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.

 

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Art inspiration: My Nativity Project, My Heritage


 

ArtInspirationPaulGLogo

In the last post I mentioned that I finished creating my nativity scene for the outside of my home. In total it took about 3 weeks of work to finish the project but I am more than happy with the final results.

After drawing the images onto the primed piece of wood I began the process of painting the characters. Just like any art project I thought of layers and what colours would be in the back and which ones in front. I began painting them with their main colour and the background. Painting this scene I constantly remembered the amazing frescos that Michelangelo painted. I wondered what he thought of as he painted those amazing scenes and I could not be more humbled and inspired to do my best as I painted my scene using his technique.
In the middle of my painting I created the top part of the scene with the remainder of the wood. The top part would be modeled on images of buildings from Jerusalem and places I saw in Malta on my numerous visits. I measured, cut and primed the piece as I did with the lower part/stable. Once dry I painted it the same colour as the background of the stable. I added a few details to make it my realistic such as cracks and brickwork to make it look old and weathered.
The top of the stable was relatively easy to paint in comparison to the lower piece with the characters. For obvious reasons it required extra care and more details. In the final stage you can see that I added homes and buildings, which were indicative of the Bethlehem area, in the background of the lower piece of the stable.
Once I finished painting the characters I then attached the upper piece of the stable to the lower part. I used left over wood as reinforcement with wood screws to attach the pieces together. I then attached a 2”x4” to the lower piece as a stabilizer so it can stand with some support. Once attached, I gave the entire nativity scene a coat of clear varnish to help protect the painting from the elements.
With all this complete I finally mounted the finish nativity scene onto my veranda. The interesting thing is that once it was up my family commented that in Malta the nativity scene is the centre of our Christmas celebrations and not the Christmas tree as it is in most of North America.
Here I am in Canada and I do have a tree but I have always had a nativity scene in my home. Christmas is not Christmas without a nativity scene. Now that I have one outside I feel more connected to my cultural heritage than before. Perhaps it has something to do with my visit to Québec this summer. There I felt connected to the culture both through my knowledge as well through the people I interacted with. I saw first hand the importance and beauty Canadian and Québec culture has to offer. I discovered that this is apart of my Canadian heritage but I also have my Maltese heritage that my parents gave me. The two are not separate but intertwined within the country I live in and within me.

Proud Canadian Military History


Fort York Courtesy of National Post

Fort York
Courtesy the National Post

Yesterday, we in Toronto celebrated the 200th anniversary of the Battle of York.  For those of you how do not know that was a battle that was fought in now Toronto in 1813(then called York).  Back then the colonies of what would become Canada fought against the Americans in the war of 1812.  They attacked the city/town and the fort on April 27, 1813.  The defenders of York could not hold against the American army so they blow-up the power magazine so not to fall into the hands of the enemy.  The explosion was so large that the attacking army suffered heavy loses.

  The attacking Americans were so upset by this they proceeded to loot and burn buildings in the city.  Many citizens were not motivated to fight the Americans but after these acts by their forces, the people rallied and took a not active stance against the Americans.  The Americans won the battle but it was not as decisive as they thought it would be and it helped to spur on a people.

Military Parade  Courtesy of CP24

Military Parade
Courtesy  CP24

  Yesterday we celebrated this moment in our history.  We usually do not celebrate military victories but I for one am glad that we did.  We Canadians may not have been born out of conflict like the Americans, or glorify our battles like the English, French, Germans or Russians but we are still proud of what our soldiers have done to protect our country.

  For even though our national symbol may be a beaver, the heart that beats within would terrify any eagle, bear or lion.

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