Archives for December 2014

2014 Year in Photos Slideshow

This is my favourite post of the year. It’s one that I do purely because I love it. It gives me a chance to reflect and wax nostalgic, which are sort of my bread and butter. This post contains my annual slideshow, chronicling my family’s year in photos. It’s my seventh (!!!) such slideshow. Looking back over the first six is a real walk down memory lane from 2008 to today. I remember things I’d forgotten. I laugh, and of course, I cry. I’m not sure if anyone else loves my slideshows, but if one of the benefits of blogging is having a record of your family life, then this slideshow is the best example of that.

2014 was actually a big year for me. I went back to school. I suffered through a renovation nightmare when the contractors I’d chosen went bankrupt only after they’d demolished my ensuite. I received confirmation of my decision to become a teacher. I lost my job. Looking back over the year’s photos I see snapshots of all that and more. Here’s the photographic evidence set to music. True to my hippie roots, I’ve gone with Joan Baez this time:

If you’d like to take a walk down memory lane with me, here are my past slideshows:

2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013

I’ve shared the photos and now I’d like to turn the tables back on you. What was 2014 like for you? When you consider this year, what images will stand out in your mind? And what are you looking forward to in 2015? I’d love to hear.

Happy New Year!

Unemployed

When I posted last week, I mentioned that a lot has happened in my life recently. One of those things? I was laid off from my job as Managing Editor for VancouverMom.ca. There are big changes happening on the site, most specifically the imminent launch of the JellyBeen app. As a result there was some re-shuffling, and my role was eliminated.

This is not my first experience with losing my job. I was laid off in 2009, when I got news during my maternity leave that I wouldn’t have a job to return to. Having been through this before actually does make it a little bit easier. However, there are still bumps, at least in part because this lay-off has been quite a lot different.

Last time, I had already been away from my job for eight months, since I was on maternity leave. I had a four-year-old and a baby. Also, before my mat leave I was working in an office, in a position I’d held for a decade. I received a hefty severance package, and took it as an opportunity to re-examine my life. Now that I was a mom of two, I had to chart a new course, and it took a lot of time and false starts to get there.

laid off unemployed endings forgivenessThis time, while I was the editor for three and a half years, the first year and three quarters was as a freelancer. My time as an actual employee was much shorter. Also, I did the job part-time from home, with only occasional meetings with the rest of my team. This means no hefty severance, and I’m not really leaving my workplace behind. Plus, this time I already have a plan for what I’m doing next – I’m hoping to start teacher training this fall. This lay-off has simply moved up the time frame of leaving this job to pursue the next thing. I will be okay. I know where I’m going next and how I’m going to get there.

That doesn’t mean that being laid off is fun. Being laid off is never fun. I was hoping to stay in this job for eight more months, to save up some money for when I return to university. And while I totally understand and respect my former employer’s decision, and I truly do wish her all the success in the world, getting that phone call is not a good time for anyone. No matter how many times I hear that this isn’t my fault, that I didn’t do anything wrong, that these things happen, it stings. It just does. Saying good-bye is hard.

I’m going to miss VancouverMom.ca. It was my online home for more than three years. I learned a lot in the job, and made a lot of friends and connections. I’m not the same person I was when I started. In fact, it was a press release that I received while I was working there that inspired me to seriously pursue teaching. If I hadn’t been in a role where people contacted me to tell me about the cool things they’re doing, I may not have gotten the idea to do this cool thing myself. I owe a lot to the site, and I’m sad to leave.

Like I said, I’m going to be okay. My last working day was December 19, so just over a week ago. Right now I’m spending my time hanging out with my kids, polishing off my teaching application and thinking of blog posts in my head. I have more space, suddenly, which is both scary and liberating. There are more budgetary constraints, and fewer time constraints. Upsides and downsides. Life is like that.

I’m sure that when I look back on this in years to come I will see how it all worked out, or something like that. At this moment, I’m still processing the loss. I think that’s normal. This too shall pass, and in the meantime I’m doing my best to just accept it all as it comes, good and bad, happy and not-so-happy, freeing and frightening. It feels fitting that this is how I would finish 2014, given that my word this year is forgiveness. I have one more chance to let it all go. Wish me luck.

Confirmation

Okay, okay. It’s been two and a half months since I posted. A lot has happened. Right now I’d like to tell you about one of the big things that’s been going on in my world.

A couple of days after I last wrote here, I met with a teacher at a local middle school who was willing to have me volunteer in her grade six/seven classroom. I have to do this in order to apply for teacher training. However, I was looking at this as more than a hurdle to clear. For me, it was about really, really, REALLY making sure that my plan to be a math teacher is solid. I wanted to spend enough time in a classroom for the bloom to wear off the rose, so to say.

I’ve already spent a year pursuing my goal of becoming a math teacher. However, there’s going to be a lot more time and money before any of this work starts to pay off. I am, quite frankly, too old to get another degree in a field that isn’t a good fit. So, I spent almost 160 hours at the middle school over 10 weeks. I photocopied and stapled. I observed and assisted. I helped kids do their work and planned projects. I even taught the three week unit on integers to the grade seven math class. And I did this while I was also working part-time for VancouverMom.ca, taking two university classes, and parenting two children.

middle school volunteer math teacher student teacher

I stapled this display to the wall!


 
It was busy. In fact, it was so busy it wasn’t even funny. But you know what? I loved it. I loved the kids. I really like the teachers I’ve worked with. And I enjoyed learning, first-hand, what my day might look like as a teacher.

On the last day of school before winter break, I was eating lunch in the staff room. Around me, everyone was comparing notes on their holiday plans, and how much work they would have to do over the break. Unsurprisingly, everyone was looking forward to a couple of weeks off. But what I also heard, loud and clear, was a note of sadness. I have kids of my own, so I understand this note of sadness. Yes, you’re thrilled when you get some time away. Sleeping in is pretty sweet. Having time to yourself is pretty sweet. But I also know that when you care about someone, you miss seeing them. Those teachers care about their students, and I can see that clearly.

student teacher math teacher

The teachers dressed as mad scientists for Halloween and I joined in

I’ve seen first-hand that teaching can be a very challenging profession. There’s bureaucracy and serious financial constraints. Here in my district there have been extensive lay-offs after a major budget shortfall last spring. On top of all that, the teachers were on strike for the last two weeks of the 2013/2014 school year, and the first two weeks of the 2014/2015 school year. I wouldn’t claim that I understand all of the challenges that teachers face, but hearing their stories and being in a classroom I understand them much better than I did. I know that being a teacher isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

However, I also know that this is the right choice for me. I know that the world needs more good math teachers, and I know that I want to be one of them. I met my goal of putting myself through the wringer and making sure that the good outweighs the bad for me. And like those teachers who were looking forward to winter break, but already missing their students a little, I know that the equation works out for me. I’m submitting my application right now to start teacher training in September, and I’m really looking forward to it.

It’s been a meandering journey, from engineer to writer to editor to student teacher. It feels good to know that it’s led me to where I’m supposed to be.

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