Weekend Update

Books: Re-reading an old James Herriot novel, All Creatures Great and Small. It’s probably been 18 years that I’ve read it. Just going back to some master story tellers. (Also, if you can’t tell, I’ve been obsessed with all things Brit lately.)

Car insurance: Been shopping around, as I am looking for a new insurance company for the start of July, when I move back to Ontario. I was paying far too much for Meloche Monnex, although I didn’t have much of a choice, since they were one of the few companies that would take me as a client (i.e. living in Quebec with Ontario plates). After talking to five companies, I believe my best bet is OTIP. It does pay to call around though; I got a $25 Amazon gift card from OTIP just for speaking with an agent and CAA also gave me $25 for chatting with them!

Roboadvisors:
 Finally transferred about $22,000 of RSPs out of Tangerine Investment Funds and over to another roboadvisor. There’s a nice spread of iShares and Vanguard ETFs. Will need to sit down and look through my asset allocation when I’ve got more time in the summer. Got a $50 bonus when I started the account since mentioning the referral from Jessica Moorhouse.

School Boards: All registered with my new school board, and getting calls for substitution on my cellphone (it took me a week to figure out how to turn it off until September). However, I am disappointed I did not get an interview with Ottawa-Carleton (OCDSB). Out of four other friends, only one person I knew got an interview for the OT list. I suppose I just try again next year … should I apply for Thames Valley? Will work on an application later this week.

Media: Podcasting as usual and enjoying BBC’s The Documentary. Also learned about Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) on the SickBoy podcast*. Taking a pause after finishing seasons 6 of Call the Midwives and switching over to AMC’s Humans. AHHHH!!! Great show to watch after HBO’s WestworldWatch the trailer:


*This is a Canadian podcast and it is tastefully done, not what you’d expect when the three hosts are three white dudes. What’s even cooler is that one of the hosts is my gym buddy’s brother-in-law!

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Life Update

I haven’t been blogging as regularly as I used to. It’s likely because Cody and Instagram have become other platforms for microblogging. I’ve decided to take a break from those two platforms for a bit and refocus on writing here, where I can write longer passages with more thought and clarity.

Having said that, here are some life updates:

  • Professional Development: Right after returning from Goose Break in a snowstorm, I drove straight back down to Kingston, Ontario for the annual math conference run by OAME. I did my first presentation at an Ontario conference, which was attended by my mentor, T., and also a friend; it went well and I made a few new connections too. This conference is particularly important to me as I am often feeling demotivated at this time of year; the energy and excitement I get helps to reinvigorate my passion for teaching. Not only that, but I got to meet Gail Vaz-Oxlade, as she was one of our keynote speakers!IMG_20170512_222256882
  • Netflix: I’ve been obsessed with Call the Midwife lately.  I’m late in the game – the show is currently at season 9 – but I finally finished season 5 last week and am now scouring for torrents of season 6. There are very few shows that show such a wide range of amazing women and be able to present a variety of important and sensitive topics. No need to worry about the Bechdel test here.
  • School: Had another visit from Science Travels, which is the third or fourth year in a row. They are always graduate students from the University of Ottawa. I’m always happy to welcome a group of nerds and just have some fresh conversation. This keeps me busy for 4 days straight, as I end up picking them up at the airport, going out for dinner with them and showing them around the school. It was fun, as always, though I didn’t spend as much time with this group as I did in previous year. Also busy with Elephant Thoughts as a new crew of 3 is in and helping my Grade 10 and 11s with studying and examination prep.
  • Bullet journal: Still using my first #bujo since September. The black hardcover grid Peter Pauper Press journal has worked well. I use it regularly for my weekly tasks, although I’ve officially started working on my new Leuchtturm 1917 (~$20) and setting up the new layout. It might take a while, but I hope to transfer to using it daily by July.
  • Sharing financial advice: A couple of female friends have been inquiring about financial advice lately and I’ve been really happy to share. I’ve mainly been explaining the differences behind using your RRSPs and TFSAs for investing and teaching friends about roboadvisors and why they’re a great place to start.
  • Make-Up: I dropped a couple of hundred of dollars on make-up in the past year, with the goal of learning how to do the basics. I invested in good vegan products, such as Tarte. YouTube tutorials (free!) have helped me learn the process and I can do a winged liner decently with some basic contouring (although I often forget the nose). I decide I wouldn’t be spending anymore on make-up as I have what I need and don’t need to go down a slippery spending slope. During the break, I did indulge in just one more item, a blending brush for my liquid foundation (~$10) from eyes. lips. face at Shopper’s Drug Mart. It was starting to feel ghetto using my fingers to apply … I had been looking for a foundation brush and nearly put in an order with Sigma, but remembered that, as of last year, e.l.f. finally switched over from horse hair to synthetic fibres on their brushes.

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Goose (Hunting) Break

Currently on my two-week holiday. In our school board, we do not have a March Break; instead, we have a much later holiday known as Goose Hunting Break. This makes everyone go crazy because the January-April period is just sooooo darn long.

Everyone goes out “into the bush” to shoot Canadian geese as they fly back towards their summer nesting grounds. The whole town shuts down and all the non-native teachers go back down south.

So far on my holidays, I’ve done a few things:

  • Signed a offer letter from my new job
  • Watched Logan
  • Ate Indian food with my sister and her husband
  • Started setting up a second roboadvisor for my RRSPs
  • Got my provincial tax return of $2,857.15
  • Had my cousin come over for dinner
  • Purchased the physical therapy bundle on Cody
  • Got my teeth cleaned at the dentist
  • Attended a YTT info session at Queen Street Yoga
  • Went to see an allergist
  • Cooked dinner with Gramma
  • Ate a vegan tamale

I still have a bit more than a week left and there’s still lots to do! Happy to have this paid holiday!

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Learning How to Use Sketch Up 8

Had some extra time at the end of the day, so I decided to knock off a task that I’d been putting off a while: learn how to use Sketch Up.

Sketch Up is 3D modeling software that I first came across a few years ago. It was originally developed as an add-on for Google Earth, but eventually developed into a stand-alone product. I have no time for it in the general classroom, as I already struggle to cram the whole curriculum into the year, but as I have one student who is ahead on the course, I thought that 3D modeling would be a great extension for the Area and Volume unit.

I found a great 15-minute YouTube tutorial on Sketch Up 8, which is the paid version that is installed on all the computers at school. I followed it and tried to replicate all the functions shown in the video:

This was the end product. Not much to look at but I admit that it was fun. I’m not much of a designer, but I can see great potential for students to get creative. I’ll still need to come up with a written assignment, but my student will have great fun with it.

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Stashing Money for the Future

Since I’ll be flying to my interview next week, I put the Air Canada flight on my American Express card. I was able to get more than 2000 points with it!

When I checked my American Express account this afternoon, I found that I had at least 6500 points, which was good for another $50 gas card.* I’ve redeemed the points and am waiting for it in the mail. However, I won’t use it until the summer time, when I won’t have any income.

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*The points exchange has remained the same since 2013, when I got $25 credit for gas with 3500 points. 

OAME 2017

Excited that I will be attending the annual Ontario Association for Mathematics Education (OAME) conference in Kingston, Ontario in May. Apparently, registration has been filling up fast. I got a reminder email to sign up for workshops, so these were my choices.

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The first one in the list is actually mine! I’ll be running my workshop Thursday, May 11th as one of the very first sessions. This means that the groups will likely be small – Saturday mornings tend to be the most populated – but I’m happy that it’s in the beginning, I get it over with, so I don’t have to stress out about it for two days and struggle to enjoy the conference itself!

I haven’t done any planning at this point – no surprise – but I had made rough notes after doing a webinar on NOMA. This will be the basis for my presentation. So I’ve got the skeleton, but I just haven’t fleshed it out yet.

Some other chores that are keeping me busy :

  • Starting new units on trigonometry in both Grade 10 and 11
  • Trying to get transcripts of my online course so I can expense it to the school board
  • Getting marking done for the end of term 2, which is on Thursday
  • School board applications – two more deadlines this coming week
  • Getting another reference letter from an administrator

It’s been rather busy since coming back from the holidays and although it’s slowed down a bit with the completion of my online course, other things just pile up!

I’ll feel much better after then end of this coming week!

15 Minutes of Fame

Just wanted to share some exciting news – the Ontario College of Teachers did a one-page article on my Grade 10 and 11 classroom in Waskaganish, Quebec. It was published in the March copy of the quarterly magazine; if you want to check it out, my ugly mug is on page 45

Thanks to Stefen Dubowski for the interview and letting me yabber on. It was also great fun hanging out with the photographer, Matt Liteplo, as we showed him around Waskagnish for the week. Also, big thanks to OCT for sharing the love. It means a great deal to get a little bit of recognition!

Most of all, my students, including one of my former graduates, S., who ended up in the photoshoot and making us laugh like crazy. I would not love my job if it weren’t for the kids, even if they drive me mad!

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Exciting News

Some exciting news, which a few of my friends know about, but I haven’t shared with too many people yet …

The Ontario College of Teachers is doing a small article on my classroom in the “Tech Class” column! They flew a photographer up north a few days ago and we spent yesterday doing the shoot with three students. It was super fun, although a bit tedious.

The way this all came about is funny; I offered to be interviewed by phone with a journalist who was looking to speak with teachers. I had no idea that he represented my licensing board. I didn’t hear anything for several months and was contacted in December by the media company that OCT contracts. We set up the appointment and now it’s done!

I’m really hoping that this will help me with my networking and job-hunting in the future.  The article won’t be posted until March 2017, but I’ll post more info then!

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Considerations for Leaving the North

Lately, I’d been considering whether I should leave the north or not. I’ve had a few students ask me if I am staying on for next year and have told them that it wouldn’t be likely.

While I know I am seeking new challenges and know that one will never truly be ready for change, there are many aspects of the north that I know I will miss.

  • Cheap rent: I pay about $1000 a year as my housing is mainly subsidized.
  • Minimal commute time: It takes me less than 5 minutes to drive to work and only about 12 minutes to walk. It’s easy for me to pop in on the weekends or the evenings if I’ve forgotten something or would like to catch up.
  • Lots of free time: Related to having a minimal commute time. If J. is running late, I could still walk home or just head to the gym by myself.
  • Accessible and affordable gym: The gym is literally the building next to my school. For my membership, I pay approximately $120 for the entire year. And mind you, I drop a lot more dollars on Cody app fitness plans, but those have always been an investment in my health and knowledge. The other thing is that I’ll never have again is a fairly unused squat rack where there are no line-ups.
  • Being able to sleep in: Again, related to the short commute, I can sleep in pretty late.
  • Having time with J.: Since we currently work in the same building and have the same start times, we travel to and back together. We are able to have lunch together and eat dinner at the same time.
  • Being able to save money: There is no place to spend it. If you spend money online and order items, you have to put some thought into it. There is no place to buy alcohol, so going out for a cinq-à-sept after work instead of the gym isn’t something that happens.
  • Having a big, fat classroom budget: I am currently able to spend $2200 a year for my classroom. That’ll never happen again in a public school “down south”… sigh.

Ultimately, I have to finalize a decision by the end of February. I have to sign a piece of paper and give it to my principal to declare whether I am staying or not. I’m trying to screw up the courage to do it, but at the same time, map out my future with J. It’s tricky and am just trying to figure out how we are going about things.

So just to support myself emotionally and mentally, I’m reminding myself that people quit their jobs and do new stuff all the time. Even awesome and inpsiring ladies like Jessica Moorhouse is able to take the leap and quit her job to try something new and that sometimes you just have to put yourself out there.

I’ve also been re-listening to Cheryl Strayed’s Wild. I’d read it a few years ago, but since my friend V. got me listening to the Dear Sugar podcast, I decided to revisit her book. If you’re unfamiliar with the story, it’s about a woman who decides, during a very difficult period of her life, to do a solo hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. Reading about all the hardships of hiking in the wilderness alone – not stepping on rattlesnakes, running out of water, losing a hiking book off the edge of a cliff – helps me put into perspective my own hardships (which there are very few of).

Anyway, it’s still Thursday. I have a spare first period, so it was nice to find this time to blog, but I need to keep my feet on the ground and head out for work soon!

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Running a Workshop at School

It’s a professional development today, meaning no classes to teach. I love when this happens on Fridays! I had been bugging the principal for a while and she finally let me do a Quizlet teaching workshop. In total, I had 12 teachers attend and everyone had fun in the 45-minute session!

One teacher told me that she was glad she came; she hates workshops when they are a waste of time. I reassured her, “If I have something to share, I will never waste your time.”

Also, here’s my make-up. I wasn’t stressed doing it before work and it turned out alright (eyeliner is still hard for me as I still can’t tighten the line … yet). The overall look is a bit softer than the initial test run last weekend. The brows look good (although one got a bit too much mousse and turned black instead of brown). This could be a good casual look, although I still need to figure out how to contour my nose, because otherwise, it looks very flat.

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