The Gun Man

I have been reading a lot of posts from Canadians condemning the American’s right to bare arms. Oh Canada, take care of your own backyard before you start judging our neighbours to the south.

I am a Canadian, born and raised. I have worked in Canadian elementary schools most of my adult life. I have been in lockdown situations more than I care to think about. 3 of those occasions were because of a gunman. Gun laws and stricter school policy are not going to change school shootings. Only you will.

The man-child who was involved in the Connecticut shootings was the son of a substitute teacher. He was disgruntled about something. The school has a policy of keeping the children locked in for their safety. The school recognized him. let him in and he went on a rampage. The school policy didn’t save those children. Strict gun laws about assault weapons didn’t protect those children.

Teachers lost their lives to protect your children. They huddled in corners and closets keeping the children quiet and safe. When children cried, teachers would gently take the child’s face into their hands and whisper, “It will be okay, we will be safe. I won’t let anything happen to you.” The teachers lived up to their promise as best they could.

People who wonder why need to look at the broader picture. changing policy and laws won’t help very much other than making life more complicated for the average law abiding citizen. If someone wants a gun, they will find away. If someone wants to create a bomb, they will find a way. We need to think about why these people want these things.

Removing the stigma of mental health issues will help but so will kindness and empathy. Be kind to people, listen to people when they want to talk. Ask people questions about how they are and mean it. Be intentional with kindness and compassion. It may not save everyone but the world will be a better place for.

Peace and kindness is all I ask.

The dreaded first day of school

Today is the first day for school for most kids I know. Children everywhere are missing summer, feeling sick to their stomach and fearing the unknown.

Me too.

When I was in grade 3 I had moved 13 times. This was to be the final home I was going to grow up in. My parents carefully picked my school so I could walk every day and not have to take the bus like they did. My mom made my lunch everyday with fresh, good for me ingredients when all I wanted was peanut butter sandwich and an apple, everyday until I died. Never happened. She insisted on variety. She was concerned about what the other moms would think. News flash moms, other moms don’t come to school to judge lunches.

I had a milk card and could order milk or juice every day for 25 cents.

Hot dog day was the last Friday of every month.

I was sent to school with a new wardrobe and new shoes. My note books were fresh and tidy, I vowed to keep them that way. That vow lasted less than a week. I remember being nervous about not making friends. That was always hard for me. My brother had a knack for meeting kids and being instant best friends. That lasted until he became an adult and didn’t care if people liked him or not. I, on the other hand, worried endlessly over who would like me and who wouldn’t. I blamed my hair. To be fair, it was clown hair.

We all assembled into the music room. I knew not a soul. The teachers up front called out the names of children. I heard “Robyn” but didn’t budge. I looked around the room to see if the hundreds of other Robyn’s stood up to join the teacher. No one did. She looked to the other Teachers and said, “The new girl? Anyone seen her?” That is when I knew it was me. Here I was the new girl…again. Grade 3 and already been to 5 different schools, 2 of those 5 my dad was a teacher in. I typically bonded with the adults and not the children. Weird, still a problem for me. Most of my friends are much older than I. I am sure a psychiatrist will have fun with that one.

We were led down the hall and shown to our class. Ours was the one without windows. Part of a 1970’s fad about fluorescent lights being good for focus. Thank heavens the pilot project on “Open Classrooms” was done. 6 classrooms with no walls. I think the concept was for the students to mingle in non traditional settings but typical administration, you can’t possibly change the way things have been done for a 100 years. I emerged from grade 2 with chronic headaches and glasses. Still, a class of 30, no windows and a teacher who didn’t like her job and thought smiling might kill her was my destiny. I dreaded recess. I dreaded recess every day until Grade 9 when we didn’t have it any more because we were part of the high school.

School is a lot different now and yet exactly the same. Moms take care of details so kids don’t need to. Food is pre-packaged and not as nutritious so kids don’t have the capacity to stay focused. The teachers who now teach, are there because their school experience sucked and they want to make a difference. They become disillusioned with the growing class sizes, inclusion that doesn’t work and parents who are in your face with problems that aren’t really problems.

The culture of school in middle class communities is very different from when I was a kid. Good grades are expected. Children compete with their peers and parents are emailed if assignments are missed. It certainly is a different world. I remembering not caring about marks, some how as if by magic, good ones appeared on my report card.

The parts that will be the same are the kids the will walk into school with a parent, holding their hand and hiding slightly behind their mom’s arm. They will look on a board to discover what class they are in and see if their friends are with them. They will carry their heavy bags to their room and look for a desk with their name on it. Most teachers take away the scary bits by deciding that for you. They will talk about class rules, and decide which ones are important and help make up new ones. This creates a culture agreement they can live with. The younger grades will be paired up with buddies so recess won’t be scary.

Then it is time to go home. I remember walking home from school in grade 3 on my very first day. I lived 3 doors down from the school. I came home and my Grandma was there to ask me about my day, she made me a snack. Then my dad came home and asked me about my day and if I made any new friends yet. I said yes. Her name was Cheryl. We would be best friends for about 5 months until Carrie with the beautiful hair stole her away from me. I realize now, my shyness was the barrier between me and friends. By the time I reached high school, that shyness was almost all gone. I never showed it on the outside. Now, it is non existent. I had to learn the difference between shy and bold and walk the path in the middle. Not everyone figures that out.

Today is the big day for teachers and children alike. 10 months from now, we won’t even remember what the first day felt like because we are so comfortable in our classroom with the culture the classmates built with the guidance of the teacher.

Now if only I had a Muppet Lunch kit like my daughter has, it would be easier.

64 Days of Awesome continues…

As a teacher, one of the many perks I benefit from is Summer Break. Now I am not going to argue with you about whether or not teachers deserve it because you will lose that argument. You can read because a teacher taught you how. ANYWAYS…

I am currently on my 64 days of Awesome. I typically need serious sleep the first few days of my vacation from burnout, fatigue, stress and a multitude of other reasons. I have denied myself that luxury.

Shocking? You bet it is. There is no one on the planet other than Bears, who like to sleep more than me. But this summer, I am on a mission. I am determined not to waste a single moment and plan to do something fun everyday. Today is July 17th, I am 19 days in. Time to evaluate the situation.

Books: I thought I would read more than I have been. My 50/50 me. project is seriously failing. I haven’t read the volumes I had hoped to because I am too busy! I am just finishing The secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes. It has taken me WEEKS!

Festivals: Went to The Edmonton Street performers festival and watched the Silent Disco. That was a TOTAL FAIL. “You pay $2 to go into a roped off pavement/dance floor wearing head phones. Then dance by yourself. I can do that for FREE outside of the dance floor with my earbuds and iPhone. Besides, my music rotations is likely better.

I didn’t make it to Art Walk this year, I am suffering BIG time from the forest fires. It was bad that day. my Asthma is killing me this summer. So Running and some outside activities are off.

City Markets: I love a good farmers market! Nothing says enviro-friendly like local grown organic yummy fresh fruit and vegetables. I have been going to the market downtown every Saturday. I often will come home with my salad fixings, breakfast fruit and a bottle of wine from the groovy little wine shop along the market street. The only way my Saturdays could be better would be if I LIVED in a loft downtown. Once the offspring fly the coupe, I am looking for a condo or something down there.

New Things: Part of my 52 new things project I started in January was to try a new thing every week. i am already at 50 things for the year. That was WAY easier than I thought it would be. This summer’s highlights include, My Really Big things Adventure in Saskatchewan, Zombie Flash Mob ensemble, Capital Ex Parade float participant and running bright and early in the morning. I have met some amazing new people to add to my collection of knowing a million people and counting.

Movies: Again a total FAIL just like the books. I have a list of movies I want to see, Spiderman, Batman, Brave, Mike – obviously all intellectual movies, yet I haven’t made it out once since seeing Chris Pine in that movie I can’t remember but he was delicious anyways.

Writing: FAIL – wow I thought I would get to write lots now that I am not writing papers for university. That would be NO. I have no drive to sit and work on my book. I am half way through and had thought about hitting about 1000 words a day. I blog that much, but fiction is different. Maybe next week. I am however, writing lots of stuff including press copy for the Scarecrow Festival. That has been a lot of fun! I have been interviewing new people and learning crazy things in the process! So I guess writing isn’t a total fail!

Quilting: I am happy to report, 1 out of no less than 5 baby quilts are done. It is adorable and I took step by steps for a blog I want to post on pinterest.

Traveling: I went to Regina with ChatterBox, and in August I am off on a top secret vacation with two of my girlfriends. It will be fun and fab -AND the tickets arrived today! YAY!

That is quite the list so far. I do manage to sleep but not for long. Today my 64 days of awesome includes more quilting, swimming and writing. 2 of my favorite things and quilting for another – sweet babies. I’m just THRILLED about not being the mommies 🙂

What are you up to this summer?

Things I learned in Preschool

Another year has passed by and I sent my lovelies off to kindergarten today. I cried during the good-bye song. I never do. 25 years and I can hold it together But this group was …. different. I cannot put my finger on it, but they were special in the way that I marveled at how smart there were. Not once did I have to say “It is not okay to lick the bathroom floor” Yes I have had to say it in years previous. I couldn’t trick these kids. They were on to me. Too smart for you Miss Tourist! It’s true, they were. I learned some cool stuff anyways. It is ALWAYS a good day when you learn something new, in this case -it was a good year because I learned 7 new things.

1) Kids don’t taste like cookies. One day I was sitting at the manipulative table talking with a young girl. We were discussing what made a nice person. We talked about being kind and helpful. I said to the child “you’re so sweet I bet if I ate you, you would taste like cookies”
The child replied, “no, I’d taste like skin”

2) Not all kids want to be teacher when they grow up. Shocking isn’t it? Around the circle we went asking what we were going to be when we grew up. I heard a Captain America, Teacher, Dad, but my favorite? A Psychologist. What 4 year old knows that? That was awesome.

3) When you live in a large family, sometimes you don’t know everyone. A mom brought a puppy to school to show the class the new family member. I asked the little boy (who was the owner of the puppy) what is your pups name? His reply with wide eyes innocence, “I HAVE A PUPPY????”

4) Four year olds know all about sarcasm. I often sit at the snack table and ask all kinds of questions. For example “what did you eat for breakfast?” The focus for me is to hear sentence length, content, vocabulary and if the child can follow the direction of the conversation. At the beginning of the year they would just look at me and blink. By June they would say “My mom made bananas and cereal. I then had cheese”. I would mess it up and pretend I didn’t hear what they were saying. So my reply would be “You had bananas, cereal and FLEAS? Is you mom crazy?” Today I knew they were ready to graduate because I received a sarcastic reply “Yes Miss Tourist I eat FLEAS for breakfast…”  That was AWESOME!

English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

5) Sometimes science experiments go very wrong and scientists never cry. We had 6 caterpillars this year and watched them change into chrysalis and then waited FOREVER to change into butterflies. Only two turned into beautiful butterflies. One had shredded wings. Two never made it to the chrysalis stage and one never came out of his chrysalis. The children decided that the butterfly with the shredded wings would be bird food. I swear to GOD that is what they said. “Poor little doody is bird food. Game over Miss Tourist” We talked about the other one that never came out, BIRD FOOD they all chimed in! Wow… practical yet heartless. No one cried.

6) No one likes food. We put a variety of fruit and veg on the table every day with the single rule of you must try. Try means touch, taste, sniff or lick. It does not mean swallow. Although swallow is what we hope for. We hear a lot of “I don’t like…” what ever is on the table and then we ask have you tried it today? Of course the answer is NO. Today we had a gift of Rainbow bread from student. I judged it just like my table companions. Only I never judge out loud. One gal said, I HATE RAINBOW BREAD it is DISGUSTING” I was inclined to agree, but we all had taste it before the ice cream celebration sundae social could begin. So we all poked it, sniffed it and then ate it. I am happy to report we did not die after swallowing it. In fact, it tasted just like White Toast. The young gal who denied liking it, divided up the Rainbow bread for her peers. She gave everyone a single piece, and 5 for herself. Apparently she didn’t hate it today.

7) I learned that this group was the very first group who really knew what it meant when you said, today is the last day. One fellow who was arguably the brightest in the class, didn’t seem to understand. He said, if today is the last day, what will happen when we get on the bus tomorrow? I explained to him, the bus won’t be coming. School is over for 64 days. Where will we go? he replied with a look of panic on his face. I held both his hands and explained again, Your mom will look after you. You don’t come back here anymore because today you are smart enough for kindergarten. He looked at me with a sad expression and said, but what happens to our school? Is it closed now for 64 days, just like the sandbox was when we put sand in our friends hair?

He walked away, and then came back to hug me. He finally understood – or perhaps he was in denial before. This was the class that cried when we group hugged, and didn’t want to run around the trees while we waited for the bus. They stood close to their teachers, held our hands and talked a lot about “remember when”.

Have you hugged a Teacher today?

Summer Solstice Sunset
Summer Solstice Sunset (Photo credit: erik9000)

Today is Summer Solstice, 17 hours of sunshine in my home town of Edmonton. I may complain about the cold winter on a daily basis for 8 months a year, but once a year it all becomes worth it. Today is the day of endless sunshine, the promise of summer vacation and everyone sings Alice cooper’s ode to all things summer. Sing it with me “Schooooooooools out for summa!” Okay, so it is not quite out for summer. While I am laying in bed, trying to sleep with the sun blaring into my eyes, I will be counting down until I say good-bye to my little lovelies for this year, and begin the process of fearing the next round. That’s right, FEARING. September always means starting from scratch. The life of a teacher is, well, exhausting mentally.

Yesterday I wrote a blog with the intent of supporting my friend Joe who is running 12 marathons in a year. He is actually running 14, because 2 are for other charities he supports and is in final race is called The Dopey. Aptly named for those who run a 5k Friday, a half marathon on Saturday and a Full Marathon on Sunday at Walt Disney World in January. That is a whole lot of running. Now here I thought I was being supportive but actually I was being controversial. Look at me I am controversial! Well done Tourist! Making a name for yourself!!

I wrote about a colleague who I ADORE, we just talk smack at the photocopier and at Starbucks when I run into him there. We all have that friend. The one who is a fake enemy but is really your best pal through thick and thin. He worships the Maple Leafs, and I think that is a mistake. He was misinformed as to the distance of a marathon and mistook it for a fun run. We cleared that up. By no means are we enemies. He is too hilarious for me dis and dislike. On top of that he is one of the finest teachers I have ever worked with and a compassionate human being.

There was an unfortunate event with a reader, who happens to be my uncle. He commented on the intelligent level of this teacher and generalized it into many teachers. I could launch into a rant here, but I received no less than 60 emails and blog comments from friends and  strangers who are, know or love a teacher. My blogger friend SD, came to my rescue like the superhero he is and eloquently defended teachers. There are a few sad facts that surround this controversy.

1. I come from a long and prestigious line of Teachers (my Dad and my beloved Great Grandma) who, in my humble opinion are the finest teachers to ever grace a classroom. (I will explain later what makes a great teacher)

2. Betrayal by a family member is hurtful and shocking. Although I do not feel slighted personally, I truly felt I needed to defend the honor of my colleagues, Father, Gram and every other teacher who made a difference to someone.

3. Intelligence is not the measure of how much information you can store in your head (because I would win that in a kickass Trivial Pursuit game). Intelligence is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge. Having knowledge doesn’t do anyone any good if you are not a critical thinker. Knowing fire is hot is useful on a science quiz. Using fire as an element in your plan for world domination is intelligence.

I heard a voice echo in my head during my swim today. It was the voice of the finest teacher I know, my dad. Take the High Road Robyn. So I am.

Let’s talk about Job qualifications both spoken and unspoken in a job interview for the position of Elementary School Teacher. This applies to most of the people I work with except me and my team. We are Early Education, that falls under a different category. See…we have learned something new already!

To be a Teacher in Alberta (I cannot speak to other provinces, states or countries – I am a prairie girl) You must posses a valid teaching certificate issued by Alberta Education – this is the government of Alberta. They are bossy and have rules. One of those rules are to receive this accreditation – yes ACCREDITATION – you must have a minimum 4 year bachelor of education degree or B.Ed. from an accredited University, not college, not technical institute, not an on-line diploma from Sally Struthers. To receive this degree you must have done reasonably well in high school, apply to the university and give them all your money.

Now, the University does not care which degree program you apply for, but they do care if you don’t pay. It is pretty much the same cost for a B.Ed as a B.Com. Thus when a teacher graduates, they are called a PROFESSIONAL. I know! Now you learned another new thing! Professionals range from Doctors to Lawyers, to Pharmacists to Compliance Officers. All over the country, these professionals are regarded with respect from peers and clients with the exception of the Lawyers and that is for other reasons, but lawyers work their asses off, as do teachers. Yet the average teacher in Alberta makes $50, 000. Lawyers make way more. Remember, professionals do not get overtime. They are salary.

To get a school board to even LOOK at your resume, you have to have an excellent teacher practicum, done volunteer work and a pile of substitute teaching gigs. Those are NOT PLEASANT people! Then they ask you the scariest possible scenario to see how you would handle it. You pass or you fail – none of this no zeros allowed crap because this is the real world!

Once you are installed in a school, you get you room, your list of children. This is is a minimum of 27. There are bright kids, average kids, special needs kids and the dreaded behaviour kids who ALWAYS end up being my favorites. If you are lucky you get an assistant, but you must have a special circumstances to qualify for that. Then Alberta Curriculum sends you the course requirements for the year. Everything you must cover for these children to pass into the next grade. At no point in time was your intelligence ever in question. These people know you can write papers, answers questions, ask thoughtful questions, problem solve, and follow directions. No one ever gives a Doctor an IQ test before he opens up his private practice. It is ASSUMED he/she knows what he/she is doing.

Then why are teachers expected to know every tiny bit of knowledge available to the human race?

If you expect that from a teacher, you had the worst school experience ever and I am sorry for you.

Teachers come to work as early as 6:00 am (my kindergarten teacher friend does that) and leave long after 5PM. Lots of professionals do this. Do not for one minute think your child’s teacher leaves school when your child does. This does not include the work the Teacher brings home, lots of other professionals do this too. I remember my dad having stacks of essays, tests, papers just sitting by his chair. Every night he would plug away at marking.Not one of these people complain. It is understood that a teacher will put in an extra 40-70 hours a week EXTRA over and above the regular school day.

Teachers stay late to coach, drama, music or any other extra curricular activity your child wants to be in. Then the teacher has MORE work to do, marking, grading, preparing for the next day, planning field trips, planning for YOUR child to go on a holiday (for the record, your child is missing out on instruction time. This cannot be made up from “extra work sheets”. This will affect the final body of knowledge you child gleans from the year. Make the trip a good one and worth your child’s time.)

Now, a teacher rarely stands in front of the classroom yammering about facts. Your child would fail. Teachers need to now teach to all learning types, the doers, the lookers, the listeners, the repeaters and THIS does not include the special programming that is required for special needs, gifted, ESL, other differences that would blow your head off.

A teacher’s role is to take the curriculum, design a program that will be adjusted to the individual needs of their classroom. Encouraging, guiding and supporting your child into finding the information they need, applying it to other situations and retaining this information. Spewing facts has nothing or very little to do with a teachers job, remember google is your friend.

A teacher needs to be a social worker because a child confessed that their dad climbs into bed with them at night.

A teacher needs to be a nurse because your child can’t follow directions and climbed up on the shed roof and fell on their face and split a lip.

A teacher needs to be a police officer because your child took rum from the kitchen in YOUR house and put it in a coke bottle to share with their friends.

A teacher needs to be politically correct and up on every nuance of every culture known to mankind because you might be offended if they touch your elbow.

A teacher needs to be a security guard because lunatics sneak into the school and hide in the girls bathroom.

A teacher needs to be a crossing guard because you can’t make your child’s school safe for them to walk into the school, you create a traffic jam because you are to lazy/busy/hurried to park across the street and walk your child to school.

A teacher needs to run a food bank because you didn’t send lunch or feed your child breakfast. This causes them to not pay attention and your child gets labeled a BEHAVIOR.

A teacher needs to run a clothing shop because you send your child without mitts/hats/socks/shoes/boots/underwear. You have it, but you are in a rush so your child goes without.

A teacher needs to be compassionate because if they do not make a connection with your child, your child cannot learn.

A teacher needs to smile even when their dog dies.

A teacher has to listen to YOU yell at them because your child won’t do their work in school and has to bring it home, now there is homework and you don’t have time to make sure they do it.

A teacher gets labeled mean because they see potential in your child and will demand your child does better.

A teacher will cry every June because your child will make it in the world or not.

Tomorrow when you go to school or even tonight as you reflect on the teachers of your past or the teachers of your present, think about these things that make a great teacher. I am willing to bet you know a teacher who does at least most of the things on this list. If that is the case, you are lucky and did not receive a human to teach your child, but a bonafied TEACHER.

  1. You notice older students coming back to talk to your child’s teacher. This means these children connected with the teacher and have a special bond that was ripe for optimum learning.
  2. Your child’s teacher knows the names of the parents.
  3. Your child’s teacher will take time out of their day to make sure you are having a good one.
  4. Young kids will want to hug the teacher. Older ones will want to “hang out” and talk.
  5. You are welcome into the classroom at ANY TIME
  6. You see the teacher sitting beside a student helping them figure out a problem.
  7. Your child’s teacher is always available via email and will return a phone call on THEIR lunch break.
  8. Your child’s teacher will call or send a note home because something has changed and they just can’t put a finger on it but something is not right. Their spidy sense is tingling and they are concerned about your child.
  9. Your child’s teacher greet’s your child by name as they walk into the classroom.
  10. Your child’s teacher laughs every day.

Did you notice not one bullet about intelligence? Or marks? Or attendance?

If your child’s teacher makes a lasting connection with your child, the bond will never be broken. They will be set for life for learning and always will want to make their teacher proud. Sadly we don’t reach every child, but that doesn’t stop us from trying.

So for all of you who know a teacher, go thank them. You are the great human you are today because you responded to one teacher in your life and they made a difference for you. If you cannot recall this ever happening in your life, I’m so sorry, but we tried. Trying is a two way street.

I am proud to be called Teacher. I stand proudly with my peers and together we know we make a difference in the life of a person, big or small. I go to sleep every night know I matter in the life of someone. Can you say the same? You can if you had a great teacher in your life.

On the Playground with Scarecrow

Every Monday I write for the Scarecrow Festival in support of ABC Head Start. Today’s post can be seen here .

Come take a peak and visit often! Maybe learn a thing or two about preschoolers and yourself! Today’s offering is about the games I played as a child on the playground and how you can thank a Teacher for knowing how to do it!

Think about your life and all the teacher’s you have had. From Grandparents and parents to neighbors and actual teachers. You are able to accomplish so many wonderful things because a Teacher taught you how.

Scarecrow Festival





Do Your Eyes Light Up?

This is it. My last day of vacation before I head back to the nuthouse I lovingly refer to as work. This is the most ready and excited I have been about returning to work since….. hmmmmm…. since…. Since I was disillusioned after graduation? Maybe. I am ready. What makes this new school year different from all the others? Good question. The classic teenage response is “Idunno”. Alas, I am not a teenager, those days have long since passed me by, and all I can say is THANK GOD, Who the hell wants to be a teenager again? Except I would kill for that figure I had when I thought I was too fat then. I wish I was that fat now…

Back to the “what makes me so ready this year”? Well, first of all I need routine. Sure I love two months of chaos but I need to get back in the saddle of predictability and timetables. I eat better, work harder and get more done. Secondly, I really miss my team. We went through an awful lot last year and I miss the support and friendship. I am looking forward to seeing them tomorrow. Thirdly, teenagers are driving me bonkers, or to drink, or both.

I have to say, as my kids get older I do enjoy them more. Sure I miss their cuddly little bodies and cutie pie faces, but the humour, wisdom and just plain fun out weigh the kiddy years. My age has something to do with it too. Being a mom is just plain tiring. The less they need me, the more I find out about myself. Win/win.

I was listening to an interview with Toni Morrison, a brilliant author and wise woman. She was asked to depart with a gem of knowledge or word of wisdom before the interview ended. She said

Do your eyes light up when a child enters the room? Do your eyes sparkle with the love you feel for them?

Hmmm, good question Toni. Do they? As most of you know, I have worked with children for a very long time. I started my first day of “real” work in 1988. You do the math, just don’t tell me. In that time I know I have made a difference to children because they approach me now that they are adults and like to reminisce about wacky and fun things that happened in the class room. But did my eyes light up?

I can list on one hand the adults in my life whose eyes lit up when they saw me. With the expectation of two adults who have since passed away, I still have that amazing connection with those adults who felt I was important enough to them to show the love in their eyes. I still miss those two who passed every single damn day. My children have a connection with adults who se eyes light up. I know those relationships will last long into their adult life.

For as long as I can remember, I loved the energy of being around kids. I had lost that feeling in the past few years. Working with different teams that were not a good fit, eat a little bit of your soul every day. That makes it hard to love the work you do. Yet, somehow, my little pals always seemed to make me smile or laugh. They bring me a rock or dead flower, an apple core or a picture they drew and say it was for me. They would cuddle up in the library and put their little head on my arm as I read to them. They would hug my leg and yell “look at me!” every time they went down the big kid slide. I remember most of them. Every year a few make quite an impact on me and they stay with me. I can see their 4 year old face in the adult they become. I’ve tied a billion shoes and and have said endlessly, “if you are big enough to go to school, then you are big enough to do this yourself”.

On Tuesday morning the bus will come to school, filled with little ones and their mommies, they will be clinging to the legs of their moms and crying their little hearts out. I will make eye contact with them and smile. They will see in my eyes that I am happy they came, so when June rolls around, I will be the one crying. I miss extra squeezy hugs over the summer and stupid knock knock jokes.

When you take your kids to school the first day, look in the teachers eyes. Do their eyes light up when they see your child? Look in the mirror when they come home. Do your eyes light up?

Mine do.

Things I learned This Year in Pre-School

Most of you know I am a teacher of young children 10 months of the year. Summer vacation is around the corner and I am very excited! Teachers are often more excited than children when summer break arrives. True Story.

Every year I learn a thing or two to add to fountain of useless knowledge. This year is no exception. Remember Kung Fu with David Carradine? And how he, the Grasshopper taught the Master and something new? Well, my dear readers that is exactly what happened to me. My young padawans became the Jedi Master and I learned many new things from them. So much, in fact, I wish to share some incredible lessons from my grasshoppers.

Things the Edmonton Tourist Learned in Pre-School

  1. You won’t die if you eat food found in the playground, on the bus, in the hallway or even on the bathroom floor. But fresh broccoli will kill you.
  2. Children have zero feeling in their faces from the nose down. It is completely numb. This is the reason their nose is constantly dripping. They have no idea slimy, colourful streams of mucus is always running down their faces.
  3. You can go all year without having soap touch your hands and NEVER get sick or miss a day of school.
  4. Wearing underwear under a dress or skirt is a good idea.
  5. It is socially acceptable to lick the bathroom floor. Your peers will not think it’s odd.
  6. If your bum is itchy – scratch it. If you can’t reach it – your friend will help.
  7. Closing your eyes makes you invisible.
  8. If an adult asks you a question and you don’t know the answer, say 4 and walk away.
  9. When you paint a paper gingerbread man and glue REAL candy to it, the grade 5s down the hall will eat all the glued candy off.

And the # 10 thing I learned?

      10.  Your mom doesn’t work at school, you have to wipe your own bum.


Top 11 Things I Never Thought I Would Say at Work…Yet I do

In May of 1988, I had my diploma in hand and my eyes were filled with starry eyed ambition. I had just graduated from college – the first time – and I had a great job lined up. I was ready to face challenges and change the world. Looking back at my first day of teaching and all the subsequent days in between, there are phrases I hear myself say that I never EVER expected I would ever need to say at work.  This is another edition of the Edmonton Tourist’s Top 11.

I would like to dedicate this blog to Barbie Arm.

The Edmonton Tourist’s Top 11 things I never thought I would say at work…yet I do.

11. Take your hands OUT of your pants please

10. I don’t want to hear what your poop looks like, tell your mom

9. Markers do not go in our nose

8. When you wear a dress, remember to wear underwear

7. Put your penis away

6. Pull your pants up, I don’t want to look at your bum

5. Take your shoe out of your mouth

4. We pee in the toilet, not on the floor

3. I don’t want to smell your hands

2. When our body makes a sound, we say “excuse me”

And the #1 thing I NEVER EVER Thought I would have to say at work

1. It is NOT OKAY to lick your friends nose

How was your day?