This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Wednesday was another live voicEd Radio show for This Week in Ontario Edublogs. It was great to talk about the blog posts from others before I get to blog about them here!


Mentoring Moments: Importance of Our Names

Writing on the Heart and Art Blog, Nilmini Ratwatte Henstridge takes us on a discussion about names. I’ve mentioned before; a wise person once told me that it’s the most important thing that we own. Teachers need to respect that and call students by their correct name, or if it’s going to be different, it’s because of student choice.

Nilmini has an interesting spin on the concept where she suggests that the student “Names Stories” should be identified and celebrated in class. Especially these days, it’s so important.

In my case, I’ve always gone by “Doug” or a nickname of “Andy” after my father. It’s only when someone calls me by my official name that my head snaps a bit. A standard joke around here is that only a police officer or a doctor calls me “Douglas”.

To help the cause, Nilmini provides a list of books that can be used with students. There’s something powerful about reading about it. Just the fact that it’s in a book adds an air of credibility to the process.


The Mirror’s Reflection

If you do nothing more that just click through on this link, you’ll end up on the new Matthew Morris website which features his blog. It’s been a work in progress for a while now.

It’s looking good.

As Matthew continues to write, I’m finding that he’s revealing more and more about himself and I’m finding myself immersed where he’s been in situations that I I’ve never been. In this case, it was being one of a group of 4 in a class of 60.

There’s a great deal of wisdom in this post for all although Matthew is definitely very open and public about his approach to learning and being honest with himself.

I mean being authentic in your relationships with the children you are charged with teaching but I also mean rigorously reflecting on your shortcomings or blindspots as a person, and by extension, an educator.

We all have shortcoming and blindspots. Sometimes they keep us from reaching where we want to go and other times it shuts out things that we’d rather not see and/or deal with.

This post has really got me thinking about so much. I suspect there will be more to come in subsequent posts.


Contexte déficitaire: changeons de paradigme

Reading Joel McLean’s posts always slow me down as my Grade 10 French kicks in. Ultimately, I do rely on a translation program to make sure that I’m close to his meaning.

In this case, I really was and he takes on the statement that I know that we’ve all used.

j’ai fait de mon mieux / I did the best that I could

How many times have you used that expression? For me, it was probably more often that I care to admit.

As Joel notes, it can be used as an excuse for not getting the best results. After all, you did the best that you could, right? The fault lies with someone else. Somehow, it allows us to accept failure or at least not reaching the ultimate goal.

In the post, Joel suggests a different way to respond and look at things with an eye towards a solution that helps you get better.

It’s a lesson that everyone should take to heart.


Where’s the joy?

From Amanda Potts, a post that exhibits her own humility and vulnerability.

Just where is the “joy” in education?

Her context is a new course that she’s teaching “Understanding Contemporary First Nation, Metis and Inuit Voices”. a Grade 11 English course.

Now, anyone who has ever taught Grade 11 knows that it’s one of the more challenging years in a student’s and, by inheritance, a teacher’s timetable.

She’s taken a ton of professional learning opportunities and yet still feels like she needs to do more to actually do the course justice. From her description, I feel her message and yet I’m wondering how many other teachers are teaching the same course without the background that she’s acquired.

I love the statement that she shares that she won’t allow herself to get this wrong. I can’t help but think that this will be a very long year for her and I do hope that she can find some joy in her efforts.

It’s not just her post that’s important here; it’s garnered all kinds of comments from visitors to her blog so she can start with the comfort that there is a network of people behind her.


Halloween Costumes for English Teachers

My immediate reaction to this post from Kristy was this was more for elementary school teachers until I paused and remember that we did dress up a bit as well. The only restriction in my class at Hallowe’en and Christmas was that you couldn’t dress up with tinsel as that would do a number on computers.

I was lucky, I guess, in that my school colours were orange and royal blue. Often, Hallowe’en would land on a football game day or before/after and we could wear a jersey along with some other things.

In the post, Kristy gives us a list of 21 suggestions. Three of them seemed doable for this computer geek…

  • Go as an E-reader (14)
  • Go as a Banned Book (20)
  • Go as a Copycat (21)

Interestingly, on the news tonight it was reported that school boards are encourage people not to dress up for Hallowe’en.


Friday Two Cents: Comic Strips: Shepherd

The latest comic strip from Paul Gauchi brought a smile to my face. In fact, it might bring a smile to many who are struggling with going back to the face to face classroom and are considering alternatives.

With the return to in class learning, many educators have to reteach basic social skills, such as walking in a straight line or using “please” and “thank you”.   

So, is there an alternative to this noble profession?

Check out Paul’s comic to see a spin on it.


Student Perceptions of Gamification: A Comparison of Research Studies

Gamification is a word that I haven’t heard used in education for quite some time now.

It’s more common to hear words like “sanitizer”, “social distancing”, “masks”, … as a result of the return to schools while dealing with COVID.

So, it was with interest and a fresh outlook that I read this post from Mike Washburn.

It was interesting to see this topic addressed after such a long bit of absence. I suspect that there are still those that don’t understand the difference between gaming and gamification.

Gamification for gamification’s sake is as Ian Bogost has so eloquently said, bullshit (Bogost, 2015)

As classrooms return to near normal, I have a feeling that the usual suspects will be back at it as they understand the power when done properly. For others, it might be starting at the ground floor. The one thing that has change as a result of all the learning at home is that students are far more familiar with computers than ever before.


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

Then, follow the authors on Twitter.

  • Nilmini Ratwatte Henstridge – @NRatwatte
  • Matthew Morris – @callmemrmorris
  • Joel McLean – @jprofNB
  • Amanda Potts – @Ahpotts
  • Kristy – @2peasandadog
  • Paul Gauchie – @PCMalteseFalcon
  • Mike Washburn – @misterwashburn

The voicEd Radio show is available here:

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


On Wednesday night, we celebrated four years of the TWIOE podcast with a live show in the evening. It felt like a big deal – doing it in prime time! It was a late decision but three of the Ontario Edubloggers were free and available to join us to talk about their work and that of the others. Thanks, Jen Aston, Sue Bruyns, and Cal Armstrong. I’ve learned to give everyone more notice if we ever decide to do something like this again. All of them had great blog posts and that made it all worthwhile.


IS “TEACHING LOSS” A MYTH, TOO?

For me, this post from Pav Wander was a real thought inspiration. I read it three or four times before I think I understood her message. Then, I was ready to talk about it and write this on passage number five. I’m still not totally convinced that I’ve fully understood her message and thoughts as she covers so much here. This really goes to the essence of being a teacher.

We all start out in this profession as newbies and get better year after year. Those who take parental leave have a break in that growth that requires some catching up. Like the topic of “learning loss”, Pav identifies it as “teaching loss”. I’m wondering if another way of defining it might be “teaching slide”.

In the post, she identifies six areas of personal concern to her.

  • Making Connections with Teachers and Students
  • Leadership opportunities 
  • Professional development 
  • Testing New pedagogies 
  • Teaching evolving content 
  • Extracurricular Activities

All of the topics are fleshed out in her perspective. I can’t do her thoughts justice here – you need to read her entire post. I found the discussion of Professional Development (PD) particularly interesting since it was part of what I did for so many years. I find it ironic that she felt a personal loss there since her podcast with Chey Cheney is all about professional learning. It seems to me that the two of them have morphed from the consumer of PD to the facilitator of PD and have done so nicely. And, if you’ve every provided PD opportunities, you know that you need to do 10 hours of prep or more for every hour of delivery.

She does raise an interesting thought – school and board budgets will have balances of unspent PD monies. I can’t help but think that the first organization that is out of the blocks with face to face events will be the big beneficiaries of access to this fund.

This topic isn’t just a blog post – it’s also a podcast available here.


Red Licorice for Breakfast

As I said in the show, Jen Aston had my attention at her reference to teaching puberty online last year. I honestly had never considered this but the show has to go on. Students mature whether they’re learning at school or at home. And, expectations have to be addressed.

That was just the tip of this fantastically funny blog post. It’s her story of teaching at home with her kids who are learning and growing and going to the bathroom “Wipe my bum” while she’s doing her teaching thing. I appreciate that she took into consideration the sensitivities of a five year old who didn’t need to sit in on the details of that lesson on puberty.

I had images running through my mind as I pictured Jen’s experience – leaving the teaching chair for a minute and having one of her own kids take over her class.

During the show, she was hilariously relating these stories between outbursts of her own laughter and I’ll admit it was infectious. I had to turn off my own mic at times as I laughed along with her.

She’s looking for other stories of things going wrong differently during teaching at home. Do you have any to offer?


Back to the Beginning

I was envious of Sue Bruyns who ended her first day of classes by going to Althouse College to teach teacher candidates. I went there for Additional Qualifications courses with Professor John Walsh years ago. I remember a delightful older facilities that I’m told is really modernizing itself these days. At the time, we were also explicitly told that it was the Faculty of Education and not Althouse College.

But, 25 minutes before that class started, it ended a hectic first day of school for her at Sir Arthur Currie Public School. It’s a fantastic, new facility that any visitor just knew would be outgrown. I’ve been there twice as part of EdCamp London and you can just see the new home construction going on in the neighbourhood.

As was everywhere else in the province, it was a big and strategic opening with classes organized outside the school rather than the traditional reporting to home rooms. In her blog post, she gave the student population at 900 and corrected it to 1000 during the show. Like so many schools, it’s time for a panic call to 1-800-CALL-A-PORTAPACK.

Of course, all those students need a teacher and teachers need to park cars and you can guess the mess that creates. One of the things about Sue though is that she always seems to have things under control – you can hear it in the show – but I had to smile when she indicated that this principal also directs traffic.


How do we see students?

Jonathan So uses the word problemizing in this post and so I had to do a lookup to make sure I had it right.

Problematization of a term, writing, opinion, ideology, identity, or person is to consider the concrete or existential elements of those involved as challenges that invite the people involved to transform those situations.

It was in reference to how you react when kids just don’t get it. I suspect that many of us put the blame on the students because, after all, we taught it. They have a responsibility to learn it, right?

Jonathan digs into this in a reflection of practice that’s a good idea for all educators. Maybe it isn’t the student after all; maybe it’s your practice. And, is it amplified during times of COVID when the number of tools available to you are a subset of what you would normally have?

I also think that part of it is the type of person that becomes a teacher. We were successful in school and, when we had challenges, we knew that we had to work harder and ask questions and do some extra to get it done. That is a unique mindset and we know that not everyone has it.

There’s a great deal to think about with respect to how you teach and look at those kids in front of you.


I shall find a way…

This was a great post from Cal Armstrong that reminded me of some of the best learning that I’ve experienced reading blogs. Someone has a problem, finds, and writes to describes a solution. It’s a generous mindset; it you’ve solve a problem, why not share your problem solving for those who might have the same problem or for some people who don’t quite know that they have this problem.

The problem then?

Cal’s school has required all teachers to use a new LMS. Many people, I suspect, would say OK, I’ve got to do some learning.

Not Cal.

In this case, he’s spent years becoming an expert in the OneNote world and isn’t prepared to abandon it. He know that he’s expected to have his work in the new LMS and so goes to work to create a world where he can continue to use his skills with OneNote and just pipe it over to the LMS.

I’ve never had to work in this environment but I found that Cal’s descriptor was crisp and clear and I could see it working.

The comment to his post is testament that if you provide a tutorial good enough to work, there just may be value to others. In this case, an educator from Houston read the post and found it appropriate and let Cal know so.


Picking Out The Highlights of The Scenery

When I saw the title to Terry Greene’s recent post, I wondered – what the heck is he talking about now? Autumn wise, his neck of the woods is a couple of weeks ahead of us here so maybe …

or maybe a reference to Gord Downie …

Terry’s latest work is titled: Ontario Extend: Liberated Learners Edition

I’m intrigued because his earlier work gave us a collection of post-secondary bloggers and reflectionists that got us into their minds.

At this point, he shares some stories that resulted from “Wicked Problems”.

  • Anti-Social Sociology Major
  • Crayola markers got me through the first year of University
  • Captain Depresso
  • Teaching Incon-(ass)istant
  • Extra-Curricular Extremist
  • Fake It Till You Make It
  • The Social Caterpillar
  • zzZZzzzzZoom University
  • Fishing for 60’s

How to access these and how to access a series of community webinars can be found in the post.


NEW GOOGLE SMART CHIPS TO LEVEL UP YOUR HYPERDOCS

The EduGals are back with an interesting post. They had me at HyperDocs because it’s a strategy that I firmly believe it. It’s also a strategy that has been abused and ended up being simply an electronic worksheet. I know the works of the EduGals, Rachel and Katie, wouldn’t be that shallow.

It’s a rather long post but I think worth taking the time to read and understand. They talk about the concept of the Smart Chip and its functionality before turning to HyperDocs. I got interested in the concept years ago through WebQuests.

A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented lesson format in which most or all the information that learners work with comes from the web. The model was developed by Bernie Dodge at San Diego State University in February, 1995 with early input from SDSU/Pacific Bell Fellow Tom March, the Educational Technology staff at San Diego Unified School District, and waves of participants each summer at the Teach the Teachers Consortium at The Thacher School in Ojai, California.

I think that the notion is more important than ever. Anyone can create a worksheet that has answers easily found by Google but when you ask them to take those answers and create something new, it gets really powerful.

I’ve been working my way through the EduGals’ post and appreciate their push to make me do some new learning.


Oh, yes, it’s another collection of inspiration for you to do some professional learning as a result. To continue the discussion, follow these folks on Twitter.


  • Pav Wander – @PavWander
  • Sue Bruyns – @sbruyns
  • Jen Aston – @mmejaston
  • Jonathan So – @mrsoclassroom
  • Cal Armstrong – @sig225
  • Terry Green – @greeneterry
  • Edugals – @Edugals

This week’s show on voicEd Radio:

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


This week was the last opportunity to invite an Ontario educator as a guest for This Week in Ontario Edublogs. After checking that he wasn’t supposed to be in school, Matthew Morris joined Stephen Hurley and me on voicEd Radio Canada for a discussion. It was a great end to a great summer of guest hosts as I noted yesterday in a blog post. Make sure you follow them all!


The Lox Dipset Verzuz, Brotherhood & Black Men’s Mental Health

As per normal, we started the show with a recent blog post from our guest host. Matthew had written a post sharing his thoughts about a Verzuz match that he had managed to catch as a result of a prompt from a friend.

Now, I’m appreciative of this post for a couple of things. At the end, Matthew reflects on the reality of aging and that’s probably the deepest message to take away.

For me, though, the concept of Verzuz was new. From my memory, I saw it as a combination of Battle of the Bands and Wrestlemania. In this case, a couple of acts faced off and I’ll admit that I was really engaged with what I saw. I’ve seen a lot of first class acts in my life but watching two of them face off professionally against each other was really engaging. I watched it on FITE.TV here.

Personally, there was a lot of learning for me here. The concept and then a history of other matches plus even more at the site. I’m so appreciative of everything I learned and thank Matthew for that. There’s also a strong message about mental and physical health that we all need to hear at times.


Dress for Success

These young kids today.

Diana Maliszewski shares a post inspired by a previous post from Aviva Dunsiger about updating a wardrobe for the teacher. Her post is riddled with links to advice about what a teacher should look like. I can’t help but smile and remark that this would be great advice for teachers decades ago when you could just stand in one spot and lecture. Perhaps it’s good advice for those who will be teaching in a hybrid setting? <grin>

We’ve come a long way since then. I remember the advice from Teachers’ College and had sports jackets and ties – my kids even bought me a motorized tie rack one year for Christmas.

The realities of teaching just aren’t consistent with dressing up in your Sunday best day after day. Teachers are mobile, active, up and down, and fully engaged in what’s happening in the classroom. The trend is toward dressing accordingly.

Now, that doesn’t mean dressing in grubs but there’s the reality of what you need to wear to get the job done and remain comfortable and yet professional looking. And, of course, shoes. My dress attire should be shorted to one pair of brown shoes and one black. I fall far short of the 15 that Diana claims she has. (Where does she keep them all?)


The summer of Gratitude – some reflections

Laura Elliott had originally written this as an opt-ed for the Toronto Star and made it available for all of us on her blog. Thanks for that, Laura.

It’s a very personal story of being open with her feelings and dealing with it. I can’t help but be so impressed that she’s so honest and open with her personal life.

In the post, she addresses three concepts:

  • Habituation
  • Comparison
  • Stressful life events

and fleshes each of them out as they apply to her personally. She could have ended the post there but threw in one final challenge.

If you are a teacher or administrator you might consider an initiative in your school that asks your community to commit to this practice and share

That’s a huge challenge but might just be the type of thing to get through what promises to be an autumn of challenges.


William G. Davis:Only two disagreements over a four-decade relationship

With the passing of William G. Davis, we’re hearing so many tributes to the man and what he brought to Ontario. In this post, Charles Pascal shares his thoughts. I found the notion of only two disagreements kind of amazing when we talk about politicians.

But then, these were politicians from years ago and things were different.

Actually, quite different. I’m not a political scholar by any means but I actually knew this. Heck, I was a student when this happened at the leadership of the Premier.

  • system of colleges in Ontario
  • expanded universities
  • launched TVOntario and OISE

It’s hard not to think about it personally. Would I even have been able to attend university under the older model? Who would have been my babysitter without the Polkaroo? When I was at the Faculty of Education at the University of Toronto, many courses were offered down the street at OISE and it had a fabulous library. What was education like before that?

I suspect that most people would point to the extension of funding for Catholic Schools as one of Davis’ lasting legacies. I did crack a smile as Charles recounts a conversation that he had with the Premier over this.


Preparing for your first day of school

From the Seven Generations website, comes this piece with advice for their students. I’ve seen some other schools that haven’t updated their own websites since June. They could easily pull the advice from here because it’s such great wisdom.

  • Start getting yourself into a routine
    • Especially waking up – how long will it take to get to school? Where do you meet friends? Where do you park? How do you know where to go once you get there?
  • Prepare the essentials
    • You probably won’t need them all the first day but do in advance because it will be busy. But, you know that your teacher will hit the ground running on the second day, for sure
  • Familiarize yourself with your schedule
    • Especially if you have a lot of class changes – reality in 2021? There may be new rules just for navigating the school. I can remember my old high school where we had some staircases that were either UP or DOWN which made travelling between classes a challenge
  • Know essential locations on campus
    • Your locker, cafeteria, washrooms, library, where to catch your bus, …
  • Your first day of class
    • OK to be nervous – here’s a secret – your teacher will absolutely be nervous so don’t sweat it!
  • Make the most of your experience
    • This is such wise advice. One of my biggest regrets, particularly at university, was not taking advantage of everything that the school offers. It actually wasn’t until I attended a Faculty of Education that I truly studied and understood all that my schools had made available to me and I somehow failed to take advantage of them

This is such wise advice. Even if you’re going to a different location, it’s terrific information for all. All schools should have something like this on their website.


A Poem for the First Day of School

If you’re a teacher or a student or a parent and have a passion for education, you won’t be able to get through this poem from Jessica Outram without at least a bit of emotion. In my case, I’ve got something caught in my eye.

She uses this form of writing to send us all an incredibly powerful message about schools and education.

In a time and era where it’s so easy to be down and depressed with everything, this is such a powerful reminder of the importance of education.

“everyone here a twinkling star in the system of our community.”


How I Approach the First Days and Weeks of School

It’s not too late to read this post from Shawna Rothgeb-Bird and maybe adjust things for next week and maybe even beyond. The post is an honest and open description about what’s going through her mind and planning for things beginning next week.

  • Before School Starts
  • First Day of School
  • Boîte de moi
  • Student Info Forms
  • Nametags and Labels
  • Unstructured Outdoor Play Time

Of course, all these topics are personalized according to how Shawna thinks things will roll out. I’ve read her thinking for quite a while now and I would have no doubt that she could make all this work and, if it doesn’t, she adjusts on the fly.

For elementary school teachers (and maybe even secondary), it’s a nice read as she shares her thinking and it just might inspire you in your approach.


I hope that you can find the time to click through and read all these posts. Then, follow these amazing bloggers on Twitter.

  • Matthew Morris – @callmemrmorris
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL
  • Laura Elliott – @lauraelliottPhD
  • Charles Pascal – @CEPascal
  • Seven Generations Education Institute – @7GenerationsEd
  • Jessica Outram – @jessicaoutram
  • Shawna Rothgeb-Bird – @rollforlearning

This week’s voicEd Radio show can be accessed here.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


This week, Aviva Dunsiger joined the Wednesday morning live show to talk about a nice collection of blog posts, including one of her own.


To Buy Or Not To Buy? Clothing, COVID, And Unexpected Decisions.

Aviva and I debated about whether or not to include this post from her blog. We had a couple of dueling blog posts about clothing and so it seemed like fun just to continue the discussion a bit further. Her take was on her personal purchases for the fall.

In her post, she talked about buying a poncho. Now, when I think poncho, I think of that yellow one I got when I was safety patrol in elementary school. I had the primo location at the corner of Highway 8 and East Street which probably means nothing to you. But, there’s something powerful about stopping traffic on a highway so that kids could cross the road.

And, it actually made sense when she itemizes the work hazards of a kindergarten teacher…

  • paint,
  • mud,
  • time spent on the floor,
  • time spent outside (in all weather),
  • and creepy crawly critters

But no, this was a classier poncho and she includes a selfie of it in the post if you’re interested and shared with us some tricks for keeping it clean. Time will tell.


Editing

Of course, it would take an English teacher to actually “love” document editing. Apparently, she also has a “face” for editing that is recognizable. Amanda Potts is that person.

It’s one of the things that I hated doing in school. It seemed like a mostly redundant step, particularly exercises where we had to create a rough draft, edit it with the appropriate symbols, and then produce a perfect final product. I looked around and found this guidance of the editing symbols that we should know.

Proofreading and Editing Symbols

At the time, if you asked me what editing was for, my response probably would have been “marks” and I wouldn’t be far wrong. Amanda threw in a bit of a twist that makes sense and I wonder if I would have been more appreciative of editing at the time if I had only realized that editing is “growing a story”. Now that I try to blog daily, I get it. I do go from a rough document, edit it, proofread it, and then click Schedule to have it appear.

The deviance from the skills that I learned in school though is that my editing is now done on computer and mostly in the WordPress editor. Since it’s online, I think I still mentally use the editing tools but keyboard and mouse and “just in time” edits as I proofread.


Gawd I want to teach poetry

Alanna King just wants to teach poetry and she writes a poem in this post to tell us why. I didn’t fully appreciate her genius because I first read the poem in my RSS reader which is all about the text and not the format. It was only when I went to her blog to read that I really “got it”.

Teachers working in the summer is always a bone of contention amongst those in the profession and people that interact with them. Yes, they do have their two or three weeks of vacation and down time but everyone does. The rest of the time, you’ll find teachers taking courses, curating resources, purging outdated materials, doing research for new courses/grades, and now more than ever interacting with other educators online building capacity with each other.

I’m sure that those who talk about not working in the summer also think that the daily workload of a teacher is from 9-3. The profession is far more than performing when there is an audience in the classroom.

I had to smiled at the comment “How do I get an A?”. Every teacher gets that question at some point and often repeatedly. The answer is actually quite simple and not what a student expects. When they ask that question, I often felt that the real question was “How much effort do I have to put forth in your class?”


A Canadian Student Bill of Rights

Back to back with Alanna’s post is Tim King’s post. If you’ve ever been to Castle King and seen their workspace, you’ll see what I did there.

Tim has an interesting muse in this post about taking the arbitrary decision taking choice away from politicians or at least keep them in tune with the rights of students for a just and fair education. My first thought was this was like the powers given to male politicians over female reproduction rights.

I think it would be an interesting exercise to track a student from Kindergarten to their ultimate workspace and note the changes in education that they’ve been subjected too. How many are positive; how many are negative; how many are inspired by a search for perfection; how many are inspired by budget decisions … I’m not sure that we’d be comfortable with the results. Maybe Tim does have a valid point.

If there’s anything good about COVID, it’s that we’ve seen…

  • a serious look at retirement homes and how our elderly are treated
  • better housing for migrant workers
  • cleaner than ever hands
  • ventilation in schools
  • the difficulties of putting 35 students in a classroom built for 24 and then wonder why 2 metres distancing isn’t possible

You’d think those would be basic rights but they aren’t in actual practice.


It Is More Than Just SEL!

Social Emotional Learning is the starting point for this post from Rola Tibshirani and it follows nicely from Tim’s post. A key point from Rola’s post that resonated with me is the guidance from her district.

  • Be Community
  • Be Well
  • Be Innovative

Rola’s post would be important at any opening to a school year. I would suggest that it’s incredibly important as schools open this fall. I would hope that people aren’t planning to “hit the ground running” with academics that first day.

Of respect to the learners that will be back in classrooms, it will be more important than ever to think about the physical and mental conditions that they’ll be in as things resume as close to normal as they can be.

This is a long post and Rola punctuates it with some interesting graphics and infographics, some of which you may not have seen before.

When you read the post, make absolute certain that you go right to the bottom and read Hip Hop Theatre by Avery. It pretty much sums up where your students are coming from and may help you centre things those first days of school.


Five Reasons To Attend The 2021 TESL Ontario Annual Conference

The TESL Annual Conference will be held in November. Details and registration are available here.

It’s their 49th conference and it will be online – I hope that they’ll be in a position to have number 50 face to face.

The five reasons?

1. Three days of learning, knowledge exchange and professional development.
2. A chance to make valuable “Career Connections.”
3. Networking, networking, networking.
4. Giveaways and prizes.
5. The convenience of going virtual.


Crocheting and Math

Earlier this month, I took at look at Terry Whitmell’s post about Quilting and Mathematics.

Side note – my wife just came in and saw my computer screen – “You’re looking at afghans?” It’s a reminder to keep your eyes open and close tabs when you have visitors!

No, I said. “I’m looking at mathematics”. The response “you’re such a teacher”.

Well, actually, it’s Terry who is the teacher here. This is a wonderful read with all kinds of pictures of her craft and the mathematics story behind them. There’s even a mobius strip. When will we ever use this stuff? Who knew one of the answers would be crocheting.

Mathematics is indeed everywhere; you just have to keep your eyes open to see and appreciate it. Very nicely done, Terry.


There’s your Friday morning reading.

Next up? Follow these great bloggers on Twitter.

  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Amanda Potts – @Ahpotts
  • Alanna King – @banana29
  • Tim King – @tk1ng
  • Rola Tibshirani – @rolat
  • TESLOntario – @TESLOntario
  • Terry Whitmell – @TerryWhitmell

This week’s voicEd Radio show is here.

https://voiced.ca/podcast_episode_post/new-clothes-poetry-editing-and-more/

Opening Song

Closing Song

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Paul McGuire guest hosted the voicEd Radio show this week. To the conversation, he added a blog post, insights as an educator, Principal, and Faculty Advisor, and a couple of songs in his new role as an Old Fellas, New Music blogger.


Feeling our Pain

We started the show with this post from Paul’s blog. Reading it may well be the best thing that you can do for yourself today.

Paul was very open and insightful with some of the challenges that people have in education at times, amplified during COVID times with anxiety and depression. There was a great deal of inspiration for how to cope at these times. As schools reopen in September, you just know that there will be more.

Paul’s done his research and shares some external excerpts to support his post. The biggest takeaway might well be being fully aware – of that colleague in the corner, that little girl in the second row, or that face you see in the mirror.

He asks “Could this be a dialogue?” Absolutely – it always should have been and if we need to lean on COVID as the motivator, do it.


Slice of Life: Not ready

When I read the title to this post from Lisa Corbett, I expected a fun article outlining the nerves that teachers have as they prepare for September. Goodness knows that I had them every year.

The inspiration here though was from a child’s birthday and a thunderstorm. Lisa had friends over, presumably to have the party in the backyard but that was only a plan. The lightning scuttled it.

Instead, the kids came inside and kids are kids. Loud and very active and this was an experience that Lisa hadn’t had for a long time. Paul pulled this quote from her post.

It’s the whole “dealing with other humans who don’t live with me” thing that has me feeling like hiding in the basement instead.

Premonition? Throw in a “close talker” or two and we can understand why she’s not ready.


It’s August Already

It was great to see Matthew Morris back at the keyboard and blogging again.

This time, he’s noting how July flew by. I’ve called this the month that the Minister stole from the system by promising “the plan” only to have it arrive in August.

Again, Paul pulled an interesting quote from this post.

I’m ready for August but not ready for much beyond that. That makes me queasy. The more I try to decompress the more I tighten up. I’m not used to this. I’m used to thinking; about school, and plans, and predictions. But this shit right here is brand new to me.

August isn’t really a good time for the conscientious educator at the best of times but this year is a totally new experience. Anxiety is higher than ever and Matthew throws in something I hadn’t thought about – being out of school for so long, he’s afraid that he might not recognize the students.

The big saviour will be that first day of school. Once those bodies arrive, teaching kicks in despite all of the other things that are happening. Teachers will be dealing with a new environment to be sure, but that’s been expected all along.


In Search of Creativity in Education

I won’t quote all that Paul pulled from Dave Cormier’s post. You’ll have to click through and read it all. It is worth the click.

Dave’s been asked by the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation – CERI to develop a curriculum piece that he’s calling Creating Creativity in the Online Classroom. Think about that for a second – it seems so counter-intuitive to be but Ontario Educators have been doing action research on this since the first lockdown.

We know that the talking head at the podium doesn’t work in the face to face classroom or at conferences and the windowed version of teaching online sure doesn’t work either. Teachers have been imagining all kinds of ways to engage students despite the conditions.

Dave equates creativity with fun and it’s easy to see how that connection can be made face to face. Online is a whole different ball game.

I think that this is huge job but Dave is an excellent choice as he seems to like to think about things like this. I’ve been a fan of his work for a long time now.

He’s identified these issues going into this.

  • The nature of creativity and the balance between a teacher’s sense of creativity and different sense of it in different students
  • The relationship between ill-defined problems and the kind of engagement that leads to the fostering of creativity
  • The challenges and opportunities of doing creativity with access to such an abundance of influences.

This is one to follow. It’s something that the Ministry and/or subject organizations should be following and seriously buying into.


The Truths About Self-Regulation & Maths

Tina Bergman inspired me to write an entire “fun” post about mathematics yesterday. (Click back if you’re interested)

In the post, Tina analyses a piece of work (Chapter 7 from Reframed). In particular, these five steps:

  • Step 1 Asking Why (History) Recognizing Stressors
  • Step 2 Reframing the Anxiety
  • Step 3: Aware of the Why and THAT
  • Step 4:Reducing the Stress
  • Step 5: Developing Pre and Post Strategies to Restore Blue/Red Brain Balance

I thought it was a good discussion and she’s really thought this through.

Personally, I’ve always enjoyed mathematics and saw it more like a series of puzzles instead of a curriculum. In the way of good puzzles, I understood that I couldn’t solve them all and learned to be good with not getting 100%. I found myself actively nodding when she talked about “play”.

We live in a different world with all the pressure put on teachers and students by the curriculum and schools and a community that isn’t hesitant to speak about their own challenges with mathematics.


A Journey: Student to Teacher & What Lies Beneath

This was an interesting post from Heather Lye about her personal philosophy and trek from, as she says, “Student to Teacher”.

Reading the post was a wonderful reminder of how teaching is truly a higher calling for those who enter and wish to be the best educator they can. In Heather’s case, she respects her own teachers

I’ve had many great teachers in my past that have impacted my decisions – I cannot wait to make them proud.

The post covers her personal thoughts about:

  • Care
  • Respect
  • Trust
  • Integrity

Use the post to see her thoughts and maybe inspire a refresher of your own reasons why you went into the profession.


THE YEAR TEACHING AND LEARNING CHANGED

I think that this post from Bei Zhang writing on the TESLOntario blog closes off this week’s collections of posts so nicely.

  • Fears Are Okay
  • Challenges Push Us to Move Forward

These two major points and subsequent thoughts are a reminder than it’s normal to feel the way that you do and secondly, this is why educators didn’t pack up everything and check out. Instead, they dug in and made the best happen.

All teachers (and students) have had to endure challenges and huge learning just to get connected and make it work at times. Bei throws kudos to the ESL teachers and students for their efforts.


Please take the time to click through and read all these terrific blog posts. Then, follow these bloggers on Twitter.

  • Paul McGuire – @mcguirp
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261
  • Matthew Morris – @callmemrmorris
  • Dave Cormier – @davecormier
  • Tina Bergman – @blyschuk
  • Heather Lye – @MsHLye

This week’s voicEd Radio show: