The Silver Lining of COVID-19

The Silver Lining of COVID-19

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Good morning and Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

As I woke up this morning, I couldn’t help but smile at all the good in the world despite COVID-19.  I’m amazed at the acts of kindness, humanitarian efforts, and creativity that surrounds us as we all adjust to our new normal.

This has me thinking back to lessons we learned in History classes, and I can’t help but wonder if part of the stories were left untold.  When we learned about dark times such as the Great Depression or World War I and II, we only read about what went wrong. I know people died or that people suffered, so somehow, I just assumed everyone was collectively miserable.  I never stopped to think that during those difficult times people also helped their neighbors, laughed together, or experienced happiness. Continue reading

My Mom’s Journey with COVID-19. Please Stay Home.

A few days ago, I wrote a blog post entitled ‘This is Not My Story – This is OUR Story‘ and I encouraged people to see how we are in this together and need to respond by thinking of others first.  The post was not about me, or my family – it was about us as a collective, and the difference we can make together.

This post is much more personal.  With my mom’s permission, I am sharing her journey.  I do so not for empathy (though your positive vibes are more than welcome), but so that the story of COVID-19 becomes more personal for you.  It is my belief that stories are what connect us.  Stories inspire us, lift us up, help us heal. Through story, we begin to make sense of these crazy times, and we begin to understand why our actions matter.

My mom is a healthy, happy, and social woman. Continue reading

This is Not My Story. This is OUR Story. COVID-19 in Canada.

When we acquire knowledge, we learn.  Sometimes this happens when we explore something new and seek information.  Other times, learning happens when our experiences shift our perception and challenge our pre-existing beliefs.  As adults, there are times where we stop in our tracks and realize our previous thinking was wrong.

This is one of those times.  Like many Canadians, I am watching press conferences and reading news stories as COVID-19 spreads worldwide.  Just weeks ago, when the disease had little impact in Canada, I jumped on the bandwagon and laughed at memes of people over-reacting and clearing grocery shelves, hoarding a huge supply of essential items like toilet paper.  I assumed the panic associated with this disease was largely due to media hype and hysteria.

Continue reading

Dear Students…

Dear Students…

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Dear Students,

School starts tomorrow. This brings about a mix of emotion as some of you are excited to return and see your teachers and classmates, while others may feel anxious about a new year.  You are probably wondering who your teacher will be, who will be in your class, and whether or not you will have a great year.

While you are getting ready for your first day, we, as a staff, are getting ready to greet you.  Your teachers have been in decorating classrooms, secretaries have been organizing everything you need for a smooth start up and we have been planning ways to help you have a great year. Continue reading

Rear View Reflections: Looking Back at 2018

Rear View Reflections: Looking Back at 2018

It’s New Year’s Day and social media streams are full of proclamations about the coming year and resolutions moving forward.  It’s an annual day of goal setting – making New Years resolutions for a healthier and happier self.

While I am a big fan of setting goals, I also enjoy the art of reflection – and learning from days passed before setting a plan for moving forward.  Sometimes we can learn much about ourselves by looking in the rear view mirror.  Looking back, 2018 has been a year full of learning.  Here are a few reflections I am taking Continue reading

Dear New Teacher… You Can Do This!

Dear New Teacher… You Can Do This!

Teaching is a tough job.  Every good educator has days where they feel defeated – yet there are also many moments that make teaching an incredibly rewarding career.

Each year, when we get to host student teachers, I invite the staff to write words of wisdom. It’s interesting to see how advice changes over time.  This year, the themes include connections, joy and self care.

Here is some great advice from the staff at Laity View Elementary, encouraging student teachers and new teachers as they embark on an exciting career path: Continue reading

This is Inclusion: Laity View Love

This is Inclusion: Laity View Love

One of my best friends has Autism.  When we met in 1988, he was in a segregated classroom with small chunks of time spent in mainstream classes.  Over the past 30 years, as our friendship has grown, I have witnessed a variety of reactions from the community choosing to include or exclude Steven.

Let me start by sharing how we met.  In 1988, I was in grade 8 at Dr. Charles Best Secondary in Coquitlam.  Like many high schools, my friends and I had claimed ‘our table’ in the cafeteria, and day in and day out we sat in the same space.  The first table passed the lunch line was reserved for kids with special needs.  As I made my way from the cafeteria line to ‘my table’, Steven shouted out “Hey – what’s your name? Come sit with me!”   In that moment, I made one of the best decisions I have ever made and Continue reading

And In That Moment…

And In That Moment…

Life can be defined by moments. Sometimes we plan for moments that matter.  Maybe it’s the year long planning for a perfect wedding, or the nine month wait to celebrate a new life.  There are certain moments we anticipate and weigh with significance: first steps, the first day of school, first job, first kiss, graduation, marriage, family or career events.  These are the moments that we expect to shape our lives. And of course, they do. But not all of life’s biggest moments are scripted.  Sometimes, the emotion of an unexpected moment takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary.  Sometimes, life happens beyond our control, and our lives Continue reading

My Dad Says It’s Weird My Principal is a Woman…

My Dad Says It’s Weird My Principal is a Woman…

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“Mrs. Blakeway… my dad says it’s weird that you are a woman and that you are the principal”. My heart sunk for this little grade one girl – not because her father’s comment had impact on me, but because he thought it was ok to say this to his daughter.

Growing up, I never felt disadvantaged for being female.  I can’t say that I thought the boys had it any easier, and I didn’t notice any stereotypical expectations.  My mother was a strong independent single mom so we didn’t really grow up observing ‘pink jobs’ or ‘blue jobs’. My mom did it all.  Besides the occasional frustration that it wasn’t safe to run through trails alone, I never noticed a gender imbalance amongst my peers.  After university, I worked in Human Resources, and then as a teacher and a school counsellor. Again, these positions were often filled by women and I was oblivious to any gender discrepancies.

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Shadowing Shannon: My Day as a Grade 12 Student

Shadowing Shannon: My Day as a Grade 12 Student

I have to admit, I loved high school the first time round, so perhaps it’s not surprising that I had a fantastic time yesterday when I returned to grade 12!  A few months ago, one of our VP’s, Karl Lindgren-Streicher suggested we participate in the Shadow A Student Challenge.  A few tweets later, he had convinced a number of secondary admin around our district to register with http://shadowastudent.org/ and commit to one day each of evaluating school through the lens of a student. The idea was simple: we would each follow a student for a day, get some insight about our schools from a student perspective and then meet as a team to reflect and learn.  Although I was eager to participate, I had no idea just how fun my day would be! Continue reading