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February: Uneventful

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How many times can you invest into a piece of work or creation only to have it brushed aside, complained over, and not appreciated before you give up? It has been hard over the past 6 months to work endlessly and churn out material and curriculum weekend after weekend and only have it met with groaning and moaning, while watching plans that I was excited about fail or not go as the way I had hoped.  I watched the Cheese Rolling episode on We Are The Champions on Netflix and it has become how I explain to others how I feel my year is going. It feels like I tripped back in October and I've given up on trying to get back on my feet so we're just going to tumble until it stops and hope for the best. The month of February always seems to be a dreadful one, even if it is only 28 days long. Even though the month has been challenging and tiresome, from switching back to in person and having our March Break postponed, we press on! Unfortunately, there isn't really much of a choice. 

January: A Month Online

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Tomorrow, after being out of school for 7 weeks, 4 which were online, we return to our first full day of in-class learning of 2021. I am expecting that I'll be completely exhausted with a hard crowd to work with (most of my students are not looking forward to be back in school), and oxygen deprived (as new restrictions mean we must have masks on in class and during recess outside). But before we look too far ahead, let's look back. The past month of remote learning has been in many ways quite a gift. I had wondered what killing momentum for the winter break meant when it came to starting up school again, so to go from no school to only about 50% was a good step up (we only had 150 mins of synchronous learning each day). Teaching the upper grades meant my teaching time was in the afternoon from 12:30-3:30 which meant I didn't have to get up at 6 or 7, and didn't need to drive in the dark to set up my classroom. Teaching from home paused all the recess duties and dealing

A Hand in Every Tree

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I don't know how you and your family spend the first day of the year, but in 2021, mine spent 3 hours mapping out a family tree with all our relatives and extended family members. I'll be the first to admit that whenever Chinese New Year comes around (which is soon!), I always forget who we are seeing, what to call them (in Chinese, titles are different depending on which side of the family they're on and if they are older or younger in respect to other family members - it isn't just mere "auntie" and "uncle"), and most importantly how they are related to us. In my defence though, we usually only see them just once a year. I've tried different memory tricks to remember who's who but alas, no success.  The three hours included calling close family in attempts to track down names (chinese names, english names and nicknames), country of residences and any standout notes (one of them is actually a professional and competitive ballroom dancer!) as

December: The End of A Term

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The final school week of 2020 felt a bit like a scramble, an unleashing of whatever I could just to pass the finish line with a Christmas movie in hand (which now have become 3 overdue library DVDs sitting on my teacher's desk). "How has teaching been?" - "a rollercoaster ride" is an answer which clumps a plethora of emotions and stresses, ups and downs at high speeds but never a breath until the screeching halt that was Christmas break. I can't say it was all bad; and I am told regularly, "you're a first year teacher, it is supposed to be hard - you can't be so hard on yourself, but the fact that you are shows that you really care."  I care - I definitely do. I have felt the weight of what it means to be a teacher, and even at my teaching placements throughout teacher's college - I was highly aware that though I was just a student teacher and I was learning, these were real souls I was teaching - this ain't no game. At the same tim

He is making everything new!

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It seems like day after day there is more news about the sadness and sickness that crawls through our nations, local communities and lives. News of cancer, mental health and depression, news of the passing of both young and old, news of broken bones and broken families. Maybe it's the current health situation and maybe it's because we're expecting "Christmas cheer" but the news weighs heavy on all our hearts.  Be it the pain and sickness, or the sin and corruption we see in our world today, God's Word hits it right on the head when it says that all creation groans in eager longing for the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:18-23). The health crisis that we've spent our year in has been a year long advent as we groan and take on each day waiting for lockdowns to end and normalcy to return. We don't know when this will come to an end. It reminds me of the prophecies that were told of Christ's coming as families and generations waited and longed for t

November: The Dreamt Ideal, The Reasonable Expectations & The Actual Reality

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This weekend has been a whirlwind as I worked through my first wave of report cards. Be it the marking, the comments or the reflections, I can see why this isn't a favourite part of the job for teachers. It was difficult because while teaching is messy - be it the spilling of papers out of desks, the chasing of late assignments, the tending to student needs, to building of character, to attending to independent education plans or the nagging of other miscellaneous considerations, it somehow needs to be consolidated into neat letters and numbers on a piece of a paper three times a year. It doesn't help that most of the time as a first year teacher, I don't know what I am doing. Shooting in The Dark "Little by little the bird builds its nest."   Cultivating and building a foundation takes time and it doesn't happen immediately. Birds are careful in crafting their nests, considering what materials to use and how they intertwine with each other to produce a strong

October: Our World in Four Squares

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I recognize that we are already a week into November and if I don't write this now, it probably won't get done. October flew by so quickly and I don't know if I have all that many new reflections to report on. One of the only things that came up again and again was Four Square during recess.  Four Square, a simple game of hand ball where four players take turns defending their quadrant whilst trying to get another player out. It seems like a simple game, in fact, it should be quite simple but whenever I was on recess duty and watched my students play, it was absolute mayhem.  Tornado! Tea Party! Poisonous Tea Party! Bomb! were some of the rule variations that were called and I have no idea what was going on. What I did see what our world within a game of four square. Every couple of minutes the rules would change (depending who was in the King position) but it lead to endless arguments and fighting, demands for redos and a barrage of finger pointing. Eyes would turn to me i