2012 in review

Hey, thanks to all of you for viewing my little BLOG. I am humbled by your attendance here. This really  makes the writing all worthwhile.

All the Best to You in 2013,

Stay classy!


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,800 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 10 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.


Mall Mania:Shop Till I Drop NOT!

Mall Mania


Went to the mega mall in the Hammer the other day and just about went postal. Here we were, three full days after Christmas and the parking lot was like NASCAR on steroids. People were jockeying for parking places, cruising around as if lost and displaying road rage at the drop of a hat or package! I asked myself, “How can these people have any money left to spend after Christmas?”

I ended up parking in no – man’s land somewhere in the parking lot boonies. The mall looked really small from that distance. I was kind of glad I dropped my son and his friend off at the mall entrance. They would have bitched about the trek which now confronted me!parking lot

Walking from the car to the mall was like dodging stampeding bulls, as cars bore down on you from every direction. I swear they were determined to kill you before you got into the mall before them and copped all of “their” deals. “Gang way! Those sweaters are mine, you mother!”

road rage

Never mind that its winter and journey to the entrance door is more like a trek through the arctic tundra. I half expected to be eaten by a pack of wolves or gnawed to the bone by a polar bear. By the time I arcticmeandered into the mall I was walking and feeling like the proverbial brass monkey; shuffle steps were the order of the day.

The inside of the mall was even worse. Frenzied shoppers filled every store to overflowing. Women’s eyes were glazed over as their husbands trailed them like zombies. The young folk were in packs of roving bargain hunters, otherwise known as “Deal-bangers”.

Chaos, you betchya!

I had two missions on my “honey-do” list – exchange my daughter’s jeans and buy her the fourth book in the Stephanie Meyer Vampire series. Simple, straight forward and doable!

It goes without saying that Hollister had a 50 % off sale and was busier than an ant hill at a picnic. The first young lady I encountered with my problem (getting one size smaller -7/8) pointed her finger and said, “Look over there under the red hoody for that style!” She said that as if I was challenged or something. Shooing me away with a wave of her hand, I had the feeling my deodorant had failed me.

Hell, Hollister has racks and racks of jeans coming out their ying-imagesCA8LI8O9yang! And, guess what, there was nothing under that hoody that remotely resembled what I carried in the bag.   (And, while I’m at it, who the hell fits into a size zero anyway – the invisible woman?)

Shaking and paralyzed with fear, I slither back out into the mall to call the good wife for some advice.

“Don’t be such a wimp. Get back in there,” she says. “It’s simple. Just find a similar style in the right size and exchange it!” Now she’s starting to sound exactly like that mean finger pointer in the store. You know the one who thinks I’m challenged.

Now I know that finding the right jean for my beautiful daughter will be like finding a needle in a denim haystack. But like a good trouper, I head back in to do battle.

The girl with the finger gives it to me again, but I drift by her casually, head high, trying to hide my shopping deficiencies.

Within a minute, another gal steps to the plate and asks, “Can I help you, sir?” She smiles at me like I remind her of her grandfather or something. OK, I can go with that. Advancing age does have advantages.

I give her the rundown on my jean dilemma. I think she’ll realize why I’m wandering aimlessly in a store populated by teenagers and their mothers. “Don’t worry,” she says. “I’ll just look in the back for that size for you.”

In a voice that reaches a pitch higher than I can remember, I say, “OK, I’ll just stand right here and wait for you!”

Now, if you’ve ever been in one of these stores you know all of the imagesCA9CTHSXyoung ladies appear as if they’re attending a cleavage convention. There’s more skin here than on Rosie O’Donnell’s backside. One false move and something is surely to fall out.  Where the hell do I look?

Suddenly I feel like a pervert. I flip open my cell phone, avert my eyes and act like I’m texting someone. I decide to turn and face the wall and realize I’m in the undergarment section! Hell most of those undies look like a pole dancers G-string or fancy lacy sling-shots.


Well to make a long story short, the young lady returns empty handed but searches the entire store likes she’s on a mission for her grandfather! She finds the elusive jeans that are, “Very close to the ones you brought in, sir!”

As sweat beads form on my forehead I amble over to the sales desk, hoping to get the hell out of here quickly and efficiently.

But alas, my cell phone rings. It’s number two son, otherwise known as the Phenom.

“Dad, you’ve got to come up to Hollister. There’s an incredible sale. There’s 50% off shit and I need money!”

Please don’t be offended but the word “shit” because in the boy’s lexicon this word refers to lot of things like, my shit, your shit, our shit and no shit.

Typically he might call home and ask, “Can you bring my shit when you pick me up?”

I guess I could substitute the word “STUFF” but I feel that would be cheating you of a reality experience since so many of you are onto reality programming.

Nevertheless I respond to his shit by saying, “Ah, well, I’m in the store now,” You see, I can see Kevin, my son’s six foot three friend trying on ball caps.

The son shuffles over and says, “If you buy me these shirts, I’ll pay you back!”

“Wait just a minute!” I complain. “You brought your bank card!”

You see I’ve been up this road before with my son’s little Wimpy and his hamburger ploy.

It goes like this: “You buy me something today; I’ll pay you back tomorrow!”

Forgetfulness in age appropriate chunks works to his advantage. My bank account can attest to that.

My son pleads insanity by adding, “But dad, you know I don’t like using my bank card in stores!” You see the lad has a password, button pressing phobia when it comes to transactions. Maybe it’s those counter clerks with the exposed bass-zooms that make him so nervous.

I say, “Give me the card!”

So what do I do? Like any parachuting parent I trudge through the meandering masses to the bank machine to withdraw the boy’s cash.

Oh yes, there’s a big long line to contend with. There must be a lot of challenged persons in the mall today given the way these folks imagesCATGHWIPmethodically press the machines’ buttons.


Stop and stare.


Stop and stare.

Money ejected.

Stop and count.

Count again.

Stand like a zombie then decide to put cash in pocket or purse. Turn and smile whilst those in line have thoughts of murder and mayhem dance in their heads.

After all of this, I finally bag the pants. PHEEEEEEW!

I’m on to Assignment #2 – find that book, “Breaking Wind”, or whatever it’s called. But crap, the book store is at the other end of the mall about three hundred miles away.

Just as I get up to speed my cell phone jangles again. It’s the Phenom saying, “Dad, Kevin and I are bored. We want to leave now!”

“What? # $ %@ & #@ %!”I cry.

When I catch up with the boys I can see why they’re bored. They each have a bag full of Hollister loot – they’ve spent all of their money, so they’re thinking, “We’re done! Why even look now?”

The art of window shopping has been lost on this generation, I’m afraid!

“Ya, Dad, the deals were great, eh!” the Phenom continues. “We got some great shit. But, we felt like girl’s in that store, looking through every pile and every rack, one thing at a time! It was really weird!”

Yes, I do believe it’s time to leave the mall. We didn’t come here for the boys to explore their feminine side, did we?

The walk to the vehicle is an adventure onto itself. No man’s land seems miles away. The winter winds are howling at 30 miles per hour now, so the flesh on our faces is freezing fast, and there are more cars to dodge. The frozen tears on my cheeks attests to the treacherous nature of this hike into hell.

Finally, we plunk ourselves down in the vehicle and Kevin blurts, “Oh, geez, we’ll have to go back to the mall, I left my bank card in the store!”

“What? # $ %@ & #@ %!”I cry.

Long pause interspersed with potty mouth potulations!high pnts

“Just kidding,” Kevin finally blurts, amid a chorus of teenage giggles and guffaws from the backseat.

I drive home in silence, gripping the wheel as if to squeeze the plastic into dust.

But here’s the kicker. Today I ask my daughter how those new jeans are doing and here is what she says. “Well, Dad, I really don’t think they’re my style. They’re not me. I think I’ll have to take them back!”

“What? # $ %@ & #@ %!” I lament.

“Geez, Dad, chill will ya, sometimes you act like a challenged person!”

No kidding!

So, that’s enough Mall Mania for me. I ain’t goin’ back there, no drunkway, no how! Next time I’ll leave these tasks to the professional shoppers in my house. The only way you’ll get me out for some post Christmas shopping is if you’re heading to the liquor store, pal!

Are Those Darn Teachers Still Complaining About Their Salaries? Another Teacher Speaks Out!

This letter was recently posted on the People for Education Website by a teacher. There are many teachers that eloquently debunk the constant teacher bashing we hear.  I post this out because I truly believe every small act will make a differene in this conflict. Every voice can make a difference because many voices will have the force and volume of a stadium full of people.

Really, if you’re only preaching to the choir no one will know the REAL truth. So get out of the staffroom banter-box and go public. You’ll feel better and you will have added to the INFORMATION that will quell the weight of all the DISINFORMATION that is out there.

This Christmas Holiday, write a letter to the editor, join an online conversation or add a comment to newspaper articles by reading them online. Most articles can be commented upon PUBLICLY.

I truly believe that a highly educated eloquent bunch, such as teachers are, should have the power and force of sensible discourse on their side. You spend your days teaching children the ways of the world, perhaps it is time to educate the adults.

As Abe Lincoln once said: To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.” 

You can see more comments on this People For Education thread by clicking here: http://discuss.peopleforeducation.ca/forum/topics/bill-115-teachers-parents-and-the-province?commentId=2468495%3AComment%3A58860&xg_source=activity

Are Those Darn Teachers Still Complaining About Their Salaries?

Written by a teacher just like you.

I’ve just read one too many teacher bashing posts on Facebook today.

As a teacher, I will of course, provide a slanted opinion, but here you are. Disagree with me if you’d like, but not until you read this entire article, start to finish.

I love my job. Period. I would do it for less money, fewer sick days, and less time off. I would do it if I had to be tested yearly by the government to show that I know my stuff, and even if extra-curriculars were forced on me. I would still do it. I love it.SCHOOL

I went into teaching because I love kids. Yes, there are many people who think we go into this profession for the money, but please consider this. A starting teacher’s salary in our school board is $39 000. And this is after an average of 5-7 years to get a contract. In order to move up on the pay grid, teachers must have years of experience (so our salary goes up a little every year up to a maximum of 10 years) and we must also take extra courses in order to be paid the maximum amount. So in order to reach the top of the pay scale, a teacher must have had a contract for 10 years and have taken several extra university credits (paid out of their own pockets AFTER two university degrees).

So given that it might take 10-15 years to make it to the top of the pay scale (which is still a modest amount), many people’s assertion that teachers are in this for the money really have no justification for their position. When you ask teachers to look at “how good we have it”, please realize that when we go into teaching, the reasons are NEVER about the money!  If I wanted to get rich, I definitely would not have chosen teaching as a career.

Pensions:  Yes, we have a good one.  Because we PAY into it!!  Every maternity leave that I’ve taken (3 in total), I have paid back my pension and paid $8000 plus each time to keep it updated.  Pulled it out of an RRSP.

So putting the money argument aside for a moment, this fight with the government actually hasNOTHING to do with money. The bottom line for most teachers is that we have the RIGHT to negotiate with our employer. In fact, when this whole thing first got started, most teachers I know said “pay freeze for two years – yup, times are tough – we get it”. But it was only after more details evolved that we realized that the government wants to take away WAY more than two years of a pay increase.

Some say that we should be negotiating with our employers.

POINT OF CLARIFICATION here – the government is NOT our employer!!  The school boards are.   Imagine a third party coming in, going over your employer, who you have a good working relationship with, and telling you and them what you will be paid, how many sick days you will get, what days you will take off without pay, and that EVERYTHING you have negotiated with your employer in the last 20 years has now just been taken away in a heartbeat. No discussion. You have no say and your employer has NO say.  Not even 5 minutes of discussion were we given – thanks so much!imagesCAYSTR6B

Wouldn’t you fight to at least have the discussion with your employer? Even if you ended up with the same thing the government wanted to impose, would you not fight to have the ability to try?

Here are the two biggest concerns that I have:

Yes people not in unions dislike unions. But unions are the backbone of a lot of our working class people – whether they are in one or not.  If unions fall, we should ALL be very afraid!  What the government seems to be attempted to do is to get rid of unions.  This is not about an argument with teachers. This is about the government exerting unjustified power to wave their magic wand and do whatever the heck they want and this is NOT OK!!  Whether you are in a union or not, whether you support unions or not, remember that they are the ones who have fought for statutory holidays, minimum wage, overtime and good working conditions.  Whatever is negotiated, ALL workers benefit!  Get rid of the unions – you’ll also be getting rid of the middle class.  Less people have less money to spend = more people out of jobs.  Period.

This fight is about protecting our democratic right to free collective bargaining with our employers. If Bill 115 is allowed to stand (which I doubt, because one very similar to it was just reversed in BC because it was considered unconstitutional and unlawful by the courts), then this allows governments free reign and places themselves ABOVE the Human Rights Act and ABOVE the Employment Standards Act!! We should ALL be very scared of this! They are putting themselves ABOVE the law.

That’s it. Top two concerns for sure. Not about money, sick days, pension or benefits.

The government could have easily said to the school boards (OUR EMPLOYERS) that they had a certain amount of money and then teachers would have (just like we do every 2-4 years) negotiated our contracts with our employers. But they didn’t.

Because of their excessive spending over the last 8 years, the Liberals panicked when it came time for the bi-election a few months ago. In order to get the Conservative vote, they acted hard-nosed to get a majority.   How’d that work for you McGuinty?

I get it. You’re upset.  When teacher’s contracts are splayed out in the papers for everyone to see every few years, people get pissed off at our “privilege” and our sick days, and our summers off. We all have that one teacher who was mean to us (or 2 or 3) and it’s time we give all teachers heck because of the very few bad apples.

AND on top of that, what we have always gets compared to what everyone else has.

Teachers work hard. No one is saying that you don’t.

Teachers deserve every penny they get. No one is saying that you don’t.

Teachers need sick days because we are around sick kids who wipe their boogers on us every day. And get lice, Fifths disease and pink eye. The flu, barf on our shoes, and sneezing in our face. Oh yes. Fun times.

Teachers get the summers off. Yup. And we don’t get paid either. We get paid for TEN months.

Teachers negotiated banking sick days. This actually ended up being better for the government than paying us vacation pay, so we actually gave in and took the banked sick days over having vacation pay every year. Banking sick days means that we have a bit of a short term disability plan if we get really sick. It means that at the end if we haven’t used imagesCATLTT9Fall of our days, we get a small retirement gratuity, which is then taxed and half taken away. This actually SAVES the government money in the long run – cheaper than the supply teachers they would have had to pay had we taken all of those days. (Let’s not mention that Dalton is getting paid right now for doing NOTHING (excuse me, I mean organizing the Liberal Leadership convention), and when he retires in a month will get a retirement gratuity of $315,000), but who notices that?

We get that we are well taken care of. But we help you RAISE your children. And for some, we provide a safe place, food for breakfast, a hug a day, love and support when they get that NO WHERE ELSE.

And we do a ton of extra-curriculars. The public loves us when we do them and they get outraged when we don’t. They are ALL VOLUNTEER!!  And we love doing them, but NO ONE has the right – not our employer, not the government, and not the public – to pressure us or to chastise us when we choose not to VOLUNTEER!

I had a student tell me yesterday that I have changed his life. Not because I do an after school activity with him, but because I listen to him, care for him, spend time with him and value him.

Yes, we’ve all had a crappy teacher or two. But please everyone… don’t make it about that. Teachers deserve your respect. You love us all year until it’s time to negotiate with our employers which we have every right to do.

Parents – you’re pissed off?  Good.  Because now you’re paying attention!  So how will you expend that frustration?  Posting more Facebook posts about how horrible and greedy teachers are?

I hope not.

Do better than that. Stand with us.

We are fighting for your children.  For our own children.

We are fighting for public education.

We are fighting for democracy.


And if we get taken down, I’d watch your back, because you might be next….

It Says Here That Winter Wonderlands are Overrated

 It Says Here That Winter Wonderlands are Overrated     

Thought I’d repost this little diity from a few years back given that those Texans have sent us a bit of a BIG white present pre-Valentines. Imagine, a Texas low can cause all of this havoc. The great thing is that the good wife is experiencing the first snow day of the school year. The Phenom, who has come down with a cold and slept most of yesterday, will get another day to sleep off that virus. As for me, I’ll be on shovel duty. No problem, because Grumpy has been shovelling it for years both here and other places.

Stay Classy . . . and do stay WARM!                                        


Today it’s snowing again. . . and again. . . and again. Those great fluffy whites are giving us a snow job of major proportions. There’s no doubt, the blow job will come later tonight. (The high winds that is!) Then there’ll be snow drifts and white outs to contend with.

I shovel, and I rest.

Three freakin’ shovel-jobs later and there’s still snow coming down like someone exploded a humongous feather pillow somewhere above us. The plow is nowhere to be seen. The roads are like great rivers of marshmallow, ready to suck your tires from the road and throw you in some God forsaken ditch. The very thought of what that entails causes my sphincter to quiver.

I shovel. I rest.

I’m hoping that the Big One isn’t lurking just around the next snow bank for me. My wife’s Chinese horoscope (The Dog) this year says they’ll be a funeral in her future. She’s to avoid working or investing in funeral homes. I didn’t read that part to her. There’s no sense tempting irony to rear its ugly head.

I shovel. I rest. And rest again.

So far no chest pains, no dizziness, just a lot of expletive deletives. How many ways can you curse the snow? I don’t know, but the snow is surely cursing me! It laughs as I throw each shovel load to the wind, only to have it slap me in the face in return.

I shovel. I rest.

Here comes the blasted snow plow, roaring down our street like some great hewer of ice bergs. The monster throws snow in avalanches that tumble to the side in blocks that are frozen as hard as concrete. They tumble into my driveway entrance creating something akin to the Great Wall of China. I curse the driver as he passes, throwing invectives his way, as if they had the velocity and intent of a well aimed snowball.

I shovel. I rest. And rest some more, cuz the next shovel job is the Mother of All Shovels.

Yes, it will take a pick-axe to demolish this icy barrier, perhaps a wheelbarrow and a few sticks of dynamite.  Luckily, my neighbor has a gas-powered snow blower. He often arrives in the nick of time, and like a great de-fibulator, he rescues my ass with one powerful blast. That is one rewarding snow job, my friend.

Yet, I shovel and I rest some more.

My hands feel like frozen steak, my feet are wet and soggy and the great snot icicle that dangles from my nose threatens to reach my mouth. This long driveway frustrates my effort, for as soon as I reach the end another layer of fluffy white has covered the beginning. I feel that I’m in a continuous spin cycle.

I rest and I shovel.

After this snowfall they predict warmer days, perhaps even a few above freezing. Praise the Lord!

But these great mounds of crystallized water will slowly transform into great puddles and the yard will begin to look like a landscape suitable for a mud-run by motocross bikes and four wheelers. I pray for spring, even though spring clean up here could easily be featured on Dirtiest Jobs. Scooping up four months of dog droppings, frozen to the grass, thawing gradually with odiferous results, is not my idea of a spring break.

I shovel. I dream. I rest, again.

But alas, the cold will come again freezing everything into a treacherous ice rink of tremendous proportions. There will be the fog banks, then ice rain, some sleet, the slush and all manner of weather, duly summarized as loads of bovine excrement. I will curse every one of them.

Yet I shovel on!

I’ll be walking in a winter’s wonderland for the remainder of this day; slugging and chugging like an old steam engine going up a steep grade. And if I can avoid the big one, I’ll live to see another snow storm or three this season. All I can hope for is a series of snow blows from my neighbor, otherwise, I think these expanding banks are gonning be the death of me.

Thank the Lord for spicy Jack cheese, hard salami and ice cold beer. That is the engine that might just see me through this.

But, if these blog posts suddenly end , you’ll know the winter and the Big One has got the better of me.

Why Teaching is Not Unlike Digging A Ditch




Here’s a little ditty I wrote to celebrate the trials and tribulations of working in an honorable profession like teaching.

Why Teaching is Not Unlike Digging A Ditch

After nearly thirty years of teaching and after talking to those who are still in the trenches, I had a Eureka moment the other day. You see, I’m constantly seeking good metaphors and this particular one gob-smacked me. Teaching is not unlike ditch-digging, and I’m about to tell you why.

Every year a teacher is confronted with a daunting task. There is a huge ditch to be dug that stretches from September to June. The only thing that you know for sure is how long the ditch must be. There is a beginning and there is an end.

ditchBut, because you’ve been digging these ditches for years and you’re energetic and enthused in the beginning, you are ready to jump right in and get started. After all, you’ve had the summer off to revitalize and recharge those batteries. Many of your friends and family keep telling you this, so it must be true.

You have your trusty shovel; the one that feels so good in your hands. And, although you are apprehensive, you are an experienced ditch digger; one that has developed good ditch digging practices over many years.
Of course, you have concerns. For example, how wide must this ditch be, or how deep, and what is the constitution of the soil that you must remove? Will the rocks be difficult to move, can you polish them into gems and can you accomplish all of this without running out of steam or burning out?

You are prepared for the heavy lifting. You know the pace and how to handle it. That’s what makes your job interesting and challenging every year. You are constantly told by your supervisors that you are a PROFESSIONAL ditch digger and, I guess, you should feel reassured by that.

So, you dig right in.

The first shovel loads are easily removed because you are working in surface soil and you’re just beginning to understand the consistency of the layers below. You are making progress, your ditch is taking shape and, you feel the initial joy of making a difference, and of moving forward.

There are many pitfalls that you expect to encounter. You fully understand that every ditch you’ve dug has been different and presents new challenges.

Some rocks are difficult to move, even stubborn. They need to pried and cajoled. Clay soil becomes difficult to dig and, every once in a while, the walls of your ditch tumble down to refill what you have already dug. But, you have a strong back and you are ripped with muscles because you have been laboring at this job for years. You’ve also developed a bevy of techniques that, when effectively applied, become efficient methods that tend to move you forward at a slow but steady pace.

June seems a long way off, but you are moving forward and you begin to see that you are much closer to the end and a lot further from the beginning.

At about this time, a voice fractures the very essence of your intense focus and your heavy slogging. This voice comes from outside of your ditch, far above you, like a voice from heaven.

“Excuse me, I’ve come to help,” the melodic voice offers. “May I have a word with you?”


Indeed, a little extra help is always welcome when you labor in a ditch. So you call out, “Come on down. Lend a hand. I’d appreciate that!”
“Well,” the voice replies. “I can’t do that. I don’t want to get my hands or my clothes dirty. You see, I don’t dig ditches any more.”
That’s when it strikes you.

Your visitor is a Consultant to the Director of Ditch Digging; someone from the head office, which is miles away both in distance and understanding. At this point, you mumble a curse word and climb out of the ditch.

“Hello, my name is Betty Betterment,” the impeccably dressed lady begins. “See! I’ve brought you a new and improved shovel. This shovel will permit you to dig faster, lift and remove heavier stones and dig the perfect ditch. We have new techniques and protocols that make this shovel a savior for efficient ditch-digging logistics. Are you interested?”imagesCAD8G0BZ

There is no doubt that she’s full of mumbo-jumbo but, you’re always willing to try something new. You see that shovel gleaming like a silver tea service. Compared to your ratty old shovel, this new shovel has the appearance of a technological epiphany.

“Yes,” you say. “Just hand it over, I’ll read the instructions tonight and give it a try next week.”

“Oh, no, dear, that’s not how it works,” Ms. Betterment continues with a grin and giggle. “We’re going to sign you up for a series of Silver Shovel In-service Sessions.”

Oh, God, you’re thinking. I don’t have time for this, I’ve got a ditch to dig, and even the slightest interruption will set me back. You remember what a wise old colleague once said to you. When the train has left the station, don’t ever jump off because you’ll never catch up to it again.

“Don’t worry,” Betty says. Her voice is as smooth as silk underwear. “We’ll give you “out-of-ditch time” to attend the in-services. Won’t that be nice? A little break from ditch digging is good for the soul.”

You are keenly aware; however, that the Occasional Ditch Diggers who replace you will leave a few stones unturned. You’ll likely have several cave-ins to re-dig and, the final result will be more of a one step forward and three steps back scenario. But, you have no choice; the Director of Ditch Digging has mandated your participation.

You might be thinking back to the good old days when your motivation to dig a good ditch was intrinsic, self-directed and driven by the desire to be the best that you could be. Nowadays, it seems, others try to accomplish the same for you with extrinsic motivation; pushing you on, giving you expert opinion and then demanding great chunks of your valuable “ditch-digging” time.

Nevertheless, you are a PROFESSIONAL, and you dutifully attend the in-service.

You are surprised to be greeted with coffee and nice goody table, but you wonder how a ditch digging company that pleads poverty can afford it. After all, they are also paying for that Occasional Ditch Digger who’s turning your perfectly symmetrical ditch into a gravel pit. No matter, you’ll listen to what they have to say and move on. You’ve been there and done that many times before.

Consultant Lady is dressed to the nines and speaks in a kind of cool edu-speak. You know the drill; she uses umpteen words you’ve never heard before, and even more of those handy acronyms. They’re thrown out like snow flakes in the winter. When it comes to shoveling, you’ve never heard of SMO’s , DDT’s or RRM’s. This is an alphabet soup of instructions, you decide.

Consultant Lady raves about how this new-improved shovel has made remarkable inroads in Australia. But, you are also well aware that soil type and structure is far different “Down-Under”. Hell, you know that in Canada there are differences in soil consistency district to district and even ditch to ditch. Somehow, Ms. Betterment believes that this new shovel is universal: tried, tested and true. By golly, she has all the buzz words to prove it.

It strikes you odd that Betty Betterment really never spent much time digging ditches in the first place and now she’s some kind of expert. You put this down to her aversion to getting her hands dirty. At least her fellow consultants, who smugly ring the room, nod their heads in support of everything she says.

As you know, there are many ditch digging consultants at head office. Many of these highly paid experts sit in their offices all day scanning the ditch digging periodicals for that “cookie cutter”  guru-driven methodology that will revolutionize your job. Unfortunately you know its pretty difficult digging a ditch with a cookie cutter.

After several sessions, you become acutely aware that implementing this shovel properly requires a whole lot of work and many changes to your shoveling regimen. The fact that you’ve been doing all of this extra work, then cleaning up after the replacement ditch digger, as well as reporting your progress to your Principal Ditch-Digger, makes you feel as if the end of your ditch has moved farther and farther away from you. Never mind that you also have polished some of your rocks and taken them to Inter-Ditch competitions on your own time.

You also understand that the younger ditch diggers, the ones without children or other commitments, will be on to this new shovel like butter on bread. They’re looking for a good shovel to get their brand-spanking new careers in gear. But, your life is already a balancing act of major proportions, so there must be sacrifices to the greater good, that is, if “Silver Shovel” implementation is to be successful.

18312_447837178597093_48576082_nSo, after it’s all said and done, you are ready to implement the new-improved DDT (Ditch Digging Technology). However, this new tool doesn’t feel right in your hands, your usual techniques have to be modified, and your back is beginning to ache as it has never ached before. You feel confident that your old trusty shoveling techniques worked well in the past. Indeed, the new shovel is becoming a time-consuming, technique killing, burden. You are getting behind in your ditch digging and those rocks are becoming harder to move. You find yourself running to catch that damn train.

So, what do you do?

Well, you lean that shiny new shovel to the side, and only use it on occasions where its usefulness is purposeful or when someone in authority is looking into your ditch. Betty Betterment is thrilled to see you with the Silver Shovel in hand on her infrequent visits. You fully understand that she is a busy lady and because she never really jumps down into your ditch, she doesn’t notice all the old tools you continue to use. But, they’ve never let you down before and you don’t expect them to now.

The new shovel becomes useful in some situations but, it is neither a panacea nor is it the “be all and end all” of ditch digging implements. You are able to integrate DDT into, but not replace that which has been successful to you. All of this takes time and energy. But you are, after all, an EXPERIENCED PROFESSONAL and cherry-picking is one the strongest assets.

You know, at some point, the Powers That Be will want to come out and measure and test your ditch, for that is what The Powers That Be like to do. But, you are a wise old ditch digger and you’ve made sure that your ditch is straight, the sides are perpendicular, the floor is level and all of your rocks are duly polished and organized so as to not impede your progress. You’ll even hold the Silver Shovel in your hands and smile.

All the while, those in the non-ditch digging world complain about you and your work. You are paid too much, your rocks aren’t polished to perfection and you have too many holidays. Sometimes you wonder if it is all worth it. But, you tarry on because every year gemsthere are more rocks to polish and shine and you take pride in that part of your job.

So, I think it is as clear as the nose on your face; teaching IS like being a ditch digger: difficult, laborious and draining.

Not only are you well aware that you can’t get blood from a stone but you also know that you will reap what you sow. There are gems to find and some of the rougher stones can and will be polished, and although others are unmovable, you polish them just the same. Your ditch is long and straight and you’ll get to the end in June, no matter the obstacles. You WILL be successful!


Because you’ve spent most of your life digging ditches, you know how to do it efficiently and with success, and you ARE A PROFESSIONAL.It’s not unlike what my first Principal said to me, “Your kids will learn in spite of what you do!”It didn’t take me long to realize that teaching isn’t about WHAT you do but more about HOW you do it. Ladies and gentleman, that’s what years of experience ultimately come down to – KNOW HOW!

Indeed, if you have been at the job for more than 10, 20 or 30 years you know how to dig a ditch!

Sadly, more often than not, the old”close the door and teach” advice quickly morphs into a reoccurring “revolving door policy”. And, if you are so unfortunate to be a public sector ditch digger there are politicians trying to find ways to get those ditches dug on the cheap.

This all brings to mind some of my favorite lyrics from Jimmy Buffet. The following example comes from the song, “It’s My Job”. I’ll leave you with this thought because I’m confident that you are very capable of listing all the reasons why you do what you do and, why you do it well.

It’s my job to be different than the rest
and that’s enough reason to go for me
It’s my job to be better than the best
and that’s a tough break for me

It’s my job to be cleaning up this mess
and that’s enough reason to go for me
It’s my job to be better than the best
and that makes the day for me