Friday Two Cents: Oh The Places I’ve Seen


In Canada it is the final week of classes in the elementary school system.  This month also marks the 2nd anniversary that I started as an occasional teacher in a school board.  Yes I have been working with students for several years but those years were when I was an early childhood educator (ECE).  I have worked in many different classrooms as an ECE and I learned a great deal.  Yet nothing has been a greater learning experience than working as a certified teacher in these classrooms.  

Since the beginning I have kept track of how many different schools and classrooms I have been in.  Partly because it helps me with Additional Qualification course requirements, but also when someone asked me how many different classrooms I have been in I had to stop and think because I was not sure.  Amazingly, in the two years I have been in 80 different classrooms.  

I started in 2017 and since then, I have been at about 25 different schools and 80 different classes.  Over this time I have been in some classes that had the same teacher, but from year to year they had different students.  The students’ personality differences change the dynamics in a classroom wherever I have worked in with a similar teacher; therefore I see the class as a different classroom.  In some cases I have been in 14 – 18 different classrooms at the same school. I even have been in several French immersion classes during this time period. 

Yet reflecting back on the past two years, I can say with one thing for certain.  Kids are kids no matter where you go.  They are all very curious; they love to ask questions on topics of their interest and personal questions about your life. They all enjoyed my drawings and creative work with them and of course they loved George and my other puppets. Whenever I go back to a school or a classroom they always ask about George.  

However even though I have been in all these different classrooms it sometimes feel like a hollow victory.  I look at this number and all the experience I have accumulated and yet I am still looking for a permanent position, even an LTO (long term occasional) as a teacher of my own classroom. On top of it all there are times I feel that there are sometimes-unrealistic expectations on me from everyone around me.  Students, parents, teachers and others all want you to be Superman to fix everything and be whatever they want me to be instead of being myself.  

In the last two months I have worked in 20 different classrooms in 30 days.  Mind you I am grateful for the opportunity and I do enjoy being with the students but it does take a toll on you.   There are days when I feel like I am making progress and advancing in my career.  Then there are days when the harsh reality of my situation sets in and you are only as good as your last job.  The saying … “It’s not what you have done for me that counts but what you have done for me lately”, comes to mind.  On several occasions I have felt that no matter how good I do my job, I feel unappreciated.  That for all my helping and hard work, to make a class and a school that much more enjoyable for the students, it falls to the side like leaves falling in the autumn breeze.  I feel like no one notices … no one cares. 

However those feelings pass as I try to be positive and think of the most important aspect of my journey into the different classrooms.  My observation and learning from the different teachers and their teaching styles.  I have observed and conducted many lesson plans they have left me to do and what is great is that I have been asked to conduct my own lessons in these classrooms. Lesson plans for math; language, art, technology and science just to name a few.  I even helped out a school with their science project on the life cycle of the butterfly.  I don’t have my own classroom but it feels good to do some lesson plans to keep my teaching juices flowing.  

Below I have created a logo of a blue silhouette male teacher holding the hands of two students.  Each of these silhouettes’ represents a different classroom I have worked in.  On the top left side I placed the grade or subject I was teaching and on the right side the year I worked in that classroom. The font is unique to the school year; Helvetica was used for 2018-19.  The classes that I worked in French immersion are represented with a white fleur-de-li because the majority of the classes I work in are English.  Directly beneath the logo you can see a tally chart of all the classes I have been in.  The 25th is shaded in silver and the 50th is in gold.  

Saying I have been in 80 different classrooms is pretty impressive.  However, I have to remember to think of the positive side of my journey and remember those famous words written by Dr. Seuss. 

“Oh, the places you’ll go!
There is fun to be done!

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
 
KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!
 
You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So … get on your way!”  
Dr. Seuss

I’ve already moved a few mountains, what’s a few more.   

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Art Inspiration: The Scottish Crew


For the past few months I have been posting my adventures in Scotland. The biggest reason I had such a wonderful time was due to the amazing people I went with.  They help make the Scotland Adventure a time to remember. They encouraged me to test my limits and seek out new adventures and experiences.  They in short inspired me.  Therefore it is not surprising that I was inspired to draw and creature some art based around what I have affectionately called The Scottish Crew.  

I therefore took on the task to create Steampunk caricatures of the Scottish Crew.  I have already created two caricatures out of the group of four on previous occasions. One being myself, The Captain and the other as a Steampunk Scott’s woman. Below are all four in a final picture entitled “The Scottish Crew”.  Each caricature is similar and inspired by the same symbols I created for the Scotland Adventure logo.  

The person to the far left has been called Viking and he quite looks the part. Therefore I drew him as a Viking with the helmet I drew for the logo.  The next person I drew as a Steampunk Scott’s woman.  She rather fits the part and she loved the caricature. The third person is tall and of French background, so I drew her as a Femme Fatale. The dress and two pistols seemed to fit her personality.  And the final person is my caricature as a Steampunk Captain. I then placed everyone in front of a famous landmark in Scotland, Eilean Donan Castle.   

There you have it; The Scottish Crew. I hope you enjoy this inspiring piece as much as I enjoyed drawing it for the people who inspired me to create it.   

Scotland Adventure: Day Eight


Day eight would be our last full day in Scotland and part of it would be spent traveling from the Isle of Arran to Glasgow.  Thankfully the weather cooperated, to a point (cloudy with some showers, a typical Scottish day) and we were able to board the ferry to the mainland. The biggest and most exciting parts of the day would be meeting up with a friend we met last year and some new ones.  

Our first meeting would be with a friend from last year at a local pub for lunch.  We meet with him twice last year and oh the laughs we shared.  This year we will have an extra bonus for he will be bringing his dog.  A beautiful animal that is part white wolf but quite gentle.  We also were able to go to a local beach where we let him run around while we enjoyed our time talking and laughing together.  

Unicorns for my Nieces

After we made our goodbyes, to our friend and his dog, then we continued to Glasgow.  Once at the hotel I was eager to walk around the downtown core.  Both for the local scenery but I also needed to get a couple of gifts for my nieces. My nieces, as many girls of their age, love unicorns. I told them and many of my students that the unicorn is the nation symbol of Scotland and I hinted that Scotland is the land of unicorns.  So I thought what better gift than a unicorn from the land of unicorns.  It took me a couple of hours of looking but I finally found some for them (which they absolutely adored). 

With that out of the way, I was able to relax a bit and look forward to our dinner that evening with more wonderful people.  We met up with friends from the Glasgow area and had a wonderful dinner filled with laughter and great conversation.  Once dinner was over we had to say our goodbyes but after we went for a walk around Glasgow to take in the nightlife.  I remembered Edinburgh was active with a busy nightlife but Glasgow was bustling with activity and people everywhere.  

With the night coming to an end and tomorrow we would traveling back to Toronto, I laid in my bed thinking about this wonderful Scotland Adventure.  I had seen many wonderful places in Scotland, filled with a rich history and tales that will continue to inspire me for years to come.  Yet again the most inspiring thing I found in Scotland were the Scottish people themselves.  They say the land moulds a people; these words were never truer then in Scotland. The rugged Highlands, breathe taking views from Skye and Arran, the streets full of history in both Glasgow and Edinburgh just to name a few things.  Scotland is a wonder not just because of its natural and historic beauty but the people who make this wonderful land shine so bright. I have also made some wonderful friends here, yet I have only scratched the surface of what Scotland has to offer.  This was my second trip to Scotland but I know is won’t be my last.    

Scotland Adventure: Day Seven


Day seven and our last full day on the Isle of Arran and at the Auchrannie Resort.  Our stay at the resort has been everything we had hoped for.  Great rooms, fine dining and fantastic sporting facilities.  Every night of our stay we were able to enjoy the wonderful pools, hot tubes and saunas (a perfect way to relax after a day of hiking and exploration).  This morning we were greeted with wonderful blue skies again but the winds had picked up.  During breakfast we discovered that the ferries to the mainland were cancelled do to the winds.  Fortunately for us we would be leaving the next day but we still felt a bit of concern that the ferries would be cancelled tomorrow, but we did not let that affect our plans and excitement for the day.  

Our first destination would be the Arran Aromatics and cheese shop.  The aromatics store has many soaps and fragrances that are known the world over. Many of the soaps, hair products and hand creams at the Auchrannie Resort are from Arran Aromatics.  After getting a few things for my family we then got some wonderful cheese from the local cheese shop.  If you ever have the opportunity to visit the Isle of Arran, make sure you visit these places, you won’t be disappointed.  

With our shopping done we then moved on to some local sight seeing at the Brodick Castle, Garden and Country Park. Unfortunately the castle was closed to tours for the season but that did not stop us from walking around and enjoying the grounds and exterior views.  

Shopping, a castle and gardens not bad so far but the big fun was just ahead, the Machrie Moor Stone Circles. The Machrie Moor Stone Circles include six stone cirles that is east of  Moss Farm. Some circles are formed with granite boulders, while others are built of tall red sandstone pillars.  The area is covered with prehistoric remains, including standing stones, burial cairns and cists.  They say that these stones were placed there from 2080 – 180 BCE.  

Looking at these circles, they were rather impressive but they were not the largest or the most imposing example of prehistoric remains I have seen.  In Malta there is a place called Ħaġar Qim that have stones weighing several tonnes stacked on top of each other in an intricate design. Those are considered the oldest prehistoric temples in Europe dating back to about 3600 – 3200 BCE.  Yet despite that fact it was still impressive. 

After we made our way south to Blackwaterfoot for a coffee and some walking along the beach.  There I took the opportunity to make a little sign to remember our visit and to reflect on our time at the standing stones.

You see, standing at the stones it was interesting to think that our civilization started in places like this. That ancient people put in the effort to move these giant stones but for what purpose I wondered.  Was it ceremonial, a shelter or was there something else.  Whatever it was their efforts have stood there thus far and will continue for centuries to come.  And as I touched those stones, I am now a part of their history and it makes me think of where we as human beings came from. I remembered a quote I once heard and it seems appropriate for that moment.  

‘Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ George Santayana

Near Blackwaterfoot

For all our technology, our intellect we have to remember that we started in places like this with far less than what we have today.  If we are not careful with our stewardship of the Earth, we will end up back there and we will only have ourselves to blame.    

Scotland Adventure: Day Six: Part 2


On my trip to Scotland I have seen the natural beauty she has to offer. This day has not been a disappointment. Walking through the forest, along the shoreline, hearing the waves crash on the rocks and taking in the views of the countryside.  With all that behind us we had one last destination for the day.  

Once in our car we traveled north along the western side of the Isle of Arran. It was rather interesting, not because of the scenery but because of the road itself.  It was a typical road seen all over Scotland but it felt more like traveling on a rollercoaster.  Up and down, driving along the edge of the hill.  There were times I was glad I wasn’t driving, though it was still a fun drive.  

At the northern tip of the isle we came to a small village called Lochranza. There we stopped for two unique things. First to see Lochranza Castle.  It is an old castle ruin on an outcropping of land in the local bay.  The second was for a group of wild deer grazing on the side of the road. Amazingly these deer were simply munching on someone’s lawn in the middle of the village.  They looked up at us for a moment or two and then went back to their lunch.  Amazing, they had no fear of us and it looked like the locals thought that this was as normal as a dog sitting on the porch.  

Once we left the deer to their lunch we realized we too were a bit hungry. It was a good thing that we were not that far from our final destination, the Isle of Arran Distillery and Visitor Centre. There we enjoyed a nice light lunch and a couple of flights, though our driver only smelled and did not drink any.  The best way I could describe the two best tasting scotches would be as follows.  The first Arran Malt Amarone Finish had tastes of chocolate, honey and pears, where the second Machrie Moor Cask Strength Single Malt had a smoky, spicy taste to it. 

Yet while we were sitting there enjoying the food, whisky, scenery and conversation with the staff, I paused for a moment and reflected on the scene around me. There I was in that moment with three other friends having a great time, without a care in the world.  Yes Scotland had a lot to offer and I was on vacation but it was the company of the Scottish crew that really made this trip extra special.  I know that if it weren’t for the company, the trip last year and this year would be remarkably different.  These people, who had the same curiosity and wonder as I, made these small moments in Scotland all the more enjoyable and special.  

Henry Ford once said…‘My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.’ These friends have brought out the best in me on many occasions.  At that moment all I can think of to say to them was thank you.  Thank you for all the wonderful experiences and moments like this one.  For moments like this truly add colour to ones tapestry of life.  

Scotland Adventure: Day Six: Part 1


At the Auchrannie Resort we were able to truly put our feet up and relax.  After a long day of driving, we enjoyed a relaxing swim and a wonderful dinner before we went off for a good night sleep. 

I woke up to a wonderful sight.  The clouds had parted and I was able to see blue sky with clouds rolling by. I knew that the weather would be unpredictable, therefore I will enjoy the sun and sky whenever I could.  Even during breakfast, the rain rolled in and left quickly leaving us the hope for some sun and picturesque views of the Isle of Arran.  We would be driving along the coast of the island as two members of our “Scottish Crew” have been to Arran before and knew the best places to take in the natural beauty this lovely isle has to offer. 

As we left the resort we headed south along the eastern coast towards the town of Lamlash.  There we stopped and walked along the sandy beach.  We knew there was a ferry to the Holy Isle just across the bay, but unfortunately we were a little early in the season for the ferry crossing.  So instead we took in the wonderful views of the isle along the coast.  

We continued to the mouth of the bay to a place called Kingscross.  We made our way across country along small roads.  We then hiked the short distance to the tip of the bay area for some spectacular views. Once at the tip I took in the views, breathed in the salty air and felt the breeze and sea spray on my face.  I could have stayed there for hours but we had to move on to our next destination.  If only I knew how our next destination would kindle feelings inside me as I stood there at the tip of the bay.  

We continued our journey until we came to a park or forest area.  The place was called Tigh Righ Beag, I am not sure what that means but inside was a trail called the King’s Cave trail.  This spectacular costal walk visits a series of caves in the sandstone cliffs.  The historic King’s Cave is of several locations where it is said that Robert the Bruce had his famous encounter with a spider.  It was about a 5 km hike that you can do in about 2 hours.  It took us a little longer because we had to stop and take cover from a few passing rain showers.  But once they were gone the skies cleared and we got to take in the stunning views of the surrounding countryside.  

Once at the coast near the caves, we began exploring and taking in all the natural beauty.  The caves were amazing yet for me the sound of the crashing surf seemed to call me. For me, there has always been something magical, almost spiritual about the sea.  I felt a need, a longing for the salty air to fill my lungs, to feel the spray on my face and to hear the sea crashing along the shore.  I cannot fully describe it but at that moment I felt almost one with the sea.  Here with the forests, caves and history all around me, I am drawn to this expanse of water that I have never been to before.  The only thing I can think of is something inside me feels or recognizes the smells and sounds of the sea. Something more than a simple memory, almost a state of being.  Perhaps it is a genetic memory of the sea trapped within me, longing to come out at that moment and I have Scotland to thank for the memory. 

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