Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Someone asked about my decision to take the job at Regina Open Door over continue working at the University of Regina so I thought I'd share some of the reasons:

1. I was personally called at home by the Education director at RODS and asked to apply for this job.

2. I have worked for RODS in the past and the teaching environment among the staff members is phenomenal.

3. Since I was only teaching night classes at RODS I never got to be under the supervision of the Education director. She is FANTASTIC and if I want to be a good mentor one day then I'd like the experience of working for a good mentor (the university ESL department is in a transition period so there is only an acting head).

4. Immediately after I was called at home and asked to apply for the job I went to the university to talk with my boss about jeopardizing my position with the ESL department if I turned down my teaching assignment for 1 semester. She assured me it would not be a problem. And I'm protected by the URFA union agreement and would still have seniority over classes if I take less than 2 years off as a sessional.

4. The job are RODS lasts until May 23, 2012. It's a short assignment but I have been told other options will come up at that point. This is a really hard organization to get into. They have high standards for teachers.

5. The new spring/summer semester at the university starts at the beginning of May. The Education director at RODS said that if I wanted to leave the teaching position before the end of the term (May 23) so that I could teach at the university it wouldn't be a problem. They are very flexible.

6. I will get experience teaching a higher level ESL group at RODS. I work really well with the beginning level (CLB 1&2) and have been type-cast at the uni. so all my teaching assignments are the beginning level. I like that but I also need change.

7. The ESL department at the uni. just went through a major hiring process (5 tenure positions, 5 1-year contract positions). Due to the increase of the amount of permanent staff as the uni. the sessionals are presented with lower teaching hours. I've also been asked to leave my office to prepare room for the permanent staff.

I absolutely love the students at the university and I have no doubt that I will be back. This will just be a nice change of pace in the mean time. It also means that grad school is on the back burner for this semester because I was originally signed up for 2 night classes which I'll have to cut back to one. BOO to that! But I can't do everything all at once. I tried that last semester and even though I did well in school and work my social life was non existent. This semester I'd like to have a little FUN!

A week in Vancouver

I'm treating myself to a vacation. I deserve it. Although I do plan to take some grad reading on this trip, I will mostly be kicking back, sleeping in, and hanging out with friends. I booked the ticket randomly one night after talking on Skype with my friends. The plan was to buy one for Sung Hyun to join me when he found out his vacation time. But when we did find out when he could go all the cheap tickets were gone and we both agreed that it's wouldn't be smart to spend $800+ for a 5-day trip ticket. So, I'll be going alone.

Vancouver here I come!!!!

Monday, December 26, 2011

I'll miss those SAUDI boys the most!

When I first returned to Canada last year I was lucky to get a position teaching ESL at the university. After teaching in Seoul, South Korea for over 5 years I got accustomed to teaching Korean students. I knew how to get them to speak. I knew how to manage a classroom and make them feel comfortable.

Then, I taught my first semester at the university. I recall 1 Saudi student in particular that was particularly challenging for me at the time. I did not know how to react when he challenged me in front of others. I did not know deal with him arriving to class late with a myriad of reasons why he couldn't just be there on time. It was frustrating for me. And for him. And I felt like I wasn't doing a very good job.

Then in my second semester at university after accepting my teaching assignment, I looked at my class list.......ALL SAUDI MEN! I thought it would be the semester from HELL.

I was wrong. I grew to form great relationships with these students. I used laughter as a medium to connect with them. I learned to loosen up a bit with the rules and let them get away with a little more while still holding my ground. They knew the limits. And if they broke them they accepted the consequences. I didn't have a single problem with a single student.

In fact, it turned out to be the BEST class. And later it made me realize how much I enjoy teaching SAUDI men. They are dynamic, energetic, and a really fun group of people.

I have accepted a full-time day position at Regina Open Door Society (albeit, not permanent) which means next semester I will not be teaching at the University of Regina.

And honestly speaking, I WILL MISS MY SAUDI BOYS THE MOST!

Chair school

Since I'm going to be in school for the next 2-3 years depending on how many classes I take each semester so I thought it would be suiting to ask for an office chair for Christmas. It will certainly get a lot of use and is already set up and and ready to go for next semester.

I got a 93% on my final research paper for my first grad class. I was so pumped to see I had done so well. I was hoping to get over 85% in the class but ended the class with a 90%.

Now I'm ready to tackle another semester!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Have a joyous holiday! From our (parent's) house to yours, Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Celebrating success...

I'm a little hesitant about putting this on my blog because of my huge fear of FAILURE. But now I'm making it public because I blog about my struggles all the here it goes.

I am so hard on myself so every now and then I need to pause and pat myself on the back for my minor accomplishments. Here is one of them:

Remember that 100+ hour proposal? Well, I've passed the internal review process at my local university and now I'm vying for a spot in the National competition. Now I just need to keep myself busy until April or May when I find out if I'm successful.

Let's hope I don't jinx it ;)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday weigh-in #26

The number was 161.0 today.

A lot of good things happened this semester. Letting my exercise and eating habits slip was not one of them. Still struggling to find balance in my all or nothing mentality. Thoughts on the weight gain? I appreciate honesty.....

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Stop for just a moment and appreciate!

"In Washington DC , at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, a man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately 2000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

After about four minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule.

About four minutes later, the violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

At six minutes, a young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

At ten minutes, a three-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time. This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent - without exception - forced their children to move on quickly.

At forty-five minutes: The musician played continuously. Only six people stopped and listened for a short while. About twenty gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

After one hour:
He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold-out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100 each to sit and listen to him play the same music.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the D.C. Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities.

This experiment raised several questions:

In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?

If so, do we stop to appreciate it?

Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made…

How many other things are we missing as we rush through life?"

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The busiest time of year....

Now that I'm off from work AND school, amazing I know, I'm going to volunteer for the week at the food bank. I'm taking the morning and afternoon shift which means I have to be there at 5:45. I wasn't really thinking when I agreed to wake up that early considering most nights I'm lucky to be in bed by 2 or 3. Eeeek! This is going to be a long but interesting week.

p.s. am I the only one not in the holiday mood this year? Totally NOT feeling Christmas yet...

Friday, December 09, 2011

The semester from HELL

Let me preface this by saying that I LOVE my students and I enjoy my work. And I certainly like a challenge.....

My kiddies this semester! I'll miss them ;)

BUT.......this has been the semester from hell!

And lots has happened since summer. I have not had a chance to write about it since I've been going non stop since August.

After my scam this past summer I loaded myself with stuff to do so that I would not have to think about the unfortunate situation. That, and I wanted to save money for a down payment for a condo. Yes, we are still living with mom and dad. And I get the feeling we'll be kicked out soon, especially since I've taken over her kitchen.

In August I took a 1 month intense teaching course that got me certified by Languages Canada and allows me to keep a teaching position at the university. Prior to that I didn't have any formal training in education, only 5 years of ESL teaching in South Korea. One requirement for the course was to write a minimum of 9 lesson plans. I took it a step further and went all out and actually made the entire components for the lesson. All the worksheets and games and cut outs......then I presented it in a binder (I'm a geek like that!):

I actually did quite well in the course. I graduated with a 98% but the biggest accomplishment came from my classmates. At the end of my final micro teaching another student told me in from of the class that I inspire her and that she wants to 'teacher' like me. It was actually one of the biggest compliments I have received and it just goes to show that you don't need a degree to do something well.

Then I got my first CORE class at the university. That means I was the MAIN teacher. Prior to that I was only teaching skills classes like writing and speaking. Along with teaching the CORE class I was also doing my teaching practicum--another requirement for the summer program. And on top of teaching the main class I was also a skills teacher too.

In the evening I was juggling my first graduate class. I had class on Monday night. And then about 150 + pages of reading to do each week. For those of you who know me well, then it should come as no surprise that I HATE reading. But I got through all of the articles and chapters of the book. REMEMBER?

Then I was working at Regina Open Door the other nights of the week. I had to quit that because my husband wanted to spend more time with me. And he was right...but I still miss them.

Then if that wasn't enough I started my own English tutoring company. This kind of just happened. One students turned into two, then......ten. I didn't advertise or put up posted or do anything special. I'm paying taxes, writing receipts and keeping track of expenses. I'm planning to register my business in the new year to make it the real deal. I teach evenings and weekends, which means I'm working 7 days a week. I'm so busy right now that I've had to turn down new students. And although I do not plan to quit my university job I know that I have the flexibility to do that if I want to pursue this avenue full time.

My friend Krista strongly encouraged me to apply for a government grant. I didn't have anything to lose by doing it (or so I thought at the time). But that sucked about 100+ hours out of my month because I had to put together a proposal for my program of study. The problem that I had was that I'm just a new grad student so at this point I didn't even have a supervisor or any idea of what I wanted to research. AND I wasn't even registered in the thesis route (a must for this application). When I walked into the advising office and said that I wanted to put together an application for this grant they basically laughed at me and told me it wasn't possible and that it was highly competitive and that I basically shouldn't bother. I went home that night and started......

I was on a mission to prove them wrong. So I sent individual emails to all the professors that I thought would be interested in what I wanted to study (I found their email on the university website). I made individual appointments with all of them (5 in total) and had them look over my SSHRC 2-page application. One professor made me almost cry in her office as she laughed at my lack of knowledge regarding research methodology. I immediately went to the library and got a research methodology book. A couple of professors encouraged me and said it was good I was going through this process but it was still a bit premature (I was only half way into my first grad class and this is a grant for the thesis component of my degree). All the professors sent me away with suggestions and revisions, minus the one that almost made me cry since she refused to look at my proposal. The suggestions they made were HUGE and basically I had to start my proposal all over again. I had already invested about 50 hours at this time and considered quitting. Krista encouraged me to keep going.

At this point, with only 2 weeks left until the application deadline, I put my nose to the grind. For the next 2 weeks I stayed up until 4 am researching, reading, writing, and re-editing. After several more drafts I sent it away for a second set of revisions from the professors. Only minor changes were to be made at this point. Then I trotted into the advising office application in hand the day it was due.

After finishing that, I had to turn my attention back over to my grad class and put together a group presentation. Then I had to write a final exam for my university ESL class. Then I had to write a 15 page research paper for my grad class. Then I had to correct university final exams.

Then, I had to complete the biggest project at the university to date. I wrote the entire curriculum for the basic grammar and writing class at the University of Regina.

It's my first publication:

Finished at 1:15 am on Thursday December 9th -- 10 hours before it's due!


My grad class is over, the ESL semester is done........I'm done writing papers, I'm done writing exams..........I'm ready for a day to myself.

Tomorrow I'm sleeping in ;)

Monday, December 05, 2011

Sunday weigh-in #25

Back to the beginning I go. Well, almost......

I knew that would happen. I was kind of scared to step on the scale so I'm glad I had an anonymous commenter encourage me to keep going.

I'm just going to try to get through the holiday season and stay around the 155 mark. I'll be happy with that!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Final Research Paper

This research has taken over my life:

And my mother's kitchen:

Thursday, December 01, 2011

GAH! Writing a research report

Currently I'm writing a research paper. It's taking me FOREVER. I'll be happy to hand the sucker in on Monday. I'll be a free woman then.

I couldn't help but share this video that has gone viral on FB. Gives me goosebumps: