Category Archives: Inspiration

The Values of Our Actions

Recently, I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts. I’m not someone who has ever understood the appeal of audio books or podcasts. However, with some big chunks of time in my week newly available to me, I feel as though the inspiration that comes from podcasts is really infusing new life into my long commute.

Some of the most inspiring listening sessions I’ve had over the past couple of months have been financial podcasts. One in particular called Afford Anything exposed me to interviews with people I likely wouldn’t have come across if I had stuck to my usual book reading. One message I have taken away from this show is the importance of our values aligning with our actions. Basically, if we are not clear on our values – what’s most important to us – then we likely won’t align our actions with those values. According to a few of the show’s guests, this often results in a lot of frustration as people realize they’re not achieving their financial goals; if they could just be clear about what matters most, they would make more decisions that help them achieve their goals and they would be much happier.

I consistently find myself making connections to teaching. We often think we are clear about what matters to us in our practice. Whether it’s inquiry, storytelling, technology, or relationships, we tend to know what our passions are. But how often do we check in to make sure that our actions align with our values? How often are we actually doing things that are counter-intuitive to our values without being mindful of this disconnect?

I think these are important questions to ask ourselves because we are all human beings and teaching is hard work. The stress and frenzy of “the day” gets to all of us at one point or another. We can easily lose sight of what matters most when there’s a line up of emotional crises to deal with after lunch, the child who needs it most doesn’t have EA support again, or the phone rings for what feels like the 17th time that day. Nonetheless, taking the time to really dig deep, articulate our values, and map out how we might act accordingly can have a huge positive impact on our practice. It can save us time by minimizing decision fatigue and help clarify our expectations of our learners – not to mention make us happier!

So take the time to think about what matters to you… and more importantly, what you will do about it.

Advertisements

2018: A Year of Reflection

Although I don’t write nearly as often as I’d like to, it is something that genuinely helps me reflect on myself both personally and professionally. Same goes for photography. Last year, I chose an intention to help guide me in my daily life: to simplify. Now, those who know me well know that I very frequently struggle to make decisions that relate to myself and my goals. I will often over-analyze a decision until, quite frankly, there is no decision left to be made for one of the following reasons:

  1. time ran out
  2. something out of my control made the decision for me
  3. I decide that decisions are too difficult and it was a silly idea in the first place – maintain status quo

Ultimately, this process leaves me feeling frustrated and limits how many new challenges I take on in my personal life.

Having a conscious intention in 2017 helped me make some decisions that I may have habitually over-analyzed. For example, I became much more dedicated to my yoga practice; this is something I have always had the desire to do but have always struggled to maintain in a consistent way. I would often find excuses why I couldn’t attend class or couldn’t practice from home. “I don’t have the time/money/energy to do _____________” is fairly common language in our society and I definitely fell prey to this thought pattern. While I have always understood on an intellectual level that we make our own choices in life, thanks partly to my intention, I am finally starting to internalize this in a meaningful way. I started to ask myself “Do you want to practice yoga?” and if the answer was a yes then I made it happen. Eventually, this led to it becoming a more important aspect of my life, and then I reaped more personal benefits, such as an increased sense of self-awareness, the ability to actually relax, and a healthy way of managing my anxiety. The intention to simplify also helped me accept that, at this time, yoga is more of a restorative practice for me than anything else, so I have stopped pressuring myself to attend certain types of classes and am trying to focus on what makes me feel good.

Having an intention certainly didn’t apply to every decision I made every day – unfortunately, I am not that focused or dedicated – but it did help me decide to become much healthier, more grounded, more focused on my personal interests, and to take on a new challenge in my career. I was also more willing to forgive myself if I slipped up in any way, which made my daily life much more enjoyable.

Although I definitely did not stick with it in 2017 like I did the previous year, the #photoaday challenge is another great tool that helped me reflect retrospectively on my year. Rather than selecting what I felt were my best photos this year, I chose nine that represent important people, moments, and connections in my life. This process helped me realize what a rich year I had despite feeling disappointment over cancelling a big trip abroad.

Screenshot (92)

#photoaday2017 #bestnine @beverley_bunker

From left to right, top to bottom:

  1. Connecting with my dad about photography
  2. Having fun in nature with my students
  3. Celebrating my best friend’s upcoming wedding with delicious food and wine
  4. Spending time at “the lake” in Ontario both before and after my father-in-law passed away
  5. Pushing through intense anxiety during a mountain hike in the desert
  6. Greater confidence through traveling alone… for the first time in a long time
  7. Visiting my mom in Ottawa
  8. Attending my first yoga retreat on a beautiful island with a good friend
  9. Something to remind me of the day we said goodbye to my father-in-law

Tools that help us reflect in some way are so important. These two worked well for me in 2017 and I have some ideas about what I’d like to try this coming year.

My intention for 2018 is to find joy; whether this means looking within or reaching out to others, I am looking forward to whatever this coming year has in store for me. What do you intend to try, change, or explore in 2018?

A New Chapter

This past spring, I made the decision to leave the classroom and try something new. I accepted a new role working with Teacher Candidates in the B.Ed. program at the University of British Columbia. While I will continue teaching Intro to Teaching and Learning Core French as I’ve done for the past couple of years, I am also be coordinating the Social Emotional Learning cohort. This means I am responsible for teaching Inquiry courses, embedding the theme of SEL into our cohort throughout the year, and acting as Faculty Advisor for a group of Teacher Candidates.

When I made this decision, I felt nothing but excitement. What an awesome new challenge! However, while saying my goodbyes in June, I started to second guess myself. By the time summer was in full swing, I was sure I had made a mistake… What was I thinking? I love my kids! Knowing that I wouldn’t return to my school or to any classroom in September made me very emotional.

Most of us enter the teaching profession because we want to make a difference in the lives of kids and I was no different. Those pre-teen years in particular come with a lot of angst, social awkwardness, and sarcasm that I secretly love. Those years are when I felt most disconnected from adults in my own life, so I’ve always wanted to help those who are looking for a positive role model and a bit of empathy while maintaining the facade of nonchalance and grown-up-ness. Little people in big bodies who just need to know they are loved…

Screenshot (87)

However, having met my group of Teacher Candidates this week, I am feeling much more optimistic. They are a wonderful group of people who, like all of us, are in this to make a difference in the lives of kids. Their hearts are in it and they are authentic, intelligent, compassionate people. I already feel like I am getting to know many of them and I haven’t even had to give up my addiction to bad jokes and sarcasm!

I can tell that it will be a fantastic year of learning and I know they will all make a difference in the lives of kids. I can see the potential for far reaching impact in this new role and that is exciting. I can also see that I am going to learn so much from them. But most of all, I can now see that although I may not have a physical classroom this year, I have met my new “kids.” And I couldn’t be more excited to see where this new adventure takes me…

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.

best-nine-2016

@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.

Three Words for 2016

254473105_362f9b22ee

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.

beverley-and-rob-393

beverley-and-rob-187

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

2744476573_a76a733802

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.

P1060197

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…

3077263426_24e6f5fa87

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.

96724309_985b8acd3f

Photo Credit: moriza via Compfight cc

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

P1060186

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.

20130621-222011.jpg

20130621-222102.jpg

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.

20130621-222153.jpg

20130621-222235.jpg

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!

20130621-222328.jpg

20130621-222412.jpg

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!

20130621-222451.jpg

20130621-222515.jpg

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!