a year of reading

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads, lives only one.”

George R.R. Martin

As we grow up, our lives become overrun by responsibilities. Going to work. Paying the bills. Car maintenence. Attending appointments. We often forget to take time for ourselves, because we become so consumed by these mundane tasks. It’s difficult to find a happy balance. For the year 2016, I’ve committed myself to making time for me. More specifically, I plan on reading more books. I have always been an avid reader for as long as I can remember, but unfortunately, somewhere along the way, I’ve forgotten how to incorporate reading into my busy schedule.

I’ve currently set my reading challenge goal to 12 books for the year (1 book per month). It may seem like a small number, but to me it’s manageable and realistic. Hopefully I’ll be able to go above and beyond that number, but if not, I won’t be disappointed.

As I complete a book, I’ll add it to my list below. By doing so, I’m hoping it will keep me accountable. And more importantly, I look forward to re-reading this post at the end of the year to reflect and celebrate my achievements.

If you have any book recommendations, please feel free to comment. I’m open to any and all suggestions.

Happy reading!

MY 2016 READING CHALLENGE:

1. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
(Although Wonder is considered to be a children’s literature book, I think every human (young and old) should read this beautiful story. In some way (big or small), we can all relate to Auggie Pullman at some point in our lives. I loved that this was the first book I read for my challenge. I completed it within a week, and to be honest, I was quite sad that it came to an end. Hopefully more people read this book, and hopefully more people choose kindness)

2. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
(“You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.” Yes, this book does involve a love story between two very different people, but I don’t think that’s the entire focus of the story. The most important take away for me, is that life is precious and we shouldn’t settle for ordinary. The story is about pushing your limits, living boldly, loving life and never holding back. ‘Me Before You’ took me on a roller coaster ride of emotions that I think I’m still trying to recover from. However, I’m looking forward to seeing the movie and reading the sequel.)

3. What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey
I’ve never been a huge Oprah fan, but I do respect her. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and found myself highlighting/bookmarking specific inspirational quotes that I could relate to. Someone describes this book as a “deep cleansing breath” and I couldn’t agree more.

4. The Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith
The moment I started reading this book, I couldn’t put it down. I actually finished it in 4 days. The subject of this story is pretty sensitive in nature. It’s about the sexual assault of a young teenage girl named Eden. For me the story was heartbreaking, yet beautiful at the same time. I sympathized with Smith’s characters and felt that Eden’s story was powerful. Her experience pulled at my heartstrings. A worthwhile read, for sure.

5. The Season of You & Me by Robin Constantine
If you’re looking for a simple beach read, then The Season of You & Me is for you. I liked the concept of the story, two teenagers looking to escape the realities they are faced with in their lives. A summer romance. It was good in theory, but I just didn’t really enjoy the writing. The author utilized a hashtag throughout the story (#wheelchairperk), which just didn’t make sense to me. I know this was to appeal to an adolescent crowd, but it made me cringe every time I read it. It just didn’t seem to fit in. A little disappointed by it.

6. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (currently reading)

 

all good things must come to an end

On Friday afternoon, I said goodbye to my first classroom and my first group of students. As I stood in the classroom at the end of the day, with all of my belongings, it almost brought me to tears. I did it, I thought to myself. I followed my dreams and (hopefully) touched the hearts of 15 little kindergarten kids. A bittersweet feeling.

I think back to my first day in September. I couldn’t sleep. I was anxious. I didn’t know what to expect. Basically, I was being thrown to the wolves. I had to make my own path, set my own classroom rules, be the teacher I had always dreamed of. I was just trying to figure things out day by day (with the help of my teaching partners of course). And, although there were endless work nights, and days where I felt tired and run down, it was all worth it.

Not only did I grow as a teacher, but I grew as a person too.Β Patience. Compassion. Flexibility. Parenting. Sense of humour. Open-minded. Firm. Just to name a few.Β 

For 7 hours a day, 5 days a week. 5 months of the school year. These children were learning with me. Growing and maturing. Interacting with other kids. Developing their self-regulation skills. Yes, there many times when I felt frustrated. Overwhelmed really. After three months of school, I felt like some kids still weren’t quite getting it and that worried me. As a result, I was really hard on myself. What was I doing wrong? What could I be doing better? Am I really cut out for this?Β 

I doubted myself at times. After all, they do say we are our toughest critic. But, this process taught me not to be so hard on myself. Sometimes I had to take a step back and appreciate these little humans for who they were. Take each day as it comes. Enjoy the little moments. Learn from your mistakes. And remind yourself, that it’s okay to cry on your drive home from work (as long as it’s not every day).

During my last couple weeks at my school, the other teachers were asking me if I was feeling happy or sad about leaving. I always kept my head held high and answered, A little of both. Truthfully, I was looking forward to taking a couple days off for myself to get caught up on some work at home. Some much needed “me” time.

But when Monday came this week, I woke up feeling like something was missing. I missed interacting with my fellow staff. I missed being greeted by my students when the bell rang. I missed the excitement of when my students learned something new. I missed the little letters my kids would leave for me. I was feeling emotional. I know this isn’t the end for me, but this is the last “first” teaching experience I’ll get.

missprost1

So as I sit here, I can’t help but think, I hope my students remember me. I hope they know how special they are and how much of an impact they had on my life. And, if I could tell them one last thing, it would be from my favourite children’s book:

“You’re off to great places. Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!”

– Dr. Seuss

Sometimes, good things come to an end, so better things can begin. On to the next teaching adventure…

firstday1.png

teachers have ‘first day of school’ pictures too.

 

do not disturb, please

Have you ever had one of those days where the mere thought of interacting with other people is just too overwhelming? Some days, I just want to be left alone. I’m not saying I’m completely anti-social and hate talking to people. But there are definitely days where I would rather stay in my room, curl up in bed with a book and not deal with human beings. Today is one of those days for me.

The weather was absolutely miserable. Work was exhausting. And I was running on little sleep.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my job. But every so often, I’ll supply in a classroom where the kids can be a handful. And you guessed it, today was that day. It just seemed as if every other second, I had a student coming up to me to tattle-tail on their friend for taking their eraser without asking. Really?! “Is that a big problem or a little problem? …Is that a problem you can solve by yourself?” I’d ask them. The answer to those questions are obviously, without a doubt, “no it’s not a big problem and yes, I can solve it on my own.” However, to a grade 2 – that’s the biggest problem they’ll face all week. Needless to say, it was a frustrating day trying to teach the class that tattling is the act of TRYING to get someone into trouble, when really the issue could be solved in under 5 seconds without all the drama. But I managed, and I have to admit that there were some really great moments with the kids too.

When I finally got home after my long day, I didn’t want to speak to a single soul. I immediately dragged myself up to my room.

Comfy clothes on. Check.
Left over halloween candy. Check.
Gilmore Girls on netflix. Check.
New book from Indigo. Check.

Now all I need is a do not disturb sign and I’m set. Don’t take offense to it. It doesn’t mean I don’t like you. It just means, I’m tired and moody and don’t feel like having an adult conversation. This is probably because I’ve been having conversations with 7 year olds all day and I’ve got nothing left in me to give. Over and out, friends.

I make a difference, now what about you?

“Why do you want to be a teacher? There are absolutely no teaching jobs right now..”
“I’m sure you’re just teaching to get summers off!”
“The pay and benefits are so amazing, I don’t blame you for wanting to be a teacher”

No, I don’t want to teach just because I get summers off and really great benefits. And yes, I realize that teaching jobs are difficult to come by these days. But before you judge me for what I want to pursue in life. Maybe you need to check yourself and reflect on your own life decisions. So, ‘let me break it down for you…’

I want to be a teacher because it’s a goal of mine to make a difference in a child’s life. I want to teach kids how to be the best person they can be. I love watching my students discover new things and witnessing that ‘lightbulb’ moment when they begin to understand something they didn’t before. I want to strive to give my students a positive school experience where they can push their limits and prove to themselves that they can do anything they put their minds too. I want to be an educator who is a life long learner. I want my students to teach me new things and pose thought provoking questions, allowing me to dig deeper and provide them with the answers. I desire a career where I can laugh/smile every day and enjoy the little experiences with my students. And most importantly, I want to inspire the kids I teach to follow their hearts and pursue their dreams and not let anyone tear them down for it!

A poem by teacher, Taylor Mali inspired this blog post and made me want to stand up for myself and every other passionate teacher who deals with judgement from others. Fight for what you believe in. Share with everyone all the amazing hard work you do to ensure your students succeed.

Because at the end of the day, we truly do make a difference. Do you?


(Shout out to Rebecca for sharing this video with me!)