humility and diligence!

Lately, I have been learning to square my shoulders back and brave new opportunities. I started teaching at two elementary schools as a full time music and band teacher since the term started after spring break. It’s been a wonderful challenge for me in many ways. Not only am I rediscovering my love for music, I am also realizing how little I know about music education. I have been immersed in music education since I was a child– I went to a music preschool/kindergarten school, my elementary school was very musical and had the largest strings orchestra in Vancouver, and I studied piano diligently. Never had I thought that I would actually become a music teacher (and it was by chance, too). I am learning so much about band instruments from my students and my own research and study at home… it takes a lot of humility and humour to be learning alongside my students. 


With my full time job with the school district, teaching the four classes at the Academy, and mentoring a grade seven girl from YHS, I’ve become very thoughtful about the extra time I have leftover. I am getting so much better at leaving work at work, and being able to say no  to some social events in order to savour some down time. I feel that I am experiencing a lot of growth. I feel less stressed out and more able to step back and appreciate that teaching is also a learning process. 


It is so profoundly wonderful to be in a community of educators, to be part of a school, because I know that I have so much to learn from the experienced teachers surrounding me. I may not have much experience right now but I sure am learning quickly! 



I’ve had a sense of urgency ever since I realized how settled I’ve become. As a teacher on spring break, I’ve finally had enough time and space to seriously step back and breathe… enjoying the sunshine and the rain, and the planning for after spring break. Day to day it feels that teaching follows me home as I spend all moments of my day being a teacher. This is a profession that is part of my reputation and identity– I take it seriously.

As passionate as I am, it sometimes worries me that I am so young and that I should be learning officially from the higher education grounds of university. My best friend recently got her offer to graduate school and that has planted a seed in my mind that I should get my application started and keep powering on. 

Thankfully my partner is in the same profession and it was insightful to process my internal conflict and hear him tell me the same reasoning that I have always voiced but sometimes lose sight of. That it is priceless to work with children with such joy and learn from their perspectives and journey with them on this adventure called education. That there is plenty of time for pursuing my career at a different level and that it is more important to value every second that leads to that future role. That no matter what others (friends, family, colleagues) suggest to me, it is ultimately my career and the way I choose to explore the different roles of education is entirely my call

It is a blessing to look back on my academic and now professional career and realize that I’ve made something of myself that I can be proud of… and it is dauntingly exciting to think of how much further I can go. 

At the end of the day, I realize that I need to stop obsessing about my youth in worries that it will slip away. I keep thinking that I am running out of time to do more and in obsessing so, I forget that I am wasting my youthful, boundless energy. This spring break I have reminded myself to pour every drop of my passion for teaching into my interactions with my students, my staff, and my school community… and that every contribution I make now will build the foundation for greater things to come in the future. 


I waited for an hour in the cold this evening to get into a last minute event at the Vogue Theatre downtown. It was a casual program that seemed to flow and glide through the night… Amanda Palmer who hosted the event calls it a “ninja gig” and the beauty in the uncertain and unexpected inspired me. She was attending the TED conference in Vancouver and she organized a few other musicians who were performing at TED, to put on a free show to raise money for the Vancouver Food Bank. 


My favourite part of the night was when Imogen Heap came on stage and sang a capella with the audience cooing the part “just for now, just for now, just for now…” Another favourite was when a young musician studying at Berkeley performed a talented gig on his guitar that was like playing piano on his guitar…then followed by a young lady who was a sound engineer who made incredible sounds and music with her mouth and found objects, artfully crafted by technology.


On the way home I thought about how these musicians were not only talented but were intuitive and genuine with their instruments. They expressed their ideas and opinions and emotions through their music. That’s what made it so powerful. I realized that in my new role as a music teacher next term, I will be privileged to be part of my students’ personal journey to begin viewing our music as an outlet for expression. I want them to love music for the potential it has to free our soul. It is my greatest wish that someday they will become part of a gathering like the one tonight at the Vogue, where their music and their presence is a testament to how influential music is to community. 


Other amazing people we saw tonight… Sarah Kay the slam poet , Chris Hadfield the astronaut guitarist who performed Space Oddity, and Bora Yoon who was the sound engineer above mentioned who performed something like this. Finally, Amy Cuddy who spoke on the power of body language, was there and all 11,000 or so of us did power poses in the theatre. 


I remember watching her video last year before practicum, and it really helped me get through the toughest parts of student teaching, and then teaching as a substitute teacher. It was so, so neat to see these people who I watched on TED Talks appear on stage tonight. 

spring break

Yesterday I ran for 30 minutes and it felt quite enjoyable and relaxing for the first time since I started jogging regularly. I hope I have gotten over what my running friends have told me is “the hump”. It had been difficult to get myself out the door and continuously running, but persistence definitely built up my endurance!  

Though it is Spring Break, my music and band classes have been on my mind. I have been planning little by little each night to make it a less daunting task. It also helps that I combat uncertainty and anxiety by making todo lists and getting well acquainted with my Evernote. 


By the end of spring break it is my goal to run the seawall. I am also hoping to learn the flute and the trumpet so that I have a better understanding of woodwinds and brass instruments. Last night I watched a 50 minute video about brass embouchure, and about drumming techniques. Though I am classically trained, it is also my goal during this Break to become the best band director I can be for my new classes. 


I will also try to take more deep breaths and enjoy the process.




On the staff list!

Yay!Iwill be a full time music teacher in two elementary schools starting after Spring Break. I am still in shock at how quickly circumstances all came together. Teaching has been such a wonderful, diverse experience. Spring Break will be dedicated to planning and looking forward! I promise I will get some rest and exercise before an enriching, new challenge unfolds after the break. 

Looking for good music resources, and thinking about learning a woodwind and brass instrument. 

wake up and smell the coffee!

Life has been a blur of commitments and responsibilities. I have hardly had any time to sit down and complete a reflection from start to finish. In fact, there have been three drafts of blog posts that had been interrupted by students, my parents, or my own running list of errands. I take full responsibility, though, for I admit not making enough time for myself to unwind and process what’s been going on in my life. I have just been letting life take me on a run and I haven’t had a chance to slow down and catch my breath.

My training for the marathon had been cut short in the beginning when I realized that my running training had to be controlled in order to minimize impact on my flat feet. Then, Chinese New Year and then my parents’ move interrupted my healthy routine, and I’ve been struggling to find motivation to get out the door and run. Of course, the heavy snow that bombarded us here in the Lower Mainland did not time well with my increasing motivation to start running again. I vow that I will go out for a jog today just to overcome these barriers, finally.

The terrible weather did, interestingly, serve as Nature’s way to forcing me to stop going at full power. On Tuesday I arranged to do a international development presentation to Cedar Grove Elementary on the Sunshine Coast.


Ironically, the school was closed due to a power outage from the 8 inches of snow.


Not only were we snowed-in in Gibsons, but the ferry also broke down which encouraged us to stay another day. We got to do our presentation and Q&A sessions at the school on Wednesday, which worked out so that we didn’t have to make another trip back again.


Between Tuesday and Wednesday I finally sat down to eat some hearty meals, and went outside to hike in the snowy forest. I realized how little time I had been making for myself, working two full jobs and handling my parents’ move.



It was strange, feeling as guilty as I did, enjoying the time off that was forced on me. Come back home, I feel a little un-anchored, as if work defines me. I felt empty, aimless, and a little insecure. Insecure in the sense that I seem to have no purpose. (It is also a little frightening to think of Spring Break coming up…no work then either!!) But, I need to remind myself that work is not the only purpose in life.

It’s been almost a full week of not teaching, and I miss the daily interactions with students that sent me home drained and exhausted. Still, I am more in touch with myself. I feel stronger and healthier. It also feels wonderfully satisfying to finally finish typing a whole blog post without being interrupted by anything but my freshly brewed coffee sitting with me!

Now, I await the results from the fundraiser at Cedar Grove, led by their grade 7 class as part of their global initiative. Look at their beautiful posters! It’s been three years since the involvement of this sister school, and their contributions have sure come a long, long way!


Here is the link to the Prezi that I made for Cedar Grove students– it depicts a wonderful journey of our grassroots project in rural Uganda! 



Last weekend I had coffee with a professor from my PDP program and we discussed the changes in my life post grad. I was excited to share my new attitude for 2014, with a renewed determination to find balance in my life. For many years now I have crammed too many things into my life and though I am proud of those results I also realize what unhealthy habits have developed. So, in our conversation I spoke of my goal to incorporate exercise into my daily routine, of the extra time I am setting aside for my family and friends, and to be truly present in everything I do. Interestingly, he challenged me to think not about finding ‘balance’ but about embracing the disequilibrium and chaos of daily live. It is, after all, imbalance that forces us to move forward to find new ground. It is an intriguing comparison, to recognize that disequilibrium is in fact what moves us forward while balance results in stagnation and no change.