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Teaching For Creativity: Assignment 5

Hi!

It made more sense to post everything on my professional portfolio page since the attachments were too large for our forum.

Thanks,

Danielle

Morning Routines:

Danielle’s Morning Routine: I Feel Terrific vs I Feel Terrible Scenarios

Helen’s Morning Routine: Redesign Process

Helen’s Morning Routine: Redesign Process

Helen’s Morning Routine: Redesign Process

Helen’s Morning Routine: Redesign Process

Reflection Part 1:
I thought the process of asking someone else about their morning routine would be awkward. I struggled with who I should ask to be my ‘subject’ because I know how different my morning routine is compared to everyone else I know. I have a partner and a dog. Everyone else I know has a partner, kid(s) and often a pet too. What I am able to do before I leave for work looks quite different in comparison to what others can do (due to personal responsibilities) and I was worried about coming off as judgemental. I then realized that when I use empathy, the judgement piece is no longer a factor. I am not judging my friend, but because the mornings are such a busy time for her she is sensitive to how things might look to an outsider. We cleared that up right away! I told her that I was only here to listen and see if there was something I could do to help, even something that seems silly or “out there”. Empathy for the ‘win’! Removing the judgement and really listening helped to eliminate any awkwardness. If we want to do all the things that make us “feel terrific” then we have to make that a priority. Having a terrific morning often translates to a better day ahead, so we should be trying to do what we can in order to “feel terrific” as often as possible! Helen needs to work on communication and coming up with a plan as a family and I need to be motivated to just get up and get going because that’s when I feel best. I cannot control when the dog gets up and is extra hungry, but I can control how I react to that. Helen cannot control everything and everyone in her household, but she can let others know how the rushed mornings make her feel and develop empathy for each other as a family.

It also helped that both my friend and I have actually used this exact template while doing “Picture Book Engineering” with our grade 3/4 students. We both recognize that the process is beneficial as it gets you thinking about problems, solutions and even problems with solutions, and actually have some fun along the way!

Design Thinking Process: Genius Hour Redesign

Redesign Process for Genius Hour

*Please see links below for graphics!

Grade 3/4 Genius Hour Redesign

Revised Genius Hour Graphic Organizer (Assignment 5) 

Reflection Part 2:

As I already mentioned I have used this process before, but what I didn’t mention was it has been the only reason I’ve used it. When I l first learned about this specific version of the design process and saw the physical document at a workshop it was for picture book engineering, so naturally that’s what I thought it was for! Nobody really talked about how it could be used for any type of design thinking. 

An area that we’ve “struggled” with at school over the past few years is Genius Hour. Year one: we wanted to do it, but didn’t know where to start…so we didn’t. Year two: we weren’t going to use the same excuse as the previous year so we took the plunge and learned as we went. Year three: We found resources to help track student progress to make them be more accountable. Year four: Well, that’s where this process may be able to help. We are currently thinking about ways to change Genius Hour time in our 3/4 classes in order to enhance the projects/process/learning opportunities/accountability/ for our students. We want to make things better, but need to decide what that even means. We have some planning time as a team coming up at school, this will be a good time to look the Design Thinking Process together. For now I’ve created something that we can start with. The great thing about Genius Hour is that we recognize the benefits of offering choice and voice for our students and are able to keep an open mind about making changes. This resource has helped spark a conversation with my team that we’ve been meaning to get to, but haven’t found the time. For me, going through the process has been helpful to initiate things and will play a role in the future of our Genius Hour projects moving forward.

 

 

 

 

Source of Vigour…I Am Love Project

“The I AM LOVE PROJECT was created from a vision where everyone is worthy of love, should be loved, and feel loved regardless of age, colour, gender, or race.

Our mission is to continuously encourage self-love; a practice which allows us to enjoy a positive relationship with ourselves and others. A mindset that is cultivated through the support of the community and backed up with heart.

By encouraging volunteerism, raising funds and awareness for smaller Canadian non-profit organizations, we together can sustain the chain of love.”

This is a quote from the I AM LOVE project mission statement. I’d also like to mention that it was posted on July 1, 2018! Despite being a new initiative in the Winnipeg area, the I AM LOVE project has already impacted many, many lives. Here is the story of the impact Amy Tung and the I AM LOVE project in Winnipeg, MB!

                                      

WHAT THE I AM LOVE PROJECT MEANS TO ME ON A PERSONAL LEVEL:

I met Amy Tung at one of the Pop Up Yoga events that the I AM LOVE project puts on. It was actually only the second Yoga fundraising event that Amy had organized through the I AM LOVE project! Jodi, one of my good friends (more on her later!!), posted about a Yoga event she had gone to and right away I sent her a text asking what the fundraiser was for and if it would be something she’d be interested in doing again. She told me a bit about the premise of the I AM LOVE project and said she’d love to go with me in August, so we signed up!

Reasons I signed up:

  1. The event was the day before my birthday and I was inspired by the idea of giving back to my community (a great way to start my “new year”)!
  2. I love to do Yoga, so that was also a good fit!
  3. There were great local businesses that were sponsoring the event (more on one of my favourite Winnipeg products later)!
  4. It was a nice way to spend the morning with a friend

Reasons I wanted to know more about the I AM LOVE project after being at the Yoga fundraiser:

  1. Amy Tung, the amazing founder of the project, came up to my friend and I after Yoga and thanked us for coming. Amy actually remembered Jodi (my friend) from the previous Pop Up Yoga event. She was SO nice. Jodi and I joked afterward that we thought we were nice and then we met Amy and were so pleasantly shocked that people like her existed..we decided that we needed to step up our “niceness game”!
  2. The charity for August was for the Mood Disorder Association of Manitoba-a smaller charity that really benefited from the money that was being fundraised as well as the advertised awareness for the organization. It was such a nice change to support a smaller organization, one that people may not know about but one day may need the assistance of or know someone who might benefit from its support.
  3. Seeing the support of many local businesses was special and inspiring. There was a beautiful vibe at the event. I wanted to be part of the next cause, even if it was only through my $20 donation.

Reasons I am sharing the I AM LOVE project as my source of vigour:

  1. Amy Tung and her amazing will to make the world a better place.
  2. The reminder that people are out there helping other people. Despite all the terrible things we hear… we need to remember that there are awesome human beings that are directly impacting people’s lives and the social sustainability of our community.
  3. To show the ripple effect of an act of kindness…
  4. It might inspire someone else!

How the I AM LOVE project has impacted myself and the people in my life:

-First Jodi went to a Pop Up Yoga fundraiser, then Jodi and I went, then Jodi, Penny and I went and now I have people asking me to join us the next time we go!

-My colleagues are now following Amy on Social Media and asking me about the I AM LOVE project and the impacts Amy is making on the community

-Jodi is involved with an upcoming event where she is giving haircuts to people in need. She also collects warm clothing and feminine hygiene products for one of the organizations that Amy supports

-and this is only the beginning!

I am truly honoured to introduce Amy Tung and the I AM LOVE project to you via an interview with Amy….

MEET AMY!

Photo courtesy of Amy’s Instagram account: i_am_love_project (permission granted)

Amy! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?!

I grew up in Winnipeg with one older brother, and most of my childhood, as well into my early adulthood, was devoted to helping the family business. Then I graduated University and decided to move to Hong Kong and I managed a makeup and nail salon for a while. When I moved back to Winnipeg, my brother and I started a business together and later on I started working for H&M.

While I was working for H&M I realized I was more suited to HR so I took courses and started applying whenever I saw an opening to non-profit organizations, admin positions, anything related to HR. I didn’t get any phone calls but that just made me realize even more how much I wanted to help people.

I get motivated in doing the work I do now, by the people around me and other like-minded people who I’ve gotten to know.

I know I was supposed to talk about me but I ended up talking about how I got to this position, but I think the work you do kind of defines what kind of person you are; I’m passionate, caring, and I like the motivation I get from being under a certain amount of pressure. I work hard to help others and I want to share that occupation with other people. I want to continue to share love, to continue this chain of love. I want everyone to be able to say I Am Loved.

 Where did the idea for the I Am Love Project come from?

I think in a lot of ways, it came from how I was living my life and how I wanted to be, and how much I wanted to do for the people around me and the community I was living in. No matter where you go, you see people who have not been given love, or think they don’t deserve love, or have trouble understanding what love is. I wanted to show others what love can do and that they are all deserving of love, so I began the I Am Love Project.

How long did it take for the I Am Love Project to get up and running?

That depends on which part you mean. The I Am Love Project started out on my instagram account with motivation and meditation posts, so in that sense, I would say it took half a year, but if we’re talking how long it took for it to become what it’s known for now, making bracelets and pop-up yoga events, I would say 3-4 months.

What kind of setbacks have you encountered along the way?
Handling rejection and having people not show any interest in what I was doing was dejecting, and in that aspect I was experiencing emotional setbacks. I know that a “no” doesn’t hinder my performance, and it’s really just an opportunity for bigger and better things.

I found that finding people passionate and devoted to their cause isn’t hard (we’re all passionate about something) but a setback of sorts regarding collaborations and sponsors, was a lack of guidelines, who was going to do what, and the level of initiative that needed to be reached. 

What have you learned about yourself during this journey?

I learned I had to dream and to follow my dreams. Set goals around my dreams in order for them to come true. I know what it means to follow your dreams and do something your passionate about. It was always in my mind, but I needed to believe myself and make it happen. Everything is possible.

What are some of your best moments of the project thus far?

I have a few. One is at the end of every month, where the money denomination isn’t a huge amount but the impact is huge. Little by little, we are able to raise money and know exactly where that money will be going. Another best moment is living everyday to the fullest, I look forward to all the great people I get to meet. They have been super supportive every step of the way. Their eagerness to help, inspires and fills my cup everyday.

How has your vision for the I Am Love Project evolved since the beginning?

I don’t think the fundamentals of my vision have changed, I still want to spread love, to make others aware that they are worthy of love, no matter what nationality, no matter the age, gender, sexual preference. I want to bring awareness on community issues, mental health issues, youth involvement, and be a source of information for the people impacted by these issues.

I think what has changed is how far I want this to reach people. I wanted to support local charities in Winnipeg, and bring awareness to the general public, inform people who may not have been aware that these charities existed. It’s changed from wanting to keep it local to wanting other cities to get involved with their local charities, and keeping that chain of love, that flow of energy and community alive.

What are you hopes for the I am love project?

Oh my, there’s a lot! In a broader scale, build a stronger community. There are a few things I want to implement. First, make Yoga accessible (incorporate mindfulness in all settings). Second, bringing awareness to smaller charities. Every household should have a book with all the charities and the programs they offer (the charity yellow pages). Third, establish a law where grocery stores need to donate their food to homeless shelters, we can no longer waste food. This will support our charities and help them sustain. No longer will we need to exhaust our man power to secure food sponsorship. Lastly, spread love across borders, across cultures as it should be. Make volunteering and donating fun (statistically there has been a decline).

I know that the Future Under 40 has recently come out. Can you talk about what that means to you?

I think people thought that I wasn’t excited about being nominated, but I was actually just in shock that I would be nominated at all and honoured, and humbled, and overwhelmed. This is truly an honour. When I found out, I cried and I was speechless, I couldn’t find the words to describe how I was feeling for a few days. I was so excited and elated but none of the words I had were enough to tell people how I felt. That’s when I realized that I’d never felt this way before, and now I know what the emotion “honoured” feels like. It feels amazing. It’s amazing that the I Am Love Project is being acknowledged in such a public manner, and it’s amazing because the project will reach even more people.  I’m excited for what this will bring in the future.

Future 40 Finalist Amy Tung-CBC

Quote below is from the second round of CBC’s Manitoba Future 40 list for 2018:

Amy Tung is an inspiring young woman spreading love throughout Winnipeg.

Through her volunteer work at West Broadway Youth Outreach and Big Brothers Big Sisters Winnipeg, she found many non-profit organizations lack funding, awareness and engagement. In early 2018, she took matters into her own hands and started a business that will sustain itself and support Canadian charities — the I Am Love Project.

Every month, volunteers come together to create crystal intention bracelets in support of a charity that is making a big impact in the community. They select a new charity on a monthly basis. The I Am Love Project hosts pop-up yoga classes featuring different local teachers and venues and at the end of the month they deliver all proceeds to their chosen charity.

Within the last four months, we’ve raised over $10,000 for the Women’s Health Clinic, Turning Pages of Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba, Make Music Matter and Westman Dreams for Kids Foundation.

“We create the chain of love with no beginning and ending. Love and support is continuous.”

Can you talk about the Mama Bear Clan and your involvement?

The Mama Bear Clan is an amazing group of women who patrol Main Street to make it a safe environment for everyone who occupies it. They are a volunteer based organization and it’s mind-blowing to see how dedicated these women are and how strong they are. They inspired me, and I wanted to do my part for them by collecting donations and getting them the media coverage they deserve.

One is when I’ve made that impact, brought awareness to a charity and now an extra 50 people are aware of this new charity and their cause.

Another one is when relationships have been cultivated and you can see the support grow.  Having people reach out and want to participate, seeing people be as passionate as me and want to help out any way they can.

These are the best, most heart-warming moments.

CTV video/article on the Mama Bear Clan

CBC article on the Mama Bear Clan

Facebook page for Mama Bear Clan

Did you know Cheryl from Cranked Energy before her involvement in the I Am Love Project?

I did not know Cheryl. I reached out and she said YES! After getting to know me and all the different things I was involved in, she’s been saying yes to everything. She loves community and she’s been giving back ever since she was a child. 

MEET CHERYL!

Photo courtesy of Cheryl’s Instagram account: crankedenergy (permission granted)

An Interview with Cheryl Zealand: Owner of Cranked Energy Bars

  1. How did I hear about I AM LOVE:  Through the powers of Instagram – Amy reached out to Cranked via message and simply told me the basics of what she does and whether I would like to meet. I love taking meetings with local entrepreneurs so we met at the Cranked Shop and it was an instant connection made through our love for community and giving back.
  2. Why did Cranked get involved: As a business owner passionate about community it can be very hard running a business AND giving back. Energy focused on one often limits energy to put towards another. What I loved about Amy is that SHE is the connector and facilitator of all these amazing projects. Cranked can support her initiatives when and how we choose to. She gives us the ability to join in to existing projects she is working on, or sit down and create an initiate of our own. The key is the the IDEA can come from us, but the real WORK is done by Amy. The other part is that her initiatives support SMALL charities. The underdogs, the ones where $500 makes a HUGE impact. A small business cannot make an impact with big charities. Cranked has often supported Gala’s with donations or bought tickets but it often is not acknowledged or we don’t feel the direct impact because the larger companies with more money are able to get the good promo and acknowledgement due to the $$$$$ support.  With I  AM LOVE, we can donate a prize or a product, or we can buy 4 tickets to a yoga event and we know that our efforts make a difference.
  3. Meeting Amy has allowed me to finally give back in the way I always intended to. Since I was small, I have always given back as best I could. Whether it was money from my allowance to help a friend in need, or time spent after long hours at the office volunteering at Bingos to raise money for charity groups. Kids, career and then starting my own business slowed down my ability to give back. Amy came along and said, no matter what you can or are able to do, we will make it happen.
  4. My dreams for giving back have grown even in the last 6 months. It started with donating food to a yoga event. It then grew to weekly donations to Mama Bear Clan Patrol to hand out. It then grew to me taking a day off running Cranked Energy to spend running around the city doing random acts of kindness. We then did a sock drive, bring in new socks and get a free bar. It is now growing into 100 tote bags being shipped to a northern reserve full of products from local businesses, and then an evening handing out 500 coffees, 500 lunches and 500 toques PLUS haircuts for anyone on the streets needing one – Dec 21st. Amy brings an idea to us at Cranked and we say how can we help, what connections can we help you with, who in our community do we know who would love to get involved. Its connecting people through giving back that makes relationships strong and healthy. The focus is less “what can you do for me “ and more what can WE do together for our community.  Giving back is an actual feeling, and its a feeling everyone should experience. The problem is not everyone knows how to give back, are scared to, or feel like giving back means money out of their pockets. Amy and I create fun, innovative ways for People to get involved at minimal cost.
  5. Can you talk about your product and the role of sustainability: Cranked Energy was created to fill a hole in the market in terms of a fresh grab and go food product, high in nutrients and LOW in preservatives and chemicals. The mission was always to make lives easier for people to eat healthier. When a Cranked bar is purchased, I hope our clients know that their support now funds our community initiatives. As Cranked Energy grows, we are able to give back even more. The staff at Cranked and our sponsored athletes are expected to also give back . We often surprise junior teams or special need athletes with our athletes. Our team is full of people who already do A LOT for community, and when they join Cranked we are able to pull from their efforts while creating our own.  In the beginning our focus was creating a business that could provide for myself and my family in a basic way.  Today 4 years later, we are sustaining our family and the extra is able to be used for our community- to sustain their needs, support community projects, bring awareness to small charities and how your $ makes SUCH an impact. To show our youth empathy, and how they can. Give back (we do a sandwich drive every few months where the youth from sports teams come make sandwiches for mama bear clan at our Cranked Kitchen). This small act of a team of 14 year olds, showing up for a few hours, making sandwiches using products donated by our community, and then knowing they will be enjoyed by people in need is a small step forward to raising caring youth.  Our cranked kitchen I see as not just a kitchen to make our bars to sell. We have the space, we have the people,. We then have the ability to DO MORE. Its a mindset, and a movement I hope we can inspire many others to consider.

The reasons I wanted to introduce you to Cheryl:

-Cheryl is also an amazing person! She also makes amazing energy bars! I heard about her bars, tried them once and was hooked! I have NOT eaten a “non Cranked Energy Bar” since May! The bars taste great-like really great! They are fresh. They are produced in the city I live in! There is no transportation cost for shipping the bars…because I stop by when I am in the area! I share the bars with anyone who is looking for a product in the “energy bar market”!

-After my first visit to her shop, Cheryl remembered who I was! She was SO nice! We chatted a bit, then a bit more the next time I came in and I soon learned that she was very active in supporting the community. That’s part of what inspired me become extra loyal to her product line!

-Who was on the list of supporters for that first I AM LOVE Pop Up Yoga event I went to?!? Yes…Cheryl! Of course she was there, not only to give the bars out as a snack after the class, but also to participate! I learned that she had been to the first event and had plans on continuing her support to the project.

-At the most recent Pop Up Yoga I was at for the I AM LOVE project I was chatting with Cheryl and she mentioned her involvement with the Mama Bear Clan and invited my fiends and I to join them walk the streets sometime (which is on the list of things I plan on doing one day-hopefully soon). Cheryl also mentioned some of the people they met on their walks not wanting the food that was being handed out, but wanting a haircut instead, so they could look more “presentable” when trying to find a job. Cheryl said ” I need to find someone willing to donate haircuts”. Well wouldn’t know it…my friend Jodi has her own hair salon and right away said “I’ll do it!”. Just like that the ripple of kindness was spreading!

-Cheryl and Amy recently spent the day doing random acts of kindness. These two ladies are unbelievable! They do these acts of kindness because they care. They want to show others that they are loved. They make an impact on our society whether it is to one person, a family, a small group or within the larger community. They are making our world a better place and inspiring others to follow suit. They want people to be aware of what they can do to help out. I really feel like many people want to give, but don’t know how/where/what to do. Cheryl is so right when she says that Amy puts opportunities together for people and is making a huge difference because of her efforts.

-I can’t wait to see what these two will do next!

MEET JODI!

On the left (me-Danielle) and on the right (Jodi) at the I AM LOVE Pop Up Yoga Event in August, 2018

The reasons I wanted to introduce you to Jodi:

Jodi is the friend that I talk about sustainability issues with! She appreciates that I try to be loyal to local shopping and she is trying to put in the effort  to do the same. She is also very kind and generous. Jodi drives around with a case of water in case she meets a homeless person, or person in need that could really use a bottle of water. She is also the one who introduced me to the I AM LOVE project. Thanks to Jodi I have a really meaningful organization for this source of vigour project! On Friday, December 21, Jodi will be teaming up with other stylists to donate their time and give haircuts to those in need. Jodi is also part of the local business group who donates to the attendance prizes at the I AM LOVE project Yoga fundraisers.

December 21 is also the day that the proceeds from the Love For the Holidays Pop Up Yoga event that I attended will be turned into items of need for those who need them. 500 toques, meals, coffees and feminine hygiene productions will be distributed in Winnipeg. Isn’t that amazing?! This is what the I AM LOVE project is all about!

This is what Jodi had to say about Amy and the I AM LOVE project:

A friend bought me a ticket to the first I Am Love Pop Up  Yoga for my birthday as something different to do together. We got to the venue and were welcomed by strangers that did not at all feel like strangers, they were so welcoming and friendly! After the class I looked further into what the project was all about and it was just such a different approach to fundraising and promoting awareness and bringing people together that I couldn’t help myself and wanted to get involved. I have continued to attend as many of the Pop Up Yoga events as I can and try to help out with their events in whatever way is possible for me. It just seemed the natural progression, to support someone that is helping others.

MEET AMANDA!

Photo courtesy of Amanda’s Instagram account: shiftwpg (permission granted)

The reasons I wanted to introduce you to Amanda:

-Amanda is one of the Yoga instructors for the I AM LOVE project Pop Up Yoga fundraisers! She lead 200 people through the Love For the Holidays class (where the fund have turned into donations that are being distracted on  December 21)! Amanda is also my ‘regular’ Yoga instructor! Jodi and I attend her weekly Restorative and Meditation class and anytime she’s teaching at the studio near my home I sign up for her class! Amanda is a calm presence and is always looking to teach people about self love and self care.

This is what Amanda had to say about Amy and the I AM LOVE project:

Well when I first heard about Amy and what she was doing I was so interested and loved the concept of giving back in the way that she is. Particularly through her pop up yoga events and crystal bracelets. I purchased my first one at prairie love and spoke with her about getting involved in any way I could to help give back. We met for coffee and talked all things yoga, life, community, passion projects. She asked me to teach at the Love for the Holidays event … her largest fundraiser to date. She and her team of volunteers managed to sell 200 tickets to support the event.

I loved seeing how organized and driven she was/is and that she truly believes in the value of the work she’s doing. I’ve loved using yoga as a way to give back to the community but have not been able to do so on the same scale that she has … she knows a lot about fundraising the ins and outs and I felt it was a valuable learning experience for me too.

Back to Amy!

What are some of the thing you have worked through/are working through when it comes to running the  I AM LOVE project? *List is from Mulligan:An Introduction to Sustainability: Environmental, Social and Personal Perspectives (p. 184-5):  On Being a Change Agent

These are the areas that I can say that I’ve worked through and now strive in:

  • Focus on an issue or a set of challenges that you really care about.
  • Be bold and also realistic about your chances of success, do your research and make sure you know the issues and concerns very well.
  • Try to find people you enjoy working with, pay attention to these relationships as well as ‘the cause’.
  • Work on your oral and communication skills.
  • Be creative in the way you do things; a little humour can go a long way.
  • Always remember that good teams will achieve more than talented individuals.
  • Do not get demoralized when things don’t work out; learn the lessons of failure.

And this is one that I’m probably going to have keep working on:

  • Keep a balance in your personal and work life, avoid burnout; you have your whole life of activism ahead of you.

Because a lot of the stuff that I’ve been doing, I’ve had to organize and plan out a majority of the events on my own, I haven’t really had the time to take steps back and relax, but hopefully the new year will bring new opportunities of rest for me.

Final Thoughts:

Amy’s efforts within the I AM LOVE project are what social sustainability is all about. She is building community for people who maybe didn’t even know they could be part of something larger. She is telling people who may have forgotten…that they are loved. She is reminding people who are able to give about the impacts that giving to others has on our community. She is connecting businesses and everyday ‘ordinary’ people to causes that matter and that need attention. She is educating the people of Winnipeg (as well as Brandon and Calgary-where two of the Pop Up Yoga events have taken her so far) about resources that are available, who uses them and how we can make a difference to sustain such programs. Amy is sharing her message and the messages of those in need using her social media platform and presence. She is facilitating projects for people who want to think beyond themselves and help out those in need: whether that person is a child, a teenager, an adult, a senior, a man, a woman, a newcomer to Canada, someone who has lived here all their life, someone who needs help for a little while, someone who needs help for a longer term. She doesn’t look at the colour of skin, religion or sexual preference. She cares about humans. Amy’s message is that “everyone is worthy of love, should be loved, and feel loved.’ We should all take a moment to remind ourselves of that and then spread that message like it’s confetti!

What I enjoy most about my experience with Amy is the feeling of connectedness. I’ve met her in person only twice and yet she immediately responded that she would do an interview with me. Maybe after learning more about the project someone else will be inspired to buy a bracelet her volunteers make, follow her on Instagram and see something that speaks to them, purchase a ticket for a Pop Up Yoga event, contact her about how they can be involved, contact her about a charity that needs support and recognition, volunteer at an event, volunteer to lead the Yoga, donate to the prizes or food at the events, join the Mama Bear Clan walk…the list could go on and on. Amy is the one who is dropping the stone in the water and we are all seeing the ripple effects she has been able to make. Thank you to Amy, Cheryl, Jodi, Amanda and the countless others that I do not know who work to make our world a better place!

I AM LOVE project on Instagram

Cranked Energy on Instagram

Reference:

Mulligan, M. (2018) An Introduction to Sustainability: Environmental, Social and Personal Perspectives. 2nd Edition. New York: Routledge.

Reflective Journal: Consumerism and Materialism-Part 2

Introduction:

After tracking my spending for two weeks I was ready to track for another week, this time with more awareness and intention! This experience holds a lot of value and I encourage people to give it a try. With the holidays right around the corner I think I will continue this practice and really track what I spend over the month of December (on food, gifts, donations, etc.). In our house we always try to limit what we spend, but have never actually tracked all aspects of the holiday season. By extending this journalling task I feel like will really consider what I buy, who I buy for and needs vs wants vs luxury. By writing down what I have learned and what I plant to do I feel more accountable to move forward with my next steps!

October 29-November 4 “Spending Journal”:

Monday, October 29– No Starbucks today! I made my own coffee!! I used my Keurig machine, BUT not a K-cup. I used coffee from home and brewed it in a reusable “pod”. There can be SO much waste involved with using these single cup machines. I’ve been using my reusable pod for months and it works like a charm! I used coffee from Starbucks to make my own coffee!

Safeway- Weekly grocery run (again…no single use plastic bags used). I also purchased Halloween treats. Halloween treats is something I really struggled with this year. I think about the waste produced during the holidays each year, but this year it was really on my mind. I felt so torn. I wanted to have a zero waste option for treats, but wasn’t sure what that could be. I decided to buy peanut free ‘treats’ such as cookies and fruit snacks. I know that there is still waste from the plastic/foil packaging, but I thought that it was less packaging than mini chocolate bars or small candy. I brought the boxes to school for our Halloween “maker space day”. What is a better option for Halloween-one that still includes participating by giving a ‘treat’? I’d love to hear people’s suggestions. I miss the days of giving money for Unicef! Luckily we only got 13 kids, so we didn’t have to buy a lot of snacks.

While I was shopping I tried to buy fewer groceries and use what we already had in the cupboard. Being an organized shopper can help reduce purchasing doubles or triples of the same products. If you plan for the week then you can also purchase with intent instead of buying on a whim because you are hungry! I really noticed how as a society we focus more on convenience more than anything else. We pay extra to have an employee cut up fruit, vegetables, cheese, etc. so we don’t have to do it ourselves. I can understand this, but now food that didn’t require plastic packaging has been put into a plastic storing container. I honestly don’t even know if these can be recycled.

I did remember to bring my mesh bags for fruit/vegetables. That is one things I forget to do a lot of the time. How many of those clear, plastic bags get tossed as soon as the groceries get unpacked? I at least use mine for dog “waste” bags-but I shouldn’t be using them at all.

My mesh bags are from Norwex-but look just like this one!

What I need to do is buy more things in bulk. Many bulk food stores are encouraging you to bring in your own containers such as Bulk Barn’s Reusable Container Program. This is going to be my next step!

So Monday’s grocery shopping wasn’t just a regular run in, grab a few things and go home process like it usually is! I need to be better at shopping with intent and making sure that I get what I want and need so no food gets thrown out. I reluctantly admit that we throw food out. I am embarrassed by that. Better organization with shopping/cooking will make positive changes for the earth, my wallet and my tummy!

Tuesday, October 30– Acupuncture appointment. *Pre-purchased visit

Wednesday, October 31– For our Halloween “party” today I allowed treats that were “as healthy and as waste free as possible”. None of the students brought in candy bags or juice boxes. We had a few homemade treats and the kids drank from their reusable water bottles. I am pleased with the student and parent support with this endeavour.

Homemade “Mummy” Pizzas!

October 31 was also the final day for our “WALK-tober: Walking School Bus”. Our goal was to encourage more students to walk to school instead of being dropped off when they live within walking distance. The best way to encourage the students was to join them! To celebrate one month of walking to school (we had about 15 regular walkers) we offered a snack of homemade muffins, oranges and bananas. Baking saved on packaging and homemade always taste better! The downfall…another reminder that we haven’t started a compost at school. One thing at a time I guess, but a school compost needs to become a priority at some point.

Thursday, November 1– Today was “Outdoor Classroom Day” at school. I purchased Starbucks for the two other teachers spending the whole day outside with the students. I brought ALL of us a reusable cup! At first I thought that this might be considered as weird or strange, but the staff knows me. They see me with my reusable cups all the time, so they accepted their hot drinks without complaint. AND if there was judgement, they kept it to themselves!!

During the Outdoor Classroom Day, one of the activities was a community walk. With the first group (grade 5/6) we walked down a street that was under construction. We noticed an ENORMOUS amount of garbage in that area. When we took the second group (grade 3/4) we brought bags to pick the garbage up. There were hundreds of pieces of garbage littered all over the street, sidewalk and area that had been dug up. The students were outraged at what we saw. Our neighbourhood is usually pretty clean and this area was looking like an actual dump. I Tweeted out a photograph and Take Pride Winnipeg (@TakePrideWpg) commented on our clean up! A few people came out of their home to thank us. We actually had to get two more garbage bags from one of the residents because we had filled ours up.

One of the big things that the students noticed/commented on (as we were treating this as a spontaneous mini inquiry project) was that there weren’t any garbage (or recycling) containers at this construction site. People would need to care enough to bring their trash home and dispose of it properly. Clearly, this was NOT happening. Another HUGE disappointment to the students was that there were so many coffee cups amongst the litter. “Adults should know better. They are always blaming the kids, but kids don’t drink coffee. I’m telling my parents to stop buying coffee and make it at home instead. If I see one more coffee cup on the ground I’m going to scream” (Grade 4 student). One of the most interesting things to me is: with all the advertising companies do on their products we know exactly where the litter is coming from. Tim Horton’s and McDonald’s were the brands of coffee that were being carelessly tossed. McDonald’s offers $1 drinks several times per year. Why not offer those deals to people bringing reusable cups?! Tim Horton’s has their “Roll Up The Rim” promotion (which isn’t evening happening now and there were still so many of their cups on our street). Even if you bring your own cup you have to get one of the their cups in order to have an opportunity to win a prize. Why are the people who want to do something environmental being forced to make a decision about whether or not they should go against their ideals to have a chance at a prize. Maybe you only have a chance at the prize when you use a reusable cup?! Why is consuming hot beverages from cups that are not recyclable so widely accepted in our society. It made me think of Tim Jackson (2006) and his focus on “what government agencies can do to facilitate a wider public shift towards reduced consumption. Governments need to create a policy framework that both encourages people to break their existing consumption habits and penalizes wasteful consumption…” (Mulligan p. 45-46).

Friday, November 2– I was not at school today because I had a conference to go to. I ended up at Starbucks again (after doing well with making my own coffee for Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday) but I brought my own cup AND an extra for my colleague just in case she forgot hers (which she did!). She appreciated my thoughtfulness and plans on making a change herself. *I would also like to point out that early in the week a different colleague commented on my $2.00 reusable Starbucks cup. I got one for her and she has used it each day since!! We went for lunch on Friday as well. We chose to go to a restaurant that prides themselves on using local ingredients.

Saturday, November 3– I had a “No Spend Saturday”. This was pretty easy because I was busy with schoolwork, but also since I was at home all day I was tempted to do some online shopping. I talked myself out of making any purchases because a) I wanted to have a day where I didn’t purchase anything AND b) I didn’t actually need anything. I ate leftover soup that I had made earlier in the week (which made for quick meals during the week and was healthy and tasty).

Sunday, November 4– The only purchase I made was a coffee on the way to the airport to meet a friend, and the cost to park at the airport. Overall I was pretty successful at not spending much and instead consuming what I already had at home this weekend!

Things of Note from Part 2 of journalling:

  • I had a lot of different thoughts and ideas this week. I thought I would choose one area to focus on, but instead there ended up being many different things to note and consider.
  • I was more open about my concerns and ideas and people were receptive and even willing to make changes themselves. I’m ready for my views on consumerism to be heard and my ideas to inspire others to make simple but effective changes.
  • I have work to do! Responsible grocery shopping is going to be a real focus for me. The choices I make for my household can/will impact “the hide costs of hyperconsumption” (Mulligan p. 36). Better planning and intent will result in less plastic in my purchases-which has to take priority.

FInal Thoughts: 

  1. I practice the 6Rs (Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Respect, Repeat) but also really like these 8Rs!
  2. I have some decisions to make about Christmas. If I want change to happen then it needs to start with me. Some ideas that have come up from this process are: keeping a spending journal, buying fewer material gifts and more experiences for gifts, using paper that can be recycled or cover gifts with things such as towels that can just be put back in the drawer (the fun part is the surprise, who cares what the wrapping looks), making an effort to buy local, considering the needs of others instead of the wants that I have (especially with my students. Last year two students bought gifts in my honour-a scarf for a homeless person and a donation made in my name for a local charity. They did this because they knew me well and knew how I would appreciate that as a gift. Maybe I let parents know that. It is always very awkward when students bring in teacher gifts at Christmas. They do it because they “should” and because they want to, but honestly I don’t need anything) and making the holidays about being together instead of gifts.
  3. I’ve really enjoyed this process. I spent a lot of time scrolling through Instagram finding posts that resonated with me and connected with the points I was trying to make. The required reading and supplemental material was helpful to make connections as well.
  4. We can all ask ourselves this question…

Until Next Time,

Danielle

Citations:

Mulligan, M. (2018) An Introduction to Sustainability: Environmental, Social and Personal Perspectives. 2nd Edition. New York: Routledge.

Bulk Barn: Reusable Container Program: http://www.bulkbarn.ca/Reusable-Container-Program/

Instagram Accounts:

@leafico

@least.waste

@woke.to.the.planet

Twitter Accounts:

@TakePrideWpg

@d_shrumm

 

Reflective Journal: Consumerism and Materialism-Part 1

Introduction:

For two weeks I have tracked my spending to help determine and understand my consumption habits and patterns. During this time I attempted to spend and consume as I normally do, but also pay attention to any sort of activity that may impact or prompt what I was purchase. Below are the “highlights” of what I noticed over this two week span!

October 15-28 “Spending Journal”:

Monday, October 15-Friday, October 19  &  Monday, October 22-Friday, October 26– Starbucks Coffee. Yes. Now that I type this it seems like a LOT of coffee trips! I’d like to put a few things into context about my Starbucks visits!

*I ALWAYS bring my reusable cup. No cup…no coffee!

*I realize that I do NOT need coffee from Starbucks. I’m just trying to be honest about by consumption!

*Although I realize that buying my coffee from a smaller, local place of business is better I do think Starbucks makes somewhat of an effort to social responsibility and sustainability

Monday, October 15– Acupuncture appointment. *Pre-purchased visit

Yoga *Pre-purchased classes

Wednesday, October 17– 90 minute Massage

Yoga *Pre-purchased classes

Friday, October 19– Yoga *Pre-purchased classes

Sobey’s- Supper groceries (brought my own bag!)

Outdoor furniture for the deck (balance that was owed). We ordered new furniture for our deck-all made from recycled milk jugs! Interested in learning more?! Check out the C.R. Plastic Products website

Sunday, October 21– Breakfast at a local Winnipeg restaurant

Yoga *Pre-purchased classes

Safeway- Weekly grocery run (again…no single use plastic bags used)

Monday, October 22– Winnipeg Jets vs. St. Louis Blues game *Pre-purchased tickets

GO Jets GO!! (My girl Hudson is a Wheeler fan too!!)

Dinner at the Jets game *No single use cutlery used

Wednesday, October 24– Subway Lunch (no drink = no straw!)

When I do use a straw I make a conscious effort to use my own stainless steel straw. I love that it came with a little brush to clean it. I often carry it in my purse…just in case I need it!

Yoga *Pre-purchased classes

Thursday, October 25– Facial

Friday, October 26– Domino’s Pizza for supper

Saturday, October 27– Latte & Scone from my favourite local bakery

Sunday, October 28– Yoga fundraiser: “Holidays for the Homeless”. The proceeds from the 200 tickets sold will go to getting coffee, female hygiene products, toques and lunches for 500 people on December 21!! Everything from breakfast to attendance prizes to location for the event are donated. It’s a great cause run by local Winnipeg philanthropist Amy Tung (@i_am_love_project). The downfall…too much waste from the donated breakfast (plastic spoon, small portions of a variety food that come in single use containers and everything comes in an oversized paper bag).

Consuming without purchasing:

Now…besides merely spending I also consumed things that other people purchased for me. A friend purchased a coffee for me and I drank it…out of the single use cup. This hurt. My friend knows that I only drink from reusable cups. When I purchase coffee for her I bring her a reusable cup too! I know she purchased for me out of kindness, but all I could think about was that cup 🙁 It reminds me of this recent post I saw from the Plastic Tides instagram account (@plastictides). I’ve been really bothered by this because I have allowed myself to think about stand not just push it to the back of my mind. Something needs to be done about the amount of single use coffee cups that are used on a daily basis.

Things of note from my “spending journal”:

  • I pre-purchase Yoga classes because it is more cost effective. WELL it is more cost effective as long as I go regularly. My Yoga studio offers a variety of packages, but the one I use the best ‘deal’ as long as I go twice a week!
  • I pre-purchase acupuncture appointments too. The clinic offers a pay for 7 sessions and receive the 8th for free! Again-this package is ideal for those people who require many visits.
  • I spent money on services/experiences vs. ‘stuff’ (other than food)
  • I go to Starbucks for coffee because I enjoy drinking it the most. My regular Starbucks employees actually expect me to being my own cup since I do each time (like to the point the barista has noticed when I’ve brought in a different cup!). I also choose Starbucks because they have a good rewards program. For every 125 stars I earn, I receive a free menu item. To prompt more visits, Starbucks has BONUS star offers such as “Double Star Days”, “Menu Challenges” , discounts after 2:00, etc. To be honest, on “Double Star Days” I purchase a latte instead of a regular coffee…because I get more points! These promotions are sent via e-mail so I always feel “in the loop”. They work for me and I’m sure for millions of other people. It makes me think that I NEED that latte even though I understand that it is a total want. Starbucks advertising and rewards program has definitely worked on me!
  • I go to Yoga, massages and for facials all at different locations, but all are run by local Winnipeg women who are following their passion. I seek out small businesses and am loyal to these service providers because they love what they do and they go the extra step to get to know me. I don’t feel like a number at these places. That is important to me!
  • The furniture we purchased was chosen very carefully! We wanted to buy something that was manufactured in Canada and from a small store (versus a chain store). We have a relationship with this store owner and enjoy doing business with him. We saved for the furniture by doing a “52 week savings plan” (we put cash aside each week and spend it on items we really want). We were able to pay cash for the furniture because of our effort to save for these types of expenditures. What we chose was more expensive than other furniture that we had seen, but it is also made from recycled milk jugs (which we are pretty excited about), it is built to last and requires minimal upkeep (can be left out all winter). When you factor this all in-the cost makes sense! C.R. Plastic Products uses an environmental approach to sell their products. This is appealing to many people looking for a small way to make a difference. I do wish that the furniture didn’t have to come from Ontario and was produced in Winnipeg by the place we bought it from. Although, things coming from Ontario to Manitoba is a lot better than being shipped from half way around the world.
  • I don’t often go out for lunch. I did during this week because it was a “Forest Exploration Day” for me at school and it was very busy! I felt like I needed a break during the lunch hour. A coworker suggested Subway and that seemed like a great option. I didn’t get a drink because I was being mindful of the cup and straw. I realized too late that my sandwich was in a plastic bag.  I took my own bag and my coworker’s and used them to pick up after my dog-hoping that using the bags twice instead of once would make me feel better about taking it. It didn’t really, maybe a bit, but not enough. I’ll pay more attention next time!
  • In general, I ate out more than I should have. For me, going out to eat seems to be more for social reasons than any other reason. The Domino’s was because I was meeting some friends and that’s what they chose (I had never actually ordered from there before) and the breakfast was because it was part of our “date day”.  We could have easily made our own food at home, but it feels like such a treat to order in or go out with friends and family. How can I make the best choices when socializing with friends and family? This will be something to consider for the future!
  • The local bakery I go to is one of many businesses that use The Local Frequency card. When you shop at these businesses and use the card you get “money” that you can use to spend at these same businesses. There is an app you can use instead of carrying the actual card. You get 1-3% of your purchase back to spend using the card/app. You can also load the card with “Frequency Dollars” and earn more money on your purchases as you spend them (up to 20%). It’s a neat approach to “keeping it local”!

    My Local Frequency card!

Final Thoughts:

  1. Tracking what I spent made me feel guilty in some ways, but also reminded me that I make a decent effort to make a difference-even if the difference seems small
  2. There is always room for improvement! I need to be more vocal with my beliefs and spread my ideas with others. I sometimes assume that other people know what they can do to make a difference, yet choose not to and it turns out to be completely different! More often than not these people hadn’t even thought about the significance of their choice. I can be gentle with my approach, but be more vocal about suggestions for positive choices. Leading by example has allowed for some success but I’m ready to lead more people into environmental stewardship!
  3. It is time to revaluate my personal goals. Yes I have created some good habits such as only using reusable cups and bags, saying NO to straws, cutting down on single use plastic utensils (by refusing, using my own bamboo utensils and washing and reusing when possible) and buying local, but these have been habits for a long time. What are own my next steps? How will I put what I have read in Mulligan’s “An Introduction to Sustainability: Environmental, Social and Personal Perspectives” as well as what I have learned from the supplementary materials and other students into practice? I will continue on my journey of ethical consumption “a values-based approach to purchase and consumption which puts the onus on the consumer to exercise his or her choice wisely” (Mulligan p. 42) and voluntary simplicity “effort to live with less as a result of a conscious decision to avoid waste or complexity in life” (Mulligan p.43).

While reading through the supplemental material I’ve decided to use Anup Shah’s Consumption and Consumerism article to guide me to my next steps.

“We consume a variety of resources and products today having moved beyond basic needs to include luxury items and technological innovations to try to improve efficiency. Such consumption beyond minimal and basic needs is not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, as throughout history we have always sought to find ways to make our lives a bit easier to live. However, increasingly, there are important issues around consumerism that need to be understood. For example:

  • How are the products and resources we consume actually produced?
  • What are the impacts of that process of production on the environment, society, on individuals?
  • What are the impacts of certain forms of consumption on the environment, on society, on individuals?
  • Which actors influence our choices of consumption?
  • Which actors influence how and why things are produced or not?
  • What is a necessity and what is a luxury?
  • How do demands on items affect the requirements placed upon the environment?
  • How do consumption habits change as societies change?
  • Businesses and advertising are major engines in promoting the consumption of products so that they may survive. How much of what we consume is influenced by their needs versus our needs?
  • Also influential is the very culture of today in many countries, as well as the media and the political institutions themselves. What is the impact on poorer nations and people on the demands of the wealthier nations and people that are able to afford to consume more?
  • How do material values influence our relationships with other people?
  • What impact does that have on our personal values?
  • And so on.”

I am looking forward to Part 2 of this task as I shift something in my consumption habits and add a fresh perspective to my responsible consumerism journey!

Until Next Time,

Danielle

Citations:

Mulligan, M. (2018) An Introduction to Sustainability: Environmental, Social and Personal Perspectives. 2nd Edition. New York: Routledge.

Shah, Anup (January 5, 2014). Consumption and Consumerism. Global Issues: Social, Political, Economic and Environmental Issues That Affect Us All

http://www.globalissues.org/issue/235/consumption-and-consumerism 

Instagram Accounts:

@we_saveplanetearth

@ecoroots

@bambooherb

@cranbrookfarmersmarket

@plastictides

Becoming a Responsible Consumer

We live in a time when people are recognizing they need to make positive changes to help improve the environmental status of our planet. There are easy choices we can make as consumers that create the positive impacts we seek. At least we thought these choices were easy. It turns out that the information we receive is all but simple. We put our trust in companies to do the research, create the products and behave in a way that we expect, yet that does not always happen. As consumers we may rely on the idea of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to make our purchasing decisions simple. However, at times we have been intentionally “Greenwashed” by the corporate world.  As responsible consumers we need to do our research and then support the businesses we feel are socially responsible and match the values that we have as individuals.

Before we begin we need to understand what Corporate Social Responsibility and Greenwashing are.

Corporate Social Responsibility as defined by Business New Daily in an article published by  Sammi Caramela, B2B Staff Writer, What is Corporate Social Responsibility?

Greenwashing as defined by the Cambridge Dictionary online is “to make people believe that your company is doing more to protect the environment that it really is” (Greenwashing Definition)

Some people are content with purchasing products that have a label that reads “green”, “organic”, “biodegradable”, “eco-friendly”, etc. and feel like they are doing their part. Other people need more. They want proof that they are supporting companies and using products that are not making more of a negative impact on our planet and are geared toward achieving sustainability standards. Corporate Social Responsibility is a way for consumers to have the research done for them, but only if it is done properly.

In order to educate ourselves about the process and standards of CSR we can consider the following articles:

Interested in learning more about CSR? Take a look at this comprehensive guide about implementation of corporate social responsibility for businesses in Canada.

Corporate Social Responsibilty: An Implementation Guide for Canadian Business

The following information from 2015 tells us which companies are operating with a “strong performance across important sustainability issues such as resource efficiency, impact on local communities, treatment of employees and responsible supply-chain management”. (Julie Smyth from her article Canada’s top 50 socially responsible corporations: 2015 “How these companies are getting ahead by putting communities, the environment and their employees at the top of their agendas”). *Link below

MACLEAN’S: Canada’s Top 50 Socially Responsible Corporations from 2015

Walmart is a huge corporation that many consumers rely on for the purchase of their day to day goods. How is Walmart doing with regard to opportunity, sustainability, community? Want to learn more about their impacts? The link below also provides its audience with a Global Responsibility Report.

Walmart’s Global Responsibility-from Corporate Walmart

Greenwashing: What do you need to know? You are making the effort to be environmentally conscious, just be careful that you aren’t being “Greenwashed”!

It’s not easy being green. Businesses must back up their words. Government of Canada website

There is so much information to sift through. If watching a video makes more sense for you take a look at CBC’s Marketplace on Greenwashing: Busting “Eco” Labels.

So, you don’t want to be “Greenwashed”? What can you do as a consumer to avoid it?

How to Avoid Greenwashing-Green At Home Blog

Wash Greenwashing Away-Simply Sustainable By Earth Hero

Corporate Social Responsibility is not limited to the idea of whether you are being “Greenwashed” or not. It is also more than having an environmental focus. As mentioned earlier in the article entitled: “What is Corporate Social Responsibility?” by Sammi Caramela,

Take the Colin Kaepernick and Nike headlines that have been in the news as of late. Will corporations speak out more about what they believe in regardless of the risk of using profit?

Colin Kaepernick-Staement from NFL in The Globe and Mail, September 4, 2018 article

“Nike’s stand on Kaepernick may signal the start of more companies speaking out” CNBC September 5, 2018 article

We all have responsibilities when it comes to what to purchase and who to purchase from. Corporate Social Responsibility efforts can make it easier on society to purchase products that they feel can be more of a help than a hindrance to our planet. Without policies in place we are at risk of being “Greenwashed” into buying and using products we think fit into our personal philosophies. As consumers we have the power to hold companies and corporations accountable. If we don’t believe in the product we don’t have to buy it. If we don’t educate ourselves or take a stand for what we believe in, the changes we seek will never take place.

Danielle Shrumm

New and Improved Lessons to Inspire Learners & the Challenges That Go With It

It’s been awhile since my last post…but for good reason! My blogging efforts have been spent more on my classroom blog. The purpose for my classroom blog has evolved since September. I think that when I first started it, I just knew I wanted to blog and jumped in with both feet. After settling in to my new role I have allowed many things to change as needed. My blog is now serves as a connector between home and school. Its purpose it to keep parents informed of upcoming themes and events, to showcase student work and exciting happenings that go on at school, to share ideas of how parents can support their children with what is going on in the class (such as math strategies, home reading, etc.). I’ve also added a section for extra copies of resources that might come in handy. I used to post more, but have also started a classroom Instagram account where I feel more comfortable to post students’ faces (where I do not in the blog). We post something everyday because it is so easy to snap a photo or photos and make a collage then post. Parents love it because again, it keeps them connected. We’ve been using the Instagram account for just under a month and I have 21/25 students with permission and have 24 followers (which includes some staff and other classes in the school). I am happy with the interest and participation so far and will be able to show other parents what we are up to during conferences and see who else might be interested! I feel that this in itself is a new and improved part of my teaching that has inspired learners and their parents. This is a quote from a parent that was posted on the classroom blog “Wowza! What an amazing month. I’ve noticed so much enthusiasm at home time listening to all of the cool things you’ve been up to. Thank you so much for painting such a vivid picture. It helps us stay connected.” This…is why I use the blog. This…is what I wanted families to get out of it!

There are challenges that go with blogging and managing an Instagram account. First of all you need to be interested and  take a risk and just go for it. Then there is the time commitment, teaching parents about it and getting them to subscribe and then use it. If no one is reading it, then my purpose is not met. Then there is the challenge of permission for posting. I decided not to use photos with faces on the blog, because the blog is not private and I wasn’t interested in creating a password for parents to use to access it. Instagram seems like the way to solve that issue, but then the division doesn’t have a standard permission note for Social Media yet. It took time and effort and the hep of others to create a note that worked for us. The Instagram account is private, but still parents could technically copy those pictures and share them elsewhere. It felt like ‘unknown territory’ for me. I just want to make this as private as possible because these are not my own children and it shouldn’t be me that makes the decision about their face being posted online. Sometimes I think the ‘old’ me would have just said that there are too many barriers to this and walked away. I’m glad I didn’t because things are going so well, but those challenges are always there.

It helps when I see other teachers in the school taking these risks too. It doesn’t feel like a risk anymore. It feels like part of my day or week. It makes me feel connected with other classes when we don’t have a chance to go to their classrooms and see what is going on. It’s an opportunity to ask questions to other people in my building and to offer support and hopefully inspire teachers who are ready to start their journey too.

This was not the route I was planning on going for this post! It just sort of happened and I think that is okay! I was going to write about student voice and choice that has led to empowerment, which maybe I still have a moment to comment on 😉

I think two of the most successful new and improved examples of my teaching practice that inspires and empowers my learners is voice and choice. This year has been such an exciting one for me so far. I wonder if it is because I’m new to the school and to the grade, so I feel like I can really start fresh, combined with the culture of the school that makes me feel so refreshed and ready to take ‘risks’ in my style of teaching?! Throughout the year I have been trying to give my students more voice and choice. I wanted to start the year off with this. At first it wasn’t easy for the students. It was like they were sure what to do with the ‘freedom’. I allowed them to sit where they wanted, we revamped the classroom library into how they wanted the books sorted, gave them options of what they wanted to learn about during theme time instead of telling them. It got easier as time went on. The kids stopped asking if they could sit somewhere. The just started sitting where they felt like working. Now-they crave this type of ‘freedom’. Everything we do involves their voice and choice. They respect each other’s ideas, they listen to each other and they compromise when needed. I am there to facilitate, but I rarely even need to present options for them now.

All voices are heard! There are students who learned that their voice isn’t the only one that matters and students that learned that their voice matters. Some scaled back in order to listen and learn from others and some learned to find their voice. It really is a beautiful thing! They are taking ownership of their learning and they feel empowered.

A challenge that can come with this is for teachers to let go. Sure, sometimes things happen differently that if I would have planned it myself, but it doesn’t matter! That can be hard for us as teachers. I’m very “Type A” and I worried that maybe I would have a difficult time letting go, but watching this evolve was a confirmation that this is actually what I wanted all along. No learning has suffered from giving students voice and choice…it has only created more opportunities for students to see themselves as learners and teachers and important members of the classroom and school community.

Perspective…

I thought about writing a new blog post throughout my entire recent trip to Europe. Things would happen, or I would see something, or hear something that made me think about teaching, learning, life in general. It was nice to step away from the hustle and bustle of being a teacher, but teaching is a part of who I am, so my class was never too far off my mind. I’d see and experience things that I knew my 3/4 class would love to see, so I’d snap a picture. I looked around for a postcard to send to them that would encompass my trip. I thought about how my travels could impact our next theme of countries around the world. Then I’d think about snapping pictures, buying postcards and souvenirs for families and friends. I am always reminded of a class I took in University called The Anthropology of Travel. I wish I could take that class again now…now that I’ve been so many more places (compared to when I was 19!). It was about how you don’t just think about yourself as you travel, your trip becomes something for all those people at home too! This makes so much more sense to me now! Travel is so much more than yourself! It is a good reminder to think about how small you really are in this big world. You step out of the comforts of your home and set out on an adventure. You deal with things that you don’t normally have to think about…what are you ordering at a restaurant, how will you find your hotel, adjusting to a new time zone, etc. etc. etc. While I was away, I really thought about a student I have right now. She is new to Canada and is new to speaking English. All the times I had no idea what someone was saying to me so I made gestures instead. Or followed what other people were doing…she does that too. It makes me think about how brave those students who come to a new country and are learning to speak a new language are. She trusts us so much to help her, just like we relied on others to help us translate a menu or point us in the right direction to purchase train tickets or find a hotel or a good place to eat. Travelling puts things into a new perspective…or maybe just a renewed perspective. I love that I have been fortunate enough to travel a fair share and have experienced some amazing places and learned about so many exciting cultures. I never take travel for granted and the next trip is never coming soon enough! I feel like this is the best way to spend money…on memories and experiences and learning more about the wold around me and about who I am as a learner in this great big world!

England 2006

Scotland 2006

France 2006

Spain 2006

Italy 2006

Iceland 2011

Sweden 2013

Denmark 2015

Germany 2015

The Netherlands 2017

Belgium 2017

Iceland 2017

Teachers as Learners

The process of being part of the ITLL team has been an interesting journey for me. The change in schools and the fact that I am working with a new team has been a process for me and the rest of my team. I am the only one who was part of ITLL last year so it is like I get to begin parts of the process again. My new team is eager, which is very exciting. We spent lunch talking about what our next steps will be and how we can bring our ideas back to the school in a way that is meaningful and useful to other staff members. We plan on working through what our ideas are as ITLL members, then move forward to making a plan with administration and the rest of the staff. We want to be prepared and knowledgable. We want to be informed and have time to try things out so we have some experience with tools we want the rest of the staff to try. We want this to be a natural conversation in our school between staff members. We want to take advantage of the opportunities to be leaders and learners!