Image 1

It makes kids squeal with delight and without fail, run as fast as they can into the wide open arms of possibility.  (You have to see a group of first graders tear out into the school yard the second rings, to truly understand what I’m talking about here.)

What is it about the great outdoors?

It wasn’t until halfway through my maternity leave, that I truly started giving this some thought.  At the beginning, it was simply the walk down to the end of the driveway, and soon after, to the end of the block, and eventually to around the neighbourhood. My daily sojourn outside was the main event – one I looked forward to each and everyday.  It allowed me to breathe a little deeper, make my racing mind a little calmer, and my spirit a little happier.  A reset button for my soul, even; as if Mother Nature, herself had given me a sweet hug and sent me on my way to appreciate all that was in the rest of my day.


That being said, I was never really the outdoorsy type.  It wasn’t until having a baby and seeing the world outside our window, through her eyes, that really made me stop and take notice.  The way she’d tilt her head way up towards the sky in my carrier, or point at a squirrel leaping clumsily from a branch, or run her itty bitty fingers over a flower petal – it all suddenly made my heart gush.

The effect the outdoors has on my students is not lost upon me either. Windblown hair and flushed cheeks do wonders for staying focused and being engaged.  A quick run around the school or walk to find a favourite leaf, have been some of my tried and true tricks to keeping their minds fresh and their bodies energized.  Surely, I had always known this, right?  I can now truly appreciate how students mucking about in the mud, picking the perfect pumpkin, singing songs on hayrides and getting lost in a corn maze is invaluable learning that can’t possibly come out of a textbook.

It’s more than just stopping to smell the roses, it’s slowing down to notice them in the first place.

Have a great weekend, everyone.


Ms. Sumra vs. Motherhood


With just one week left before I officially head back into work (and a few days before my daughter turns one), I can’t help but feel nostalgic about this epic last year.

Before having a baby I was feeling mighty good about myself.  I thought of myself as a great Teacher, in fact.  Designing creative lessons and motivating kids came naturally to me, and I was quick to find solutions to problems and was happy to give advice to parents and colleagues.  Being a Teacher was a huge part of my identity; every single day it gave me confidence, it gave me joy and it made me feel like I belonged.

Then came motherhood.

It didn’t just hit me out of left field; it was the equivalent of multiple fastballs hurtling my way, knocking me off my feet and leaving me winded, defeated and in doubt. I suddenly was not in my element.  I was not at the top of my game and my ability to make decisions went out the window.  Is she hungry?  Is she tired?  How do I know?  Why is she crying?  How much do I feed her?  Why won’t she sleep?  Do I swaddle?  Pacifier or not?  How many wet diapers?  Is she meeting milestones?  But I JUST fed her!  And on and on and on and on… and on.

This beautiful, precious little life depended on me for everything and the weight of that reality was crushing.  Pawan the Teacher, disappeared overnight and Pawan the Mom, struggled to keep her head above water.  I’m not going to lie, those first few months were HARD.  On top of everything, the love I felt for my daughter was unlike anything I had ever felt before; I constantly felt as if my heart was going to just go ahead and burst all over the sidewalk at any given moment.

The sleep deprived fog has since cleared somewhat and I look back and think I was pretty hard on myself.  Perfection does not go hand in hand with parenthood and control of your classroom is far different than getting a handle on a baby new to this world.  What both spheres require, however, is trust. Trusting that deep down, your instincts will not lead you astray, and trusting that by closely observing them, your children will take your hand and tell you exactly what they need from you.

So, guess what?  The first time my daughter crawled all the way across the room, it was to go to her books. You can bet I melted into a puddle. Despite my doubts, despite the fact that I’m still trying to figure this motherhood thing out, I felt like I had done something right.  The “Teacher” part of me hadn’t gone anywhere because I had instilled a love of reading already.

When I walk through my classroom doors next week, I know I’ll still be that great Teacher. Maybe I’ll be an even better one. I see things through a different lens, I proudly wear my heart on my sleeve and I have a renewed sense of fascination with how and what kids learn.  I also come with a new title under my belt.  To clarify, it’s not Teacher OR Mom, I am a Teacher AND a Mom.

Ready for another epic year…







(images via Instagram)

*Two years ago:  The Beginning

*Three years ago:  The Kissing Hand

*Four years ago:  Goodbye and Hello

The Day After Labour Day


Gosh. It’s been a while.

Having a baby has certainly put the brakes on this wee little blog of mine, but today feels like the right time to open up my laptop and have my fingers  do some thinking. Why, now? Because it’s the day after Labour Day, of course.

It’s such a special time of year. Heading back to school is a time of highly anticipated change and a welcomed return to routine.  I may not be heading quite back to school just yet, but that same feeling of nervous excitement lingers in the pit of my stomach, as it has for as long as I can remember.  The difference, this year, is that so many children in this province aren’t returning back to school either.

I prefer to keep things pretty light here on Pancakes, so I don’t feel the need to delve too deeply into the political nuts & bolts of the issues at hand, but I do feel compelled to say two things:

Public school teachers need to be valued.  We are not daycare providers.  We are not babysitters.  We are trained professionals that facilitate real student learning.  We love children, and that’s why countless dollars from our own pockets are spent on creating optimal learning environments, and the hours we put in don’t end with the ring of a school bell.  There is a need to address the growing challenges we face daily in increasingly diverse classrooms, with increasingly limited resources.

We as teachers have a responsibility in this as well: to earn the respect we so greatly desire. Teachers value their autonomy immensely, but we also need to embrace the accountability that has to come along with it.  Our classroom doors need to open so that people can see the what and why of our jobs and the powerful impact we have on shaping young lives.


Feels good to be back.  Let’s hope we’re all back in schools soon, too.

(photo by: Follett Design Co.)

*Two years ago: Birthdays and Back to School

*Three years ago: Happy Birthday, Pancakes

*Four years ago:   It’s Showtime 



Baby Abbey

On the morning of October tenth, our sweet baby girl was born.

This is Abbey Luetta Noor.

And we are in love.

Pattycakes for Recess?

So I’m not sure what this big ol’ belly means for this wee little blog of mine.

For the last three years, Pancakes for Recess has been my journal, my filing cabinet, my scrapbook, my show & tell, my treasure chest of trinkets, and my coziest storytelling chair.  It has given me so much pleasure because in every corner of my classroom there has been no shortage of inspiration; it’s by every pencil sharpener, under every desk and tucked away in the pages of every book.  And then there are the students.  Those adorable, big-hearted, keen, hilarious and amazing students.  I love grade one and I love school.

With a baby on the way (like, four days ago) and with me being away from the school scene, I’m now left wondering where my stories will come from.  No class means no student learning to share.  For now.

I gather baby will give me lots to write about so do I just start a new blog? True, “mommy blogs” are a dime a dozen but surely everyone will want to see our child’s milk comas and first Halloween highlights, non?  Yeah, I’m guessing no.

Then it dawned on me:  What is ultimately at the core of this here, blog? The learning. All the juicy, lightbulb, eye-opening tidbits of learning. Whereas I’ve largely played witness to the learning of my students, perhaps it’s now time to shine more of the spotlight on my own. After all, navigating the world of babies has already proven to be a very humbling experience.

So, introducing a twist on Pancakes – just for a little while.  Don’t worry, I promise it won’t all be swaddling and soothers…

I’ll be sure to sprinkle in some goodies on literacy amongst those Halloween highlights:)

(photo taken by Follett Design Co)