Friday, February 21, 2014

Looking Towards the Sun

On Valentine's Day last week, I received so many wonderful goodies and notes of love from my lovelies. I felt very spoiled!

Even my daughter's cat, Simon, got to enjoy the goodie box! (Couldn't manage to get a pic when his head was IN the box though!)

But, I have to say, that the note I found from one of my class parents tucked into my Valentine's box, touched my heart like nothing else in the box and, really, like nothing else in a long time.

Not a note from a parent about their child. But a note from one person to another.

She wrote to me about my writings on this blog about my parents.

It was a simple note that I didn't realize I needed until I read it. 

A note of understanding.

A note of encouragement.

A note of caring and love.

And it truly meant more to me than I can possibly express.

Earlier in the evening, on Valentine's Day, I was walking to the bus when the sun came out of the clouds and hit the treetops just so. I was struck by it and stopped to take a picture.

It seemed that the tree was glowing with fire. This picture really doesn't do it justice. The sky was grey and formidable. The day rather dreary (even with it being the day of romance and all!) weather wise.

It was one of those moments where I, quite literally, was stopped in my tracks. 

It was one of those moments when I just know that there is a rhyme and reason to life (even if I can't figure it all out!) and that all will be okay. I am not a very religious person but it was a spiritual moment for me. I don't know why. It just hit my heart.

So, what does all this have to do with the lovely note from the mom in my class? Well, in her note she told me that she hopes and wishes that I "will look towards the sun and not the shadow."

Goose bumps or what?

Here I am being struck by the sight of the sun overpowering the shadow of the gray day while carrying (unbeknownst to me) the note in which this parent has written those words to me. 

Here I am having this moment of calm in the storm and these words are just quietly waiting in an envelope in my bag.

A message I needed to hear. A message delivered to me not just through the words of this parent but through the universe itself. 

A simple but strong reminder to keep having faith. To keep believing in the positive. To keep remembering that the love others give me makes me stronger ( Here is where I am once again beyond lucky to have the job I have. How many other jobs consist of getting love every day, all day from 23 lovelies? I have enough love to be as strong as Superman!!!!) To keep trusting that the love I feel in my heart will be enough to get me through. 

So, a simple thank you. For your words. For the message.

I got it. Message received. Soft and clear.

Thank you.

Ms. Hughes

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Go Canada Go!!!

Are you busy watching the Olympics at all hours of the day?

I talked to a cashier at Safeway the other day who got up at 3 a.m. to watch an event live and was veeeerrry tired at work when I saw her. 

Seems crazy to me when there is so much instant replay!

Anywho, our student teacher, has been doing an Olympic unit in gym with both my class and the class next door. 

We made torn paper collage Canadian flags in a community art lesson. Students got to watch the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver Olympics on the smart board while they created. Which was very cool since they were all very wee when it happened!

Then our two classes did an Olympic walk one morning on our way to gym. It was so cute. The students waved their flags proudly as they paraded past the office. There were Canadian and Olympic flag bearers and everything!

Once at the gym, we sang Oh Canada and then did our own version of the opening ceremonies around the gym to raucous cheers of "Go Canada Go!!!!"

Then our student teacher put up a display on the wall near the parking lot (A bulletin board that has been empty since we moved into the school. Well, not anymore! Our community is calling dibs!!!)

And, right there is another reason why I am loving having this student teacher. She has brought a new perspective to activities - a fresh eye through which I can see. 

I would never have thought of doing this activity. For one thing, I am not an Olympic (or any other sporting event) lover. For another thing, I do not like teaching gym (that's why I traded my gym for art!!!) How lucky the students are to have had the experience of this Olympic unit. I am glad that she was here to think of it and teach it.

And equally glad that I won't have to think about it for another 4 years! 


Ms. Hughes

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Spreading Love

In keeping with the love theme I have going from yesterday...

Check out the art we did before Valentine's. I love it!

I told the class to imagine that love is shooting out of their fingertips and that they are spreading their love to the world. I think that they did an awesome job. And, even better, the entire project was done using scrap paper left over from previous projects!


Ms. Hughes

Monday, February 17, 2014

One of the best parts of teaching is how open and loving the children are each day.

They want to share themselves, their ideas, their energy, everything with me.

I love this!


I don't love it so much when they share their germs with me, too!!!

This past Saturday, I succumbed (after not getting sick for over two weeks of watching students drop like flies for 2-3 days at a time!!!) to the bug going around the class. 


Can you say not fun?

Go on!

Say it!

I know you can!!!

So, I am just now getting to all the blog posts I usually write on Sunday mornings (whilst listening to my fave music!) and schedule for the week. (instead, I slept ALL of Sunday away with only occasional forays to the kitchen for crackers and ginger ale.) 

Back to the joyful (no germs allowed) part of all the sharing my lovelies do each day...

On Friday we had a lovely Valentine's Day in our community. Each teacher took a turn teaching an activity to the whole community (yep! You heard me right! Teaching to all 70+ kids at once!) and then students worked anywhere in the community with any friends they wanted. It was a great day all around! So calm, so fun and so filled with love!

My activity was (surprise! surprise!) an art one.

With a twist. 

Each child decorated a simple heart with lots of bright colours and designs. Easy peasy. Just good ol' fashioned colouring. 

Then, came the twist!...

they had to cut their heart into four pieces and share three pieces with three friends. 

In turn, they had to get three new pieces from three friends.

(I can't lie...this was a bit of a logistical nightmare for a few of them!) 

and eventually...

they ended up with a brand new heart made up of four pieces - one of theirs and three others from friends.

It makes a great visual statement but...more to the point... they were sharing their hearts.

Get it? 

"Sharing their hearts"?

Choosing three friends and sharing their heart with them?

Yep! This wasn't just an art lesson, it was a whole deep mushy-gushy lesson on friendship and being a part of each other's hearts.

I know. Sappy, right?

But I am so happy with how it turned out. And so pleased with the ease so many students had in sharing their hearts with anyone in the community. It was a lovely visual way to remind them that while we may be three separate divisions, we are all still one community.

And it is a community filled with lots of love!!!!!


Ms. Hughes

Monday, February 10, 2014

Be Grateful

It has not escaped my notice that the life I am living with my mother these days greatly resembles the work I do with students every day. Only in reverse.

Teaching is really a slow building up of expectations as students are capable of accomplishing at greater levels. An example of this is with my Daily 5 program. The students first learn the expectations for read to self. Then, I model it (A LOT!) at the carpet and, only when I am sure they all understood what I want, do they begin to practice reading. And, even then, we only begin with 3 minutes. When they can do that, I upp it to 5 minutes and so on and so forth until they can read independently for 20 minutes. If they forget the expectations, we go back to the beginning and relearn it all.

Basically, as their cognitive abilities grow, so do my expectations. It is like that with my mother. But in the opposite direction. My expectations have to lessen as her cognitive abilities diminish. 

It is a very weird place to be. I have devoted my adult life to the practice of teaching and learning. I am used to looking for growth not diminishment.  It is a really tricky thing to know when her abilities no longer let her do certain tasks independently. If I mistake her ability level it can lead to her being frustrated or angry. I don't want to baby her and do things for her that she can do for herself and, yet, at the same time, I don't want to expect something from her that she is no longer capable of doing. 

I first noticed it with the coffee maker. I never really thought about how many steps my brain has to remember and accomplish to create a cup of coffee from a drip machine. I learned at my caretaker's workshop that there are roughly 27 steps to making coffee. Whoa!

Then I noticed it with bathing. If she says she's going to take a bath, she inevitably forgets that she intended to take a bath by the time she reaches the top of the stairs. But, even if she did recall that she intended to bathe, she doesn't seem to remember how to run a bath. So, it makes no sense for me to get upset at her for not bathing. I have to lower my expectations to meet her abilities. If that means running her the bath and making it a pampering experience (versus a "you can't do it for yourself" experience) then that is what I need to do.

So, what does all this have to do with feeling grateful  (as the post title suggests). Well, I realized the other day that I can choose how I feel about my mother and the disease that is now taking her away from us. 

I have been thinking a lot more about this lately. The struggle ends when gratitude begins.

I can be angry and sad that she is no longer the woman I once knew. I can be frustrated by the things that seem so simple to me but that she can't do independently. I can be grumpy and resentful about all the changes in my life since we took over her care before Christmas. 

OR...(and this is a big OR)

I can suck it up and say I'm sorry for doing whatever transgression she thinks I've done (because what is more important? Being right or having my mother calm and happy?) I can choose to spend more time at her house than mine and be happy about it. I can be grateful for the opportunity to cook her a meal and share it with her. I can be grateful for the sound of her voice talking to me and the feeling of her arms in a hug. I can be grateful for being given the gift of another day with my mother. I can choose to be grateful for each day that passes where she still knows who I am. 

gratitude- this is so very true and what I live by- quit griping people and suck it up!!!! God bless you today! :)

So, on this Family Day holiday, I am choosing to be grateful for every single second that I get with the woman who brought me into this world. I know that there will come a day when she can't do much of anything for herself. There will come a day when she won't even know who I am. There will come a day when the woman I knew as Mum is no longer with us in a way that we can see or understand. I refuse to spend my time being angry over that (though I can't lie, there have been a couple of moments where I just felt so tired and sad about the whole disease and what it has done to my Mum and my family, but I refuse to let those moments define me)  and, instead, am choosing gratitude.

What are you choosing?


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Black Bean Soup

So, I  made this recipe last week but haven't had a chance to post about it yet. It is the 5 ingredient black bean soup that I found here. At Gimme Some Oven her soup looked like this...

TRIED 5 Ingredient Black Bean Soup Recipe -- full of amazing flavor, and ready to go in just 20 minutes!

Since, I am a cilantro lover, I added A LOT of cilantro to mine plus a little sour cream. Mine looked like this...

And, as with the other pins I have made from my Recipes To Try board, this one was pretty darn delish. I am five for five in testing and liking my pinned recipes. 

Now, what to make next?


Ms. Hughes

Friday, February 7, 2014

Random Thursday Thoughts (on a Friday!)

                     10 Awesome Buddha quotes that will inspire and motivate you

Having a student teacher has been really beneficial to me because it has made me stop and think in more depth about the why's to how I do things. 

When she asks questions, I can't just do the teacher version of the old parent stand by, "Because that's the way I do it!" and expect that to help her become a better teacher. Well, I could do that but that would make me a pretty crappy sponsor teacher (not to mention just not a very nice person in general!)

I have had to think a lot about my philosophies around education and learning. My reasons for teaching decisions I make every day. Things like, why do I prefer small group teaching to whole class most of the time? Or how do I know where each child is in their learning? Or what do I do with the student who NEVER stops talking?

I am so very grateful that this experience is helping me grow as a teacher and mentor while also helping my student teacher grow. What a win-win situation!

Some big thoughts and ideas are coming up for me. So, I thought I'd share a few I've had about teaching and children ... in no particular order (well, except for the first point, which is essentially the philosophy that underlies each and every teaching decision I make. It forms the backbone of my teaching practice. I do my very best to live this philosophy every day. And, I won't lie, there are days that it is hard to do but those are usually the days that I need to love more not less!)

I believe...

...without love their can be no learning.

...we need to remember that our children have been on this amazing planet for only a few short years and LET THEM BE KIDS!!!!

How a child plays, shows their strengths and abilities in creativity and social skills.  It encourages them to think for themselves, and be their own person.  One can learn a lot from watching a child play.

...arts education (visual arts, drama, music, dance) is absolutely fundamental to learning. 

...creativity is the root of happiness.

...I can do anything if I really, really want it.

...I need to be real with the lovelies in my class each year (there are days when this means crying in front of them - other days when it means doing cartwheels in the gym!)

...I need to keep learning and trying new things. With stagnation comes boredom and no learning! forgive (and really mean it) is one of the most important lessons a person can learn.

 ...the love I get back from my lovelies can make problems in my life feel that much smaller

...we need to look at the big picture more often and not nit pick our kids over each and every little thing

...learning means making mistakes (lots of them!)

WWR #quote #fail #learning

...reading can cure just about anything - loneliness, sadness, depression, anger, you name it and the right book can help!

                                        Libraries have it all.

...having a lovely leave my class loving school is more important than having every single aspect of the curriculum drilled into them.

...children who are happy learn better.

...laughter is one of the most important things in life.

...watching Kid President makes me appreciate everything more (and his giggle, oh my goodness, it makes me laugh with him. I love it! See note above!)

...the old saying about sticks and stones is a bunch of hogwash. Words hurt. It's important to remember that!

Image of child being hurt by words. Your words have power, use them wisely.
...a lot of the anxiety we see in our children these days is from external sources putting unnecessary pressure on them (refer back to the LET THEM BE KIDS! comment)

...I can always find something positive in a situation and, if I think I can't, then I need to look again!

BP quotes

...I am grateful for each new day in my life.

...I have the best job in the world!!!!!


Ms. Hughes

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Gratitude is an Awesome Attitude

Well, we watched Kid President again last week for our Gratitude Journals. We re-watched the one I showed the previous week (check it out here) and then watched the viewers response video. 

As always, the class loved it. There is just something infectious about Kid President! 

The Gratitude Journal response was to the last part of the video where he talks about saying "I Love You" more often. A lot of viewers thought we should say this more often and he agreed. But he pointed out that there are a lot of ways to say it that don't involve using the words. 

So, for their journals, the class had to come up with five ways that they say "I Love You" without using words. Some really got the concept. Some not so much. 

Most of the class said things like doing chores, listening to their parents, playing a game etc. The typical, expected responses to the question. Pretty much what I was expecting and looking for from the bunch. I mean they are only 6 and 7 years old and it was the first time we had discussed something as deep as ways we show our love without words. 

However, my heart melted just a little when I read the one from a student that said one of the ways he showed his love without words was by running and jumping up into his Dad's arms.

This kid is my "out of the box" thinker and he always has a way of seeing things that shows that he gets it but not always in the way that I thought he would get it. Sometimes his thinking is way deeper than I anticipated. He is so unique and I love that about him. 

(The day before I watched this same little guy as he just grooved quietly at the edge of the room to some music I had on as kids came in for Theme Studies . He was so in the moment and it was awesome to see. Did he care if no one else was really dancing to the music I had on? Nope. He was doing his thing and loving it. Hence the reason I love him so much!

What a lucky kid to be able to follow his own drum and know that it is okay. What a lucky kid to be able to show his love in his own way. And what a lucky Dad to have a kid like that.

How do you say I love you without using words?

Ms. Hughes

Monday, February 3, 2014


Yep! It's that time again...

...linking up with Farley over at Oh Boy Fourth Grade on another Currently (didn't I just write the last one?!?!)

So, here's my Currently (written just after 9 p.m. on a quiet Sunday evening.)

listening...every once in awhile I just like to hop all over clicking on whatever songs come up in the sidebar. I've found some pretty great songs that way. But, have to admit that, you still can't beat The Script in my book. I listen to them daily!

loving...I am really enjoying the quiet time at home on Saturdays and Sundays with my daughter staying at my Mum's on those days. It is really the only time that my hubby and I have to talk and just be together. We went out on a date this weekend! We went to a pub close to our house and, wow, they had really good food! I was totally expecting greasy fries and burgers but instead got a lovely Cobb salad and some to die for potato skins. Yum!

thinking...pretty much says it all. I am enjoying  living at my Mum's during the week. The time I get with her to talk, listen to her stories, and cuddle up on the couch is time I will never get again. I am very aware of this and grateful for. each. and. every. second.

wanting...I so want an iPad mini to use at school. I have all these great apps for assessment and note taking that are just too hard to use on my small phone. Have I gotten myself one? No! Instead, I went out and bought my daughter the laptop she needed for school. But (and you are my witnesses!) I am buying for me next!!!!!

needing...staying at Mum's has helped my running a lot, too. She has an old treadmill in the basement and I've been managing 2-3 runs a week on it. I am really loving being back into running. Now if only my body could love it as much as my soul does!

2 truths and a fib...

Yes, I was a synchro swimmer for all those years. Spent over 30 hours a week in the pool and competed at both local, provincial and national levels. For the most part, I enjoyed it. Although, looking back, I have to wonder what life would have been like if I hadn't spent most of my teen years underwater!

Yes, I met my dear hubby at a bar. He worked there. I danced there. 'Nuff said.

No, I do not enjoy driving on the highway. In fact, I don't enjoy driving at all. I don't drive. Never have. I take the bus everywhere or go with hubby in his car. Maybe one day...

And there you are...another Currently done.


Ms. Hughes

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Cooking in the Classroom

As many of you know, I am very, very fortunate to have an amazing Support Worker in my classroom this year. And, as luck would have it, she is also a trained pastry chef!

She has been taking a cooking group every two weeks and making something delish for us to eat! Kids get to cook once in every two months but they get to eat four times! Good deal, right?!

Last week she made Quiche Lorraine with the kids. And there was so much egg mixture left over that we had quiche not once, but twice! Double Yum!!!!

Here's the recipe she used:

24 frozen mini tart shells thawed

4 eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

6 slices ham
1 cup shredded cheese

To Make Filling:
Place tart shells on rimmed baking sheet; divide ham and cheese among shells.

In bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt and pepper; pour into tart shells.

Bake in bottom third of the oven at 375 degrees until pastry is golden and filling is just set (25-30 minutes)

She actually prebaked the shells for a few minutes to avoid the problem we had the last time we used them (they didn't bake through and the 3 o'clock bell was imminent!) but you probably don't need to do that if you are cooking at home.


Ms. Hughes