THANK YOU, TEACHERS!

 A-Big-Thank-You

      It’s the last day of school and the year flew by!  Big H is now moving onto Grade 5 while Middle A will be at the top of the Primary Division in Grade 3.  Without their awesome teachers in the classroom, they wouldn’t have enjoyed their year so much.  They both have a passion for learning and are successful because of the support and love they receive on a daily basis.  From their homeroom teachers to French to gym, they learn with enthusiasm and come home immediately to start their homework.  From a very young age they developed that habit and although I know it was instilled at home, I am keenly aware that their teachers say the same thing.   Their teachers are kind and caring and I couldn’t have asked for more in an educator.

      On this last day of school, I just want to say “THANK YOU” to the teachers, support staff, and administration at the school.  They plan so many fun activities that the kids look forward to! School IS fun and they have grown so much.  I can’t wait until September when Baby C (aka Hurricane C) joins the fun!

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One More Month

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          This time of year, it never fails. I sit back during E.Q.A.O. and think about the time I’ve had with my current class. Nine months have flown by so quickly and it’s partly because it’s been fun (nonsensical chats about YouTube videos or movies we’ve seen), but also because it’s been busy. We essentially have to cram all the math units ahead of everyone else because those skills will likely be tested. We were reviewing last week for the provincial tests we have here in Ontario. In elementary school, the Grade 3’s and 6’s feel that E.Q.A.O. (Education Quality and Accountability Office) actually stands for Evil Questions Attacking Ontario. I can’t say they are completely wrong. As much as I hope they’ve learned their equations for surface area and volume, I also hope they walk away with more.

         I hope they’ve learned that their first impression on someone matters and they hold their actions accountable. People see them at the park, mall, or classroom, and it’s natural for them to be judged. I always want a supply teacher to leave me a note about how patient or kind my class is. I want them to remember to always be respectful and polite because “please” and “thank you” go a long way. I’ll always remember the kids in here who remember to say those words each time I handed out a sheet or passed them a book (Students #21, #23, and #25, that’s YOU!) As important as writing proper sentences are, I believe that watching what you say and how to speak to others is just as vital. Will my kids remember that our custodians contribute to the school like secretaries do? Will they recognize that Educational Assistants give their all like their homeroom teachers do? Do they see these adults in the school as all loving their jobs and being committed 100%? Do they appreciate us? I hope so.

          Although I have put a huge emphasis on academics this year (“aim for Level 4” and “try your best”), it is never far from my lips that I tell them “be mindful” and “think of others first.” Being a great student is wonderful, but being an awesome human being is a life skill. Who you are is shaped by your family, friends, and environment, and I would want students to remember that having integrity and kindness is not a Grade 6 thing. I think it’s forever. (I know they also enjoy it when I tell them to “use common sense” and “you can just eyeball it.” 😛 That’s you, #4 and #9!)

          It’s been a good year. This class is full of great kids. I’ve been telling everyone that the year has been good partly because I haven’t had to spend too much time solving social problems. Less drama this year so I can focus on teaching. I’m grateful for this class and the memories we made. No doubt there will be tears on the last day (my former students know this and some tease me while others just cry along), but really, it’s because they have truly become “my kids.” I hope they know we only have 24 more school days together and I look forward to each and every one!

REVIEW: Shopkins Live!

    

 

“Shopkins, Shopkins!”  Catchy! That’s the extent of what I know of the popular theme song from the well-known toy and show so I wasn’t sure how much I would be entertained by their live act.  A 90-minute live production and I have to say I was excited through most of it because who doesn’t like it when small toys talk and enlarge to 100X their normal size?  A real-life Lippy Lips and Strawberry Kiss? YES, please. All the Shoppies were on-hand in colourful wigs and tulle skirts including Bubbleisha, Peppa-Mint, Rainbow Kate, Polli Polish, and Cocolette.

     Shopkins Live had a simple to follow storyline which was appropriate and kept the audience entertained. Based on the popular Moose Toys’ product that came out several years ago, this collectible doesn’t seem to have lost its hold on the young girl demographic.  Most of the audience were 4 to 10-year-old girls with many moms and some dads thrown into the mix.   Middle A (daughter #2) came with me in her Delish Donut t-shirt and she loved it.

     The Shopkins were getting ready for the Fashion and Food Fair organized by Shady Diva, a Hat Shopkin.  She made it very clear that there was a special guest coming and it was super-duper important that Jessicake meet and take care of her.  However, Jessicake had so many things to do (namely decorating her booth because she wanted to win a prize) that she assigned the task to Kooky Cookie, who has a bad habit of falling asleep.  Several misunderstandings later, the special guest was found and returned to the fair just in time! Another storyline was the one of Slick Breadstick (the funniest character in the show to me) and his desire to find a dance partner.  All the Shoppies rejected him (“I have to go” excuses abundant), but he kept tossing out his cheesy one-liners. Turns out, the special guest was the ultimate dance partner for Slick Breadstick!

     Presented by Koba Entertainment, this musical is full of fun and original songs and choreography.   I love that the eyeballs of the characters actually move! The dancing popcorn was very entertaining and the placement of the large food pieces on visible platforms was brilliant.  This would be a great introduction to live entertainment for young children.  It made the everyday Shopkins even more fun because they could talk and we heard only what we imagined them sounding like.  It was definitely a fun show and we had a blast!

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#TORONTOSTRONG

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        Listening to the news after hitting the gym yesterday was hard.  I literally drove home in tears because of the eyewitness accounts I heard on the radio.  One guy said he saw an old lady get hit and then run over.  Another eyewitness said the driver of the white van hopped the curbed and it looked like he was aiming for people.  My heart broke.   My mother-in-law said her friend’s daughter was a paramedic who was with a victim that passed on the way to the hospital. I thought of all the parents not coming home to their kids after a day at work.  There were young adults who would never get to live up to their potential.   It was such a beautiful day so many were probably out for a walk or enjoying an afternoon movie.  Yonge and Finch has to be one of the busiest hubs north of the city.  Certainly no one enjoying the lovely day anticipated this kind of ending.  No one thought they wouldn’t be going home.

          This morning, driving into work had a different feel for me.  I was waiting to field questions about this attack and for students to ask me, “Why?”  Perhaps the age group I teach is old enough to know what happened and watched the news already.  I was glued to the t.v. last night.   I’m waiting to discuss the topic more today with my own kids.  How do I explain why one person’s actions caused pain for so many? Why would someone hurt others because he is hurting?   Is it safe to walk around anymore?

        I have to admit that I never thought Toronto would be the site for something like this.  Toronto, known for being peaceful and quiet, multicultural and buzzing with throngs of people who get together to watch sports games, never did I think something like this would happen in my own backyard.  The accused, Alek Minassian, lives just a few minutes from where my husband grew up.  It’s scary to think about how we must all have six degrees of separation with a victim, injured, or those who live in that area.  My cousin was in the area an hour before the attack.  I have several friends who live around Yonge and Sheppard.  It is still unsettling and unbelievable.

         In the next few days, we will learn more about the accused and the victims.  We need to heal together and understand together.   Please hold your family a little closer tonight and pray for all those who have lost their lives.  Their families will be grieving and we need to make Toronto stronger for them.

 

CONTEST: Shopkins Live!

      Shopkins Live! is finally here! The #1 kids toy in North America is live and on stage in Shopkins Live! Shop It Up!  Your beloved Shoppies make their theatrical debut in an original new live show featuring musical performances by Jessicake, Bubbleisha, PeppaMint, Rainbow Kate, Cocolette, Polli Polish and more! The fun and fashionista Shoppies are joined by the Shopkins the grocery store, themed mini collectible toys Apple Blossom, Strawberry Kiss, Lippy Lips, Kooky Cookie, Poppy Corn, Slick Breadstick and Shady Diva. An ensemble cast of multi-talented performers brings the show to life on stage through song and dance.

     All of Shopville is in a tizz as preparations get underway for the annual “Funtastic Food and Fashion Fair”. Shady Diva showcases her latest fashion designs; Lippy Lips gives colorful advice at the nail salon; Kooky Cookie tries to get in a beauty nap! But wait — no event is complete without a few hiccups! Who has high-jinxed the fashion pageant? Where is the super-secret celebrity guest? Will Slick Breadstick ever find a dance partner? The Shopkins and Shoppies need your help for the show must go on!

     Shopkins Live!  immerses audiences in the world of Shopville using custom-designed theatrical costumes, creative onstage characters, state of the art video and set design, and original pop songs and music! Grab your besties and check out Shopkins Live! Shop It Up!

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      To win a set of 4 family tickets for the Saturday, April 28 show at 1:00pm from Hip Teacher Mama, please enter the contest April 13-21 on WordPress, Facebook, or Instagram.  Simply tell us:

  1. the name of your favourite Shopkin
  2. tag two friends

      Please make sure that you can be contacted by direct message for notification or check the site on April 22 for the video of the draw!

       For more tickets, please visit: Shopkins Live!  Shows are on April 25 and April 28, 2018.

Bur Oak Closet

       Came across a post on a local Facebook site and thought it was a worthwhile venture to write about and promote.  The Bur Oak Closet is an event targeted at female students in Grades 8 to 12.  It is in its third year and the main goal is to help students find dresses for special events such as graduation and prom.
           Laura Dodham, Head of Guidance at Bur Oak Secondary School and Vice-Principal, Kathy McAlpine started Bur Oak Closet after being inspired by Maple High School.  MHS had been running Diva Ball for over ten years, but the distance was too great for those in the eastern part of York Region.  MHS started BOSS off with some dresses and the event was highly promoted and many donations came in from the Markham community.
           This comes from the coordinators themselves:
         “Thus far, we have been able to give 31 girls a dress which she could wear to a fancy event like a wedding, party, graduation or prom.  In Markham and the surrounding areas, we know that many families are doing their best to provide for their children.  However, some students may not have the chance to go to one of these events without significant sacrifice.  Bur Oak Closets gives the girls an opportunity to enjoy these fancy events with a new dress or to experience the fun of going shopping with girlfriends.  If we know that there is a male student in need, we work directly with him to get him an outfit.
        Most of the students who visit The Bur Oak Closet are Grade 8 students who have been invited by their teachers for a variety of reasons.  The high school students have come from a number of schools in the area, including our BOSS where they do private showings for the girls.  We try to make their visit a “shopping” trip where they can try on some clothes (some look like princesses), laugh with their friends, have some refreshments and leave with a dress (if possible) and a gift. Our goal is to have an enjoyable time, feel welcome in our school, meet some older girls and feel special at their event. 
         We send out invitations to all of the local elementary and secondary schools in York Region including Milliken, Markham, Unionville, Stouffville, Middlefield, and Markville areas.  Staff members sign up for an appointment time for their students so that it can be a pleasant and personalized experience.
          The community is a big part of the event. Sarah Hosaki has been a tremendous help in providing a way for the community to drop off dresses for us.   We are grateful for the fashion sense and generosity of many of our community members. They have donated dresses, scarves, jewellery, shoes, and unused make up.
          We have had a generous sponsor who has provided curling irons, hair dryers etc for each girl to take away.  In addition, we have been provided with party loot bags with sample products by Turning Hedz last year and a raffle prize for another year.  Shoppers Drug Mart also donated some nail polish and lip gloss to add to the bags.  Tip Top Tailors provided a full suit a year ago to one of our male students.  A local dry cleaner altered two dresses at a reduced cost to ensure that the girls looked stunning in a dress made to size.
           Many of the students who are looking for dresses are Grade 8s and we are always are looking for smaller sizes which are age appropriate.  On the other end of the spectrum, we have difficulty providing more full bodied girls with fashionable garments for teens.  
            We do this to build self esteem, sisterhood and a practical solution to a challenge that exists. It is also to build community.   I gather a group of Bur Oak students who carefully cull the dresses, catalogue, organize into sizes, act as dressers and floor assistants, set up and serve refreshments.  These students are impacted in a very positive way as well…they have thanked us for the opportunity to reach out to other students.”
          This event is ending April and the facilators would be grateful for more donations.  If you can donate something before Sunday, April 8, the dresses would be available for the clients for this year’s special events.  After that, they will be saved for next year’s events so your generous donation will never go to waste.   Donations can be dropped off at Bur Oak Secondary School in the guidance office located at 933 Bur Oak Avenue during school hours.  Turning Hedz Creations at 2925 Bur Oak Avenue will accept donations anytime as they have an enclosed porch for drop-offs.
          Please LIKE and SHARE to spread the word.  You can make a difference!

Lucky 7

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        This was past weekend was the official end of our basketball season for Big H.  We ended up in Division 1 for U11 in 7th place (same as last year).  We had the provincials, but our coach is hardcore so we get to practice until the end of June when school gyms shut down. Keeping the girls’ skills fresh is great and H gets to maintain some physical activity.  She also gets to see her teammates a couple times a week and that’s something she really looks forward to.

         Thinking over a recent discussion with Hip Teacher Dada where he had mentioned a comment made by another teacher who coaches.  The friend said that for girls’ sports, a lot of it is more social than the game.  Hmmm, at first I thought that was pretty sexist because I’m a pretty competitive person, but when I took a step back and thought about my own experience coaching boys and girls, it actually made sense.  It turned out to be a bit true.

        It’s been years since I coached girls (Intermediate volleyball and basketball) and boys (Junior and Intermediate basketball), but the camaraderie was instantly different with the two groups.   Mind you, it’s hard to judge because it is school sports and the intensity of rep ball and the amount of time spent is very different.  Still there was an instant bond for me coaching girls perhaps because we had a lot of similar interests to chat about outside the sport. I saw a bit of myself in them and them in me so we had that mother-daughter dynamic going for us. Coaching boys was more of a direct professional approach where we taught the plays and they executed them.  We didn’t chat much outside the realm of basketball.  It was Coach-Player all the way.

        Asking Big H’s teammates and herself, “What was the best part of the weekend?” and their answers were definitive. It wasn’t the winning of close games or the intense competition level. Most answers came back to the nights at the hotel going from room to room or just sharing a meal together at the team dinner.  They took selfies, played on the iPad together, and swam in the pool.  It was the bonding they remembered more than the last rebound they grabbed or what happened during the last shift of ball.   That social aspect seems to prevail over the competition dynamic and I’m okay with that.

    I never did competitive sports outside elementary school (Intermediate Girls’ Basketball Team).  Seeing this part of Big H’s life is wonderful.  Even though it took me a while to accept that our weekends were fully booked from October to March, it’s something I look forward to.  Seeing her progress on the court and her non-stop giggling with friends warms my heart.  Even the fact that she “has” to ride with her friends from the hotel to the gym (“You can’t be apart for five minutes?”) is silly, but sweet.

        This team aspect not only has opened up a different side of her (she is still the shyest one and needs to be embraced with open arms), but it has helped her become a more rounded individual.  Not only does she get her A’s for school, she now has a bit more to add to her repertoire.  Being a member of this team (along with school volleyball and basketball teams), has given her an opportunity to develop confidence and friendships.  It has given her a chance to work on her skills and get better.   Thanks to her supportive coaches and sweetheart of a team, she has loved this year with them. Overall, this experience is immeasurable and it’s really not about how many medals she’s collected over this year.  These games and tournaments create memories she will always remember.  For me, that’s gold.

 

Everything in its Place

stapler     Stapler. Tape. Hairbrush. I reach for it and it isn’t there. Work or home, that drives me nuts. Does this ever happen to you?

   At school, I have an area at the corner of the room labelled “Student Tools.” It is equipped with a stapler, rulers, hope puncher, markers, and all the essentials needed for a stationary hub. Inevitably, students will come to my desk and ask for MY stapler, MY tape, or MY highlighters. Um why?  If I say yes, they sometimes wander off with it and when I need it, I don’t have it. I get the whole “sharing is caring” thing because I’m always saying that to my own kids, but I’ve already “pre-shared” by making the special area. Just leave my stuff alone, please and thank you. 😁  Your centre is just on the other side of the room.

      Then at home, it is the same thing. Last week, it was scissors I keep in the washroom drawer to cut off tags off new clothes. Reached for it and it was gone. My eldest had taken it for whatever reason. The other night it was the corner cutter for making a student’s birthday card. This time it was Hip Teacher Dada who took it to put corners on photos for work. I don’t mind the sharing, but it is the not having things back in its spot when I need it that irks me. Time is of the essence and I hate wasting time looking for things. I called upstairs for it (my craft centre is in the basement) and sure enough, someone had it elsewhere. 🤔 Meanwhile, just waiting…

       The most irritating is when I’m in a rush and I cannot find what I need. Two items come to mind and it is my baby’s hairbrush and my phone. The first one is usually is when someone moves Baby C’s brush from bathroom to bedroom. Not sure why her hair is being brushed in the bedroom to begin with.  My phone is well, MY fault. I’m always walking around and sometimes I misplace it. I put it down to put away some clothes or put it somewhere on the counter when I’m cooking and then move on to something else. My kids are now used to this and the game is who can track down where Mommy has been and find the phone first. 😁

         How about you? Is “everything in its place” a rule in your home?