This past week was well stocked with some exceptional “Agave Moments” (I just made this term up right now).  In case you don’t know what agave is, it’s a natural  sweetner (25% sweeter than sugar = you use less of it) that can be added to pretty much anything.  Agave (ah-gahhhv-ay) is the sweetner of choice in our house – it also comes from the same plant that makes tequila (barf).

Anyhow, this post will highlight the Agave Moments I experienced this week.  Enjoy!

Monday: We started a new science unit on Monday, which was a bit of a “Hallelujah!” moment for me because I was getting sooo bored of our previous unit.  Don’t get me wrong, the human body fascinates and astounds me, but I was feeling done with the topic and I can only imagine how my students were feeling.  We finished our unit with a gallery walk of our life size human bodies.  During our gallery walk the entire class was able to check out the work their classmates had been doing, while filling in the answers to questions I created about the seven body systems we studied.

I also went to a district self-regulation meeting on Monday.  The meeting began with everyone focusing their gaze at a specific point in the room, while the principal of the school used a singing bowl to further deepen our focus.  The yogi in me back flipped with joy to experience 50+ educators focusing by way of singing bowl.  I was also totally taken aback to notice how effective the singing bowl was on my own mood and focus – I made a mental note to purchase a singing bowl and try to use it in my own class.

Gallery Walk: Circulatory system
Gallery Walk: Circulatory system
Gallery Walk: Nervous system
Gallery Walk: Nervous system
Gallery Walk: Skeletal system
Gallery Walk: Skeletal system

Tuesday: In addition to having Adam Kreek come hang out with us, the best thing that happened on Tuesday was this:

kreek4That’s right! Meaghan and I actually spent time together in the flesh (rarely happens) and we ran our 5.5k in “my backyard”.  I’ve been doing rehab runs(5×1 runs) for my hip and was thrilled to have Meaghan stoop to my rehab level of running.  Unfortunately, a physio appointment later in the week put me back to the “no running until I say so” plan.  The good part? Spending my Friday eve in a traction machine at physio = almost two full days of minimal pain! Hopefully I can get back on track soon.

Wednesday: My husband bought me three teaching related books for Christmas and hid them so well that he couldn’t find them in time to put them under the tree.  We both actively searched for these books several times to no avail.  Wednesday was the magic day and the books surfaced (still in their Amazon box) from their hiding spot.  I started reading “The Spark” by Kristine Barnett immediately and I’m now 100 pages in, I’ve cried four times and I’ve stopped every two pages to tell Joel about this amazing family and exceptional child.  You can guarantee that our Tale of Two Teachers book review will be happening as soon as I finish this phenomenal story.

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I encourage you all to watch Jake’s TEDx Teen Series video, especially if you’ve already read Kristine’s book (or are working your way through it right now).  Absolutely incredible.

Thursday: On Thursday I spent my entire day interacting with and learning from other brilliant educators in our district.  This was our group’s third Learning Initiatives meeting where we’ve got to collaborate and professionally develop for the entire day.  I adore LI.  This meeting had us working through a reading/writing unit on compassion; I really appreciated how we were given the chance to be students for the greater part of the morning.  Obviously the learning tasks we did were designed to be completed over several weeks, but even the “fast track” approach of going through this unit as teacher-learners really gave me a taste of the authenticity of the learning tasks.  We discussed Understanding by Design, and the skills it takes to plan a unit of study with the end in mind.  I leaned over to Karen, my former mentor teacher turned good friend, and whispered, “Hey, this is how I planned all my units when I did my practicum with you…” Two years ago I didn’t even know that Understanding by Design (UbD) existed, but I was planning using that framework.  These days I am definitely not planning in the UbD style because I feel like I’m just trying to stay above water.  Our LI group’s discussion about UbD was a nice reminder that I know what I’m doing (for the most part!) and that I have the skills to plan in this way (again, for the most part).  I hope to refocus and restructure the science units I have been planning in order to make them more UbD organized.  I’ll let you know how that goes.  Thursday ended with a walk on the beach with my dear friend, Jess.

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Friday: Not the most agave covered day, actually.  If I had the choice, I’d erase Friday from my list of experiences this week.  The behaviour in my class on Friday was absolutely bonkers.  You know those moments where you step back from the insanity in your classroom, take a look around, and think, “What the heck is going on and how am I going to control this situation?”  Yeah – that was every single block of my day on Friday.  Let’s just say my grade 8s experienced an extremely unhappy Mrs. Alleyn and got the sternest lecture I’ve ever had to give in my short two years of teaching.  For those of you who know me well and think I couldn’t deliver a “stern lecture” if I tried…I invite you to push me over the edge when I’m utterly exhausted 😉 My Friday ended with a mayday style text to a friend stating, “I almost quit my job today”  Of course I was joking about the whole quitting thing, but my goodness… My text was responded to in rapid fire pace from another friend (they work at the same school and clearly were in the same room when my first text was sent), “Are you okay? Coffee debrief now?” Sigh.  That was agave moment number one of Friday; I have good people who have got my back…constantly.  Agave moment number two came to me in Feel Good Friday form:

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Bless this student. Despite the insanity of the day, he saw right through it all and managed to compliment his angry-frustrated-grumpy teacher anyhow. The truest part of this message is that I do have a pretty fantastic scarf collection.

Cheers to a new week, everyone!

Karley