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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Student Misery 101

Teaching can be a tough line of work.

I have heard our careers bring referred to as 'war zones' where we teachers are on the 'front lines' with the students. I'm sure some people see it that way.

Some people are absolutely terrified of teenagers. In TV shows, books, and in other forms of media, teens are portrayed as absolute little demons. I know people who refuse to step inside a high school (I, myself, get a little nervous when stepping inside a primary / elementary school, but this is due to the fact that when they are little, there seems to be so many more of them, and they are faster and dirtier and louder and wigglier).

So are teachers portrayed that way, in the very same media. And by that way, I mean demonic, not wiggly and fast. Apparently, we become teachers to make students miserable. It's a course taught in Teacher School: Student Misery 101. You would think that schools comprise one of Dante's levels of Hell, a special level reserved for those of us gutsy enough to step through the hallowed halls of an educational facility. And maybe for some, school was Hell. Still, all of you parents send your kids to us every day. You do have a choice, you know. Home-schooling exists. Personally, I don't think it's healthy because we all need social interaction, but we all make and live with our choices.

Now, don't get me wrong - no one is perfect and some teens act out ridiculously due to a variety of issues in their lives, and we adults must deal with those issues and behaviours, whether teachers or not. People of all ages deal with and act out upon the issues we have, including adults. You have done it - don't deny it. Show a little patience and understanding.

So they act out and push the boundaries. People need boundaries. It's human nature to test the rules. So, of course, at the age they find themselves in, teens are struggling with the very core of themselves as well as their relationships - that's the basis of their real misery, only they don't realize it.

But to fear teens and paint them all with the same brush, so to speak? That's unfair.

The same goes for teachers; it's unfair to do that to us, too. It's sad to see most teachers portrayed in TV shows & other media as terrible examples of humans. I looked up 'psychology of teachers' etc., trying to find why we do what we do. Maybe we just want to stay young when we decide to be teachers. Maybe we want the insane amount of holidays teachers seem to get. I just want to add here that we work hard for our holidays. If you don't think so, volunteer for a week with your local schools, and put in the hours of a classroom teacher.

To do all that work? Maybe we want to help the kids, or be part of the success for the future. The reasons are as varied as the people themselves.

Not all teens are bad; not all teachers are bad. I wish the media would stop perpetrating the school system as hellish. It's no wonder teens rebel and find it difficult to trust people - they are dealing with growing up while school is tough and the media portrays it as a broken, destructive place. School should be welcoming and fun because life is difficult enough during high school for teens. Some take Misery 101, 201 and 301.

As for teachers, here are the top ten reasons (according to the random website below) to become one:

1. Student Potential
2. Student Successes
3. Teaching & Learning a Subject
4. Daily Humour
5. Affecting the Future
6. Staying Younger
7. Autonomy in the Classroom
8. Conducive to Family Life
9. Job Security
10. Summers Off

These all sound like great reasons to me.

Go to this website (at for more info. There is a lot of good stuff linked there.

Yeah, sometimes teaching is tough. It's a pain to watch and read anything that only discusses schools as terrible places.

Some of you must have had a positive experience. Share it, especially with young people. If you didn't, try to make it better for today's kids. Give kids a chance.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Municipal Development

Check out the blog called McMurray Musings : Myth, Madness, and Makin' It, in particular this post regarding Fort McMurray's Municipal Development Plan.

What a great time to be part of this community.

It's time to build Our Place.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Good Night!

I was just scrolling through some of my posts and came across the one about the night terrors. Dreams do come true! In Night #4, I described a dream where some of my students were ill and I was feeling helpless. This happened last week - one of my kids was sick in class and stood up to call her mom, and passed out. While not as serious as allergies, etc., that type of thing is still an issue and we take care of it, obviously. Our administrators arrived there quickly, but that intense feeling came over me, initially. Since my career began, I have had quite a few medical incidents with students. I think it comes with the territory.

I was telling my nan about it this week and she was telling me how she was saying prayers for me (she says them for her whole family and everyone else, not just me in particular like I'm a devil or something), so she said she would add in my students, and she also said that she has so many children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren now that prayers are taking an extra long time. She says she has to take a break so that she can actually have meals and visit with family.

I told her she should just pick a few prayers, and tell God, Jesus, Mary and all the Angels and Saints that she is combining her prayers for practical time management. I'm sure they would understand - she's an old woman and it can't really be fair that she spends her current time continuously praying because she doesn't go anywhere to commit sin. And as for the praying itself, she isn't a nun - she had 24 kids, for the love of God.

by Peek a Boo tattoo

Anyway, she said she can't put all of her prayers together because she prays to each of them for different things. I would need a computer system or something to keep it all straight. And she is asking the Saints to intercede on her behalf to God! That's an awful lot of backdoors and stepping stones, if you ask me.

I was raised Catholic, and I understand the principles and I appreciate that my grandmother is supremely devout, but I think and hope God & His Crew would not mind if my nan just put a few of the prayers together for the sake of saving some time.

I used to say prayers while I walked to and from school - what better way to clear your mind, meditate, let go of anxiety and become focused than to pray when you have time to yourself? I don't walk to school anymore but I still like to get away sometimes, take a drive to Gregoire Lake or just to the Snye, to just sit and meditate. I don't want to live in the woods, but sometimes I like to sit there.

My mom and my nan still live "in the woods" / in rural NL - they are the ones who taught me 'my prayers' and who  still pray for me and encourage me to "keep saying your prayers; don't forget them!" My nan makes me laugh - I don't think you just forget something that has been so deeply ingrained into you like that. I always tell my nan to say extra prayers for me so I don't have night terrors, and she said she does. That's bad because it's adding to her time.

She's basically in Prayer Jail.

My nan makes me laugh so much - sometimes she sounds like Batman due to a throat operation she had. Once, I got her to say, "I don't wear hockey pads!" (a Batman line) on video and I crack up laughing every time I watch it. She didn't think I was recording. Funny. She said she would pray for my soul for tricking her. That's me, the trickster (she really didn't mind).

As I get ready for bed, though, I remember one of the prayers that my mom and nan tried to teach me when I was a kid, one I just couldn't accept very well:

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
If I should die before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take

Kind of brutal for a kid, don't you think? Where were the rainbows and bunnies? Not death and souls being taken! No wonder I dreamed about monsters and stuff.

Or, "Sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite."

Stress. Bugs in my bed?

*shakes head* Just let me go to sleep.

"Good night" works for me. There's nothing creepy there.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hopes, Dreams & Schemes

I've been a delinquent blogger for awhile. Sometimes I take a break, that's just how I am. It's what I do.

However, I have been busy with my career during daylight hours (as well as some night-time hours when I have to finish up the grading), as well as cooking and baking and concocting hot drink recipes. I'm not making anything new to the world, just new to me. It's kind of fun.

And it's exactly what I planned to do this fall.

My next endeavour, which I thought I would already be doing by now, is making little boy-dog clothes for Harley. There is a serious lack of boy-dog clothes (I know, I know: "male dog," but that sounds so mature, and Harley & I are just not that mature yet) in the world, right from the physical stores to eBay. Nothing.

So I am going to get out the ole thinking cap, and I'm going to make some. Oh, yeah. Harley be stylin'.

Maybe I'll call his clothing line that: Harley B. Stylin'.

Something I have been giving a lot of thought to is opening a business here in town. I want to open a coffee shop that encompasses many aspects. Fort McMurray could benefit from this. I want to call it Our Place and the logo will be based on Our Community, Our Home, Our Place.

During the day, it could be a bistro-cafe and open to everyone, and in the evenings after 6 it could be a pub area open only to adults. Or, open in the evenings to teens on Mon - Wed, and open to adults on Thur - Sat. This could work. I need a financial backer.

I have people interested in cooking and someone interested in doing the fitness section. Lots of people want to be involved with the artistic side. That's the cornerstone: it will be an artistic place, not a dance club - it will be a laid back place where you would go to chat and have coffee or a glass of wine, a sandwich, read a book while the radio is playing lightly in the background, someone could be looking at the art on the walls or displayed around the room, etc.

There is so much we can do. And I think Fort McMurray is ready and can sustain this type of entrepreneurial endeavour. The only way you can foster community is to develop it and make people welcome - which is exactly what you do at all levels, foster the community, the home, and make it our place, together.

"Build it, and they will come."

Saturday, October 1, 2011

I think it was a spider, man

I got bitten by something - I think it was a spider. I have a couple of those bites. The last one I got was a bit serious, almost as if the spider was saying, "Pay attention to me, dammit!"

I'm paying attention, now.

I don't know where my new pet lives, where he hangs out, what he eats (other than my hands and feet), or if I accidently squished him at some point. Since we are not friends, despite our apparent cohabitation, I hope I killed him. And I am not sorry if I did.

Harley is Mama's Teeny-Weeny Little Guy and he is the only teen-weeny little pet welcome in this situation we call a house. So the spider has to pack his bags, man. He gotta go because Harley called dibs years ago.

So I was bitten, felt the swelling, washed my hands and applied peroxide. It seemed fine.

I went to work the next day and things seemed fine until about 2:30 - 3:00pm. Then my hand started to ache and I couldn't bend my finger without feeling some pain. Then I started to see red lines creep up my hands.

Well, I'm not stunned as a mitt.

When I was younger, I lived in a rough neck of the woods. We used to be 'rampsing' around all the time. Rampsing, for those of you not in-the-know with Newfanese, means running and jumping and generally playing, like kids do. It's an all-encompassing word.

It would be nothing for one of us to get splinters (i.e., slivers of wood) in some body part, or have a nail pierce our skin or other body part (I once, or twice, had a nail driven into my foot), among other things.

And our parents / grandparents would get out the bread poultices to draw out the infection and if it was really bad, off to the doctor we would go for antibiotics and the requisite tetanus shot. I believe I had a splinter in my foot once and my mother held me while my grandmother tried to take it out with tweezers (or maybe knitting needles or pliers or coat hangers or wrenches or something). Suffice to say (It suffices to say/suffice it to say - say what you want, I don't care as they are all correct :P), when you are young and ticklish, that is torture. I hate tickling and consider it assault if you do so. Just try it and I will punch you in the face :) .

Anyway, those red streaks are a sign that something is infecting your body BADLY and you need to get to a doctor ASAP. It's a burning sensation and your skin is tender to the point where it feels scalded right where you can see the lines. Those lines race toward your heart, and this infection can be fatal.

Panic Situation.

I'm in the middle of teaching my last class of the day and trying not to be weirder than I usually am, so as soon as the bell rings and they are out the door, I race downstairs to get a second opinion, and ended up getting about ten more opinions from the family, so I headed to the hospital.

It didn't take long to get fixed up with meds and home I went. It was pretty painful yesterday but that was nothing compared to last night, which the doctor said would happen.

Time was passing so slowly. At 7:30, I thought it must be about 11 so I would go to bed. At 8, I thought the same thing. The night dragged on. I can't go to bed too early or I'll wake up and be awake for the rest of the night. I waited until 11pm and then bundled Harley off to the bunk where I was so glad to go to bed I just about cried.

At 2am I woke up and my arm was aching and on fire. I couldn't take any more meds legally and I'm afraid to take extra stuff (ibuprofen, people!) because I don't want to be the person who dies of an accidental overdose, which would be just my luck. That would p!ss me off.

I fell back asleep and felt this Tasmanian Devil-like thing start moving by my leg and whip up from the blankets, squealing and barking. Harley was mad. I don't know why he was mad but he scared me. He wouldn't go back to sleep. I have night terrors and sometimes I think he sees bad things that I can't see. I was afraid but in such a state that I couldn't focus. This was at 4am.

He kept walking all around me and sitting on me and barking in my face. That scared me even more because then I was worried that I was dying and he knew it. So I struggled to stay awake for awhile.

The pain in my hand and arm was so much that when I lifted it, it felt like someone had been sitting on it for hours. I couldn't even touch it with a sheet.

I got up, and looked up some stuff about sepsis and then laid back down. I didn't know how much time I would have to get myself out of the house if I was really bad off.

I didn't know how fast I would die if 'poison' reached my heart or brain, and if I would have time to call an ambulance and get out to the park on my own for them to find me. But I lived, and so far all is well.

I figured if I was lucid enough to do all this reasoning in my head, then I was probably ok, and if I was really finding myself a bit immobile, then I would go call an ambulance.

Once, I had shellfish food poisoning so bad that I could barely move and didn't call an ambulance because (1) I could barely move, (2) I didn't know how I would be able to get myself dressed, and (3) I had no way to let them into the house and I lived in a basement suite.

I don't really trust myself on the ambulance thinking anymore, considering I could have died in that situation.

In this situation, I would have had to call them, get myself dressed, put Harley in a safe situation, get myself dressed and up the stairs, out the back door, across the neighbours' fields and through the park and hope that the ambulance would come to the park, since the road construction still is happening and the road is still a mess.

That's a lot of work. But I've been doing that for awhile, and as I said before, I feel like Batman.

Batman will beat the spider, man.