Dear Future Teacher

I am half-way through my third and final practicum. After six years of post-secondary education I am five weeks away from starting my career. I just wanted to remind my future self of why I am doing this and reflect on how far I’ve come.

Sarah, you are doing the impossible. You have chosen a career that will consume your entire being and you will forever and always be a teacher. Your certificate does not make you a teacher, a classroom does not make you a teacher, and a paycheck does not make you a teacher. You are a teacher because you have the ability, privilege, and desire to impact many lives.

I think about my 70 students that I am teaching right now. Sorry everyone. This select group of teenagers gets to witness me embarrass  myself everyday, watch me stumble over my words, contradict myself, not know the answer, and constantly run out of time. Sometimes I am disorganized. I read from my notes when I am nervous. I feel unprepared almost every day. I forget that I am an adult sometimes and try to act “cool”. Most days I’m a hot mess, but somehow I end up putting on my big girl slacks, get my photo copying done, and I survive the day. And then I do it again.

I am working with a well seasoned teacher, whose knowledge base will far exceed what I will know in my entire life time. It has been intimidating to teach in his place because he is highly revered in the school. He has proved to me that there are teachers who have 30 years of experience that are still growing and willing to try new things. He inspires me to continue growing in knowledge in and outside of my career. He has shown me that everything I learn in my own life is directly related to what I can teach to my students.

Remember Sarah that you have an entire career ahead of you to hone your skill. It has been frustrating to feel held back by inexperience. I want to give the best to my students and I am extremely grateful that they are patiently taking this journey with me. My students are forgiving and respectful. How is it possible that I can care so much about 70 strangers? How is it that I am personally responsible for such an important part of their young lives? Remember that sometimes it feels like you give so much and you get little in return, but you actually do not know the ripples of your effort.

I have a student who had asked me why I wanted her to re-do an assignment. I explained to her that her answers did not correctly answer the questions. “So my answers were stupid”, she said and immediately shut down. I did not know how to respond in that moment. All of a sudden I had a student who thought I was calling her stupid. I tried to fix the situation but she obviously did not want to talk to me or about it anymore. The bell rang and she left. I felt completely shaken. How had she thought that I was calling her stupid? I couldn’t think straight. I talked to my CT and an EA about it and they both told me to give her some space and assess her demeanor the next day. The next day she was in a good mood and treated me as if nothing had happened. I decided that I would leave it be so as to not make things worse. The following day she came up and apologized to me. She said that there were some family issues going on at home and that she had been in a really bad mood that day. She wanted me to know that she was sorry. She must have respected me enough and felt comfortable enough with me to apologize. I am so honored to work with young people that trust me.

Remember that as much as you want all your students to pass your class, some will fail. This is not your failure to bear. Every student takes different amounts of time to realize that education is important. Not everyone will come to this realization. Do not give up on them.

Remember that things do not always go according to plan. Make things up. Be spontaneous. The students don’t need to know.

Remember to be yourself. You are the reason that you are a teacher. The students will benefit the most if you are comfortable and if you enjoy what you are teaching.

And most of all remember that you are learning. Everyday I am learning; learning minute by minute. I’m learning how to make mistakes and how to fix them. I am learning how to be successful. Success does not come without many failed attempts. My poor students. Remember that students are resilient, flexible, and forgiving. Thank you for challenging me, pushing me, and encouraging me everyday. These kids make waking up tired and grumpy every day worth it.

It is the impossible job and sometimes to find the possible you have to attempt the impossible.

Just keep that in mind.

 

I Wake Up

I wake up.

I wake up every morning

Yawn and stretch under my warm blankets

And I dread extending my leg out from the cozy embrace of my bed.

I complain.

I complain about not wanting to wear any of the clothes that are overflowing my closet.

I complain about not wanting to make myself breakfast or a lunch

Even though my fridge and cupboards are full.

I drive.

I took too long getting out of bed this morning

And decided those 5 extra minutes were necessary.

I will drive myself today instead of taking the bus.

I browse.

My Facebook feed is something I look at to pass the time.

I pass people and I purposely avoid eye contact.

I shuffle through the day so that I can go home.

I cry.

Everyday I see the injustices of the world.

Humanity is destroying itself.

I pray that He would heal our broken land but I feel the inevitability of it all.

I sit.

There are four walls around me.

I feel safe.

I wonder how many Netflix episodes I’ll watch tonight.

I sleep.

I curl up the blanket between my toes.

I toss and I turn.

I hope for sweet dreams.

 

I repeat.

 

Two Thousand and Fourteen: A Year I Will Never Forget

I think, if God permits, that if I live until I am old and grey I will look back on my life and always remember the year 2014. It was both a year of endings and of beginnings.

Perhaps I would like to start with a little flash from the past.

IMG_0400IMG_2748

January 2, 2012                                    January 2, 2015

Three years ago to this day I shaved my head. I did it for many reasons but ultimately it was a symbol of a fresh start. A clean start if you will. It was one of the coolest decisions I have ever made. Looking back on the last three years I find it hard to believe that those two pictures are of the same girl. My life has changed so much and I would love to share that with you.

2014 started with the hardest semester academically I had ever had. I had five classes and was working 24 hours a week. Needless to say I had a few break downs, but it was in those moments that I realized that I was giving it my all and that my all was sufficient. It was my last semester of my undergrad and I put in more effort than I ever had before. I finished that semester with the highest GPA out of all the other semesters I had taken. My hardest semester was my best semester. And then I got to graduate. Finishing a part of your life that you have spent so much time and effort on is a strange feeling. I reflected on the past four years of my life and I held all those memories on a single piece of paper. Sometimes I look at my degree hanging on my wall and can’t believe that my name is written in bold on it. Graduation was the highlight of 2014. I accomplished something that so few people actually do. I have learned that it is OK to be proud of myself.

Following my graduation I also had the pleasure of watching my brother graduate from high school. If you refer to my blog post The Baby has Graduated you can read more of my feelings about his graduation. But I would like to say here that watching my brother graduate was incredible. It is easy to celebrate the success of the people we love most.

The year 2014 was also the year that my sister and I became closer. It is ironic that I have seen her less this year than I ever have and yet I feel that we have become better friends. I am so excited to be getting our sister tattoos in February.

The summer of 2014 is also a summer I will never forget. Amongst seeing some great movies and countless days spent at the lake I also worked a lot! I even worked on my 22nd birthday. This summer I built some friendships that I will cherish for a lifetime. I made memories everyday. I also thought a lot about my future. I was accepted into the Education program at UNBC and I spent a lot of time thinking about my future as a teacher.

And then just like that it was September. September 2014 is the month that I almost lost my mom. September was the hardest month I have ever had. In a matter of days Prince George had lost one of its finest men, Nathan Warren, and I had almost lost my mom. Nathan was my friend and I will always feel honored and blessed to have known him for the short time that I did. I had called my mom a few days after Nathan had passed away to ask her to pray for his family and friends. We cried in prayer together over the phone. The next day I awoke to a phone call from my dad. He was crying. He told me that my mom was unconscious and had been for the last hour. She was being rushed to emergency. Pray he said. Pray. And so I did. I crawled into my roommate Alicia’s bed and cried and we prayed for my mom. Shortly after I got another phone call. My dad told me that my mom had had a brain aneurism and they were prepping for emergency brain surgery. She was either going to make it through surgery or die. I begged God to not take my mom away from me. I told Him how much I needed my mom. I put my trust into His hands. I knew that the only way my mom was going to live was if God wanted her to live. My sister and I were on a plane a few hours later, flying to Vancouver, not knowing if we were going to see our mother alive again.

When we made it to the hospital my mom had made it out of surgery. She was alive and the surgeon said that from his point of view the surgery had been a success. We just had to wait for her to wake up to see if there had been any brain damage. Those were the longest five days. When my mom regained consciousness she remembered who she was and who her family were. My mom survived. My mom is a miracle and God wants her here with us for a bit longer! God is so faithful.

The doctors expect my mom to make a full recovery within a year. Every day there is more and more healing. My mom is more youthful and silly than I have ever seen her. My mom is my hero. This has forever changed my family’s life. I feel closer to my family and I definitely do not take them for granted. I love my family.

Spending this Christmas with my mom was the best gift that I could have received. We had a fun Christmas and I was very spoiled. The healing that I see in my mom is incredible. She is a woman the defies all odds and I am truly blessed to have her as a mother. I love you mom.

Thankfully, I was able to return to Prince George in September with the assurance that my mom was going to be alright and I was able to finish the first semester of the Education program. I was able to get straight A’s in all 8 of my courses. I have had my socks blessed off this year. For the first time ever I feel as though I am walking on the right path. I know I am going in the right direction with my life and I could not ask for a better was to start the year 2015. So now my hair is back and I am working towards a career. I am so excited to see what God has in store for me in 2015!

The First Day of the Rest of My Life

Physically I do not want to write this blog right now. My head feels like a swollen balloon, knives are stabbing my throat every time I swallow and my body cannot figure out if it is too warm or too cold. I may or may not have strep throat.

Regardless of how my immune system is handling things on the inside, I didn’t want to let this day pass without writing about it. Because before I know it, my life will be bombarded with endless papers and assignments and I will no longer wish to spend any more time than I have to in front of a computer screen.

I was excited for school to start until yesterday. That is when I realized that today I would have to wake up and actually go to school. After having graduated twice already in my life the ritual of returning back to school just seems normal. What would I be doing with my life if I wasn’t going back to school. So this morning I woke up with a killer head ache and a throat that was on fire and I went to the Education Degree Orientation. It was incredible. But not for any reason that you might think. As each faculty member of the education program stood up to introduce themselves, they each gave a mini speech about how great it is to be a teacher and how we have all chosen the greatest profession on the planet. As I sat in my back row seat and listened to these people who have been educators for thirty years or more I was astounded by the passion they still held for teaching. I almost started crying as one lady spoke about what makes a good teacher. I could feel, yet again, God’s calling and assurance on my life that I am in the right place, doing the right thing. There is no better peace than knowing that you belong. When your life lines up with God’s will…it just feels right.

I am so excited for what the next two years of my life will bring.

After my orientation, my boss texted me asking if I could cover someone’s shift for a couple hours. It was absolutely the last thing that I wanted to do this afternoon, but nonetheless I took the shift. I came home to my wonderful new roommate and childhood best friend. She was going to make me mushroom soup for dinner. But we don’t own a can opener yet. So we decided to have a value village adventure to go buy a can opener. An adventure that neither of us really wanted to go on. We found a can opener…as well as a kettle, knife rack and bookshelf. It just would be our luck that the can opener actually was broken. But we had fun. We came home, she made me noodle soup instead and we spent the rest of our evening watching Mulan on VHS. It was perfect. Before my life gets crazy busy I wanted to write down that I enjoy my life. There is usually crazy adventures and weird circumstances that occur on a regular basis in my life, but I love life. I am looking forward to this year being a life changing, life shifting and life molding experience and I am ready to give my all to the process. Even if I already feel like a sick zombie Sarah on my first day.

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin

“I Can’t Live Without Life”

                                                      IMG_2523

Growing up my favourite cereal was Life. We had a ongoing inside family joke where every time we ate Life we would always say, “I can’t live without life”. Now, I realize that it is a pretty bland tasting cereal but every once and awhile I crave it. I crave Life.

I often think about life. I think about the purpose of life, the shortness of life, the beginning of life and the end of life. Don’t ever get into a discussion with me about how life started because I do not care how it all started. I believe that God did it and the when and how of it does not bother me. I mean I am curious of course, but those are questions that I don’t need answered in this life.

One of my favourite things in the world is people watching. If I could have one super power it would be to read people’s minds. Of course I would need to be able to turn it off when I wanted to, but I find the idea of unspoken thoughts so amusing. I love watching people walking in the mall or down the street. “What are you thinking about?” I often wonder. “Where are you going?” “Who are you?” “Will I ever see you again?”

I love thinking about how God made each and every one of us. I’ll think to myself, “God you made that bus driver or that cashier at Save-On”. That is so cool! I say to myself…He made you and you and you and you and you. Then I get overwhelmed and amazed that I am really just one person in a world of millions of people.

Every time I think about my life problems and struggles I always feel like my life is so complicated and no one else could possibly feel the same things that I am feeling. My problems can be all consuming. Then I think about people. I think about life.

We are all just living. We are just moving forward, breathing and growing. No two people are living the same life. We all think different thoughts. We are all so complicated. We are all so simple.

Pain. Though my experience is limited the most important thing I have learned about pain is that it is relative. When I was going through my life’s biggest tragedy, Japan was being flooded. I kept thinking to myself, “How can I be so selfish and wallow in my own pain and self-pity while families are being torn apart and people are dying?” I could only relate to my own pain. I will only ever be able to relate to my own pain. We are creatures of feeling. “How does that make me feel?” “How was I feeling when that happened?” “I don’t remember what my grade 5 teacher taught me, but I remember how they made me feel”. Awful things happen in this world, but life keeps on living.

Sometimes I wonder if I ever want to have children of my own. This world is so scary and I fear for the life that I would be bringing a child into. But that is something God and I will deal with when and if that is something that will take place on my life’s journey.

The journey of life. I think about where I’ve been, where I am and where I am going. None of those three places are the same and to me that is extremely exciting. Four years ago I was terrified of becoming someone different. I liked who I was and I didn’t want to change. I am excited to change and grow. I am excited to be different. I playfully asked someone to describe me the other day and besides the obvious “amazing” and “cute” adjectives that he used, he said “You are Sarah”; to which I responded “Yes! I have always been and always will be Sarah”. But it got me thinking. Other people are “amazing” and “cute” and whatever else other people are, but I am Sarah. It describes me perfectly!

Well, as per usual, here has been another blog post about nothing in particular with a lot of random things that have been on my mind. Keep living for as long as you can. No matter how hard life has gotten, I have always been thankful to wake up to another day.

Cheers!

Confessions of an ex-eighteen year old

I was a sheltered 18 year old.

After returning from a co-workers 18th birthday party I came to the realization that I could hardly relate to anything they were talking about. The only reason I knew what they were talking about is because I am 22 years old and have experienced more of life since I have left my parents house. For example one 18 year old told me that he has recently decided to quit drinking because he wanted to loose weight. There was nothing wrong with his body. Also all the boys that were in attendance were gay. Great guys and I loved hanging out with them, but they were very open with their sex lives…in front of everyone. That was definitely not something that I had when I was 18. Also the amount of swearing and dirty talk that went on around my friend’s parents kinda sorta blew my mind. That was when I definitely realized that my experience of being 18 was a lot different from a lot of other people.

Something else that was strange was that everyone at the party had some sort of job. They all worked in customer service and it has just occurred to me that all my friends when I was 18 had customer service jobs. I was one of the only people in my friend group when we were 18 that did not have a job. It seems weird to me now but I never thought about it at the time.

I guess why I wanted to write about this was because the coming of age experience that turning 18 is has really been on my mind a lot. My last blog post was all about my brother’s graduation and how it related to me graduating University at the same time, so the age 18 has been on my mind a lot.

I remember feeling invincible. I was young, beautiful and on the path to success.

I really did feel like I knew everything that was best for me.

When I was 18 I was in love. Head over heels, soul mate kind of love. But I was also 18.

18 was a kind of magical age. I was old enough to know better but young enough not to care. The world really was at my finger tips. It’s a weird age because it is the age when you start to expect that other people should treat you like an adult but you have no real power. When you are 18 you just can’t wait to be 19. Something happens between 18 and 19 that is really hard to explain. At 19 you have the power but also somewhere along the line you gain this responsibility that you never quite saw before.

A lot happened when I was 18. I started my year of being 18 by celebrating my birthday with my (now ex) boyfriend. He took me out to Terrace for dinner in his Dad’s car. He was so excited to have his N. I ended my year of being 18 by drinking in a bar with my girlfriends and one of them had a very possessive boyfriend. He told me, in a very drunk state of mind, that I was going to hell for drinking. And in the middle of my year being 18, my whole world blew apart. I loved being 18, but it was the hardest year of my life thus far.

For most people, turning 18 is the first time in their lives where the decisions that they make really do effect the rest of your life. For me, I had always wanted to be 18. I always wanted to be treated like an adult. It was the first time when I was able to tell my parents that my decisions were mine and mine alone. Ok come on, I made a lot of mistakes but having the freedom to make those mistakes was so much better than having to report an hourly status report to my parents. (It wasn’t that bad, but sometimes it felt like that)

The final conclusion that I have come to is that 18 is temporary. It doesn’t matter if you are still with the same person you were with when you were 18 or if you have left your home town and traveled the world. Who you are at 18 is temporary. Who you are at any age is temporary. Life is temporary. Someone from my past told me that I haven’t changed a bit since I was 18. Often when I go back to where I grew up, I feel like I am still exactly the same person. If only they could all see me now! My co-workers would never believe I was that person at 18.

Sometimes I think I don’t even know that girl anymore. Sure I guess there are some common threads, but really your mind changes so much as you get older. Maybe my parents were right about something after all.

For all of you that are 18, have been 18, or will be 18 I have this to say to you; embrace it and then release it. It’s great while it lasts but 19 is just around the corner.

 

 

The Baby has Graduated

After 2 weeks of my summer vacation I have come home and had some time to reflect on the time that I had just spent with my family. On Thursday June 12, my baby brother graduated from high school.

Sitting through the three hour long ceremony was quite the experience. Luke graduated with 230 other students and of course he was first in the list. So needless to say it was a very long ceremony. Watching all those young grads walk across the stage was beautiful and thought provoking for me. One of the first things that went through my mind was that soon I will end my work year with a high school graduation. I will watch students that I have taught walk across a stage into their next stage of life. The other thing that I was thinking about was my own journey since my high school graduation. I know I just wrote a blog about my four years in university but I was specifically thinking  about my time from high school graduation and university convocation. Listening to Luke’s grad mates saying things like “I will always remember such and such from high school…” made me think back to the things that, four years later, I remember. For a while after high school it felt like it was just yesterday, but after I graduated with a degree from university high school truly does feel like it was a long time ago. Yes I will always remember y friends and all the crazy memories that we shared and especially the teachers that impacted my life in so many ways. But it wasn’t until I started university that I began to realize and understand what my high school experience really was and meant. University made me see what I was lacking from high school education and privilege what education I did have. Now here I am wanting to go back to high school…as a career. I have discovered that high school is the single most important institution that our society has to offer teenagers. I have grown passionate about teaching teenagers about life.

Students do not remember what a teacher taught them. Students are people. Teenagers are students and teenagers are people. People remember how they were treated. They remember which teacher made them feel successful and which ones made them feel like failures. Teaching is not about making kids memorize facts. Teaching is about learning. Learning about people and learning about life.

I am also writing this in the midst of the BC teacher’s strike. There are different sides in the strike and one of the most common argument against the strike is that the kids are suffering. I just have one thought at this time on the strike. Change does not come about without sacrifice. The biggest changes in human existence have come about because people banned together to stand up for what they believed in. If teachers feel strongly about the way that students are taught then I feel that they have a right to teach that way. Walk a mile in a teacher’s shoes. Teachers do not teach because they like the summers off. They teach because they want to see young people become successful at LIFE. If we want to half ass the next generation’s education then the legacy that the older generation has worked so hard to create will die along with the people that created it. OK I guess that was a little more than just one thought.

Having Luke graduate this year moves the Allan family into a new stage of life. Soon my parents will be empty-nesters and my siblings and I will all be adults. Its a weird stage of life but also very exciting. I cannot express in words how proud I am of both my siblings and how well they have succeeded in life.

Congratulations Luke on successfully completing your first 18 years of life. I am so excited to walk the rest of our life times together, Luke, Rachel and Sarah.