A Day In The Life Of Scott

If it can't be expressed in figures, it is not science; it is opinion

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First week back in the classroom… is in the books


Well the first week is down and in the books. It was an awesome week. It feels so great to be back in the classroom and doing what I love to be doing.

The students have been good, and I am slowly getting all of their names down. It’s been a little longer getting to know staff, but that is mainly because I spend all day in class, and it is a little harder to mingle.

On Friday afternoon we attended a workshop of sorts at the division office. I’ve been made into a tech administrator at the school. I discovered that I will have some great resources to incorporate native perspectives into my classes. Even more awesome, I just have to fire off an email and they will be delivered to the school.

I find many aspects of the school atmosphere to be just like they were in Conne River; with an easy going feel to it.

In other news, the house is nearly mine. I just have to sign some papers at the lawyer’s office tomorrow afternoon and wait until Friday for the title to be transferred. We’ve spent the weekend rearranging the living room and getting things organised. Until now I was reluctant to make things look too home-y because I wasn’t certain how long I would be here.

Well, I’ve got some lessons to plan and a little correcting to do, so until next time, cheers.



Things are finally starting to go my way.


Things are finally starting to go my way. It has been a long time coming, but this is been a good week. I had a job interview on Tuesday for a position that I was hoping to hear back from. Within 20 minutes after the interview I was offered a job. I am the new math science teacher Chief Little Pine School. It is a First Nations school about 20 minutes from home, here in Cut Knife. I have already gone into the school a couple of times to meet with the teacher and replacing, and will be meeting with her again at the school on Sunday. This will give me an opportunity to pick up where she laughed off when I resume teaching on Tuesday. Monday is a P.D. day so the teachers will all be in North Battleford for meetings, and I have been asked to go to school instead to get things organized.

I am very excited to be starting and eager to get back into a high school classroom. The courses are arranged in trimesters instead of two semesters, so there will be some course changes throughout the year. This position is perfect, senior high sciences, math and information processing (a tech course).

I am going to spread my wings into some more inquiry in my science courses and be looking into ways to incorporate inquiry into my math classes too. I think it will make things more interesting. I have time to figure this out though, because the math all starts in November.

For the last few months I have been trying to figure out how to go about purchasing this house that I am currently living in. The problem was my lack of employment, so I was unable to take care of business during the summer. As of today I have been pre-approved for the mortgage. So, now I am another step closer. The landlord and the realtor now just need to draft up their contracts and hopefully we’ll be on the way.

The house is a simple place, with a big living room, kitchen and front room. There are two good sized bedrooms upstairs, even has a garage to keep the car in during the cold winters. There is some work that needs to be done, but for the most part these are minor things that do not hurt the habitability of the house, and are not pressing before winter.

Fingers are crossed that things will go my way for a change and the house will be mine. I am really tired of things not going my way when I want them to. I don’t ask for much, do I?

Anyway, on that note, further updates on the new job will come next week after I have had a chance to teach a few classes.

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It has been a while….


First, I want to apologize to my regular readers, it has been a long time since I last did a good post. I do not have any good excuses, other that I haven’t had time or I just didn’t feel up to writing.

The end of the last school year since my last post went too quickly. Time flew by, and while getting into to the flow of the school year I just never managed to get time to sit down and reflect on things clearly. Last year was an awesome year for me, and I miss the kids I was teaching while I was at Neilburg Composite School. In addition to learning new curriculum I had to develop a whole new model for classroom management and by April I was considered to be the resident expert on scientific inquiry-based learning strategies.

During the course of the year I developed many lessons and units using only scientific inquiry; basically I organized the lessons and planned them, but the students did most of the work. I had always wanted to have my classroom be a place where the students did the work but was never sure on how to organize myself enough to do this. After meeting with my learning coach several times each month, my lessons became more and more thorough. At first it was weird, here I am “teaching” but not doing the work, as the students were doing all of it; I merely served as a mediator to guide them through the work.

In May I was asked to prepare a presentation for some parents and administration on the topic. Since there is a move in science education to be more hands-on and inquiry-based, it was up to me to inform people about what it all meant, as well as provide some examples.

Unfortunately for me, I was not re-hired at the school. It was a sad experience for me, and even though I was new and only there for one year, I was made to feel welcome. Not only were the students great, but there was an amazing staff of teachers and dedicated support staff to ensure everything runs like clockwork.

I have been looking for a new job for months. Now that the school year is started, it is clear that I am not getting anything full time this year. I am, however, on the substitute list for nearly 10 schools. So, this could be a busy school year all the same, as I am told (and was again this morning during a meeting with James’ teachers) that there is a shortage of subs, and I will should definitely not be having any trouble getting sub days around here. I have been told this since last spring that subs get a lot of time because there isn’t enough of them around – I could be busy as full-time without the pressures of planning.

I met with James’ new teachers this morning about his seizures and medications; being in a school made me feel out of place because I was not starting the year off in my own classroom as I had been for the last nine years. I am jealous of teachers who got to go back to work last week.

On the bright side, I am looking forward to a year with some flexibility. James has been visiting doctors and getting scans done on an ongoing basis since the end of January. His new epilepsy specialist, whom I might add is amazing, has been diligently working to improve his quality of life. James has been put on new medications that work almost perfectly (when he takes them properly), he gets regular appointments, and he was included as a candidate for epilepsy surgery. James signed the papers two weeks ago to consent to the brain surgery, and this will be happening by next spring.

Since he was in the hospital last January for observation, video EEG and CT scans, he was listed as an ideal candidate for the surgery because of his uncontrolled seizure activity. Since then, they have been doing a lot of additional scans to get a full picture of his brain – MRIs, PET/CT, and soon an functional or F-MRI will be done. They now know roughly where in his brain it all begins, and they want to remove some of all of this tissue, that they believe to be malformed / damaged neurons that are causing seizures. If they need to, they will even wake him up during the surgery so they can stimulate his brain, allowing them to map his brain functions directly, also allowing them to avoid removing crucial parts of the brain so he does not come out paralyzed or unable to speak. Very cool! You know, from a purely scientific perspective. J

Personally, I find of this to be very exciting. My inner science geek loves learning about the brain, and dealing with doctors to learn how it is all working is all the more exciting for me. I’ve told all of his new doctors to be straight up with me, I can understand the medical mumbo jumbo about the brain because I know the brain already. Let’s just say, this has made for some great brain-talk with his epilepsy specialist who can talk to me and not have to “dumb down” the terminology because I already know it.

James is looking forward to the eminent surgery… though I am not convinced that he is as comfortable about them poking in his brain as he lets on. Mostly, I think he looks more forward to having fewer seizures. The neurosurgeon told us that it is unlikely to stop all of the seizures, but it will definitely give him a roughly 75% better quality of life – meaning fewer or no medications, and of course the possibility of getting his driver’s licence if all goes well. This would be great, because 75% fewer seizures would be a huge difference to him.

Well, this is all I have got for now. Not much considering I haven’t made a real post in eight months, but that’s how it goes.

Until next time, ciao.

12 Reasons Teachers Have the Best Job in the World

From: WeAreTeachers: http://weareteachers.tumblr.com/

We know that teaching can be the hardest job in the world (and don’t get us started on those so-called summers off), but we also know that it can be the best job in the world. Here are 12 reasons why.

1.  Every single day holds a new challenge. (Okay, so occasionally the challenge involves things like “possible head lice” or “stomach bug outbreak” but at least things are always interesting.)


2. You get to have interesting conversations with interesting people every day.  (And yes, talking to a classroom of six-year-olds about dinosaurs definitely beats talking to a room full of adults about politics.)


3.  You can get your team to do (almost) anything by promising them a gold star.  (Okay, so technically a gold star and a good grade, but still.)


4.  No one thinks you’re being selfish when you guard your books with your life.  (But really, if they would just bring them back by the due date that you have kindly written on the library card in the front pocket, you wouldn’t have to worry about it so much.)


5.  Almost everyone at work thinks you’re hilariously funny.  (Trust us, they are laughing with you, not at you.)


6. No one will get upset with you if your workspace is a mess.


7.  If you accidentally make your “mad face” you can shrug it off as “good classroom management.” 


8.  You never, ever have to watch the clock.  (You have 25 students to do that for you.)


9.  The dress code is what we like to call “professional-might-get-glitter-glue-on-it.” (Which means that wearing slightly outdated or slightly dirty attire is just part of your teacherly charm.)


10.   If you have a problem,you’ll always be able to find at least 20 people who know the answer.


11.  No one will look at you like you’re crazy if you suggest blowing something up.


12.  If anyone asks what you do for a living, you can honestly (and proudly say):  I make a difference.  Each and every day.


image credit:  thinkstock

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Life challenges

Since I graduated from Memorial University in 2005 I have been receiving the annual Monday eMemo from one of my professors. Each winter he has a weekly newsletter that he emails out during the semester that most students are doing their internships (student-teaching). It allows those new teachers who are learning the profession to share their experiences and get some advice from the professor. This year he has asked for stories and experiences from former students who are now off teaching. I decided to be the first teacher to reply back. This is what I had submitted to tell my story and give my advice, as printed in the Monday eMemo from January 20, 2014:

On another note of challenges, I am in the process of trying to get all of my thoughts together for a new unit of Science 9. I am co-teaching a unit on space and the universe. So far it is coming together nicely, but there is still so much work to be done though. Unlike the grade 8 class last semester, the grade 9’s need a little more guidance to keep focused and on task, so we need to design the inquiry project in such a way that the kids do the work, but they find only the specific information we want them to. Several of these students are easily frustrate, so we need to break it down into manageable chunks. Herein lays the problem. There are a lot of chunks. But, it will be a creative masterpiece once I am finished putting it all together.

Also, just as soon as I get a chance and can keep my eyes open, I will be posting all of my inquiry units online at www.scottoosterom.ca. I really just have not had the time or alertness levels to get that done. Hopefully this will happen soon.

Still more challenges, James is not doing so well. Physically he is fine, but his brain is failing him it seems. There is some serious memory loss, in particular recent memory. I’ve done some research, and since the doctor tells me that the issue is in his right frontal lobe (top, front-ish on the right hand side above and behind the eye for those who don’t know); this means that there’s a lot of key features not working correctly, all of which are affecting his personality.

Right now, talking to him is in some ways like talking to a zombie; you get some answers, but not very well structured. This lobe is responsible for longer-term memory, not including tasks (or remembering how to do things). His immediate memory seems okay-ish but longer term is not working correctly. He Nan and I have been drilling him with questions to poke around at his memory. I don’t know how much good it is doing. Sometimes it is hard to tell if he actually remembers something or if it is a lucky guess.

Also, the prefrontal cortex (right above the right eye) is responsible for cravings, desire and willpower. Since last week James has not had a smoke (yay!) but his total lack of craving is most likely linked to insufficient activity in the prefrontal cortex. Even though I did tell him last weekend before we went into the hospital “no more smokes from here on in” I did expect him to ask for one as soon as we got out a week later. No sir! Been home since Saturday night, and he says he doesn’t even have an interest in a smoke, and I have been asking just to make sure, because I am actually quite shocked. Now, this is not to say he won’t be smoking next month, because who knows, but could something good have come from the seizures? Perhaps… perhaps…

In any event, I made a phone call to the epilepsy specialist yesterday, and much to my surprise the hospital paged me directly to him and not to a voicemail system. (Nice!) I told him about all the memory issues and personality changes that were not evident on Saturday when we left the hospital. He says they should clear up, but it might be weeks or months, or in some cases not all. Well I hope the smoking thing does not come back, but the rest would be good. Anyway, everything the doctor says points nearly to the exactly location in his brain that is affected by the seizures. He said we should be getting a phone call by Friday or Monday about the possibility of surgery; he is having the conference on Thursday with the other two specialists. He’s asked me to keep track of James’ memory situation and contact him if it gets worse, otherwise he will get another update when he contacts me.

I just cannot get over the system here. I spent over a year trying to get things situated in Newfoundland to get this very procedure done – to find the root cause of, and hopefully treat, the seizures. I just phones St. John’s and cancelled his EEG observation appointment because he will not need it in July. Everything here is going smoothly, and the ball is rolling. Plus we have access to a family physician who insists on regular visits so that he can be in the loop and aware of everything that is going on, and the specialist who cares enough about his patients to take personal calls in the middle of the shift to answer questions. I realize the family doctor cannot do much for the epilepsy as such, but I think it is important that all doctors involved in the patient’s care regiment should be aware of everything. It could be just me, but I think that’s who the medical system should work.

Anyways, I have rambled on enough now for one night. Good night.

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It is a little bit strange

Actually there are a couple things that seem a little strange today. Firstly, James does not seem to be 100% normal. His memory is off. Some things he is remember just fine, but there are some others that he is not recalling at all. I spent the afternoon “quizzing” him to see what he could remember and what he couldn’t. It seems like some of his memory of events and places he has seen in the last six months is not all there. Good thing we are going to the doctor tomorrow, we can find out what’s going on. If not, I will call the epilepsy doctor and see what he thinks it is. Most likely it is simply that he has had so many intense seizures this past week that his brain needs time to “heal”. It is the memory centre of the brain that is the source of his seizures, but I would prefer to ask the doctor and be safe than sorry.

In general James is back to normal, but something still seems off about him. I cannot put a finger on it. I’ve never had any form of amnesia before, so maybe that is why he seems off, much of the last few weeks / months is a blur.

On a super positive note though, James has quit smoking. 😀 He called both of his grandmothers today and told them he hasn’t had one since last Sunday, and he doesn’t even have a craving for one. Which could be the brain issues talking, but all the same. I never brought it up, I waited until he did, but when he did it was to brag that he hadn’t had one in over a week. That is so awesome, because this has been, literally, 12 months in the making to reach this point. I had him cut back slowly over 12 months to finally quit. I hope he keeps this up.


I finally got all my marks and comments into the computer. I would never have met the Friday deadline, good thing it was extended to Monday. That is actually a huge sigh of relief because I feared that I was not going to get it all done.

Now tomorrow I need to make up a science exam for my grade 9’s, then I am all good to go.

Anyways, the strangeness is a state of mind for now, and I hope it all goes away.

Off to the doctor tomorrow morning. Good night.

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It has been an incredibly busy week.


There are so many things to talk about because it has been such a busy week. Only one problem, I am so tired right now that I can barely see straight, so we will see how this goes.

This has been a funny week around the house because James has not been home. His hospital stay has been a positive one. After speaking with the epileptologist yesterday it seems that he will very possibly be getting the surgery if he wants it. The doctor needs to review and analyze the data some more, and consult with his other epilepsy specialist colleagues before he makes a final decision. He will then contact use later next week with the details.

James has already decided that if it is possible, he wants to get the surgery, especially since there is a 75 – 80 percent chance of being seizure-free. While this is still just the early stages of things, it does look highly promising for him. I hope it all works out.

Tonight he seemed a little delusional. He did not know what day it was thinking it was the day I had to get him (Saturday) and he said his head hurt from the surgery. He never had any surgery and today was Friday. After he hung up on me and his Nan for the second time in mid-conversation I never bothered to call him back. He also never remembered talking to us last night, even though he was on the phone for 20 minutes or so. Yesterday it could have been the meds or the Ativan, tonight, I am not sure what it was. I was concerned enough that I waited until I figured he would be asleep and I called the nurse to ask her a few questions. It turns out that in addition to these delusions or memory issues, he is having trouble walking, eating, drinking and even using the washroom. I told her I would prefer that he did not come home like that because he will be home alone and there is no one to be with him. She told me if the doctor feels he is not “out of it” enough he will be staying in.

I am going to go in to see James tomorrow regardless of whether or not he is coming home. The nurse told me that I could let them know if he is “normal” tomorrow. If he is not back to normal, they will keep him longer.


Remember when I said I was tired before? Yeah, I fell asleep. I have since gone to Saskatoon to pick James up from the hospital. It is mostly back to normal. He is no longer delusional, and is able to pee, eat and drink normally again, but I am not 100% convinced his memory is what it should be. The doctor assured me that this would subside, and I hope it does. He just seems a little off, and I never noticed this until we left the hospital. Hopefully a good night’s sleep will fix him up.

For now, he is still on his pile of pills, but he has been taken off the Keppra and put on lacosamide. For now he will be on them, but this could change later on if he qualifies for the surgery. We should find out more next week.


Last night I also said it was a busy week. In addition to keeping on top of James’ situation I have been trying to get all my work corrected and marks into the computer. All of this needs to be done by Monday morning. Good thing James has not been home, because most evenings I never left school until after 6:00 trying to get things corrected and caught up.

Later tonight, if I feel up to it I have some final grade 12 physics assignments to grade. If not tonight I have all day tomorrow. The grade 9 science can wait if it needs to, and I can put it into next terms, they are a minor detail because their course is not ending.

Also, I met with my mentor from the school division this week. She’s pretty cool, she’s been helping me to develop better classroom management strategies, as well as giving me tips and suggestions for inquiry learning projects. She comes to the school ever few weeks and meets with a few of us teachers to help us with anything that needs helping. I think it is pretty nifty that we get someone assigned from the division to coach us. She has the time to come up with and learn about the different strategies, then she is able to bring it to us.

Oh my, looks like I will not be correcting much physics tonight. Suddenly I can hardly keep my eyes open.

Oh, on a final note, I think James has officially quit smoking. He had his last one on Sunday before he went into the hospital. We’ve had plenty of opportunity since I picked him up for him to ask about smokes. I never mentioned a word, but then neither did he. Before, the first thing he would ask for was a smoke. This time it was a new SIM card for his cell phone. Awesome! I hope he stays quit. I am saying nothing so he will not get the idea in his head. He was so close anyway, for the last few weeks he was down to only 1 or 2 smokes a day at most. Honestly, his next logical step was to quit. A week-long stay in the hospital full of seizures and not being able to go out for one was just what he needed to stop. Even if he does cheat once in a while at this point, I am proud of his accomplishment, because he used to smoke a pack or more a day. I cross my fingers that he keeps it up.

Well, I am off. Hopefully to get some sleep. Cheers.