Old skill; new use

I hope that you enjoyed reading the interview about Nilmini from yesterday’s blog post. I get so much from doing those interviews. We go back and forth in a Google document and then I move it to WordPress for formatting and publication. In the process, I got a little more than just finding out about this incredible educator.

One of the things that I ask interviewees to do is to choose a colour for their responses so that they stand out from my questions. In Nilmini’s case, it was what I would call Cyan. She called it “Turquoise” and I made the connection immediately. I’ve purchased jewellery in Turquoise many times before. It’s not quite Blue; it’s not quite Green; and as I was to learn, it’s not quite Cyan.

Photo by Joeyy Lee on Unsplash

I had to smile at my nerdy definition of the colour and her artistic one. No problem; we all work in WYSIWYG editors these days. I’ll just highlight her text and select Turquoise.

The problem is that WordPress is designed by programmers and use programming names. So, I had my choice between Light green cyan and Pale cyan blue. No turquoise. It certainly wasn’t one of the colours of the theme that I’m using. Fortunately, there is a colour picker …

I could have my pick of shades of green, blue, cyan, er, turquoise. Nobody would know but I’m now on a mission. She said turquoise.

I went back to the original document where we’d been working back and forth to see what Google called it. I wasn’t terribly surprised that it was actually a custom colour that she had chosen.

Sure, it’s close to Blue 11 but the actual colour is #1cb1cb. It clicked in. There must be a way to tell WordPress to use that specific colour. I started navigating my cursor around the colour picker and tried to zero in on #1cb1cb. Maybe it was the coffee but it was harder than it should be. I finally got it and coloured her first paragraph.

When I went to the next paragraph, the colour choice was gone. So, I started the hunting process again and then my nerdy background kicked in. There must be a way to specifically tell WordPress how to use it and, in fact, the bottom of the colour picker allowed for direct input of the colour, if you knew the Hex codes. And, I did. Realizing that black would be a whole lot easier to find, I highlighted the entire interview and turned it all to turquoise and then went in and easily edited my parts to boring old black.

By now, I’m feeling a bit foolish. This took way longer than it should. It was the final understanding that I’ve become a victim of point and shoot easiness. Years ago, if I was coding this from scratch, it would have been a piece of cake since we didn’t have these tools. If we wanted a particular colour, we’d just code the hexadecimal code into things. Now, we’ve become accustomed to the tools that we have in front of us to make it quick and easy. Just point at the colour you want, click, and away you go. And, if the one that you want isn’t there, pick something close. Remember that old saying about being close only applies to horseshoes?

I’m not naive enough to think that I could have been off in the colour by a little bit and nobody would notice. In fact, the calibration of your monitor may be a bit different from mine and you’re seeing something slightly different anyway.

It was a rabbit hole that I fell into and I recognize that. I’m starting to think of the bigger picture of our students who may move on to work in a business where product identity is incredibly important, including the colour. Are we teaching them the finer points of colour, editing, etc? We know that they get pretty good at slapping emojis on or applying a funny filter to their phone images but are they learning it all?

An interview with Nilmini Ratwatte-Henstridge

I’ve never met Nilmini in person but our paths have crossed on social media, particularly her writing on the ETFO Heart and Art Blog.  It’s been part of the discussion on voicEd Radio and on my Friday blog post This Week in Ontario Edublogs.

She is an elementary school teacher with the Peel District School Board.  Her passions include Equity, Social Justice and Human Rights.  On social media, you’ll find her well connected and writing in these areas.

Doug:  At this point, we haven’t actually met in person but certainly through social media.  I also like to start these interviews by asking if you remember when we first met and did you wonder what made our connection?

Nilmini: You were absolutely a social media connection, I remember “meeting you” on Twitter Doug when you first connected me to my PLN in education.

I loved seeing your “Friday Motivation” tweets in my words which = the “Follow Friday Ontario Educator” Tweets! 

Then I started reading your WordPress blog and later on I started to listen to your educational podcasts as the years passed by on social media. It would be good to see each other in real life one day!  

I would say for me the connection we have is that you understood me on social media: my positive energy, how I saw situations in a positive light always and took situations that happened in the world with positive intent when I tweet or share!

Doug:  Teaching is difficult at the best of times.  We’re certainly not living in the best of times with all the extra restrictions that have been placed on classroom teachers.  Let me put you on the spot – forget the rest of the world, what is the most frustrating thing happening in education for you personally these days?

Nilmini: I really do have this way of searching to see the positive outcomes in the most frustrating thing that can possibly happen. So here is the deal! I would say it has been challenging teaching everyone about a deeply sensitive topic that I kind of kept quiet in my own space and now it has become public knowledge. With the new topic of a civil armed conflict coming to light; that I was born into. This conflict separated so many generations because of individuals not being able to accept differences. It is something I never thought that I would ever have to actually manage teaching about in my career as a teacher or in my personal life to my friends and colleagues but with the best interest of my students at heart, I am teaching how to stay together as a community while dealing with my personal emotions all colliding together in one roller coaster ride of a lifetime in this career. I do believe in our generation that we are the generation that will stand side by side, and work together so that we show that peace is maintained by building lasting understandings. 

P.S: I love teaching…it has been a wonderful journey of growth, understanding and lifelong learning. These past years my students have been my shield that has protected me while I reflected.

Doug:  I know from your writing and your internet presence that you are generally a very positive person so I’m betting that you see a silver lining in everything that’s happening these days.  Please share it with us.  We all need inspiration.

Nilmini: I think in life you really do have to take the opportunity to reflect on situations that are challenging, possibly foreshadow emotions we feel, embrace those situations that make you have those intuitive reactions of survival: freeze, flight, or fight and embrace ourselves as having human qualities. When we accept ourselves then we see each situation clearly and what we as individuals can bring to the table to ensure that we can find successful resolutions and problem solve. 

When I saw this question Doug: I smiled which means you really do understand that I look at every situation in a positive light: I do believe with all my heart that “Silver Linings” are everywhere. Sometimes, I am misunderstood on social media for this quality by others but if they really do look at a situation then they will see that I have positive intent.

We really do have to look for them and hold on to them to aspire to have a growth mindset. In my opinion, I would hold on to the silver lining in the most challenging times so that I can overcome obstacles and aspire to do my best. 

Doug:  You have an extensive presence in social media – I’m thinking The Heart and Art Blog and your work on the Teach Better site.  What’s your goal?  Are you trying to change the world, inspire others, affirm your beliefs to yourself, or maybe something completely different?

Nilmini: To be honest, working from home the past year and continuing to teach online this year helped me have more time to reflect on education and be a reflective practitioner.  I would say maintain peace and unity in my community since lots of reconciliation and conflict resolution skills are needed to heal the generations of hurt and conflicts that we have overcome. I am just being me when I write and that’s who I can be.

I would never consider myself a writer, but starting out blogging with the Teach Better Team was inspirational since I really heard my voice come out! I am usually a quiet problem solver in any given situation. I know how to strategically and invisibly find resolutions to get the best outcomes while ensuring that life continues business as usual…this could be my Superpower perhaps!

“The Equity and Inclusion” Blog series with the Teach Better Team: I would say the purpose behind it was to teach others and pass the knowledge so that I can give back to my profession. It gave me “wings behind my back” during the most challenging of times in education that I have faced as an educator. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to get my voice out and have others read my blog and reflect upon the topics. 

Coming home to Canada and blogging and starting the  “Mentorship Matters” Blog series in The Heart of Art Blog felt welcoming since I didn’t get that opportunity before. This series was more to inspire, teach and challenge thinking to aspire to change in the education community as an educator. Motivation to create systemic change for the greater good of the education system.

Doug:  One of my favourite blog posts of yours was this one Mentoring Moments: Importance of Our NamesYears ago, a friend of mine who works in Business said that you can mess up everything else but if you get the name right, people will respect you.  I’ve had a lot of teachers over the years who have called my name and I still remember being called “Dogless” instead of “Douglas”.  So, you nailed it!  What advice do you have for educators to help them ensure that they’re getting names right?

Nilmini: I honestly can’t tell you that I do this every day: there are names that are hard since I have an accent and I aspire to get each name right each day by building trusting relationships and explaining accents and pronunciations. I aspire daily to not make mistakes with names! Sometimes we have to accept we are trying our best by giving value to names since they are meaningful and important in the world they connect us. With me, I find the more comfortable I am ..my accent comes out and I sometimes make mistakes in nailing those NAMES!

Doug:  I have fond memories of reaching out to you before talking about your blog post on voicEd Radio. It’s one thing to write a name in a blog and quite another to pronounce it correctly on radio. I think you told me that it was pronounced the way it looks!

Your education includes going to Musaeus College.  Can you tell us how that was and compare it to later going to Meadowvale Secondary School?

Nilmini: Musaeus College was an all-girls private Buddhist school in Colombo, Sri Lanka. I loved that I built lasting friendships with some inspiring friends and classmates there. It gave me my foundation in education and helped me develop my leadership style and be more mindful. We had choices of electives such as cooking, dance, and home economics and had to wear uniforms- which I was very creative making mine unique to fit my personality by accessorizing! 

Meadowvale Secondary School offered me a window into public education in high school but from afar and for this I am thankful.  I was never with my group of friends since I was in English as a Second Language classes and soon I discovered that if I work I can be inspired so I had fun at school but really I was working in Daycare before and after school and learning at the same time. I did not understand so many things like the racial dynamics in the cafeteria…smiles who does right? But I did go sit at all the tables and talk because I simply wanted friends and it is hard making friends when everyone knows each other and you’re the new kid in the city. Overall, I went from being that quiet observant child to the teenager who planned social events in Student Council and took photographs to get to know the school for the yearbook! I missed my friendships and making new connections took all the time it took…

I would say this is the school life of an immigrant child…resilience is the word!

I did depend on my mom and dad to advocate for me when needed, which I am glad that they did: I remember in grade 10 being told to go to Basic level classes and I remember my parents standing up for me saying no she can do Advanced level. Imagine if they didn’t- I would not have been able to be a teacher; it would have cut all the options to go to University…and impacted my dream to be an educator! Those are the skills I required as a teacher in Peel. Skills to be strategic, have fun teaching (my students said we have a party every day in our class!!!) and advocate on behalf of my students while mentoring my teachers!

A delicate balance it has been.

Doug:  With all your experience in blogging and podcasting, you must have opinions on the role of social media in the classroom.  Can you share your thoughts on the power?

Are there any caveats that teachers need to keep in mind?

Nilmini: Honestly, I would say I follow this golden rule my grandmothers taught their way to me as a child: If you do not want something in the front pages of the newspaper then do not post it on social media! 

Social media is powerful for teaching and learning alike.

If you are going to get misunderstood then you will. People who have your back will always understand your position especially when it’s from a teacher’s point of view.

Doug:  Your Teaching Qualifications include Principal Certification.  Do you have aspirations for moving into administration?

Nilmini: I took my Principal Qualification courses and took a road less travelled …I worked in chairing committees with the teacher federation, and worked in learning from the Peel Regional Labour Council, Met some aspiring women leaders in community organizations. I would say I have explored so many different options. I would love to lead educational organizations and build relationships to aspire students to be at the center, with parents, community members, federations/unions and parents collaborating. However, I have not seen this yet…I find my resume would be intimidating to one side vs. the other since trusting relationships need to be established and I still have to do this yet, (the power of Yet!) know how to maneuver this… Looking for a Mentor or Fementor: anyone wants to teach I’m here because it is a delicate trusting balancing relationship to manage and I am learning…

Doug:  Suppose you were given the opportunity to be an administrator in a school.  What sorts of changes would you look to implement? 

Nilmini: As an administrator, I would say: aspire to teach your best every day, lead with your best qualities and be honest when you make a mistake so that our students are inspired to be leaders in their own way! High standards for all to be who they are going through life stages and being lifelong learners.

The only change would be to aspire to work on equity principles: teach and practise what you teach to the best of your ability when it comes to sustaining the best learning environment for the school climate with having core equity principles in mind.

Doug:  Your passions as listed above would come legitimately as a young lady coming to Canada.  

Nilmini: I think my passions come from being able to serve a community. I am super positive, friendly and motivated so taking time to understand the community and learn along since everyone is how I work best as a big picture thinker! Maintaining relationships I think is the most important while letting everyone do their best work in their interest! I love volunteering, I love fundraising and organizing those skills I think brought with me as a young adult and established me serving my community as an adult today.

Doug:  Computer geek that I am, I have to ask you the role of technology in your personal classroom.  What things are you good at and your students do well?  Where do you see room for improvement?

Nilmini: Omg, this learning curve this year- mindblowing! I have never seen students succeed this well in a given time frame- in learning while I learn at the same time! We are having so much fun learning together. I have collaborated with students and parents to narrow down options on what is successful and what can be changed! Technology has been inspirational in building collaboration with the technical team at the Central Board office and working with the team at the North field office in Brampton. I would say I go in each day with a growth mindset and listen, learn and ask for help when it comes to technology- Teamwork has really been what has made it successful!

Doug:  On your website, you indicated that you are available to speak to others.  What sorts of presentations are you prepared to present?

Nilmini: The most recent presentation is in combination with the Teach Better Blog series. It is titled “Advocating for Students”. I am willing to motivate staff to dive deeper into equity and inclusion principles by advocating for student voices as they work with me.

Thank you for the opportunity to reflect Doug by answering these thoughtful questions. I enjoyed answering them as I typed I was smiling.

Doug:  Thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview.  I wish you all the best in your ventures.

You can follow Nilmini on social media.

Twitter:  @NRatwatte
Facebook:  Nilmini Ratwatte – Henstridge
Website:  http://ratwatte-henstridge.weebly.com/

Periodically, I interview interesting people like Nilmini.  You can check them all out on the Interview Page at https://dougpete.wordpress.com/interviews/

An Interview with Rabia Khokhar

Through Social Media, I’ve made connections with Rabia Khokhar just this year.  She had written a powerful blog post that I brought to the This Week in Ontario Edublogs show and this blog.  The depth and the wisdom told me this is a special person that I need to follow and I was delighted to learn more about her via this interview.

Rabia is an Occasional Teacher at Toronto District School Board. (for now!) She is also a Consultant in equity, anti-oppressive education.

Image copyright – Rabia Khokhar

Doug:  My first question is always the same and helps to set the stage – do you recall the first time our paths crossed?

Rabia: Thank you so much for the opportunity to do this interview, it is such an honour! I remember coming across and reading your blog/tweets on Twitter especially your #FollowFriday. But what I remember as our first interaction was your kind support this summer of my Summer Reading Challenge that centers Muslim characters. I think that’s when I got to know your work more in depth. Thank you for your support.

Doug:  Now, you describe yourself as a Teacher-Librarian, but when I looked at your qualifications with the College of Teachers, you seem to be taking AQ courses in so many different areas?  Is there a master plan for all this work?

Rabia: haha! No master plan really, but what I am interested in is thinking critically about what equity and social justice education looks like in different subjects so I think that’s where my passion for the different AQ courses comes from. I am really interested in learning first how equity and social justice education must be something happening all the time across all subjects and then trying to model for others as well.

Doug:  It was the end of June when you wrote and published the post that really caught my attention.  It was called Reading Challenge: Centering Muslim Characters.  


I remember being struck by the focus – it was a collection of 25 books.  Did you go out with this project in mind or had you just been collecting books all along and finally decide to publish it?

Image copyright – Rabia Khokhar
From: rabiakhokhar.com

Rabia: This is a great question and something I have been thinking about as well. It was definitely a process and a project I had been working on for a while but then put it on the back burner since school became busy. Since there are so many misrepresentations of the Muslim community, I wanted to use books to counter the stereotypes and monolithic representations. But when the recent rise of Anti-Muslim hate and Islamophobia was happening, I really wanted to do something to counter this hate. My work involves a lot of children’s books, so I saw them as a tangible tool to engage in this work. So I spent some time finishing it up and then sharing it on my social media platforms.

Doug:  The response to your publication was phenomenal from my perspective.  I don’t know how far the spread went but I remember that you were highly sought after for interviews by both social and traditional media.  Can you share a little about where you got your message out?

Rabia: I agree, the response has been phenomenal! It is definitely not something I had imagined but so grateful that this reading challenge found its way into the hands and hearts of so many people, all of different identities and backgrounds committed to creating more just and inclusive communities. It was so incredible to see the Reading Challenge travel all over the world and to do interviews/reviews for Canadian, American, South African news outlets/magazines and podcasts! I love that this connected people and I think this is the power of working together for justice. It is about coming together, building bridges and ensuring interconnectedness and dignity for all. I am humbled that my reading challenge can play a small role in this big commitment. 

Doug:  I went back to my notes for the show and this is what I had written to jog my mind as Stephen Hurley and I discussed the post on This Week in Ontario Edublogs.

Important post
Reading challenge for summer where Muslim characters are featured in books
Announced the interview on Facebook

It was posted 3 minutes later
The spread on social media 

  • People want it
  • Retweeted or favourited by people from all over the world
  • New people for Ontario Educators list
  • Would it be important if I hadn’t gone into education?
  • Shared with Lindsey
  • How do kids get access over the summer?
  • Little libraries – Colchester, Essex, and Leamington

To explain a couple of things from my notes – 

  • “New people” were folks that retweeted the #FollowFriday post where I’d mentioned her name and post
  • “Lindsey” is a friend of mine who is a librarian at a local library
  • Little libraries have been a go-to for us during lockdown – I find it an interesting summary of community curation

At the time, the big question for me was “how” kids would get access over the summer with schools closed.  After all, this post came out towards the end of June.  I’m assuming that you would see students go to their local public library?

Rabia: I did envision that these could become books kids could access from their local library and hoped they would make it into school libraries and bookstores. What I learned through this and upon reflection was the importance of accessibility of resources. I believe that all kids need books about all kids and the library is a space where all can have access and benefit. I hope that these books and even more make it to all schools, libraries and bookstores. In my own experience as I travel to more libraries and bookstores, I see things changing in terms of what is displayed and available. I feel so happy seeing this because I believe this is how we create change in communities that can create impact. Small intentional choices and actions by those who have power in these spaces (schools, libraries, bookstores etc) to curate responsively will create ripple effects!

Doug:  With a return to school, the collection should garner more attention by educators.  If you were to visit a school in the Toronto District School Board, how many of these books would you expect to see on the shelves?

Rabia: I think that as we push towards more justice and equity especially in terms of issues of representation, school libraries are at the forefront leading and advocating for this important change. I would hope to see quite a few of these books and I would hope that this reading challenge can be something educators can use to continue building a responsive, relevant and contextual collection in their schools that affirms as well expands student’s identities, experiences and thinking.

Doug:  Have you ever considered writing or collaborating with others on a book of your own with this type of focus?

Rabia: I would love to write a book…oneday! I am learning that writing a children’s book is hard and complicated. It has to be just right! I have some ideas and hope one day they will make their way into a book.

Doug:  I wish you well with that project.  You’ve done the research and made it a passion so it should be a natural next step.  With the new school year starting in a couple of weeks, what are your plans?  Do you have a full-time placement for September?

Rabia: I can’t believe that the new school year is almost here! Postings for jobs came out a few weeks ago so I am applying to some and hoping something comes up! Overall, I am excited to work with students and to continue considering equity and critical thinking in any teaching assignment I may end up in.

Doug:  Good luck with the application.  I hope that you are soon able to remove “Occasional” from your descriptor. 

What are your personal goals for the upcoming school year?

Rabia: I am starting a Flex time Phd program and so far have enrolled in two courses. I am hoping that I am able to manage the course and continue bringing theory to practice in the different spaces I have the privilege to be in. I also hope to continue reading and doing some book reviews on my website as well as expand my consulting services especially in the professional development category. 

Doug:  I see that you’re back at it.  Just a couple of days ago, you curated a collection of books about families and shared it to your blog.  https://www.rabiakhokhar.com/post/must-have-books-about-families

How has the response been to this post?

Rabia: There have been many people who have really shown this post  love. I am so incredibly grateful for the support. In this post, I really wanted to center and show all of the beautiful and diverse families that make up our communities. I think being seen builds a sense of belonging and all people need to feel like they belong and are welcome in their communities. Family is an important and big topic we think about in schools and if we can continue to expand our ideas around families through listening to our students and then bringing forward inclusive books, I really think we can create a change by fostering respect. 

Image copyright – Rabia Khokhar

Doug:  Congratulations need to be extended with your recent recognition from ETFO.
Toronto teacher Rabia Khokhar wins ETFO Anti-Racist and Equity Activism Award


What does this award mean to you?  Are you inspired to continue your activist role?

Image copyright – Rabia Khokhar

Rabia: This award means the world to me! It is such an honour and really a dream come true.  I think it affirms for me the power of equity work and the power of bringing it from theory to practice. I feel very happy about it because equity is deeply foundational to my work as an educator but also as a human being as I consider my role to create positive change in the spaces I occupy. It also means so much to me because of my family and the wider community’s support I have received. I have always been passionate about equity and to receive this recognition is humbling and energizing for me to continue doing this work. I think this award is also really important to me because it counters the many stereotypes I experience because of my identities. In many ways it helps me make space for myself-with all of my identities, thoughts, experiences and expertise. This award is a reminder for me that equity work is deeply hopeful work, it is us coming together to create inclusive communities. It is an honour to be part of this journey.

Doug:  The award should lend credence to your abilities and consulting services.  Are school districts doing enough to support equity in their systems?  

Rabia: I think what is positive is that in many school boards this is a central conversation and commitment that is being centered. I think this is a good start. From what I can see there are initiatives being taken to bring equity from theory to practice at all levels and for various stakeholders. I think the message needs to continue that equity is not an add on, it is really the reason we are all here. We need to continue using our positional power and spheres of influence to center and work towards this change which benefits all students.

Doug:  I think your observation about “add ons” is so important.  Education is bad for piling on. What additional things could/should be done?

Rabia: I think that to truly ensure an equitable education system for students of all identities and lived experiences there needs to be individual as well as systemic commitments to change. I think there needs to be policies that guide and frame our work. There needs to continue to be structures in place that ensure accountability and measuring where we are, where we need to go and how we will get there. As well as continued opportunities of professional development for educators because our pedagogy impacts the experiences students have in their learning environments. Overall, I think equity needs to continue to be prioritized and centered at all levels for all stakeholders so that the message that is sent is that it is not an additive approach but rather a shared responsibility for all people.

Doug:  Thank you so much for the interview, Rabia.  I wish you well with your various initiatives and look forward to reading more on your blog.

Rabia: Thank you so much for this opportunity and for all of your support! I really appreciate it!  It has been so great reflecting and sharing with you. I look forward to staying connected.

You can follow Rabia on social media.

Twitter:  @Rabia_Khokhar1
Facebook:  Rabia Khokhar
Website:  https://www.rabiakhokhar.com/
Blog:  https://www.rabiakhokhar.com/blog-1

Periodically, I interview interesting people like Rabia.  You can check them all out on the Interview Page at https://dougpete.wordpress.com/interviews/

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

On Wednesday, Brad Hughes was the guest host of the This Week in Ontario Edublogs show. It was great having him as part of the discussion. He brought a principal’s perspective to much of the conversation.

Mathematics Doesn’t Get a Pass on Racial Justice Reform

If you read one blog post about the post/yank/delete/repost issue with the new Mathematics Grade 9 curriculum, it’s this one from Jason To.

In the post, he researches and shares the critical educational issue behind the issue and does share a Toronto-centric map to support his message from the Ontario Science Table. I found it fascinating to explore, given my limited understanding of Toronto from my one year of living there.

I found his analysis very thoughtful and I left this post just a bit smarter. And angrier.

The anger comes from his research into the media response which preceded the pulling and editing of the document.

OAME released this statement on the issue

The Grey Zone: The importance of empathy & evidence in learning about colonial genocide

Discomfort is a theme that runs through this latest post from Charles Pascal.

We are seeing many extreme measures on all fronts over current issues falling from the discovery of bodies of Indigenous children. Unless you are completely void of compassion, it’s so tough to read about this and broadcast media certainly has put faces to the pain which amplifies the message.

Charles does give a good analysis of what he’s seeing on a regular basis.

He offers advice which is always good and even more important now than ever.


I will continue to try to follow my own advice hoping more and more people will feel more comfortable in that uncomfortable grey zone where respectful listening is more common.

How Do You “Lead?” Unpacking My #OneWordX12 For July.

Aviva Dunsiger has followed Beth Lyon’s lead and, instead of a one word for the year, has opted for a one word for each month. It keeps blog readers busy at least once a month reading it.

So, for July the word is “Lead”.

It’s an interesting word and inspired by her summer work at Camp Power. I smile when I hear the word; education has so many books about leadership. I still have a few on my bookshelf here. Being a Chrysler type of town, we’ve heard Lee Iacocca talk about leadership using Patton’s phrase “Lead, Follow, or Get Out Of My Way”.

Leadership, I suspect, means different things to different people. There are people who rise in leadership positions but somehow lose the spark. There are others that don’t aspire to rise within their organization and yet inspire all the time with their actions.

Aviva gives a nod to a former principal and provides a number of thoughts near the end. The one that inspires me and should be the root of all things in education.

Kids are always worth fighting for

Getting Past a Gatekeeper

I struggled with whether or not to include this post from Noa Daniel in this post. It’s overly personal and describes what would be a low point in her professional career.

But, I did decide to include it. My rationale was that it was obviously important for Noa to put her thoughts to words and a blog is a platform for all kinds of people to land and read. So here we are.

I won’t dwell on Noa’s personal story. You can click through and read if you’re so inclined. I’m intrigued with her message of principal being a gatekeeper, allowing those in their school the opportunity to move forward or to keep them behind.

It would be nice if we could live with the Dyer quote that Noa includes.

If you do worry, you can drive yourself crazy. So often, opinions can be driven by first impressions or pre-conceived thoughts from others and can be difficult to change.

Where does that leave you?

You can wake up every morning hoping that the world has changed but that’s highly unlikely. Ultimately, you need to be true to yourself. You can hope that the gatekeeper moves on or you can make your own move and get on with your life.

Once you’re a dad…

Writing on his own blog, Will Gourley writes a blog post describing the joys and challenges of being a father.

It’s a powerful post and I think that all fathers will be nodding along as they read it. Then, he replies to his post in the form of a letter to his son.

I particularly like the comparison of fatherhood today to the fatherhood that our fathers had. It was completely different; there was no self help books, social media advice, or YouTube videos about how to do this or that. It was just our fathers doing what they thought best. And taking no guff!

And it’s not a bad thing.

All of us fathers hope we do the best. You see the results when your kids strike out on their own and make their own success. Yet, it all comes back to home when they return and immediately go to the cookie cupboard.

Teacher Professional Development Podcasts

I loved reading this post from Kristy and I couldn’t find her last name. Her Twitter handle will be listed below.

I totally agree with the essence of her message. I’ve been to many professional development sessions where the topic chosen was something from a presenter’s catalogue and may or may not have been updated to reflect the current world.

With podcasts, you don’t have the costs or travel to sit and listen. When you chose wisely, the content can be as up to date as this morning and you can listen while walking the dog, writing a blog post, or just lying back on your bed. It’s personal learning at its best.

Kristy provides a list of podcasts, by subject area, that lets you immediately increase your ability to learn. Of particular interest for the summer, you might be interested in the Teacher Emotional Support section.

Luca: The Importance of Seeing Fully

I’ve been a fan of Pixar works.

According to Anthony Perrotta, it started with Toy Story and here we are today with Luca. I’ll confess that I haven’t seen Luca yet. Toy Story, many times – the DVD was a Christmas gift…

This could have been a quick and easy post to read but it isn’t. It’s actually a very complete lesson to you, dear reader, about media literacy and what you could be and should be seeing. There’s a tie to current events and how we need to be doing a better job of understanding.

There’s also a nice link to a PDF download of activities.

I hope that you can take the time to read and appreciate the wisdom in these posts.

Then, follow them on Twitter.

  • @brad_hughes
  • @Jason_To
  • @CEPascal
  • @avivaloca
  • @iamnoadaniel
  • @WillGourley
  • @2peasandadog
  • @aperrottatweet

This Week in Ontario Edublogs is live Wednesday mornings at 8:45. This week’s show is found here.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Martha Jez from Fair Chance Learning was our guest host on the voicEd Radio show This Week in Ontario Edublogs. I’ve known Martha for a number of years and had the chance to interview her here. I can’t believe that this was done in 2015. She was a delightful addition to the show and I learned a great deal from the interaction with her – including her being a volleyball player. She added some interesting content to the show and I’ll try to include some of it in the commentary below.

Esports: Getting Started

From the Fair Chance Learning blog, an interesting post to bring you up to speed if you’re new to the concept of esports. You’ll be excused if you wrestle with the word “esports”; it’s one of those new words that technology has brought to our language. It could just as easily be spelled e-sports or Esports and probably is, if you look in the right places.

In the post, there is a background as to the origins and the money behind the development of the concept.

Of particular interest was the section titled “Are esports important?” Read it; it might affirm what you know already or it may be a good introduction to the concept if you’re looking for a good rationale.

FC Gaming: Where Esports meets Education

After a look at the big picture, it was interesting to dig into where Fair Chance Learning stands with the concept. They’ve branded their esports with a logo and a section called FCGaming.

They’re not going it alone. The page highlights the partners in esports that they’re onside with. Click through each and you’ll see that a great deal of thought and effort has gone into the planning.

You’ll also find a link to an esports coaching clinic that you can attend later this summer.


This is such a powerful post from Sue Bruyns. Like the rest of us, we were not taught about residential institutions and so many of us are playing catch up to learn and try to understand. As Sue notes, she’ll “never get it”. That still doesn’t make the news of bodies found at the institutions any easier to take.

Sue wrote this post when the first 215 hit the news. You can see a premonition in Sue’s post when she says “Yet, not naïve to think that this is but a fraction of the over 4000 deaths of children while under the “care” of the residential school system.”

I’ll leave you with two things to ponder.

The first comes from Sue’s blog post.

How dare those institutions be referred to as “schools”.

The second came from Martha during the program. She had shared it in our collaborative notes and was strong enough to read it during the show. I never could have done it. She attributes it to a 12 year old student from Fort Frances.

“today I lay my ballet shoes for the little girl before me that did not have a choice.

today I wear my hair in braids for the little girl who had her braids cut from her body.

today I speak my language for the little girl who was abused for her mother tongue.

today I wear the ribbon skirt my mama made me for the little girl who was stripped of her clothing.

today I wear pieces of my regalia for the little girl who couldn’t.

today I play with my sisters and brothers for the little girl who was taken from her family.

today I hug and kiss my mom and dad for the little girl who couldn’t.

today I walk home for the little girl who never made it home.

today I offer my asema for the children before me, for my koko, my family, and my people.

today I ask for healing for the children before me, with me and after me.”

Even writing this and during proofreading, it brought out emotions in me.

Hiring in Education

Terry Whitmell applied for a teaching position at a Faculty of education and withholds the name of the university in this post.

She takes us through the steps that were required for the interview and her reaction to this. They seem pretty straight forward to me; I can’t imagine being interviewed in these COVID times but this seems to be a nice accommodation.

What will make you stop and think is the message describing how the successful candidate won out.

the candidate who was offered the position has worked in multiple university contexts in full-time roles and has a significant record of scholarship in curriculum studies

Let that sink in for a minute. Think about yourself applying for this position if you’re coming from K-12. Obviously, the first criteria is out. The second one might be possible if you take the time to research and be published. In a significant manner.

Terry points out the power and important of Action Research that happens in K-12 all the time. Does that count?

How does someone from K-12 get through the door to post-secondary positions? How can this disconnect be addressed? Do universities not value the practical experience from someone who actually worked there?


Writing for the TESLOntario blog, Daniela Greco-Giancola shares a story of how she inspired some writing in her classroom. To up the game, students were instructed that this would not be graded and that they were free to use translation software if necessary.

Their inspiration? “Using YouTube, I start the soundtrack to The Chronicle of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe; I have chosen a track called The Battle.”

I’ll make a guess on the video …

So, inspired, off they went to write and share their stories. I felt like a fly on the wall as I really could picture this happening.

The thing that I was left wondering is personal. I took a lot of French in elementary and secondary school. I did alright from a marks perspective. I do remember composing and writing in my mind in English, translating it, and creating something in French. Is that the goal or is it to think, compose, and write soley in the second language?

What struck me as remarkable about the exercise was the type of words that were used in the writing. I’m guessing that wouldn’t be part of the normal curriculum.

Z is for Zen, Zoos and Zoodles

Lynn Thomas has been working her way through the alphabet with blog posts so it’s only appropriate that we talk about the last one and her focus on the letter Z.

After such a bizarre year in our lives, we all need a moment of Zen.

But don’t stop there. There’s also zoos and zoodles.

Lynn shares this classic…

along with some calming food ideas.

We need to stop calling them “schools”

Another piece of wisdom from Martha took us to the 7 Generations Education Institute and ultimately their blog and this post.

I would recommend setting aside a few quiet moments to slowly read and digest the content from this post. You’ll read a poem and some deep insights.

You’ll do a full stop at the section “Schools do not require graveyards“.

Combine this sentiment with Sue’s observation above and it’s an action item that we can all move on. Until a better word comes along, I’m pledging to use the word institution instead.

I hope that you can take the time to read and appreciate the wisdom in these posts.

Then, follow them on Twitter.

  • @marthajez
  • @FCLedu
  • @sbruyns
  • @TerryWhitmell
  • @TESLOntario
  • @THOMLYNN101
  • @7GenerationsEd

This Week in Ontario Edublogs is live Wednesday mornings at 8:45. This week’s show is found here.