Friday Two Cents: I Will Start The Ripples


In Canada, the end of the current school year is fast approaching and several colleagues asked me for something very interesting that took me awhile to truly come up with a response.   These colleagues knew that I have been to several schools as an occasional/supply teacher (OT) and they asked my opinion on particular schools that I have been to. Specifically what I thought about these schools. Their request came from their consideration on transferring to those schools.

I told them that what I find desirable might not be what they may like. They knew this and they had already talked to other OTs about these schools and got either an unfavourable or favourable critic on that school. Yet they said they respected my opinion because I was an unbiased third-party and that I usually look at things from all points of views unlike many of the other OTs. I found this rather flattering and I took their requests to heart. After reflecting about their requests, I told them my opinions about the schools. They thanked me and in giving my opinions I too discovered some interesting things.
The one very interesting fact or follow-up question had been on the staff dynamic in the school. This did not surprise me but the one thing I noticed did. I found that the schools that had the closest staff or good staff dynamic where the ones that regularly ate together in the staff room. Not just lunch but during recess too. This all came together on the day when the media was promoting ‘Eat Together Day.’   It is a promotion by a grocery chain here in Canada and several media outlets for people to eat with their colleagues and family.

Eating together.

They surveyed Canadians and found that 59% say that eating alone is the norm. Twenty-five percent like to spend their meal time catching up with personal business, 23% think that they are too busy to stop what they are doing and 12% spend their time on social media without interruption. And yet without knowing these facts and figures I rated the school as desirable or not almost along the lines of these survey results.
I found the schools with good staff dynamics and  desirable were the ones that ate together. Yet what was interesting is when I talked to other OTs. The ones that fell into that 59% of eating alone liked the school that had most of the staff eating alone, where the others did not. I know it is very subjective but I found this observation quite telling.
Upon reflection I shouldn’t be too surprised. This only proves that we humans are hard-wired to be social animals. We have been eating together or breaking bread since the dawn of civilization. Yes there are times we want or need to be alone but I fear that with the digital world and social media right at your finger tips, this may be changing and not for the better. Even without thinking about it, I realized that a close staff dynamic is what I look for in a desirable school and many others want this too.  
Yet it comes down to the staff themselves. If they want a close staff dynamic, they are the ones who need to put the effort into that relationship. I for one will continue to eat in the staff rooms of the schools where I go into and interact with the staff. It may take a while and repeated effort on my part but sometimes it only takes one person.

It is like the tail of the ripples in the pond. So small at first but look how they grow. But someone has to start them.

Someone has to start them.

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

Advertisements

Friday Two Cents: A Matter Of Perspective


 

I found myself reflecting on a lot of topics these past two weeks. The provincial election, international politics, sports, colleague integrations and a host of other subjects have been on my mind a great deal. Yet one subject matter has dominated my time like no other.

I am an occasional (supply) teacher in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and as you may guess I have been rather busy these past few months supplying in many classrooms. Where ever I go the staff have been welcoming and friendly. The students are their usual selves, trying to take advantage of a supply teacher as I use to do when I was a student. I have found going into different schools a great education in how other teachers instruct their students and I have learned a few technics and picked up a lot of ideas along the way. Yet one situation found me trying to be sympathetic, but I could not be.
At this time of year many teachers receive their assignments for the following school year to help them prepare for the grade they will teach. This allows them to prepare resources at the end of the year for the new group of students they will see in September. Most of my colleagues are happy with this time and are making every effort to prepare while finishing up the year. However I have met a few who are frankly upset with the assignment they received and in some instances openly cry and are physically upset with what they have. I understand that if you did not get what you were hoping for that you might be upset, but this reaction was not what I expected.
In truth I look at these people with permanent full-time jobs, complaining about their assignments as losing perspective. In fact they should be grateful that they even have a permanent position. You see I have not had a permanent job since the year 2000. That’s 18 years of working part-time jobs, getting my degrees and working contract positions always wondering when and where my next pay cheque will come from. It wasn’t for a lack of trying to find a job but I had to work hard to get even those positions. At one point I even took on 3 part-time jobs to simply make ends meet. Therefore when I see these people look at the negative side of having a job simply because they do not like what they got, I truly have no sympathy for them.
From my perspective, if I were in their shoes, yes I would be upset that I did not get what I wanted, however I would try to look to the positives. The first one being the most important, I have a job in a field I enjoy. I have colleagues I can rely on and ask for help if the need arises. Change is not always a bad thing; it gives you a fresh new way of looking at things. Just as Dan Brown once said …

 

‘Sometimes a change of perspective is all it takes to see the light.’ Dan Brown

 

Perhaps those people should look from my perspective and the perspective of others who are in similar situations. I wonder how they would react then?

 

Scotland Adventure: Day 6; Edinburgh Castle


So far day six has been a rather busy day. Exploring the Royal Mile, St. Giles’s Cathedral, the Heart of Midlothian and yet with all this, the day’s adventure was only half done.

We stopped for lunch and this is where we decided to split off. Two of my friends had to go meet a friend for dinner while my other friend and I went to explore a few more sights. Our first stop would be Edinburgh Castle. We arrived close to closing time but we had enough time to explore only one of the castle’s amazing sights. Within the castle we had several areas to explore but we decided to view the Scottish Crown Jewels. Within the royal palace I was able to see the many artefacts and images of the kings and queens of Scotland but the grand finale were the crown jewels of Scotland.
The Scottish Crown Jewels, Scottish Regalia or Honours of Scotland date back to the 15th and 16th centuries and are the oldest surviving set of crown jewels in the British Isles and have never left Scottish soil. They were used in the coronation of Mary, Queen of Scots in 1543 up until Charles II in 1651. Since then they have been used to represent Royal Assent in both the Estates of Parliament and the Scottish Parliament. They were also used in state occasions such as the first visit of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.
There are three primary pieces to the Honours of Scotland; The Crown, The Sceptre and The Sword of State. They also appear in the royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom. The red lion of Scotland is wearing the crown and holding the sword and sceptre. I found some information on each of the pieces …

 

The Crown
In 1540, the crown was remodeled by James V, by Edinburgh gold smith John Mosman. It weights 3 lbs 10 ozs, or 1.644 Kg. It was made from Scottish gold from the Crawford Moor mine and encrusted with 22 gemstones and 20 precious stones from the original crown and freshwater pearls from Scotland.

The Sceptre
A gift from Pope Alexander VI to James IV in 1494 and then remodeled in 1536.  Made of silver gilt and topped with polished rock (possibly Cairngorm) and a Scottish pearl.   It also has religious symbols on it including the Virgin Mar hold Christ, St. James the Great and St. Andrew holding a saltire or the Cross of St. Andrew.  

The Sword of State
A gift from Pope Julius II to James IV in 1507. It is an etched blade about 4.5 mtetres long that includes the figures of St. Peter and St. Paul. The sword was damaged, broken in half to be hidden in 1652 when it was being hidden from Cromwell’s troops.

Honours of Scotland and Stone of Destiny

One other item that is not part of the Honours of Scotland but housed with them is the Stone of Scone. Also known as the Stone of Destiny or the Coronation stone it is housed with the Honours of Scotland. It is a rather unimpressive large block of red sandstone that was used in the coronation for many Scottish and later English monarchs for centuries. However, this artefact was kept in the now-ruined Scone Abbey in Scone, near Perth Scotland. It was also known as Jacob’s Pillow Stone and Tanist Stone. It is about 66 cm (26 inches) by 42.5 cm (16.75 inches) by 27 cm (10.5 inches) and weights about 152 Kg (336 pounds). It has a rough incised cross on one surface and iron rings on either end, probably for easier transport. It was last used in the coronation of Elizabeth II.
In resent history a group of Scottish Nationalists stole the stone back to Scotland in 1950 but it was quickly returned. This has brought into question the authenticity of the stone. Yet in 1996, as a symbolic response to Scottish dissatisfaction with the British Government, they decided the stone should be kept in Scotland when it is not being used in coronations. On November 15 1996 a handover ceremony was held at the border and the transported to Edinburgh Castle. On November 30th 1996, St. Andrew’s Day, it arrived at the castle for the official handover ceremony. Prince Andrew, Duke of York, representing Queen Elizabeth II, formally handed over the Royal Warrant transferring the stone in the safe keeping of the Commissioners of Regalia.

 

Honours of Scotland and Stone of Destiny

We only had a few hours to read through the history of the Honours of Scotland and also viewed them. I was told that if you like history Scotland has a lot to offer, well I was not disappointed. From kings and castles and now the Honours of Scotland I could spend the days just reading the writing on the rich history Scotland has to offer. But this day I was privileged to view a few pieces of history that has affected the destiny of millions of people.

SaveSave

Scotland Adventure: Day 6; The Heart Of The Matter


Outside the St. Giles’s Cathedral is a very famous landmark in Edinburgh known as the Heart of Midlothian. It is near the west door of St. Giles’s High Kirk on the High Street section near the Duke of Buccleuch statue. It is also near the Parliament House, which use to hold the Scottish Parliament but it is now the home of the Court of Session. The Heart of Midlothian is a heart-shaped mosaic made from granite setts and built into the adjacent cobble stone walk way. It is named after the historic county of Midlothian, which Edinburgh is a part of.

If you are in Edinburgh you may find the locals doing something rather disgusting to this famous artistic landmark; they would spit on it. Not something you would think people would do to something that looks pleasing to the eye but there are a few traditions and stories around spitting on the heart. Some say it is good luck to spit on the heart; others that it is a gesture of good luck for the Edinburgh football team the Hearts F.C. For visitors, the only way to guarantee your return to Scotland/Edinburgh someday is if you spit on the heart. Yet as nice and interesting as those stories may be, the true legend of the Heart of Midlothian is a right more interesting.

 

The heart is actually located at where the Old Tolbooth building once stood. Built in the 14th century the building housed the administration centre of the town and the prison. In fact the heart is the location of the front entrance to this infamous prison. It had a reputation all across the United Kingdom (UK) because of its vile, damp and dark conditions. No one was safe within these walls for it housed every manner of person from petty thieves to murders and even the innocent. Stories of torture were not unheard of here too.  
Bad as all that sounds it did not stop there. The Old Tolbooth was also the location for many public executions by hanging. Many were tortured and then left for dead, while others were publicly mocked by wearing iron collars. If that was not bad enough body parts and severed heads were impaled as a warning to others to not engage in criminal activity. The conditions at the prison got so bad that Mary, Queen of Scots stepped in , in 1571 and had a New Tolbooth built. The Heart was built at the doorstep of the New Tolbooth yet torture and executions continued until it too was finally torn down in 1817.

The Old Tolbooth building

Many believe that the spitting came from the people expressing loathing at the acts of atrocities, while others say that it is an insult by the debtors that were released from the prison. Some Scottish people say it is way to show their disdain for the authorities and this is possibility why I heard all over Scotland ‘The Law is only a suggestion.’
Whatever the reason I too spat on the heart, as a precaution so that I guarantee my return to Edinburgh. Yet after doing the research into the Heart of Midlothian I appreciate my act a bit more. Yes I too have a disdain for what happened at the Old and New Tolbooth, but I am more of a rogue/pirate at heart and I love the idea of showing my contempt for the authorities, therefore I too will take that Scottish phrase ‘The Law is only a suggestion.’; to “heart” as well.  

Heart of Midlothian

Scotland Adventure: Day Five: An Artistic Evening


 

Once in Edinburgh, we checked into a wonderful bed and breakfast and decided to relax a bit after a busy day because the evening would be filled with more exciting things. We would be meeting up with a few friends, of my traveling companions, from Scotland for dinner. However we took the opportunity to take in two sights on our way to dinner.

We would be having dinner with ever one in Falkirk, about a 45-minute drive from Edinburgh. Yet two incredible artist and engineering landmarks are within a few kilometres of the restaurant. The first landmark we went to was the Falkirk Wheel. A marvellous feat of engineering that is described as a 21-century lock system that replaces the previous 11 locks that connected two canals. It is a rotating boat lift that connects the Forth and Clyde Canal to the Union Canal which opened in 2002. The wheel raises and lowers boats about 24 metres to and from the aqueduct. To explain how it works would take too long, therefore I have added two YouTube videos that explains the mechanisms and principles of the Falkirk Wheel.

 

I have seen this marvel on a number of videos but seeing it was rather impressive. From this artistic and engineering wonder, we went to another beautiful and impressive artistic and engineering marvel, the Kelpies. The Kelpies are 30-metre high structures of horse heads. They are next to the Forth and Clyde Canal and River Carron. They were designed by sculptor Andy Scott and completed in 2013. The Kelpies were meant to be a monument to the horse powered heritage of Scotland. However there is a more mystical background to what are the Kelpies.
Kelpies or water kelpie refers to a shape-shifting water spirit that would inhabit the lochs and pools of Scotland. They are usually described as appearing as a horse but is able to appear in human form. Some of the myths say that they retain their hooves in human form, sometimes associating them with Satan. Most every loch in Scotland has a kelpie story but the most famous is Loch Ness. The origins are believed to be that these where wicked water horses used to warn children not to go near water or for women to beware of handsome strangers.
The Kelpie is usually described as a powerful and beautiful black horse that lives in the deep waters of rivers and streams in Scotland, preying on humans it encounters.   One folk tale from Barra (an island in the North west of Scotland) goes like this …

 

‘A lonely kelpie that transforms itself into a handsome young man to woo a pretty young girl it was determined to take for its wife. But the girl recognizes the young man as a kelpie and removes his silver necklace (his bridle) while he sleeps. The kelpie immediately reverts to its equine form, and the girl takes it home to her father’s farm, where it is put to work for a year. At the end of that time the girl rides the kelpie to consult a wise man, who tells her to return the silver necklace. The wise man then asks the kelpie, once again transformed into the handsome young man the girl had first met, whether if given the choice it would choose to be a kelpie or a mortal. The kelpie in turn asks the girl whether, if he were a man, she would agree to be his wife. She confirms that she would, after which the kelpie chooses to become a mortal man, and the pair are married.’ McNeil (2001), pp. 68-72.

 

 

When I first saw these structures we were driving along the highway and out of nowhere they appear beside the road larger than life. We were able to get there after dark to get some amazing photos of the Kelpies. They truly are a sight to behold in person. These 30-metre high horse heads rising out of the ground, illuminated in different colours were simply spectacular to behold.
We spent quite a long time taking photos and looking at them from every angle, yet we had to leave the Kelpies to meet up with our dinner companions. For even though we saw some amazing sculptures, we did not want to miss out on the best part Scotland had to offer; the amazing people who make this country the marvel that it truly is.  

 

Enjoying a wonderful dinner with my new Scottish friends.

SaveSave

SaveSave

Comic Strips: Anti-Virus Software


This month’s instalment of, The Craziest Things has less to do with the flu shot and more to do with talking in a language that the students’ understand. Whenever I am in a classroom and doing a lesson, the biggest issue I have as a teacher is if the students understand the concept that is being put forward to them. Whether it be math, language or even art; if the student does not understand, it is up to me to help them.

On many occasions I will present something and ask if they understand and I get blank looks, so I then ask how would you explain it to me? Or I would even use something totally different like sports or draw it out to try to help their understanding. That is where this cute like comic came out of. Many of the students where talking about the flu shot some time ago and I know that many take it because their parents told them to. However, I wondered how they relate the flu shot in a modern way and thought of the computer analogy.

I hope you enjoy the latest instalment of, The Craziest Things; Anti-Virus Software.

Comic Strips: Tap, Tap, Tap.


 

I was unable to post last months instalment of, The Craziest Things do to my busy schedule outside the country, therefore I will post last months this week and April’s next week.

In this comic I explore the growing trend of this generation of students using more and more technology instead of traditional media, such as EBooks instead of real books. Mind you many of the students today use books but surprisingly I have actually seen this with the some students. I would imagine it would be the same for me if the past generation gave me a slide rule to calculate math problems, where I am use to a calculator.

This is a funny take on technology and how much it has progressed and entered every aspect of our lives. But in some ways it is a reflection on who we are. If we only look forward and forget where we came from what does mean for us as a society. I remember a quote …

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. George Santayana

With this in mind, I hope you enjoy the latest instalment of, The Craziest Things; Tap, Tap, Tap.

SaveSave

Sauce Box

Never get lost in the Sauce

The Trombonist's Mouthpiece

Music, education, and philosophy

Paul Gauchi

My innermost thoughts I wish to share. These things Inspire me, maybe they will inspire you.

Lucia Lorenzi

the body politic: musings and meanderings

Eternal Atlantis

Official Website of Luciana Cavallaro

The Art Studio by Mark Moore

Where Imagination Becomes Realality

Daniel is funny

Monsters, Jokes, Analogies

A Step onto the Road

The journeying of a literary hopeful

teachingontheverge

Thinking deeply about education

The Baggage Handler

I made the impossible easy in both worlds!

Bucket List Publications

Indulge- Travel, Adventure, & New Experiences

Belief Blog

Spreading the Power of Belief

The First Gate

Stories, Dreams, Imagination, Soul

Chris Martin Writes

Sowing seeds for the Kingdom

Unbound Boxes Limping Gods

The writer gives life to a story, the reader keeps it alive.

Mama Cormier

.... my journey to a healthy life, making new memories and so much more

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.