My one thought about my job today: I can be replaced in a minute. The leadership of my school is so remarkable, I could probably be replaced in less than a minute.
Yes, it’s true for me and for you. No one is irreplaceable in their work.
I recognized this shortly after my mom died and I fully grasped that she was truly irreplaceable.
Never to be replaced.
Yes, we have had phenomenal people “fill in the vast gap” my mom left, but no one can restore her place in our lives as a mom and super nana.
A job is a unique arena of life as we all need to find ways to house and feed ourselves, but this great loss made me understand the temporality of work and life.
This morning, I am interviewing for a new job for the next school year. I am taking this mentality into my interview and I feel free.
Free to ponder.
Free to choose.
Free to open the door and see if this new opportunity will help me be a better wife, mom, friend, teacher and human being living on this earth.
Free to live!
So folks, as you ponder this next year ahead of you, what would you change if you knew you could be replaced in your job tomorrow, but never be replaced as a mother, father, daughter, brother, sister, cousin…?
Hi Mom’s and Dad’s that have chosen to give up or change their careers because a wee one came into your life, I am sitting with you as I write this. Grab a cup of tea and strap yourselves in… I have a major wondering today.
Do you ever have a sense that your career changed in an exorbitant way because of your wee ones arrival on earth?
I have been thinking about my time on earth and my career a lot lately as I continue working through the gift of grief that my mom gave me in 2013. Yup, almost 10 years since that fateful day that our Super Nana died and I began my personal journey experiencing the finality of death.
With incredible clarity, I took leave from my career when our oldest came into the world almost sixteen years ago. I was a teacher, coach, volunteer and an advocate of campus education, but when that blonde haired boy with that straight edge part and blue eyes came into the world, my life pivoted and my career path changed forever. I never stepped back into a campus classroom full time and I have never wanted to. I am proud of the fact that I could help keep things simple in our family’s life by being the person “on the home front”. I never wanted someone else to raise my children or see their “firsts” or major milestones. I wanted to be the person to spend the most amount of time each day with them. We are only give twenty-four hours in each day. Those first few years on one income as we added wee one #2 and #3 were years of focus and frugalness, but our family never did without. We went down to one car, bought a home with a suite, took in international students, cut cable and reduced our expenses, by as much as possible, through figuring out what our needs versus wants were.
As the kids grew older, I took forays into selling Hawaiian Green tea directly to customers, ventured into Referral Marketing of health products, worked as an online teacher at a Vancouver-based school and even worked in my dream job as a part time Physical Education Teacher at an elementary school. This is what I wanted to share about today and is the reason I decided to write this blog post . This P.E. teaching job was absolutely perfect for me. I worked a half day Monday and full days Tuesday and Wednesday. I had the gym doors open every single day at lunch for the students. I felt that I could be creative in the physical literacies that I taught and truly impact the school as a whole in terms of health and wellness. I had personal time to train for and race small triathlons on the weekends. PLUS, I could be there for my own blue crew on the four days I wasn’t working as well as not work momentously long days doing prep for my teaching job. BUT, the boys didn’t enjoy getting themselves to and from their own campus school in grades 1, 3 and 5. They began fighting a lot and being unkind to each other on a level that reminded me of growing up when my mom went back to teaching when I was in grade 1. My dream job was no longer my dream job as I left to work with upset kids at 7:45am or came home to chaos at 4:00pm. Due to my family of origin and sibling experience, I have a very low tolerance for my boys treating each other like a-holes just because they are related. The dream career came to a clear closure.
I changed my career in an exorbitant manner yet again. I said no to a returning contract as a Physical Education teacher and came back home full time for the next few years. During 2020, I was drawn back to work as an online teacher again at a new K-city based private school, which I love, but isn’t without some friction within my family.
During this winter season, I have often wondered, what would I be doing if I hadn’t changed my career in such drastic ways. What would my days look like? Where would we be living? Who would I be surrounded by? I am not sure if any other mom’s or dad’s can relate, but I sometimes wonder if I have given up too much. This life I lead working from home is often lonely, isolated and takes a lot of personal motivation/momentum as I don’t walk the halls or share daily energy with any colleagues anymore. I have always had big dreams, an ever growing thought life and a vision of making a major, positive impact on the world around me. By keeping my vision narrow and focused on my family, perhaps I have lost the bigger picture of my life.
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.
Last night, I was talking to an old student of mine about her new job working in a retirement home for the local health authority. I used to work full time in education. Both of these union jobs are where wages are not determined by your performance but dependant on how long you have worked there and what level of education or specific job title you have. Again, how much you are paid is not dependent on how well you do your job.
In this type of occupation where the monetary value is not determined by performance, I have personally witnessed that we end up with two types of employees: Growers and Grumblers.
Growers have their focus on always learning first and growing themselves then they have their eyes focused on exactly who they are there to serve. They embrace visionary leadership that may be different to how they do things. If they see problems, they have solutions to go along with them, plus they take action to solve those problems. Growers live in a constant state of being able to adapt, see the change and be the change. They overflow with gratitude and enjoy 99% of their time in their position.
Grumblers have their focus solely on how things “used to be” or how things “ought to be”. They love talking about what’s wrong. That’s it, they just love talking about what’s wrong. Leadership that involves any type of vision, change or growth is not embraced, but rather seen as another thing to add to the “what’s wrong” list. They live in a constant state of stress, worry and fear. Grumblers clearly do not enjoy most things about their jobs and they are sure to let everyone know when it’s almost Friday. I have been both a Grower and a Grumbler so I speak these words from personal experience.
Three things I discovered reflecting on these two types of employees were:
~ Grumblers tend to stick together. Growers seems to stick together. It appears they don’t often have a high tolerance for each other.
~ Inside this type of employee structure, the Grumblers are often the loudest and have the largest amount of influence.
~ Outside of this employee culture, Growers prevail. The Growers are the ones that most people gravitate towards, even the Grumblers. Where performance matters, Growers shine. Grumblers fall behind.
Since leaving the education world full time, I have full embraced and now thrive in the performance-based structure of creating income. As an entrepreneur, I know, with certainty, that my business will only grow to the rate that I grow myself. As an entrepreneur, I am paid by the value that I provide to my customers and the world around me. I don’t have a set income. I can choose who to surround myself with. Truly the opportunities are endless.
I loved education. I was passionate about learning alongside my students. And I still use the skills and knowledge that I received in that profession, but I am very happy to be outside that environment and surrounded by Master Growers every. Single. Day.
Take a look around you today and see who you are surrounded by. Are they Growers or Grumblers? This will tell you exactly where you are. Believe I know. I have been surrounded by both and lived as both. And like I said, now that I am surrounded by Master Growers. I can never go back into the Grumbler culture.
Find freedom my friends.
Exactly as you are.
Exactly where you are.
Never stop growing.
Surround yourself with Growers.
<come hangout with me on Instagram @cannjoanna)
Dedicated to all the growers that surround me, inspire me, share what they are learning about and what they are grateful for.
A family where we can choose to spend most of our time together.
A family where the children have equal time with both parents.
A family that can be full time living life together and part time at work.
My personal definition of a full time family.
A place where we choose our schedule and money is of no consequence. (What is money anyways, but a concept of trading money for time.) We are working very hard, every day to create residual, freedom income. Sexy Neck is working with a contractor to create a rental home on our property. I have launched a book into the world and I love coaching people using nutritional systems I love. The company gives me rebates for supporting and loving people to reach their individual energy, performance, weight loss, healthy aging or even financial goals.
My dreams continue to become reality as Sexy Neck and I walked our boys to school together today. As he is an educator with similar hours, I can count on two hands how many times he has been able to walk with us to school in the last four years.
I will hold to my full time family vision, not knowing ‘how’ it is going to unfold. My mom’s death taught me that sometimes we can’t just figure things out, we must walk them out.
As my colleagues in the public sector walk the picket line, I dive head first into a new teaching job supporting families that are schooling at home.
First, I learn about each students passions and interests. I ponder curriculum. I write up a learning plan and then I spend many hours at my computer getting ‘er done! Sexy Neck has told me in my family of origin we like to get ‘er done!
Questions… Checkout this desk:
(The non-urgent questions are under the keyboard for now!)
We are one year and two months into our first child in school.
We decided to put him into French Immersion due to our life before children living in Europe, class compositions in French Immersion and the brain/future benefit of learning another language. The only language that is offered is French, otherwise we may have preferred Spanish or perhaps even German.
As parents, we question many of our decisions that we have made for our boys. Today, we were given a small pat on the back that for our oldest French Immersion is the right track for him.
Today, we were in the car.
JC yelled out, “Seven cars. There were seven cars lined up at the light!”
I had a light bulb moment and asked, “Did you count that in your head in French or English?”
JC responded, “French of course Mama!”
My first thought was: thanks for translating to English for me and then I was surprised he was counting in French.