A pig, a spider, a rat, some geese and some sheep…

  • “People believe almost anything they see in print.” p.89
  • “You have been my friend … That in itself is a tremendous thing.” p.164

Recognize these lines? They were spoken by Charlotte. Yes, Charlotte, the spider.

I reread Charlotte’s Web this weekend. I have been referring to it a lot with students because of Melissa Sweet’s wonderful biography of E.B. White. Since it’s been a few years, I thought I’d reread the novel. How is it that we learn about friendship and loyalty, promises and devotion, an appreciation for life and an acceptance of death, from a barn full of animals?

  • “By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.” p. 164
  • “It was the best place to be, thought Wilbur, this warm delicious cellar, with the garrulous geese, the changing seasons, the heat of the sun, the passage of swallows, the nearness of rats, the sameness of sheep, the love of spiders, the smell of manure, and the glory of everything.” p. 183
  • “… he realized that friendship is one of the most satisfying things in the world.” p. 115

How very true.

Be Your Best Self

Michelle Obama has written a book. Because of its recent publication, I’ve seen her interviewed a lot this week. I laughed along with her and Ellen, and again with Jimmy Fallon. I was nearly moved to tears a few times during the 20/20 interview with Robin Roberts.

What I’ve come to realize is that the people I admire most are those who inspire me to be my best self. When I listen to Michelle Obama speak, I feel both motivated and hopeful. My dad made me feel this way, too. My mom still does.

I had teachers, too, who inspired me to be the best version of me. Mr. Jason, Mr. Wowk and Mr. Forest immediately come to mind, but I was fortunate, there were many others, too.

We spend considerable time with our students over the course of a year. Do we inspire them to be their best selves?

“Success isn’t just about what you accomplish in your life; it’s about what you inspire others to do.” Author Unknown

Get up and move!

I’m in the middle of revisions with my editor: book two is on its way!

Over the last few weeks, working a little more intensely than normal, I am reminded of the importance of breaks. I find myself sitting for hours without realizing how much time has passed. Yet the time away from my work – a stretch, a walk with the dog, a card game, a visit with family – is invigorating. These breaks are essential for both body and mind. Instead of getting less done, I’m better able to concentrate and therefore much more productive.

The same is true for our students: get them up and moving!

Teenage Wisdom

On Friday I had the opportunity to speak at the ESL Conference in Edmonton. Just before I spoke, I had the privilege of hearing two teenagers, originally from Syria, address those gathered in the large ballroom.

These young ladies spoke of their experiences in Syria: the fear and lockdowns, the bombings and destruction. They spoke of their arduous journeys and their many adjustments to Canada: culture, weather and language topping their lists. They spoke of the challenges they face in Canadian schools not always understanding their friends or teachers because of the speed of typical speech and the need to continually learn new vocabulary. They spoke of their sorrow leaving behind their homes and their fear for friends and family members left behind.

Through smiles and nervous giggles, they voiced appreciation for the acceptance, patience and persistence of their teachers. They also voiced appreciation for the safety and security they have found within Canada.

I cannot imagine the adversity and horrors these teenagers have faced in their young lives. I felt honoured to be in their presence. Our community is richer for their perspective, insight and wisdom.