Gotta Celebrate

Spring Legs by Christopher DeWolf on Flickr

Spring Legs by Christopher DeWolf on Flickr

Yesterday was one of those amazing, magical Montreal springtime days that remind us all why we suffer the cold and snow for 4-6 months of the year. The sun was shining and warm, people were on the streets in short sleeves, some even in shorts. The light stayed with us until almost 8 in the evening. Open, relaxed faces quick to smile were all over the place.

If you don’t think that’s enough cause for celebration I’m going to give you a few more reasons right here and if you don’t think that I had the most celebrationist kinda day then I give up. For real.

In no particular order:

Escape to the Country…

Escaping to the Country :)

Escaping to the Country :)

I moved one step closer to buying a house in the country as I received news that my financing has been approved! It’s a cute little place on about 27 000 sq ft of land, partially forested. There is even an insulated cabin that I’ll be able to use as a studio for art.

Jacques Demers and the Stanley Cup from USA Today

Jacques Demers and the Stanley Cup from USA Today

He shoots, He scores…
Jacques Demers came to speak to some of the students at our school yesterday. His style was loud, brash, and abrupt reminding us all that he was once an NHL hockey coach. He told us of his difficult childhood with father who was either abusive or absent, of his illiteracy, and of making choices. At one point he stopped his speech to dress down some kids who were being disruptive and making immature comments. Some of my students actually applauded when he was done with them.

But that wasn’t the big score. The big score came later, when we returned to class. I feel the emotion rising even now as I remember it. We started to talk about his speech in general when one of my students said she had to get something off of her chest. She started to talk about her own difficult relationship with her father. She continued to talk as tears rolled down her face and mine as well as a few of the other students in our class. She talked about the complex range of emotions that she has been carrying inside herself for so many years and she decided then and there that she needs to speak with him and let him know about what she has been holding on to for so long. Then she took a big breath and said she was done talking. One of the other students gave her a hug and told her she loved her. I was totally bowled over with the sense of community and hope in the room.

Forgiveness and Validation…
Yesterday evening I met with someone I hadn’t seen in, we determined, 6 or 7 years, maybe even longer. We worked together over 15 years ago and the last time we saw each other we went on a few dates. At one point I just didn’t hear from him. These things happen. I’ve met a few people in my life who, from one day to the next, I just don’t hear from again. They disappear. But last night I received an apology for that and it made me feel good about people in general. That we do care about each other and sometimes we even show it when it is least expected. Major props to him for that!

To PhD or not to PhD…

Jose being all direct on me

Jose being all direct on me

I totally ignored this tweet when I first saw it, up until now even when I am finally responding to it :) When Jose asked it, I was still in limbo but I’ve since decided not to continue with it and with that decision came so much relief. My life was school (teaching) and school (studying). I love both of them, but I wasn’t doing anything well. It was like a diet of pure protein, with no other nutrients. Eventually my system shut down. To be good I need to have time to paint, knit, make jewelry, hang out with students after school, run with the dog, be with friends, read, watch movies, go for dinner on a moment’s notice. Last year one of my students figured out that I was in Grade 22, based on all of my years of schooling. It’s time for me graduate :)

And if all THAT isn’t enough to cause some celebration…how’s about these fabulous (published) poems/songs by one of my students. Enjoy.

I am Human by Cody Oserakete Thomas

I am Human by Cody Oserakete Thomas

If You Could See Me Now by Cody Oserakete Thomas

If You Could See Me Now by Cody Oserakete Thomas

Some People by Cody Oserakete Thomas

Some People by Cody Oserakete Thomas

When You Said You Loved Me by Cody Oserakete Thomas

When You Said You Loved Me by Cody Oserakete Thomas

Mine Forever by Cody Oserakete Thomas

Mine Forever by Cody Oserakete Thomas

What are you celebrating?

Hold on Tight

Spring has sprung, love is in the air.

I have received a spate of love poems from students lately, gotta be the spring in the air. Here is one from Sam, she has been with her boyfriend for over a year now. She stayed by his side through a horrible accident where he broke his back. This is how she feels about him.

Hold On Tight

I’ve made my choices,To no one else but you.
I pledge my love to forever be true.
I’ll take care of you in any condition and treat you right.
I’ll lay beside you all through the night.
I’ll gather us dinner and still kid around.
I’ll hug and kiss you and let you in my open heart,
listen to the sound.

I’ll help you and guide you to a clear path.
Like you helped me to a road to passing math
I’ll listen to your problems,help you solve them too.
I’ll be the the shining rainbows and let the sun shine through.
I’ll take your side,even if you are wrong.
Just to prove our love is still strong.

I’ll plant us flowers and make them grow.
They’ll be a symbol of our love that only you and i will know.
I’ll whisper your name like i always do,When no one is near.
So low that only you can hear.

You’ll feel my love around you even if we’re apart.
you’ll know that we are one in heart.
So remember when your eyes meet mine.
With how much i love you…you’ll never really know.
With each touch of your hand it’s like a falling flake of snow.

so these seven words i pray you hold true.
“Forever and always i will love you…

Student poetry: Love poem by Jean-Marc


Remember being in high school and in love? This poem is a perfect reminder of that time. Jean-Marc wrote it over the March break and I am finally getting around to post it!

Let me tell you a love poem about what i feel in my heart, butterflies in my stomach whenever we’re together. You’re a flower in bloom ready to burst as my heart is for you. It’s you that brightens my day not the sun, you’re brightness is like a drug to me it makes me want you every day , every way as long as you’re with me. People say you’re to Young to know what love is but who are they to say what love is , i know how it feels , i know what it is , it’s because I’m in love with you. There are so many words i cannot say, I want to be able to tell you one day, your friend I’ll always be, a shoulder to cry on Ill always be , a hand to pick you up on your feet I’ll always be , what I’m trying to say is I Love You and that will always will be. (L):)xox

She’s Just Like You

Insight from Alyssa, one of my grade 1o students, who has graciously granted me permission to include this here.

She’s Just Like You

We’re always going to have that one person, that we’re jealous of.
Because, they’re prettier than us.
They have more friends then us. Their parents let them drink.
They’re dating the captain of the hockey team.
She gets with every guy.

But what you don’t know is,
They’re pretty, cause they wear so much makeup. cause they’re scared without the makeup, they’re nothing but a face.
They have more friends then us, but most of their friends talk behind their back,
Their parents let them drink, cause they don’t care.
They’re dating the captain of the hockey team, cause they need the security of being popular.
She gets with every guy cause she needs to feel cared about.

This girl that you’re so jealous of…
is just like you.
She’s scared of what people think of her,
so she wears make-up to cover up the truth.
She wants to be accepted,
so she dates the captain of the hockey team,

She has so much going on, on the inside,
that she needs to make herself feel better by being perfect on the outside.
but the inside, needs more repairs.

Learning from my students as I rise

Listen to a podcast about this post here [audio: learningfrommystudents.mp3]


image from maniobras de escapismo by Ma Vera on Flickr

image from maniobras de escapismo by Ma Vera on Flickr


My students inspire me

“I have learned more math this week than I have so far in all my years of high school.”

“Today I don’t feel complete. I did not get to the gym yesterday because I was working on homework and I didn’t finish the homework because I didn’t get some of it. So I’m not feeling complete.”

“I’m weird. I get the math when it is in a word problem, but not when it is written as straight math.”

“Today I am tired. I had another fight with my mother last night and didn’t get to bed until late. Tonight I am going to party.”


Because I learned that even though the math scares me a bit, I can teach it. And I think that is because I teach my children first and then the math. I also learned that we do such a disservice to students when we stay focused on basic skills rather than going on to learning that requires higher-order thinking skills. If she had not told me that she was ‘weird’ I may have made her do more of that ‘straight math’ instead of letting her think. I wonder how many other ‘weird’ students are out there. I learned where my students are coming from when they put their heads down during study hall, the last 45 minutes of the day, instead of reading a short story or trying to figure out the equivalent resistance of whatever.

and I learned this:

To you, 17-year old Cody

Each morning we check in
in a circle we sit
we shoot the shit
we state where we are at
so we can clear the path to where we are going
so we can clear the path to the part of our journey that will take place today.

“I feel tired”
“I feel happy”
“I did not finish my homework”

On Thursday morning you, 17-year old Cody, said
Today I do not feel complete.

and you went on to say why.

all eloquent and concise.

And I learn that it is not my job to make
you feel complete.

I think to myself of what stops me from feeling complete – of my boundaries, my hard lines, my fears.

No, it is not my job to make you feel complete. It is my job to learn from you how to rearrange my own boundaries, reorganize my own hard lines into rungs as I rise to my own completeness.

And that is why I say to you, 17-year old Cody, thank you.
Tracy, Sept. 13/08


Everyday Real (moment of truth 2008) [audio:]
From The Pull Forward EP Vol.2 by Scholarman, available for free download here