A Fresh Start with Spring Goals

I recently read Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer with a book club of people across Canada. We were amazed by the numerous messages throughout the book. The author is a Potawatomi woman and mother as well as a botanist. She encourages readers to use two-eyed seeing, meaning to see the world through an Indigenous lens as well as a scientific one.

This leads me to thinking about the medicine wheel and the teachings of the sunrise, the East, the beginning of life and the season of spring. Although I am Irish-Canadian, these teachings resonate with me more than the idea of a new year in January. The natural world is bustling with energy as buds burst into leaves and blossoms form on flowers. Birds are singing out and the bunnies are appearing in my neighbourhood. 

This energy transfers into our classrooms as well and we may need to re-establish routines that change as wet weather brings muddy shoes and cool frosty mornings bring layers of sweaters and jackets one day and then t-shirt weather the next. Spring is a natural time for all of us to review the goals we wish to reach before the end of the school year.

Personally, I am building an understanding of the theme of reciprocity from Braiding Sweetgrass. Kimmerer explains it as “Nature gives us so much; the only thing one can do in the face of such profound generosity is to turn around and do the same.”

My choices at the grocery store impact the planet’s health as well as my own. I know I cannot always buy organic or local food but I’m doing it more often than I was. I’m also adding native pollinator plants to my garden to help the ecosystem where I live. It’s a start.

Professionally, I’m working on how to develop rapport with students quickly as an occasional teacher. I enter their classroom community as a guest teacher hoping they will feel safe and respected. Some strategies I’ve adopted include quickly learning their names, using a seating plan, giving the safety talk and interspersing mindfulness activities throughout the day.

If you are reviewing your goals this spring, I encourage you to be gentle with yourself. Be realistic about what can be achieved in the next two months. 

One suggestion for student goal setting is to include daily goal setting in your morning meeting time and take time to reflect on previous goals. A wonderful picture book to illustrate this point is The Bad Seed by Jori John. One year I had a student identify with the main character and then he set goals for self-improvement. It was very inspiring to see him do the work needed to make positive changes in his life.

Whatever happens with you this spring, I hope you enjoy this incredible season of renewal!

Early Spring Trillium

 

food for, as, and of thought

food for, as, of thought April 2024

Food is something we all have in common. Most of us recharge body and mind 3 times a day plus a few snacks in between. The snack drawer is topped up on the regular behind my desk. I eat. Therefore I am. Apologies to Descartes.

Our relationships to and with food come in many different forms. There are many who follow diets based on religious affiliation, allergies, health issues, or life choices too. In a past post, I shared a personal passion for snack foods, and how it felt like I was eating my feelings at times. For this post, I want to take a different approach by asking you to think about food security and how this is affecting us all at school. 

Let’s start with some observations and info

  1. Not everyone eats breakfast before they come to school. That goes for staff as much as students. One might be a function of time, but it might be a function of funds as well. Nevertheless, kids are coming to school hungry and it is showing in many different ways from lacklustre levels of energy to higher levels of distraction. Our school breakfast program is open twice a week and serves hot nutritious meals for 30 to 50 students before the first bell chimes. At recess everyone has access to fresh fruit or whole grain snacks who may be in need of a boost before lunchtime. 
  2. Not everyone who brings a lunch to school is going to have another meal until the same time tomorrow. At our school there are always extra pizza slices or pasta for students who, known to staff, might be in need when lunch is a little light that day. 
  3. Not everyone has a parent or guardian to prepare a meal for them to start or end the day. We are all aware of the hours families and caregivers must put in at work to be able to afford it all. Sometimes there are reasons when life at home has shifted, and students are left fending a little more often for themselves when that happens. 
  4. There are students in our buildings whose families are relying on food banks to make sure that there is something in the cupboards.

Food is expensive. Healthy foods, such as fresh fruit and vegetables in particular, are not always an option as costs increases are continually disproportionate to most incomes. With food bank use steadily rising, access to food is becoming an equity issue as much as access to affordable housing and living wages. Not everyone is managing in this current economy when shelter, food, fuel, and necessities costs are at all time highs.

How does this look in your school? What supports are in place for students who are hungry where you teach? How do we support learners during difficult times? What if every school was able to offer breakfast and lunch programs? 

The times have changed for all of us. Being mindful of this has led me to a deeper understanding of what students and their families are facing now. 

 food = privilege

Based on what some of my students present and past have shared, it seems they spend as much time on activities in the evenings and on weekends as they do at school. What is the right amount of activity for a balanced and enjoyable life? It seems that they spend as much time on activities in the evenings and on weekends than they do at school? 

Since some students are out later in the evenings, they are coming to school tired and hungry because of sleeping in later and being rushed at the begining of each day choosing not to eat or unable to eat.This is especially difficult for students at early start schools. A recent student survey at my school echoed this fact from many students. 

What happens then is that this cycle, on repeat, can take a toll on students very quickly at a time when their physical and cognitive development depends on enough sleep and regular meals. The brain and body need time to consolidate the days events and recover to do it all again the next morning. 

Even with breakfast clubs, snack programs, and my own personal stash of peanut free healthy snacks to share with students; we are not addressing the systemic issues related to hunger in our communities. Kids can’t learn when they are exhausted and or hungry.

It is not a far-fetched notion to equate off the chart home prices in our neighbourhoods with the fact that students are not getting enough to eat. In fact the rise in housing costs, interest rates, and job insecurity have become greater factors in this problem more than ever before.

Recent statistics from the Hunger Report show that food bank usage in Ontario is steadily increasing. The reality is that more students are coming to our schools hungry. I am worried that we are near a tipping point and have yet to realize the social, mental, and physical costs around access to food are having and will have on our students over time. 

An early April 2024 announcement, by the Federal government, to address food security in the classroom has come as a timely support for this crucial health issue. As a result, there is now funding available to provide an additional 400 000 meals per year above and beyond current amounts, but still only scratches the surface of a larger issue. 

At my school, we are holding two, very well attended, breakfast club days each week. We are also managing to provide healthy snack options including whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, but the funds for programs like ours are rarely infinite. The additional funds might well serve to expand the duration and number of students served while a more permanent solution can be implemented. 

In a recent response to the Federal government’s commitment to fight hunger in our schools, the Canadian Teachers Federation shared, “We know that the lack of access to food disproportionately impacts children from lower-income families and those from racialized and Indigenous communities.” It is scary to think that access to food could ever be equitable to privilege in this era. Yet, it is now a keystone issue throughout the education system. 

A recent ETFO media release joined in calling on the current provincial government to distribute these crucial funds in support of at risk students. I ask you all to add your voices in support of students and join in the fight against food insecurity in our schools.

 

An antidote to loneliness

Even in noisy classrooms, busy hallways, and seas of faces, there are endless ways students might be lonely. Maybe they feel different, like they don’t quite belong. Perhaps they feel like they can’t contribute, that their voices and opinions don’t matter.  Some may feel like they can’t talk to anyone, at all.

Any child could feel these things, for any number of reasons. And having worked in ESL for many years now, I have come to see that multilingual language learners might be lonely in ways that are typically unexpected, in situations which otherwise might seem innocuous …

Perhaps loneliness might be born of listening to a class novel, read out loud by their teacher for 20 minutes … while the thrilling tale is open to all their classmates, it remains only a hum of disjointed sounds to the student just learning English.

Maybe loneliness finds them while staring confoundedly at a worksheet … devoid of illustrations and graphics, an intimidating wall of text stares back at them, crammed margin to margin with indecipherable script.

And loneliness might show itself at the sound of their classmates’ voices, at the sight of their hands raised … knowing that their peers are answering, participating, and understanding … while they themselves cannot.

This blight of isolation has an elixir, however. There is no one single recipe that produces this redeeming draught, but many educators know the basic ingredients. Luckily, my role affords me glimpses into this creative process, across many schools, in countless classrooms. School days, and weeks, and months reveal of a pinch of this, a dash of that, strong foundations, and ingenious combinations. Here’s a smattering of this years’ reimagined approaches:

A novel study, but with copies in multiple languages… so everyone is involved in the magic of the tale, and the meaningful exploration of related themes and topics afterwards.

A worksheet, dense script lightened by illustrations and open spaces, meaning unlocked through visuals and strategic translation, transforming that wall of text to an invitation, a welcoming-in.

A lesson, relevant to the lived experiences of students in the class, its ciphered speech slowly made comprehensible as teachers point to pictures of vocabulary they are talking about, visual clasps that fasten meaning to words … and the slight slowing of the voice as this happens, like stopping briefly on a stroll for a warm greeting.

As I’ve said before, each classroom is different, each teacher’s response tailored to the needs of the students before them. But each wonderful concoction has the same effect. And I never tire of seeing all the various ways our teaching can become that beautiful remedy, that antidote to loneliness.

Uh-O Canada – A Teachable Moment for Inclusiveness

The schools where I work as an occasional teacher play O Canada in the morning. I’ve been listening to this anthem for decades and am happy there is a movement to have diverse and inclusive versions of the anthem played at various schools. Recently, I was at a school for two days in a row and on both days they played an older version of O Canada with the lyric “all thy sons command” in it. As you know that line was changed in 2018 to “ in all of us command.”

As the anthem played I wondered if any students had picked up on the different lyrics so I asked my grade 4 students what they had noticed about the variations in the versions of O Canada that their school played. Their comments focussed on the style of singing and the style of music. When I asked them about the lyrics there was one student who was able to identify the word “sons”  in the version we had heard that day.

Grabbing this teachable moment I realized we had an opportunity for a topic for their journal entry.  I decided the students would benefit from hearing the 2023 story of the anthem being performed at the Toronto Raptors game by Jully Black. Black changed the words to “our home on native land” instead of “our home and native land”. We watched her performance and then viewed an interview with her.  I asked the class to reflect about whether or not the lyrics of O Canada make a difference.

We then posted the current lyrics from the federal government website and I gave the students a chance to reflect in their journals about the lyrics. Should the lyrics go back to what they were originally? Should the lyrics stay the same as they are currently posted? Are there any lyrics that could be changed to make the Canadian national anthem more inclusive? It was an open opportunity for students to do some critical thinking and explain their reasoning in their writing.

After some discussion, the students settled into their work fairly quickly. I was only supply teaching for a couple of periods so I was impressed that we were able to have an honest discussion and get some thoughts on paper. I was pleased to see that there were students who noticed other words in O Canada that could be changed to make the national anthem more inclusive. 

One of the students had explained clearly that the school should stop playing the version of O Canada with “all they sons command”.  She backed up her statement with solid reasoning.  With her permission I showed her journal entry to the principal and she promised to have that version taken out of the rotation. The student was all smiles knowing that her work had made a difference.

Unexpected teachable moments are one of the great benefits of teaching. I think our day plans should always have an asterisk with a reminder to go with the flow of energy that the students bring. Keeping them engaged with relevant material and empowering them to make positive change keeps everyone motivated to be present. I hope you have many teachable moments this year.

Piece by piece

Last fall I wrote a blog entry about our union local’s efforts to identify The Missing Pieces in its office space, the things that may unintentionally inhibit members’ participation in union events and workshops. The HWETL Disabilities and Accessibility Issues Committee organized this initiative and came up with a one-question survey that we asked anonymously at all union events, in hopes of identifying barriers:

“Is there anything missing from this space that you need in order to have access to the same information, and the same opportunity to participate, as everyone else in the room?”

The answers we received were illuminating.

We got responses that spanned everything from lighting brightness, to speech amplification, to the amount of space between tables and in aisles. Some of the answers we did not anticipate … but isn’t that always the case? We cannot know how life unfolds for those whose experiences and identity we do not share.

And the union got to work right away, making changes to promote inclusion, just as we would in our classrooms. Making better spaces. 

And this process reaffirmed for me the importance of continuing to question things as they are, even if they seem “fine” to me. What is that saying? There are a great many things we know. And there are a great many things we don’t know. But there are even more things that we don’t know we don’t know.

So for now, this survey is a start. It is most definitely not an ending. Wishing all of us luck in discovering tomorrow what we do not know today, and making our students’ lives ever better for it.

Policy Based Program Adaptations for ELLs in FSL Programs

French programming for newcomer English language learners, or ELLs, is an area of professional learning that does not get as much attention as areas like mathematics or language arts. On the surface, it seems obvious – shouldn’t French language acquisition for newcomers be similar to that of their Canadian born peers?

The answer, of course, is far from simple. First of all, newcomer ELLs are not a monolithic group. Some ELLs will come with knowledge of the Latin alphabet, others will come with limited literacy skills in their home language, and others may be experiencing a silent phase as they adjust to learning two new languages. Many ELLs will adjust to French learning with little difficulty, and some may even pursue French learning for years to come.

Complicating the issue further are the different perspectives that educators have about teaching French to students who are also learning English. However, it is important to note that elementary ELLs should not be exempt from learning French from both a policy and equity perspective. French instruction is for all students, and if we exclude or discourage students from French learning we bar access to an important part of the curriculum.

In my last blog post on ELLs in FSL programs, I discussed the different perspectives that educators may have about students that are learning French at the same time as they are learning English. In this post, we will delve into the practical side of things. Exactly how can French teachers adapt programming for ELLs?

Get to Know Your Newcomer Students

To program effectively for ELLs it’s important to know what backgrounds they bring to the classroom. Here are a few questions you will want answered:

Is the student receiving ESL or ELD program adaptations? When a student is receiving English Literacy Development, or ELD programming, it means they have two or more years of interrupted formal schooling. Students in ELD programs will be building their foundational literacy and numeracy skills, and may require extensive scaffolding in language and literacy activities.

What is the student’s home language, or L1? This is an important question because the student may still be familiarizing themselves with the Latin alphabet, which is used in English and French.

What is the student’s position on the Steps to English Proficiency Continua (STEP)? STEP is the tool used by Ontario educators to understand the student’s language acquisition progress in English. Knowing exactly where the student is in their English language proficiency is important, especially if the educator is using English as a scaffold to teach French.

Modifying Learning Expectations from a Policy Perspective

When newcomer ELLs are in the early steps of language acquisition in English (ex. pre-STEP 1-STEP 2), they may receive modifications to the grade level curriculum to meet their needs. In French, modifications may also be made, particularly when students are in the intermediate grades.

As the Ontario Curriculum, French as a Second Language states:

“For students in the early stages of language acquisition, teachers may need to modify the curriculum expectations in some or all curriculum areas. For example, if an English language learner begins the study of French in Grade 7, it may be desirable to modify the expectations to meet the student’s level of readiness and needs. Most English language learners require accommodations for an extended period, long after they have achieved proficiency in everyday English.”

It is important to note that ESL/ELD curriculum modifications typically involve adjustments to the depth and breadth of the grade level curriculum expectation. To make French instruction equitable, and to set clear learning goals for newcomer multilingual students it is critical to understand and apply modifications when needed for the student to be successful.

Another great benefit to applying modifications properly is that it takes a lot of stress away from the workflow of the educator. All too often, I find that teachers are concerned and sometimes overwhelmed by the idea that they are tasked by teaching students with emerging language proficiency in English. Having clear goals for French language output and assessment brings clarity to how they can plan and program for the student.

How to Modify French Learning Expectations

So what exactly does a modified French learning expectation look for an emergent speaker of English?

There are a couple of tools French teachers can utilize to modify French learning goals. The first tool is the STEP Continua, which is used by educators of ELLs in Ontario to understand the student’s level of English language proficiency. Pre STEP 1 to STEP 3, or the early phase of language acquisition, is typically when students are acquiring everyday, interpersonal language skills. It is in this phase of language learning that curriculum modifications are most often made.

The second tool a French teacher might consider using is the CEFR, or the Common European Framework of Reference for Language. This tool is widely used by additional language educators in Ontario and around the world to understand the student’s level of target language proficiency. Pre A1-B1 are considered early levels of language acquisition.

Both tools are language acquisition continua that can be used as an assessment for learning tool to identify what entry points a student might have into the curriculum. Teachers can use the descriptors of language behaviours to adapt learning goals for the student to support accessible programming and equitable assessment.

Let’s explore how we can use the STEP Continua for a grade 7 emergent speaker of English (pre-STEP 1) in a core French program. We will just focus on the ESL STEP Continua to align practice with other subject areas in the Ontario curriculum. Let’s start by looking at the original curriculum expectation:

C1.1 Using Reading Comprehension Strategies: identify a variety of reading comprehension strategies and use them before, during, and after reading to understand texts in modelled, shared, guided, and independent reading contexts.

Next, let’s look at the STEP Continua. (STEP 1 grades 7-8, Reading)

Demonstrate understanding by responding to a highly visual text, using a combination of visuals, drawings, L1, pretaught vocabulary and gestures

Read and follow simply worded instructions with visual support

Use concepts of English print (e.g., directionality of print, English alphabet, sound/symbol patterns, and upper and lower case letters)

We can tell by this descriptor that the student would require a significant amount of scaffolds when reading at this very early step of language acquisition. This might include the option to use the home language to support comprehension, and simplified and highly visual texts.

A modification of the French expectation might be:

Identify and use reading comprehension strategies, such as translanguaging, visual cues, and using pretaught vocabulary to read teacher and student selected French language texts.

Assessment and Reporting

As per Growing Success and the Ontario FSL curriculum, when assessing ELLs in French, teachers should use the modified French curriculum expectations. When the student is being assessed according to modified learning expectations, the “ESL/ELD Box” would be checked on the provincial report card. As the Ontario FSL curriculum states,

When curriculum expectations are modified in order to meet the language-learning needs of English language learners, assessment and evaluation will be based on the documented modified expectations. Teachers will check the ESL/ELD box on the progress report card and the provincial report card only when modifications have been made to curriculum expectations to address the language needs of English language learners (the box should not be checked to indicate simply that they are participating in ESL/ELD programs or if they are only receiving accommodations).

Summing it Up

Part of making French language instruction equitable and inclusive is providing ELLs with an appropriately adapted program based on the curriculum and tools like the STEP continua. Knowing how to adapt program according to policy will ensure that the language instruction is intentional and grounded in learning expectations that provide an entry point into the French curriculum for the student.

Display Case Ideas

At the beginning of the year, it was decided that the display case in the front of the school would be designed each month by a specific grade or class. They would determine what they would present for the month to focus on a specific thing happening that month. April was our turn and I left it up to my class to determine what we should do. 

A few students took the lead by researching prominent holidays, events in our board as well as awareness that was occurring during the month of April. They came up with a long list and presented it to the class. They did a bit of math to determine that the display case could be easily divided into five sections (four corners and the middle area) so they allowed each student to vote for five of the topics. The five topics that received the most votes were:

  • Autism Awareness Month 
  • Ramadan 
  • Easter
  • Earth Day 
  • International Day of Pink

After the results, it was time to get to work. My students were asked to work in groups of five to collaborate and come up with a display section for the topic of their choice. Each group was asked to come up with a creative way to display some visuals, research and ideas to celebrate/reflect on each topic. They had about 120 minutes and did a great job. They created posters with relevant information about the topics as well as eye-catching visuals for all students and staff that will be walking by the display case. For Earth Day and the International Day of Pink, students generated lists of ways our school will be celebrating/that they could celebrate. Then, one student from each group came down to the display case to hang their work. See photo of finished product. 

Does your school have a display case? Consider allowing a class/grade team to decorate the case each month for the next school year. 

(IMAGE: Photo of display case with student work as described in blog.)

kedd

I could hear her voice from the hall as I approached. It had the tone and cadence of a lesson that is going well, guiding students in a steady flow. I opened the door quietly. As I stepped inside the classroom the full volume of her words, amplified by the sound field system, suddenly surrounded me in an acoustic hug. And there she was at the front, wearing her mic headset, holding a book, and addressing the class. Her students were looking up at her, and then back to their desktops, engaged in the task she was explaining. Her words effortlessly transitioned from English to Hungarian, back and forth. The class was clearly used to hearing other languages in instruction, as evidenced by their intense focus on the activity, attending to her words with casual ease and unfazed expressions. This was, it seemed, a typical Tuesday for them.

While this teacher is fluent in Hungarian, I have also seen her use greetings and phrases in other languages too. And whenever a Multilingual Language Learner joins her class, she always welcomes them, and fully includes them in learning. It shows, too. Her new Hungarian-speaking student was all smiles. 

What an inspiring example of a multilingual learning environment, where first language is used to review and teach content. Where it is used for communication, expression, and connection. In a classroom where it is normal to hear and recognize the value of other languages. 

It is wonderful happenstance that this teacher can speak the same language as her new student. But there are many strategies teachers can use even if they do not have a language in common with the MLLs in their class. For a quick list of high-yield, low prep strategies that enable MLLs to follow whole-class lessons, my blog entry Let that be a lesson for everyone goes over some of the main ones. And for a description of these strategies in action in an actual lesson, Beginner ESL Class: Fluid Dynamics and Bernoulli’s Principle showcases another amazing teacher’s efforts to make her whole-class lessons accessible to all students, regardless of English language proficiency. 

When I think of both these educators, when I picture their lessons in my mind, I see the ways in which their teaching included students who might otherwise have sat in lonely silence. Their efforts ensured that the opposite occurred. And so, in the languages of their new students, Gracias, شكرًا لك, Köszönöm.

Dreaming- The Brain’s Last Laugh

On March 31st, one of the last things I thought about before going to sleep was that I had not organized an April Fool’s joke for the morning. When my kids were little or when I had a class of my own I would often have some little April Fool’s thing going on. But now as a semi-retired teacher doing supply teaching it hadn’t really been on my radar. And besides this year April Fool’s Day fell on a holiday Monday and I had a busy weekend. I was looking forward to really relaxing on April 1st.

My brain had other ideas. 

I’ve had my share of teacher dreams. You know the ones that start in August and you’re worrying about not going to school on the right day or that you haven’t worn the right clothes or maybe any clothes. As I aged I started to have dreams about my teeth falling out and I’ve had dreams where I was blind and plenty of driving dreams where the brakes don’t work or the car is going in reverse only.

In the predawn hours of April 1st I was dreaming of a perfectly relaxing day at the beach. I had food and drink packed, a great novel, sandals and a floppy hat. I knew there was a school nearby and in this dream I planned to visit the school to use the washroom. I settled in the beach chair briefly when I realized that I would have to make my first trip to the school.

In this dream universe I was going into a school that I was familiar with because I had supplied there before. I arrived at the school just as the students were entering and the hallways were chaotic. A teacher spotted me and called out that she had been looking for me and that I would need to be in her class for the next 40 minutes. 

The look of shock on my face must have been quite noticeable to her because she explained that my name was on the board in the office and I had a schedule of prep coverage to do that day. 

At this point I really wondered what was going on. Was I dreaming? I had many questions. Wasn’t today was supposed to be a holiday? Why would I planning to use the school washroom on a holiday? How could I forget that I was supposed to be at work? I was sent into a swirling panic thinking I’d be teaching in my beach cover up. I snapped out of my deep sleep and into an awakened state of confusion.

I opened my calendar and there was the explanation I needed.

April Fools!

lost and found

I am not sure why the title of the thought stream to follow sprung forth to wrap this month, but I will roll with it just to see where it will flow.

We have had one heck of a March at the speed of learning. With 70% of the seeds of this instructional year plan already planted, it looks to be an exciting and busy 3 months of tending, nurturing, and harvesting ahead.

It’s Spring. It’s new years and reflection and remembrance for some. It’s resurrection time and Ramadan for others. It’s also the annual rebirth of nature and reflection that we have all been waiting since the first snows of winter blanketed our outdoor spaces.

lost and found

I have been thinking a lot about what is mine and what is not. I can pinpoint the most recent moment that precipitated the throughline of this piece too.

In our school caretaker’s work room there was a dolly full of about 8 large plastic bags and a number of boxes. Curious, I took a closer look and happened to see that the bags were full of clothes that had accumulated between the Winter to Spring breaks. 8 bags. This got me wondering about a couple of things beyond the obvious: How could a kid lose boots or a winter coat and not know they were missing?

Perhaps I have gotten used to this scene playing out over the past years in schools, and have become comfortable in knowing that the thrift shops in our community always benefit from receiving the goods. Hence why they were on the dolly ready to be delivered. However, a few thoughts still linger.

I started to wonder about how much we have to lose before we realize/recognize/know it’s gone? Is it too late once we do? Have you ever found something that had been lost and forgotten about? This seems to happen each time I organize my materials, especially for science, for a new unit and when I move classrooms/schools.

In those moments I am hit with multiple memories of past lessons and classes. These times have also come with my own version of a Marie Kondo intervention. Was this item useful? Did it bring my students knowledge and understanding? Does it bring me joy when I used it? Will it still be able to serve its purpose going forward?

Many times, the answers have been no, not really, and result in a new home in the recycling bin. This has been hard for me as I have horder tendencies when viewed through the educational lens. I am guilty of keeping things even when they no longer serve or survive their purpose. It has only been recently that I have worked through this challenge.

Happy to say that my own personal dolly loads have decreased as the years go on. To this day, I do not regret recycling or giving away any of my resources although I have retained some digital versions of a few on USB.

So what about losing someone?

Spring is also the time when many educators seek new schools, get surplused, or retire. I know this very well being on my 5th school in 15 years. The necessity/choice to make a move can be exhilarating, nervewracking or both. In each of my cases, it meant losing one community and then finding it again but in a new ecosystem.

Along the way, I have tried to maintain some connection with staff from each place, but it also comes with the need to accept that absence makes you irrelevant when you are not sharing the same spaces. The pandemic really amplified this fact as we used to be able to catch up at PD or larger conferences, but those opportunities/reunions have yet to return. Whenever it does happen though, reminds me of the positive experiences gained from those times together. Despite the distances, some strong friendships have remained regardless of the bricks we work within now. Even though there are few guarantees when making a move, the opportunity for growth will be there for you.

I guess my point here is that it is worth the effort to keep in touch even if it is only once a year. Yes it can be time consuming, but it can also be a breath of fresh air, like Spring, to hear from someone you used to work with when they reach out. I also know that it can be equally joyous not to hear from others. Thankfully that is not the majority of my experience, but I won’t speak for former colleagues.

Sometimes you have to get lost to get found and whether it is in reinventing your classroom approach, moving schools, or seeking out connections with past and present Spring offers us a perfect time to weigh what is important and not so important, what brings us joy and what can be appreciated when looking back.

I wish all of this for you whether you move, move on, or stay put for another year. May yours be the joy that fills those spaces.