Friday Two Cents: I Will Start The Ripples

In Canada, the end of the current school year is fast approaching and several colleagues asked me for something very interesting that took me awhile to truly come up with a response.   These colleagues knew that I have been to several schools as an occasional/supply teacher (OT) and they asked my opinion on particular schools that I have been to. Specifically what I thought about these schools. Their request came from their consideration on transferring to those schools.

I told them that what I find desirable might not be what they may like. They knew this and they had already talked to other OTs about these schools and got either an unfavourable or favourable critic on that school. Yet they said they respected my opinion because I was an unbiased third-party and that I usually look at things from all points of views unlike many of the other OTs. I found this rather flattering and I took their requests to heart. After reflecting about their requests, I told them my opinions about the schools. They thanked me and in giving my opinions I too discovered some interesting things.
The one very interesting fact or follow-up question had been on the staff dynamic in the school. This did not surprise me but the one thing I noticed did. I found that the schools that had the closest staff or good staff dynamic where the ones that regularly ate together in the staff room. Not just lunch but during recess too. This all came together on the day when the media was promoting ‘Eat Together Day.’   It is a promotion by a grocery chain here in Canada and several media outlets for people to eat with their colleagues and family.

Eating together.

They surveyed Canadians and found that 59% say that eating alone is the norm. Twenty-five percent like to spend their meal time catching up with personal business, 23% think that they are too busy to stop what they are doing and 12% spend their time on social media without interruption. And yet without knowing these facts and figures I rated the school as desirable or not almost along the lines of these survey results.
I found the schools with good staff dynamics and  desirable were the ones that ate together. Yet what was interesting is when I talked to other OTs. The ones that fell into that 59% of eating alone liked the school that had most of the staff eating alone, where the others did not. I know it is very subjective but I found this observation quite telling.
Upon reflection I shouldn’t be too surprised. This only proves that we humans are hard-wired to be social animals. We have been eating together or breaking bread since the dawn of civilization. Yes there are times we want or need to be alone but I fear that with the digital world and social media right at your finger tips, this may be changing and not for the better. Even without thinking about it, I realized that a close staff dynamic is what I look for in a desirable school and many others want this too.  
Yet it comes down to the staff themselves. If they want a close staff dynamic, they are the ones who need to put the effort into that relationship. I for one will continue to eat in the staff rooms of the schools where I go into and interact with the staff. It may take a while and repeated effort on my part but sometimes it only takes one person.

It is like the tail of the ripples in the pond. So small at first but look how they grow. But someone has to start them.

Someone has to start them.





100th Post!!! Friday Two Cents: A Long Journey But Worth the Wait


This is my 100th post since I started my blog and by happy coincidence it also corresponds with an anniversary of sorts.  One year ago I set a goal for myself to lose ten pounds in one year.  Well I met that goal but more importantly I met my goal that I set out for myself in 2006.  Wait, I am getting ahead of myself, let me start from the beginning. 

It all started in 2001 – 02 when I made a decision to quit teaching.  Yes its true.  I was working at a childcare centre with people whom I thought were professionals and my friends.  But instead the atmosphere was pure venom.  They treated me like a monster when I taught the children.  The supervisor would say, “I should be like the women and be quiet and reserved.”  I am a very animated person and this was a smack in the face to me because the children responded to me because I was so animated.  On countless occasions I would be reprimanded for being animated and boisterous with the children.  The sad truth is that the children loved it and I was able to teach them by using this talent. But I was always smacked down.  It affected me so much that there were days when I woke up in the morning, I was so upset that I had woken up because that meant I had to go to work. 

As a result I overate and fell into a slump.  My health suffered to the point where I had gained so much weight that I was obese and I had health issues related to stress and my weight. 

I was tremendously unhappy and then one day I decided to take a leave of absence to get re-educated and go into the Creative Design and Advertising field.  The management even refused to grant me one until I came in with a medical note from the doctor.

In addition, to emphasize how bad it was, that once my education was finished, I was about to go back just because I needed the income.  They instead offered me a buy out package, yet when I went in to sign the deal no one came or wanted to talk to me.  I asked the union rep. what was the matter, she told me that because I went back to school for more education, I am now smarter than them and they do not like that. 

I was flabbergasted, I did not believe that this was true about people I worked with and whom I thought were my friends.  But it was the truth and I knew then that I had made the right decision to leave that work place and the teaching field.  However, it took sometime for me to get into the right mindset to improve my life.

I began eating right but I was still obese.  Work was hard to find and I worked freelance and in different fields so my weight was not my top priority.  Teaching was the only thing that I could find work in and I have to admit it, it is in my blood and I never really left teaching.  Eventually, I went back into the teaching field with a contract position at a wonderful centre with great people.   I began then looking after what I eat more closely and made some healthier dietary decisions. 

When my contract was up, I was lucky enough to find a position at my current work place.  These children are older and more physically active than children that I was use to.  I really noticed it when I could not keep up and I felt tired all the time.  Therefore after the first year of working there I made it a point to look after my health and lose weight and keep it off. 

I had already changed my diet but I put it into high gear.  I use to eat red meat almost every day so I cut that to once a week.  I replaced the protein with white meat such as chicken, pork or fish.  I reduced the times I eat out and I increased the amount of vegetables I ate.  I do not like sweet foods much but I love salty foods like chips.  So I stopped buying it and instead had popcorn that I popped.  I use to drink about 2 – 3 cans of soda pop a day but I eventually cut it down to one at dinner.  But most importantly, I started to eat less at meals, smaller portions. 

Instead of 8 oz. of protein I now eat 6 oz.  Please remember that this was all done over a long time and not overnight.  I started all this in 2006 and I gradually made changes.  First it was red meat once a week, then in a month or two I changed the portions from 8 to 7 oz., then in two months I started eating more vegetables and so on.  Small steps so not to shock my system. 

Mind you, diet was only part of the process.  I slowly started being more physically active.  I rediscovered my love of bike riding.  I started slowly with 4 – 5 km a few days here and there to the point I can now ride 10 to 15 km with no problem.  This past year I have been doing resistant training to build and tone muscles.  I also do the warm up routines with the children during the baseball season with the ease I use to when I was in high school. 

This past week I went to the doctor for my yearly physical and the results of my blood work.  The doctor looked at me and did his usual testing for blood pressure, pulse, etc, and then we reviewed the results.  He was very pleased saying I am in great physical health, but my cholesterol level was slightly elevated.  Well you can’t win them all. I then went over to get weighed and what a surprise.  In the past year I had met my goal of losing 10 pounds but I surpassed it by 15 pounds.  I had lost a total of 25 pounds.  So from the point where I started in 2006, to the present, I have lost a total of 75 pounds

Holy moly, I have not been this weight since high school.  What’s even more amazing is in the past year I noticed I had lost weight because I had to go down a size in my clothes and I began buying a new wardrobe.  I can even wear a pair of pants I have from high school and they still fit me loosely. 

A lot of my friends, colleagues and even some parents have noticed and asked me how I have done it.  I told them it takes time and hard work.  But more importantly you have to believe in yourself.  To set goals for yourself and take small steps to achieve them.  Ten pounds over a year may not be much but because I did it gradually I can maintain the weight loss and that’s what I want. 

Mind you I do not deny myself an indulgence once in a while.  During football season I do like going down to the pub for a pint or two and the occasional pound of wings.  But I never over do it.  Self-control, patience and discipline are skills like any other and if you want to maintain a level of excellence you must practice constantly. 

I am still a bit overweight for my liking but I feel good about my achievements.  I am hoping to lose 5 to 10 more pounds but I want to increase my muscle mass.  That’s my goal for the next year. 

So if anyone ever tells you that you cannot lose the weight, think about trying small steps and small changes in your life.  Change is good and easy to accept if you do it gradually.  A smaller portion here, a vegetarian meal once a week and having fruit for dessert instead of sweets can be the start of something good.


It has been a long journey but the results are worth the wait. 


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