Back-to-School Buzz

I visited four schools this week. There was an excitement in each building – the back-to-school buzz! Secretaries and clerks accepting new registrations. Administrators planning for meetings and adjusting class lists. Custodians moving, culling and cleaning. Teachers completing all of the last minute classroom preparation: labelling, organizing and planning.

The promise of a new year is before us. Goals to be accomplished… ideas to be tried… staff to reconnect with… new students to meet, motivate and inspire.

Remember, in Malala Yousafzai’s words, “One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.”

Happy New Year!

An Unexpected Reminder

There’s nothing quite like the unexpected death of a family member to jolt you back into reality and remind you that life is precious. Without warning routine breaks and what seemed important before the event, suddenly holds little significance.

These last few days have reminded me to live in the moment not knowing what is around the corner. I am reminded to take care of myself by valuing my mind, body and soul. I am reminded to chase after my dreams while I have the awesome opportunity to do so. I am reminded to hold my loved ones close and to tell them how much they matter. I am reminded to enjoy the little things, for perhaps, they are the big things.

Yesterday has past and tomorrow will come. I will live today.


It’s that time again!

As the days of August pass, some schools are already back in session and others will begin in the upcoming weeks. Henry David Thoreau once said, “Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.”

Although he was speaking of the seasons of nature, this quote reminded me of the seasons of school. Students and teachers look forward to summer and the time it provides. Many though, also look forward to the beginning of the school year and the opportunities it presents.

As you prepare to return to the classroom, enjoy the time, relish the excitement, reconnect with colleagues, and treasure each moment. Returning to work means you are alive and well!



Cartwheels, shoulder shrugs and a wave of the hand

The other day I noticed a girl, maybe 8 or 9, suddenly do a cartwheel as she was walking. What was she expressing? Excitement? Energy? Happiness?

How many adults would spontaneously cartwheel in public? A rare few, I would think. But the more I think about body language, the more cognizant I am of its impact on people.

Take driving, for instance. If I let someone in front of me, I appreciate a hand wave. If I don’t get one, I’m annoyed. If I do get one, my faith in humanity is restored. Okay, perhaps I’m putting too much into a wave of the hand … and yet, it’s such a simple gesture.

What about body language in the classroom setting? I look to the body language of my students to help me understand their feelings about school, my classroom, or even about themselves as learners. Think about this difference in response to a question: a reluctant shoulder shrug or a hand shot straight up in the air. And what about body language between students? Observant teachers pick up on many subtleties – and potential problems – all through a silent vocabulary.

As teachers, we also communicate how we feel about our students through how we stand, whether or not we get down to their level, or even if we make or avoid eye contact. What does our body language unconsciously communicate to our students? Is there a student that senses that we don’t like her? What might we be doing to communicate this? Does our body language change from student to student? Are we carrying the stress of home in our demeanour or do we appear relaxed and comfortable? Do we meet students at the door with a smile or a hug, or do we hide behind our desks when they enter our class?

There’s no need for cartwheels in the classroom, of course, but awareness of body language is certainly important when establishing a positive, productive environment.