Sunday, March 28, 2010


There are different types of humour. There is sophisticated and witty humour written by Stephen Leacock, Garrison Keillor and Stuart McLean (and dare I say Calvin and Hobbes?). There is quirky humour a la Monty Python. There is silly humour like puns (such as the ones I put on the top of Math reviews which make students' eyes roll: What do you get when you cross a dinosaur and a pig? Jurassic Pork!) and those knock-knock jokes we as parents hear from our six year old in the backseat on the way to town (Knock, knock. Who's there? Tank. Tank who? You're very welcome.).

There is something infectious about laughter. We laugh a lot as a family, especially when Papa gets mocked for being old:

FK: I wish I knew more history.
Mama: You know who to talk to about history? Papa. He knows a lot about history.
FK: That's because he lived way back then.
(hilarious laughter ensues)

My students like to laugh a lot, too. A lot of students were away Friday, so I took what small class I had to the computer lab to google and answer questions raised during the week during lessons and discussions. After the real work was done, I told my students to go to and play some interactive math games. Now you might think that 12-15 year olds would balk at playing these less than mature games in a Xbox, Wii and Nintendo world. No, not on Friday. They were giggling and laughing at the antics of plucky penguins and grizzly wheelchair-bound grannies all the while solving multiplication problems. Who knew?

Then there are those times you don't know whether to laugh or to be annoyed. Those of you who know us know we live an long hour's drive north of the nearest metropolis town. As I was wheezing and huffing my way up a hill this morning, all the while muttering under my breath "There are no hills in ____, there are no hills in ___", along comes a red Chevy van. The driver pulls the van up beside me, rolls down the window, and with a large grin, asks, "You runnin' all the way to town or do you wanna a ride?"


Friday, March 26, 2010

A Song Left Behind

Last week our very close friends from Southern Ontario visited us for a few days. They are those friends that even though you do not see them very often (not as often as you would like to), you reconnect as if you had seen them yesterday. Our friends DJ, EJ, IJ and AJ are like family to us in a lot of ways. DJ and EJ are the hospitality king and queen. EK and I learned a lot from them about hospitality and friendship while living in TO. It was more than our turn to open up our home and give them the welcome they deserved.

We had a great time, and though I won't go into details, it was a blessing for our family to have the J's visit. They did leave something behind, however, that has impacted our family meal time: the Johnny Appleseed song (you know - the one from Disney's Melody Time). After prayer, our family now bursts out into joyful song. Even if our day has been less than ideal, the simple lyrics and clap-a-long tune lift heavy hearts and make JK smile from ear to ear.

I suppose now that they have left something behind, the J's will have another reason to come back and visit us again soon.

The Lord is good to me
And so I thank the Lord
For giving me the things I need
The sun and rain and an appleseed
Yes, he's been good to me

James 1:27

This video has nothing to do with teaching and yet everything to do with teaching:

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
James 1:27, TNIV

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Final Three

Last week I reached a milestone in first year teaching: March Break. I think I am as surprised as anyone else at this. I have been walking on eggshells all school year wondering if I was going to have the kind of year the previous teacher of my class had. I haven't yet (knock on wood and all that), and now the final three months of the year are ahead of me. I imagine that at the end of the year I will write a blog post about the year, its ups and downs, what I learned (and didn't learn), how great my students were, and so on, but right now, with my desk cluttered with this week's plans and materials all I can think about is 1) where did all the time go?, 2) how much work I still have to accomplish and 3) where am I going to find the energy to do it all?

I am encouraged by my amazing spouse who has been mentoring me through thick and thin this year. I don't quite know how she does the teaching thing with such passion (especially after 13 years), though I now have more insights into what makes her such a great teacher. I only hope that one day I can be as great and inspiring a teacher as she is today.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Lazy Days of March

EK and FK went to Winnipeg yesterday for a two day shopping trip, leaving JK and I behind to laze around the house in our pj's, play with LEGO, read lots of books, watch a Fireman Sam DVD over and over, and get lots of fresh air outdoors (I did find time to clean the house, too). Though my body clock told me to get up early (which I did anyway), I enjoyed the freedom today of not having to race out the door with the rest of the family for school. I enjoyed a leisurely cup of coffee while reading a book after breakfast, then spent the rest of the day hanging out with JK. And for a bonus, he had a meltdown this afternoon, then promptly fell asleep for a two hour nap which gave me some quiet alone time which I have desperately needed for about two months. Ah, bliss! The day with JK ended on a positive note. As I tucked him in, I said the usual "Good night, I love you." He responded with his usual "Yes". Normally, it ends at that, but tonight he thought for a bit, then added "I love you too, Papa."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


There are people in this world who put others ahead of themselves. I wish I was like those people, but this blog post isn't about my shortcomings. Friends of ours recently gave a donation to the school which resulted in an exciting day for both my and EK's classrooms yesterday. As I mentioned in my previous post, Tuesdays are mail days (and package only days). EK came into my classroom yesterday carrying the first of three boxes of books purchased for our classroom libraries as a result of the donation. My students were very excited because I had mentioned to them already that we were ordering books for our meagre and would they like some input into what was being purchased. They readily offered suggestions, many of which were ordered and arrived yesterday.

Now, I must tell you that at the beginning of the school year, reading was just not a cool thing to do. Maybe one or two of my students pulled a book out to read when work was finished, but the rest would rather do anything else than read. However, by using a number of strategies throughout the year to encourage students to read, almost all of them now pull out books and read at any opportunity. Once kids are hooked on reading, educating them goes to a whole new level.

Needless to say, my students were very excited to see the new books arrive yesterday (Christmas in March!). In fact, they were so excited to read the new books that I created some time at the end of the day for quiet reading. The students curled up in chairs and the lovely sound of crisp pages being turned over again and again was music to my ears.

Thank you CS & VS for this amazing gift of a classroom library!

It's Official!

Today was mail day (Tuesdays and Thursdays are the only days we get mail). In my mailbox was a notice that my student loan balance is now at $0.00.


Monday, March 1, 2010


Two or three times a week I run home after school. Running home after work not only keeps me active and allows me to breathe in fresh air, it also helps me to think about the school day and how to make the next day even better for my students. Ultimately, the successes and failures in the classroom are the responsibility of the teacher, so an after school run enables me to think through possible solutions to problems and enjoy those moments that can be called successes.

Today a young, black dog joined me for part of the run home. It was a refreshing change to have a running partner accompany me as I slowly ran up and down the hills of the community to our home. The dog seemed to enjoy the run, too, tongue hanging out, as if this was a regular routine in its life. "Hmm..." I thought. "Something about having a four-legged running partner feels right, somehow."