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Olivia

Generous, strong-willed, silly

Partner to one, mother of none

An avid traveler, Sunday wanderer, spreading the love of life and learning to all

She tumbled hopelessly into love, overcome the excruciating agony of deflating defeat

But feared the lifelong regret in not pursuing dreams, the darkest places of her own mind, and losing the ones she loves most

Who bridged the gap between blood after loss, hurdled the high tides to chase her childhood reveries, and followed the broken compass to travel without aim

Hoped to make them proud, to well represent their name

Vancouver, Clarksville, Aubenas, Surrey – wherever the key in the door may turn

Fournier

The gong show

So today, I was an absolute gong show. Not my words, but rather the words of one of my 9th graders. “Madame, tu es un gong show”.

And I didn’t know how to react.

I’ve always known I’m a gong show. I’ve always embraced how scatterbrained I am and how my life goes 100 mph and doesn’t slow down for the speedbumps or crossing squirrels.

However, when I began my teaching program nearly two years ago, I knew that my “gong show” nature could be detrimental to my ability to succeed. It was all about trying to mask how real I was. If I have my life together in the classroom, it should all come together nicely.

Cue all the buzzers in the world here. Man, was I ever wrong.

What we need to be as teachers is real. Real human beings. I am not perfect. Should my students know that? Absolutely. I am a total gong show and I’ll be the first to admit it. I am the person that is stressing myself out right now. And is that normal? Who the heck cares.

So when my student called me a gong show today, I had to pause for a second, and then I said thank you. Thank you for acknowledging that I am as human as anyone else. Thank you for seeing my effort and knowing that some hurdles are beyond my control. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be myself in one of the most important domains of my life: school.image

And among all the marking and lessons and handouts and analogies that were given out, I feel like being a gong show was the one thing I did absolutely right today.

Learning to ride the bike all over again

There is something about riding a bike that is so natural. Once we learn, it is something that we can forever pick back up.

Our ability, however, to pick out a bike from the store, assemble it piece by piece, then take it for a ride on downhill mountainous terrain without breaking a leg is an entirely different task.

Okay, overkill on the part about breaking a leg. Past experiences of going head-over-handlebars have scarred me. Another story for another day.

When I got a call in late August telling me that I had a position at a familiar school, I felt all kinds of excited. I was excited to have stability, steadiness, and a comfort zone to merge back into. After all, I was already at this school for the first four months of my teaching career. I thought it would be just like getting back on the bike that I had just gotten off.

I then discovered, on that Tuesday after Labour Day, that somebody had taken my bike apart.

I was at square one – faced with something I knew how to do, but just didn’t know how to start up again. I was worried, panicky, and didn’t know what my next move would be.

Come on Liv. It’s September. You’re a teacher. This is what you’ve always dreamed of. Your own classroom. Your own students. Your own teaching philosophy!

For the first time, I wasn’t “Madame Fournier… the one who is covering for…”. There had been nobody before me to establish routines or a positive learning environment. I had always wanted this – my own classroom – yet nothing made my hands more clammy and my mouth more dry. I was in a one-month-long panic.

I didn’t want to admit that I was struggling. I still don’t want to admit that it’s not easy. But I am. Trying to keep my head above water while making learning interactive and engaging for these teenagers is a constant battle.


This would be a good time to throw out there that I am teaching grade 9 – kiddos fresh out of middle school.

So not only am I still “the new teacher”, learning the ropes of both teaching and how to start up a school year in the month of September, but my 14 year olds are wild, crazy, intimidated, energetic, sleepy, impulsive, sweaty, and cranky all at the same time.

So here I am, halfway through October with my refurbished bike with the pieces all put back together. It was a well oiled machine at around this time last year when I was getting started with my long practicum, or so I thought. Apparently I forgot that I had training wheels on at this point last year.

But yet here I am, on the screaming-downhill-off-the-backside-of-a-mountain part of my teaching career, just hoping that my bike manages to make it around the bend without falling apart. I’m on the bike that I know how to ride, only the terrain is ever-changing and unpredictable.

My 2015 bucket list

Every year, I think of more and more things I want to accomplish and do. This year is no different, and although I have had a bit of a slow start to the year (new teaching job and time flying by), I have a number of things to accomplish before 2015 is over.

  • Grouse grind 10x
  • Seawall – run from Canada place to Science World to Jericho beach
  • Golf 18 holes and not lose a ball
  • Granville island day date
  • Trout lake market
  • Hike the Lions
  • BC lions game & Vancouver Whitecaps game
  • Drive in movie night
  • Try mountain biking
  • Half marathon in under 2 hours
  • Cook a solo turkey dinner for the family
  • Vancouver Canadians game with my best friend
  • Dance on a table in Nashville

What do you challenge me to do in 2015?