Looking back at 2011

Today is the last day of 2011. Tomorrow we change over our calendars again and start another new year. This past year has been filled with many challenges and opportunities and I know that 2012 will be as well. In 2011 I finished my first full year of having my own classroom. It was the first time I taught only in French for the whole year as well. Now that we’re preparing to switch over to English in a month I can see some of the advantages and disadvantages of both keeping the same class and switching with another teacher. I found February to be a very stressful. While I had taught my new homeroom class in the afternoons for a short amount of time during the first half of the year, I didn’t know them as well and it was very much like starting over again with them. It was basically like having September all over again, except it was in February when my energy level wasn’t as high because I hadn’t had the summer break before it. But at the same time, I didn’t have to do much to my classroom and I got to re-teach a lot of the lessons I had already taught to the other class.

This year I keep my class the whole year so I won’t have that feeling of September in February, but I do have a lot of work that I’ll have to do in my classroom to get it changed over. I have to replace my word wall, change my sound wall into my CAFE wall and, biggest challenge of all, I’ll need to bring in my English classroom library and sort it and store it in the classroom and figure out what to do with my French library. But I’m looking forward to seeing how my students are when we do the English curriculum.

Also this year I worked with two different principals, both wonderful and supportive to work with. I’ve been very blessed to be able to work with such wonderful colleagues, and now to have Mrs. W work with me in my classroom has been an amazing help. This was also the first year where I stayed in the same school, the same classroom even. I’m very luck to be able to do that this early in my career, especially give then current job shortages. I am very grateful to have a job and grateful that I am able to speak French which enabled me to get a job when there are so few out there.

In my personal life this year has also had some ups and downs. My husband and I went to far too many funerals this year for friends and family members who passed away this year, three of whom were taken from us far too early. We also have had friends give birth and become pregnant. I’m looking forward to having another niece or nephew who is due to arrive in March and I recently found out that another friend is expecting her second child.

I joined a new writing group this year and got in to a musical. I wrote a lot and read a lot. I enjoyed supporting my husband’s band while they played in lots of great places like the ECMA’s, Harvest Jazz and Blues and Music New Brunswick. I had a great time filming their shows and sharing them on YouTube. I’m so excited about their upcoming shows and their new CD that’s in the works.

Yes, this year has had a lot of ups and downs. I look forward to all the joys and challenges that 2012 will bring.

Goals for 2012

In a few days it will be the start of 2012. It’s amazing how much faster time goes as you get older. I have a few goals that I would like to make for this coming year based on what I think would make me feel better about myself. After all, that is the point of making goals, isn’t it? The main reason for my goals is to reduce my stress. I’ve been sick more often this year than last, I ended up taking four days off in December alone, and I think that’s because I haven’t been taking as good care of myself and I’ve been more stressed than usual. I can’t diminish the amount of stressors in my life but I can change how I deal with them.

1. Exercise – So many studies are showing how crucial exercise is to your general well being. It reduces stress, helps you sleep, increases endorphins, lots of good reasons to start exercising more. My goal is to use my Wii Active at least three times per week and as well as walking, skiing, biking, doing some sort of other exercise through the week.

2. Meal Planning – I used to make up a meal plan for myself for the week and I got out of the habit of it. I want to get back into the habit of doing it every week. This will help me save time when I come home and try to decide what to make. I also want to try out one new recipe every week to get myself back into cooking new foods and trying new things.

3. Writing – I have been using www.750words.com to write, but I haven’t been using it consistently everyday this month. I want to write every day using that website as well as doing “real” writing. I would like to write a new story every month, send of at least one story per season to try to get published as well as editing my novel. My goal for my novel is to have edited the whole thing by the end of the year and workshopped most of  it by the end of the year.

4. School – I have so many goals for school that it’s hard to write them all down. For measurable goals I want to make a conscious effort to leave school by 4:30, 5:00 at the latest each night. I want to make an effort to work more efficiently. I want to have my students do the school announcements every week. I want to spend 10 minutes every day organizing my files and throwing things I don’t need away.  I want to participate in a twitter PLN chat (#elemchat, #edchat, #claved, #5thChat or #D5chat) once every week or two.

5. Home – I want to spend a few hours a week organizing and decluttering my office and getting my files moved from my old computer to my new one. I want to finish some of those unfinished sewing projects I have lying around.

Those are some of my goals for this year. What are your goals or resolutions for 2012?

Counting my blessings

I just got back from my Christmas in Cape Breton and I’ve been thinking of all kinds of things I should write about on my blog. I opened it up and realized I hadn’t posted in a month. I’m going to try to post more often this coming year.

In a later post I will write about what has been going on in my classroom, why I was out sick for almost a week and what is coming up in 2012. But for now I’d like to write something a little more personal.

While I was away, I was thinking about just how lucky I am to have grown up in the family that I have and to be surrounded by so much love. I think that Christmas with my family is just about the best thing ever. Growing up, I thought that everyone had Christmases just like mine and I was confused when people would complain about going to see their families or when they wouldn’t be excited about big family get togethers. Now that I’m older and I’ve seen some examples of families that are not like mine I can understand where they’re coming from, and I feel grateful that I am so lucky.

My husband and I left on Saturday, Christmas Eve, because we had school right up until Friday, Christmas Eve Eve, and drove for 6 hours to get to my aunt’s house in Cape Breton. This is my husband’s least favourite part, the drive. I don’t mind it that much. Growing up it was about 4-5 hours and we did it several times a year. This year we grabbed some CD’s and took turns choosing which one to listen to.

Christmas Eve was spent at my aunt’s. Normally we go to my aunt and uncle’s down the road but they weren’t there this year because my cousin has a baby. Instead we hosted, had some snacky foods, played a game of wizard, then some of my aunts and uncles and cousin’s showed up. We spent the whole night in the kitchen eating, drinking and playing a game called “Violence” which in some other circles is called celebrities. When everyone left, my parents, my aunt, my husband and I opened our stockings and exchanged gifts. For the last few years we have cut back on presents. We mostly donate to charity and give things to each other in our stockings. We started opening our presents on Christmas Eve some time when I was a teenager. I, who was always the keeper of traditions, fought against it for a long time but now I enjoy it. The main reason for this is that we host Christmas dinner and Christmas morning is too busy with cooking the turkey and vegetables.

Christmas day we had 15 people for dinner. My brother, his wife and their 2 year old son came up. I was so happy that they were there this year. It was my nephew’s first Cape Breton Christmas and he provided most of the entertainment for the day. We do crackers, we wear the hats in the crackers, we sing karaoke, play more silly games, and of course eat way too much.

Boxing Day we relaxed all morning and too the dogs for a snowy walk on the golf course and then headed up to Glace Bay to my aunt and uncle’s house. Another feast plus a game of Apples to Apples. Lots of laughter and catching up. My mom has 5 brothers and one sister. All of her brothers have at least 2 children and one family has 5 children. I have lots of cousins and most of them are around my age. There isn’t one person in my family that I don’t get along with. We laughed so hard we cried several times over the weekend.

I’m so lucky to have grown up and to continue to have a loving, supportive family that is so close. We’ve known tough times but have become stronger for it. Many of my relatives are teachers or are retired teachers.

In some ways, I feel like my experiences have not prepared me for helping my students with what they are going through. I haven’t live through a life that resembles theirs. I haven’t had to deal with divorce or poverty or racism or violence or abuse or neglect. I’ve had some difficulties in my life, but nothing major. But I think in another way, my safe, secure life has made it easier for me to help them. I was taught to be empathetic and caring by empathetic and caring people. I was shown how to love and be respectful by people modeling these things in my life. I hope that I can give even a small portion of that love and respect to my students.

I hope that everyone is having a wonderful holiday.