Breathe

Sometimes, I just get the urge to empty out all of my feelings in the form of writing. This seems to be one of those times… This might be a negative post, it might be a positive one, it might be philosophical.. sometimes I don’t even know where my mind  and fingers will guide me.
My birthday possy
The past two weeks have been pretty tough for me, and this past week has probably been my worst week so far. At the end of my last post, I had just gotten tonsillitis and they put me on two pills four times per day for ten days. Aka 80 pills of antibiotics! I stayed in bed Saturday and Sunday to try to rest my voice as much as possible, and then I had to start work again on Monday. Luckily for me, it was an inset day so it was only teachers and no students. There, I got to find out what my classes were and I soon found out that they were giving me a lot more than I had agreed to. What I THOUGHT I had agreed to was what I’ve been doing for the past six weeks (coming in, giving the class cover work, and leaving) except I’d have regular classes and they’d all be science. What I soon found out was that even though all of the powerpoints and lesson plans were prepared, I still had to print out all of the worksheets, and send in the weekly requests for any equipment I’d need for experiments or demos (which usually ends up taking minimum a half hour each day). I also THOUGHT I had agreed to an 8:30 to 3:30 day, but I found out that I’d be getting a learning family. A learning family is pretty much just homeroom, where you spend 20 minutes with the same students each day and go over announcements, do attendance, etc. The learning family starts at 8:25, but I’m required to come in by 8:10 to get everything ready. I also found out that the following week, I’d be required to come in for parent-teacher interviews (Thursday night and Friday day), and talk to each student’s parent in my learning family. I wasn’t impressed about this because a) I didn’t know the students at all, b) I didn’t agree to it, and c) Thursday night was way outside of my agreed hours. When I discussed this with the dean, she suggested that I move all of my interviews to Friday so I wouldn’t have to worry about coming in on Thursday night. However, I explained that I wasn’t going to inconvenience the parents, as most of them had agreed to Thursday night meetings already. All schools go by a behaviour system so you can get good points and bad points for your house (literally exactly like Harry Potter). If a student in my learning family happens to get too many bad points, they’ll get put on report for a week, meaning that they’d need to make three goals and pass each goal during each class (and get their report signed by a teacher each period). If any of my students end up getting any bad marks on their reports, then they’re required to stay in detention with me. Usually it’s after-school detention but since that’s outside my hours, the dean said that I could do it during my lunch instead (Oh, thanks!). When I asked how long detention should be and if they should bring in work to do (because I’m unfamiliar with detention since we don’t have it in Canada – she was shocked), she replied that they have to sit there in silence with nothing in front of them for 20-30 minutes. And then I was shocked! How the heck is that supposed to help anyone?! I also found out that I had been assigned a learning coach, who later told me that she’d be coming to observe me once a week, and then we’d have to get together and talk about what she had seen, and set targets for my next lesson (how did this all happen?!). I was also under the impression that I’d be taking over classes for a specific teacher, who had great classes that I loved teaching. But I later found out that I’d be taking over for a different teacher, one who mostly had science courses but also two random drama classes (the horror), and one media studies course. In schools here, classes are divided into sets, which is basically the ability level of each student. Usually there’s about 5-7 sets and you’ll have top set, bottom set, and everything else in between, and students get moved up or down a set at the end of each term. Anyway, the teacher I was taking over for seems to have all bottom sets. As in the kids really don’t care

Childhood memories

about being there. So basically my job has consisted of babysitting a bunch of 12-16 year old kids, and trying to prevent bad behaviour before it actually happens. The first week was a bad experience. Tuesday was the first day of actual school. I had to spend the first three periods with my learning family, and then I only ended up teaching one class. Some of the students, I had taught before but others I hadn’t. One student definitely remembered me though, “This teacher’s good, but if you don’t finish your work, this teacher will keep you in after class until you finish it!” I decided to pipe in, “That’s right! And you know what’s great about this class? Guess what’s after it…” The entire class replies, “Lunch?” “Yes! So be prepared to stay in if you don’t get your work done.” I’ve never seen a class put their heads down to start writing so fast! On Thursday, my year 10 students thought it would be okay to have a waterfight in class, which started with splashing each other with water from the sink and ended with someone pouring their entire water bottle on someone’s head, leaving the classroom and everyone’s work absolutely soaked. On Friday, there was an actual physical incident, where two year 9’s continued to taunt each other and when I asked a member of staff to remove them both from the room, they both somehow got their hands around each other’s necks and despite there being three teachers trying to separate them, they WOULD NOT let go! Then I had to fill out a witness form, explaining everything I saw and heard during the incident. The head of science then pulled me aside because two incidents had happened in my classroom and blablabla. Well not to be rude, but maybe you should have given me the well-behaved classes instead of giving those to other teachers and leaving me with the classes that need the most classroom management… Anyway, she said I needed to have seating plans prepared for Monday (which did NOT go well with the students “You have no right to change our seating plans,” “Who are you to change them? You don’t even know us,” etc, etc, and half of each class refused to move until another teacher would come into my class and make them move). I had another incident last week, where two year 11 boys kept bothering each other, and one grabbed the other person’s backpack, put it under the sink, and turned the sink on. As I said, I’m literally babysitting. On top of doing my regular schedule of classes, any time I have a spare period, they usually get me to cover someone else’s class. Therefore, most days I’m working six 1-hour periods, as well as 20 minutes with

My La Ronge girls

my learning family, which I’m pretty sure is more contact time than any other teacher in the school (I now have found out that this might exceed the legal limit of allowed contact time with students). Because I wasn’t given any free time, I was usually staying after school for at least a half hour to an hour in order to print everything out and get everything prepared for the following day. My year 11’s have already written their science exams so whenever they’re in class, they just use it as a work period for math or English. One day, a teacher walked into my room and saw that most students were just chatting and got all mad at them, and then told me that I had to print out math practice exams for them to do, because apparently year 11’s are incapable of studying independently (what the heck?!). So that day, I went and I printed out a bunch of 24-page math exams for the students to do next period, and then I got in trouble for printing too much. So whatever. By that point, I was losing my mind so I just started giving everyone bad behaviour points just to make them listen. For drama class, 40 minutes had gone by and I still wasn’t able to get everyone quiet so I could give instructions. So I said, “As of now, everyone has a C1 (one bad behaviour point). If you want to work it off, you can come over here and I’ll give you instructions.” Well about five people came, but then went around to the rest of the class and told them what they had to do. During one of my science classes, I just started writing people’s names under C1 so they’d be quiet and I could give instructions. “Miss, all you ever do is give C-points, you’re not even a good teacher. You’re supposed to give us a warning first!” “Sorry, I’ve given you plenty of warnings all week, and you still talk while I’m talking. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but this is the only time I’ve had quiet from the entire class which is awesome, cause that means we can actually learn something.” “Well I’ve learnt nothing from you, you’re not a very good teacher.” “Well, if you have a problem with my teaching, you’ll have to talk to the head of science.” “Okay then, I will.” “There’s no need to be disrespectful. You guys are lucky that you got a teacher who’s qualified to teach science, and not a random supply who doesn’t know what they’re talking about.” “Well, I’m not so sure about that…” Seriously?! Argh! (Side note: that student actually apologised for her behaviour today!) I was miserable.. all of this definitely wasn’t what I had agreed to. I decided to complain to my agent. On Thursday, the cover supervisor came to talk to me and said I’d still have to keep the learning family

because they didn’t have enough staff to take over, but I wasn’t required to do the interviews that evening or the following day. “…Are you sure, cause I was under the impression that I had no choice.” “Yeah, you don’t have to come in. If you have stuff to prepare tomorrow, you can still come in, have a free lunch, get everything ready, but you’re not required to do any interviews.” I was still skeptical, so she took me to go talk to someone else. Let’s call her Kathleen. She was really nice, and was very clear that they didn’t expect me to come in, unless head of science wanted me to stay for something on Friday. Great! So I (stupidly) decided to go talk to the deans since they seemed to be the ones in charge of the whole thing, and were still expecting me to come in to do interviews. When I explained what Kathleen had said, they both said that they’d still prefer it if I were there, cause it’s important for the parents to see who their kids interact with everyday. And if it causes a problem, just to let them know what time I’d have to leave by, and they’d try to sort something out. The importance that they put on these meetings made me feel like I had no choice. Get this: If a student’s parent doesn’t show up for their meeting, the student has to stay in isolation until the parent shows up. Isolation is when you’re removed from all of your classes, when you’re not allowed to take part in breaks or lunch with your classmates, and you’re kept completely separate from everyone else. It’s usually used when kids do something really, really bad. Apparently, one kid ended up having to stay in isolation for two and a half weeks until someone

My niece and Godchild

finally attended the meeting! Anyway, anyone who knows me knows that I can’t say no, and that I don’t like to be an inconvenience to anyone. So I somewhat felt obligated to stay there for the meetings. I figured that since most of my meetings were Thursday evening, I could come in on Friday for my last three meetings, get everything ready for next week, and leave early. I stayed at the school til 7:30, got home at 9pm, and got to sleep in a bit the next day since my first meeting wasn’t until 11:30. However, as soon as I got to the school at 10:30, the head of science pulled me aside and said that she had just been informed that I wouldn’t be getting paid for that day. Ummm.. What?? She tried to get it sorted out and said how embarrassed she was with how unorganised the school was. We went to go talk to the dean, who was equally just as surprised that I wasn’t getting paid. She said she would talk to Kathleen and let me know if I would be getting paid or not. “But if you’re not getting paid, you can always stay and volunteer!” Yeah no, I’m good thanks… Anyway, while I was waiting, I went and talked to my learning family partner, who said that since Kathleen’s the vice-principal, she’d know what’s going on. What? Kathleen’s the vice-principal? Well that would have been nice to know before… I don’t know why it took over an hour to figure everything out but by the time Kathleen came to talk to me, I had already done two of the meetings. She pulled me aside and asked whether or not she had made herself clear the previous day and I said yes, but I was told the exact opposite from the deans. She told me that from now on, I only take her word and no one else’s. I was so mad, especially cause no one specifically told me that if I came in on Friday, I wouldn’t get paid for it. I had been under the impression that I still had to come in, whether I was doing interviews or not. And had I known that piece of information ahead of time, I could have asked my agency to find me work at another school, so I COULD get paid. I quickly got all of my stuff ready for Monday, and got out of there! So definitely not a good first two weeks, and the beginning of this week hasn’t been any better. I’m at the point now where I constantly just think about quitting. I’ll probably age like twenty years just from this job. And apparently this used to be my favourite school…? Anyway, I kept myself busy every night with friends, which helped a lot! Dinners and movie nights made the week go by a lot more quickly.

Bamfield reunion!
This week, I’ve felt the most homesick that I’ve ever felt since moving here.. I think even moreso than during the Christmas season. Maybe it’s just cause my birthday is coming up, or maybe it’s the realization that I get to come home in 97 days, or the fact that I’ve now been gone for over 8 months, or that random people keep writing me and memories seem to be popping up out of nowhere, and it really makes me miss those moments. I keep remembering how so many people have taken the time to be there for my birthdays, and how there was no such thing as me having a small birthday. My birthday was that one day when everyone I cared about would be there. When I got to see everyone in the same room – laughing, smiling, talking, and just being able to enjoy each other’s company. Last year was probably the smallest get-together I had, but it’s resonated with me because it’s also the first time that I had a get-together with both my friends and family, and I didn’t try to keep them separate from each other. It was also the only time that my entire family has been together for my birthday in ten years. My mom has always been working on my birthday since I was 16, and then I’ve either been in France or in Toronto, or in Mexico. But my 25th birthday was the first birthday that my mom, dad, sister, and I had been together in ten years. And the icing on the cake was Yang, Ron, and Evan also being there! So this year, it’s quite difficult for me NOT to look back and wish I could go back to that moment. They always say that it’s not the quantity of friends that counts, but the quality. And I have to say that I’m pretty lucky that I can’t even count the amount of close friends and family members I have, because when I walk into that room full of people, I know that they’re all there for me and that I’ve been blessed to have multiple amazing relationships. Then again, relationships are something I don’t take lightly. I’ve always been a firm believer that everyone comes into my life for a reason. I don’t believe in forming a relationship with someone just because it’s convenient at the time, or because I ‘just want to see where things go.’ I bond with the people who bring out the best in me, who I trust fully, and who give me that buzz of happiness whenever I spend time with them. And every single one of my relationships have had at least one rough patch, but it’s the people who are willing to work through it and who I’m willing to put in the effort for who I’m still friends with today. And I’m extremely grateful that those people looked at our relationship just as I did, thinking “letting this friendship go isn’t an option.. I’m willing to work through this, no matter how difficult it is or however long it takes.” Friendship is a two-way street and I’m so thankful that there are so many people who still put in the effort. It’s those friendships where we can go days, weeks, or months without talking to each other but when we meet up, we pick

My family at my birthday 🙂

up where we left off. Those relationships when you know exactly when to laugh, offer a shoulder to cry on, or just mess with each other for the fun of it. Where you can happily just sit there in silence and just appreciate each other’s company. And I’m really missing that at this time. While I’m building my own relationships over here, I know that most close relationships don’t happen overnight, and most of my relationships have been around for multiple years. But I just want everyone to know that even if you don’t hear from me all the time (or ever), just know that I still think about you often. Love always

P.S. With this post, I’ve obviously decided to include some of my favourite moments of the year with some of my favourite people!
Breathe – Seeb, Neev

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