Friday, July 17, 2015

Meet my dear Jonny....

So it's been so long yet again since I've blogged. A lot has happened since November.... new people, places, teaching, and reading. I will try to separate my thoughts out so that it makes sense to those who occasionally read my blog.

First, meet my lovely boyfriend, Jonny. You will have to rewind to 26th July 2014, where we met at a wedding for friends of mine that I met on a holiday to Spain with Oakhall.... Just proof that that trip was an immense experience and that God works in mysterious ways! The funny thing is we danced together, yet we hardly spoke a word to each other that day... or a few days later when a few of us went out for drinks. I do admit I was a bit surprised when he added me as a friend on fb. Unfortunately, the next day I had to catch a plane to Canada where I was spending my summer. We did message regularly through out the summer.

September came around so I returned to my Exeter home and went back to teaching. Soon after we started to make plans to meet up... I didn't expect that he would then drive 4 hours to spend time with ME in Exeter... He showed up at my door with a bouquet of beautiful flowers... It was then that I knew it was a date... :). We went out for pancakes... Bacon and maple syrup.... Yummy! He took me to my first rugby game, then we went to Zizzy's for a loveLy evening meal... He then walked me home and headed 4 hours back to his house... All in one day! I still can't believe that he was willing to drive 8 hours in one day to see me! Now that's love.

Anyway, it's been 9 months since then and we have spend lots of time travelling to visit each other.  We've gone on many adventures in London, walks to various beaches, mountains, and eventually to Canada to visit my family. Just recently I've accepted a new job near Jonny... I will still be teaching Maths, but at a Church of England school... Apparently, many teachers at this school go to the same church that I will go to with Jonny. I'm so excited to be teaching where other Christians are... And thrilled to be living in the same town as Jonny! We shall see what my future/ our future will hold.... I imagine God has great plans for us. :)

I'll try to keep you posted regularly. While I do feel incredibly blessed, I do miss my dear friends from all over! Please do keep in touch.

Peace and Joy,


Friday, June 12, 2015

A part of the Fruit of the Spirit

A part of the fruit of the spirit...
Self control

I have lied, cheated, kicked, and gossiped
I have filled my mind with rubbish by what I see on tele, the Internet, or listen to on the radio, I watch Netflix without stop...
I have thought negatively about others and have talked behind people's backs
I lose my temper, eat too many cakes and can never stick to an exercise routine
I fill my life with busyness and rarely take time out...
How can I give a talk about self control when I am so poor at always controlling my thoughts and actions?

Just this week, my boss told me my opinions don't matter. I was furious. She said this in front of my colleagues. Remember... I have a temper, I can be quite sensitive, and I don't always take well to harsh words... That instance I had two choices... 1) I could have said what was going through my head... "At least my opinions are taking my students into account.." OR 2) bite my tongue as she continued to speak harshly to me and just brush off what she said. I did choose the second option... I ignored her and in fact laughed with her as a way to brush it off. There are times it's important to stand up for what we believe is right, but in this situation, it didn't bother me too much and in honesty, I didn't want to take the time to collect my thoughts and approach her... She is my boss, someone I need to respect. So here self control was doing a physical thing to stop me from saying something that I could have regretted later... in these situations, I try to take a deep breath....

I don't know about you but I often fill my time with stuff... I'm always doing something,, visiting friends, shopping, working, cooking, going from one event to another... I just don't want to miss out. But recently I've become a little irritable with my students and those closest to me.... My mom and my fella, Jonathan...  I'm learning that the occasional evening off is sometimes just what I need... I think part of having self control also means having time for Me where I just stop...    And take control of my well being..      Perhaps put on a relaxing, uplifting go-to film... "The sound of music" anyone? Or read a novel (Anne of Green Gables). Or spend some time reading my Bible and meditating...
Here is a bible passages which I find helpful... Jesus said...

 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11...

So when I'm irritable, frustrated, lost my energy... This verse reminds me to talk to God..

This might sound ironic... But here goes, self control doesn't mean you have to take control of your life on your own.... God has offered to help you.... And me.... He's so big that he can take on any of our issues... Those things in our life we want to stop... Lying, cheating, gossiping, filling my mind with rubbish. And those things we want to start doing.. Exercise, meditation, and  giving encouragement to others... He just wants us to ask him. But thank God that he loves me even when I'm imperfect!  I have learned to have self control I need to feed my heart with things that at are good...

"Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." Philippians 4:8.

My challenge to you... What part of yourself... Your life do you want to manage differently? What part of your life do you want to have more discipline over?

So you see....  I don't always have self control... But I've learned a few helpful techniques.. Taking a deep breath, counting to 10, saying no to some activities, and praying to God.... And I do pray that you will be able to learn to practice self control and to always seek and trust God.

God bless you on your journey.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Helping My Students Adjust Their Sails

Hello friends, family, fellow teachers and others reading my blog, 

This week I've been frustrated at the behaviour and lack of respect of some of the students at my school. I'm usually trying to be positive and see that each students has a back story of which we may be unaware.

Every student, or person for that matter, comes with baggage and need to develop ways to deal with that baggage. One very wise person dear to me said this... "You cannot change the direction of the wind but you can adjust your sails." Everyone will have experiences that just down right suck - someone teasing you, getting rained on, losing a sentimental gift, a bad break up, an illness in the family, moving to a new country, losing a dear one, and so much more- and it's up to you to decide how you're going to deal with the circumstances you find yourself in. Are you going to hide? Are you going to get angry? Are you going to learn and grow? Are you going to pray to God? These are just a few of the ways in which I've dealt with some of the pains I've experienced in my life, but there are so many others in which people deal with circumstances life throws at them. Back to my students... yes, some have awful home lives and family situations and I do feel sympathetic towards them, but I don't believe it should give them the right to be rude to others. (I'm sorry if I'm sounding harsh in this post.)

On Monday we had a Remembrance day assembly. The students were asked to walk to the assembly with their teachers and to be calmly shepherded into the Sports hall. As soon as the students got near the entrance, they just ran for the entrance fighting to be the first in the hall, it was like herding hundreds of cattle. There was no respect for remembering those who have died in wars- in the past or current, as soldiers or civilians. The Head teacher gave a right rollicking to the students... and they were scared, well for a moment. During the Last Post, you could hear children snickering and whispering. I was appalled. But it doesn't stop here. After the assembly, the students were to return to their classes for the last 30 minutes. I thought this would be a great chance for me to talk about my belief in pacifism and to talk about my belief that "remembering is to work for peace". However, I returned to my class to find students laughing at the assembly and just not showing any respect.

I want all of my students to show respect to themselves, to their peers and to me as their teacher. In the beginning of the year I told them this expectation and thought they understood, now I'm not so certain. I simply want them to come to their lesson presentable, on time, ready for learning and full of respect. I hope that they see that I give each of them respect, but that if they don't respect me, I can take that respect away... as I wrote that I see that that's not really gracious is it? I need to continue respecting them, even if they have been rude to me... just as Jesus shows us...

The Question... How can I teach my students respect while still teaching them Maths?

Some possible solutions...
  • Living by example. I wish to respectfully welcome my students into my class, using please and thank yous and showing sympathy towards my students with whatever they may be experiencing. 
  • I think these students need PRAISE! Our school has so many ways of dealing with poor behaviour and giving out consequences, but where are the praises for students who are respectful in the school? Sure I have some praise points in my class and give out stickers and chocolate for students who do the right thing at the right time, but I think there needs to be some whole-school praise system. They are constantly being told to go to another class if they misbehave, or to come for Detentions if they don't submit their Home learning, but what about those who are continually behaving appropriately and always submit their HL? 
  • A citizenship/ etiquette class. So apparently there used to be citizenship class which was offered and some teachers to teach it. Unfortunately, it appears as though that's the tutors responsibilities now, along with ensuring the students are safe, that their attendance is on par, that they have completed all HL, and what about developing relationships with the students?? The students have no places to sit and eat their lunches, so they are encouraged to stand and scarf down their food... is that being polite?? Some of them rarely say, "Please" or "Thank you" and show very little respect when a member of the senior leadership team comes to the class, let alone the class teacher. 
I'm not saying that all of the students are rude and have no respect. I do have a handful of students (of the about 200 students I teach) that are absolutely lovely. They will say, "Thanks miss for a great lesson," or open doors without being asked, or say behind and tidy the books. It's those moments that I hold dear to my heart and so I don't forget the positives, I keep a journal of all of these "gem" moments.

My goal at this school is to get more students to be respectful and to love learning for the sake of learning and bettering our world... it may be a hard ask, but it's like the same wise man once said, "To change the world, you need to turn it upside down and shake it." Big change takes courage and stepping out of one's comfort zone. It starts with one person taking a stand and paying it forward one smile at a time.

I'm going to pray for this change to happen within myself and my students. How often do we try to find a solution, when God is there supporting us along the path of life??

Hopefully this makes sense.. and if it doesn't thanks for reading, allowing me to think as I type and using so many cliche lines. :)  If anyone has any ideas, please pass them along.

All the very best as you adjust your sails.

Respectfully yours,


PS. That wise man is my dad. I love you so much! xoxo

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Some pictures of September 2014

Third year... God, England, school, church... life.

Hi all!

I haven't forgotten you, I promise. It's just that I didn't know how to add new posts for forever since google has changed some things. But thanks to my friends back in Canada, I've got it under control... I suppose that's debatable, but hopefully I'll be able to post to my blog more regularly again. I haven't written here in over a year so I could approach this blog as a massive catch up, but I'm afraid you may find that becomes a novel. For the interest of my readers, I'll stick with just writing about this school year thus far.

I love teaching! There's something so exhilarating about returning to teach at the same school and teaching students that are curious learners. Now don't get me wrong, I do have some classes of students that I struggle to help motivate, but the majority of students I teach this year are eager. I think it helps that I'm now a familiar face at the school and they all know me as the 'Canadian teacher,' even students that I don't teach.

I have one particular class of students that just love a good open-ended question. In the first week, I gave them a lesson all around the news that Nutella may experience a shortage because of a recent drought in Turkey, where most of the world's supply of hazelnuts come from....Maths, food, global, social links.... they loved it! Then just last week, we made marble runs and tested speed. The goal was to make a run where the marbles moved the slowest. The students thought it was the greatest lesson since sliced bread. We even incorporated peer assessment and self assessment into the lesson! :)

In another class, we were talking about Mathematical proves and I started the lesson by asking them "What is a proof?" and "What makes a good one?". After two minutes of silent thinking time (a good teaching practice :D), one boy spoke up and said, "Is it like believing in God and trying to prove that he exists?" I simply responded with a ... "Why, yes, I suppose it's similar... it's about showing that something is true." He then asked me if I was religious. For a split second I thought about the question and how I would respond... "Yes I am." If I were not in front of a class of 35 students, I would have explained that while I go to church, I'm not religious, but rather spiritual, striving to work on my relationship with God and leading others to Him. Unfortunately, it was just the start of the lesson and others were anxious to continue learning how to prove that the angles in a triangle always equal 180 degrees, and in a quadrilateral 360 degrees... not nearly as deep, yet it was an easy opportunity for me to share a bit about my faith and to allow these students to ask further questions if they were interested. God does work in mysterious ways!

At my school, I'm also working at partnering my school with Free The Children UK. When I was doing my teacher training in Canada, I was part of the ME to WE club at my school, learning lots about social issues in Canada and around the world. In July as I was thinking about what I wanted to help with for the next year of teaching in Devon, I thought about Free the Children Canada, and wondered if there was a UK link. I then forgot about it when I was home. Then on the plane back to England, I was chatting with my seat buddy and learned that she works for a charity helping to educate children around the world... Free the Children? Yes, in fact. She was a Brit who was working in the Toronto office for 2 years and decided to move back to London to help set up the Free The Children/ We Day in London. How cool was that?!?! So well I have more responsibility this year at my school as a classroom tutor to 28 students, teaching 7 classes of Years 7-10 students, a sixth form class, and working on a project promoting an environmentally friendly economical building at my school with some high performing students, I'm going to encourage students to think beyond themselves and their village and to motivate others to take a stand for an action in which they are passionate about. I'm so excited for all of these opportunities, yet will appreciate prayer as I settle into these responsibilities and learn when I need rest to pray, re-energize and take time for Kristen.

As far as at church, I have recently felt that I need to stop living as though this is a temporary home  and start feeling more settled. Over the last two years, while I have made some significant friendships, I have been careful to not get too involved in people's lives as I always thought I was going to go back to Canada... now don't get me wrong, I may very well do that someday... but I just needed to feel more settled and part of a community and church family here and now. Living for the future takes up so much energy sometimes. In Matthew 6:34 it says “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." Saying all of that, I've finally decided to serve at church as a youth leader for 14 to 18 year-olds. Every Friday evening 5 other leaders and myself meet to pray as we welcome around 30 Christian and non-Christian city kids to the church hall to hang out. Some weeks we have things planned, other weeks we just allow the kids to chat, play games, kick a football around, and drink hot cocoa. I was hesitant to get involved, knowing that this is the age of young people I see at school everyday. Yet this is a different setting. This is an opportunity for me to show my funny, game-loving, quirky side without having to discipline this age group for not bringing in Home Learning or for being rowdy in lessons. It's been a great opportunity to be a witness to these young people and it's such a blessing to see God at work. Some Friday's it's the very last thing I want to do after a crazy week at school and so I go feeling exhausted and almost dreading having 3 hours left before I can relax, but then the youth start coming in and I feel completely energized and ready to hang out. Thanks to God for those new found energy moments! 

I think that's about it for now. If any of you teacher friends want any of the resources I mentioned above, just let me know and I can pass them to your direction. Otherwise, please do comment, send me a facebook message, or email sometime! I would love to hear what's new with you! 

Peace and Grace,


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Visit from Mom

Hey all

So I realize this post is once again late. But the way I see it is that it's better late than never. This blog was meant to highlight the significant moments in my life and well having my biggest supporter come and visit me in England was definitely one of the best things this year! Initially, I didn't really plan much to do with mom because I was most excited just to show her the people and places that have made my last year in England special and to show where I will be spending my second year. And so the morning she arrived, I grabbed my luggage, hopped on the train to Gatwick and waited with anticipation to give my mom the biggest hug ever.

Toronto... Finally Arrived!

Poor mom, she was exhausted after your plane journey and still  had 5 hours by train to go.
On the last train to Ashburton.. there was literally no room.

We were on the way to Ashburton for my induction days at my new school. While I was working, getting information overload, meeting my new work colleagues and excited about the school, mom explored the village. She even was on a first name bases with some people of Ashburton. I suppose I'll have the chance to explore the village once I move here in September. Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of our time in Ashburton, but let me tell you... it was busy, it was hot, and it was just good! The food at all of the pubs, cafes and bars we ate it was delicious!

Next stop... Liskeard. Before leaving the west country, I decided it was important for mom to see where I spent last Christmas and to meet the family who has adopted me as part of theirs. Malcolm and Gina are incredible people and I feel truly blessed to have shared with them.

Off to Manchester to visit Uncle George and Auntie Barbara...
They took us to Lyme Park one day and we had the chance to explore the gardens, the home and I even was able to dress up in a Georgian dress. I was totally in my element :).

 The view was remarkable up on the hillside. We were looking at the direction of their home.
I love this picture of Uncle George and Auntie Barbara.

Time for a bit of a rest before we explored the house.

Dress up time :)

It was really great to spend some time with my dad's Auntie and Uncle... going to church with them, looking at old photos, sharing stories and appreciating each others company. It was hard to say goodbye when we had to get back on a train to Chichester. Who knows when and if we will meet again. If not on this earth, we will meet where the angel choir sings in heaven, where our minds are too small to comprehend right now just how majestic that shall be.

After a week and a half of mom being in England, we finally made it to Chichester where I spend the majority of last year. She met my beloved host family - Ruth, Ant, Ben and Joe and learned just why I loved them so much. From Chichester we were able to do a few day trips... Selsey Coast, Arundel Castle and Weild and Downing Open Air Museum.

At the sea by Selsey, where I taught.

Jousting at the Arundel Castle.

After our day at Arundel Castle, we came back to Chichester and enjoyed a meal at my favourite restaurant with two of my favourite people, Natalie and Greg... This may sound cheesy and all, but it's true... words just can't express how much these friends have met to me during this last year. I am so grateful for everything they've done and I'm so glad that I will be moving close to where they're also moving to. Seems like they can't quite get rid of me :)

Feeding the ducks at the Weild and Downing Open Air Museum.

The next day, we went to an open air museum with the family. Mom and I loved seeing houses from different eras and learning about the culture of the people during those times. The boys loved to explore. And I loved showing the boys how to roll down a hill. It was really a great outing for everyone.

Fourth stop.... Prestatyn, North Wales. Last minute we booked train tickets to North Wales to visit one of dad's long lost cousins, Mal. We had a great time with them, sharing some mysteries of the family, exploring the country side, visiting Snowdonia, paying our respects at the Marble church and enjoying a meal with Andy and Liz.
Mal, Mom, and Me with the Irish Sea in the background.

In Betws y Coed, Wales

Smile everyone :)
After our weekend visit to North Wales, we hopped back on the train to Chichester for a last few days at home before mom headed back to Canada.

In mom's tradition, we prepared a meal for Natalie and Greg and co as they were moving from Chichester area back to Cornwall. Mom made homemade Mac and Cheese and I prepared some wraps. I loved cooking in the kitchen with mom after a year! I only wish I could cook as well as she can...maybe someday with some practice :)

On the 1st of August, we went to Goodwood Racecourse for my first ever horse race and Ladies' Day, where everyone dresses to the nines. We met ups with some women from my first school, Hannah and Kate, and made several toasts to a great year and to those who were no longer with us... including my dad. What a better way to celebrate dad than to be in England with mom. Only wished Michael could have joined us... maybe another time.

 Our lovely outfits just as we were heading out the door. Unfortunately we didn't take any photos of us during the day, but you can just imagine how much fun we had with our fascinators, friends, horses and yumilious food. What a way to end mom's time in England, with a bang!
Our nearly three weeks together came to an end. I was so glad we did all that we did... that she was able to see some of the places I've traveled to, some of the people that influenced me and that we were able to experience life together... with all the tears and laughter that comes. I do miss mom so much, but am grateful for the time we had together and that she's only a skype call away. For those of you who are looking at going away for a few weeks... why not come and visit England. I would love to show you around as well ;)



Thursday, July 4, 2013

Torquay... Some lessons

Lesson 1:

When eating Fish n Chips by the sea, be careful of the seagulls. They like the fish just as much as humans. Moving to a location with other people around is the best option.

Lesson 2:

Those rock looking things in my picture are not just rocks, some of them are lipits (muscle type creatures). They appear to be clever because every time I went to pick one up, it sucked with all its might to the rock. They would not budge. I later learned that these creatures aren't clever at all and don't even have a brain or any organs for that matter.

Trying to move a lipit to see what they look like

We found one in some water.

A hermit crab.
several barnacles. They're minscule cratures that just look like a hole.

Beach houses
 Lesson #3:
Devon makes delicious cream teas that can be enjoyed with the lovely view of the sea. (Sorry it's hard to see in this picture.)

Devon Creamed Tea: Scones, clotted cream, jam, strawberries and champagne. Lush!