The Necessity of Reflection
As I go through the seasons of my life, the one recurring theme has been that of over-thinking and the need to reflect and analyze. My brain is constantly in overdrive, and so the need to journal has been two-fold: to make and find sense in what I am thinking, and to use those thoughts to guide me onwards by making goals. Switching from a teenager into an adult, changing relationships, and new career opportunities all necessitated many pages in my journal: lists and tables to make decisions, rants when I was feeling frustrated, and just long streams of consciousness to find out how I actually felt about something. As I grew older, my love of journalling changed into a place to ask myself 3 questions: ‘what am I doing really well?’, ‘what do I need some improvement on?’ and ‘how can I make improvements or get even better?’ After my first day of practicum teaching as an elementary school teacher, the pages were filled with things I needed to improve on… and as time went on I was able to track and see both the disappointments and improvements that came with being a first year teacher. No matter where my life takes me, I know I’ll always have a black Moleskin with me!
One of my core values is determination. For me, as an avid hiker, this often means gritting my teeth, ignoring the burn in my legs, and pushing onwards to the top. As someone who has been through many years of education, this sometimes meant cancelling plans, drinking a coffee, and staying up late to finish an essay. As a first-year teacher this meant being determined enough to stand up to the students who wanted to push boundaries, and being brave enough to hold them accountable when they didn’t meet the expectations set out at the beginning of the class. I believe that being determined is one of the main ways to make progress, and work onwards. This picture shows me at the top of the Windy Joe mountain in Manning Park, BC. This was a hike done late in the afternoon, through several feet of snow, and with a cousin who was in better shape than I was. My chest was heaving, and all I wanted was to turn back… but on my face you can see the enormous sense of accomplishment that comes with being determined enough to reach your goal!
As the second youngest in a family of six, I have to say that the most constant theme in my life has been my intense love for family. This began as a young child, being doted upon by my older siblings who had waited so long for another sibling! As I grew up all of my memories are about being surrounded by my brothers and sisters: the necessary teasing that comes with a big family, pulling close together when my mom was sick, and spending all of my time playing with my brother. My family has been my rock, and as I’m about to move to another province I am appreciating the time with them so much. On this picture you can see my sister Jody, one of my biggest cheerleaders in pushing me forward through my hardest days!
On a regular Friday morning in March in my graduating year, a teacher walked to my desk and said, “Janine, you can’t do the Business program.” My response was of shock: I’d already applied and been accepted, it was what my mom and sisters had all done, and it was my plan. In seeing my shock she explained further that she thought I had the gift to teach, and that I shouldn’t waste my talents. The guidance that she (and many others) have given me over the years have changed who I have become, challenged me to become better, and opened my eyes to many possibilities. I am so thankful to have received this guidance, and now make it one of my goals to be a guide whenever I can: as a Grade 5 teacher there are many opportunities for this, with my friends, and especially recently as I have become a mentor and ‘big sister’ to one of my cousins. All of us need guidance at some time in our lives!
At the end of this past school year my students wrote a memory book about me. One of the most recurring themes in there was “you laugh so much and are so cheerful!” This was not always the case, but I have certainly come to see how much this improves my (and those around me) life. Their comments about my laugh made me laugh: for I am also known as the strict teacher. I make a point of looking for laughter every day: in the small comments a student makes, laughing at my own mistakes, and just the small joyful experiences. By finding more and more reasons to laugh (even when things aren’t going well), I’ve been able to be a more positive influence on those around me, as well as just being able to enjoy my own life more.
Appreciation of Nature
I’m spending this week in Parksville, BC. Last night I spent an hour on my hands and knees just looking at the tide pools. When I take the time to just look, I’m always amazed by what I can see. The skies at night, the new leaves budding out, the colour of the sky, the sound of waves, and the smells of being at the top of a mountain in the clouds. By reconnecting with nature I have given myself a greater appreciation for the Creator of it all, and the time that my brain needs to really relax and destress. When I’m having a bad day, spending even 10 minutes outside: going for a walk, laying on the grass, or jumping on the trampoline are always a cure. Taking the time to look down at all the beauty beneath me has given me the perspective that I needed to move onwards!
25 years ago, on a May morning I was born in Chilliwack, BC. I spent my childhood years building forts in the back field, helping my brother with his animals, reading voraciously, and playing games with my siblings. I always have loved school and studying, and so the years flew by. As I grew older I started working in a greenhouse, and at graduation made the decision to become a teacher. My degree in Geography flew by, and I loved learning more about the wonderful world around me. I began the Teacher Education Program, and my practicums opened my eyes to not only the challenges of teaching, but also the immense satisfaction and reward that come with working with children.
After several trips abroad on missions trips (Haiti, Malawi and Tanzania), I began working in a small Christian school, teaching Grade 5. I’ve absolutely loved this experience: getting to know each new batch of kids, getting passionate about new subject matter, and pushing through with the challenging students. Each day gave me a reason to laugh, and usually also some frustrations. I learned more about myself as a person, and as a teacher. One of my students just pointed out to me this year “I used to hate Socials and Science, but now I love them!”… proof of my discovery of my great love for both of these topics!
After two years of teaching I decided I was up for a new challenge. Exploring my options led me to the Professional Masters in Education, which has been a perfect fit. Because I lead such an active and busy life, I love that I’m forced to sit and just study ‘for me’… not for my students or my job, but simply because I love to learn. This past year I’ve also taken on several other challenges, and my move to Ontario later this week certainly fits with my theme of ‘onwards!’ This year I’ve been able to start and lead a book club in my church, which has been a very rewarding experience. I’ve spent the past year volunteering in a street youth outreach program in my community: always challenging, but the small moments of joy and purpose made it rewarding.
When I look back on my life I am so thankful for all I’ve received and been able to experience. I look forward to continually strive onwards for growth and change!