Category Archives: Inspiration

2017: A Year of Intention

Last year, I couldn’t choose just one word for the year, so I chose 3 words that would guide me to be my best self: Balance, Strength, and Relationships. I cannot say that it went smoothly… In fact, with some long awaited consistency in my vie quotidienne, it seems I finally had time to delve deep into my personal struggles. Rather than a year full of balance, it felt like a year full of self doubt, overwhelm, and frustration. Side note: I’m sure this is only in part due to my inability to choose a single word…

However, these words also led me to make a few decisions in 2016 for which I am grateful. They were changes that were not sudden, but had a positive impact over time.

  1. Starting a gratitude journal. For real this time. I have successfully expressed gratitude for something daily, in writing, for the past 8 months. This allows me at least one moment of release from my anxiety at the end of each day.
  2. Spending time in nature. I didn’t strictly adhere to my #photoaday2016 aspirations, but the project did allow me to become more mindful of the world around me. Allowing myself permission to take a trip to Maui over Spring Break helped renew my energy and positive attitude in ways I wasn’t expecting. More time exploring this beautiful province reminded how grateful I am to live here.
  3. Devoting more time to friendships. Some people just make your soul feel good. Time outside of our own head can be a good thing. Enough said.
  4. Renewing my love of physical activity. I took rowing lessons, signed up for a barre membership, and even attended a couple of yoga workshops. All of these things have helped me focus on staying healthy outside of the classroom so I can hopefully be healthier in the classroom.
  5. Being vulnerable. This one was much less conscious, but powerful nontheless. Sharing my struggles with colleagues, friends, students, and strangers has given me a sense of freedom I wasn’t expecting. It has allowed others to see me as a whole person rather than the shiny version that I have typically tried to present to the outside world. I am now in a place of heathy contemplation about what really matters in life.

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@beverley.bunker #photoaday2016

As we head into another new year, I’ve been inspired by the idea of an intention for the year. The idea is that an intention guides us in our daily lives but is more fluid and organic than a specific goal. It can change with us as needed. So in 2017, my intention is to simplify.

I’m not sure what exactly that means yet… but I think that’s ok. I know it speaks to my heart. I believe it will help me be more intentional in my actions, my words, and my decisions. What more can we really ask of ourselves than that?  Intentionalilty is what makes a good teacher a great one.

Wishing you love and joy in 2017.

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Three Words for 2016

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cc Photo Credit: keithcarver via Compfight

Happy New Year! Once again, it’s been awhile since I have devoted time to blogging. I’ve written many a post in my head, but unfortunately, they have not often translated into actual posts for people to read. I would like this to change because writing brings me joy and provides me with an outlet for reflection. However, the highlights of my 2015, although not blogging related, were pretty awesome, so I’m going to tell myself I have a long list of very good excuses and forgive myself for the lapse in writing.

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Photo Credits: Patricia Gillespie, Moonrise Photography

I’m not usually one for New Year’s resolutions, but I have been inspired over the past several years by educators who have shared their “one word” for the year. While I like the idea of a guiding word, I never felt that one was enough. So rather than choose just one, I’ve carefully chosen three words that I feel will help guide me through 2016 – not to achieve goals necessarily, but to help me be my best self.

1. Balance

This is a word that I am choosing to remind myself that it is important to rest, rejuvenate, and restore. As someone who struggles with anxiety daily, I am prone to overworking myself in pursuit of approval and perfection. I hope that the word BALANCE will remind me to revisit my passions outside of education and to focus on my social and emotional needs. It represents my desire to act and to reflect, to share and to listen, to care for others and for myself.

2. Strength

This past year, I gave up a passion of mine that keeps me grounded and in good physical health. This year, I am reminding myself to revisit physical activities that make me feel strong – hiking, dance, yoga – because to me, STRENGTH means positive physical and mental health, a sense of self. It also reminds me to look for courage within myself when I am lonely, overwhelmed, or afraid. I hope I will have the STRENGTH to make healthy decisions for myself in 2016.

3. Relationships

This word is to remind me to revisit and strengthen the many meaningful RELATIONSHIPS I already have in my life. I often get wrapped up in my day to day life and forget to connect with those I would consider my closest friends and family. I am hoping to change this. I also feel this word represents the most important aspect of my educational philosophy; I hope it will remind me of my professional values in stressful times so I can choose care and compassion over reaction.

So those are my guiding words for the new year. There is so much right in front of us that we forget to nourish. Rather than planning for drastic changes, I’m hoping my #threewordsfor2016 will help me better understand myself and my role in the lives of those around me.

What words will guide you in 2016?

Learning to Be Grateful

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Photo Credit: SnoShuu via Compfight cc

In this profession, it is way too easy to fall into to the trap of being busy, overwhelmed, and quite frankly, exhausted. We get down on ourselves and sometimes even play the competitive sport entitled “Who’s Busier?!” Instead of stressing out, we all need to sit back, relax, and learn to take some time for ourselves. I have to admit that this is not my strength… I am the antithesis of relaxation and I have chronic headaches to prove it. However, it is something that I am working on.

Here are five things for which I am grateful this Thanksgiving season…

1. My dog. I love him. He’s adorable. No matter what happened at work that day, how late I come home, how sick I feel or how grumpy I am, he is always there. This weekend we took him to Campbell Valley Park and he was the happiest little guy in the world. I was not a dog person until we got him 2 years ago… And now I know the definition of unconditional love and (wo)man’s best friend.

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2. Good food. I don’t think I realized growing up how lucky we were in my house. We didn’t have more than we needed, but we always ate good, healthy food. To this day, I am so grateful that my mother taught us the value of good food and nutrition. I am also thankful that I learned how to cook as a child; I wish every child got to experience the magic of creating a meal. An untapped source of creativity, I think…

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Photo Credit: silkegb via Compfight cc

3. Education. We are so incredibly blessed to have access to free public education for all. Every so often, I try to imagine what it would be like to not have this access and it breaks my heart. The ability to read and write and learn is so incredible. I think sometimes we forget about the magic of stories and the wonder of free access to information. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn openly.

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Photo Credit: moriza via Compfight cc

4. Sunshine. There is nothing more amazing than a beautiful sunny day in the fall. Enough said.

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5. Love and laughter. Although it is sometimes difficult to remember in times of chaos… I love my family, my spouse, my friends, my dog, my students… and I know I am loved in return. I am especially grateful for the amazing group of kids I have this year who have already shared so much joy and laughter with me. Everything is better with laughter!

Isaiah Early

Photo Credit: KzAkabueze – ONEin12 via Compfight cc

Try to take some time for yourself this year and remember to reflect on the positive.
What are you grateful for?

For the Love of Art

My students this year are very talented artists. They have consistently demonstrated creativity and a sense of artistic expression. They have used art to deepen their understanding and appreciation of particular artists, genres, and principles. I thought I would share some of the art projects we have completed this year as a tribute to my fantastic students! I’ll miss them!

Colour: Tints and Shades in Tempera Paint
In this introductory project, students practiced paint mixing techniques and experimented with the possibilities of tints and shades all stemming from an original colour. They also developed creative patterns in which to display their tints and shades. They were given freedom in the design.

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Line: Exploring Patterns in Black Felt
This project was intended to allow students creative expression within the constraints of a line study. They were instructed to explore line in all its forms (e.g. curvy, straight, zigzag) as well as in a variety of widths. They used line to create pattern and the illusion of no beginning or end.

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Georgia O’Keeffe: Giant Flowers in Chalk Pastel
This was one of my favourite visual art projects this year. We spent some time studying Georgia O’Keeffe’s flower paintings and describing their characteristics. For instance, students noticed they often depicted a bird’s eye view and that only a portion of the flower was shown. Using chalk pastel, students chose a flower and experimented with blending techniques and perspective. The results were beautiful!

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Andy Warhol: Pop Art in Oil Pastel
One of our more recent projects involved Andy Warhol’s pop art. Again, we made observations as a class about repetition, colour schemes, and social implications of this style of art. We chose a coffee cup as our object of choice, but there was some liberty taken with style and size. Again, great results!

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Although there are many things I would go back and change about our art program this year, all students were successful in exploring new techniques and principles. They were creative and engaged. They all tried something new or took a risk.

I don’t think there is enough emphasis currently placed on the arts in our schools. Fine arts give kids the opportunity to explore, take risks, practice creativity and personal expression. They can also act as a means of managing emotions. If creativity, innovation, and critical thinking are important skills to give our students, art should be a part of every single day we spend with our students, not an activity relegated to Friday afternoons.

I love teaching art and am always looking for new ideas… Please feel free to share what has worked well for you!

Inspiring Others to Flourish

On May 11, I was lucky enough to attend TEDx West Vancouver: Rethink Education. It was a very inspirational day full of amazing speakers. However, there is only one that I have not been able to stop thinking about.

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Photo Credit:
quantumlars via Compfight

Katy Hutchison is an amazing, inspirational woman. Following the murder of her husband in 1997, Katy spent five years waiting for a conviction. Despite her tragic situation, where many would seek revenge, Katy developed a sense of compassion and a desire to support young people who, because of upsetting or unfortunate circumstances, end up making poor decisions.

Katy shared her story of how she met the man who murdered her husband, asked him why he did it, and then, when he began to cry, proceeded to hug him. She spent time visiting him in prison and getting to know him. She remained calm and compassionate. She used her tragic situation to practice forgiveness. She watched him recover slowly and re-enter society. She did what I am not sure many people could do. She gave him a “time in.” Katy is a remarkable woman for whom I will forever have an immense sense of admiration.

Katy now travels the world sharing her story about how her experience has taught her that restorative justice is the most effective way to deal with poor behaviour and decisions. I was very much impacted by her story and I began to think about how her philosophy applies to our education system. Rather than reprimanding bad behaviour, shouldn’t we spend time trying to get to know our students and why they may be making poor decisions? Shouldn’t we try to understand their perspective? Perhaps if all educators were a bit more like Katy, we could help students grow into the people they were meant to be.

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Photo Credit:
AlicePopkorn via Compfight

Katy influenced me to reflect on my everyday interactions and experiences both with my students and with everyone else I come across in life.

Perhaps if everyone were just a little more like Katy, our schools and our world would be better off.

When did you last help someone flourish into the person they were meant to be rather than what they appeared to be on the surface?

 

Stepping Just Outside Our Comfort Zone

Last night, I moderated a Twitter chat for the first time. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, and it wasn’t really, but it was a new experience for me. As I sat there anxiously at 7:59, I was reminded of how vulnerable we all are as human beings. This was the first ever #sd36learn chat, and I was worried that people would be expecting something wonderful and that I somehow wouldn’t deliver. They would be wondering why my questions weren’t thought-provoking enough, or why I was moderating a chat anyway. For 10 whole minutes, I was shocked at how anxious I was about something so small. I’ve participated in lots of Twitter chats and I know how they generally work; however, I wasn’t prepared for trying to read everyone’s ideas and assess the conversation as it took place.

Having said that, I think it is so important that we do step out of our comfort zone on a regular basis. We need to be reminded of what it’s like to be slightly uncomfortable, briefly out of our element. It is only then that we can continue to develop as learners. It’s the only way that we can be genuine when we tell our students that risk taking is a critical component of learning. We need to model what we ask of them. It’s not about being terrified, it’s about slight discomfort and the right amount of challenge pushing us just a little more outside our box.

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cc flickr photo shared by gillicious

Thanks to everyone who joined in the first #sd36learn chat! It was great to see so many supporters of the work that we all do, both from within and outside of our district. I’m sure these weekly chats will lead to many more meaningful conversations. Join us for the next one on Sunday May 5th at 8 pm PST!

You can check out our conversations here.

Good leaders inspire leadership in others. That is what George Couros (@gcouros) did for me this past week, for which I am very thankful. We all need a kick in the butt once in awhile (especially if we’re still working on putting ourselves out there)!

Why I Became an Educator

We all have our reasons for becoming educators. Whether it is an inspirational teacher in our own lives, a desire to inspire the world’s future leaders, or a frustration with the school system, any reason that makes us passionate is a good one.

My reasons fall into the third category.

I wouldn’t normally think to share my inspiration to become an educator, but thanks to two wonderful pro-d opportunities with @gcouros today, I am inspired to share my story.

I was always a “good” student. I fit the mould of what everyone thought a good student should be. I listened in class, I (usually) completed homework, and I always had a knack for knowing what would be important in test situations. I found school easy and I also enjoyed it. I wasn’t much of a concern one way or the other.

My siblings, on the other hand, did not fit this mould.

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Morguefile photo shared by kconnors

Teachers thought my brother needed discipline; what he really needed was a challenge. Honestly, he was BORED. There was nothing motivating about completing trivial assignments he already understood. So when he didn’t see the point, he didn’t bother.

My sister suffers from ADHD as well as other mental health issues and has struggled with self-regulation all her life (she is also one of the most caring, sensitive people I know). Labeled early on as a “difficult” student, she was never well supported by the school system. Being 11 years older than her, I have always played a sort of mother role in her life, so it has been difficult to step back and watch the lack of resources and innovative solutions time and time again. She is still struggling to get through the school system today.

I chose a career in education because I was frustrated with the system. I wanted to make a difference in the lives of those who didn’t fit the mould. Music Education was my first real passion in university; I thought music would be the way to connect with all those struggling, misunderstood students. I’ve not yet had the opportunity to teach Music, but I will be forever grateful for the creativity and innovative thinking that I developed over the course of that program. I’m not sure that I would be so willing to take risks if it weren’t for exploring Music Education.

I became an educator so that I can reach those kids that other people can’t or won’t. I make it my mission to touch base with those kids who need me most every single day. I like to think it makes a difference. I hope I will always uphold my mission to engage the unmotivated, inspire the uninspired, and encourage those who have lost hope. I believe that our role as teachers is not so much about teaching as it is about listening, loving, and engaging. It’s about developing relationships with our students and inspiring them to want to be the best they can be. Whether they are struggling or needing a challenge, it’s about helping them discover their strengths and their passions.

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Morguefile photo shared by Scarletina

In some ways, it saddens me that I don’t have a nice little story about an inspirational teacher in my life. It’s not necessarily that those stories don’t exist; they do. But without my frustration with the school system, I likely would not have become a teacher. I likely wouldn’t have the passion for change in education that I do today. For that, I will be forever grateful. As long as kids need an advocate for change, I will always be inspired to be an educator.

Why did you become an educator?