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Go ahead, make my day

2 Jul

I’ve only been on vacation for two weeks, but I have already reached the point where I have lost track of the day of the week. Turning the page on the calendar yesterday morning was a helpful anchor, but, with so much unencumbered time, it makes me worry when I actually have an appointment. Like today.

Lucy is in need of a nail trim, so last week, I scheduled an appointment for today. As soon as I got off the phone, I began to worry. Would I remember the appointment if I have lost track of the day? So I came up with a coping strategy.

Lucy doesn’t enjoy going to the vet. If she could read, I suspect she’d hide these notes. For me, knowledge is power; for her, ignorance is bliss.

 

Waiting

25 Jun

I have officially been on vacation for a week, but the big end of the year drama happens today.

Sunday afternoon,  staff got a text telling us to check our email. I did and the message was short and sweet: Tuesday the administrators will call all staff to tell them what their job will be next year.

It’s been a long wait. The discovery of budgeting irregularities meant that our district had a severe shortfall and the projected cutbacks for the 2019-20 year meant jobs would be eliminated. At first it seemed like the RIF might be as bad as the bad year, after the financial crisis. But with retirements and consolidation, it was projected to be not as bad. But still bad enough that we left school last week not knowing for sure what we’d be teaching.

But today is the day.

The staff are buzzing, trying to predict how the calls will happen. By grade level? Alphabetically? Bad news first? Moving first, staying second? It’s a way to try to make sense out of this crazy process.

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I don’t normally bring the phone with me when I walk Lucy, but today I will. Lucy will be there to support me if it is bad news and celebrate if it is good. Wish us luck.

Late Tuesday Update: Good news: My team gets to stay intact!

Between a rock and a hard place

4 Jun

“I’m sorry, we don’t seem to have a record of that reservation,” the friendly hostess told me over the phone.

I’d suspected as much. It was Sunday – two days before I was going to Outdoor School for four days with my sixth graders – and I had expected an “It’s getting close” email reminder from Sniff Dog Hotel. They always come in the morning, two days before Lucy is going to stay. But now it was afternoon.

I had called under the guise of making an August reservation for a summer trip and casually asked about the reservation for today, June 4th. Maybe a naughty word crossed my lips when she told me there was no reservation.

I wanted to tell her what had happened. How the camp we’d originally been scheduled to attend had burned down. How I’d cancelled Lucy’s reservation for that date. How a union retreat in March had also been rescheduled and I had cancelled and rescheduled Lucy’s stay. In all the cancelling and rescheduling, I missed making this reservation.

Of course they had room for a last minute reservation…in the View Suite! Of course I booked it – I was between a rock and a hard place.

Here is a view of one of the rooms Lucy will occupy. That’s not her in either of the rooms, but you can see that her accommodations will probably be a little more luxurious than mine. It’s fancy, but I know they will take care of my baby while I am gone.

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Summer planning

28 May

The whoop from the room next door caught my attention and I walked over to see what had my teaching partner so excited.

“Have you seen the new calendar?” she asked practically dancing about the room. “We are back to a Labor Day start!”

Her joy was contagious, even though I knew the reason for the changed start time wasn’t. A few years ago, the school board decided they wanted to lengthen the school year and amended the calendar so we started before Labor Day this year. Budgeting issues this year promised teacher layoffs and people were worried. The change start date for the 2019-20 school year was a way to save some jobs and keep class sizes at current levels.

My first instinct, after checking the email and looking over the new calendar, was to message my sister to let her know I could now attend the Twist Fibre Festival with her. It takes place just outside Ottawa in mid-August.

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Since that first email, she and I have messaged and searched and video chatted, finalizing plans. This weekend we booked our trip, which also involves a week in Montréal.

We still have three weeks of school, and this trip comes near the end of summer, but I am excited because summer vacation is starting to seem real.

 

 

Tied up in knots

7 May

“Ms. Gillespie, I tied my shoes together.”

So said the 6th grade boy standing before me. He should have been on his way back to his seat from the meeting area, where I had just taught a fabulous lesson, but he couldn’t walk. I knelt to take a closer look. He hadn’t tied shoe laces together – he had braided bungee laces around the clips. Maybe my lesson hadn’t been that fabulous after all.

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“You’d better take a seat and take off your shoes,’ I said as I stood up. “I’ll see what I can do while you work,” I replied.

I poked a bit with a pencil before channeling my inner MacGyver. I took a paperclip from a dispenser, unbent one end, and began loosening the laces. While they should have been working, a few students came up to offer assistance.

“I have long fingernails.”

“I’m a Boy Scout.”

“My little sister does this ALL the time!”

I declined all offers of assistance. My strategy was proving successful. I loosened one strand enough to loop it over the clip, loosening even more. My MacGyvering was working and before too long, I laid two, separated shoes on the student’s desk. He felt a little foolish, but I felt fabulous.

 

 

How we roll

30 Apr

Once a month, my teaching partner and I sit down and formally plan out the upcoming month. We sit down together every day to talk over the day and eat second breakfast but this is our most formal of meetings.

As we sat to plan May, we realized how close the end of the year really is, so we decided to plan June as well, since it had only two weeks of school.  There was so much we still wanted to do – and we couldn’t make it fit. Outdoor School (ODS) had been moved  to June 4-7, taking out almost a week. We’d scheduled speeches for the week before ODS. We could wedge things in, but they’d start before and end, rather awkwardly, after ODS. we felt frustrated.

“What if we scrap it all?” I asked. “We could move the speeches to the last week of school and then plan backwards.” This was a radical concept for us. We always started on the first of a month and planned forward, knowing what we didn’t accomplish could spill into the next month. But there were no next months for us this time around. And so we boldly took the plunge.

And it worked. We are planned through June.

We always know our monthly plans are subject to change, but we have a roadmap in place and can face any detours because that’s how we roll.

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Plan B

23 Apr

This morning I should be on a bus, headed to outdoor school for four days and three nights. The sixth graders from the other three halls in my building are going. Alas, Green Hall is staying behind.

Two Saturdays ago we got a text saying the main lodge at the camp we were supposed to attend had burned to the ground.  Most of last week was spent waiting to find out if we could go to another camp this week or if we’d go a different week. The kids had tones of questions.

If we don’t go this year, can we go as seventh graders?

When will they tell us?

What happens at school if we don’t go?

If we don’t go to Outdoor School, do we still have to come to school?

Their agony was ended Thursday when we were – finally – told we would not go the same week as the other sixth graders, we’d go June 4-7, the second last week of school.

Action and consequence. The kids were relieved, but the teachers and admins started scrambling. Schedules had to be created for a rotation through Specialists. My team decided that we’d toss out the schedule on Wednesday and have kids rotate through camp like activities and have a picnic lunch outside along with a massive game of Capture the flag. It won’t be quite the same, but it will be a good placeholder until the real this comes around.

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