When Life Happens.

6989656297_c73f114556_mI haven’t blogged in a long time. I used to blog a fair amount, and in truth, it’s often the way I process  what is going on in my teaching and thinking. At times, it has been a place where I’ve shared what is going on in my life. Not often. But sometimes. To be honest, I struggle using it this way. Friends like George Couros and Dean Shareski often talk about their lives on their blog. But for me, I’ve seen this as a professional place. And yet, so often the two things collide or intermingle.

What I’ve learned in the past couple months is life can change in a second. It’s the phone call. The diagnosis. The knock on the door.

My story revolves around my parents.

My dad is diabetic and, for whatever reason, it’s been very difficult to manage. At the end of August, he had his second leg amputation. My dad is a strong person. He’s a farm kid.  The “let’s get on with it” type.  Rehabilitation was going well, and then, all of a sudden, he had pneumonia, and was hospitalized for several weeks.  The consequence of this is he no longer had the strength to continue his rehabilitation.

Then the phone call came.  Dad was being moved to long term care. I woke up that morning with one life, and then, with that call, I had a different one. My mom, suddenly, became the sole caretaker of the house they’ve lived in for 45 years.  A house too big for her to take care of. A house we would now need to sell.

Consequently, during the last month and a half, I have downsized 45 years worth of my parent’s possessions, so we can sell the house.  I have reflected, deeply, over how much time we spend amassing possessions that, in the end, are put in a box and sent to charity.  At the same time, I’ve tried to support my mom as she deals with the loss of her husband and her first home.

It’s been exhausting. It’s been difficult.  It’s been overwhelming. And most of all, it hurts. I’ve had to learn how to help my mom best. How to figure out what’s most important. How to deal with our new reality. And how to help encourage and keep my dad’s spirits up. It’s difficult to see your parents age, and nobody really tells you that.

As the dust has settled, we’ve decided to sell our house and move to Regina to buy a house with a suite for my mom. It’s important to us to give my parents the best quality of life possible. But quite honestly, I think the benefits will go both ways. My girls are excited to be able to spend more time with Grandma. She can sew and knit, and they’re both keen to learn. And they also want to be able to visit Grandpa more.

I’ve also recently accepted a position as Assistant Director of Curriculum Development with an online school. A position I’m excited about, but is not without difficulty. We’re at the beginning of course rewrites in response to a new curriculum. We’re creating courses that are inquiry, project & problem based, and allow for a great deal of student choice. My goal is for as much authentic learning to occur as possible.

I’m also excited about students shifting from consumers to creators. In the fall, I’m going to be facilitating an online version of Genius hour and hour of code.

Additionally, I’ll be starting my doctorate at the Werklund School of Education, at the University of Calgary, in Learning Sciences this summer.

As I reflect, one of the most important qualities I’ve had to rely on is resilience.  In all of the complex and minute details of this, I haven’t been faced with a true or false question, and I didn’t get fill in any blanks. I wasn’t given a multiple choice as to whether or not we wanted our lives to change.  My life changed. And I needed to respond. You only become resilient by fighting for it.

We need to help kids develop resilience.  They need to wrestle with problems. They need to to fail. They need to persevere.  They need to be faced with many questions or problems that have no one right answer.  Or maybe are to big to answer. Some of these problems, like social justice issues, should be so big and passionate they hurt. And they make you cry. Because you need to be able to hurt and get up again.

About shelleywright

I love education & learning, which likely explains why I'm a teacher. My areas are ELA, Sr. sciences, and technology. My classroom is best described as a student-centred, tech embedded pbl/inquiry learning environment. Furthermore, I am Buck Institute for Education National Faculty member
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10 Responses to When Life Happens.

  1. Shelly, thank you for your personal yet positive reflection of your recent incidents. As a society, it is imperative that we see resilience so we can know what it looks like and your post demonstrates this beautifully. I know I will remember your post and the fortitude you displayed when faced with such issues myself. I too am a passionate educator, but I am in the fortunate position of teaching our future teachers. Your blog will be one that I refer them to, as I believe they need to read, feel and learn from our experienced educators so they may be a positive support for their future students who will face times that will require resilience. Thank you for being a positive influence in our world.

  2. Thank you for sharing. So sad, but new opportunities await. I wish you happy times ahead.

  3. lisahubbell says:

    Shelley, I can’t help noticing the pairing of this post with the next. Thanks for sharing what you’re going through, and some of the strength that helps you face it.

  4. peterpac says:

    Hi Shelley

    I just finished reading your two latest posts. So sorry to hear about your father yet what a wonderful opportunity for your children. To be able to now spend so much time with Grandma is something they will no doubt cherish for a long period of time.

    My two certainly have greatly benefited from all the time they have been able to spend with their Oma.

    I wish you all the best

    As for the other story, I can relate as I’m sure so too can many other educators who see themselves as going out in front.

    A sad commentary on American society today that anyone who goes out in front or wants to go out in front better have a tough skin.

    We just love to test the mantle of our leadership, even in the name of mean spirited and downright ugly testing. Awful, uh?

    So sorry you have to face that kind of onslaught, but as I said, it sorta comes with the territory, not that my offering up this opinion does you any good, or me when the onslaught gets turned my way, which of course on occasion it does.

    In any event, I wish you good luck at your new job.

    Peter Paccone

    On Tue, Feb 23, 2016 at 9:18 PM, WrightsRoom wrote:

    > shelleywright posted: “I haven’t blogged in a long time. I used to blog a > fair amount, and in truth, it’s often the way I process what is going on > in my teaching and thinking. At times, it has been a place where I’ve > shared what is going on in my life. Not often. But sometimes” >

    • Thanks, Peter. The story of your own children warms my heart. It makes some of the misgivings and hard parts easier.

      It’s unfortunate in education, or in anything, really, the trailblazers tend to put up with a lot. Awhile back I watched 42, the Jackie Robinson story, and it was so inspiring. It helped me put my difficulties in perspective. And while it’s still not easy at times, I know it’s important to keep going.

  5. lisamnoble says:

    As ever, whenever you blog, it’s always worth the read. Thanks so very much for letting us in a little bit. Resilience is key, and most of us model it all the time, sometimes unconsciously. One of my students lost a parent, completely unexpectedly, this week. I will be carrying your post in my head and heart as I work with him over the coming days, weeks and months.

  6. Thanks for this post Shelly – a reminder for us all. I’ve been wondering where you’ve been, as your ‘don’t call students lazy’ post still gets comments. Good to hear from you and about the opportunities you’re creating to move forward. Best, Leah

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