The Power of Rejection

Last week was somewhat surreal. I received an email telling me that my book has gone to print and that it is now available for preorders. With this news, a few people have asked when I started this project. Well … let’s just say the journey has been a long one: I started years ago, experienced many rejections, and eventually reworked the project with a new focus.

As difficult as the rejections were, I now realize they were necessary. Each rejection, the feedback I received, and my determination to keep pursuing this passion, all made my book stronger. I’m glad the process was not an easy one: the rejections fuelled me.

I’m not the only one for whom rejection has turned into a positive. Check out this amusing (yet thought-provoking) TedTalk: What I learned from 100 days of rejection!

I construct with words …

There is an interesting juxtaposition in my home this week. As I read a proof of my manuscript, making final changes before its imminent publication, my kitchen transforms from the empty canvas it recently became to one completely new. Both are signs of creation and yet the diversity of the creations strike me.

More than once this week I have been reassured that I have chosen the right profession. The construction world is not for me. This reflection on career choice reminds me of Seamus Heaney’s poem, Digging first published in Death of a Naturalist in 1966.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.
Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down
Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.
The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.
By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.
My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.
The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.
Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.



Meaningful Inclusion

I attended a PD session on Friday put on by Inclusion Alberta. The presenter: Shelley Moore. I was looking forward to the day as I had seen her TedTalk and was familiar with her style and content. I knew she would be interesting and engaging; what I didn’t expect was a day of deep thinking and introspection. She provokes a paradigm shift.

Shelley challenged us to consider the gap between what we say inclusion is and what the practice actually is within our schools.

Contrary to some practice, inclusion is more than physical integration. Physically forcing people into the same school or the same room, does not equal inclusion. Individuals may be integrated into your setting, but do they truly have a role, feel a part of the group and make contributions to the group? If we’re honest, not always.

Sometimes, in my role, I see the budgetary constraints that affect the workings of inclusion. Often, the students with the most challenging needs are put in the hands of people with no experience dealing with these needs – through no fault of their own. If we expect our EAs and our teachers to meaningfully meet the needs of students with significant cognitive or physical disabilities AND meet the needs of all of the other students in the class, we must support our staff with appropriate training.

Then, we proceed with the belief that all students can learn. Our job is not to fix kids; this implies there is something in need of fixing! Our job is to educate kids: providing supports for all students to ensure their educational experiences – both academic and social – are meaningful.

As Shelley emphasizes, you don’t do inclusion, you live it. One step at a time.

View Shelley Moore’s TedTalk here!

I’m no Masterchef

I’m willing to admit: I am not a cook. I’m not good at it. I don’t enjoy it. I do it only by necessity. And yet, for some reason, one even I can’t fathom, I watch cooking shows. Not only do I watch them, I enjoy them.

There are a few I tune into now and then; my favourite though is Masterchef Junior. I watch in astonishment as kids as young as 8 use ingredients whose names I cannot pronounce. They blanche, sauté, sear and braise. They create art on a plate.

And the best part with the kids: they cheer each other on. Much more than on the adult version of the show, these kids hug, laugh, cry and support each other. They literally jump for joy. While watching the other day, I said out loud, “Kids are awesome.”

With spring break behind us, I look forward to returning to work tomorrow. I look forward to supervision before the day begins when I can reconnect with my students. I know what will be on my mind: “Kids are awesome.”