Ice Breaker Speech One


They told me to begin, I did start my speech. But my speech began in silence. I smiled and looked around the room. Comfortably I met peoples gaze, held it and smiled.  Finally, I began.

It is said, you cant judge a book by its cover. But haven’t we all offered some form of judgement? Why is she not saying anything? Is it nerves? stage fright? I like her blouse… judgement. We are constantly trying to make sense of our environment.

I stand here today deciding which chapters, paragraphs, sentences or words I will share from my life’s story. I could share the basic facts, name, age, status, citizenship, and even zodiac sign. But wouldn’t your rather know one of my favourite books is the Little Prince? Because it’s a story of innocence. One that teaches lessons about it’s only with the heart that ones sees clearly.

I would want you to know that I love butterflies. But I’ve realized that butterflies are the last stage of the life cycle and I’m trying to see the beauty in each stage of metamorphesis.

I’d share my love for rainbows. Perhaps because they contain all the colors. And making decisions as simple as  favourite color have always been difficult.

I also love sparkly shiny objects- diamonds, glitter, the way the sunlight reflects on the water or the stars twinkling in the heavens.

I could only focus on the glittery, shiny chapters in my story and tell you that I graduated with great distinction from the University of Lethbridge with my education degree and parade my gold cords proudly. But you would miss out on the day I taught a whole class of grade five students that trees weren’t plants. Yes, unfortunately I taught this lesson the the day my University professor and team teacher were evaluating me. I was beyond humiliated.

Later, when I asked my five year old brother if trees were plants he looked at me strangely, “Duh,” he replied, “you aren’t gonna to ask your kids that are you?” I quickly changed the subject. There is more to that chapter but perhaps another time.

I’d want you to know that dancing is my happy place. And too often I forget the joy that music and movement bring.

I would want you to know about the times where the music was hard to hear and melodies became muted. Times of reflection and growth. Moments when I realized how I could change if I choose to let go of fear. And times of tears and sadness like how I tried to process my parents divorce.

I would include all these chapters, because I truly believe ALL these stories, the good, the bad, the happy and the sad need to be written, read, told and shared! These are the stories that connect us, help us reconnect, feel normal and to put down our guard, and realize we are all the authors, editors and publishers of our own life’s narrative.

My name is Danielle Marie Low, named after my French grandfather. I have lived 38 years. I have been married 12 years to David and am the mother of two beautiful daughters. I am Canadian and French. I am a Libra. As I child I was incredibly shy but I am learning that new beginnings are possible for everyone.

In my book of life, the one I author. Where I choose the words, characters, setting and action.  I’m trying to edit less and allow more people to read the original script. Learning from the past, living in the present and exploring ways to enhance the future chapters.

Thanks you.


Ice Breaker Speech One

How Did You Treat Your Sub?


No one ever graduates from education with the dream of being a substitute teacher. Wandering through schools and classes, teaching everything, establishing meaningful relationships with few students and being woken up early with a surprise junior high placement.

However, this year I have taken a new approach to subbing and found the experience quite delightful… but at the end of the day, I am still a sub. I have created my own meaningful exchanges with children and have been quite happy with the results. But I wanted to share some of my stories.

Often when people hear that I am subbing they comment, “Oh, that’s a pretty good job.”

I look them squarely in the eyes and say, “Honestly, what were you like for the sub?” Even the best pupil can be contaminated by peer pressure to torture the sub. I, myself, who was considered a good student had my moments of switching names or desks, skipping classes and taking advantage of classroom expectations. I often utter the threat half heartily to classes, “Be careful… Karma always comes back to you. ”

I have found being proactive is effective. If I can meet the students as they come in and introduce myself I can usually catch them off guard and discover their real names. However, with the rotation of students and classrooms, especially in the older grades this is not always possible. I get the occasional smart-aleck, inappropriate name but I try never to react because sometimes they are telling the truth!

There are the blatantly rude students, for example, with twenty minutes left in the class the students asked if they could leave.  I told them to take a seat and wait, they just walked out of my class! These are rarer than the norm. But you do feel helpless as they walk out of class and you don’t know their names to call them back. It also makes it awkward for the students who stayed. You can see the panic in their eyes as they know you are going to ask them the names of their peers.

There was an adorable grade one boy who was enjoying the extra attention as I helped him with his work.  I was complimenting his wonderful efforts and he kept finding reasons to have me return. (Six-year-olds are not subtle with their emotions. ) Something happened at the table where he worked, I diffused the problem by saying, “We are all unique. We each have talents and traits that make us special.” I continued, “I have a cracky tongue.” Then I showed him my tongue. I stuck it out of my mouth, and then I pushed down on my tongue with my teeth exposing the fissures. It was quite a reveal!

Instead of being impressed, my new found friend was repulsed. He looked at me with wide eyes and confessed, “My mom and dad said I am not supposed to speak to strangers.” He immediately turned to his work with new intensity. I tried to plead my case. I assured him that you can’t be a substitute teacher without being a safe person. But he was having none of it. As I left his side somewhere between dumbfounded and completely amused, I thought, “This is too adorable to even feel rejected.”

Between the good, the bad, and the ugly moments of subbing… there are moments that I truly cherish. The beautiful hand-drawn notes of love and encouragement, the smile on the students faces when you paid them a compliment, a moment when you felt like the class performed really well on a task, these make my job meaningful. However, I need to tell you about the beautiful moment that happened yesterday. I arrived at my job and as I sat down at the teacher’s desk and looked over her classroom I noticed a present on her desk. Then something wonderful happened. I noticed the package was addressed to me! It read, “To the lovely sub Danielle”


I can’t describe the emotion of seeing that package. At a time when I felt the rejection of being passed up for six teaching jobs this year, it was as if God was telling me, “You are right where I want you to be. Keep going. You make a difference. I will magnify your offerings and you do bless my children.”

So I ask again, how did you treat your sub?




How Did You Treat Your Sub?

Which One Will You Feed?

two choices

There is a little story that I use all the time in teaching…(well technically I am still subbing.) I find a use for it daily.

I begin my tale by asking the child to tell me their favourite animal. I like baby penguins, thus for this example I will select them. I tell them to imagine they have two baby penguins that live on top of their shoulders. I say, “You know what this baby penguin eats?”  In amazement they shake their heads side to side reflecting that they have no idea.

As I respond, I point to the imaginary animal on their shoulder, “This one eats all the bad thoughts that you have in your head. He loves thoughts like, I am no good. No body loves me. You should stop trying, you will never succeed.” (I try to use phrases that the child expressed.)

Then I point to the opposite shoulder where the other imaginary penguin resides. I question, “Do you know what this one eats?” No they shake their heads accordingly. I say, “This one loves to eat thoughts like, “Keep making mistakes, you will get it soon. I am a good person. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says I am beautiful.” Then I often try and get them to create their own statements.

All this work for the big final question. “Do you know who decides which baby penguin gets fed?” Seldom are the children aware of this answer. With a big dramatic reveal I say, “Listen closely, because some adults don’t even know the answer to this question”. I might also add,”When I was your age I didn’t know this either.”

Then I point to the child and I say, “YOU DECIDE! YOU get to decide with every thought which penguin gets fed.  YOU have the power to feed  whichever one you want, whenever you want to.”

It is hard when other people try to feed your penguins. But if you can remember the simple truth of this story I promise you will be happier.  Just because a thought arrives doesn’t mean we have to invite it to tea and serve it snacks. We can recognize it by who it feeds and then gently choose to nourish the proper penguin.

What two animals live on your shoulders? Which one will be fed? It is the Christmas season, so let the feasting begin!




Which One Will You Feed?