Recreating Christmas

Christmas 2015. At our house. Finally.

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We made it. THIS is the year. The year of retirement. After 9 seasons away we’ve returned to Christmas in Coldstream; a dream come true.

With rose coloured glasses firmly (more likely hanging by a thread) in place I’m transported to a cosy place of planning to host a rather grand family Christmas. We will fill our house to the brim with cousins, siblings, sons and daughters. The cousins will don their new colour coordinated jammies continuing the tradition passed down from my own Omie.

Full stop!

I’m not my Omie. I don’t have her patience, her baking and cooking skills, her ability to sit quietly in the corner. I do however; fret, have hot flashes, snap at my oldest when he butts into my kitchen (even if he is a better cook than me).

I don’t follow a straight line. Plans that are clear to me may need interpreting for others. “Connect the dots” is a favourite phrase of my dear spouse. What do you mean I’m random? Sheesh!

Apparently I have a tendency to pounce on people with my opinions before they even come in the front door. Pounce/Welcome…semantics! And lately, well lately, I’ve become obsessed with shutting cupboard doors and turning off lights.

Oh. My. Word.

It’s time for memories to collide with new experiences. Does that sound a bit violent to anyone else? Change is messy, eh?

Carol’s Christmas… what is it exactly?

While I don’t make most of Omie’s recipes (I buy, not bake fruitcake) I do make my mom’s Christmas Cookie Logs.  This crispy  cookie with the nutmeg sprinkled frosting is a regular part of my Christmas baking tradition. And the stuffing. Ours is a meat stuffing. The more pork sausage the better. My mom makes it best. I’m getting close, although my kids still like Grandma’s better.

Our grandkids have a Papa. Papa Jim to be exact! (Truth be told they all have at least 3 grandpas, such is the experience of the blended family.) I never had a papa. Not one. Both died before I was born. Papas make a difference.

What if our new memories include:

  • squishing too many people around the table;
  • two different table clothes to cover the sheet of plywood Papa put over the regular dining table so we could all fit. No kids table at this house (yet);
  • doors and windows open even though it’s below zero and there’s snow outside. Grandma and those hot flashes;
  • Papa’s mashed yams with roasted marshmallows on top;
  • Auntie Jen and her fake chicken;
  • a Christmas tree that is two sizes too small;
  • a dash of grumpy grandma along with good cheer?

What if?

The thing is I can’t manipulate new memories. Try as I might to re-create the experiences of my own childhood Christmases it never works out that way. There is a sadness in that. I’m learning that it’s ok to acknowledge the ‘sads’. I can’t deny Christmases past, nor can I successfully predict the Christmas that is set to happen in two short days.

What I can do is prepare. Preparation combined with hope.

Hope that our grandchildren will come away with memories that bring them peace, love, and warmth.

Hope that when they are my age, they will look back fondly at Christmases spent at Grandma Carry-all and Papa’s along with their cousins,  uncles, aunts,  friends and, and, and…

Hope that they will come to believe the words of Linus…

For Unto Us is Born This Day

Hope that with each passing year, they will know that with Him, Christ the Lord, Better is always possible.

Merry Christmas to all!
The Story of the Log Jam

 

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Christmas Through the #Selfreg Lens

There is a fear that when viewing Christmas through a lens of self-regulation, pictures of sugarplums resting, rather than dancing, will come to our heads.

Point #1 

Self-regulated doesn’t mean Zen Zombie. Having tools to self-regulate allows for freedom previously not experienced. For all ages. 

Christmas to-do’s rival Santa’s ‘checking-it-twice’ list.

  • Trees
  • Decorations
  • Food
  • Presents
  • Music
  • Family

Oft times Christmas can shift from joyous to just plain annoying. The season of good-will towards all,  can push even the most evolved adult to a state of stress overload. And what about the kids? With all the excitement it can be easy to forget their angst. Fear or worry, with or without anxiety, can be highly stressful.

Dr. Stuart Shanker, Founder The MEHRIT Centre on self-regulation:
“Self-regulation is the ability to manage stress. It refers to the neural processes that control the energy expended to deal with a stressor and then recover. When an individual’s stress levels are too high various systems for thinking and metabolic recovery are compromised. The signs of dysregulation can show up in the behaviour, mood, attention, and/or physical well-being of a child, teen or adult.”

Think of a student, that one who is unable to complete a Christmas craft without crushing it in frustration; 0r the little one who really wants to help decorate for Christmas, but rather, ends up in time out.  Now picture those same children recovering from stress overload. Can it happen? Yes it can. BUT, it ain’t easy! 

Point #2

Self-regulation is a process not a program. It lives in the realm of the experiential. “We experience self-regulation in our bodies”.

The last thing we want is to do is “cause more harm”. For those students who already  unconsciously dread Christmas, we must do our best to create new memories that can slide safely through their hard shell of previous disappointment. Memories we hope will be life-long. We do so with love and care. We offer opportunities that speak to the wonder of December to everyone in our building <think ALL>.  This balance is a delicate one. It is achieved by knowing our students. It comes on the back of relationship.

With all the busyness it can be easy to overlook the heightened stress created by angst. Here are some suggestions to consider as you journey towards a #selfreg Christmas:

  • Play. Good old unstructured play. Outside is best.
  • Laugh. Alot.
  • Set aside the tough stuff. It’s not the best time of year to be tackling new or difficult concepts.
  • Let go of being ‘right’.
  • Read to your class. Read often. Let them scatter around the room, finding their own safe place for listening.
  • Safety. Keep in mind emotional safety. This is the toughest season of all for some.
  • Set up different spaces for different needs. Squishy bean bag type chairs for some, desks for others. High tables/kneeling tables/mats to lie on.
  • If your school doesn’t have a place for students to go when they need a break, get together with a few staff and come up with a place. It’s worth the proactive effort. (Note: This is not a punishment place!)
  • Listen well.
  • One size does not fit all. Different kids have different needs. Add to that the obvious; what worked today won’t necessarily work tomorrow.
  • Be a detective. I’ve been saying this for years. Find out what works for your little or not so little ones by paying attention, snooping around…so to speak.
  • Know your kids. What’s their story?
  • Relationships matter. Lean into yours.
  • Take care of you. Know when YOU need a break.
  • Celebrate successes. Celebrations! not rewards.
My toolkit shall be named copy

 

Thank you to Cathern Lethbridge for creating a Carol Perry meme!

 

My ultimate #selfreg goal is to equip children and/or adults with the process of connecting to their congruent self. The self that holds curiosity wonder, trust love, and JOY alongside fear, hurt, and disappointment. When we begin to feel stress rising, how wonderful it would be to be able to notice the signs enough to override the limbic system’s reactivity response to fight, flight, or freeze. This shift will not happen overnight, it is indeed a lifelong process. There is no better time to start than now.

With the knowing that; Better is Possible.

The Story of the Log Jam

 

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Fresh Starts

Today’s forecast: Snow.
The first real snowfall of the season: freshness, newness, unending possibilities.
Then a question:
Hello  !  This week we are giving  #thanks in a slow chat
Q1) What are you most thankful for in your life?  
Perfect timing: I am thankful for Fresh Starts. They are new every morning!

Solitude by Carol Perry (January 29, 2012)

Early morning is my hands down favorite time of the day.

The solitude of early awakenings is the perfect venue
to process the echoes of the day before, to lay them to rest;
to listen for the whispers of an emerging day.
More-so it’s that place of in between.
No more yesterday, not yet today…
The here and now! An emptiness that is not lonely.
I am alone but not alone.
My time to reflect on the possibility of a new day.

I am thankful for the Soul Settling Peace of early mornings.  

With all that is perplexing, concerning, worrisome, impossible…
it is my time to wonder about positive outcomes,
it is my time to dream of reconciliations, to savour thoughts of seemingly impossible goodness,
it is my time for an internal smile that begins in my soul and ambles outward reaching my lips.
I smile in my solitude.

Perhaps it’s a sign of my age, but I’m left with praise and gratitude summed up in these simple words…To God Be the Glory!

The if only’s will come soon enough, for now I relish my solitude.

Blessings,                                                                                                                              

The Story of the Log Jam

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What I Really Think – Part 2

My mind is in a muddle. There is much to process.  One of the things I miss most about not going to work every day is the opportunity to verbally exchange ideas with colleagues, students, and parents. As I’ve often said, ours was a chatty school full of verbal processors. My poor dear reverend can only listen so much, and truth be told, he’s not very chatty!

At only 59, it feels a bit strange to have so many options of ‘what to do’ with my life. Surely that is a question for the late adolescent, and then the 20, 30 or even 40 year olds. Most of the time, I am really liking the open-endedness of choosing what I want to do when I want to do it, if that is actually possible? After all, you can only wait so long before bringing in the hoses, picking the walnuts, covering the patio furniture. Eventually the weather will demand you get out there and take care of business. It’s amazing how each of these tasks can consume an entire day. Pacing is so important.

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Jim & I celebrating our  10th anniversary. Still newlyweds!

More seriously, I would say that I am slowly fitting into a new life schedule. Getting up before 6am doesn’t feel like a chore now that I don’t have to rise early. The unrushed solitude of the early morning is by far my favorite part of the day. It’s here I plan, scheme, and rearrange my thoughts. Of course my thoughts bubble up with enthusiasm so much that when the dear Mr. rolls out of bed (I never would have guessed he’s a sleep-in kind of guy) he is greeted by an onslaught of several hours of my thinking. After all I have to talk to someone!

To bring some order to my muddle I decided to do a ‘What I Really Think’ – Part 2      It has a slightly different focus from the original post. (Here’s the original)

At a glance here’s what I think today:

  • I’m not done. I have more to offer the field of education
  • The Self-Regulation Foundational course I’m taking for the next 28 weeks is requiring more than 4 – 6 hours a week (The Mehrit Center)
  • I’m loving the Self-Regulation Foundation course I’m taking
  • A course is to me what travel is to others
  • The cool, crisp November weather in Vernon is more pleasant than I’d remembered
  • I need to find office space for Carol L Perry Counselling Services. Working out of the home isn’t as practical as previously thought
  • 2 year olds are as, if not more, exhausting than a class of thirty 10-year olds
  • I love 2 year olds!
  • Consult, consult, consult
  • Relationship, relationship, relationship
  • A slower pace is not a bad thing
  • Love what you do

Life is good, but different. I am energized by the hope that comes with knowing that, Better is Possible.

The Story of the Log Jam

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The Birth of an Idea

A number of years ago I was interviewed for a Principal position. In response to a question I described in detail the progress of our school’s Eagle’s Nest. If you’ve heard me speak about the EN you’ll know how much pride I take in the collaborative work we’d done to get it up and running. After my rather lengthy discourse which included a brief rant on the importance of self-regulation – the driving force behind the EN, one of the interviewers asked me if the Eagle’s Nest had been my idea? Wow, I didn’t see that question coming. I froze, stumbling for a response. I was taking the lead in self-reg and behaviour so the idea had to have been mine! <insert big pause followed by some ah, um, em>. When I hesitated with my answer I was prompted with, ‘if it was yours, you can tell us’.

Oh the temptation to take full credit…

BUT, was it really my idea? How DID we come up with the Eagles’ Nest concept? I wish you could see my smile as I recall how the EN was birthed.

At Shortreed we practised collaborative teamwork; it was messy, it always included a lot of verbal processing and more often than not was impromptu. Our boardroom was most often the hallway, but could be the resource room, my VP office, the library, the staff room. Team members shifted depending on the time of day, or who was passing by whilst collaboration was happening. Everyone was welcome to add their thoughts, and YES, most everyone had a lot of thoughts. We were in fact a chatty bunch.

Back to the Eagle’s Nest…I imagine the discussion went something like this:

Staff A: We need to do something about finding a place for our kids to regulate.

Staff B: Yeah. We’re using MindUp, but we need more.

Staff C: Wildly with enthusiasm…we need to buy a spin bike!!! HAVE YOU SEEN THEM!!!

Staff A: How much do they cost?

Staff C: Who cares. We need one! Now.

Staff B: Where will we put it?

Staff C: I know, I know, let’s put in the Youth Care Worker’s new room. Oh, oh, oh, we can set up a circuit.

All together, speaking over each other: A circuit. We need weights. The rebounder. I’ll bring weights….

Thus the birth of the Eagle’s Nest (you’re welcome to read more here)

Whose idea was the Eagle’s Nest? It was all of ours.

Fast forward to the spring of 2015. Picture many, messy, collaborative, impromptu meetings with a new cast of characters. As a school we had been dabbling with passion projects, genius hours and makerspaces. We were also continuing our commitment to self-regulation. Plus, there was the lure of pushing the boundaries of innovation.

Visualize the huddles. The messy, loud, verbal, circular, animated interactions needed to tease out what we really wanted to do. As ‘they’ say, the devil is in the details.

The outcome: a new birth, cleverly named, 

Club Wednesday!

Club Wednesday met for the first time in October 2015. It continues to run weekly on Wednesdays for just over an hour. CW is the blending of Genius Hour, Makerspace, Passion Projects, Play, the Arts, and more. It is a school wide, multi-grade, student choice program.

Club Wednesday runs in 7 week rotations three times a year.  Round #1  is 6 weeks of club plus a 7th week which is a Showcase for community members and parents.

Thanks to an enthusiastic staff, rotation #1 has the following clubs:

  • Happy Scrappers,
  • Lego League,
  • Paper Arts & Crafts,
  • Hammer Time!,
  • Guitar Alliance,
  • Games,
  • Group Green,
  • Glee,
  • Animal Kingdom,
  • Super Skippers,
  • Art,
  • Cooking,
  • Sports.

Much thanks goes to the staff who came up with some awesome, kid-friendly opportunities and developed those into a Club format. This was a first for most of the staff. I’d say this was modelling risk-taking at its finest! (What’s a comfort zone, eh?)

Kudo’s to Shortreed’s Principal, Tanya Rogers for fanning the idea right from the first spark, freeing up the schedule, and leading by example (she’s taking on the cooking group). She has worked tirelessly at finding the dollars to get groups going. And speaking of dollars, a big thanks to the Shortreed PAC for supporting Club Wednesday with funds and encouragement!

By all reports Club Wednesday is off to a great start. I’ll post pictures in an update, because they tell the story so much better than my words.

Carol

Oh, if you’re wondering about my interview. I didn’t get the job. Maybe if I’d have just taken the credit.
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Body Breaks – They Work!

Nothing like purpose to put a smile on this face. I’ve been invited to present on self-regulation at a school in my former school district. A perk of this life stage known as retirement is having the freedom to plan without interruption. I am not missing the tyranny of the urgent. Not even a little bit!  Well, maybe a little. Being a procrastinator by nature, the space between my ‘doings’ means I’m now looking for things to interrupt my planning. Cleaning, reading, visiting, shopping, BLOGGING, and when all else has been exhausted, a call to my mother is in order. Surprising to all but me, this system works much to the rolling eyes of my beloved who is NOT a procrastinator.

It is rewarding to reflect on what has been accomplished at the school I’ll be visiting. I know first hand because it’s the school I retired from. Change takes time and often occurs in small increments. About five years ago it became evident that an internal shift needed to happen if we were going to meet the needs of all of our students. Under the leadership of a gutsy, wise Principal, who has since retired, we slowly moved away from a punishment/reward system. During this time my role shifted from school counsellor to Vice Principal. The work was meaningful. The goal was to equip our school community (parent workshops were also offered) with the tools to self-regulate. We resisted the calls for punitive consequences to ‘deal with’ challenging behaviours and followed the mantra that “one size does NOT fit all”.

In August of 2012 the entire teaching staff was trained in the MindUp program. In addition to the training we were fortunate to have had the support of a district facilitator who worked with us for 2+ years, ensuring that the MindUp program was integrated well into our classrooms. This process brought mixed results. Throughout the following three years we had several staff changes. There is never a guarantee that new staff will have experience within the area of a school goal. Specific training, in this case with the MindUp program is not a given. In addition some existing staff found it difficult to regularly implement the MindUp program. It is natural to default to what we know. Sometimes the old tried and true, (even when it’s more tried than true) becomes our go-to when faced with consistently, challenging circumstances. Stuck in my mind is an observation from one of our more experienced teachers, “I know I should be teaching MindUP, I know it works, but I just can’t get to it”. As admin we continued to encourage and support teachers in finding ways to practice self-regulation as well as using common language surrounding the ‘how-to’ of our brains. Most students became familiar with the role of the prefrontal cortex, the amygdala, and the hippocampus. Some would articulate when their guard dog was up and they needed their wise old owl to calm them. There was a slow but meaningful shift.

In September 2013, with the encouragement of our new Principal, I was thrilled to work along-side a now full-time Youth Care Worker in setting up a room we called the “Eagle’s Nest”. To better support the goal of self-regulation we developed a routine we named “Body Break” and housed it in the Eagle’s Nest.

The Nuts and Bolts of the Shortreed Body Break 

Each classroom received two laminated Body Break cards. We strongly encouraged teachers to allow students to self-assess when they needed a break. This was more difficult for some staff than others. My strong belief is that if we are teaching students to be aware of their body, both physically and emotionally, we need to allow them to choose when their body needs a break. We also need to be deliberate in teaching them how to pay attention – be mindful – of their body. The Incredible 5 Point Scale and Zones of Regulation are two helpful tools.

Our Youth Care Worker invited each classroom to visit the Eagle’s Nest. Once there, she demonstrated how each of the Body Break stations worked.

The routine:

1. Students put their Body Break cards into the drop-in container.

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Body Break cards are placed into the drop-in container when students enter the room.

2. Students then worked through the stations in order spending about 1 – 2 minutes per station.

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#1 – The Rebounder

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#2 Lift the free weights

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#3 Balance Board. Stand on the board and move the green ball around the maze. (Easier said than done)

Catch and Throw

#4 Throw and Catch

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#5 Spin BIke

When students were finished all five stations (about 6 – 10 minutes) they took their card out of the drop-in container and went back to class. We were fortunate to have our YCW in the room much of the time allowing for Body Breaks to be available for most of the day.

Two years later two more spin bikes were added to the school’s self-regulation inventory. Shortreed is moving into its third year of using the Body Break station approach.

I am excited to hear about how the two self-regulation demonstration classes (new this year) are progressing as well as other ways staff are integrating self-regulation practices in their classroom. Up next: moving from self-regulation to self-regulated learning. I know they’re ready!

Even in retirement I’m leaning into better as possible.

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Re-Entry

Truth be told, I still have days when I struggle with this retirement thing. The struggle isn’t as intense as a bit ago, (it’s only been 16 days) but as a dear friend accurately advised – the unease does come back in waves.

I am grateful for the good in my life: experiences, growth opportunities, serene surroundings, family, and friends. In my head I have it all, my narrative is sweet.

“Where to now?” the head asks.

“Look at all the possibilities.” it says.

“Pace yourself!” it demands.

Brené Brown’s latest book, Rising Strong, was sitting on my night stand unread. Its call became too loud to ignore.  Funny how books can do that, eh? Rising Strong now?  Why not?

Complete vulnerable disclosure…my word picture:

Bring to mind, if you can, the Apollo space capsules. Each mission accomplished much, not the least being a lunar landing, complete with a walk on the moon.  A literal charting of the unknown! As powerful as these experiences were, at the end of each mission the crews were inevitably faced with…

Re-Entry.

Shaking, free falling, the lost view of the horizon must have terrified them at least on some level. Would the landing be successful or would they dissolve during the rough ride through the atmosphere?

During my most fearful moments of uncertainty, it feels like I’m free falling, sometimes violently, through the atmosphere.

Not for a minute do I think think my experiences were at the monumental level of an Apollo mission, however; education/teaching for me was life changing. It really could be ‘out there’ at times.

Try as I may to keep my eyes on the horizon, try as I may to visualize all who have come before me landing safely, my mindsight is dimmed. How will this end?

Not one to succumb to terror what do I do? I must trust my re-entry process.

Lean into the discomfort…Brené says it works ~ that’s good enough for me. That coupled with a grounding belief that ‘better is possible’ I hold on, sometimes white knuckled, until my feet once again land on Planet Earth.  And land they do.

Eyes open, possibilities untold!

The Story of the Log Jam

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Breaking the Silence

Darkness hovered over my blog. Silence followed.

Like a shifting, rolling fog, the clouds slowly dissipate. Before me I see a new horizon.

Its name: Retirement.

Retirement just ahead

Although the announcement was made at the end of June it’s taken me time to process my decision. Some may shake their heads and wag their fingers indicating the processing should have happened before the decision was made. In my defence, I’ve never retired before and so how was I to know how I would react? And let me tell you, it hasn’t been pretty.

Days of sobbing – yup, the ugly cry – with sweeping declarations, of ‘what have I done?’, ‘what if we’re poor?’, and the worst of all…’now what will I do??????’ I honestly, honestly, honestly did NOT see that coming. I thought I was ready. The decision was made thoughtfully, prayerfully, and in consultation with several wise advisors. Yet, it wasn’t even day one of retirement and I was in a panic. Panic with a capital P. Doom and Gloom.

Grief and loss had been anticipated, but not with the velocity of the attack. I felt overcome with grief. I had pulled the plug on a career I’ve loved for 36 years. I knew it was time. I wanted to leave before my past due date. I wanted to leave while I had more to give. This was a conscious choice. We calculated the finances and while retirement takes a hit to the bottom line, we will be comfortable with what I now see more than ever as an excellent pension. There are many things for me to do. I will continue my counselling practice, devote more time to my garden and grandchildren. Yet in the grip of grief I was unable to hold on to the possibilities that helped drive my decision. Fortunately the nuts and bolts of life demanded that I move on.

NoteI do not want to demean grief by implying that moving on is quick and easy. I have experienced that deep, gut wrenching grief that doesn’t pass in a week, a month, a year or two. The kind that doesn’t go away by positive thinking…this wasn’t that, however, the intensity of the week was frightening.

So what lies ahead? I have a couple more weeks of work at the end of August until I’m completely done. In September we are moving to our retirement home in the Okanagan. This is the home we’ve lovingly maintained for our 9 years living here at the coast. Renovations have already begun. My oldest son who is back at school full-time has been renting my house and I just know he’s thrilled that mom and stepdad will be moving into the basement. Bwhahaha – they only warn about the kids moving back.

Eight of our twelve grandchildren live in the Okanagan. Another lives only 40 minutes away which will allow for more frequents visits. We’ll miss our grandson who could live in the Okanagan except that his parents refuse to move from the coast! Sheesh. We’ll miss the opportunity we have now to pop over for quick visits or have sleep overs on the weekend. To add to the changes of The Summer of 2015, two of our grandkids were moved to Texas. Apparently when their dad got a big promotion that involved moving to Texas he decided that his wife, my beloved DIL, and his kids go with him. Selfish? We’ve already booked our flight to the Lone Star State for this November. Who knew flying in low season was such a bargain?

While I am retiring from work in the public school system, I will continue in my passion area of building relationship and its importance in school communities. I’m going to give myself until after Christmas to get the lay of this retirement land and then it’s back to accepting clients at Carol L Perry Counselling Services. There are so many possibilities.

I look forward to having time (I know some of my already retired friends are chuckling at that having time thing) to blog regularly.

If you’ve recently retired and have any suggestions for my September – November, please leave them below. What worked for you? What didn’t?

Darkness prevailed for a moment, but the light came back. Silence has been broken.

Ready to retire

I am grateful!

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Less Doing; More Being

“I’m so tired”. It seems to be a common theme amongst my friends and colleagues. We’re nearing the end of another school year and our calendars are exploding with ‘to do’s’.

Report Cards, Appreciation Teas, Sports Day, Track & Field, Grad, Retirements, Year End Meetings, Budget, Field Trips, Year End Celebrations, Talent Shows…

Every single year we get here and wonder why we are still trying to do so many things in May and June.  Staff is reaching work-load capacity, students are struggling to keep up. Anxiety is on high alert taking its toll on everyone in the building.

For the past two years our school has embraced self-regulation, not as a goal, but as an embedded part of our school culture. To learn, we must first be calm. This time of year puts what we’ve taught to the test. For everyone. At the most basic level we remind each other to breathe.

                                      “Smell the flowers; blow out the candles.”                                             Perhaps that would serve well as our school motto.

As I sit outside on a sunny Sunday Okanagan morning, I’m struck with the dichotomy of healthy pacing and the May/June schedule. Would it jeopardize the life-long learning of our students if we stopped doing so much? My Carol L Perry School Movement will be called Slow-Schooling, and I’ll start with me.

When I approach overload, my long-suffering spouse reminds me to go back to the basics; rehearse the for sures.

  • we can only do what we can do
  • we can’t cram all the things we want to do into one month
  • we don’t have to feed anxiety
  • less doing; more being
  • joy is good
  • finish well

What do I want our students and staff to remember about the 2014-15 school year? We can testify to huge gains from many of our students. We’ve witnessed increased engagement, more kindness, camaraderie and laughter among staff, tenacity to work through difficult situations. We’ve successfully experienced math learning to the extent that most of our students find math fun; “no fear in numbers!” Collectively we’ve done well.

Some ideas for June 2015:

  • Keep the structure intact.
  • Schedule classroom breaks frequently throughout the day. In Finland they have a 15 minute break after every 45 minutes of teaching. Brain breaks, running breaks, Go Noodle, drawing, creating…there are many options. Prep the class that the break is over in 15 and then it’s back to work.
  • Keep work meaningful. School goes to the end of June. We can teach/learn until then.
  • Don’t stop having class meetings yet. This is the time to press into those. Use them to discuss finishing well. What does that look like? Feel like?
  • Pace yourself. There’s a lot to do, and like our students, we need to be calm to be effective.
  • This is the time of year that we cash in on our proactive planning. Stay the course!
  • If you find yourself reacting, escalating, getting grumpy, etc. take a deep breath, press the pause button…talk to a friend.
  • Remind your students of all they’ve accomplished over the year. Authentic praise will last much longer than stickers, stars, and a piece of pizza.

Finish well.

The Story of the Log Jam

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Why Collaborate?

Here is it 10, make that 11 days after my last post in the #AprilblogADay challenge. .

Before all you Type ‘A’ keeners judge me too harshly, let me say in my defence, I’ve been practicing self-care; as in, something had to give. Taking time to read through other blog posts, (you can follow them at the #AprilBlogaDay hashtag on twitter), I remain inspired. Us educators are a clever bunch!

A quick glimpse at the topics I’ve missed has given me some great ideas as my April may stretch into June. One in particular stands out: #whyIlovemyschool.

That just too easy – I love my school, because I work alongside some fun-loving, innovative, motivated, inspiring, crazy in the best possible way, staff. Our kids are the kind who wiggle their way deep into your heart, making work, less like work – yes, even the challenging ones! Is it corny to say, they make me want to be a better person?

Moving further down the topic list, my attention paused at the Why Collaborate? Why indeed! This quickly became a connection to the ‘loving my school’ thing. Our staff have learned to collaborate exceedingly well. We collaborate because we have to. We can’t do what we do alone. Serendipitously our school district initiated a new format for collaboration this year. We have six late start days for students allowing staff 80-minutes of scheduled collaboration time. I remain incredibly impressed with how that time is used. Each staff member developed their own inquiry question. The next step involved meeting up with staff who had similar questions. You can see our list of questions here. The range of inquiry is just part of what makes our school a great place to learn.

I won’t go into details or bore you with data, but we continue to move forward. Six sessions (we’ve completed 4) allows for deep discussions with group members who make themselves accountable to each other (not just to admin). Ideas are mindfully explored. Ultimately, the goal is to implement ways to inspire our students to be life-long learners, providing them with tools in the here and now to learn well. Breaking down our math goal, the results of our student survey overwhelmingly indicates that our students are moving along quite nicely. (Yikes, I almost cracked open some data – sorry)

This past week, there was a round table put on by the CSRI (Canadian Self Regulation Initiative). I was privileged to attend along with another administrator from our school district. In the morning we toured two schools who have been implementing SR for a number of years. The afternoon had us participating in round table discussions. I came away with several useful ideas, as well as an affirmation that we are well down the road of SR in conjunction with SEL (social emotional learning) at our school.

I couldn’t wait to share all this good stuff with our team. Within a day of being back in my own building I had three staff members indicate that they are keen to be part of a SR team. See why I love my school!!

Why collaborate? As well as we are doing, as much as we’ve improved, we collectively have a knowing that Better is Possible.

We’ll keep you posted.

The Story of the Log Jam

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