April 7, 2013

Keep Calm

With me saying ‘bye bye’ to teaching recently I have had quite a bit of time on my hands. I’ve been catching up on my sleep and I’ve come to realize that my body is quite exhausted. Going to bed early and struggling to get up in the morning even though it is late shows that I have been very sleep deprived and my body needs time to rejuvenate. My naturopath reminded me that it will take time and I shouldn’t expect to bounce back after a few days of unemployment. I’m trying to eat better and working on things around the house. I sorted through most of my basement, the kitchen is fairly clean and laundry is on track. No more baskets sitting around and clothes on the drying rack for days on end. My biggest task will be to tackle our (and I mean ‘my’) bookshelves. The Honey has complained quite often that he feels overwhelmed and suffocated by my books. It is a little extreme and I sympathize with him. I’ve been feeling the same way lately and sadly, half of what I own is for work.

Unlike ESL schools outside Ottawa (and I’m generalizing here), the schools I’ve worked for here have had minimal materials available for teachers to use. There are the core texts and that’s really about it. A few schools have a shelf with some decent material, but it’s rare. Compare to overseas where the teacher’s room would have a wall of bookshelves with resource material for the using and borrowing. Maybe I was spoiled and worked for good schools, but coming back to Ottawa always left something to be desired. Every time I attended a conference, travelled/worked overseas, or ventured to Montreal/Toronto, I would return home with a bag of great books.

But now that I’m not teaching, what to do with them? A friend and I talked about this a few years ago when she left teaching to stay home with her kids. She didn’t want to get rid of them in case she went back to work. They were good materials and resources so she didn’t want to give them away or sell them if she was going to need them again in the future. Now that I have left teaching, temporarily at least, I don’t want to give them away or instantly get rid of them. There are some I have never opened or are resources I know I’ll never use again and they’ve been given to friends who are still teaching and can use them. But the others…? For those who have bought ESL material, they know how expensive it is. While it is less expensive overseas (especially in the UK) because material seems so readily available, the cost still adds up. And at a conference in T.O, I can easily drop a few hundred dollars when the average book costs $60.

So in the meantime, while I think of what to do, I’ll be going through my books and decide what to keep and what to pass onto friends. My business plan and research for opening an ESL school is already in a labelled box in the basement. Having been on a shelf since foreign economies took a downturn, I know that I won’t return to that idea. This break won’t take me back to that dream. In this sorting and boxing up, I’ll post on the ESL Life page the material I’ve loved, enjoyed and used throughout my teaching career. I’m quite proud of my collection and ironically, will miss some of the activities.


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