Sunday, 28 August 2011

Pushing the Envelope...again

Being cutting edge is attached to a lot of anxiety-making behaviour.  Tomorrow I stand in front of my peers presenting my views on strategies for getting your staff to engage students thru technology.  People are constantly surprised that this is what a teacher-librarian does. This is what I'm presenting:

Adventures in leadership thru technology

Also this week I wrote a Guest Blog on the Canadian Education Association website.

My good friend D was over and I was wowing him with my new toy the Livescribe Pen.  It's a pen, that makes a video recording of what you write, and an audio recording of what you say.  For people like me, who work really really hard to stay on top of the datasphere and emerging technologies, the Livescribe is a lovely way to enjoy the act of writing, and still digitize what I say.  I come up with new ways to use it in the classroom all the time.  This short 1 minute video is a Pencast (Livescribe recording) of what first popped into D's head when he saw it working.

Pencast Pluses with D

So what does it make you think of?

Monday, 8 August 2011

I wish this for my child

My son has been in formalized day care and school since he was 2 1/2. He was already reading then.  He came home the last week of school this year at the end of grade 1 and said "I hate reading".  I wish that he could direct his own learning, and choose to produce really great work.  The trick is that he'd be required to develop a relationship with a really great teacher who could adjust to his needs and to the needs of his classmates on a daily basis.  I wonder if we truly implemented the vision statement "that it takes a village to raise a child" if we couldn't pull this off.

Working in the library, I feel like I'm individually guiding the needs of every student and every teacher on a daily, minute-to-minute basis.  Why couldn't all the teachers of one grade collaborate on 8 projects that would hit all the curriculum outcomes for each student?  I absolutely loved the idea for the project where students are designing, building and then donating toys.  Phenomenal....hits the creative arts, math, science, social science and has real-world implications.  And its safe.  And I bet when those students see the impact they have that they'll be motivated to do it all over again for a new project.  It takes a huge amount of risk-taking to try this, but I think, if we don't that we, as teachers, could be obsolete sooner than later. 

Friday, 8 July 2011

Melancthon Mega-Quarry

As someone who has grown up in Dufferin County, and works there now, I have seen a great many changes happen to agriculture and the environment in the area.

I understand the dilemma of attracting new industry to the area, to build Dufferin County economically, and to provide feasible income strategies to the population already living there.  However, I have also seen the Dufferin’s agricultural land get swallowed up by mega-farms who are producing food for consumption on a global scale, sacrificing nutrition and health to increase production.  Increasing truck traffic to move food on this level to the Greater Toronto Area has diminished the integrity of our food, and this is obvious in every aspect of statistics in the health of Canadians.  Yet, to take away the very land that provides the GTA with food sources, doesn’t make sense either.

 It is common knowledge that a quarry decimates the land it uses, but the Melancthon area also houses numerous watersheds for water that feeds the areas beyond the township.  The watersheds are our greatest indicator to our environmental health  and already we have seen them suffer with the industrialization around them.  A quarry doesn’t simply tap resources and then move quietly away.  It decimates the area.  The transportation alone needed to export the stone out of the quarry will have a major impact on the roads, and the environment.  Even land that is near the quarry will suffer as a result.  After the quarry is depleted nothing but an ugly hole will remain.  Can the quarrying company be held accountable for a solution that has that much foresight?

I urge you to move cautiously forward on any plan to use valuable agricultural land for something as environmentally damaging as a quarry.  The 3 biggest impact areas are food, water and the environment.  Can the mega-quarry’s economic impact be worth so much?

To write your own comment and make it count, you can visit the Environmental Registry here.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Worm Food

I think I've got it all together, work, home, my impending first master's course and the play and then I fell off the stage.
A portent?
If you don't know me well, then you don't know that I'm not a sporty girl.  One of the main reasons that I'm not sporty is that I don't like pain.   And I'm one of those people who seems to attract projectile objects with my head.  I'm not joking.  So I avoid sports because I have great anxiety (not unfounded) about suffering some sort of pain as a result.

Taking you back to last rehearsal,  I've just launched myself off the stage.  I barely missed bashing my head, and instead save myself with my elbows.  I'm sitting there in my own misery trying not to cry, trying not to blame anyone, and completely shocked that I allowed this to happen.  Suddenly all the other lies I've been telling myself come tumbling down.   I realize that I'm not sleeping.  That I'm oscillating wildly between binging and starving.   There are only 2 weeks til the first show and this is how it begins....the anxiety moves from my elbows to my bowels and seizes my throat.  The panic begins in my brain and I can't think straight.  I can barely hold it together enough to remember how to get home. {Aside: I'm not exaggerating.  I was once in such a state after parent-teacher interviews that I couldn't remember how to back up the car, dinged it on two corners and then finally left it running in the middle of the parking garage and went to get Tim.}  I remember that it is this anxiety that has prevented me from acting for the last 20 years and I am suddenly regretting ever beginning it in the first place.

I went home and iced it, took 2 Advil and lay down.  The next day I showed to a few people, and their reaction was awe.  It seems that my new bruise means that I'm cooler, that I'm taking a risk that few people would dare to try.  So now it's my badge of honour:  I got that bruise being on stage, not being behind the stage for the first time in 20 years.

Hope to see you there.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Opting for Fake Flowers

My dear friend P came by for a visit today with her scrappin' toys and taught me all about fake flowers.  I love her so much for making the trip that I even cleaned for her, and made her a cake. Honestly, I thought of cancelling a few times this week.  Painting to be done, a self-pity sniffle, laundry, shopping, it was all almost the priority.

And in other corners of the house, I have planted my first seeds in hopes that someday the snow will end and I will be able to plant again.  My retired neighbour has already swept her lawn, edged her beds and pruned hedges.  I just had a nap.

I have painted the house top to bottom, gotten a part in Mamma Mia, earned a spot in the Canada-wide education summit Unplug'd in August, been granted admission to the Masters in Ed program I wanted, and still it's just not enough.  I even have a new pair of red shoes.  I've often thought of February as the long, dark, teatime of the soul....but April?  This is just ridiculous.

So I owed myself today.  A day to play with our cool stuff making fake flowers, while none will grow outside.

three fake flowers

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Breaking the Archetype

I'm going through something, dear readers.  I don't know what it is but if I could draw a picture of myself, it would be like suddenly noticing that I'm developing another limb that has superpowers.  Oh yeah, and I had another birthday.  Birthdays always seem to root out the revolution in me.

This week, my dear friend K lost her husband who was just 44 years old, sudden heart attack brought on, probably, by the stress of trying to recover from a serious fracture incurred during a ski accident 2 weeks earlier.  Totally freakish.  17 years of marriage over in an instant.  At first I just watched her in shock at the threshold of grieving, and she was just so beautiful oscillating between emotions.  And part of me is envious because she gets to start over and recreate herself all over again.  The same way that I'm envious of Libya and Egypt. It's going to take such work to get through this period of time, but I fundamentally believe that K and Libya and Egypt will morph into something better.

I feel like I've spent the last decade devoting myself to procreation, which has literally sapped my energy to the core.  I said out loud that I regret the whole thing.  Of course, I turn to my right and see my Max, who just gets more interesting and lovable every day, and immediately regret that.  A wise man, who I live with, pointed out (perhaps with a touch of envy himself) that I'm emerging from a whole decade of learning what it means to be a woman, that I have to try on the biology of motherhood, because my body dictates that.  I've learned that women can put themselves through hell and back trying to claim that identity.

I've never been one to play with dolls or dream of my wedding.  I do love to dabble in the domestic arts of sewing, scrapbooking, cooking, gardening and repainting the house.  I look lovely in dresses and lousy in jeans. I do hospital corners when I make the bed.  But the vacuum cleaner that resides in my home and I do not have a relationship.  I don't even think I've ever turned it on.    

A man, who I respect, asked politely how many children I have.  I told him one.  And there was a lingering look of questions then.  Whether it's paranoia or not, I think there's some truth that men (perhaps of a certain generation) expect that women will make children their priority.  As you know I've really really tried, but now I'm offended and I can't fully explain why.  How dare you assume that I want that for myself?  How dare you assume that I could have as many children as I want?  Why the hell are we talking about the status of my womb when I just want to talk about how your decisions are affecting my work environment?

A young woman on the radio called upon to represent her generation on International Woman's Day and she basically said that the day is now a misnomer.  That we don't need a women's day anymore because we're equal, it's a non-issue.  If we want to, we could just have a people's day.  It makes no difference if I tell her she's wrong because she's going to have to live through the next two decades of her life in order to understand how naive her statement is.  We are different, because our biology dictates that we are the child carriers and child bearers and the have that amount of energy go into pregnancy and childbirth and those first few months of symbiosis is uniquely feminine.

I miss it.

Is this what a mid-life crisis feels like?  I may be turning into a crone, because I've tried virgin, and mother and I'm not flexible enough to be a whore, and I don't think there are any more after that.  Somehow that is just not a satisfactory list of choices.  I wish I'd tried that whole doula thing while I had the chance.

So I'm breaking the motherhood archetype.  Don't ask me how, but I'm going to both be a fantastic parent, and a phenomenal educator.  I will politely decline the question next time I'm asked.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

A message of hope

Some of my favourite people lately have been asking how I'm doing.  Some lovely women in my life suggested maybe we should plan a Red Tent day.  Apparently that's a girl day but with a twist.  You know I'm trying really hard to just move on.  I've read that formalizing a ceremony can help, but I'm not there yet.

Instead I'm applying this month to start my Master's in Education online through the University of Alberta.  That's huge for me because I've never wanted to keep going in my studies before and suddenly, as a teacher-librarian, I can't get enough and I want to read and research and write.  The program is unique in Canada as it has a teacher-librarian focus, and the advisors say on average it takes 4 years to complete.  I'd start in July this year.

I'm also going to audition next week for the first time in about 15 years.  The local community theatre group is doing "Mamma Mia" and I can't imagine a better time.  If you know Max, then you know that this was the first movie he memorized every word to, so it feels serendipitous that it should be the play they're doing this year.

Of course I'm terrified but I'm tired of being scared.  For the first time in a long time, I feel like I'm putting the me part of me first.  I want to just go for it.