Into the reading rabbit hole…lost in PD (personal development)!

When I opened my blog today I found four incomplete drafts from as far back as November 2015. During my short stint blogging I have often written about my struggle to keep up with any type of written reflection. I am someone who will arrive early to school to get prepared and prepped for the day, only to be found standing in the hall with a cold coffee talking to another staff member. This is when most of the reflection comes out for me – when downloading the day with colleagues over a beverage.

The last seven months have been very busy with the arrival of my new son, but that is just another excuse!  The truth is that I have been connected to my new school, with a constant eye on the development of the amazing collaborative space that will be the Library Learning Commons. What dawned on me tonight was that I just feel so scattered – complete lack of focus due to the fact that I don’t really feel part of the school, but (in the very few moments I have to myself) I am drawn back to education via Twitter or Instagram.

In my previous post I mentioned trying to meld reading for parenting into educational interest. The book “Loose Parts; Inspiring Play in Young Children” by Lisa Daly and Miriam Beloglovsky was intriguing and I found myself experimenting with many of the ideas from the book with my own 3 (now 4) year old, Abby.  Here I learned the lesson of control – how to let go of it and curb your expectations. This is the only way to see authentic curiosity that is sparked by the freedom of exploring loose parts. That was a tough one to learn for this A-type Mama!

At the same time, I was reading some parenting books and speaking to mothers at length in Mom-Baby groups. I found that much of the conversations centred around the self-regulation of our toddlers/pre-schoolers when interacting with their new siblings. This started me down the reading rabbit hole; I jumped from Stuart Shanker’s “Calm, Alert and Learning” calm_bookto “Your Self-Confident Baby” by Magda Gerber, all in an effort to understand how I could aid in the development of self-regulation in my children. I gained some insight into how our environments can help support our regulation, which only got me thinking…and jumping to the next book.

Issues of environments best suited for learning have been at the forefront of many discussions at the board level (see the amazing Peel Empowering Modern Learners document ) and in the Twitter-vers. With my Mom-brain firing at all times, I started to think about how this connected to learning environments at home. Enter the text – “How to raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way” by Tim Seldin, which at times connected me back to my learning from ‘loose parts’. montessoriI am still trying to digest most of the teachings from within this text as it was quite thorough, but my main take-away was that children need space to learn and explore. An environment that they help shape which has order and organization. These two words can strike fear into the heart of any parent who has a playroom in their basement!

The reading rabbit hole led me to a self-help book “The life-changing Magic of tidying up” by Marie Kondo. Here, the author takes you through a journey to self-fulfilment by getting your ‘house in order’. I must say that the urge to clean and purge really does take over. There is am immediate sense of calm as your environment has order with everything in its place. Taking the time to really think about items that ‘bring joy’ or just take up valuable space, then discarding those unnecessary items, was liberating. Not only am I thinking about the learning and play environment for my children, but this text really made me pause as I embark on the creation of a new space – the Whaley’s Corners P.S. L.L.C.

As educators we are constantly in a state of professional development, learning, creating, sharing, reflecting…repeat! This “book jump” (not to mention my detour into feminist texts when questioning how to best support my daughter as a strong, confident, self-reliant girl) may appear as an unfocused rant of a woman caught between two worlds…and it sort of is! What I have discovered on this rabbit-hole journey is that I don’t need to feel pulled in two directions – my learning as a teacher can inform my learning as a parent (and vice versa). This is not a new revelation, but for me it is the first time I can actually see the connection. The first time I believe it to be true. And that has made all of the head-spinning (and unpublished blog drafts) worth it.


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