Sunday, September 15, 2019

Everything Old is New Again

Miracle of miracles, my prayers have been answered. I had been dreading returning to work. I was, as any regular reader knows, racking my brain trying to come up with a way to make teaching fun again as I hit the middle of my tenth year at this job, almost all of which have been spent teaching the same two classes. Two students in my seniors class just remarked that they have been with me since 2013!

I am not sure exactly which lifestyle change to credit for this (though I have an idea), but when I stepped back into the classroom on September ninth, it just felt new. I'm feeling a renewed capacity ot be in the moment, be in Flow. I've got my old excitement and energy back.

I've been doing a lot of work on myself in Jungian analysis AND have also begun medically prescribed and monitored treatment of my Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder with CBD oil. That only started September 1, so it's a bit early to know if my new and improved outlook and uncharacteristic ability to let things roll off me is the oil or just the usual summer chill not yet worn off. I'll be sure to let everyone know in a few weeks.

This week was all about the needs assessment. My literacy class is almost FULL right now. I hope it stays that way. There is such wonderful energy with a group of around ten that just isn't there when numbers drop below eight. As they were milling around on Wednesday asking each other, "What do you want to study?" while recording classmates' answers on the peer survey forms, it occurred to me that there is no classroom chaos quite as sweet as peer survey chaos in a literacy class.

The new guy, F, is policing his classmates since I admonished them for trying to "cheat" by simply shoving their papers under each other's noses for names to be copied. I told them they have to ask, "How do you spell your name" and have to listen as a classmate does so. I hear them correcting each other and patiently repeating: No J, G. No E, A. They are negotiating meaning! This is what I live for.

peer survey chaos

Also this week we received a reminder from the PBLA lead to get "About Me" sections in order in all student binders. One of the items on the checklist says: inventory sheet filled out and dated by students, not by teacher. Well, let me tell you about that. When it comes to the four skills sections of the binders, my literacy learners do fill those out in their own hand. Each Tuesday, which is task pass-back day, we all open our binders together to the correct section. I put all the info on the board and everyone copies. It takes a long time, longer for some than for others, but we patiently wait until everyone has it.

But for the About Me section, that would have meant having them copy phrases like "program agreement" and "conference report." They would have had to copy six lines of such words that are not level appropriate. So I just made an executive decision to rebel against that one little aspect of my PBLA lead's directive. Literacy learners in my class do not have to copy those six lines of big words onto the inventory sheet for the About Me section. I pre-printed it onto the sheet for them. I added a note to any future auditor regarding my small act of rebellion.

How about you? How was your week?


  1. Hi . London Calling.

    We wait for the promised multilevel modules that CLB and PBLA hired people to create.

    Only a few days in. Tell me more about the miraculous oil.

    1. Hi, London! Are those multilevel modules not on Tutela yet? Hmmm. I know I participated in Rana Ashkar's pilot quite a while back, so I was expecting to see them on Tutela by now.
      As for the oil, I responded to an ad that popped up on my personal FB page. I was diagnosed with OCD and G.A.D. in my early 20s and was put on one of the earliest antidepressant trials for a med that was supposed to be excellent at addressing OCD. After some trial and error to find an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor) that didn't have side effects almost as bad as the condition being treated, I was on an SSRI until around the age of 40. I was getting healthier, eating better, eliminating sugar, dairy, meat, etc. and wanted to see if I could address things like O.C.D., S.A.D. and anxiety through natural means. So with the support of a naturopath who gave me B12 shots for several weeks, I titrated off the antidepressant. I did well for quite a while using only diet, light therapy and mindfulness-based stress reduction. But lately I had noticed an uptick in my anxiety and O.C.D. to the point that relationships were once again negatively affected. Not wanting to go back to an SSRI, especially in light of what sudden withdrawal from them can do to your body (and that they can permanently alter the number of serotonin receptor sites), I decided to explore the CBD oil option.
      After clicking YES on that FB ad, I was given an appointment with a nurse practitioner (via my computer's camera) who spent 40 minutes with me. Then I got a cannabis counsellor who helped me select a product and recommended Canna Farms. Disclosure: an association of licensed cannabis suppliers provides the funding for this intake, assessment and prescribing. Anyway, I have decided that I need no THC and do not want ever to feel high or unable to drive or focus. So I was prescribed a product that is only CBD without THC. It came in the mail. I had to sign for it and I have to follow certain precautions such as keeping it locked away from children and "start low, go slow." So far, so good. I take a few drops sublingually morning and night. I think that after just two weeks, I'm at or very close to optimal dose. I can even submit the receipts to my health insurance company. Many do cover it. I hope that helps!

    2. Hi

      Thanks for the info. And there are a few modules on the PBLA page but more recently ( Spring 2019) people were hired to created more. Does anyone know if that went forward?

      So happy that you found a way to be. To be better gracefully. That is the biggest part of the journey.

  2. Hi Kelly,

    I don't know if there is space, but what if you make a 3rd column with an image/photo to help them connect the words to the actual document/page being referred to in the inventory list? (maybe they can take the photos themselves). This way they can find the page easier, locate the date, and then copy it into the inventory page. Over time they improve skills in identifying and becoming familiar with the words, what they mean, and why those items are required in Canadian culture classrooms. The concept itself is foreign to many newcomers, not simply literacy students. If they get it, it will make your life easier throughout the semester and you can spend more time on the fun games and projects you have created, rather than spend so much class time helping them organize their PBLA binders. It's unnecessarily stressful for you and the students, especially near report card time.

    I think you did the right thing by providing the completed left column to support the students. I totally agree with you that simply writing words that are too advanced is not effective other than more practice writing letters. Those are "administrative" words and should be modified into literacy friendly language, anyway. It's more important that in literacy the students develop language meaning and the reasoning behind why they are creating an inventory because they can transfer those skills to other situations. It helps them connect ideas, structure, organization and they are learning to identify items so they have a stronger foundation and wider capacity to learn from in more advanced levels. Students need to learn within their "zone of proximal development" and this is not anywhere near that for literacy.

    BTW, I see your beautiful assistant and one of my FAV students at the back of the room. Awwww. I miss you guys!

    1. Hey, MM!
      So good to hear from you. Thank you for putting time and energy into such a thoughtful response. It may help someone else out there, but --to be honest-- I wasn't looking for advice. I was just stating that I had decided to rebel against this one part of the PBLA directive because it is over-the-top ludicrous. That's where I still stand. I spend enough time creating meaningful content for the CLB 1L to 2L class. This class and I already do all the other parts of PBLA, including filling out the L, S, R, W inventory cover sheets in our own hand. If a cover sheet with pictures makes more sense for the About Me inventory for literacy, then the powers that be need to FUND the creation of that and then distribute it to us all. We teachers should not be expected to spend our evenings creating and inventing things in order to come to the rescue of IRCC and the CLBB who left us all in the lurch in this fiasco of an educational experiment. That's where I stand.
      Have an awesome day. I mean it. I love following your beautiful life with that gorgeous man of yours. ;) KM

  3. Where are all these 'wonderful' multi-level tasks they are supposed to provide us with? At my school, there is nothing provided other than a reminder to make them if we have multi-levels of students in our class. No help whatsoever in making them. This is typical at my school. We are required to turn in all of our tasks at the end of each semester and they are scrutinized by some bureaucrat/administrator and put in a file, supposedly for use by all the teachers. However, I have found that I almost never use other teachers' tasks, because they are never suitable for what I have been teaching. Sometimes they don't even make sense. If you use anything, it certainly has to be revamped to some degree. I even find I often have to revamp tasks I've previously used, because we are required to 'upgrade' our tasks on an on-going basis. The incompetent administration continually bring in revised requirements every semester and you cannot even use a document from the previous semester, because it is often out of date! So everything is in constant change, so there is less time to create new things, less time to innovate or adapt, less time to prepare for the next class and less time to focus on making each and every class as good as you can. I found that I am often exhausted by the time I get to class and have much less energy to invest into each class. I think this is why many teachers resort to giving students time-wasting activities such as extensive 'research' and 'practice time', just so the teacher can recharge or do more correcting or more planning ahead. I know I've done this, and I don't like it and rarely do the students like it, unless it's quite a limited amount. We can no longer focus on the classes and the students and instead are forced to focus on paperwork and tests, oops, I mean assessment tasks!

  4. Hi, gerggo,
    I don't know if that was a serious question or not, but the multilevel modules that I know of are here:
    There are just one or two for each phase so far, but it's a start.
    I agree it's very sad to see what PBLA is doing to our classrooms. Many teachers have to provide busywork in order to free up time for them to accomplish all the administrative work required under PBLA. I'm not sure "administrative" is the right word, but I think you know what I mean: the mountains of duties that are not teaching but are more preparing to teach, preparing to assess, marking, tallying, recording, summarizing, searching, printing, distributing, checking, chasing, monitoring, etc. It's hard to maintain good morale or energy when one is drowning under that heap of meaningless work, especially if the admin you work under or the PBLA lead is officious. --KM


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