Posted in Happiness, Mother's Corner

Teaching Happiness in Schools

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Whenever I need some insight (especially in preparation for a speech) I ask my son. He has quite a bit of experience now that he’s 8. He’s been advising me for the past six years. I asked him what really matters in life.

His instant response: hockey.

So I rephrased my question by asking what matters most to all kinds of people — from grandmas and grandpas, small children and big ones, girls and boys?

“Well that’s easy Mom,” he quickly replied. “The ability to read!” Then he dashed outside to play hockey.

The ability to read. It matters most. As a school principal and as a mother I was happy to hear such a response.

The next morning, as we were traveling in the car (where there’s no hockey), I asked if he had any other thoughts about what’s important in life. His answer . . . having fun and being happy!!

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Which got me thinking further.

When parents come to my office for a chat, what do you think they want most for their child? It’s not to exceed academic expectations. They want their child to be treated well, to be cared for at school in their absence, to be treated with respect and dignity. What parents want most is for their child to be happy. The hardest part for parents, is when their child cries not wanting to come to school.

Teachers often want to report out on the child’s reading level, work habits, on-task behaviour, etc. — all of which, more than not, require improvement. Recommendations are made (apps, on-line resources, getting more sleep, monitoring diet, etc.). Should the question be, “How do we increase a child’s happiness?”

As Shawn Achor’s video attests, happiness feeds one’s ability to do well and to be productive. It’s a Ted Talk worth (re)visiting.

Yet how much time do schools spend learning about and truly understanding the research on happiness? Is happiness any more or less important than (fill in a subject). What collective efforts are making a difference? Educators will say that we have Safe and Orderly Schools guidelines, a Social Responsibility curriculum, daily mindful breathing, counselors, class meetings — all of which contribute to a happier classroom/school. I’m talking more. A complete paradigm shift in classrooms where the focus is strengths based education and positive, p o s i t i v e attitude from every single staff (and parent).

At the same fundraising speech, I asked for some funding to focus on happiness. We had worked with Brock Tully, a man who exudes happiness as it’s his passion and purpose. He loves nifty sayings, one of which is, “We may not be able to change the world we see around us but we can change the way we see the world, within us.” If we are to do this, we need to start early and have happiness as a collective vision, beginning with each of us. As Shawn Achor says, “90% of happiness is up to you.”

If we can teach literacy, we can teach happiness — both of which will contribute to a better school, a happier person and ultimately a better community. But it begins with you. How will you begin? Take a step towards creating a positive outlook by following Shawn’s suggestions. As he says, “Small changes ripple outward!” Happy travels!

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Posted in Mother's Corner

Dear Div. 8

Aloha Class,
I’m having a good time in Hawaii. Let me tell you about three of my highlights.

1. A visit to the zoo was awesome. The lion exhibit woke everyone up with its huge roar but we didn’t get any good pictures of the lion because it was far away.

But the tiger was up close and awesome. The tiger was about 2cm away. The fence separated us. Our challenge was to figure out which of the three tigers it was.

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2. Snorkeling was fun. I snorkel almost every day but one day we went on an awesome catamaran to Turtle Bay and there were 9 sea turtles just hanging out. It’s cool when they come up to get air. Then you get a really close look at them.

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The best part of the trip was holding a live octopus under water. It felt sticky!

3. Diamond Head is an inactive volcano that you can climb. It says in guide books that the climb should take 30 to 40 minutes but it took me 18 minutes and 31 seconds. That was my third time climbing Diamond Head. Here’s a view from the top.

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I wrote about different parts of my trip in the postcards to each of you. It took a while to finish them because I wrote a few a day. The problem has been mailing them. We will try again today with the US Postal Service express post. They said regular post would take two to six weeks. Then we went to UPS and they told us it would cost $80 to send!! Hopefully you will get them by Monday.

Goodbye,
Massimo

Posted in Happiness, Mother's Corner

Your Outlook on Life

I was chatting with a friend who mentioned her choice not to hang out with friends who drain her energy. I understood.

One of my best friends has an aggressive form of cancer. She’s on her second round of chemo and she is one of my favourite people to connect with and to hang out with. She is filled with hope, spirit and wisdom. She is uplifting. She fills the room with happiness.

There are others that feel so hard done by with a common cold. There are those who think compromising means getting their way.

To those of you who have an unhappy outlook on life remember . . .

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To those of you who have a happy outlook remember . . .

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Week One: The Freedom of Not Working

Tia and Mom sabatAlthough I started my six month leave officially as of midnight of December 31, it didn’t sink in until January 7th rolled around and I wasn’t at work as a school Principal. One has to realize a few things about me:
a. I have always loved to work and never fathomed the idea of staying at home. Ever.
b. I became a teacher at 21 and a Vice-Principal at 31. I had two 6 month maternity leaves during the past 23 years. I could have chosen a year’s mat leave but I preferred work to being a stay at home mom.
c. M-F I would leave home at 7:30am dropping the children at daycare on route to work and we all returned home at 6:30pm, in time to cook dinner, play, read and tuck them in to bed. I am also a hockey mom (that statement alone says BUSY)!
d. My close friends thought I wouldn’t know how to relax during a six month leave. In fact, I even asked HR if I had the option of changing to a three month leave because I couldn’t imagine six months off. Now I feel stupid!

So having had one week of no work, this is what I’ve discovered . . .

1. What a joy it is to drop off my children at school and preschool every morning — I’ve never done that before. Putting faces to names of friends and school staff feels right.

2. Time is available for anything I want to do! That’s baffling to me. I have time to read books for pleasure without falling asleep! I have time to shop during the day and no longer shop out of necessity between 9-11pm at night.

3. I’m getting way more I love you’s and cuddles from my family. I’m way more affectionate too. I’m around and the connection is intense. In my opinion, distance does not make the heart grow fonder, closeness does!

4. I visit and chat with all the people on my priority list. Awesome!

5. OMG are there ever a lot of people that do not have a regular 8-6 job! I don’t know why this surprised me so, but there certainly are masses enjoying non-frantic 8am – 6pm moments.

6. What a novelty to not feel constant stress:-) In comparison to the job of a school principal, the “stress” that I have staying at home does not even make the stressometer reading!

7. I am happy day and night. That’s because I am sleeping, eating well, exercising and having quality time with family and friends. My tolerance for anything that comes up is balanced rather than in override.

Enjoying the weekdays as well as weekends is extraordinary. Here’s to more people having this experience!

Posted in Mother's Corner, Uncategorized, Wisdom

I AM

As I was cleaning out my office, I came across some cards titled, Manifest Your Magnificence for Kids, and one comment jumped out at me.

It reminded me that I AM are the two most powerful words in the world, for whatever we put after them becomes our reality.

So . . . be mindful of how you finish the I AM sentence because it relates to what you end up thinking of yourself and how you feel.

Posted in Mother's Corner, Wisdom

Don’t Look Back

One of my favourite times of the day is bedtime with my son and daughter. It’s amazing how much they open up to us when we take time to cuddle with them, so my husband and I rarely pass up this opportunity. The topic of conversation with my seven year old was a disappointment that he wasn’t letting go. So the conversation was to not look back because it’s out of his control and to look forward where a difference can occur.

I reminded him of the journal we gifted to a few (we kept a digital image because we liked the message). There’s no one to credit as the journal had nothing on it but the price. Funny how a few carefully chosen words can empower and allow a place in which to hang our thoughts.

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Be bold. Take risks. Live life freely. Lead by example.

Trust your gut. Say what you feel. Mean what you say.

Express gratitude. Believe in your power. Exceed your expectations.

Dance the night away. Skip down the street. Don’t take no for an answer.

Be your best self. Don’t look back.