Corporal punishment


News junkie that I am, I had the news on last night to get caught up with what was happening in the world when a news report from a school in Florida came on.

Hendry County school principal under investigation for paddling 6-year-old student in front of child’s mother

The video actually started to play while the news reader gave the standard warning the contents of the video might be disturbing to some. Most people just ignore the warning anyway. It’s only after you watch something like this that you end up wishing you hadn’t. That was the case with me. I suspect that we haven’t heard the last of this, particularly since the creator of the video was the child’s mother.

How does this happen in this day and age?

I know that, when I was in elementary school, there was this mystique about the principal “giving people the strap”. Quite frankly, I don’t know of anyone who ever had been on the receiving end. I do remember a personal incident in Grade 2 where I was held back by the teacher who brought a strap out I guess for just its presence. I know that it scared me. My memory won’t let me dig back and get the exact details and that probably is a good thing. I guess I wasn’t the model citizen that I am today.

I don’t ever recall a lesson on corporal punishment while at the Faculty of Education and I know that there was an escalation of punishment for students at my school ranging from picking up garbage at the front of the school to suspensions of varying lengths. There also was an expulsion option but it was never put to use while I was there. From my memories, the worst thing was a free ride in the police car when actions led to something that resulted in charges. Even then, maybe once or twice.

So, back to Florida, the reported bad behaviour was attributed to scratching a computer screen. The official response at this time is “No Comment” which is appropriate while an investigation follows.

The whole incident got me thinking – what countries would still condone this? Wikipedia offers this article. It looks like Norway led the world for an early abolishment. Yet, it’s disturbing that it’s still allowed in many places. The coloured map of the United States and Europe is pretty scary.

I would hope that any policymaker who views that video will be forced to sit back and truly question whether this is an appropriate punishment in schools, let alone a six-year-old child. This has to change.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Stephen and I had a guest host this Wednesday on the voicEd Radio live This Week in Ontario Edublogs in Vicky Loras. Vicky is teaching and working on her PhD in Switzerland and I took a chance that our 8:45 start time would be later in her afternoon and she’d be free. As it turns out, she was and was a great addition to the show. Here’s what we chatted about.


How Should Leaders Spend Time In a Pandemic?

Anne-Marie Kee comes at this topic from a school leader and does a terrific job. But, leaders are everywhere and how they react to events of the pandemic are noticed by others.

Who can forget Justin Trudeau who was isolating and yet managed to come to the front steps and address the nation as we all were trying to figure out what was going on? In the beginning, Doug Ford did the same thing but as of late, he just hasn’t been visible. Right now, #WheresDougFord is trending on Twitter.

I suppose the easiest thing would be to hunker down at home and drop out of sight. In education, that would be horrible. Teachers and students look for guidance and leadership from their principal. To that end, Anne-Marie has made the decision to be very visible. Now, her school is residential and so there are other opportunities than virtual classrooms to do so.

In the post, Anne-Marie took me back to my time playing air guitar as she talks about keeping the popular air band tradition alive at her school.

As she notes, a leader’s job is to be the biggest cheerleader of the organization.

And it appears that she is.


Failure

It’s something that every teacher dreads. That moment when the student has not proven to your satisfaction that they’ve complete the course work and requirements sufficiently to received a passing grade.

I suspect it’s a great deal easier in the college / university setting where the class environment is different. In K-12 though – and more likely 9-12, as Amanda Potts point out, you make a call home to the parents in advance of the report card to let them know. As one of my vice-principals once noted, report cards are no placed for surprises.

She notes the best of practice for assessment techniques – running records, encouragement, accepting lates, extra support, nagging, prodding, etc. What do you do if none of this works? Well, you know.

Things are different in this environment for kids as well. You have to wonder and worry about the workload that these unique class arrangements have on the stress level of students. And, heck, teachers too.

Amanda tells a story about how it weighed so heavily on her. I think every educator would relate and hope that it never happens to them.


“To Take the Road or Not to Take the Road… That is the question!” – Robert Frost Meets William Shakespeare

From the TESL Ontario blog, this was an interesting post from Setareh Dabbagh.

Since I’ve never taught in an ESL classroom, I was a bit out of my element but fortunately guest host Vicky Loras wasn’t. It turns out that she was totally onside with Setareh when it comes to using poetry in the ESL classroom.

One of my wonders going into this was whether you needed to provide poetry from the original language translated to English for the student. For interest, I took the poem snippet provided in the blog post, translated it to Greek using Google Translate and then back to English.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

Becomes

«Δύο δρόμοι απέκλιναν σε ένα ξύλο, και εγώ—
Πήρα αυτό που ταξίδεψε λιγότερο,
Και αυτό έχει κάνει τη διαφορά. “

which becomes

“Two roads deviated from one tree, and I—
I got the one that traveled the least,
And that has made a difference. “

There definitely is something lost in the translation and I expected that. I can see it though because poetry is a different beast than text. Yet, for the well rounded student, poetry would be equally as appropriate for the classroom. Choose wisely.

I really enjoyed the description of how to use poetry in the classroom including the observation of unity while reciting. Poetry is a different communication skill and perhaps that makes it even more important to include in a complete and rounded program for the ESL student.


Focusing On My April Word Made This Word Late

If you follow Aviva Dunsiger on Twitter, you might have been as amused as I was as she tried to guess which of her posts were going to use on the show. She didn’t think that it would be this one; I’m not sure which one that she thought would make it but I’m guessing it was her post about vaccinations.

But I like this one for a couple of reason.

First, she’s being true to herself in following Beth Lyons’ lead of a word for the month as opposed to a word for the year in these times.

Secondly, her choice of word is completely different from the sort of thing that I would associate her with. She’s always been so generous and giving. Now, a little self care.

Aviva’s work had impressed Vicky and she made sure that she said so on the show. It was only afterwards that Aviva tweeted the update that her plans had fallen through.

Curious? Head over to her blog and see what she had planned.


Enough About Me – #PaidSickDays

On a good week, a blog post from Diana Maliszewski might take you into gaming, libraries, media literacy, working with students, or educational issues but what happens when the post happens the day after March Winter April Break?

In this post, she shares her thoughts about the latest issues surrounding the Ontario populace – COVID and the Premier’s announcement about stay at home, enhanced police powers, science, and paid sick days.

This post will give you another insight into what makes Diana tick with her concern about social issues, including a wish for Paid Sick Days for those that don’t have them. And, throw in better leadership and an end to the pandemic.

She wishes on a star for the type of change she wants.

As it turns out, things may be changing on the Paid Sick Days front although perhaps not to the extent that people were hoping.


The Promise of Early Learning and Child Care in Canada

Writing in the Linkedin space, Stephen Hurley shares his thoughts about these programs as announced in the recent Federal Budget.

What had me particularly reflecting on this is the comparison between my life and those of today’s 4-6 year old.

My mom didn’t work outside the house. That allowed her to stay at home and be the full-time caregiver. While I wasn’t the perfect child, I don’t think I was the worst of the worst. But, I’ll admit that there were times when being with me 24/7 would wear on a person. These days, many of those issues wouldn’t even come to the attention of the parent unless it was bad enough to be reported by the school or day care. My early learning space would have been devoted to those things that my parents could afford and they would have been chosen for their entertainment value and not necessarily any academic choice. The rest would have been available for play in the side yard. When I went to school, it was to Kindergarten. It was a one year induction to education and I have no recollection of the sorts of things that you’ll see in today’s rooms.

After 50 years of talking about it and fighting for it, we’re finally going to get it done.—Hon. Chrystia Freeland

It’s taken us 50 years and the kindergarten classes of today really bear little resemblance to what I remember. Vibrant in colours, stimulation, freely chosen activities and exploration, the learner is truly in charge. We understand better how students learn and thrive.

If only I’d had that – quoting from “On the Waterfront”

I could have been somebody

But we’re not done yet and Stephen looks forward to what the future might brings and refers you to a Podcast to support your thinking.


About a name

I went to school with a Sheila. She was a year older than I was and was the daughter of the principal of our school. So, you had to be careful about what you said when she was around….

Sheila Stewart reflects on her name and that got me thinking that she may actually be only the second Sheila that I have met. To be honest, I hadn’t really thought of it as being a unique name but maybe it is. And, this Sheila claims to be OK with that.

And she asks a bunch of questions…

Readers, were you named after a song or a famous person? Your children? Do you have a good story about how you were named, or any good story about a name to share? How about a favourite song that is based on a name?

Me? My name was my father’s middle name. It’s kind of a tradition that we stepped away from with my son since my middle name is something that nobody would wish on anyone. My daughters were just great names.

I can’t complain about my name. A favourite comic comes from the Far Side.

There are far more available similar cartoons as the result of a simple search. Later this morning “Thanks Doug” may be trending on Twitter. Believe me, it’s not for me because there are other Dougs getting that attention.


Thanks for dropping by this post. I hope that you can take a moment and click through and read these posts in their entirety and drop off a comment or two.

Then, follow these folks on Twitter.

  • Anne-Marie Kee – @AMKeeLCS
  • Amanda Potts – @Ahpotts
  • Setared Dabbagh – @TESLOntario
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL
  • Stephen Hurley – @Stephen_Hurley
  • Sheila Stewart – @SheilaSpeaking

The Wednesday morning This Week in Ontario Edublogs podcast is available here.

Problems with words


I’ve mentioned a couple of times on this blog the work that Peter Beens has put into preparing a resource and sharing it with the world. The most popular one that I know of is his Google A-Z page. Here’s a post from this blog that dates back to 2012.

Google A-Z

You’ll notice that it’s really up to date. He has a link to Floom that I blogged about a couple of weeks ago.

He keeps his eyes open and builds capacity for others and just shares it.

The other day, I ran across another project of his that I think is pretty impressive. Unless you’ve taught Computer Science, you may not realize just how impressive it actually is. As a Computer Science teacher, you’re always looking for exciting and engaging programs for students to write. In the early days, there was this focus on mathematics problems almost solely. Fortunately, we’ve got beyond that and now focus on other interesting problems for solution.

Now, it wasn’t that mathematics is a bad choice but there was this feeling among some students that they wouldn’t succeed in Computer Science because Mathematics wasn’t their favourite subject. In reality, Computer Science is all about problem solving and so there are many other things to do to mix in with the mathematics.

One whole genre is the concept of working with words. No, not mathematics word problems per se, but exploring interesting things about words and then writing a computer solution. Peter has started a public collection of word problems here on Github.

A couple of examples from the top:

  1. What are the longest words in the list?
  2. If a-1, b=2, etc., what words add up to 100?
  3. What is the longest word that ends with “ar”.
  4. What is the most common letter? Vowel? Consonant?

These are concepts and a Computer Science teacher would take the concept and craft it into an interest problem. I like the concept as the final problem might be different from teacher to teacher and therefore not realistic for students to share solutions.

At present, Peter has seeded the project and has another teacher, Ross Jamieson, make a contribution to it. I always enjoyed these problems with my students and I can tell you that there is no resource that I know of that you can go to and buy a set of problems like these. Resources like this are individually created or collaborated upon and shared by educators.

So, if you’re a Computer Science teacher, check it out and see if there’s inspiration there for you and your students. And just like your neighbourhood little library, take a problem, leave a problem.

I’m off to my personal archive to see if there’s a problem or two that I can share with Peter.

History in Google Earth


This past week, just in time for Earth Day, Google revealed something interesting in Google Earth.

It’s the option to view the earth in a time lapse format for the past 37 years. My, things have changed.

When you land on the page, there are five highlighted, high profile topics to be played. And, they’re worth it.

It can be used further in the classroom. Certainly, the topics highlighted are starting points for great classroom discussions.

But, what around the neighbourhood?

Since this sits in Google Earth, it’s a snap to move around and zero in on your community to see what growth has happened there. Depending upon the location, you’ll enjoy high resolution imagery.

To be honest, I knew that there was a great deal of growth in our community. But, it’s very humbling to see the spread before my very eyes.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


I always conclude this Friday post with an encouragement to click through and read the posts highlighted here. You can’t miss them; I make them large, bold with a live link. I’ll do that first this week just to encourage you. There’s nothing like the wit and wisdom of Ontario Edubloggers.


Online Instruction of Students with Learning Disabilities

Deb Weston does a nice analysis of online instruction for students with learning disabilities. This is her particular area of expertise. Her conclusion appears at the bottom of the post.

Online learning does not support the needs of most students with learning disabilities

I suspect that we all saw that coming.

But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go through and read the entire post. She does a pretty fair and balanced approach to the topic. I think that you’ll find that you’ll agree that students with learning disabilities don’t have a monopoly over the points she discusses. They apply to all students.

The big takeaway since online is going to be around for a while is to look at the positives and work to reinforce them. Then, look at the negative issues she lists and see if there’s not a way to mitigate them.


Tips for Teaching Online

The duo of Lisa and Steven Floyd team up with a post that includes a dozen tips for teaching online. This is a nice followup read to Deb’s post above. So, what can you do and what can you avoid doing?

All of the points discussed are important and I’d encourage thinking about all of them. Three really leaped out at me.

Develop a “one-stop-shop”
I think that this is crucial. Even after a year of on again off again teaching and learning online the skills that are necessary aren’t fully developed everywhere. In particular, having to “go here”, then “go there”, then “go here”, … is a recipe for failure. A portal where everything is in one spot is so helpful. If you know how, have any link open in a new tab or a new window so that the student is back “home” to the portal when they close it.

Only use new tools if necessary
As educators, we know that there are so many really valuable tools out there to address various things. You really do need to think carefully before introducing new tools. In a face to face classroom, it’s easier for success because students can just look at the person next to them if challenged. Not so online. The key is to focus on what’s really important and necessary to address curriculum expectations. Knowing a gazillion different tools really isn’t in the curriculum.

Constant feedback to students – don’t need to submit everything
If there’s one thing that is really unique during times of teaching and learning online, it’s feedback. Face to face there are more ways to provide that feedback – through body language, a look, a word, … you do it constantly and probably not consciously. Feedback when online is an intentional act for the most part. I love the tip that not everything needs to be submitted for marking. Save everyone a little stress!


Belonging

There’s a world of advice is this post from Ann Marie Luce.

It’s sad to read the story of a friend with a “personal loss”. Reacting in times like that is what makes us human and hopping in a car to provide the support is something we do all the time. Obviously things are different these days.

Ann Marie then turns this into the concept of “belonging” which is always a big deal in education. There’s nothing worse than not belonging to a group when you really would benefit from being a part of it.

In a former job, I remember going from school to school and would appreciate the invitation to go to the staff room and join a group for a coffee or lunch and a chat. That isn’t happening now. Even staff members on the same staff can’t pull that off. There’s a challenge for principals to make up for this.

Ann Marie identifies a number of different topics surrounding the notion of belonging. They could be used as a challenge by leaders within a school or a rubric by educators about the leadership provided to them. And, if you’re the teacher/leader in the classroom, there’s lot to think about there.

Professional Learning opportunities are a shortage these days but reading Ann Marie’s questions and relating them to your situation may be the best thing that you can do for yourself today.


Numbers.

With a title like that for a blog post, there really was nothing given away so I had to click over to Mike Washburn’s blog to see what was up.

I enjoy reading people’s interpretations about numbers as they apply to communities or social media. It opens up all kinds of questions about just how big a community should be to make it worthwhile or worth your while to contribute back. Or, some people judge their own value by community size. Or, does it really matter? Mike offers his thoughts in the context of the size of a conference keynote session. Big crowd size can indicate an appreciate for just who the speaker is and the organizers will appreciate that the money they spent to hire a keynote was worth it.

He turns to the concept of those enduring understandings and asks whether you’ll remember a message from a keynote speaker or a message from a colleague that you worked through a problem with.

It’s an interesting concept and might just put the whole mindset of a conference with keynote speakers in the past. So, is the important number here not necessarily the size but the number one as in that person with whom you made the connection and the learning?


Cultivating. Cultivation. Cultivate.

In the beginning, Beth Lyons’ concept of a word for a month versus a word for the year seemed like a quaint oddity.

Over time though, it has taken on considerably more value to me as a reader and fan of her blog. She very clearly outlines her thinking about the word of the month. For the month of April which is quickly ending, it’s “cultivate” and a number of words derived from that.

By itself, it’s not a unique word for education. My agricultural background had me thinking of the word “tiller” instead. (it was easier to spell) It’s a tool used by farmers and gardeners to further break the soil after it has been ploughed. It’s only then that the ground is in a position for seeding and the actual growing of any crop.

Of course, Beth didn’t take the agricultural route in her explanation; after all, she’s a teacher-librarian but the parallels between the agriculture and the library are very apparent and so reasonable to me.

And it just wouldn’t be Beth if she didn’t recommend a couple of books along that way.


“How can I help?”

Michelle Fenn takes this question and addresses her personal educational world and that of “imposter” which quite frankly, I don’t buy into. If a person wasn’t constantly learning, growing, and researching maybe I would. But her description of her work life is anything but that.

It was in the last paragraph of this blog post that really brought back memories and appreciation for the topic.

The four small words, “How can I help?” can make a powerful impact.

For a number of years, I had a job similar to hers and reported to a number of different superintendents. Like anything else, they all had their strengths and management styles. Perhaps the one that had the largest impact on me professionally fit into Michelle’s description. I don’t think the relationship started that way but it certainly evolved. We were both early to work and late to leave types and would drop in on each other unexpectedly and we often would use these words on each other when we’d see the other one working through a dicey problem. We weren’t necessarily experts in each other’s portfolio but asking the question always seemed so full of empathy and just having another set of eyes or resources available made all the difference in the world.


My mom in dementia

Every now and again, a post will come along that does make me tear up a bit and this story of Paul McGuire’s mother is one of them.

One of the things that truly sucks is getting old. And, it’s not necessarily that you’re getting older but everyone else around you is and you’re there to see it. In this case, Paul reflects on the way that this horrible disease has impacted his mother.

I like the way that Paul honours his mother; after all she’s not in charge here. The real villain is the dementia and it really doesn’t care.

I think that I know enough about blogging to know that getting it written saves that moment in time and gives you the opportunity to really work your way through your thoughts. Paul does so nicely here.

My sympathies to you, my friend.


OK, just a final reminder – click the links and read these great blog posts.

Then, follow these folks on Twitter.

  • Deb Weston – @DPAWestonPhD
  • Lisa Ann Floyd – @lisaannefloyd
  • Steven Floyd – @stevenpfloyd
  • Anne Marie Luce – @turnmeluce
  • Mike Washburn – @misterwashburn
  • Beth Lyons – @MrsLyonsLibrary
  • Michelle Fenn – @Toadmummy
  • Paul McGuire – @mcguirp

This week’s podcast can be listed at:
https://voiced.ca/podcast_episode_post/cultivating-learning-and-community-on-and-off-line/