Wednesday, August 28, 2013
..... getting ready to teach this fall......
..... and feeling well prepared. I woke early this morning.... to the tune of 4:30 am. I spent the early hours reading the paper, sorting through bills, mail and answering emails and checking notes. The oppressive humidity outside has turned into a downpour. The stink in the air is reflected on a few FB walls... sweat socks and wet dog!! The swing in the weather this summer has oscillated from cold days, colder nights, wet, hot as hades, cold sweater weather and now back to uncomfortable heading into the school season. Mostly though, I am grateful for the cooler weather.... the days when I could breathe..... the rest of them were spent in the cool of the air conditioning.
Today I feel my best in 10 days... strong and ready to work as I head out at a little past 8 am. I am heading into the labs this morning to finalize the mini video tutorials I have been creating with Sara on my iPhone5. The impressive ability for the video feature to capture crisp footage in low lighting is remarkable. We have created a game plan before heading back in and spend the time deleting the clips we want from those that are sporting Sara's finger. I joke with her that she takes photos like my Mom.... then I splash us both with Rosin from a tipped container. A quick break to clean up and begin again where we left off. I am back in my element loving every second of this experience.... feeling alive. I think every cancer patient needs to have a goal and to continue to live life with as much normalcy as possible while still pursuing excellence. I have paced myself and while I feel I have much more left to do, the foundation is built and now I get to see my hard worn effort to be put in motion next week..... and I cannot wait!!! I purchased a teacher schedule book to use to fill in and keep track of the day to day activities. There will be tweaking.
We decide to head over to the office so I can sign my contract before lunch and the divisional meeting that is scheduled after that. We stop to chat to a few colleagues. I am weary of explaining my illness and find I am not keen to talk about it. I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me. It is hard to see the discomfort and pity on the faces of people I have known for decades as they search for the right words in response of learning the news first hand from me. I assure them that I am fine and looking forward to the start of the school year. It is what my focus is. It allows me to forget while I absorb myself deep into a new challenge.
The afternoon brings us to a division meeting with my peers and an opportunity to review goals, mission statements, values and expectations. I really feel at this point that I am heading into the right direction with a vision to create a sense of community and connection in the classroom while teaching the soft skills so critical in a professional environment. It was hard to not notice a few stares from around the room. One of my colleagues in another course mentioned my short hair.... I found myself explaining to her and felt so bad that she was embarrassed and realized how awkward I had been feeling about the continued thinning of my hair and the ravages to my facial features from the chemo despite the make-up. I have gained a fair bit of bloat from the medicines I take to offset the effects of the chemo which creates its own set of problems. Sara and I head back to the labs to finish off our work for the day when the meeting adjourns . "I think it's time I consider purchasing a few hats before Tuesday Sara.... not really sure I want to stand out". She looks over at me and knows that I am feeling very aware of my own awkwardness. Do I wear a hat, scarf or continue to go without cover? She has a few hats if I want them but assures me that I look OK. I will try the hat or a light scarf until I can figure out this time what works for me.
My vision for the students is to create an experience that brings them into a collaborative environment where all of them are a part of an inclusive, cohesive group of students who positively challenge each other. My recent experiences as a student have reminded me keenly of how important the role of professor is in keeping and setting the pace of the class and expecting professional respect and behaviours from all members of the class in a non-partisan fashion. As a teacher amongst high school students, I was reminded to immediately address issues as they came up and to be an effective communicator in facilitating open communication within the peer group to solve personality issues and to bridge misunderstandings.... the soft skills of human interaction. While it is not perfect, I do not subscribe to ignoring a problem or wishing it away.... it only causes hard feelings and unresolved issues..... and always someone being left out. In my professional life, a teacher is a mentor, friendly and welcoming while maintaining a high level of professional attitudes and behaviours in keeping with a good, well respected manager in industry. They are not afraid to address issues immediately and before they become problems. They are willing to accommodate and foster success by careful observation and reflection. The year I spent at Western was one well spent.... and now.... I am ready to put into practice new skills. Bring it!!
William has just recently discovered the magic of collect calls. While we arranged to have him only contact us on Sunday nights, he decided to call last night. Yes, I will pass on your message to your GF of three weeks and will again solicit a request to have her drop off a note and picture for the package I am sending his way for next week. I remind him to stay focused as we end our call. He seems to be taking things in a better stride this week.
Today will be a packed day of working from home and polishing the first few weeks of lectures, notes and lab work. It's good to be back. I am dedicating this blog to all the hard-working teachers I know who strive for excellence with everything they do and for all the support from an excellent hard-working team of individuals I have the priviledge of being an integral member with. Cheers to a most excellent year!!