This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Good Friday morning. It’s time to check in on some great writing from Ontario Edubloggers.


ONLINE FATIGUE

Writing on the TESLOntario Blog, Jennifer Hutchison writes a post that will resonate with so many educators over the past while. Many people have written about being tired, exhausted, burned out, …

Jennifer takes it a step further. Other than the physical exhaustion, are there other things about your body that are having difficulties? And, if you’re feeling any of these issues, how does it play out for you on a personal basis?

She digs nicely into a person’s Physical Health, their Motivation and Mental Health. So, what can you do about it? She offers a number of suggestions and they centre around getting away from that screen.

Beyond the physical relief, there’s also a teaching relief to be considered. Locked into a room with little faces in windows on your computer may have generated more than normal use for software applications, in some cases applications that wouldn’t have been chosen in the best of scenarios. So, why continue to use them?

Jennifer helps diagnose and then offers solutions. It’s a good read for all.


I bundled the next posts from Rabia Khokhar and Nilmini Ratwatte-Henstridge in my own reading. Both of them deal nicely with the concept of Community. I got on board with making digital connections years ago and Will Richardson was my inspiration. I bought his book; I bought into his concept of building community; I agreed that you should be found on the internet, doing good things.

The reality is that back then there were just a few of us doing this and we were really looking for other techie people to connect with. As I read the posts from these ladies, I’m struck by how they’re aware of and using the same concept of community connections but their use is so much more sophisticated. Yes, the tools have got a great deal better but it’s just not for sharing new insights about technology anymore.

A Reflection: ‘Community’ is the heart of Teaching and Learning

The title of Rabia’s post sells itself. I suspect that every educator considers their classroom a community at varying levels throughout the school year and that’s a good thing. Rabia notes:

I believe community is a broad term. We are part of many communities such as in the classroom, wider school as well the broader neighbourhood/world context.

Technology facilitates connections that go well beyond the classroom walls and opens all kinds of other opportunities. She shares a story of working with adult learner refugees from Burma. What a terrific opportunity for a young educator at a Faculty of Education! The insights that she gained from that experience is so impressive. That community inside a classroom is one thing but extending outward affords so many other opportunities.

The image that she includes in the post speaks so clearly. There was a time when we would sit in rows all facing the same direction, not daring to talk to others. Now, we see a sense of community with the gathering of students around a table or groups of tabs, sharing in the learning. Well executed, you’d be hard pressed to tell where the front of the classroom is.


Equity and Inclusion in Education

Writing on the Teach Better blog, Nilmini puts her concept of community out for all to see with a focus on equity and inclusion. We now know that it just doesn’t happen; it has to be worked at.

The post starts with a TL;DR which often is an invitation to skip the rest of the article but I found that it brought me in looking for more.

  • Classroom management and creating a positive school culture are part of equity and inclusion.
  • Build meaningful relationships with students, colleagues, and the community.
  • Be a role model.
  • Don’t forget you are human and so are your students.
  • Be true to yourself. Be the good for others.

The post, I found, is a call to action with three concerns.

  • The most important thing: relationships.
  • Practice what you preach.
  • Hold yourself accountable.

Of course, each of these is broken out and described nicely. I’ll bet that you will pull inspiration for self-improvement immediately.

The concept of being a role model is interesting. Do we want students to be impressed with the “sage on the stage” being the sole provider of content? Or do we want to model a constant learner for them instead?


Fidget Toys-Tools (For Me)

Confession time, here – this was all new learning for me thanks to Diana Maliszewski. If you’d asked me what a Fidget was, I’d smile and talk about Fidget spinners and we did get a couple of them to give as Christmas gifts a couple of years ago. If I recall, they were difficult to find and quite pricey as everyone had to have one. It was a great lesson of supply and demand.

Thanks to Diana, this post opened an entire world for me. Fidget spinners are passe; there’s a whole new world of fidgets out there. She talked about an “infinite bubble wrap” and comes with a picture.

Photo courtesy of Diana Maliszewski

I want one! I had to stop in my tracks when she talked about getting a box of random Fidget toys. So, I went shopping.

https://www.amazon.com/fidgets/s?k=fidgets
https://funandfunction.com/product-type/fidgets.html?product_list_limit=99

It looks like so much fun. I could really get into this as a form of self-regulation by trial and error.


Riding the Rollercoaster

Just imagine being the head of a school that got hit by a hurricane. That happened to Ann Marie Luce and that set the stage for this blog post. That calls for a song.

So, how do you start over in a school setting? Ann Marie shares with us the story of getting forms, permissions, police checks, etc.

The million dollar question though is “where”. That took her and her team on a tour of New Orleans looking for a place and she shares the journey in the post. She had me pondering what would happen in my community if the secondary school suddenly went away. Where would you house everyone?

A great read and Ann Marie drags you in and takes you for the ride.

Spoiler – it has a happy ending (I think) and you need to read the followup post.


Lessons from the Earth and Beyond – Learning from the Stars

If you’re reading this on the 3rd, you’ll have missed the launch on the 2nd of this resource.

Together Sandra Indian (Ojibways of Onigaming) and Jodie Williams (Co-Chair of FNMIEAO) will provide teachers with an over of the new resource Lessons From Beyond.

Hopefully, the launch will be recorded for later playback.

In the meantime, the complete resource can be accessed online.

LESSONS FROM THE EARTH & BEYOND

The resource is identified for students in Grades 6-8.


An interview with Nilmini Ratwatte-Henstridge

Finally, I’m going to conclude by calling my own number. (football reference)

If you missed it on Monday, I had the opportunity to conduct an interview with Nilmini Ratwatte-Henstridge. I always enjoy the chance when people say “yes” to an interview and doing some research to find out what makes them tick and then share it with anyone who cares to drop by.


Please take the time to click through and enjoy all these posts.

Then, for more, follow these educators on Twitter.

  • Jennifer Hutchison – @TESLOntario
  • Rabia Khokar – @Rabia_Khokhar1
  • Nilmini Ratwatte-Hensdridge – @NRatwatte
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL
  • Ann Marie Luce – @turnmeluce
  • Janice Williams – @staoapso

The voicEd Radio show where Stephen Hurley and I discussed these posts is available to listen here.

https://voiced.ca/podcast_episode_post/fatigue-fidgeting-and-finding-a-new-school/

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s time for a weekly wander around the Ontario Blogosphere. Normally, the voicEd Radio show would have been broadcast on Wednesday morning but an internet outage in Milton meant that we had to pull the plug. The first five posts below would have been discussed and then, as always, there are a couple of bonus posts.


Teaching Loss and Recovery

I’d been sitting on this monthly post from Elizabeth Lyons because I saw so much in there and really wanted to do it justice. It’s tied to her concept of the monthly word and this time it’s “Recovery”.

In the post, I felt that she beat up on herself due to the back to the classroom/library reality that she’s facing. I don’t take any issue with the points that she raises; I’m sure that she and thousands of other educators feel exactly the same.

It’s the ownership and blame part that has me thinking. I remember going out for practice teaching at the Faculty and the question was raised in class as to why we went to different schools and the answer made sense “it was to see different teaching realities in action”. We were to work in them so that we were better prepared for classrooms of our own. At the end of the first period, I thought I was in big trouble. My associate didn’t “teach” in the traditional front-of-the-room sense – the students worked their way through assignment sheets and that allowed them to go at their own pace. I was so angry when the report said that “he didn’t teach in the traditional way” and I figured that I was going to have to do an extra assignment. In reality, I learned so much by working along with students and watching them work at their own pace.

I’ve had many “the kids are not alright” discussions and that made me think of successful classrooms. As a secondary school teacher with six different classes, it wasn’t ME that set the tone in the class – it was the students. Even teaching the same subject content to two different classes saw a disparity in how I taught and the pace that we went. When I thought it through, it made so much sense and later, as a teacher consultant, I recognized that every school had its unique staff, students, and way of doing things.

In a return to the classroom, we have teachers who have been working in an entirely different way and a variety of ways that students have worked, skipped, ignored, etc. Teachers really are driven by their students and any issues there (and Elizabeth was inspired by Pav Wander’s Learning Loss post) may make a teacher challenge their abilities. It seems to me that it’s normal and should be expected. Nobody was prepared for this.

There is no quick rush to the way that it was that will work in this case. It’s going to be a case of carefully working through things because of the step aside that everyone was forced to take.


Peculiar, Chancy & Fluid

When I saw the title of Tim King’s post, I thought “what the heck is he talking about?” He explains it nicely when he reminds us that he went from teaching English to teaching Technology. The English background will give him a license for befuddling this mathematics, computer science guy.

His inspiration comes from Soulcraft by Matt Crawford. The post does bring across a couple of really important and yet sad points. He notes that his lovely wife attended a Professional Development session and came back with the observation that the administration isn’t walking the walk at this time.

He features a couple of stories will tear your heart out – if you know Tim, you know that he’s passionate about education and I could absolutely see him with an infra-red light or tape measure distancing all the desks in his room to embrace social distancing and the kick in the teeth that he would feel when directed to add more desks to accommodate even more students.

I still struggle with envisioning what 2.5-hour classes look like and keep wondering if the final grade will have an asterisk attached to it. Responsibility is properly attributed to those who are making some of these decisions.

This is a very sobering post from Tim and I would encourage you to read through it; I suspect that Tim is speaking for so many educators in the province right now.


My Experience Teaching In The “Hybrid Model”

Tammy Axt is next up with a summary of how life is going after 20 years of experience and it’s no surprise that she defines it as “this was by far the worst model for learning”.

I think it tacks on so nicely to Tim and Alanna’s thoughts about administrators being removed from the classroom and yet making decisions about how they are to run. Clearly, sitting in front of a camera and delivering a 20-minute inspiration talk to a system has all kinds of benefits. Or maybe even doing it in front of a small audience.

But, it doesn’t translate in any sense to a classful of students working in the classroom and a group of students watching in from at home. Particularly, these days, sit ‘n git is fading away in the rearview mirror. Active learning experiences and immediate feedback have proven to be the best piece of technology in your arsenal.

It’s a sad post as Tammy goes through and explains in the first person exactly what it means and how it works or doesn’t work. It’s an emotionally difficult post to read, I found.


10 Math Concepts that Children Learn from Puddle Play

I love that Deanna McLennan is back at her keyboard and sharing her thoughts. Who doesn’t like a good inspirational post about mathematics?

It’s the notion of “play” that I think could apply to all classrooms. I know that, teaching computer science, that there were the academic requirements. But the students that rode to the top of that elevator and wanted more just “played” around with code wondering if they could do this or that without being specifically instructed to do so.

In this post, Deanna shares her thoughts about learning mathematics through play and puddles and gives some great discussions and pictures to support her premise.

  • Patterning
  • Opposites
  • Temperature
  • Measurement
  • Cause and effect
  • Comparison
  • STEAM
  • Counting
  • Reflection
  • Area and perimeter

Finding A Pair of Socks in the Dark: Recreational Mathematics and Using the Pigeonhole Principle with Young Children

If you’ve ever studied mathematics and probability, you’ll have done this but I’ll bet that you’ve never done it with socks.

If you’re like me, you’ve done it with a bag and black and white balls. Go deep here or read on to Matthew Oldridge’s experiment with socks in a closet in the dark.

There are 20 black socks, and 20 white socks in a drawer. If I get up and get dressed in the dark, to avoid waking my family, how many socks must I pick out of the drawer, to be sure I have a pair?

There’s a simple knee-jerk answer to the question and you’re probably wrong if you chose it.

l love Matthew’s discussion and analysis. It’s a fun activity to introduce the concept of probability.

It also made me appreciate my mother who made my brother and me tuck our socks together and fold them after they came off the clothesline. Our socks were always available in pairs!


Which One Doesn’t Belong? (WODB)

Melissa Turnbull apparently makes great use of the images in the https://mathbeforebed.com website. And why not? I clicked the link to make sure that it was still active (it was) and immediately found my way down a sinkhole of great activities.

In Melissa’s kindergarten classroom, she uses the website and an activity to get her student’s minds on thinking and mathematics before the actual lesson. In the example given here, she’ll prompt with an image and the students determine which one doesn’t belong and she’s prepared to take any answer with a good explanation showing a great deal of thinking.

The activities are nicely fleshed out in the post

  • WODB shows students that there are multiple ways of solving problems 
  • There are multiple entry points
  • WODB promotes mathematical thinking and the use of mathematical language 
  • WODB can be used in any grade level 

Reading this post made me loop back to Elizabeth’s post above as a way to engage students and get them thinking to start the learning in our new reality.


What Are Your “Scaling The Mountain” Moments?

Aviva Dunsiger is afraid of heights so I guess a field trip to the CN Tower is not in the cards for her students. Apparently, she shares this fear openly with her students and they took advantage of the opportunity.

In the post, she shares her “mini-mountain” in the playground. It doesn’t look too difficult to me but apparently, it’s a challenge for her. The other challenge was for her kids to get her to suck it up and climb the hill with them. From the picture, it appears that the word “mountain” is used pretty liberally!

The mountain climb might seem like a small one for many, but for me, it was a big deal and our students know that. 

When I think of the Hamilton area and mountains, I think of that waterfall on the 403. But, it was her mountain to climb and the kids got her to do it. Kudos to them.

To provide you with perspective as to the height of the mountain.

As a result, Aviva is interested in your thoughts about mountains that you might need to climb and how to show vulnerability to students.

My mountain, and I never climbed it, was in my first year of teaching. It probably was more of a line in the sand but crossing it seemed to make it mountainous. My Grade 13 students were only a few years younger than me and some were of drinking age. I was invited to go out with them to one of their dad’s bars before a football game or prom or something. It was a mountain that I chose not to climb. All I could see was having to call it a career ending move. The sad thing was that it didn’t happen just once. There were a number of times that they would gather there and I always seemed to get invited and had to decline.


Please take a moment to click through and enjoy all these terrific posts.

Then, follow them on Twitter.

  • Elizabeth Lyons – @mrslyonslibrary
  • Tim King – @tk1ng
  • Tammy Axt – @MsAxt
  • Deanna McLennan – @McLennan1977
  • Matthew Oldridge – @matthewoldridge
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


As noted in yesterday’s post, the voicEd Radio show didn’t go perfectly this past week but Stephen Hurley claims that you can’t spot his splicing job. That’s a good thing.

Here’s some great writing from Ontario Edubloggers that I ran across recently.


Student-Centred Blogging

It was during the discussion on Amy Bowker’s post that the connection between us dropped but we reconnected and finished our discussion. It was a great discussion and I love anything that supports the concept of student blogging. It’s such a powerful and, sadly, under used technique.

Maybe reading Amy’s post will inspired others to get involved. As she notes, she had concerns that she was doing the majority of the work in class and wanted to shift the responsibility to her kids. So, a class blog with random grouping was formed after polling students for ideas about how to better engage their parents. The kids got it! Blogging won out.

And so, the Grade 5/6 blog was started. You can click through via Amy’s post to see the student writing and get a sense of where she wants to head next with the blog.


Strand A, Coding, and the new Ontario Mathematics Curriculum

I honestly don’t know what I enjoyed better – reading this blog post from Jim Cash or the open and frank private discussion that we had yesterday evening after Jim listened to our discussion. We definitely are of a like mind on this.

We both agree about the concept of coding with students. But, it’s just not the sense of writing a program. It’s the joy that comes from creating something from scratch and then just tweaking it to make it do exactly what you want it to do. In our perfect world, no two student projects would be the same.

The notion of coding was dropped into the Mathematics Curriculum and there’s an ongoing adoption often by teachers who are doing it for the first time, without professional learning. There’s a great deal of sharing of formal lessons or presentations that encourage every student’s project to be exactly the same.

Jim’s thinking is driven by Mitch Resnick and the MIT Lifelong Kindergarten Group and I like the way he uses joy and passion to describe what kids can do.

My take is that the joy comes first by creating something from scratch and making it your own, customizing where appropriate. Passion follows when you develop the desire to do more of it. The key though is that teaching from templates makes it very difficult to achieve these things. Big, wonderful problems need to be developed.

Personally, I see why game development fits nicely into this. No two games should be the same as each student throws in her/his take on how to play


Mentoring Moments: Celebrate Teachers in Education!

I was delighted to find a couple of blog posts about mentoring this week. It’s such a powerful concept – heck – it may be the most powerful concept for professional growth in an educator.

Writing on the ETFO Heart and Art of Education Blog, this post comes from Nilmini Ratwatte Henstridge. After reading it, I felt so validated because she shares thoughts that would be so similar to mine if I wrote a post about mentoring. If you’re in education, you’ve got to love the Lee Iacocca quote:

“In a completely rational society, the best of us would aspire to be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something less, because passing civilization along from one generations to the next ought to be the highest honour and the highest responsibility anyone could have” 

I’ve seen it work so well when the learning mindset is there. I’ve seen it fail when the mentee figures that he knows more than the mentor and doesn’t contribute. When it succeeds and goes over the top, the mentor actually shifts gears and becomes the mentee.

I also love her insights about how to network

  • Social events in professional development
  • Growing your social media PLN to build opportunies to connect
  • Building capacity digitally with Blogs, Pod casts and engaging conversations

When Cyndie Jacobs and I co-chaired the Bring IT, Together conference, these were some of the concepts that we worked on providing for attendees.


WHY DO WE NEED A MENTOR?

The second blog post about mentoring comes from Bei Zhang and I couldn’t find a Twitter handle for her.

To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect when I read the title. Would it be just another directive to do something based upon some sort of research. I was delighted when I clicked through and found that this blog post was actually a very open and honest discussion about how mentoring worked for her.

This is the best advice for success from the post.

Don’t bombard your mentors with millions of tedious questions. Mentors can guide you, but they can’t do your work.

For success, mentoring needs to be humble and cooperative. A good mentor knows this going into the process and a wise and embracing mentee comes to learn this if they’re going to succeed.

The context for the post is ESL which is an area that I have no experience but I can only imagine the challenges and the potential for a myriad of backgrounds and prior learning that would make it a challenge for the educator.

I don’t think that it is unreasonable that there may be people in this position and being the sole person in a school teaching ESL. In the post, there is a reference to TESL Ontario and a program that they have for mentoring.


“Maybe The Tooth Fairy Uses The Pronoun, ‘They’”: A Kindergarten Look At Gender

There’s always a little blogger joy in me when I announce that one of Aviva Dunsiger’s posts is going to be mentioned on a particular week. Since she’s a frequent blogger, she tries to guess out loud (on social media) which one I chose. So, here we go…

For me, fairies have always been female and I blame Walt Disney.

As long as I can remember, Tinkerbell was there and she was clearly female. In fact, as I reflect, Disney’s productions were always binary.

We’re living in a different time and the discussion from Aviva’s class indicates that her students are open to all possibilities. She captures the discussions nicely.

There is a delightful and yet sad moment in the post for me. Aviva shares a video of learning in her classroom and you can clearly see the social distancing and barren environment. It’s unlike your traditional kindergarten classroom and perhaps explains why her students are more comfortable outside playing in the mud.


Forestry resources from Canadian Institute of Forestry/Institut forestier du Canada (CIF-IFC)

From the STAO/APSO blog,

Calling all teachers and educators in Southern Ontario! If you are looking for a unique opportunity to bring forestry into the classroom, the Canadian Institute of Forestry/Institut forestier du Canada (CIF-IFC), in collaboration with the CIF-IFC 7Southern Ontario Section, is organizing a Forestry Teachers’ Tour on November 19, 2021 in Waterloo, Ontario, and you are invited to sign up!

I think this is an interesting and unique opportunity for Canadian educators wanting to bring forestry into their classrooms. It’s an actual, honest-to-goodness, face-to-face professional learning opportunity.

It’s subsidized at $20 and will be held in Waterloo.


Learning to Code – An Invitation to Computer Science through the Art and Patterns of Nature (Lynx and Snap! Editions)

I’m humbled to include this post from Peter Skillen this week. He takes to his blog space to share two new books written by David Thornburg. Both of these gentlemen have been so instrumental in helping me get my head wrapped around the potential and the benefits of having younger and younger kids coding on computers.

I’ve had the good fortune to being in the audience listening to both of these gentlemen and of dining/drinking with both to expand on their messages. Both have had a huge impact on me.

Lest I get too sappy …

I’m really impressed with the modern and inclusive approach for Canadians with the various languages the book was written in. This has Skillen written all over it. He wouldn’t have done the translation himself but he’s so well connected, he’ll know who could.

Lynx is available in Canadian English, French, and several Indigenous languages including Ojibwe, Oji-Cree, Mi’kmaq, and Mohawk—with others to be developed when CanCode funding is renewed. With CanCode funding, it is also available at no cost to Canadians. (For others, after the Trial version, it is quite affordable.)


I hope that you can take the time to click through and enjoy all these wonderful posts. Then, follow them on Twitter.

  • Amy Bowker – @amyebowker
  • Jim Cash – @cashjim
  • Nilmini Ratwatte Henstridge – @NRatwatte
  • Bei Zhang – writing on @TESLOntario
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • STAO – @staoapso
  • Peter Skillen – @peterskillen

Changes


There are some decisions that come along that just floor me as they seem to be made indicating those that are making them are so out of touch.

I ran into results from a decision last evening on social media. The comments were absolutely brutal.

Let’s go back.

Years ago, I was part of a team that implemented an electronic report card. Report cards are the glue that keeps education together. It’s just one additional form of school to home communication but it’s in writing and kept on file unlike the other notes, phone calls, meetings, etc.

Our implementation came out about the same time as reporting via levels of student achievement. That was a struggle in itself although it was supposed to ease up on the difference between a student “getting” a 78 versus one getting a 79. My thoughts about that go back to high school where there were always a couple of people who would inch me out mathematically come report card time.

My superintendent at the time was really supportive because the ultimate success or failure would end up on his desk. As a result, we went through what we thought was going to be the exhaustive list of things that could go wrong and prepare possible solutions. In actual implementation, we weren’t even close but we tried. He helped with the implementation with wisdom like:

  • “The only person that likes change is a baby in diapers”
  • “There are only so many ways that you can say that a student is performing at a Level 3”

It’s great to have someone further up the food chain deliver those comments. To his credit, he also sat in on a couple of workshops and provided a review with me afterwards. I’ll always give him credit for that as we refined things.

It was a huge moment in time given that there were not enough computers in schools at the time for all teachers to grab one and certainly not everyone had one at home. And, we used that totally reliable method of file sharing between colleagues with their comment libraries and home to school and back cartage – the floppy diskette. People learned in a hurry that there were additional hoops to jump through if they used Windows in one place and a Macintosh in another.

It took a while to get success. I was doing workshops 2 and 3 nights a week; my home phone line became public knowledge as well as the “kid’s line”. I learned to refine my questioning skills based upon the questions and comments that came in.

We test drove it at a couple schools and the itinerate teachers supporting technology worked and created “One Sheet Wonders” that would step you through any situation. OK, most situations; there still was a need for panic phone calls.

The driving factor in all of this was teacher professionalism. They didn’t want to just get report cards done, they wanted them done and perfectly. They recognized the importance of communication and wanted to make it as good as they could. I know that some were frustrated in the early years as some were not only just learning how to do report cards on a computer but they were learning a lot of computer skills from scratch at the same time.

When I run into some of them these days, we joke about how naive and yet invested they were in the process at the time.

It would be nice if we could end the story here but unfortunately, we can’t. Eventually, the writing on the wall was there for the overreliance on floppy diskettes and a move to a cloud-based solution with logins and passwords became necessary. That changed the game and also the solution that was used for the report cards. It was another bit of learning for all.

Cloud-based always makes me smile. The giants like Google have made the notion of “the cloud” as something magical and always functioning perfectly in our mindsets.

Then, COVID hits. Those computer skill sets needed upgrading. In particular, the pedagogy of teaching effectively online became so important. I wasn’t part of that directly although social media makes all of us available to those who wish to reach out. I was happy to help where I could.

And, all of this brings me to last night reading those comments. In the middle of all of the other issues that everyone is dealing with was a decision to switch report card generation programs. I immediately thought of me poking around with Windows 11, just doing random things and discovering how it works. Sometimes, I fail more than I win but that’s OK. Doing what I’m doing isn’t mission-critical. As long as the WordPress editor works, for example, I’m able to get these posts out no matter whatever else isn’t working 100%. The voices that I was reading yesterday were over the top in frustration trying to get their results the best that they could be. My heart went out them.

I know that they’ll ultimately get them done. How do I know that? Well, there are always due dates where you’re done whether you think you are or not!

This change just seems to come at a very strange time given everything else that is happening.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


This is the last post and Wednesdays voicEd Radio show was the last one before Hallowe’en. I had fun picking “scary” songs for use on the show and I love this one. How old does it make you feel when you realize that it came out in 1958?


The Next COVID Crisis – Mental Health

My treatment of this post from Paul McGuire was unique. I had actually read it last week and knew that I had to think it over many times before writing something about it here and bringing it forward to the This Week in Ontario Edublogs show on voicEd Radio.

When I first saw the title, I thought that it might be a simple gloss over of something that would serve as a reminder for us to check in on our neighbours. I’m glad that I didn’t stop there and read the entire post. And then, read it a few more times.

It wasn’t a flyover post at 50 000 feet. It was a deeply personal post from Paul where he opens up about himself, how he’s doing, and is incredibly vulnerable with his words.

There’s another very strong message from this post that doesn’t come through in the words but rather in the sense of the post. After all, who would have thought that a system leader, a principal, a person that I personally selected to give Ontario principals a voice in the Bring IT, Together conference planning process, and a man who literally climbs mountains would find himself in this position?

From my notes for the show, there were a number of questions that I wanted to discuss and we never got around to it. I still think they’re important questions that need answers.

  • What about those who are not strong enough to seek help?
  • What are others doing to get through this?
  • What about those who are forced to go into work in less than perfect conditions? (i.e. everybody)

Mental Health – a postscript

I almost never have two posts from the same person on this Friday review. When I went back to re-read Paul’s original post, I see that he had written this as a response.

To anyone worried about what I wrote, I want you to know that I am really resilient and I will get through this. I have before, I know how this works.

There were a couple of reflections from Paul that stood out to me.

  • He has a large community of support that was there in response to the first post
  • This COVID stuff is new and unique and he has addressed it personally and can see a light at the end of the tunnel

He hasn’t reached that end, apparently, but delivers an uplifting message that enables him to look clearly for that.

And that’s really important.


Fake Math vs. Real Life

After reading this post from Kelly McLaughlin, I’m convinced that I grew up, learned, and quite frankly enjoyed “Real Math”. “Real Math” is done with pencil and paper and brain power. To date this, I go back to a time where having a calculator was seen as diminishing the study of Mathematics and therefore it was considered cheating to use one on the test.

I remember third year Statistics at the university and going for a meeting with Dr. Gentleman to get advice about whether I should buy a good algebraic calculator or an RPN calculator. Only a math nerd of those years would even entertain the conversation or have a university professor who would offer advice on something that we take as mundane these days. For the record, not only did she know calculators inside and out, she was a fabulous Statistics professor.

I wonder where a person would actually have to go to find a “real math” class these days. So much research has gone into the teaching and learning of the subject and so many resources created that challenge the educators today as to which one to use.

In Kelly’s case, she relates a conversation with a student that must make her feel good on one hand that she’s found a technique that has reached the student. I truly believe that mathematics should be enjoyed and applaud her for that. On the other hand, that trip isn’t complete until the student realizes that this “Fake Math” is indeed mathematics.

Great story; I loved it.


What My Teachers Were Saying About Me

Matthew Morris has the job that I always wished that I could have had. He got to go back to the school where he was a student. Only this time, he’s on the other side of the desk. I’d love to go back to my old school just to look around. I wonder if the Grade 13 lounge is still a lounge for students?

Even teachers have lounges and that’s the setting for this post.

Matthew notes that there is the teacher message of “empathy, kindness, service, love” in the classroom that isn’t necessarily the topic of choice when they gather in that lounge. Some of the messages that he repeats are anything but.

Based on a couple of quotes that he shares, I suspect that he may have though that when the topic of Matthew came around, it may not have always been positive. Of course, it’s just a wonder but now he’s got me wondering about me.

I mean; we all had our moments, didn’t we?


Post-pandemic classroom chaos

I know that it’s still “early” in our recovery of schools to some sort of regularity but Amanda Potts takes the time to let us know that her kids are not alright.

They curse, they use tacks and Sharpies in interesting ways, they put pencils in girls’ hair, they throw spitballs, and that’s just the stuff that she’s caught in her Grade 9 classroom.

This brought me a smile since I read it just following Matthew’s post about middle school kids and staff rooms. Amanda is wondering about the discussion among Grade 8 teachers.

If there is any way to rescue this, adolescents are always unique human beings. We’ve all been there; Amanda shares a painful story about Michelle which might serve as the positive spin on all this. We eventually grow out of being adolescents and turn into adults that, at times, act adolescently …

The question that her post leaves in my mind is are these kids acting as they would have normally or has their behaviour been amplified because of the lockdown? Let’s hope that they turn out alright.

Just before I move on, there’s one strong remembrance that I have of emerging adolescents and that’s one of body odor. Maybe Amanda’s kids have at least got that right!


The Things That Carry Us

There were two reasons why I included Joel McLean’s post this week.

  1. He wrote it in English as a result of confessions from the voicEd show about my understanding of French being as good as my Grade 10 teacher made it
  2. It’s an inspirational message about what gets us through the day and, once you realize that, you can actively plan to make it happen. And, he shows us how.

The premise is built around “Anticipation”.

In Joel’s mind, Anticipation isn’t a single thing but shows up in some many places.

  • Family Anticipation
  • Health Anticipation
  • Passion Anticipation

He encourages us to create our own anticipation. It seems to me that this is an activity worth doing.


Slice of Life: New books

Lisa Corbett shares a story that took me back to a very strongly worded message from the Media class while at the Faculty of Education.

ALWAYS preview movies from beginning to end before showing them in class. Going live is no time for surprises.

In this post, Lisa absolutely breaks this rule but not with a movie.

It’s with respect to a book that she bought for her class and they break the cover together. If that isn’t a cause for anticipation on her part and on the part of her students, I don’t know what is!

Read about her experience – here’s a spoiler – she closes with a comment about another book that she ordered.

Tonight the other pre-ordered book I’ve been waiting for was waiting for me when I got home. It came wrapped in clear, protective plastic. How special is that?! I can’t wait to unwrap it with the class tomorrow.

I love it when good things happen; I really love it when people blog about it to share their experience.


These great bloggers can be followed on Twitter.

  • Paul McGuire – @mcguirp
  • Matthew Morris – @callmemrmorris
  • Amanda Potts – @Ahpotts
  • Joel McLean – @jprofNB
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261

The voicEd Radio show is available here.