If you have read my recent posts, you will know that the teachers in Ontario, Canada are in a strike position. Today, all 83 000 members of the elementary union (k-8) are walking out of schools to show support for the following: small class sizes, maintaining the current kindergarten model, and protesting cuts to special education for children with needs. We are picketing this morning in rotations of three hours no matter what the weather. This morning it is snowing (with chances of sleet) and the temperatures are below 0c. I know the ice, snow, and cold are not going to be pleasant.
Yesterday in our mail boxes, all teachers received a package given to us on behalf of our principal. I could not help but feel emotional when I picked it up. The package shows her care and support – so important at a time like this. Included in the package were some snacks and – most important – hand warmers. These will definitely come in handy for today’s below 0c temperatures.
I am certainly grateful for the support of our principal, and of the admin staff in general. It means so much to have their support and to know that we, the teachers at the school, do not have to butt heads with those people who supervise us from day to day.
As you all know, on Monday the teachers in our school board walked out of the classroom and walked a picket line in front of the various schools. (If you missed my post, it is here.) At the start of our 3 hour stint in -18c temperatures, our school principal came out and offered us baked goods. In addition, she told us that she had organised a gift card at the coffee shop down the road and that we were to each grab a hot coffee on her and the vice-principal.
Midway during our time picketing in the freezing cold (literally), the VP came out to encourage us. She spoke to each person in our group, showing her support for what we were doing. In addition, the office staff and support staff also came out during their break to show solidarity.
On Monday was the second time I have participated in a strike since teaching here in this country. And this time round the support from the admin staff is incredible and not what I expected. It makes things a little easier because the heads of the school do have more work when we are participating in strike action. The show of their support helps to create a positive atmosphere in the school.
This week I am grateful for the support of the admin staff at the school where I work. It certainly helps when we all foresee a long road ahead.
What are you grateful for this week? Leave a comment or a link to your post below.
I was so happy when I saw that The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds had been translated in French which meant that I could use it in my classroom. I love the story about a little boy who enjoys words so much that he collects them. Eventually he makes sentences with his collection; and when his collection gets too big, he shares the words with everyone.
This week I read the story to my grade 1 and 2 students and afterwards I opened a centre at which they browsed through some books and found words to record in a notebook. My plan is that at the end of every week, my students will take the notebook home in order to practice reading and writing the words they have collected.
The children love the activity – especially as they are able to write using colorful gel pens. This is one task that they will all complete with joy!
This week I am grateful for authors and illustrators who create stories that inspire my lessons and centre tasks. It always makes me smile to see the children enjoying both the stories and the activities.
On Tuesday I headed to the opposite side of the city from where I live to attend a #HarperPresents event organised by the marketing team at Harper Collins Canada. I was especially excited for the event as I was to hear one of my favourite authors speak, Gilly MacMillan.
As I had been late for the previous event due to traffic, I left home a little early. Arriving at the location early, I found myself standing near the front of the line to enter. I looked around for people to chat to and what I noticed was that if a person was alone, they were looking at their phone. The person in front of me was one such woman. I attempted to make conversation with her but it was definitely one-sided. The questions I put to her were answered briefly and not reciprocated; she had more interest in looking at her phone and scrolling through her social media accounts than in getting to know someone new. I resigned myself to continuing solo, knowing that tonight making a connection with someone was slim – especially as most people around me were accompanied by friends.
At 6;30pm, we entered the large room and I found myself a spot. We were given time to eat a snack and to chat. People were buzzing with interest and reconnecting with friends. I chatted to some of the organisers of the event and looked at the display of candles that were set up on the table.
The highlight of the evening for me was definitely hearing the authors speak: Gilly Macmillan, Tarryn Fisher, and Shari Lapena. Shari was an excellent moderator and she kept an interesting conversation going. The authors and audience shared some laughs (quite a few actually). The authors did not speak too much about their new novels in order to avoid spoilers but what was mentioned about psychological thrillers in general is that they are an exploration of human nature – a viewpoint I agree with totally. It was interesting to learn, as well, that these big authors are both ‘pantsers’ in that they do not write an outline before they begin writing their story. This, apparently, is quite a headache for the publishers. 🙂
The second part of the evening was set aside to make a candle using sustainable materials. I have not done candle making before of any sort and it was interesting to see the process. I chose a scent that I know my husband enjoys too – sandalwood – and even now as I am typing this, I can smell the aroma. I know that this candle will be used by me in many of my future bookish posts as I love the way it turned out and it will be a while before I actually burn it.
This week I am grateful that Harper Collins Canada organises these events – and that I have the opportunity to attend them. It was an enjoyable evening and one I do not regret attending – even though I was tired the day after!
On Tuesday when I arrived home, I saw that a parcel had arrived for me: the brown box sat on the table beckoning me to open it. I did not recognise the sender and lifted the flap with curiosity. A pleasant surprise was revealed and I gave an inner squeal of delight when I saw what was inside.
Inside the box was the latest book in the Bulari Saga – a science fiction series written by independent author Jessie Kwak. I love her writing which is fast-paced and intense. And the characters she has created are well-rounded. I have placed the book on top of my TBR pile and look forward to enjoying it once I have completed my current read.
This week I am grateful to have received a copy of Pressure Point by Jessie Kwak to read and review.
On Monday, people all over Canada celebrated Canada Day, a public holiday created to commemorate the unification of the country. This year I wanted to do something we had never done before – stand in line to receive a free meal at the Mandarin restaurant, an eatery that offers an eclectic buffet.
I left home on the morning of the public holiday before the rest of my family to get into the lineup. I was ready before everyone else and was worried that the line would already be long. I was glad I made this decision as when I arrived at the venue at 9:20am, the queue for lunch was already quite long. I had come prepared, however, and settled in with my current read.
While waiting in the line, we were offered water by the managers of the restaurant. After a 2 hour wait, the owner organised a cookie for every person in the queue. He also walked down the line and chatted with people – which was really nice. You are probably wondering why he gives a free meal to Canadians every five years: as an immigrant himself, he wants to give back to the community and this is the way in which he does it.
At 12 noon, the line began to move as they began letting people in. The restaurant is quite large and we were able to get into the first sitting. We moved out of the midday sun into the air-conditioned space of the restaurant with a sense of relief. The first thing I noticed upon entering was the way the place had been decorated. I loved the Canadian flags all over!
Once in the restaurant, we waited a little while to be seated. We did not mind waiting – after all, this was part of the experience that we had signed up for! The Canadians around us were all smiling – and looking forward to the meal that we were to receive.
The owner had assured us that the meal would be exactly what we are offered when we pay to dine there. My husband and I were convinced that the more expensive dishes (such as the prawns) would be cut from the menu and we were pleasantly surprised to see that all our favourites were available – with some Canadian dishes thrown in.
The meal was delicious and we enjoyed every bite. What pleased us especially is that we were not rushed – even though there was a long line of people waiting outside to get into the restaurant. We could savour our choices and enjoy our family time eating together.
We left the restaurant very full – as I always do when eating at a buffet. There are just too many dishes to try out! I was thankful that my family had agreed to stand in the line with me as it was a wonderful experience for Canada Day.
This week I am grateful to the Mandarin chain of restaurants for opening up their spaces and offering a free meal to Canadian citizens. Not only did I get a free meal, but I also added another experience to those of previous celebrations on 1 July.
Yesterday I received a beautiful gift of flowers from the parents as a thank you for the work I have done with the children during the year. As I looked at the predominantly purple flowers (my student knows me well!), I could not help but smile at the beauty of the bouquet.
While I spent time arranging the flowers in vases yesterday afternoon, I could not help but be grateful for the gift. Not only do the flowers brighten up my living room, they are also a reminder to me that the parents appreciate the work that I have done with their children.
My friend texted me yesterday morning and asked whether I would have time in the evening to meet up for a quick coffee. As she lives quite a distance from me, I grabbed the opportunity to see her even for a short while.
We went to a coffee shop in my neighbourhood and enjoyed a frappuccino on the outside patio. We managed to speak about our buddy read, Women Talking by Mirian Toews, but were sidetracked by the novel we are currently reading together. As with all good books, we were able to link the issues in the novels with our own life experience. I love how books not only widen the mind, but also help you think about your own life experience.
This week I am grateful for the unexpected opportunity to meet my best friend, drink iced coffee with her, and talk bookish things.
This week I got together with a friend of mine who lives quite a distance from me and who was prepared to drive down to the city to attend a bookish event with me. I had told her about my experiences and she was keen to join me. On Wednesday, the book launch of debut author Roselle Lim, writer of Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune, became the reason we chose to meet up and spend an evening away from home.
The event was held at an independent bookstore that I had never before visited, so I was curious to see the venue. I loved the sign placed outside the store front and felt welcomed before I had even entered the shop.
A number of people had already arrived and soon the bookstore was buzzing with even more patrons. Roselle Lim was nervous, as any debut writer would be, but she smiled graciously as she welcomed those who were there to support her.
She read an extract from her novel and I wish she could have spoken a bit about her writing experience and the inspiration for her story. First time nerves maybe?
Anyway, my friend and I enjoyed the outing together. We sipped a glass of wine, chatted a little, and enjoyed the ambience of the environment. This week I am grateful for the excuse of a book event to meet up with my close friend. Together we will now read the novel we had signed by the author – which will lead to a number of texts flying between us, I am sure.
Tonight is the school concert and it is happening in a couple of hours. When my class is not performing their song, I am expected to supervise them in my classroom while the parents watch the show. The day of the concert is a long one; especially when it is filled with excited children. I am hoping that tonight they will be a little calmer than during the day; and that they will bring something interesting with them to keep themselves occupied.
This week I am grateful that for the few moments of quiet that I will have in my classroom before it is filled again with twittering children.