Wednesday, April 3, 2013

March Madness

(my apologies for attempting to steal this title from the NCAA, but it is a fitting name for this post and I doubt anyone who knows me really cares about basketball or my plagiarism of it)

My March was nuts. Frantic.

It was also a reminder to me of what I am doing well both personally and professionally.

It begins with Jan 1 (I am indifferent to chronology) when my wife woke up with a migraine. No big deal, not even when it hung around for a couple days. Just black out the window, pick up the slack with the kids and get ready for school to start, right? Except the migraine didn't go away. Not in January; not in February either.

In a miracle of miracles, if you understand the Canadian medical system ("got a serious problem? we will get you in in 4-8 weeks") my wife got a recommendation to a neurologist and an appointment the same day, the day before I was to present at teacher's convention at the end of February. That evening she was admitted to hospital and for a week the accepted medications which should have solved her problems failed to have any significant impact. She checked herself out a week later, with some improvement, but still suffering the same continuous migraine pain.

(tangent: it is wonderful to be a person with a serious medical complaint simply for the variety of people who come up with good advice and 'non-traditional' therapies to try out, which worked well for them or their second cousin's dog-walker's aunt. I feel for all pregnant women and chronically ill people everywhere being buried in the deluge of this well-meaning, but valueless drivel)

In the meantime, as my wife was going through this, I was running back and forth between students/work, my kids and a Google conference. I was feeling a bit pulled, but I was confident in what I was doing in my classroom, so felt I had at least met my professional obligations to do well by my students.  In fact, I had started my students on a project which would keep them busy and challenged for the remainder of March, putting them in charge of what they learned and how deep they could go. The results are going up on display once we finish our spring break next week.

Unfortunately, all the running around, getting up early to make lunches for my kids, taking them to school, picking up two of them from school and their brother from the sitter's, while ensuring everything was getting taken care of at home so my wife didn't have to cause herself additional pain trying to do it, meant I was getting run down. I actually had a week right before our spring break where it was an effort to get out of my chair during class time. Despite that, I pushed ahead, getting all 75 of my kids working on a story-writing project to prepare them for the provincial test coming up in May. And getting all my documents and items ready for the spring break missions trip I was accompanying 70 students and 6 other staff on to the Dominican Republic.

Needless to say, by the time I arrived at the airport for our midnight overnight flight(!) to the DR, I was pretty much done. Except as a chaperone, I can't be done. I need to be on top of details, encouraging to the kids and ready for anything. I managed to wear that hat for all the hours until we arrived at our site, then collapsed a little bit.  I was blessed to be on the trip with amazing kids, fantastic staff and a pretty good base to work out of (walled compound, convenience store on the grounds and a pool). I slept lots when I wasn't needed and by the time we headed out to build our houses, I was ready.

The trip we do is an annual one our grade 9s take to put their faith into practise, building homes for families who own their property, but have no reasonable hope of every getting funds together to build their own home. The students learn a lot about poverty, serving others and how much bigger the world is than what they have experienced. It is always a privilege to go and assist the kids in this voyage of discovery. Plus I have gotten to go to three countries now which I would not have been able to go to on my own paycheque.

The trip ended well, I really need to post on just the trip itself, and when I returned I met my wife in Vancouver for her nephew's wedding. As her migraine has subsided, giving her pain free days for the first time in months, we were able to spend some great alone time together in a beautiful city with some great weather.

I don't wish to have many times like I endured this past month, but it is encouraging to me to note the successes I had as a parent and teacher. I was able to keep things running at home, providing quantity time for my boys as they needed it. Plus, I was able to provide not just a running-in-place atmosphere in my classroom, but one that was challenging, student-centered and met the required curriculum needs set out for me. I am glad to have met the challenge of the past month and be able to walk through it head held high.


  1. initially i thought you wrote "back out the window" when you mentined your dw's migraine...