This Week in Ontario Edublogs


And, …, it’s time for another wander around the province looking at some of the great writing from Ontario Edubloggers.


Juris My Diction Crap

If you’re a parent, this post will tear your heart apart. We want all the best for our kids and certainly, during COVID times that means that vaccinations and boosters are in order. While there are nay-sayers who don’t want part of it, this is a story about a mother who wants the best for her 17-year-old. Marie shares her research and analysis of guiding documents in the post.

In addition to the story of her running into walls, there’s a strong message there that Ontario is making up rules as time passes. We’re now hearing of the importance of vaccinations and boosters for kids from 5-11 and the need for those over 18. Doing the math, we have high school students. They tend to travel in flocks and, around here, are unmasked when they’re on the streets. She’s even willing to go state-side to do it but we have rules about travel there as well.

There was a bit of a smile in here for me as she uses the word “eviscerated” in the post. I think that’s the first time I’ve read that word in a blog post and it’s a reminder that we’re a big province. Click through and ready what the problem was.


Slice of (Pandemic) Life

Lisa shares a story of perhaps a kinder and gentler Ontario. A year ago, you wouldn’t dream of picking up and visiting Grandpa’s house but now with a few tests, there’s a confidence that you’re not taking anything other than goodies with you.

I’m glad that she was able to make that happen. I smiled when she mentioned the debate about whether or not to take her laptop although I suspect that a smartphone would have done in a pitch.

It was to keep her connected to the latest news about COVID, back to school, and all those things that change people’s lives in a heartbeat. Along the way, she reflects that it’s also made her a good online teacher and that’s a good thing in itself. It’s probably nothing that many had aspirations for but were forced into it.

We live in such a different world; I grew up in a town with a weekly newspaper and everything that you need to know came out every Thursday. That wouldn’t cut it today. I’d be so behind the times.


5 Things I Learned in 2021

I’m with Matthew’s analysis of time passing. Is it fast or slow? That’s really a good question. But, 2021 did pass and he uses this post to share five things he learned.

  • Don’t Try To Do Too Much
  • Stay Consistent
  • The Kids Are Resilient
  • Your Mental Health Over Everything 
  • Teachers and Students Are People Too

On This Week in Ontario Edublogs, Stephen and I each cherry-picked one of the points to discuss. Stephen went with the third one and I opted for number five. In particular, parents and guardians are seeing more of the inside of a classroom and the mechanics involved while their child is at the kitchen table. Schools aren’t really a black box.


OneWord 2022

Marc takes a bit of a break from his top 500 music countdown to celebrate the new year with his “One Word”. In the past, he’s gone with Revitalize, Mindfulness, Cultivate, Persist, Discomfort & Ameliorate. This year’s choice is a well-thought-through single word.

He could have stopped the post there and we’d all be happy but he didn’t.

He takes the notion of the “One Word” into the classroom and makes it an activity for his students. In a generous manner, he shares the lesson and suggests tools that would end up with the students making a banner for their word.

It’s not a quick and simple activity. There’s a lot of richness there that really would make it worthwhile to replicate.


Here we go again…

Writing on the ETFO Heart and Art Blog, Kelly is reliving teaching from a year ago. It would be easy to dwell on the challenges because there is so much of that.

There’s some good reading there in an external link to a McLean’s article that talks about the challenges that students have while online.

Kelly uses the bottom of the post to talk about some of the successes that she’s had. I think that it’s pretty important to recognize this. Even in these less than ideal times, the kids are thriving and some are doing some things that they might not have otherwise. Did someone mention resiliency?

All of these are good observations but the one that lept out at me was:

Two of my students who rarely complete tasks in the classroom completed many tasks this week

We now know that school is planned to resume on Monday. It’s got to be running through Kelly’s mind that there has to be a reason why those students changed things around and are doing well. I hope that she can identify it and encourage them to continue this success.


Books For Middle School Students

I have this middle school-aged student who hangs out around here periodically. He’s not a reader in the traditional sense. He can sure read the instructions on his tablet when playing games but that’s not the same thing.

I’m going to pass Kristy’s list along to him and see if there’s something there that will get him interested in book reading.


Day in life of a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) – submitted by Leila Knetsch

Leila has her students researching careers and jobs in Biology. Before I clicked through the links at the bottom of the post, I was wondering what I would search for if I was a student in that class.

My ideas were pretty traditional! I was thinking of beakers, microscopes, test tubes, etc. One of the students in her class researched and submitted a couple that really are well done and made me feel kind of narrow-minded.


I hope that you can click through and enjoy all of these great blog posts.

Then, follow these folks on Twitter.

  • Marie Snyder – @MarieSnyder27
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261
  • Matthew Morris – @callmemrmorris
  • Marc Hodgkinson – @Mr_H_Teacher
  • Kristy – @2peasandadog
  • Science Teachers’ Association of Ontario / L’Association des professeurs de science de l’Ontario – @staoapso

The Wednesday voicEd Radio show can be found here.

https://voiced.ca/podcast_episode_post/jurisdiction-online-learning-and-a-oneword-2022/

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


The first Friday of 2022 shows that there’s no lightening up of the quality content from Ontario Edubloggers. Check out the latest.


NO RESOLUTIONS FOR 2022 – JUST CONTINUING MY PILGRIMAGE

I immediately set aside this post for reading later. First of all, the word “pilgrimage” is not one that I run across regularly. Secondly, it was from Pav who doesn’t blog all that frequently but when she does, you know that it won’t be a quick and easy read.

Photo by 愚木混株 cdd20 on Unsplash

I do like the concept of “continuing” because the notion that you start something on January 1 and finish it on December 31 seems somewhat artificial. It’s the season for Weight Watchers and we know that most that start with good intentions never make it to the end of the year. Heck, the television commercials don’t make it that long either.

It comes as no surprise that Pav is a bit of all over the map on her vision. She does have her fingers on a number of things. I’ve never met her but her writing and podcasting leave me an impression of a person who is deep thinking and comfortable for reaching out into new areas. I think this complexity comes through in the post when she talks about the three realms that she sees in her life “my personal life, my side-hustle life, and my educational life“. Interestingly, the discussion always circles back to her teaching life and that’s a good thing. She isn’t all that open with her personal life and family and that’s good and understandable as well.

I’ve always felt that New Year’s was even more artificial for educators because we know that the real year starts in September and ends in June. New Year’s Break always felt kind of artificial. But then, I always brought home marking and lesson planning so maybe I was my own worst enemy.


Last Post of 2021. Looking ahead. One Word for 2022

On the Wednesday voicEd Radio show, I indicated that Elizabeth had forgone the one word for a year and had focused on a word for the month instead. On Twitter, I got fact checked and it was actually longer…

My bad.

Anyway, she’s not about to do it again. Her rationale was pretty interesting

“My #OneWordx12 project started to feel connected to the pandemic”

I can’t help but think that whether it’s one word for a year, one word for a month, taking your family to the beach, or something as everyday as going to the grocery story, or anything else, we’re all seeing this pandemic everywhere. Like it or not, we are connected to this damned pandemic.

To me, whether it’s twelve words or one word or no words, it has to be a decision that you can live with and not have it beat you up at every turn. So, if she felt that way, her rationale makes sense to her and, if it makes things easily, then there’s no question that she should change. As you get through the post, she does close with some great ideas for self- improvement and, if that’s what keeps her motivated, then I say go for it.

I was in and out of a Twitter discussion this morning (I wish I’d been more in) and, beyond the friendly banter, there’s a wonderful sense that there’s a group of people there to chat with which is so nice to know as we continue to stay away from the familiar face to face groupings that we all love.


2 weeks

You’ve got to turn back the clocks a bit to get the context for Will’s post. He takes the two weeks away from school a little bit slow. The first bit is a continuation of daily routine (without going to school) and sort of eases into things.

That was so different from my reality. My reality is that I’d get home to my wife and a fully packed car, grab the kids and dog and head to our parents’ places. It was important for them that we get there for as long as possible and my wife was a nurse so we’d do our best maximize the visit. Nurses don’t get Christmas off unless they’re lucky. Ditto for New Year’s Eve. I still remember the routine pitstops – Tilbury, Grand Bend, unless there’s an emergency and then it was Petrolia.

Of course, that was a different time and different circumstances. We knew that we were returning to school on January whatever and the biggest challenge might come from over eating. Except for the one year that I ended up flat on my back from pnuemonia, of course.

I thought that he nailed it when he talks about the distribution of testing kits just for students in the waning days of December. That most definitely stuck an exclamation point on any thought about how this government feels about teachers.

As I type this, school is back in session albeit online. We’ve taken in three kids who are using up the wifi. They didn’t know until recently what was going to happen in their academic life. I stick my head in the doors periodically to hear what’s going on and I can’t help but reflect that there are three teachers on the other end. They haven’t gone into hiding to come out periodically for news cameras. They are truly working the front lines and Will’s post reveals his side of the “two weeks” that was anything but predictable this time around.

To all the teachers out there who do not feel refreshed and rejuvenated like you might in a regular year, your feelings are certainly understood.

Will promises that this discussion and his analysis will continue.


Done.

Elementary and secondary schools aren’t the only ones trying to make a go of it during these bizarre times. There are post-secondary schools as well and James just finished teaching a seminar on online teaching and learning.

There’s his typical teacher stuff like dragging one’s heels to getting marks submitted; I don’t care who you are, that is never a quick and easy process if you do any thinking about assessment and evaluation at all.

But, wait! I couldn’t help but think that this seminar would have been wonderful for every teacher to attend pre-COVID! In these unpredictable times, every bit would help. There are huge insights and values to what James shares when he asks the seminar participants what there takeaways and stayaways were. (love the term stayaway)

  • full-fledged, 100% synchronous courses do not do anyone any favours
  • instructor presence is a necessity – students want it and need it
  • we need clarity and simplicity in our online courses
  • give students more authentic learning opportunities
  • collaborate with students
  • build flexibility into courses

Of course, you need to click through and read his post where these are all fleshed out. Does anyone remember the promise/threat of online courses needed for graduation at secondary school?


Imperial cheese memories

I’ll admit that this post had a very emotional response on this end. On the surface, this could be about the wonderful looking Imperial Cheese crescents that her mom was famous for. My big learning there was that the Imperial Cheese that she talks about comes from Stratford – do you know how many times I’ve been to and through Stratford and didn’t know this?

Here’s a link to Maclaren’s Imperial Cheese Spread.

For those of us who are of a certain age, our mothers were famous for something that they made that nobody else could/would. In my Mom’s case, it was butter tarts. At family reunions, every Tupperware container in the house was full of these things that would get devoured when we got there. I’ll confess to not being a fan and so she’d always make a couple filled with raspberry jam just for me instead.

It’s these memories that are so important and Heather describes a wonderful mother who is going through some challenges and so she’s picking up the baking ball and it includes hunting down Imperial Cheese. What a wonderful gesture. I’ve got to stop here; I have something in my eye but this really is a delightful post that needs to be read.


2021 GAMES IN REVIEW

I enjoyed reading Mike’s post about his year in gaming. He describes being a gamer at a number of different levels. I’ll confese; I’m not a big computer gaming person these days but I loved a good game of Doom back in the day. How sad is it and how old am I that I can’t find a Doom image on unsplash to insert here?

Gaming was a big motivator in the computer science classroom. I’d buy a couple of games and they were available for student playing before and after school and during lunch periods. The motivator came when students would tire of the game and write their own. You just don’t tell them that it is good for them.

Mike’s list includes some of the real classics – Minecraft, Flight Simulator, etc. and I’ll confess to not knowing the majority of these other games which he classifies as:

  1. What I played
  2. What is on my wishlist
  3. What I enjoyed the most
  4. My biggest disappointment

Mike does confess to being a big gamer and it’s quite evident with this collection. To help with this post, I brought in my 12 year old gaming expert who did recognize a few of the games but not nearly as I thought that he might.

So, Mike, you’ve stumped this household but I did enjoy reading your thoughts.


thanks, i’m failing much better now #tifmbn

I’m glad to cross paths with Chris again and dove into this post. It had a catchy, lower-cased title so what’s not to like?

Failure is a common term in education which helps us embrace success all that much more. But, I’ve got to ask. Are we the only profession where anything less than 100% is failure? I remember I could bring home a test to my dad with 99% on it and being asked why I didn’t get 100!

Chris offers a number of thoughts and insights worthy of stopping to ponder.

“I also wondered why it was that when we speak of learning and leading from failure, we expect administrators and system leaders to do it first.”

Don’t we all recall days when we “failed’? I sure do.

My insights, probably formed after a frustrating first two or three years of teaching, was that the cards are and will always be stacked against me as a teacher. When it’s just you, there is a clear vision of what success or failure might be. But, as teachers, we aren’t 1:1. We’re 1:many and that results in insights that often you never see coming.

Chris promises to be very open and share his thinking about the topic over the next few blog posts and provides a list of areas that he’s prepared to dig in to. I’m looking forward to reading them.


As with every Friday, this a great collection of content from Ontario Edubloggers. I hope that you can find the time to click through and read all these terrific posts.

Then, follow them on Twitter.

  • Pav Wander – @PavWander
  • Elizabeth Lyons – @mrslyonslibrary
  • Will Gourley – @WillGourley
  • James Skidmore – @JamesMSkidmore
  • Heather Swail – @hbswail
  • Mike Washburn – @misterwashburn
  • Chris Cluff – @chrisjcluff

The voicEd Radio show from last Wednesday can be found here.

https://voiced.ca/podcast_episode_post/new-years-reflections-online-teaching-and-memories-of-moms-cooking/

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


I just got back from my morning dog walk and am reflecting on how I’ve written this post in my mind. I still have the tabs open from the Wednesday morning voicEd Radio show and I refreshed my memory about them as we took off. My only regret is that I’ve probably forgotten most of what I had thought about. I smiled when I thought I should turn the voice recorder on on my phone but then I’d have to listen to Jaimie complain as he enjoys a quiet walk.


Digital Footprint 2.0

This is a fairly long post by Tim and I’ll admit that I was drawn to it because of a pingback to one of my blog posts. From 2012! Uh oh. What did I say? I was pleasantly surprised to be in the same post as mentions to Diana Maliszewski and Melanie McBride.

The post is an interesting reflection on Tim’s part about online presences. I thought that Diana nailed it when she talks about teachers and being relevant to students with their connections. Tim kind of agrees but then notes that good people have been overlooked in their applications for principalship because of being vocal online. I’ll bet that those that did get promoted did a lot of singular research in a library sans a social learning network.

I think that Tim’s post is a great year-end or year-beginning read for educators and particularly those that are in these hiring positions. Do you want your system to become increasingly distanced from students and their families?

Personally, I have bought into the notion of a learning network and I value it every day. In fact, I’d doubt that I would have met Tim or his wonderful family Alanna and Max or got the incredible Christmas card from them in the mail. It’s one of those really nice ones that you don’t want to recycle, because well, it’s a great card! More than that, when I’m at a conference I will attend one of Tim’s sessions because he goes places in his thinking that I would never go. I so appreciate people that push my thinking.

On the other hand, I think we all know people, including educators, who don’t contribute to the learning of others but exist solely for those “look at me” moments. Somehow, some of them have parlayed that into speaking careers. That, I don’t get.


Quiet

If you follow Aviva on social media, she does truly use it to meet her purposes. The parts that I particularly like is how she documents student learning in her classroom. She does it correctly; she takes pictures of the activities and not of the kids. There’s a big difference and I know that it’s hard for those of us who grew up being told to “smile for Grandma”.

For December, Avia has decided to take a break from this, although it wasn’t a complete stoppage. She still is sharing pictures and her reading as she finds her quiet time in books and uses that to gear down for the end of the year. If that’s what works for her, then I think that’s a good approach. We all need to find what works for ourselves.

Sadly, she notes that there are things that are on the horizon that are going to interrupt her routine so I hope that she enjoys it while she can.


The Trickery of Insufficient Data

As I said on the show, Peter missed the opportunity to title this “Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics”! I don’t know about you but I’m sick and tired of the first five minutes of any newscast talking about the latest updates in COVID.

For the Wednesday show, I found these to be the top stories from a few news sites that I frequent…

  • Toronto Star – Today’s coronavirus news: Several provinces considering allowing COVID positive health workers to stay on job; Global cases up 11% last week, Omicron risk high
  • Toronto Sun – Doctors urge Ontario to scale back isolation, quarantine rules
  • Toronto Globe and Mail – Nova Scotia delays students’ return, Ontario school announcement coming on COVID-19 measures
  • Windsor Star – COVID-19 in 2021: a look back at the pandemic’s second year in Windsor-Essex

I think the answer to Peter’s absolutely correct analysis of a couple of graphs is that reporters are under a great deal of pressure to get the next great COVID story out. They’re not statisticians by trade and so do the best that they can. Typically statistical reports have a summary at the beginning and then get into the details later in case you’re interested or having difficulty sleeping. I remember a third year Statistics prof telling us that you can make statistics say darned near anything you want. Is this the case? We seldom get the information about sample sizes and confidence levels which are really important to know and understand.

Numbers are numbers are numbers; I get that. I think that the shock value of huge numbers and yet another story about cases has worn off. Of more importance now, I think, comes from the contact tracing and a warning for us to avoid these particular places.


Moving Day

If you think your December was rough, put yourself in Ann Marie’s shoes – having to find a place and then move a school to those places to continue the learning for the students. She gives a big shoutout to her staff

Things are looking up in her school’s world. They’re packing and the movers are coming in to move them “home”. I wish them all the best and just can’t imagine having to go through that or to lead an entire school through that situation and recovery.

I love this quote from her post.

“Social support is not merely being in the presence of others. The critical issue is reciprocity: being truly heard and seen by the people around us., feeling that we are held in someone else’s mind and heart. For our physiology to calm, done, heal, and grow we need a visceral feeling of safety.” Bessel Van Der Kolk, The Body Keep the Score


How my class is spending their last day together before potential school closures.

Amy Bowker writes a very short blog post about the last day of school with her and her students. I always hated the last day before a break as the kids were very clear that I was the only teacher that they had that wanted them to do something academic. Compared to these days, I had it easy. We knew that we were coming back after the Break and we’d continue on.

The only thing I can remember in common with Amy was the cleaning out of desks. (althought I did bribe with a big bag of candy canes ….)

Today we are cleaning out our desks, making gingerbread houses, and watching Space Jam. We are also going to participate in a community circle where we reflect on our class and all the things we love about being at school. We are going to enjoy today. Celebrate each other. Tell each other how important they are to our class.

That fact that they celebrated each other and appreciated each other brings a bit of emotion here. Of course, we all like to think that we do that regularly but any context that I can think of pales to Amy’s world. And to all the classroom teachers, your world too.

As I write this post on Thursday morning, we still don’t know what direction Ontario will be taking.


Waiting No More: Lessons from the Lake

This post from Debbie really resonated with me. Except for going away to university, I’ve always lived within easy driving or walking distance of a lake. There is absolutely something remarkable and powerful about walking the beach or even just sitting in a car watching the waves move.

I could watch the waves for hours. To me, it parallels living that one year in Toronto and going down to Yonge and Dundas. So much action, and every part of that action has something important to do and somewhere important to be. There’s something remarkable about picking up a wave from as far away as you can see and then watching it roll into the beach. You can seldom predict its actual path or the disturbance that it makes when it hits the shallows and then the sand. No two waves are exactly the same.

So, Debbie now has a new house and shares a nice collection of photographs from “her” beach. It’s calming to just look at the pictures but it’s even better in real life. She likes sunrises (who doesn’t) but don’t overlook sunsets!

Beyond this moment in time, this is another reason to blog. Memories might fade but she’ll always have this collection of images and her reflections at this point in time.


Avoir un impact sur ma culture d’apprentissage

For this week, I bookended this post with a couple of powerful messages about learning networks. Left alone, they can do things without a strategic direction or meaning and so it does take some effort to make that happen. You do need to work it. But how?

That’s the big takeaway for me from this post from Joel.

He identifies three areas of importance to him

  • Influencer (élément leadership)
  • Être intentionnel (élément stratégie)
  • Activer (élément action)

I can’t help but think that these are the attributes that Tim would see in a leader and I know that he exhibits in himself as a leader. Make sure to click through and read his complete discussion on each of these. There’s so much there.

The post is a powerful message that all leaders would be wise to read and ponder.


Do yourself a favour and add these people to your own learning network to see what they’re doing daily and become just a bit smarter!

  • Tim King – @tk1ng
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Peter Skillen – @peterskillen
  • Ann Marie Luce – @turnmeluce
  • Amy Bowker – @amyebowker
  • Debbie Donsky – @DebbieDonsky
  • Joel McLean – @jprofNB

You can find the voicEd Radio show here.

https://voiced.ca/podcast_episode_post/quiet-time-data-literacy-and-looking-ahead-to-2022/

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


After our live radio show on Wednesday, Stephen Hurley and I debriefed as we normally do after a show. I had to remark that this was the first time in all the shows that we’ve done together that we hit all our marks. Usually one or both of us ramble on and we go over on a time allotment. (OK, it’s usually me)

To celebrate, instead of just the title of the blog post, I’m going to include the time too! Those who have been guest hosts should recognize the format. Here’s what’s new this week.


9:00 Wanna Play Catch?

I remember being told once that teaching is one of the most social jobs you can have. Teachers carpool, they meet up in the parking lot and walk into the school together. Once in, they’ll chat in the hallway between classes or plan together in work areas before going into the classroom to meet students. At lunch time, they’ll sit down and “dine” with colleagues and carpool their way home. In fact, in regular times, it’s pretty much impossible to be alone if you’re a teacher at work.

Rob deals with today’s reality that teachers are forced away from colleagues and even the concept of wearing a mask with students is isolating. He wants to meet up because, as he notes, it takes two or more to play catch. His description brought back memories of waiting for friends to show up and play baseball at the school on weekends or after school. I’d stand there throwing a rubber ball against the brick wall and try to field it on the first or second bounce. It’s just not the same as playing catch with a real person.

Rob promises to get on a tear with more posts coming in December.


9:09 parents and guardians

Writing on the ETFO Heart and Art Blog, Will gives us a personal story about education. Teaching wasn’t Will’s first profession so he notes that he brought a bunch of experience from the business world to his slice of the profession. It was nice to see that his professionalism translated into respect by his colleagues who turned to him as a mentor.

Will has some interesting thoughts about student agendas and the home to school communication connections. It’s different these days and he’s quite to recognize it and explains how he deals with it.

I can’t help but think that email communication would be more effective with some people than others. With social media, we often cut a few corners that would make our old English teachers cringe. I thought that Will addressed the topic nicely and I know that we all can use a mentor and a guide at times. Those in his school are fortunate to have him on call.


9:18 #LearningInTheLoo: Bullet Journalling

When I read Laura’s latest post, it was a real sense of deja vu for me.

As a rookie teacher-consultant, time management was something that I really struggled with. As a result, I attended a training session offered by Franklin which eventually became Franklin Covey. I did walk away with a cool binder to help organize my professional and personal life.

The real value was tracking what was important and prioritizing accordingly. It was the technique that rang a bell for me when reading Laura’s post. She describes a technique that she uses for herself and feels it important enough to share with colleagues in the “loo”.

I can testify that methods like this are very powerful and can help you come to grips with organizing what’s important necessary. Quite frankly, there can be a dip at the beginning because you have to force yourself to use and adhere to the technique but I found it worth the effort.


9:27 10 Tools For Curating Instructional Videos – E068

The EduGals are back with another podcast and supporting blog posts. In this case, they’re dealing with the concept of curating instructional videos. I think we all know the value of keeping track of the best of the best resources. After all, we looked hard to find them in the first place and, with any luck, you’ll be able to use them again in the future. Curating makes the process easier.

Newbies to the process rely on the fact that Google knows stuff. Experienced educators know that there are all kinds of tools that let you raise the bar and make things easier in the long run. That’s a good think.

I enjoyed looking through the list of tools and reading their evaluations. I was pleased to see that Wakelet made their list as I find it great for curating. That’s but just one that they recommend. There’s a lot of Google stuff in there which I’m sure addresses their educational reality. For those who work in the Microsoft environment and might even have Google blocked at work, there are equivalent tools.

It’s really a nicely curated collection of curation tools with pros, cons, and ideas.


9:36 When you feel like you are Failing

To be honest, I kind of expected a downer post from Amy when I read the title.

As I read her post, I recognized that she was describing my life at times and I’m sure that you’ll feel the same way. Stephen Hurley and I got lost in a whack of baseball connections as we discussed her post. The thing that has always stuck out to me is that a batter with a .333 batting average is exceptional. The counter though is that .667 of the time, they didn’t get a hit for whatever reason. We need to appreciate this and apply it to our own experiences.

She talks about:

  • Talk to your Class about it – to me, this is the ultimate show of vulnerability and students can appreciate your honesty
  • Talk to your Colleagues – despite what you may think and feel at times, you’re not the first person who has ever dealt with issues – why not learn from someone who could mentor you – see Will Gourley above
  • Meditate – she recommends Headspace and Calm which are free for educators. Isn’t it awesome when educators share?
  • Ask for help – again, this is another show of vulnerability but that teacher next door or down the hall might have the answer. Don’t limit yourself to that; there are educators all over the world that can help. I’m a subscriber to the ACSE mailing list and requests for help and answers come through daily

Bonus:

Climate Change and Education Survey

Calling all educators, parents, students and members of the general public: LSF needs to hear your voice on the importance of climate change education in Canada!

On the STAO blog is a call for all educators to share their thoughts about climate change. Make your voice heard!


A Look Back and a Farewell.

Mary came onto the ECOO scene as I was leaving so we never actually had the chance to work together. As we know now, things haven’t been the same in recent years but Mary took this as a challenge to move some of the traditional ECOO things online and then up the ante with even more ideas to help Ontario educators.

It’s a nice summary of her work and efforts on behalf of the organization. She took it to new things and I admire her efforts for doing so.

I wish her all the best in her future endeavours.


It’s been another wonderful week of great blog reading from Ontario Educators. You can follow all these folks on Twitter.

  • Rob Ridley – @RangerRidley
  • Will Gourley – @WillGourley
  • Laura Wheeler – @wheeler_laura
  • EduGals – @EduGals
  • Amy Bowker – @amyebowker
  • STAO – @staoapso
  • Mary Walker Hope – @mwalkerhope

This week’s perfectly timed show is available here.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs on voicEd Radio

https://voiced.ca/podcast_episode_post/communicating-better-organizing-better-and-failing-better/

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s another Friday and a chance to wander around the province and take a look at some posts from awesome Ontario Edubloggers. Listen to the Wednesday show for five of them but it’s only here that you get those extra two as a bonus.


Not the same Christmas

First up is Melissa Turnbull writing on the ETFO Heart and Art Blog. This post should serve as a reminder that not all students in your classroom celebrate Christmas or celebrate it the same way. Some classrooms more so than others but …

She nails it with three observations that generate my comments here.

Not all students are celebrating Christmas – I think we all know that but if you’re old enough, you’ll remember the outliers in your classroom that didn’t join in. When I went to elementary school, it was all about Christmas. We even all piled into the gym first thing in the morning to sing Christmas carols. Except for one of my friends who had to stay in his classroom and do seat work…

Students may be worried about being away from school – As bizarre as it might seem, we now know that a school may be the safest and most comfortable place for students these days. For some, it may also provide the best meals. Then, to be gone for two weeks takes all this away…

Some students will receive gifts – some will not – That is so true. I can still recall the conversations that would typically start with “What are you getting for Christmas?” Some had great expectations, including going to Florida or something.

Melissa concludes with a number of things that she does in her classroom. It’s a good read and reminder; I know that experienced teachers have been around the track a few times and should know all this but it might be new to younger teachers.


Shelving the Elf

After reading Sue Bruyns’ post, we now know what exciting things that she does on a Sunday afternoon and, sadly, it doesn’t appear to be watching football. She writes about the week ahead in a memo to staff. That brought memories for me of the “blue memo” that would be in the mailbox on Friday afternoons and essentially laid out what was going to happen next week, day by day.

Sue has morphed her message into one of reflection and I think finding that memo on my mailbox on Monday morning (or in my email), could be inspiration to start off the week on a positive note.

The topic of discussion here was the use of Elf on the Shelf in classrooms. Since this concept comes late to me, I was interested in reading her take and talking about it with Stephen Hurley on our Wednesday show. Now, I’m not above a good scavenger hunt to find things hidden around places. In fact, there’s a treasure hunt going on in our town now based on the light displays. It makes you look just a little harder and pay attention. There are a few there to denote the religious part of the season for some but many are there as part of a seasonal light show that extends over a period to cover many of the religious celebrations.

I’ll admit that having this creepy thing hidden on shelves spying on you as an attempt to modify behaviour was a little strange. Stephen indicated that, even if you did find it, that you were forbidden to touch it.

Sue addresses it this way.

It would have been easy to turn a blind eye to the situation and quietly shake my head and avoid the conversation. But over the years I’ve learned that the easy path is rarely the right path.

Her message is based in the concept of the Elf and religious connections and is a good read and a time for reflection as to whether this is a wise move. Sort of like her memo would be.


Limit #SOL2021

I’m going to steal this image from Melanie White’s post.

Isn’t that great advice for any educator?

Teaching is a profession that takes everything that you have and then asks for more. How many teachers realize it when they feel like they’ve given it their all and then something or someone asks for “just a little more”?

Can you say everyone?

The simplest solution is to “learn how to say no” but that seldom works as we all know. The result, and I think the Christmas season is the worst for it, is the sense that you’re drained and feel like you just can’t give any more and yet a system requires more.


Imitation Isn’t That Flattering

Tim King writes a post that I think that a lot of teachers of technology and Computer Science have experienced so many times. When an administrator who doesn’t have background in the discipline looks at what you’re doing and then asks you to make it easier, it’s an affront to your professionalism.

All teachers observe and understand when the going gets tough. I love the quote “When a problem happens, a teacher appears”. Technology teaching is unique in that there is so much background that must be developed before work of any substantial quality and quantity is possible. That is different from some other subjects where you can ease into things.

In Tim’s case, it was having students program an Arduino.

Photo by Harrison Broadbent on Unsplash

Others might use a Micro:Bit; in my time before this, we had kits with wires and boards and LEDs. You need a great deal of understanding in order to make it work and I can remember the frustration of trying to get the first couple to work and then I got it. It was fun later on to push the envelop. A definitive essay on this is Seymour Papert’s Hard Fun.

http://papert.org/articles/HardFun.html

I hope that Tim sticks to his beliefs in this one. I don’t know how you’d address the curriculum expectations otherwise.


Taking Care of Myself

It’s been a while since Jennifer Brown had blogged and she addresses this before dropping the message about personal health issues on us.

She has support as demonstrated in the comments from dear friends and that’s so good to see.

The issue that she describes is hereditary and that drops on so many of us. For me, it started on my father’s side of the family and strong prescriptions for glasses. I think we all can empathize with Jennifer and send her some virtual hugs to start her on her journey to control things.

Her blog post should be a reminder to all to stay on top of things during COVID times. I appreciate, although was freaked out by all the plastic draping at my dentist, and I’ve maintained my other doctor’s visits albeit by telephone for the past, it seems like forever.

You need to be an advocate and you truly do need to take care of yourself and Jennifer nails it in a powerful post. And, trust a Teacher-Librarian to not place her trust in Dr. Google, but reach for a book as a credible source of information.

I most certainly extend my best wishes and encouragement for her to continue to stay on top of things.


To Move Or Not To Move? That Is The Question.

I thought that we were finally going to get a look inside Aviva Dunsiger’s classroom and not have pictures of her students outside. She did relent towards the bottom of the post.

As a secondary school teacher, when I would drop into elementary schools for visits, kindergarten classes always befuddled me. There’s activity everywhere. I have amusing memories of being outside in the play area where it’s just mayhem to my eyes and the teacher next to me described what every child was doing and why, even those that were behind her. Kindergarten teachers really do have eyes in the back of their head.

We live and teach in different times. Around here, and I know that Windsor and Essex County is currently faced with high COVID numbers, accountability has never taken on so much importance. In the post, Aviva starts off by describing the process of seating plans. Now, it’s old hat for most grades but it’s not something that you’d think would be so thought provoking in a kindergarten class. We were told that the plans were important for supply teachers and the principal when they would come into the class to do what they do. It was also invaluable when learning new names at the start of a course. Now, it’s also the way to contact trace and ensure safe distancing between students.

The current Kindergarten direction is so play-based that the notion of having and sitting in a sitting plan setting just seems so wrong. And yet, these days, its value is so right.

Aviva’s blog posts are often so revealing about her current reality and insightful as to just what is happening in her classroom. It seems so different these days compared to the past.

This kind of nails it.

With COVID restrictions, free-flowing movement and interactions in the classroom are more challenging.

But, good Kindergarten teachers will find a way to meet that challenge.


Knitting, Crocheting and Loom Knitting

Another post from the Heart and Art Blog got me really appreciative for the work that people are doing to reach out to every student and to bring new experiences into the classroom.

Tammy Axt takes us into the area of knitting and more.

For many people, knitting is used as a relaxing pastime to calm emotions and focus energy and I have seen it have a great impact at school

My mom was always knitting. It is a repetitive activity, to be sure and it can be so creative. Of course, we hold our parents on pedestals and I’m no different. She could knit anything. I got a lesson once and made a badly formed scarf. There is so much skill to make things so cohesive and consistent. I think that the biggest appeal for me was that it was so mathematical in the shape and form of the knitting involved.

The closest thing that I ever came to what Tammy describes in this post was a field trip to a museum where we got to try out a loom. It was kind of cool and insightful for the few minutes that we were there and then we moved on to something else.

I’ve recently found out that my former next-door-office-mate is a big knitter and has opened her own store online to sell what she’s doing. My wife and I actually went out to one of her shows and her stuff is amazing. (Don’t tell anyone but we bought a Christmas gift from her)

In my family, knitting died off with my mother and mother-in-law being the last of the big knitters. Certainly, my kids have expressed no interest at all.

As a result, I appreciate Tammy’s message and those students that experience it may well get an insight from her classroom that would be available nowhere else.


I hope that you can find the time to click through and enjoy these original posts and appreciate the wisdom and sharing that Ontario Edubloggers do.

Then, follow these folks on Twitter

  • Melissa Turnbull
  • Sue Bruyns – @sbruyns
  • Melanie White – @WhiteRoomRadio
  • Tim King – @tk1ng
  • Jennifer Brown – @JennMacBrown
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Tammy Axt – @MsAxt

This week’s voicEd Radio show is available here – https://voiced.ca/podcast_episode_post/hard-candy-cultural-responsiveness-and-self-care/