Paint a picture in your mind of every single person you know connected to you through a rectangular gadget. Yes, that gadget that you are probably holding in your hand right now. Picture every human being that is attached to you in some way through your phone.
Emotionally and spiritually connected.
Through a rectangular gadget.
Let’s great really specific and think about that smelly, high-pitched laugh colleague at work that you may not love that is affixed to you through your work email.
Visualize taking that person with you into bed or even sitting beside you on your night table via your phone. Do you see them?
Picture every single one of your Facebook friends’ faces staring at you as you lie in bed.
Envision every person in your contacts list wanting to connect with you about their stuff, their feelings and their lives as you lie your head down on your pillow at night.
Imagine all those people’s hands reaching out to touch you as you fall asleep.
Feeling overwhelmed with all these “connections” and faces staring at you?
NOW GET THAT PHONE OUT OF YOUR BEDROOM!
Get a good old fashioned plug-in the wall alarm clock.
Charge your phone in the bathroom.
Better yet, charge it in the kitchen or the hallway.
Just leave all those people, those tethers and those beeping and booping noises from that rectangular gadget out of your bedroom.
Because Sexy Neck works with partners all over the world, his phone used to light up like a Christmas tree all hours of the night and wake me up multiple times as the emails, texts and WhatsApp messages came in.
We have been charging our phones in the bathrooms for the last month and guess what, we haven’t missed a single thing.
Not one single thing!
I am so grateful for this new habit and I am never going to bring the outside world into the bedroom again.
When I worked in the classroom in the campus setting as a teacher, I always felt this sense of angst that I wasn’t spending time or even had enough time to get to know all students equally. I felt like I was NEVER enough.
In the campus system, almost 95% of my time was often spent with 5% of the students.
Sad, but true.
BUT, I came up with a system to at least waylay my own personal angst. For each day of the week, I would focus on 6 of my students and genuinely asking them questions and talk with them. The chat would have been a few minutes to 5 minutes with each of these six students, but I felt closer to my goal of truly “knowing” my students. 5 days per week times 6 students = 30 students in my class. BUT, I was only spending about 5 minutes consistently, authentically communicating with each student each week.
Sad, but true.
As an online teacher with the school that I have a contract with, I am asked to do 3 home visits throughout the year. I also will Zoom with families a few times, on top of these home visits, to stay connected and in tune with any “successes to build on” or “struggles to shift through”.
As of Tuesday, I completed writing report cards after meeting with my eighteen families (39 students in total) between Kamloops and Oliver, British Columbia, plus many towns and cities in between. The total distance between Kamloops to Oliver is around 275 kilometres (170 miles). In the last few months, I spent about forty hours in my car plus over forty-five hours then writing report cards.
Not ideal, but worth every second.
At these home visits, students will read with me, show me work they are proud of and we will talk about math. I will go over their personal goals that we set for the year in September. (This is ALL on top of the weekly/biweekly learning samples they share throughout the year via the sharing platform, Seesaw.) I meet puppies, listen to piano, play basketball, have tea parties with homemade cakes, play Lego/blocks, cook, make crafts and I even paint with some students at their homes.
Overjoyed and true.
I spend HOURS upon HOURS with my students and their families throughout the year. I am privileged to be invited into peoples homes to see “behind the scenes” of the learning that is taking place. It is within this family unit that I am truly given a picture of what learning is like for the student: How they fit within their sibling unit, how their parents work with them and even how things are set up in the home, are all important for learning about how our children learn (in the online world and the campus education system).
Overjoyed and true.
Sometimes people wonder why I have chosen this path for my teaching career and how I can work with so many students.
First, I truly feel like I can help inspire and support my students because I have time to sit with them, listen to them and learn from them.
Second, I really get to “know” my students, which was never possible in the campus system I worked in. In the campus system, I always tried to see/meet my students outside of the unilateral learning environment of the classroom. I always volunteer coached, ran chess club, did breakfast club and spent extra time on the playground to try and get to know my students, but I never felt like I ever had enough time or ever got to know how they fit within their family.
Last, the online learning world gives me time because I oversee each students program individually, yes one-on-one, while their parents or even grandparents on the ground working directly with the students and also managing any behaviour. What a gift! My students don’t exist within a classroom setting with other students, I am working directly with them. Their learning plan is individualized and truly their own.
The gift of one-on-one time!
I am NOW enough.
Overjoyed and true.
I am grateful for the time with each of my families these last months of home visits. I am blessed to write report cards, yes official documents about each of my students, detailing all the amazing things that they can do and things they will continue to grow into.
Thank you Jesus for calling me back into this world in 2020. I am eternally grateful.
Have an epic Sunday folks and love what you do.
P.S. We also had a Ministry of Education Inspection on the day BEFORE our report cards were due. This means that everything needs to be up-to-date in our student portals including all communication notes and individualized student learning plans. It was seriously “full on”. Time to sleep and ski now!
What does this radical sabbatical actually look like and is Sexy Neck working? Are we divorced? Where are you? What are we doing? These have been the pervasive questions over the last month as we have lived this radical sabbatical. Some people have been inspired, some people have thought we are crazy and others have just looked at us with wide eyes as we explain how we are living.
Yes, Sexy Neck and I are 100% in this together. (And not divorced)
900 square feet.
On the top of a mountain.
At a ski hill.
With the cows.
Travelling to Europe and Asia.
Not volunteering for anything.
Taking a radical sabbatical from the life we previously knew in the city.
What does this radical sabbatical actually look like for our family of five?
The boys do formal schooling Monday thru Friday from 9:00am to Noon. This formal schooling involves the 3 R’s – reading, writing and math! And I am hitting them hard. Going over basic facts, teaching them grammar and helping them understand the basics of the english language. They are writing in a journal, writing stories and doing research. Our 12 year old is researching Ancient Rome and Tesla. Our 10 year old is immersed in simple/complex machines and robots. Our 8 year old learned everything he could about Bobcats. Did you know they pee in the water so that they don’t leave a scent? Previously, the boys have been in French immersion, so the older boys have been doing their math in french and our youngest continues to write in french. But, I haven’t been stressed about it. If we decide to dive back into french next year, we will do a bootcamp in the summer to help them get back up to speed. This year is all about filling in some educational gaps that I see and having fun learning about what they are interested in.
Now, to talk about Sexy Neck! Right now, he is in Mexico City sitting at a fair, promoting his school district to families considering international education. And he LOVES it! Sexy Neck isn’t taking a radical sabbatical this year, but we are one hour closer to his work, so he does have a shorter commute! We are looking forward to joining him on a few trips that he is going to be taking for work. Sexy Neck LOVES his job and couldn’t imagine leaving it. It is truly what he was meant to be doing: a combination of education, business, travel and working with people. His dream life! We are happy that our radical sabbatical works alongside his dreams and brings him freedom from his commute and a more relaxed mountain life. He also loves backcountry skiing, which he can do every day after work in the winter. Truly his dream life!
Everyone who knows us, knows our backgrounds in Kinesiology and our love for physical literacy. All of our boys have done gymnastics from very young to eight years old. After eight they could choose to continue in gymnastics and our two older boys have. They love the community of boys, their coach and being able to achieve their personal goals through gymnastics. Thus, our radical sabbatical involves two days per week commuting one and a half hours each way back to the city so that the boys can practice with their team. Other than gymnastics, our sporting life will involve exploring the ski hill we are living on and embracing every day of winter. The boys have a goal of skiing every single day of the ski season. We know it will be “Canntastic”!
Lots of people have been wondering about our daily routines. To recap, here are a few of our routines that we have established for this radical sabbatical:
The 3R’s Monday thru Friday from 9:00am to Noon. And yes the boys say it is hard. And yes, we do have a lot of fun and flexibility. The boys take a recess break when they choose and they also choose where they work within our 900 square feet. Sometimes it’s on the floor, on our bed, at the kitchen table and often it’s at their desk. Sexy Neck is teaching them guitar and I am doing the rest with their teacher and our friend, Michelle, from Traditional Learning Academy.
Sexy Neck is fully involved in his work as a Principal of International Programs. He continues to embrace his role working with his students, the homestay families, his amazing staff and of course travelling to promote his program.
The boys are continuing with gymnastics and loving every minute of it. It is very motivating and they love the goals they have set: our ten year old wants to do an 8 second handstand and our twelve year old wants to do a giant on the high bar all by himself. WOW!
Outside of these routines, I have been personally surprised by four different pieces of this radical sabbatical:
1. Our garbage and recycling has reduced significantly. From one large black bin of garbage per week, to one medium-sized black bag. To one large blue recycling bin every two weeks, to one medium blue Tupperware per week that I will sort at the recycling depot in about five minutes. This surprise feels pretty amazing.
2. It’s outstanding to see the people who have stepped up to support us on this journey. We know that it truly does take a village to educate our children. Not only did we take the boys to Barkerville, a town from the 1800’s to kick off the school year, we took them to Science World and the boys got a welding lesson from their beloved Papa in his beautiful garage. The two older boys learned to weld, drill, grind, sand, paint and create a rebar coat hook with their initial on it. This was really incredible to see!
3. Living in a condo with no balcony and no private outside space, I was worried about what our outside time would look like. If you know us, we spend a ton of time outside during a day, even when the boys were in brick and mortar school. The boys and I have LOVED the mountain life. We love the exploring on foot and by bike. We love the terrain. Sexy Neck has loved climbing to the top of the ski hill. Bring on the snow! I cannot wait to see what that life will be like covered in white!
4. As the daughter of a teacher and a teacher myself, believe it or not, schooling has always been a thoughtful, somewhat worrysome process. The interesting thing about homeschooling is that I am being more intuitive: watching the boys learn, seeing what lights them up and letting them lead. No yearly plans, just living in the moment and finding resources as I need them. No stress of the September startup: Wondering which friends they would be with and which teacher they would have. Throughout the boys schooling, I known the importance of a teacher and their influence on their students. We have been fortunate to have incredible teachers and we have grown through some excruciatingly inflexible and mediocre ones. I am incredibly proud and honoured to be my boys’ teacher this year for grades three, five and seven. We don’t know if we will continue homeschooling next year, but for this month, it has been magical. I have learned that my boys LOVE to learn. They have embraced all the new skills I have thrown their way, including making a meal (spaghetti and meatballs), taking them to my health and wellness conference (anyone need more energy, want to sleep better, perform better or get rid of your fluffy tummy I am your girl) and learning to sew (curtains for their triple bunk!) alongside those 3 R’s that I talked about. I have seen where my boys have gaps in their learning and I have been able to fill them: capitalization, divisibility rules, number patterns, phonics, oh my! My heart is full. And only two pencils have been thrown in the process by my ten year old! A boy after my own heart with his emotions right at the forefront. I feel very grateful for this time together. I am not surprised at how much I truly LOVE being their teacher.
On September 26th, we celebrate our youngest’s eighth birthday.
We celebrate one month of this radical sabbatical.
We sit atop this peaceful mountain and ponder the adventure to Europe in November.
The projects that we want to learn about and where our questions will take us.
I have always believed that the beginning of all knowledge is asking a question.
And I wonder where this radical sabbatical will take our family.
Overconsumption rules the world right now and, in my opinion, is ruining the world.
From the plastics that are flooding the earth and waters.
To the devices that are flooding our brains and bodies.
On to the food that is stripping our lands of minerals and then not giving our bodies what it needs even when we think it’s good for us.
Overconsumption has taken over!
Did you know that most teens now spend more time on devices than an adult spends at their full time job per day?
Did you know that some family’s have their children signed up for activities every single day of the week?
Has anyone else noticed that rarely do we talk about reducing or reusing what we consume, instead all our energy has gone into recycling?
Tonight, I lift my glass and say cheers to finding a balance life.
Harmony within and around.
Time and space to be.
Energy and effort to do.
Balance between men and women.
Testosterone and estrogen.
Our three boys ages, 10, 8 and 6 receive four hours of screen time PER WEEK. Today, their brains were flooded with the sounds and sights of skiing on snow. Their bodies climbed trees, hammered rocks, played piano and even jumped on mattresses in the basement later in the day.
My husband and I don’t allow screens anytime on Mondays and Wednesdays when the boys have activities. The rest of the week, they are free to choose when they use their “tech time”. They are open to choose how to spend their free time. It is in these in between time that is so fun to see what they create.
Imbalance is killing us.
Overconsumption is killing our planet.
Each of us, can find ways to create balance.
Individually it is easy.
Collectively it makes a difference.
Balance in mind, within our bodies and through our spirit.
Imagine this place of balance for you, what it would look like and feel like.
Who would be around you?
What would you eat?
What activities and moments of stillness would flow through the day?
What would you do tomorrow if you lived a day in balance?
This week I launched myself into the deep end by sharing a new business venture with some very close friends.
My mentor and teammate, TC, encouraged me to really question what my ‘why’ is. Why am I starting a business now?
My husband, Sexy Neck, loves his amazing job working in schools, but is very busy.
Being his supporting partner and wife is a gift. I love it!
My three wee, active boys are eight, five and three.
Being their mom is a blessing, my most fulfilling role and ‘job’. I love my boys!
I have just returned to teaching after a five year hiatus, working with incredible families who school at home.
Being a teacher is sharing my passion for learning, finding fun resources and being able to help students grow in depth of knowledge and spirit. I love my profession.
About ten months ago, I started distributing my friend’s product called GreenTeaHawaii.
Being able to connect with people and sell a product you love is pure joy for me. I love selling tea.
And now I am launched.
At ground zero of a new business.
I am sharing my story and building a team of like-minded people focused on health that want to create residual income for their families.
BUT why am I really doing this right now?
It is because of the life my mom lived and the lessons her life and death taught me. Ah man, I love my Mama.
I feel that it isn’t a coincidence all these opportunities are coming my way.
Her death has set me free.
It has allowed me to ponder life, live my days and find my why’s.
My ‘Why’ for this new business venture I discovered in my mom’s obituary that we wrote in December of 2013.
“Gwen, in her home, profession and community never stopped teaching and learning. Her servant heart complimented her active adventurous spirit. In her finest role, Super Nana created magical memories. Her exemplary life inspires us to love deeply, serve others and live fully.”
Creating magical memories for my boys, family and friends.
Launching myself fully into a business that promotes health, builds people up and provides income to those who want to take the opportunity.
I have asked God to help me with new friends in our big city. I feel tired!
I have been very fortunate to have made very empathetic, thoughtful friends in our old town down the highway. Many have visited, most keep in touch. This is enough. I am blessed with friends.
I am happy to drop my son off and observe those around me. Normally, I am the one trying to connect and engage with others.
I am content to allow my son’s teacher to connect with him without my input or guidance or even an introduction. I will meet her at parent-teacher conferences in October.
I am okay with walking along and watching my beautiful boys beside me.
But this is not the end of my story.
Two Fridays ago, I took the boys to the library. There was a woman there with two boys. Her youngest son was hanging around my boys. We had a brief conversation.
At dinner (the same day!), I told my husband that I met a very interesting woman this morning at the library.
After dinner, we went for a bike ride downtown (see here) and who did we run into on the ride back? The woman from the library, Andie. We met her husband and saw her boys again.
Last night, we went for a walk in the rain. We were walking down the path in the downpour and there was a woman walking towards us. I didn’t recognize here, but she said, “Hi Joanna!” It was Andie without her glasses on.
I wonder where we will meet again.
God is so good. It was amazing to see a familiar face.
Side note: I made a joke awhile back with my friend “D” that any new friends I meet will have to have wet hair. I know funny, but I am just into real people that walk in the rain and don’t worry about getting their hair wet.