Friday, June 29, 2012

Farewell

 
 
“Farewell," they cried, "Wherever you fare till your eyries receive you at the journey's end!" That is the polite thing to say among eagles.

"May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks," answered Gandalf, who knew the correct reply.”
 
JRR Tolkien

For Allan - 

Who says "Farewell" today:
to a job well done and well loved, 
to colleagues who have been mentors and some who have become friends, 
to students whose lives have been changed and who enriched his teaching...... 
to a place he lived and worked his vision and values and passion.  

So proud of the man and the teacher you are.
 
I love you.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - My Day Today

My office

My view
My view today

The walk through the park
This guy plays music and the lady sings chinese opera everyday
My lunch dates - 2 special ladies

Just my luck
Checking in - it may be an obsession
Coffee - always coffee
A great report card from David
Best way to end the day - dinner with the Hofs - 2 beautiful girls



Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Curiosity

Good evening fellow Instructors, Program Administrators, Families and our honoured guests – the ECE class of 2012.

I am delighted to be here to share this momentous evening with you.  A moment in your life that you have worked hard for, made sacrifices to accomplish and are rightly anxious to celebrate.

As someone who has walked parts of this journey with some of you, I rejoice in the ways you have embraced your learning, have asked hard questions, have thought deeply about philosophy, best practices, curriculum ideas, guiding and caring……. The ways you have learned to dance and sing and tell stories and set up learning invitations for children, how to work with families, how to observe and record, how to be safe and serve good snacks.

When we think back through all the courses, all the individual classes your dedicated instructors developed and delivered to you, it forms an impressive list of topics.  Add to that the hours you have spent with mentors in the field doing practica and all the things you learned in those placements….another set of impressive checklist of topics covered.

As your teachers and mentors we may stand back and feel a sense of accomplishment ourselves.  That we were able to impart sufficient knowledge to you such that you stand here tonight to proudly graduate from the ECE program.

BUT

BUT it is nothing more than a long list of pre-requisites and assignments and observations and workbooks and evaluations ….. a whole lot of head knowledge that will perhaps start you on your journey as an ECE.

Very soon you may come to a dead end, an unsatisfying and dull place, a place of rules and rigidity, a place of boredom and frustration……

UNLESS

Unless you take from this program a deep and profound curiosity.

A curiosity about yourself. About what it will take for you to be that extraordinary version of yourself that changes lives. Changes your own life by your deeply reflective thinking about your work, your relationships, your vision and your values.

A curiosity about your work.  About what it takes to be an educator who delights in the daily gifts offered up to you by the children and families and colleagues you work with.  A curiosity that sees around barriers, that seeks to see strengths before dwelling on weaknesses, that seeks creative collaboration and reflective dialogues to grow your work.  A curiosity that leaves you hungry to go deeper and be more present and raise the bar for best practice.

A curiosity about families.  About their hopes and dreams for their children.  About the treasures they bring to you in their different cultures, traditions and celebrations.  A curiosity about how to nurture their children together in a supportive partnership of respect and communication.  A curiosity that allows you to wonder with them about the joys and the challenges they face and we face together.

A curiosity about children, about a child.  A deep curiosity about what a child is thinking and feeling, about their theories, their questions, their strengths.  To be curious with them about the world, their world.  It’s a big and complicated world and for you to be their trusted adult and guide to authentically wonder about the world with them is a gift, a joy, a sense of profound safety and a way to grow and learn.

The course work is necessary.  It had to be done.  There is “stuff” to know and remember and do.  But if in that work you have not learned to be deeply curious or, worse still, you have buried or lost your curiosity in course work and assignments….. I urge you in the days and weeks ahead to find it, to rekindle that fire in your heart that pointed you in the direction of this course.  Reconnect your head with your heart and then connect them both to the work of your hands and feet.

This is important work you have chosen, work that changes lives, work that could and should change yours.

Do this work with all of yourself and remain forever curious……and that will make you an extraordinary educator and the world will be blessed because you came to this place and did this work.

Congratulations ECE Class of 2012.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Last Monday

This is the last Monday of elementary school for David so it was not surprising that his emotions where a little high this morning.

He has done such hard work on his social/emotional self over the last year and does so much better in managing his anxiety and fears but when a lost earphone rubber pad sent him to tears this morning as I was headed out of the door I knew I needed to stop and connect.

We stood on the front path way and in the front hall acknowledging that leaving elementary school is a big step.  It's exciting and sad at the same time.  It's ok to feel sad.  He choked back the tears and we talked about what to do when you feel your cup is full and overflowing.....how to manage those strong feelings.  He gets it.

 Add to this that Grade 7 has been David's best year....by far, by so so far.......it makes the leaving all the harder to do.

What a hard decision it was to pull him out of Grade 6 early and move him to a new school for Grade 7.

What a right choice.

We didn't know school could be like this year has been for David.  Nourishing, rich, engaging, caring, exacting, demanding, creative, fun, innovative......everything we could have wanted for him (wish we had had for both our children all the way through!).  He has flourished and all the negative labels imposed on him before have not only vanished but actually never presented themselves in the new school setting.

 In parenting one wonders about nature vs nurture...... there have to be some similar question in teaching environments....whatever they may be.......we sure lucked out with the school, the Principal, the teacher, the classroom, the vision and values of a learning community evident throughout the building.

So as we walk through last Monday, last Tuesday, last Wednesday and finally Graduation on Thursday we will focus on the gift we were given of a great year - a great transition year to highschool but I am pretty sure David and I will need a handy supply of kleenex come Thursday at 11am as we walk out of the doors at Homma Elementary for the last time.



Friday, June 22, 2012

Teaching

I finished back-to-back semesters of teaching last night.

When I start with the Year 2's in the dark and cold of January - teaching Math, Science and Social Studies in Early Childhood Education......it feels like a long road ahead.

Right after Spring Break I start teaching the Year 1's a course called Learning Child.

And all of a sudden it's June and I am done for the year. 

Once I get going I actually enjoy the teaching.  I wouldn't call myself a "natural" teacher but I am passionate about my subject, deeply passionate about the field of Early Childhood Education and my part in developing reflective thinkers and passionate people to work in it. 

I am also super well prepared ( I know this comes as a huge shock to y'all).  Each class is a unit - most now on power point, I use media as appropriate and a blend of group work and classroom discussion. I love a good debate so I am sometimes provocative.

But it is really the students that make it all so interesting (just as it is the children in our programs that bring zest and life to them).  I have met some extraordinary women over the years.  Some I have had the privilege to see in the classroom on their practicum and what a joy it is to see their learning come alive.

I was showered with gifts last night - some delicious baking, an always welcome Starbucks card, lovely notecards, beautiful words and some hugs.  This was not an easy class, very anxious about everything, but we bumped along together and worked out a way to work and learn and in the end they all succeeded.

I am glad the "teaching season" is over for me (but for some marking) but I am sure by the time January rolls around I will be ready to get back in the classroom.

As a little present to myself I am going to buy me a new rolley cart that I use to haul all my gear to class each week.  As you can see.....this one doesn't exactly scream professionalism and is way overdue for retirement!


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Limbo

It is those crazy odd last two weeks of the school year in Canada.

The Big Kids (aka highschoolers) are out of school and only going for exams and most of those are done.  They go back for one morning on the 28th to pick up report cards and year books.  So they are in a wierd limbo space - on holiday but not quite, some studying, some not......trying to fill up long days.  Lindsay has had friends over, done baking, helped her Dad clean out his office at Cambie....today she is having a quiet restful day after a late night.  She is doing a course at Summer School this year (to free up more elective space in her calendar) so she is starting to look at that work and get ready for going to Camp in the second week of July

Allan is finished teaching - now invigilating exams, running workshops for colleagues, packing up to move schools, visiting the new school.....and getting ready to teach Physics Summer School.  He is also continuing his University studies right through the Summer with hopes of graduating in the Fall.

David is possibly feeling the most in limbo of us all as his elementary school days slowly wind down, less school work is being done, more fun stuff is being enjoyed with friends and teachers - today a day at Steveston Park and tonight the Grad Family Dinner at school.  Yesterday we went shopping for dress shoes for the Grad ceremony next week. I think he is both ready for it all to be done and also longing to hang on to it for a little bit longer.  It has been his best year in school and that is hard to let go off when it was so hard won.

I am in that post-conference limbo where BIG ideas are swirling in my head but I need to order them to make sense and carefully consider the next steps. 

And the whole Province is waiting for summer weather....... we have had a day here or there but I think there is a collective longing for sunshine and warmth!

So here's to getting through the next 10 days......to the long weekend....when we will give ourselves a little treat of an overnight trip to Bellevue Washington, do a little retail, have a nice meal.....a little adventure to kick off the summer.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Weekend of Dads and Grads

Saturday started with an inspiring tour of Stoneybrook  in London Ontario and was followed by a great final afternoon session of the Leadership Institute.  A transformative moment in my life.  I was both glad it was over and so very sad to leave this community of deep thinkers, to leave this time I had to think deeply about myself as a leader, my job, my organization.   Deeply grateful.
Reminders

I took a last walk in a balmy 28 degrees to the Thames River, had a coffee and then called a cab and headed to London Airport.

London Airport on a Saturday afternoon
My flight left just before 8pm but as we flew west we chased the sun and so although there were many more clouds than there had been on my flight out, I did glimpse some pretty amazing sights from up there.  The sunset in Calgary was incredible - even my bad photos of it with my phone from a moving plane through the grimy window give a small sense of its glory.


By the time I got to Calgary at 11pm local time (2am body time with almost no sleep the night before) the 45 minutes sitting in the Westjet wing of the airport listening to perky and joking Westjet flight announcements was it's own special hell......" Ladies aaand Gentlemen Fliiiight Seven foooorty niiine to Saskatoooon is in final boarding...if you are Mr Kapingo you better hustle yourself down to gate D fooooorty eight for immmediate boarding........we need to get this boeing going" repeat, repeat, repeat. 

And then the flight was delayed.......because the crew had to get their Tim Hortons - I kid you not.  And then the plane was overfull and there was no room for the bags......I was almost in tears as we finally taxied to the runway.

So lovely to touch down in Vancouver and see my beloved and wish him a Happy Fathers Day at 1am in the morning!

A good but all too brief sleep and then up for Grad Sunday at church and Father's Day festivities.  David and his buddy Isaac were the two Grade 7 Grads at our church and were given gifts (including a shaving kit - be still my beating heart!!) and wished well for their highschool journey.
It was also our last Sunday at our church which was hard and sad - a long and sad story that led us to this point but trusting God has good things ahead and a new church family.

Allan and I talked a lot after church, sitting in the sunny backyard where the veggie garden is flourishing and we spied our first tomatoes  - we dialogued long and in depth about Leadership - funny how he and I are both students of leadership and its complexities and nuances and practicalities at the same time.  He knows so much more than I do and I was deeply grateful to start to order some of my thoughts and feelings from the Institute in talking it over with him.

Then my parents came over and we celebrated the Dad's - so grateful my Mom and Lindsay did the meal thinking and prep as my fatigue was kicking in.  Also so grateful for my Dad and Allan and for the great fathers they are.

We had a great BBQ - a sit and chat around the fire outside and I was early to bed and sleep.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Thanks God

I said a prayer as I arrived at this conference.

It was a small one...."Please God may I get 5 minutes with Ann Pelo" - Although I am more than sure God knows who Ann Pelo is - for your information , she is the keynote speaker and visionary leader in our field whose thinking and practice in Early Childhood Education has so transformed my own thinking and practice.  You'd want to meet her, she's THAT cool.

I pray often.

About many things and situations and sometimes (likely not often enough) to say "Thank you"

Sometimes, like any ritual or familiar practice, it just kind of rolls around in my head and I am not as reverent about it as I could be or should be.

Yes, I do pray for parking spaces occasionally.

It makes me both thankful and guilty when I get one.

One should not abuse a power like prayer for small things - so I tell myself.

This is not a correct or helpful theology.

Prayer is a conversation with someone who loves me. And conversations are about big things and little things and conversations happen continually.  Not just on a Sunday morning after the Pastor says "Shall we pray..."  So even when I said my little "Please please please let me meet Ann Pelo" prayer - I meant it but I had little faith.

Honestly most days my faith it pitiful - God loves me and like a father wants good things for me...I have NO reason not to believe this, He has never let me down EVER.

But still I doubt He would do this one small thing for me.

Furthermore why did I have to pray this I hear you ask? Why not just walk up to the woman and say "Hey Ann, I am Nicky and I am so pleased to meet you"?

Because... I lack courage.

So I prayed and God came through.

I walked into a huge ballroom of 300 people and as I walked through the doors and was looking for a place to sit down....A woman came toward me and held out her hand and said "Hi , I am Ann Pelo".

Seriously.

How.cool.is.that?

I am sure I sounded like an eejit as I did not say all the things I had rehearsed to say to her - we just chatted for a couple minutes and moved on.

I wanted to fist pump the air and Yeehaw a little.

Instead I offered up another short prayer.  "Thanks God".

Today we boarded buses to go to visit child care centres.

There were three buses.

I got on mine and chose to sit alone closer to the back.  Just as I was feeling a little awkward about sitting alone.

Ann Pelo got on the bus, walked up the aisle and sat down next to me.

20 minutes of heartfelt conversation and connection  - truly a gift!

"Thanks God"

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Conference Quotes

Technically this is a Leadership Institute not a conference - there is a difference.....and I am getting used to it.
Today was full, mostly on "The Vision" for the kind of organisation you want to run/lead/work in.  There is no quick handout and off you go.....there are deep discussions on sticky topics in small groups......I find it very challenging to be an engaged listener and a thoughtful contributor when so much is going around in my head - so much I need to still sort out and make sense of.  I try not to jump to work that I must do when I get back, conversations I must have, changes I must initiate....I try to stay in the moment and be that reflective thinker person I aspire to be.
So while I mull it all over and let is sink in, here are some amazing quotes from the presentations today.

Management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right things. - Peter Drucker

When you provoke curiosity you grow reflection - Margie Carter

The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become - Charles Dickens

Dreams are a living picture in the mind, generating energy - Sylvia Ashton-Warner

The moment one give close attention to anything - even a blade of grass - it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself - Henry Miller

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Almost Wordless Wednesday - London

 A restless night - so an early morning - which was REALLY early BC time - from my hotel room.  See that gentle rise - out here they think that is a mountain.
 An historic downtown that switches from quaint to seedy street by street - I think it's trying to revive itself. Some beautiful old buildings
 This logo is everywhere - in case you thought you were in the other London?
 Lots of pocket parks - spaces - this one at the downtown at the Library
 Funky bookstore - I can never resist a good bookstore
 More downtown - Bell Building at the far end - I think if Bell and/or Labatts left town there would be little left.
 The River Thames......seriously......full of Canadian Geese and a black bird that dive bombed my head and gave me quite a fright
 These metal trees in various vibrant colours are all over the downtown
 Covent Garden Market - they take this London thing seriously......

 I counted 80 huge wooden tables and benches outside the market - when I went back at lunch time there were tons of people sitting having lunch - I think Granville Island should take note
 Inside the market - a small scale of Granville Island

 I had my breakfast in the sun - its lovely and warm - lucky I ate as I was about to unknowingly take a 5km walk
 Beautiful churches
 Lots of red brick

 After 5kn with my destination nowhere in sight I hopped on a city bus which detoured through Western University Campus - which is stunning.
I wised up and took the bus back and stopped at the market for some fruit for lunch.....what is that Laura Secord bag doing there?

A little rest for my feet now and then off to register for the conference.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Musings from a plane ride

Reflections from a day spent in a small cylindrical container hurtling across Canada.

I guess I was in a reflective (and a tad anxious) mood as I left my family this morning and headed to the airport.  It seems odd to be all on my own and yet welcome in some ways - time to just be quiet. 

Somehow that just make the voices in my head a bit louder.

I love watching people in airports.....or anywhere really.....but there is a certain something about airports.

No one is there by accident.

No one just strolled in to Concourse A, Gate 4.

Everyone has a purpose, a story that brought them there.

I don't need to know what it is....the story that brought them there.....because I make up my own stories about why they are there.

I assign stories to my co-travellers as I watch them.

The Grandma's and Grandpas's - joyfully expectant of little ones to hug on soon, or teary eyed after another parting, many travelling to see their grandchildren graduate.

The students traveling home from University or College - hair a little ragged, clothes a little crumpled, maybe a little weary from too much studying (or partying?)

The Suits off to do deals - shoes shiny, jackets crisp, brandname carry-on.  Some confident, some anxious, some expectant, some resigned.

The RFH's (Returning From Hawaii) all sun kissed, flip-floped, aloha-ing......I try not to hate them. Especially when they whine about the weather.

The Conference go-ers and comers.....I spotted some going to the same conference as I am....overheard others talking about one just finished in Vancouver....people seeking knowledge and inspiration and connections.

The jet setters and snowbirds returning from or going on exotic vacations talking of beaches and golf and spas.

The budget travelers and backpackers clutching Lonely planet, wearing MEC pants and sensible shoes.

And all the others.....the artist who sat beside me and did a pen drawing of a covered bridge that was incredible, the little ones with too-big backpacks and floppy bunnies clutched tightly, the singles,the married, the tattooed and pierced, the old and disabled, the charming and grumpy the chatty and the silent....

Is the world in this plane with me?

~

I love flying over land in daylight.....that within seconds of take off I can see my Godsons now tiny house just east of the airport and blow him a kiss.

Seconds later I see Aberdeen Centre that looks like butterfly from above and immediately after I see my new daycare surrounded by construction and in a split second all the hopes and dreams I have for it fill my heart and mind.

I see Cambie Secondary where my husband is teaching his last day of classes there....ever....a happy / sad day for him and I say a quick prayer over him.


Before my other new daycare comes into view we are swallowed into the clouds and I feel truly cast off from my life, my town, my family and settle in for the flight.

I chose a window seat in the hopes of seeing something of this great land on this flight across it but we left Vancouver in rain and low cloud.  Shortly before the Okanagan the cloud started to break-up and for the rest of the flight I was blessed with vistas of rugged snow capped mountains and deep lush valleys and full (some flooding) rivers, glacial lakes, winding roads.  Those mountains fill me with awe.  I have seen them from the road but I love seeing them from up here, seeing into gorges and crevasses one has ever been....this is quintessential Canadian landscape.


And suddenly we are over the mountains and the land rolls out flat and forever.......now carved up into quilt squares of farms scattered about...and then sparse sub-divisions, then more dense suburbs, the a City springs up along a river or at a crossroads.....and then back to the rolling, golden and green quilt squares......the prairies seem never ending.  I want to stand on this part of Canada one day and look up at the sky but for now I love the view from up here.  And then the trees and the lakes.... the great lakes that look like oceans... Superior, Michigan and Huron.....and back to pastoral order with groves of trees, tracks for race horses, meandering rivers.





This is a vast and magnificent land......I will drive across it one day.....today it was a privilege and a blessing to observe it from on high (and I realise southern Ontario is only 2/3 of the way across).

It's been an odd but interesting day.  Alone but not lonely.  Separated from those I love by many miles but keeping them close in my heart.

Ready for the adventure that begins tomorrow.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Selective Elective

As Allan gets close to the end of his degree in Leadership at Trinity he is required to take 1 elective course.

Like most things that are elective....he has left this to the end......and the pickings were slim.....interesting (Dead Sea Scrolls, Astronomy, Physics) but slim.  He wanted something that would be interesting to keep him engaged through the Summer when there are plenty of other things he could/should/wants to be doing.

Then he happened upon a photography course.

And not just any photography course.

This one in at a ranch in the interior over 5 days.  As in a fun course that is over in 5 days where the assignments are photos.....genius!

And........ you can take your family along.

Except our kids are away at camp on Anvil Island so it will be just me going along.

And......its a ranch we have been to before and love - Spring Lake Ranch (just outside of 100 Mile House) hosted us for a happy, sunny, hot week a few summers ago.  So no travel angst or need to do any research.....perfection!

So with his new camera, his text books already purchased and read, an intriguing and exciting course outline, Allan is delighted with this choice of elective for many reasons.  Course + new camera + accommodation for 2 for  5 days = most expensive course of the degree but it's more than just a course - its a mini vacation for Allan and I which we really didn't think we could swing this Summer!

I am SO looking forward to 4 days mostly on my own, reading, scrapbooking, swimming, kayaking, snoozing and taking my own photos (with maybe a tip or two from the pro's).

This degree has taken a lot of money, a lot of time away from our family, a lot of effort on Allan's part so it is nice to have a little piece of it to give us a happy, summer break.






We will miss these monkeys
And 3 credits.