You teach your children some fashion sense
And they fashion some of their own
- Gordon Downie

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Teacher's Summer: Tuna Salad

Yup. To me, Tuna Salad says "summer." It is a recipe I learned from my mother, one that I never make the same way twice. My wife lets me make it because her tuna salad never quite matches up. It is a dish that tastes best on a hot day. As a boy, we ate it several times a summer and always made it in the same green Tupperware bowl. Yesterday, on the last day of school, I made my first tuna salad of the summer. It wasn't my best (a bit light on the mayo, I forgot to boil eggs to put on top), but it hit the spot nonetheless.

Since we live in Alberta, summer is a time I treasure. It's a time when we can comfortably spend several days in a row outdoors. I try to wear shorts every day and wear socks only when necessary. Summer is a time when I get to read for fun. We get to head to the lake, make sand castles, and spend the entire day snacking, playing, sitting and swimming. Summer means blue skies, bright yellow canola fields, and rivers than run cold and gin-clear. Summer means hatches of insects and hatches of insects mean rising trout. For me, no summer would be complete without a trip to the Rocky Mountains. I grew up camping, hiking and fishing in Alberta's foothills and mountain parks. At this point in my life, summer means that I get to spend huge blocks of time with my family doing all of the things that make summer so special.

I won't deny it - summer holidays are one of the greatest things about being a teacher. Summer helps balance the hours and hours and hours of work we put in on evenings, weekends, early mornings, coaching, marking, writing report cards, finding newer and better ways to our job. This year, two incredibly experienced and gifted teachers retired from our staff. There were many tears, despite the fact that they both were embarking upon a permanent summer holiday. And the reason why was summed up best by one of the ladies who was retiring. She said that teaching takes you over. You see the world through teacher's eyes. Whether you realize it or not, you wind up thinking about teaching no matter where you are or what you are doing. Teaching gets into your heart. How true, Deb, how true!

One of my favorite books about teaching and learning is Roland Barth's Learning by Heart. Barth suggests that roots of true school reform lie in the ability of teachers and administrators to become lifelong learners. We need to share our knowledge and expertise by opening our classroom doors. All teachers can and should lead. We need to ignore standardized testing and focus on reform from within our schools. And at the heart of that reform should be making things better for students. I honestly believe that student's don't remember WHAT you teach so much as HOW you made them feel in your classroom. Positive relationships are at the heart of good schools, good families and good communities.

So, this summer, I plan to rest. I plan to spend time with my family. I hope to read, relax and learn. I'm planning to catch many fish and take my children fishing. I will probably sleep outdoors as much as possible. I am going to visit with friends and spend lots of hours around a campfire. I will ride my bike every chance I get, take our dog for long walks, and eat lots of grilled meat (and tuna salad.) Throughout the summer, though, I will be collecting stories and ideas to use in my classroom next year. I will gather new ideas and learn more about technology I can use in my classroom like Prezi, Glogster, Animoto and Delicious. I can't help myself because teaching a deep part of who I am and what I do.

It is day one of holidays and I'm off to a good start. We slept in, we had a big breakfast and it's almost time to take the pooch for a nice long walk and swim before we head to our annual Canada Day party. Life is good!


  1. Gin-clear...I like it!
    Tell me sometime who retired as when we retire we lose contct with staff.

  2. Life is very good. Please keep writing. :)