Every Student Needs a “No Matter What” School!

I read this quote by an unknown author recently and it stuck in my head.

Every woman needs a “no matter what” friend

Someone they can call, no matter what
Someone they can vent to, no matter what
Someone she doesn’t have to explain herself to, no matter what

I have been thinking about how the quote has resonated with me and how it relates to the students who will enter or have entered our buildings for this new school year.

Every student needs a “no matter what” school

A community who will be kind to students, no matter what…
A community who makes students feel safe and comfortable in our classrooms, hallways and on our playgrounds no matter what…
A community who welcomes students with warm smiles and high fives, no matter what…
A community who echoes students names each day, no matter what…
A community who takes time to listen to students hopes and dreams, no matter what…
A community who builds students up when they feel like they can’t do it, no matter what…
A community who allows students to take center stage, no matter what…
A community whose classrooms celebrate mistakes as valued learning, no matter what…
A community who will focus first on building relationships with students, no matter what…
A community who will listen, no matter what…
A community who will be innovative and will strive to make school awesome, no matter what…

Imagine what our schools would look like, feel like and sound like if we all planned our year with a focus on what we are willing to do for students, no matter what!

I am sure that many of you could add to this list.  Think about it.  What is your school willing to do for students, no matter what?


I Have Shoes, I Can Run #RunLAP

On this day last year I was in the hospital recovering from surgery. Up to that point I had a 74 straight day record of walking or cycling to get back into shape.  I was pretty proud of myself as I was still experiencing many symptoms as a result of the concussion I had sustained from a fall at work.  I was also disappointed that my record would be broken as I had to have a recovery time from the surgery.  Fast forward a year later and 1KM may not sound like a long distance but for a first run in more than two years, it is a start.  It is one run done.  One goal started.  One day of many days ahead.  One day to a better me.

I just finished reading Run Like a Pirate written by the talented Adam Welcome.  To say that his book is motivational is an understatement.  His message push yourself to get more out of life rings loud and clear throughout the book.  If you haven’t read the book, you should!  Adam’s message: you CAN achieve your goals is told through the story of him running twelve marathons in twelve months.  Adam shares his mindset to dig deep and to accomplish those big dreams.

I had company on my first run.  My husband, Steve, runs the opposite way to me on the 1.1KM route that we take around our neighbourhood.  We always say something to one another at the halfway point as we run by each other.  Tonight he said “How are you feeling?”  I just breathed and ran past him.  He had the pleasure of taking our Labradoodle, Murphy, on her first run, too.  I had the pleasure of carrying my cycling flashlight as it gets dark early in August on Southern Vancouver Island.

As I was nearing the end of my run I was thinking about Adam’s book and his motto to smile.  I was just beginning to fall into the rhythm of my breathing and consciously smiled to see if it made a difference…I chuckled to myself, too.  As we walked back to the house on our cool down, I was thinking that I should blog about my first run and the influence Adam’s book has had on my thinking these last few days.  Near the end of his book there are Running Tips From Adam and Friends.  The big take away from the book for me would have to be…

Focus on the big picture rather than the endless details of equipment.
If you have shoes, you can run.
The little stuff is just the little stuff and can weigh you down.

For me this is a metaphor for life.  I have shoes, and I can run.  I continue to learn to focus on the big picture.  I am learning how to do that everyday and am working on the little stuff that does weigh me down.  Thank goodness the only thing weighing me down tonight was my cycling flashlight!  Thanks Adam, your advice is sound.  Happy Trails!!


Starbucks and School…Through the Lens of an Educator

Starbucks has coffee.  Starbucks has tea.  Starbucks has a wide variety of drinks.  Starbucks has servers who greet you warmly.  Starbucks has conversation.  Starbucks has music.  Starbucks has people.  And today, Starbucks has me.  I am sitting here working in this environment which is supposed to mimic the busy school environment to which I am gradually returning in September.

For those who may not know, I began a gradual return to work this past February.  In December 2017, I had a fall, at work, and sustained a pretty good concussion that has taken me out of commission for almost two years.  During the month of August I am continuing with the same gradual return to work schedule that was in place for me at the end of the school year. Retaining that same schedule will ensure that my brain and body are ready for the busy-ness of September in an elementary school of about 400 students and 56 staff members.

As I was thinking about a blog topic today, I began to wonder if Starbucks could truly challenge my brain and mimic a busy school environment.  As I settled in with my cup of tea, I opened my laptop to begin to write and my 10:00AM appointment showed up.  Yes, I was having a “coffee” date with a friend and she was right on time.  Just like at work, I am keeping to my schedule of appointments, and it never fails that just when you think you have a few moments to start something, your 10:00AM arrives right on time!  We chit chat and catch up on our summer holidays.  Some of the distractions I noticed were people walking by, music playing in the background and various conversations happening all around us.  For the most part, I was able to focus on what was being said even though the music and other conversations were quite loud.  Once our date ended, I decided to switch gears and try reading my book.  I was able to read a few chapters, but couldn’t help being distracted by the group behind me who were enthusiastically engaged in conversation.

So is a Starbucks coffee shop an appropriate place to mimic a school-like environment?  What are the particular Starbucks experiences, and how do they relate to the school environment as we know it?

Just as Starbucks has a wide variety of drink sizes such as Venti, Grande, Tall and Short, we teach a variety of students in our schools who come to us in all sizes and abilities.  Unlike Starbucks, though, we don’t get to pick and choose the students we have in our classes.  Each year, we are blessed to have a group of unique individuals who make our classes and schools awesome!  Just as Starbucks has music playing in the background, our schools are filled with the music of children’s voices, music and choir classes as well as the daily games played during recess times.  Unlike Starbucks where music is playing constantly in the background, there are pockets of time when our hallways and classrooms can be very quiet but, I hope, that is not what we strive for in our schools.  The constant buzz of student voices tells us that children are communicating with one another, children are collaborating and problem solving together.  Hopefully children are not simply sitting in desks and rows trying to focus while the teacher does all of the talking!

Starbucks has people coming and going throughout the day and there are natural rhythms that occur.  The constant morning drive-thru rush of people trying to get to work; oftentimes driving solo in their cars, minds wondering about their work day ahead.  We have these natural ebbs and flows in the school environment, too.  The busy-ness of morning drop off and the feeling of anticipation as students wait to greet their teachers.  This before school time for students is a time for reconnecting with friends and making plans for recess later that morning.  This before school time is a time for parents to drop off their kids, giving them their morning hugs and I love you assurances as they, too, get on with their day.  This before school time is the time when our teachers, too, are doing last minute prep, are anticipating and feeling the excitement of greeting and teaching a group of children they may call, my class, my crew, my 2nd graders!

Starbucks has servers who may greet you with a warm hello and smile, and if you are a regular, you may even be greeted by name as you pay for your morning coffee to get you through the congestion of traffic to your place of work.  Unlike Starbucks, we know the power of greeting each child with a smile, a high five, a hug and by learning their names as quickly as we can at the beginning of the school year.  Unlike Starbucks, we don’t simply send people on their way and move on to the next order.  We are lucky to have a group of students with us for six plus hours a day, to learn about their hopes and dreams and to comfort those who may not be lucky enough to start their days on such happy notes.

So, is Starbucks, as a coffee shop, able to mimic the school environment for me as I progress through my gradual return to work plan for August?  I believe, as I have written above, there are comparisons to be made and it is fun to look at Starbucks through the lens of an educator.  Overall, I found today’s session to have the potential. Starbucks is a place that will definitely stress my brain and an appropriate place to be to try to focus and to complete some work tasks.

What is your place to go to complete your writing and work tasks when you are not at work?  Is it a place in your home, your local coffee shop, or public library?  I would be interested to hear your thoughts.  Thanks for reading!