Friday Two Cents: Students and Parents Learn About Federal Elections


On October 21, Canadians will be exercising their democratic rights and vote in a new federal government.  At a school I worked at this week, the grade 5 teachers are helping the students to understand the political parties stances’ on the issues that face Canadians today. The grade 5 curriculum for social studies focuses on the Canadian government.  What’s a better time than with the federal election to put academic study into practice.  Many have questions and opinions on a host of topics.  The amazing thing is that many parents are coming to school and telling the teachers that they are having meaningful conversations with their children about the election and Canadian politics. 

Yet the one thing that many of the students and parents mentioned was that many parents did not know the process or where each political party stands on with each issue.  From my point of view, I grew up in a family where politics is a serious conversation and we get excited about elections and election night as much as we do watching a sporting event.  Therefore I have to remember that in many families politics and the election in general, would not be a big issue.  

To that end I happened upon a bit of information that might help others with the upcoming vote on Monday October 21. Below are four brief synopsis on where the four major Canadian political parties (in alphabetical order) stand on the issues for the 2019 federal election.   

I am not telling who to vote for.  What I am saying is do the research and make up your own mind, but please go out and vote.  I remember one great quote about democracy …

‘Democracy is not the will of the majority but of those who show up.’ Author Unknown 

If only one group of people vote, the rest are allowing them to speak for them.  Something to keep in mind.

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Friday Two Cents: One Man Who Plays Many Parts


‘All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,’
As You Like It Act 2, scene 7, William Shakespeare

For me this quote from Shakespeare’s Jaques in As You Like it rang true to me this week.   For many students, parents and teachers in Canada this week marks the beginning of the school year.  For me it is also the beginning of another year where I must suffer the lings and arrows of not having a permanent teaching position and be content with the occasional teaching I will be looking forward to.  I do enjoy supply teaching yet my heart yearns for the day when I can have my own class.  To go in everyday to a group of students and help them make sense of new and wondrous things.  To see their eyes light up when they have discovered something new.  To have they joy of hearing “Oh I get it!”  Or to see wonderful little people grow before my eyes. 

Yes it would be magnificent, yet I am comfortable and truly grateful to have the opportunity to work with the students even for a day or two as a supply teacher.  When I went into my first classes this week as a supply teacher that quote came to me. Especially the line ‘And one man in his time plays many parts,’(As You Like It Act 2, scene 7, William Shakespeare).  If you truly think about it, I am that one man who plays many parts.  In the past year alone I was asked to go into over 35 different classrooms and situations to help.  As an elementary teacher you have to teach many different subjects.  Language, math, science and social students yet I taught those and others including music, dance, drama, visual arts, physical education, health, kindergarten and library.  I have never shirked from a new task and it is quite fortunate that I have some experience in all these subjects.  

I actually relish the opportunity to teach a variety of subjects.  And so I will press on, ever vigilant in finding opportunities to teach eager young minds when ever the opportunity arises.  Always looking for the chance to have my own class.  But always grateful to go into another’s classroom and play what ever part they need me to be.  

For every day I am living those lines from that play.  For …

All the school’s a stage,
And all the teachers and students merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
Yet I am the one man who comes in, to play many parts.  

Playing many parts.

Friday Two Cents: Dress Code


I was having a discussion with a couple of other teachers about a new dress code policy that the school board would be implementing in the coming school year.  Among some of the changes are that students will be able to wear tops that may expose shoulders, backs, stomachs, midriffs, necklines and cleavage and bottoms may expose legs, thighs and hips.  Also headgear (hats) will be permitted in the classroom so long as it does not obscure the face.  

The school board’s reason for the changes is to have a more student centric dress code that reflects student voice.  As well as to make it more equal to all nations and ethnic groups.  

The new dress code includes the following: 

  • Students must wear clothing that covers groin, buttocks and nipples in “opaque material”
  • Students may expose shoulders, stomachs, midriff, neck lines, and cleavage
  • Students may expose legs, thighs and hips
  • Students will not be permitted to wear undergarments as outwear, but straps and waistbands may be exposed
  • Students may wear any headwear that “does not obscure the face”
  • Students may not wear clothing that promotes “offensive, lewd, vulgar, or obscene images or language, including profanity, hate and pornography.”
  • Students may not wear clothing that promotes “discriminatory, Islamphobic, sexist, transphobic, homophobic, classist, abelist, or sizist” content
  • Students may not wear clothing that symbolizes, displays or references “tobacco, cannabis, alcohol, drugs or related paraphernalia”

As a supply teacher working with mostly elementary students, most of these rules do not affect many of the students I deal with. Yet much of the secondary teachers see this on a daily basis.  

Student Voice

My opinion on the matter is rather divided.  On the one hand I agree with the idea of student voice and being respectful to other cultures.  Yet on the other hand I see school as a student’s work place and many if not all workplaces have a dress code according to their corporate image.  Some places may even call it “dressing professionally”. 

As a student I went to a Catholic school with a school uniform.  At the time I did not like the idea of the uniform but the more I wore it the more I did not give it much thought, it was simply the thing to do.  Later in the military we all had uniforms.  Not until I left and started working did I realize how much mental effort was required to choose what you would be wearing to work the next day.  

School uniforms

I read an article that studied the effects of decision-making on our mental health.  It showed that we make hundreds of decisions in a day and after a time it begins to wear us down.  The study continued to say that we use up mental energy to make these decisions. That we have a limited amount of energy a day to make these decisions.  Of course in the morning deciding what to wear uses up some of that energy.  

They say the best way to reserve that energy is to make these decisions prior. Thereby having your clothes ready in the morning for you to wear.  When I had a uniform everyday I never had to think about what to wear.  I knew what to wear and it became a simple act of getting dressed.   Did this not thinking about what I would be wearing help me in school?  I am not sure but what I do know is that I do prepare my clothes the night before and I find that it is one less thing I have to worry about in the morning.  Which makes my morning routine that much easier. 

Perhaps instead of allowing an unlimited amount of choices to students and thereby using up their mental energy on deciding what to wear, maybe they should save that energy for other things.  Uniforms may not be desirable by many students but from my own experience I did find it easier and who knows, I could have had some extra energy for my studies, extra-curricular events and some “other” teenage activities.  Having one less thing to worry about as a teenager, that could have been enough to make sure I was one type of teenager and not another.  

Friday Two Cents: The Language Of Art


This past week I had completed my Additional Qualification course (AQ) on Visual Arts Part 2.  During this entire course I had the opportunity to learn new and exciting things to bring into the classroom for the students.  Some included techniques in areas that people would consider traditional art forms like painting, drawing, sculpting.  Other practices would be considered in new areas of art such as photography, Photoshop, digital art and word art. 

The one area I liked and was intrigued about was the language we would use to help the students express them selves in art.  In other words, it’s the language used in the art class.  Many classrooms have word walls for the students to help them understand, write and spell the words mostly used for literacy. Yet for other subjects, like math, there are other word walls that help the students understand the words or concepts within the subject.  To use math as an example …

Sum– the total amount resulting from the addition of two or more numbers.  

This helps the students use the language most used in the subject.  During this course I found some words that works with the Art curriculum.  I made a chart that can help students and other educators.  For just as Hippocrates once said …

‘The chief virtue that language can have is clearness, and nothing detracts from it so much as the use of unfamiliar words.’ Hippocrates

Art Word Chart Page 1

Hopefully these words can help others understand and create wonderful and meaningful pieces of art.  

Comic Strips: School’s Out For Summer


In Canada the end of the school year is at the end of June.  Both students and teachers look forward to a two-month summer break to relax and recharge for the upcoming year.  Interestingly I read a study that shows that teachers energy level for the school year is around 100% but as the school year moves on those energy levels slowly go down steadily until June.  The study continues to state that the teacher’s energy levels return to optimal in September.  It takes two months for people to recover from the previous school year.  No wonder people look forward to the break.  

This month’s comic plays on the idea that not only do students look forward to the break but so do teachers.  Instead of telling you about the comic I’ll simply let you enjoy it on your own. 

I hope you enjoy June’s The Craziest Things: School’s Out For Summer.

Art Inspiration: The Scottish Crew


For the past few months I have been posting my adventures in Scotland. The biggest reason I had such a wonderful time was due to the amazing people I went with.  They help make the Scotland Adventure a time to remember. They encouraged me to test my limits and seek out new adventures and experiences.  They in short inspired me.  Therefore it is not surprising that I was inspired to draw and creature some art based around what I have affectionately called The Scottish Crew.  

I therefore took on the task to create Steampunk caricatures of the Scottish Crew.  I have already created two caricatures out of the group of four on previous occasions. One being myself, The Captain and the other as a Steampunk Scott’s woman. Below are all four in a final picture entitled “The Scottish Crew”.  Each caricature is similar and inspired by the same symbols I created for the Scotland Adventure logo.  

The person to the far left has been called Viking and he quite looks the part. Therefore I drew him as a Viking with the helmet I drew for the logo.  The next person I drew as a Steampunk Scott’s woman.  She rather fits the part and she loved the caricature. The third person is tall and of French background, so I drew her as a Femme Fatale. The dress and two pistols seemed to fit her personality.  And the final person is my caricature as a Steampunk Captain. I then placed everyone in front of a famous landmark in Scotland, Eilean Donan Castle.   

There you have it; The Scottish Crew. I hope you enjoy this inspiring piece as much as I enjoyed drawing it for the people who inspired me to create it.   

Comic Strips: The Fundamentals


If you ask any of the students I have taught, what is my favourite sport, their response would undoubtedly be baseball. Therefore it makes sense to put in an instalment or two centred one the students and the game.  

I played baseball as a child and as an adult so whenever I can I love to help out with school softball teams (boys and girls). As a supply teacher I cannot be an official coach but that’s fine with me.  I find I have a tremendous amount of enjoy helping the students develop their love for the game.  People asked me, “Don’t you want to be seen as a coach?  Get the recognition?”  I say no, I am not here to get recognition.  I simply want to help the students learn the game and more importantly have fun doing so.  

That’s where this comic came from.  I help wherever I can and when I do it is usually with the fundamentals.  Pitching, throwing or batting. This situation came out of helping some students and I thought of this scene as a “What if” scenario.  And the rest as they say is history.  

I hope you enjoy May’s The Craziest Things: The Fundamentals.

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