Friday Two Cents: A Moment Of Tranquility


‘I’m learning a lot about myself being alone, and doing what I’m doing.’ Chantal Kreviazuk

‘The best part about being alone is that you really don’t have to answer to anybody. You do what you want.’ Justin Timberlake

This week I went to see Captain Marvel in theatres on the first showing of the opening day.  But it’s not the movie that made me stop and think but the fact that I wanted to see it alone without any of my friends.  I enjoy my friends company but for some reason I wanted to see this movie and I did not think of asking anyone.  

At the theatre enjoying a movie

I ordered the ticket two weeks before the opening day.  I have seen movies on my own before so this experience was not new.  As well in the past I went to see other movies on their opening days such as Star Trek, Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.  Yet I felt a need to spend some quality time with my favourite person. Me. 

I was reflecting on this because many of my colleagues and friends said they would have liked to go too but wondered why I did not ask someone.  The only thing that came to mind was perhaps my work as an occasional teacher.  I love working with the students and I adore my colleagues but I felt the need to be alone with my thoughts to reflect on anything and everything in my life.  

Some people said that I might be becoming introverted, yet upon reflection I disagree.  Many introverted people feel uncomfortable in group situations yet I look forward to them. I like meeting people and interacting with them.  No, I think there is another explanation.  In the past month I have worked almost every day, in a host of classrooms and in a couple of schools.  A room teacher interacts with their class only, about 25 – 30 students.  I must have interacted with over 500 – 600 students in that span.  I believe taking some time to be alone with my thoughts is simply a case of sensory overload.    

Therefore I fully embraced my time before, during and after the movie.  I went out for a steak dinner, enjoyed the movie and after I went home to write and reflect on the events of the day.  For it felt like all the noise of the day had been wiped away to reveal thoughts of clarity and tranquility that I haven’t experienced in quite some time.  The best way to describe it is like I was on an island of tranquility in a sea of chaos.  

Sometimes we all need that island of tranquility.

‘In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you’. Deepak Chopra

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Comic Strips: I Don’t Wanna!!


With the arrival of March comes March Break or as some call it, Spring Break.  Students, parents and teaches are looking forward to the start of March Break on Friday this week.  With this in mind, I allowed my mind to wander to some of the situations I have seen and lived, that I want to bring to life in The Craziest Things.  

March Break is a time many look forward to. Not only students need a break but the teachers as well.  Everyone looks forward to the time away from the busy classroom.  Yet through the years many don’t want to return.  Then I thought of something and that is when this month’s comic sprang to life. 

I hope you enjoy March’s The Craziest Things: I Don’t Wanna!!

Friday Two Cents: Youth Has No Age


You know that day once a year you get to sleep in late, eat cake and people cheer and say, “Happy Birthday!”  Well this year I don’t have that, well sort of.  You see my birthday comes once every four years.  I am a leap year baby. Mind you in my family we celebrate my birthday on another day, because the government changed my dates to make it easier.  Bureaucrats. So in reality I am as old as the students I work with.  Many of my colleagues would say that would explain a lot.  

Yet one thing many people kept asking me was how old am I really?  I would tell them my leap year age but everyone said, “No what is your real age?”  I found this very interesting.  You see growing up I never really cared about my age. Maybe its because in my family we don’t talk about how old you are, some European superstitions I think.  I found that the number never truly mattered but how old you feel.  In truth I feel younger than I am and to be honest I thing that many people use their age to hold themselves back from doing things.

However, I still have people insisting on asking me for a number, a label.  I refuse to be labeled.  From people looking at me as a “male” teacher working with students to moments when people say, “You’re an artist? But you play and love sports?”  How many of you have heard, “Oh act your age.”  What does that mean and why should I?  I have seen people who were in their 20s acting like they were seniors and seniors acting like they were in their 20s.  So who is right?  Is it perhaps our society’s obsession with “youth” that is at heart here? Or is it all a state of mind?

 Youth: definitions; (1) the period between childhood and adult age; (2) the state or quality of being young, especially as associated with vigour, freshness, or immaturity.

I like that, ‘the state or quality of being’.  It is so true.  I have read many papers about how powerful the mind is when it comes to our state of being. We can literally think ourselves sick or tired if we think or say that we are sick or tired.  Perhaps that is a big reason why I never say my age. When people ask I usually say, “I feel like I’m such and such”. I don’t want to limit myself to a number or a perception of what that age represents.  Pablo Picasso once said …

‘Youth has no age.’ Pablo Picasso

Wondrous Possibilites

Therefore, on February 28that 23:59:59, when it was about to turn into March 1stat 00:00:00, I took that moment to celebrate.  For in that moment, the world stood still and my thoughts explored the wondrous possibilities and endless joys, in that which I call; My Life.

Take your own moment, be amazed and keep this quote in the back of your mind …

‘Age does not matter, unless you are a bottle of wine’.  Paul Gauchi

Friday Two Cents: Caring And Fairness – Aspirations To Live By


This past week I witnessed something disturbing that has been on the increase in the past few years; student violence against teachers.   I think everyone is aware that since schools were created, there have been some acts of violence when it comes to student upon student.  Bullying, fighting and other offences were commonplace in the schoolyard, even in today’s schools.  However in recent years the incidents of student violence against teachers is on the rise. 

According to a survey by the provincial union for the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association, they found that 60% of teachers (both elementary and secondary) have personally experienced violence on the job.  The survey was published in June 2017.  Some of the highlights of the survey are …

  • 60 per cent of teachers personally experienced violence.
  • 70 per cent of teachers witnessed violence.
  • 26 per cent of teachers took time off due to school violence affecting their mental health.
  • 15 per cent of violent acts involve weapons, 76 per cent of which using classroom objects.
  • Almost 25 per cent say school administration discouraged them from filing reports or going to the police.

Pan F.;  (2017, June 29) Violence against Catholic school teachers frequent, says survey.CBC News. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/kitchener-waterloo/waterloo-region-catholic-school-violence-against-teachers-oecta-1.4184015 

I know many people may be aware of violence against a teacher in the older grades but I have witnessed such violence in the students as young as Kindergarten.  On several occasions I has seen students be so violent that the teacher had to remove the other children from the class while the student ransacks the classroom. Does anyone stop them?  No.  They continue until they are done.  Some even continue their rampage into the hall destroying artwork, turning over furniture and hitting other people they see.  Then to make matters worst, they may go after the teacher or ECE in the room with an object as a weapon. 

Student on a Rampage

Unfortunately that is not the end of the behaviour.  I saw that once the student had finished their rampage they are not required to clean up the mess.  No, the teacher cleans it up.  I look at this and say, “What are we teaching the student? You can destroy public property, hit people and getaway with it?”  The last time I checked that is call vandalism and hitting another person with out their consent is called assault.  Both are offences in the Criminal Code of Canada but for some reason these students are not charged or their parents held accountable for their actions.  

I don’t want to say, “When I was a student …” but unfortunately something has changed.  The reality is not simply that I witnessed and was a recipient of student violence against teachers, but there is documented proof that there is an increase. The truly scary thing is that people I knew, family and former friends would not stand for any type of violence against them in their workplace, yet they don’t think this is an issue when it comes to teachers.  “If you don’t like it, get a real job.” some would say.  

I am not sure what is the answer to this issue, all I know is that there is an issue and colleagues of mine and myself are feeling the strain and physical violence and abuse of these students. Even parents are not concerned with their children being violent to adults and other children.  Every parent is out there to look after their child and make sure that they get an education almost and any cost.  Yet they forget one vital lesson that is more important than math, reading or writing, they need to learn caring and fairness for others. How is it fair for one student to disrupt the lives of 20 others and the teacher who is trying to help/teach them to be the best person they can be.  

Society needs to remember the words that Colin Powell once said …  

‘Children need to get a high-quality education, avoid violence and the criminal-justice system, and gain jobs. But they deserve more. We want them to learn not only reading and math but fairness, caring, self-respect, family commitment, and civic duty.’ Colin Powell

More than simple words but aspirations to live by.  

Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association;(June, 2017). Workplace Violence and Harassment Against Teachers: Results of a comprehensive members survey. http://www.catholicteachers.ca/OECTA/media/pdfs/News/2017/OECTA%20Survey%20on%20Violence%20in%20Schools/na_schoolViolence_v3_june27_2017_reduced.pdf

Friday Two Cents: Valentine’s Day Kindness


This past week many students had a lot of exciting things happening at school. Monday was the 100thday of the school year; Tuesday we had a rare snow day and the schools were closed; Wednesday report cards went home and Thursday was Valentine’s Day.   Yet I saw something during Valentine’s Day that I thought is worthy of mentioning.  In a school I work at, the kindergarten teachers decided to do something different and dare I say daring.  Instead of giving parents a class list for the students and parents to make Valentine’s cards, they helped the students to each make a card and have everyone in the class sign it.  

When I heard of this idea I loved it right away.  I know that it would be a lot of work for the teachers to organize but I thought this would teach the students so many things in the process. First off it is Eco (environmentally) friendly. How many of us would go out and buy or create cards for February 14thto simply throw them into the trash on the 15th. Second it is in line with the idea of inclusion in the classroom.  The idea is that everyone gets a card but we have all seen that not everyone gets one and that one child feels terrible when they do not get a card.  Or worse specific children are targeted to not get any cards because someone else tells everyone to not give them one.  Along that same idea not everyone can afford to purchase cards and if they make homemade ones they are ostracised because of it.  

Valentine’s Day Card

I was so impressed with the idea I suggested it to other teachers and parents at other schools. Yet their response was less than enthusiastic. Many flat out rejected the idea. They said that many of the parents are into doing the cards and they go all out with cards, candy and other stuff. In fact many students are not writing names or messages on the cards but the parents are.   

I found this interesting and a bit disturbing.  Yet from what I have observed in our society I should not be surprised.  There are a lot of people interested in only showing off and making themselves feel good at another’s expense.  These cards would alleviate all these problems and self-centredness for many people. In short it gives a small act of kindness to everyone in the class and I know that even a small act of kindness can make you feel amazing.    

Inspiring Words from my Colleagues

When I was in teacher’s college many of us, myself included, was stressed out and at our breaking point.  Yet during a class a colleague handed out pieces of paper each with our names on it. The sheets would go around the room and everyone would write one thing, a phrase or one word about what they like about that person or what best describes that person. After we each got the paper and I can tell you once I say all the comments the feeling was amazing.  When I heard of these valentine’s cards, it reminded me of that activity and how I felt receiving it in the end.  Yes the cards involve simply writing your name, but your classmates still took the time to sign your card.  To a child that simple act of kindness, signing their card, would go a long way to making them feel amazing.  

In the end isn’t that’s what Valentine’s Day all about.  Sharing love and kindness with others.  I am reminded of the famous quote by Aesop …

‘No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.’ Aesop

My deepest thanks and highest praise to my colleagues in the kindergarten program for implementing this wonderful Valentine’s Day act of kindness.  

Comic Strips: Hpy Valentine’s Day?


February the month when many search their heart to express how they feel about that someone special.  Yet in this digital world are we getting away with expressing ourselves only through a LED screen?  Do we truly know how to express ourselves without our phones?  With this in mind, it gave me plenty of material to think about for this month’s The Craziest Things.  

In many cases, people cannot live without their phones.  They call, text, surf and play endless games with it.  But has our obsession with our phones come to the point when it replaces our face-to-face interaction with others. How far with this go?  Only time will tell.  

I hope you enjoy February’s The Craziest Things: Hpy Valentine’s Day?

February The Craziest Things

Friday Two Cents: A Problem Solving Model


In it there are four levels to achieve your goal to solve a problem.  The great thing is that you can use this problem-solving model not just for mathematical problems but also other problems in you may face in your life.  Here is my break down of the model…

A couple of weeks ago I wrote several posts about resolutions and making plans to help you beat the winter blues.  I have always thought that planning out things helps to solve the problems that I face on a daily basis, yet I have wanted something tangible that I can see in black and white to help me explain it to others.  I did find such a piece when I took a mathematics additional qualification course a couple of years ago.  It was in the Ontario curriculum, Grades 1–8: Mathematics (revised) document of all places. It is on page 13, figure 1: Problem Solving Model.  

Understand the Problem (the exploratory stage)

This stage should be self-evident.  I cannot tell you how many times I would have students come up to me and say, “I don’t get it.”  Then I would ask, “Did you read the question?”  Most of them would say ‘Ahhh no.’  ‘READ THE QUESTION’ I would say and then look in the question for the pieces you need to answer it.  Others I would rephrase the question to emphasize the important information they may need.  Basically what is the question asking of you: what is the problem?  The best advise I say to people is talk to someone about the problem so you can see it for different angles, especially after you read it several times.  

Make A Plan

Is there another situation that you may have seen a similar problem?  I tell students don’t try and reinvent the wheel.  Or in other words don’t start from scratch look at another situations where you solved a similar problem and try and rework it for this situation.  In essence, “Make a Plan”, think of a strategy you used before and use that plan.  Tweak the plan to fit your needs.  

Carry Out the Plan

Put you plan into motion.  Draw, write, use objects to help you visualize the plan and then implement it. Use different tools to make you plan work, monitor it and make adjustments when needed.  If you planned for something and you don’t need it, don’t use it. Why waste time and energy when you do not need it. 

Look Back at the Solution

Check you results, go back to the question to make sure that it actually answers it.  Does it make sense?  You have to go through the process again from the beginning to refine you answer or correct any mistakes you may have seen.  Could you get the same result another way, perhaps and easier way? This way you can use that revised plan in the future.  

I created this visual to help myself and others try and visualize how to solve a problem.  Maybe it will inspire other teachers and students to think more about how any problem can be solved so long as you have the tools and desire to make the effort in trying.  Remember what Napoleon Hill once said …

‘Effort only fully releases its reward after a person refuses to quit.’ Napoleon Hill

A Problem Solving Model

Ontario Ministry of Education. (2005). The Ontario curriculum, Grades 1–8: Mathematics (revised). Toronto: Queen’s Printer for Ontario. http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/math18curr.pdf

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