Comic Strips: School’s Out For Summer

In Canada the end of the school year is at the end of June.  Both students and teachers look forward to a two-month summer break to relax and recharge for the upcoming year.  Interestingly I read a study that shows that teachers energy level for the school year is around 100% but as the school year moves on those energy levels slowly go down steadily until June.  The study continues to state that the teacher’s energy levels return to optimal in September.  It takes two months for people to recover from the previous school year.  No wonder people look forward to the break.  

This month’s comic plays on the idea that not only do students look forward to the break but so do teachers.  Instead of telling you about the comic I’ll simply let you enjoy it on your own. 

I hope you enjoy June’s The Craziest Things: School’s Out For Summer.


Friday Two Cents: Time To Recharge


Well teachers, we made it.   Another year has come and gone and now begins the two month-long process of recharging you batteries. Yes it’s a great time to do nothing and many people may be jealous of the two months but remember one thing, you deserve it.

The public may only see you work six hours a day with the students, five days a week and you now get two months off, yet you and I know what they don’t see adds up to a lot more. Sometimes you stay late helping students with their homework, or mark their work and we both know you have to get all your lesson plans prepared before but you can only do this once the school day is over. Yet sometimes you volunteer your time to run extracurricular activities like sports teams, school committees and countless clubs. Not to mention the tests, individual lesson plans and reports you write on a constant basis, all during your own time.
You deserve a break but I know that it is not easy. The most difficult part is how to begin. Luckily I was able to find five meaningful places where we can start.   These five were published by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley and I thought it may be a good starting point.  


8 Essentials for Forgiving: Raise your hand if you have any residual “grrr” feelings from this past school year. We’ve all experienced times when a student, parent, or colleague treated us unfairly or said something hurtful, and sometimes it can be hard to let go of the bad feelings. But holding onto grudges, even small ones, only makes things worse for you. By helping you forgive, these steps can reduce your stress and make you feel better. 

Gratitude Letter: Now, raise your other hand if there’s someone who really made a positive difference in your life this past year. It could be someone at school, someone who supported you from the sidelines, or anyone else who you never got to thank properly. Taking the time to write a note of gratitude to them—and even better, delivering it in person—won’t just make them feel great. It’ll make you happier, too! 

Awe Narrative: From making intense decisions to dealing with little details, it’s easy to get consumed by the day-to-day challenges of teaching. To break out of that tunnel-vision head space and expand your perspective (and maybe even remember why you became a teacher in the first place!), try thinking and writing about a time you felt awe. Believe it or not, doing this can make you feel like you have more free time and increase your life satisfaction.  

Meaningful Photos: Want another way to boost your happiness and sense of meaning in life? It’s (almost) as easy as taking a selfie—but so much more fulfilling. Just take a picture or two each day of things that you feel make your life meaningful and then, at the end of a week, reflect on why those things mean so much to you. Now that you’re no longer stuck in a classroom for eight hours a day, get out there, get creative, and remind yourself of all the wonderful things that make your life worthwhile. 

Self-Compassionate Letter: Teachers, on the whole, are a pretty self-critical bunch. We dedicate our lives to caring for others, but we often don’t extend the same kindness to ourselves, instead beating ourselves up over every little thing. Thus, the idea of writing a letter to yourself expressing compassion for one of your own flaws or mistakes may seem strange, but it really works—it not only makes people feel better, but also makes them more motivated to improve. This would be a great way to set the stage for being kinder to yourself next year.  

Campbell, E. (June 17, 2015) Five Ways for Teachers to Recharge This Summer. The Greater Good Magazine, The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley.

Writing down you thoughts.


These are just a few of dozens of ideas and articles available but they appear to be a good balance. I have actually done a few of these to help myself relax and recharge, perhaps they can help you too.


Friday Two Cents: Keeping A Routine And Keeping Healthy

With the summer upon us and I am, like the children, off for the summer enjoying a well-deserved rest. A time to recharge my batteries and get things done that I put-off during the year. I have a list of things I need to get done around the house yet I decided to make sure I looked after my own health at the same time.

Working as a teacher is no an easy job. It is a mental and physical job that many people think is easy to do. ‘You’re playing with kids. How hard is that?’ Trust me it’s not easy. Put aside the fact that teachers must program the daily lessons, write reports and supervise the students, it is also very physical. Everyday I would look at my step counter and on average I would do between 14 000 and 15 000 steps daily. That level of activity is taxing and does take its toll after a time. Yet I must admit once you get use to it you miss it after a while.
During the summer months I have taken it upon myself to keep healthy and physically fit. I big part is maintaining my diet. I have a routine that did not change over this past three weeks of the summer and it has helped.  I try to keep to the same routine but I also know that I am not perfect and I allow myself to occasional indulgence but in moderation.
Eating is only part of it; I also go to bed and wake up at the same time. I exercise and keep physically fit but this week I have taken up something that I haven’t done for about 5 years; ride my bike. I have a stationary bike at home that I use often but going out seemed such an inconvenience. I use to ride almost everywhere when I was younger, yet when I got my licence I rode less and less. This year though I thought why not start again.
I got my bike ready and the day after I finished my Mathematics course I went down to the lakeshore and rode along the bike path. It was an exhilarating experience and it is true what they say, once you have ridden a bike you never forget. I rode along the same path I did years ago everything about riding came back. The breeze whipping across my face; the sensation of my legs as I pump them up and down and the sense of accomplishment after riding the set amount of kilometers I set for myself.
I know this is only the beginning and I am being realistic. I know not to push myself too much but I intend to continue for at least the summer. After that who knows. Trying to keep healthy is a lot of work but as I have discovered, its fun too.



Friday Two Cents: Vacationing In Ontario With George Part 1


Schools out and summer vacation has begun. With it I can relax and enjoy the rest and solace that Ontario has to offer. I enjoy going away on vacation but experiencing what my home country of Canada and province of Ontario, has to offer is always number one on my list of things to do. This year I have a few local trips that I always go on and I never stop learning how great Ontario really is. Every week I will be, as the provinces slogan says, ‘Your’s to Discover’, exploring the different wonders that Ontario has to offer.

Yet I cannot help think about a few of the students in my classrooms and what they asked me. I usually teach kindergarten and this year an early primary class. In the classroom I used a puppet to help me teach the lesson. It is a purple monster with green horns that I named George. Now George sounds like Goofy and is a little silly but the students love him. He doesn’t teach the lesson, I usually have him introduce it to get their attention. I also use him as a reminder about manners and how to act in the classroom.

Every day I am with the students they always ask where is George or if he can come out and play with them. They ask me questions such as, “Are you George’s daddy? What does he like to eat? Why is he so silly?” you get the picture. But there is one question they do ask from time to time. “Do you take George on vacation with you?” I am bit surprised by this question but I guess that if they take their stuffed animals on vacation with them they may think I do too, so I say yes. But then they ask if I have any pictures of George on vacation and I have to admit to them that I do not.  

Hi Everyone!!! My Name is George!!!

Hi Everyone!!! My Name is George!!!

As they where asking me this question it made me think; maybe wherever I go this summer I should bring George and take some pictures of where he goes. Therefore this year as I go around Ontario I will bring George with me and document where he goes on vacation. This way if they ask again if I take him on vacation I can show them that he does get around. You are all probably thinking I’m crazy and acting like a kid, but I guess I am just a kid at heart. (Or I’m just in touch with my inner child.)

Well a good place to start is in my hometown of Toronto. This past week they held their annual Ribfest. For those of you who have not been to a ribfest before, you do not know what you are missing. They have rides for the kids, live shows and other entertainment. They also have food vendors that sell things like funnel cakes (deep-fried pancakes), ice cream and Bloomin’ Onions, a whole onion dipped in batter and deep-fried. It may not sound healthy but it tastes like onion rings and it is sooo good.

The best part is the rib trailers. They have these people who compete at other ribfests all over North America to see if their ribs are the best. There are vendors/competitors from across Canada of course but also from places in the United States such as Alabama, Kentucky, Florida, Ohio, Texas and New Mexico. There are no shortage of ribs places, the biggest problem is choosing which one you want to try. Or you can do what some told me while waiting in line. Many people buy a small amount of ribs from different venders to see which one has the best ribs.

They sell different amounts of ribs from a full rack (about 12 ribs) to half racks and a 1/3 rack. They also sell roast chicken and pulled pork, some places by the pound. I for one can eat about a half rack at best, especially if I get beans, coleslaw and cornbread with it. Even if you have a 1/3 of a rack from each vender, that is still a lot of ribs.

If you ever get a chance to go to a ribfest somewhere, I strongly recommend it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some ribs to finish off. Oh and so does George.

Ailish Sinclair

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