Can A City Be Your Soul Mate? Finding Myself in Valencia

Valencia, Spain

Author: Marisa LaValette
SavvyCitiZen

As the plane began its descent towards Barajas Airport in Madrid, I have to say I felt like a little bit of a poser. I had been teaching Spanish for four years already, but this would be my very first visit to Spain. As I climbed into one of the white Mercedes taxis lined up along the airport curb, the driver asked me immediately “¿Es Mexicana?” He wanted to know if I was Mexican, which in its own way was validating. I intentionally teach my students to speak with a Mexican accent, or any accent from the 10 other Spanish-speaking countries where I have spent time. Continue reading

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From Community to Family – Teaching in Northern Canada

Fresh out of university, and deep into debt, I made my way north to teach high school English in Norway House, Manitoba. With temperatures in the -40s and -50s, and isolation from family, cities, and most forms of entertainment, I had to be creative with my time and the relationships built with other community members. It was this unique environment that changed community members to friends within a few short weeks and friends to family within the first year. The family that I created while I was there has taught me to live life to the fullest, love and support the people that love and support you, and make the most out of each journey that comes your way.  I look back on my experiences in Norway House, Manitoba with fond memories of icy cold days, holiday celebrations, long drives, learning new things, sharing, dancing, and creating a bond that is unbreakable. Continue reading

Teaching is Beyond the Classroom

As a teacher, there are certain expectations that society in general places on your role in the school system. You are expected to be a role model at all times and maintain your composure as well as your temper. Does that mean that you’re expected to be “stuffy”? Does it mean that you’re expected to avoid fun and laughter like the plague? I taught high school for 8 years and during that time, I had some of the most humorous and lasting experiences of my life. From Safe Grad and prom, to classroom parties, sports, and fund raisers, I made the most of my teaching experience. I chose teaching because it wasn’t a job to me; it was fun and rewarding and what I did on a daily basis impacted the lives of many. I may not appear like the typical teacher and I may not have participated in typical teacher activities, but I know I did my job well and I’ve learned as much from my students as they’ve learned from me. Continue reading

3 First (Worst) Teaching Days – #1 – Riverview, NB – If I Could Only Make it There

3 First (Worst) Teaching Days

As a teacher for over 8 years and in various schools around the country, my journey was filled with happiness, laughter, fear, nervousness and countless other emotions, often at the same time. Students have a unique way of touching your heart, driving you completely insane, and making you proud all at once. The first day of the school year can often set the tone for the entire year. It can be a stressful day naturally, but when you add a first day curse things can get out of hand. I’ve experienced the craziest first days during my career; including no heat over night in -50 degrees, going to the hospital with a concussion, and not making it to work because of a freak storm disaster. They are powerful enough to make you question entering the teaching profession altogether. Follow me on my first days of disaster and teaching.

#1 – Riverview, New Brunswick – If I Could Only Make it There

I moved, or attempted to move, to Moncton, New Brunswick from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia on November 20, 2008 to start a teaching position at Riverview High School. My job officially started the next day and I played out a thousand first day scenarios. I wanted to finally have a great first day teaching and I thought with years of experience and a history of not so great first day I could finally have a change of luck. With only what I could fit in the car, I began my journey alone. It was early in the winter season and I didn’t worry about the weather or the road conditions, but that was a mistake that I will not make so easily again. Continue reading

3 First (Worst) Teaching Days – #2 – Norway House, Manitoba – Anyone Up for a Hospital Visit?

3 First (Worst) Teaching Days

As a teacher for over 8 years and in various schools around the country, my journey was filled with happiness, laughter, fear, nervousness and countless other emotions, often at the same time. Students have a unique way of touching your heart, driving you completely insane, and making you proud all at once. The first day of the school year can often set the tone for the entire year. It can be a stressful day naturally, but when you add a first day curse things can get out of hand. I’ve experienced the craziest first days during my career; including no heat over night in -50 degrees, going to the hospital with a concussion, and not making it to work because of a freak storm disaster. They are powerful enough to make you question entering the teaching profession altogether. Follow me on my first days of disaster and teaching.

#2 – Norway House, Manitoba – Anyone Up for a Hospital Visit?
I arrived in Norway House, Manitoba just early enough to catch the local flu bug that was going around. The day before school started, I was sick and miserable with few options. It was the the first day of school so I wasn’t exactly going to call in sick. I woke up that morning with watery eyes, a churning stomach, and a pounding head. The thought of a first day curse crossed my mind after my experience in Shefferville, Quebec but I quickly diminished it and went about planning my day. My first strategy was to eat as little as possible before heading to work. I had been throwing up everything that went into my stomach and I wasn’t prepared to vomit on one of my students. My second goal was to dress in warm clothing since I suffered from chills for two days. I assumed it would keep my body temperature at an even rate for the day and I could take off the top layer if I was too hot. Finally, I was going to arrive early, although this wasn’t exactly because of being sick since my idea of being on time is an hour early anyway, to settle in to my classroom and prepare for the day. I wanted to create as little interruption as possible so I made this plan of action, but it turned out to be a long list of disastrous choices.

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3 First (Worst) Teaching Days – #3 – Shefferville – A New Teacher in an Uncharted Tundra

3 First (Worst) Teaching Days

As a teacher for over 8 years and in various schools around the country, my journey was filled with happiness, laughter, fear, nervousness and countless other emotions, often at the same time. Students have a unique way of touching your heart, driving you completely insane, and making you proud all at once. The first day of the school year can often set the tone for the entire year. It can be a stressful day naturally, but when you add a first day curse things can get out of hand. I’ve experienced the craziest first days during my career; including no heat over night in -50 degrees, going to the hospital with a concussion, and not making it to work because of a freak storm disaster. They are powerful enough to make you question entering the teaching profession altogether. Follow me on my first days of disaster and teaching.

#3 – Shefferville – Initial First Day Directly Out of University

While I was still finishing my education degree, I was offered a position at Jimmy Sandy School in Schefferville, Quebec and I owed thousands of dollars in student loans. I thought a position in the north would provide the financial support that I desperately needed and the teaching experience that I desperately desired.

The school board faxed my flight itinerary and I read it carefully. I was flying from Sydney to Halifax, Halifax to Quebec City, Quebec City to Montreal, Montreal to Seven Islands, and Seven Islands to Schefferville. It sounded like a lot of flights to travel two provinces, but I thought it would be an adventure.  Continue reading