it will lesson with time (isn’t time amazing for things like that?). And, come January with all of its new starts, the excitement will overtake those feelings. I’m already getting excited!

So, how’s that work thing going?

Well, thanks for asking! It’s been busy, stressful, anxiety-inducing, fun, wonderful, rewarding…I LOVE it and I HATE it all at the same time.

As I alluded to last time, my days are pretty crammed full with teaching. That means I have to prepare my lessons, assignments, test, etc. during other times – meaning evenings, after the kids go to bed, for the most part. The lucky part is all three of my students are taking the same course, so that – in theory – means 1 prep (or one class to prepare for).

Of course, what happens in theory and what really happens are completely different things. Because I’m teaching one-on-one classes, each student can have a more personalized educational experience. Often this means creating and re-creating my lessons and assessments, how they will be marked, how much they will count for in the overall mark.

There is the dealing with the students themselves and their needs – not just educationally, but emotionally, mentally, and even physically (one of my students broke their arm). Since this is high school, you can imagine that this part of the job is not the easiest.

Then there is interactions with the parents, which is done far more often than in public school – at least once per week, but often times more, especially if there are issues cropping up (either academically or behaviour-wise).

There’s trying to keep track of the other courses, extracurriculars and school events so things don’t fall on students all at once, and to make sure they’re getting the required 110 hours to get the credit (classes have to be made up if one is missed – unlike with regular classes).

Needless to say it has been exhausting on so many levels. I was asked to teach a different course for the next term, and have had to back track and decline because I just don’t think I can handle it right now for my own well-being. I need a break.

To all the teachers out there, I don’t know HOW you do it, especially if you’re full time and teaching different classes – and that’s not even considering extracurriculars, volunteering, your home life and other things going on. From the two months experience I have, this job is HARD. I had no idea how much work it was, and how emotionally draining it is.

So, if you are a teacher: have a drink on me tonight! If you know a teacher, please THANK THEM for everything they do. It really is a thankless job.

Next up for me: continuing to teach one of my students (they’re taking 2 terms to do the class instead of 1), and I’ll be teaching a first year astronomy class at the university, as well as a first year math course at the college, in January. Depending on how that’s going, I might volunteer at a local high school and/or take a course myself to add more qualifications to my resume.

October Falls In

So, apparently it’s been almost a month since I’ve written here! It’s been a crazy month, but mostly in a good way!

I’ve been teaching 3 private (one-on-one) grade 11 Math classes, and I’m really enjoying it! I like coming up with the material to teach, and how to teach it. We just finished a unit where I used review games throughout to help the students become more engaged with the material. Their unit assignment is to create their own review game that will be sent to students in other grade 11 Math classes!

The content side of things is going well and relatively smoothly – though I do have to re-learn the material, because it’s been since I’ve been in high school that I’ve used this Math. But, to be honest, it’s kind of fun to re-learn it and be able to just “get it” right away.

There are other things that I’m struggling with that we don’t learn a lot of about in teacher’s college. I definitely need to find a balance between helping students with their understanding and getting them to take responsibility for their own learning. It’s common for students to just want the answer, so I’m trying to find ways to foster an interest in taking it to the next level and aim for understanding (rather than memorization or just being told how to do it).

Another very common issue with high school students in Math is many have (rather large) holes in their Math skill sets. I struggle with deciding how much time to spend on review basic concepts versus teaching the new material. The problem arises when they need mastery of the basics to even attempt the new stuff.

The last issue is anxiety centred around Math. This usually comes to a head when a test is coming. I understand how many people (not just students) feel anxiety toward Math, but I also wonder how much of it is due to lack of preparation (which circles back to taking responsibility for one’s own learning).

Such is the life of a teacher, I’m finding out quickly. It’s much MUCH more than teaching content and getting students through to the next course.

Sweater and Other Things

I finally finished C’s sweater this past week – it only took 1.5 years. Yikes. I’m a slow knitter! This sweater had it in for me though. I had to rip it back a number of times…the last of which was right after I attached one of the sleeves and made a grave mistake involving lack of patiences, scissors, and it being past my bedtime.

Lesson learned: if something isn’t working as you’re about to go to bed, PUT IT DOWN, and look at it in the morning with fresh eyes.

In other news, E had his first day of senior kindergarten today. Now he’s the big man on campus (or at least in his classroom). He said he didn’t even miss me because he had friends around (I guess that’s a good thing, but thanks, kid!).

Lastly, I signed my first contract as a high school teacher! I’ll be teaching grade 11 math at a private school in town! I’m excited and nervous, but it sounds like it’ll be a good start to my career!

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