Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Terry Fox

On Thursday our school participates in the nationwide Terry Fox Run for schools.  It has been difficult to help my students understand what Terry Fox went through as he ran a marathon each day (!) from St. John's to Thunder Bay, or why he did what he did.  How can I encourage my students to at least imagine the pain Terry Fox felt each time he stepped out onto the road to begin his 4 AM runs?  What was it like for Terry to run in the rain, sun, heat, cold, with traffic forcing you off the road?  What inner strength did this person have in order to accomplish his dream of raising $1 from every Canadian to give to cancer research?

I don't know if I can.  Even as a runner I can't imagine running a marathon each day, and not for myself, but for others!  All I can tell my students are these words from Terry himself, and live and model them each day, so that they too might be encouraged to possess some inner strength to live their own dreams, and maybe not for themselves, but for others:

"If I died, I would die happy because I was doing what I wanted to do. How many people could say that?"

"How many people do something they really believe in? I just wish people would realize that anything's possible if you try. Dreams are made if people try."

Read some of Terry Fox's journal entries here.

Though five years out of date, watch this inspiring video:

Crackle and Pop

A square peg doesn't go into a round hole.  This is common knowledge, but sometimes one forgets (well I do, anway).  This is especially true when I write.  After publishing my "Snap" post, I was going to show the world how witty I was by writing a post called "Crackle" and another post called "Pop" (drum and cymbal sounds here: ba-dum-bum-tish).

But, alas, my dreams of being put on a pedestal of cleverness were dashed when I (re)discovered that writing continues to be an organic process.  You can't force situations to happen to fit your writing.  It's usually the other way around.  Writing is mostly based on personal experience.  I have yet since the "Snap" post to experience something dealing with crackle (I thought about autumn and crackling leaves under my feet, but no crackling leaves yet, just wet and soggy ones).  And pop, well, I could write about how much liquid sugar my students drink each day, or write about one of the Sprout's grandparents, but if the "Crackle" post isn't written, then the "Pop" post wouldn't make sense.

So, while craving Rice Krispy squares, I write a non-sensical post about writings that might have been.  For more eloquent prose, you are probably better off reading my spouse's blog instead.

Now, where is that cookbook...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


The oldest Sprout was in a great mood this afternoon. "Papa, guess what I can do!" she said excitedly as we sat down at the dinner table for supper (one of my favourite times of the day, and not just for the food). I thought she was going to share a story from her time at school today. FK loves being in grade three and will share even the minutest of details about her day.  An aside: this is a shout out to her teacher: "You are doing a great job! Thanks!"

"Watch this!"

A lick of a finger, quickly dried on pants, then...


"I can snap my fingers!" A wide, toothy grin follows.

FK had been trying unsuccessfully for a while now to snap her fingers. My spouse and I encouraged her to practice, for at some point FK would achieve success. She is tenacious, and though easily frustrated (like her Papa), doesn't give up.

I love that my Sprouts can take joy in accomplishments, big or small.  It is a reminder for me to do the same.

Now onto whistling, riding a bike without training wheels, ...

Saturday, September 18, 2010


This past week I was wallowing in self-misery. I was selfish and whiny. I complained a lot about the new schedule and that I had students in all the time at recess and after school for behavioural detentions and incomplete homework. I ranted to my spouse about how I and my students hate the daily "Spotlight", a time when we as a school learn about and discuss positive values (such as responsibility), achieve learning goals and how to be "Champions". As one student put it, the announcements "sound like a commercial".

Then, while I was reading through a student's journal entry about his favourite time of day, I read this:

"...but some of my family has to wait to eat because in my house we only have two chairs."

The next day, students were to write about something that was valuable to them. The idea of the exercise was to think about and write about something that has little worth in terms of money but a lot of value in terms of memories and so on. Even so, I still read a number of entries about Ipods and Xboxes, but had a few students write about photos, quality time, and then this:

"My kookum (grandmother) is valuable to me...because my Mom and Dad keep leaving us...". I don't want to tell you about the rest of what she wrote. It made me cry.

A third student wrote that if she is caught drinking one more time, she will be put in jail. Yet another student was terrified to go home because a care-giver was called about a behavourial issue.

The realization? Responsibility. It's one thing to "talk" about it during Spotlight, it's another to do it. So, enough complaining. Enough selfishness. If we want them to be responsible, students need adults in their life to model responsibility. Though I'm an "outsider", I am one of the few adults in my students' lives for a few hours each day that they can count on. I need to model responsibility. I need to be dependable, accountable for my own actions, do my work everyday in a positive manner, be trustworthy, and keep my head. Most of all, though, I need to continue to provide a safe place for my students to be, where they feel valued and respected.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Song Lyrics: "Put On a Happy Face"

Gray skies are gonna clear up,
Put on a happy face;
Brush off the clouds and cheer up,
Put on a happy face.
Take off the gloomy mask of tragedy,
It's not your style;
You'll look so good that you'll be glad
Ya' decide to smile!
Pick out a pleasant outlook,
Stick out that noble chin;
Wipe off that "full of doubt" look,
Slap on a happy grin!
And spread sunshine all over the place,
Just put on a happy face!
Put on a happy face
Put on a happy face
And if you're feeling cross and bitterish
Don't sit and whine
Think of banana split and licorice
And you'll feel fine
I knew a girl so glooming
She'd never laugh or sing
She wouldn't listen to me
Now she's a mean old thing
So spread sunshine all over the place
Just put on a happy face
So, put on a happy face

Lyrics by Lee Adams from the musical "Bye Bye Birdie". 

Monday, September 13, 2010

I Need To Pee

I'm not going to begin writing a rant about our school's new daily schedule (and on top of that how every non-teaching time like recess is taken up by detentions and incomplete homework), mostly because I don't have the energy and I still have marking to do.  There is one thing, though, that irks me and I need to get it off my chest.

I. Need. To. Pee. 

There.  I said it.  There is no time to pee, or eat, or get prepared for the next lesson, or...


If only I had the sense of humour that Stuart McLean does:

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Shot I Got vs. The Shot I Wanted

Often when I and the family are out and about I come across a scene which would make for an interesting capture, especially with one or more of the Sprouts included.  Today was no exception.  As we were meandering around the waterfront of Kenora, we walked by a construction sign.  Perfect!  JK loves machines and anything to do with construction, so I thought a pic of him by the sign would be a fun capture.  However, JK had other ideas, and no cajoling could convince him of posing for a pic.  Sigh.  But while he was not interested in the big, bright orange sign, he did keep glancing behind me, watching trucks driving through the round-about. As he leaned back into the construction fence, I was able to capture this photo:

The above was a much better portrait, than this (which he finally posed for):

Sometimes in photography you just have to adapt to the moment at hand - you may end up with a better pic than the one for which you planned.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Capturing the Spirit

My previous post reminded me of a picture I captured this summer of JK.  It is my favourite (so far) of my son, as it captures not only a fun moment while camping this past summer, but his spirit of joy, laughter and play. 

A larger pic can be found here.