I’m baaaaaaack

So took some time to focus on other things for quite awhile. Got caught up teaching part time for a few months, then that wrapped up in time for my summer job with camps. It’s been an eventful few months.

Being September, I’m not getting much supply work, but I’ve had a few days. Including an eventful day today. I supplied at one school for the Drama teacher last week for a morning and then again this week for a full day. I also helped out today and the grade 12 class, who met me on Monday, decided to serenade me with “Call Me Maybe” because, hey, they just met me. They’re a fun bunch.

I really liked teaching senior grades for elective classes because – especially with Drama – they want to be there. It makes a difference, especially when you’re constantly dealing with people currently making you out to be the bad guy at the moment when there’s a contract dispute. The government has basically taken away the rights of collective bargaining and the right to strike from teachers. I’m not big on strikes – I’ve been on the other side of them too often – but you can’t suddenly start taking away things that have been bargained for in the past. Add in that they’re bargaining through the media…it’s just bad all around and makes me very frustrated.

But – there’s nothing I can do at this point because I’m at the bottom of the totem pole again. I once again went through what I term to be “sham interviews” where the interviewers know exactly who they’re hiring, but they have to interview a minimum number of people. This time it was a total of 3 interviews for jobs that started in September. Two I lost to internal hires, typical, and the third I lost to someone with 20+ years experience. I’m not even 25 years old- I was screwed.

Such is life though – as it stands right now I’ve found enough to keep me occupied during the slow supply month and I’m debating writing a novel again. Since you can easily self-publish stuff as ebooks now it’s easier than it used to be.

We’ll see. But for now, I’m going to try to start blogging again to keep writing.

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Psychosomatic Sickness

I’m one of those people who usually does well under stress, but I have been known to have bouts of psychosomatic sickness. Usually in terms of nausea, headaches and joint pain. I was offered a teaching job late last week and it’s taken me until the past day or so to process it. The result has been that I’ve gone from sheer excitement to the dawning realization of just how much work I have to do. I’m also replacing a favourite teacher of many kids while he’s on sick leave. That is a lot to live up to. I’m lucky though that I get to start a new semester with a new set of classes, so these kids haven’t had the other teacher. However, he’s very well known in the school.

The result has been the sudden feelings of random sickness – often when I’m eating new foods. This is something I’ve noticed before. I love good food and I love trying new things. However, certain smells can occasionally set me off. Things like vinegar and stronger sweet smells can really set me off and make my stomach turn. But it depends on the day.

Tonight was a prime example of this. First I thought it was the wine upsetting me, but it wasn’t a feeling in my gut, so much as in my chest. I’ve never really had heart burn in the past, but apparently this is a new symptom I have when I’m stressed.

I often feel the most nauseous in the morning – especially if it’s an early morning for work. I’m a big coffee drinker, but some mornings I can’t even handle the smell of coffee because it’s too strong.

I often feel like a hypochondriac about the whole thing and admittedly, the symptoms are often aggravated by alcohol and changes in my eating habits. The problem I run into is that until something happens, I have no idea it’s coming. Usually my stress bubbles in my subconscious for some time and it’s not until something happens physically that I know how bad it’s gotten.

What I’ve learned from this is that it’s one of those things to be aware of, but you can only address it when it happens. I’m the type of person who needs stuff to do and routine, especially in terms of the times I wake up and when I usually eat my big meals. I can’t eat super late at night because it upsets my stomach.

Have you ever had this though? Where your stress starts to influence your physical well-being very quickly?

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New year’s resolutions

I’m not really a big new year’s resolution person. I’ve tried making them in the past, but rarely do I follow through since I don’t always make specific ones. I find I’m better at following resolutions if I make them in the middle of the year. For example the typical “eat healthier.” This goes up and down for me. If I’m busy, I get lazy and just grab what’s easy. This was especially true when I lived on my own. The only year I really did well with eating more healthy was when I lived in Sweden since they don’t sell as much frozen food and such as North America does. However, I also drank more because there were lots of parties, so even though I walked everywhere (and I mean EVERYWHERE – I was too cheap to take the bus) I think I ended up gaining weight!

I joined a gym a few months ago – specifically for the classes. I got to zumba two nights a week and have made it a commitment for myself, even though it’s a drop in class. Unless something big comes up (Christmas party, etc) I don’t miss it. I treat it like I would a soccer practice. I’ve never really had a weight problem – at my heaviest I was almost 140lbs and I stand 5’5″ and all that weight was muscle from when I played high level competitive soccer and trained 3 nights a week with the team. As soon as the season was over I dropped about 20 pounds. I’m now in my early 20s and weight about the same as I did in high school. I never gained the freshmen 15, despite eating a lot of take-out/cafeteria food because I was super stressed out from my living situation. When I’m stressed, I end up physically ill. So having to set goals like “I will lose 15lbs” or whatever has never been a big deal to me. I consider myself incredibly lucky, as several of my closest friends have really struggled with their weight and in some cases serious health problems because of their weight.

I’ve never smoked, so I’ve never resolved to quit. I’ve never been a heavy drinker – except for that year in Europe, but I never drank alone – it was always at parties/with friends and I’ve never been blackout drunk. I’ve always been a decent student so I’ve never had to resolve to bump up my marks. I know it’s not worth it to stress myself out by saying my new year’s resolution is to get a full time job, since it’s kind of beyond my control. I apply to anything and everything I can and I prep for interviews,  volunteer, etc. but after that – it’s out of my hands.

I would never resolve to “get a boyfriend” because again, I don’t think that’s something I can control. You either meet someone, or you don’t. Put your best foot forward by all means, but it’s not something I’m going to jot down on my to-do list.

There are things I want to do, but those end up on my bucket list. For example, I really want to go to Egypt, India, Kenya and Peru. I also want to swim with the dolphins, go on a safari, see the Amazon, climb Machu Pichu, take a gondala ride through Venice and go skiing out west in Banff. Those things cost a lot of money though, so I know it’s not an achievable goal for my current financial situation.

Any time I’ve made a change in my life, such as dressing better and not wearing sweats out in public unless it’s to the gym, it’s been in the middle of the year and is a reaction to how I feel at that time. The dressing better was because I realized I was in my 20s and wearing t-shirts with slogans on them that were from first year university. Also, I made the mistake of wearing sweats to a class one day in Europe and got stares, plus I’ve watched a lot of What Not To Wear. Once you’re done university, you gotta class it up a bit and dress like an adult.

Do you make new year’s resolutions? Why or why not?

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December Birthdays

I happen to be one of those unfortunate people who is afflicted with a December Birthday. When you reach the point in your life where you would like to have kids, do those kids a favour and try not to conceive nine months from December. You will save them a great deal of frustration.

You see December is already a busy month for everyone. You have all the major holidays happening which means various Holiday parties/dinners/family commitments/etc. and then to really add to things, there are several years in there where anyone who is in college/university has exams during that entire month. If you think you’ll be smart and try to do a November birthday, forget it because that’s when everyone has projects/essays do if they’re in university/college. And if you think it’ll be smarter to just wait until the new year in January, forget that because everyone is just like “Wasn’t your birthday a month ago?” and doesn’t care.

So yeah, I’m a little bitter about it. People always have other things going on to the point that I never feel like I’m a priority. At a certain point when the majority of your returned RSVPs are negative, you start to feel a bit like a friend-less loser. Now granted, if your birthday was any other month of the year, very easily people could also be busy and be unable to come, but it’s always magnified this time of year because everyone is getting party fatigue.

Yes, birthdays are not super important after a certain point, but it’s the one day a year you’re allowed to be a little selfish and demand people be nice to you. Don’t even get me started on the idea of combo Birthday/Christmas gifts – worst idea ever. No other birthday month has this problem, so why should I?

Now some of my issues are likely a result of the type of friends involved and are not directly related to the December birthday problem, but they are also annoying as hell and deserve a mention.

1. If it is not your birthday, you don’t get to pick what we do. End of story. Suck it up and come out and have a good time for the sake of the birthday girl/boy.

2. Do not bail day of. Seriously – dick move. This pretty goes for anything at all. Unless you have a really good reason, bailing day of is about the rudest thing you can do.

3. Quit being non-commital. Again – this goes for every day life and not just for birthdays, but I find it really frustrating with a December birthday. Learn to make a decision.

4. Wrap a birthday present in holiday paper. Seriously – no.

5. Combo-gifts deserve another mention here. Would you give someone their birthday present in July and say it was also their combo gift with Christmas? No. If we are the kind of friends that do presents, I want two presents like what I got you.

6. Try to convince me to holiday theme my birthday. No.

I’m finding it very frustrating this year, as a few of my friends are like “Well, birthdays don’t really matter and people just don’t do big parties anymore.” Yeah except I never got to have a big party to begin with once we were all legal drinking age because everyone always had exams. It’s especially frustrating when you start to question why you decided to bother having a party at all, because all it has done is piss you off and make you feel like your friends could really care less about you.

So do me a favour, be nice to your friends with December birthdays and cut them some slack when they get annoyed. Unless you have a holiday birthday it’s very hard to understand the frustration.

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Things That Will Distract Students

The longer I teach – or more accurately, the longer I substitute teach, the more I notice how easily distracted high school kids are. I won’t lie, I often get easily distracted myself but I’ve come up with a bit of a list that will tell you which days you’re just not going to be able to encourage the kids to get much work done.

1. Any day there is a substitute. This is pretty standard. It can depend on the class, but overall, as soon as kids see a sub they figure it’s a do nothing day.

2. Snow – any time it’s snowing a lot, particularly if it is the first snow of the season, kids will be bonkers the entire day. This is especially true if they have windows. Sometimes interior classrooms without windows can help, but odds are they still know it’s snowing and could care less what you have to say.

3. Assembly days – shortened periods, etc. mean kids are not ready to focus.

4. Mondays – it’s the first day back after the weekend and they can’t be bothered.

5. Wednesday – it’s the middle of the week and they just can’t be bothered.

6. Friday – it’s the end of the week and gosh they need to make their weekend plans during your class and how dare you tell them to be quiet and learn soemthing instead.

7. Holidays – Halloween, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day – anything that has dressing up or decorations, distraction.

8. If there was a fight at lunch.

9. If it’s someone’s birthday.

10. Anyone has food in class.

11.It’s first period and they’re still half asleep.

12. It’s right before lunch and they’re hungry.

13. It’s right after lunch and they’re sugared up or they were too busy talking to eat their lunch and now they want to eat it in your class..

14. It’s the last class of the day and they just want to go home.

15. They have a phone, ipod, laptop, etc.

16. You turn off the lights for a movie, overhead or powerpoint.

I’m only exaggerating slightly in some cases – quite honestly anything and everything can be a distraction these days. Certain things – like phones – are the bane of my existence in classrooms. Other things, it’s behyond your control

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Miss vs. Ms. vs. Mrs.

Now it’s an interesting thing – I almost always go by Ms. in my day to day life, particularly as a teacher. However, for this blog I opted for Miss Substitute Teacher. I can’t even remember why, I think it just flowed a bit better.

What I find interesting though is how little people know about the different female titles listed in the subject heading. Men always just have “Mr.” but women have to make a choice, and even then your choice may not always be honoured. Now most of the kids who know me particularly well do address me with Ms. and many female teachers do as well. Male teachers almost always Miss – particularly older ones. Some fellow teachers hesitate though and end up with Ms. because I do wear a ring on my left finger, but because I look young, they aren’t sure. Now some women don’t care about the titles one way or the other. However to me Miss always seems to young for a professional woman in her career. To me “Miss” is best used on girls who are not yet 18. Mrs. is very much for married women. And Ms. is that in-between the two.

HOWEVER – why do women even have to change? Well the thing is it’s still left over from a previous time where it was expected. But I don’t see the need to announce my marital status to the world if men don’t have to. I think what bothers me even more is when people don’t even ask what I prefer and even worse, the don’t understand that Miss Ms and Mrs are different titles.

I mentioned I wear a ring on my left ring finger – perhaps a reason why men don’t generally approach me at random. It’s actually a sorority ring I’ve inherited and is silver and stamped with the crest. No gemstone, nothing fancy, just an imprint on a wider part of the band. Simple – and it happens to fit on that finger. On my right ring finger I wear a claddagh ring turned to show – to those in the know – that I am actually single. The reason I bring up the ring is more and more often I’m having kids notice it and asking if I’m engaged or married, then commenting on how young I look. I’ve had parents think I was a student recently when I was volunteering after school hours – or perhaps they thought I was a university student at least – they definitely were surprised to hear I was a teacher.

I find it interesting that this is still such a “thing” today. Maybe it bothers me because I am single and no where near marriage. Hard to say – but I do think the assumptions about my status, as well as the idea that it’s any of their business are what bother me most some days.

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Juggling Jobs

So I think I’ve mentioned before how I currently juggle a variety of jobs in order to make ends meet. My main focus is being a substitute teacher, as it will (hopefully) lead to a fully fledged teaching career in which I actually get to go to the same place every day. In any event, I currently work multiple jobs and one of them is an off-shoot of my summer job running summer programs for kids ages 6-12. Now, I am a supervisor for said program, but often the staff are high school aged. I’m also a very visible supervisor because I do a lot of extra stuff and I have some seniority.

Today I was at one of my usual schools I sub in. I was finishing up a note for the teacher and trying to get my stuff out of the classroom in time for the next teacher to come in. I wasn’t even facing the door and a gr.12 walks in. He immediately recognized me from my summer job. I had no idea who the hell he was because he works in another part of town.

Still, this is not the first time. I’ve been teaching a leadership course on weekends and have run into some of my students from that while subbing in schools.

The reason something like this is awkward is because these kids know my first name. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but remember how exciting it was to know your teacher’s first name when you were a kid? Yeah. Add in that I need to have as much power as I can as a sub and sometimes things like keeping my first name secret make that easier. (Oddly when kids guess they never guess my actual name, which happens to be fairly common.)

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