Comic Strips: Complain, Complain, Complain

 Being a supply teacher and an artist, I sometimes have the opportunity to combine my passions.  Creating my comic strip entitled The Craziest Things is one of them.  The genesis of this comic strip came from the situations I have observed from the students.  I thought it would be great to create a comic strip based on those situations and thus The Craziest Things was born.  

Going back to work or school after winter break is difficult for many people.  Yet many look forward to getting back into a routine.  For some there are other reasons. 

I find it fascinating how parents underestimate their influence on their children.  Many think that playing with them, helping them with their homework or directly spending time with them is the only direct influence they have on them.  Yet it’s the times that they do not that might have the most influence.  Parents are always surprised at how much their children pick up when they think that they are not listening.  I have seen this in many classrooms.  You can tell right away when the students are talking about something in the real world, that there might be a parental influence there.  

I hope you enjoy January’s The Craziest Things: Complain, Complain, Complain.

Friday Two Cents: Small Contributions Bring Great Rewards

I had the opportunity to be part of a class’s expiration into the print media.  The regular teacher was doing an activity with the students on creating their own newspaper.  They would be creating the articles for the paper and a parent would be putting it together for them.  Yet the teacher asked me to create something unique for the paper.  She asked me to create a comic that highlighted the creative process the students went though to create their articles.  

I was flattered and I agreed right away.  It would be a great opportunity for me to help the students’ learning and to create an original art piece for the students to enjoy.  I told the teacher I could create a different comic for each stage of the process with a little humour thrown in.  

Below are the four stages the students went through …

Students working on together to create their interview questions.

The students interviewing a person. 

The students on a computer typing out their article from the information thy gathered in the interview.  

Finally the students reading their finished articles int he newspaper that they helped to create.

Once I got the four stages I went about creating a little comic for each.  I decided to create two students that I would use for each stage.  I started thinking like the students and how they would feel and from what I have observed, how would they react to the assignment.  After that, the words and characters came to life on the paper.  The teacher and parent volunteer loved them and were grateful for the creative and funny addition to the students work.  As well as the students.  I told them I was flattered to be asked and to help the students in their expiration and learning, even in a small way.  

You can see the final comics below.  

That’s what I love about teaching.  No matter how small your contribution is to the students learning, the greater the positive rewards are for all involved.  Even for me.  

Friday Two Cents: The Teaching Iceberg

With the ongoing dispute between the government and teachers, I have been hearing more and more people weighing in on the current situation.  Yet I have heard many people are continuing to spout the usual negative view of teachers.  “Oh what do they have to complain about. They have paid vacations, summers off and they finish work at 3 pm.”  are some of the things I hear and not only from parents and the public. Some are from my own family.  I have said many times that if only they truly knew what teaching truly entails.  

It is almost like seeing an iceberg.  What you see on top of the water is very different than what you see underneath.  This metaphor can be used in teaching.  People only see the top or what is in front of them, they never see underneath or what is behind the senses.  

Well I put my visual and graphic arts skills to work and came up with this poster.  I found many things to go underneath and I will explain them but I realize that there may be more to add. 

What people do not see about teaching …

That we are teaching life skills – we teach strategies to help the students in their daily life.   Money, time, reading, writing and many people forget this one, social skills.  Working and living with others is skill like any other.   

30+ students in one room in middle school and kindergarten classrooms – if you have ever been in a room of more that 20 people all having their own individual conversations or ways of doing something, then you know that it is not the most productive environment.  

We can make mistakes and still be good teachers – everyone makes mistakes the only thing we can do is learn from them and try not to make the same ones again.  Hmm isn’t that what we expect from our students?

That we are counsellors, confidantes and nurses – I have my first aid certification and I cannot tell you how many times a day I have to use it.  Not to mention students telling me things that they only feel comfortable telling me and not anyone else.  

We are human – yet we are expected to be super human and infallible.  

We love our students like our own – I am guilty of this.  

The biased assessments that we are required to give.  I challenge ANY politician to take the EQAO tests. – enough said.

Sports, clubs and extracurricular activities are all volunteer time – every extracurricular activity be it sports or clubs is volunteer work by the teachers. We do not get paid to these activities.  It is not part of the job description.  We do them because we want to and we want the students to learn a new skill outside the classroom and ultimately have fun doing it.   

Our “paid vacation (Summer, winter and spring break)” is actually our 9 month salary spread over 12 months.  – We are not paid for the summer, winter or spring breaks.  Our salary is spread over the 12 months.  And we supply teachers, if we don’t work, we don’t get paid.  

PA days is actually Professional Development – students are not in school but teachers are.  We have those days to learn, to be up to date in our training and professional development to better help the students.  

Grading papers on our own time – if we do not grade the work at school many bring it home and do it.  

Poverty – many teachers live in poverty.  These are some of the population who are classified as the working poor.  

The struggles of our students, some are living nightmares – if you knew what some of these students (children) have to live with, it would make you cry.  

Public scrutiny – no matter what teachers do either good or bad the public will constantly judge them.  Sometimes for something as simple as their personality or what they wear.  

The accountability – no matter what you do you are accountable the students, parents, administration and government.  

Physical, verbal and emotional abuse from parents and students. – I have been and seen this everywhere I go.  Yet in other workplaces if this is happening there would be an intervention and it would stop immediately.  But teachers are expected to take it?

Helping students after school – who remembers going after school, during lunch or at recess and have the teacher help them with something.  

The hours of lesson planning – for every lesson plan it sometimes takes hours to set up and implement.  And many teachers do 4 – 6 lessons a day.  Imagine the extra time needed for all of them.  

Parent teacher conferences – we are accountable the parents and we always work around the parents schedule to met them.  

ILP meetings – Individual Lesson Plans – for students who are having difficulty, teachers create an ILP to help the students in their learning.  These take hours if not days to create and months to implement.  Imagine in a class or 20 you have 9 ILPs. I do not have to imagine because I have seen it with my own eyes.  

An iceberg.  Yes if only the public knew what it takes to be a teacher they may not complain so much.  If only.  

Friday Two Cents: Giving Some Joy

Well the Christmas season is upon us.  For me that means decorating for Christmas at my home but there is one thing that I love to set up outside my home. No I am not talking about my outdoor light, which I do anyways.  I am talking about my Christmas Town and Train.  Yet at a public school it is a bit harder to show my Christmas spirit because we have to be sensitive to other cultures and be politically correct.

I hand-made and painted my Christmas Town & Train. It took me over 10 years to collect, paint and create a 19th century Dickens style town. That’s right no cars only horse and buggy, a blacksmith, shops, many Victorian homes, a steam train and of course I have a castle. 

Yet for some reason this year I had no desire to put out the town.  I cannot put my finger on exactly why I do not feel like putting it out.  Perhaps it is a combination of several things.  The constant labour dispute happening with the government.  The fact that I am still looking for a permanent position while others complain while working a full time position. The rampant selfishness of the students and adults in the schools I go into.  Thinking only about doing things for themselves without thinking of others.  Everyday I see this and it puts a damper on everything and I feel like nothing is getting better.  So when it came to my Christmas Town & Train I thought, “Why should I put this out for people who only care for themselves.  What joy do I get out of it? Just a lot of hard work that no one appreciates.”  That thought stayed with me for a few moments and then I thought of the joy it gives people when they do see it and those thoughts go away.  

So this past week I did mount my Christmas Town and Train and of course the reactions of everyone who saw it was joyous.  The students love the train and town and many said that they look forward to it.  The same can be said of the adults.  And with those happy comments the feeling of melancholy was wiped away with some simple smiles on the side.  

I have to remember that the Christmas Town and Train is not about how I feel during this time of year but me giving some joy and happiness to others. 

This year I added some new touches to the town but they are not in these pictures. They are still being built and painted but I will let you see them soon.

Happy Christmas.   

Comic Strips: The Policy

 Being a supply teacher and an artist, I sometimes have the opportunity to combine my passions.  Creating my comic strip entitled The Craziest Things is one of them.  The genesis of this comic strip came from the situations I have observed from the students.  I thought it would be great to create a comic strip based on those situations and thus The Craziest Things was born.  


The “Me Too” moment came out of the entertainment industry and has grown to span the globe.  Its effects can be felt in different fields and why not in the professional sports fields such as the National Hockey League. Students today are inundated with information on every media outlet there is on the ongoing developments.  Entertainment, politics and now sports.  How far will their minds push this movement and belief.    

I hope you enjoy December’s The Craziest Things: The Policy.

Friday Two Cents: Smarter Than Adults Give Them Credit For

This week I was supplying in a school where the teacher asked me to do an art lesson with their class.  The teacher knew of my artistic background and asked if I could teach their students to draw a self portrait.  I said sure and that it would go well with the math lesson on shapes and attributes I would be teaching them earlier in the day.  

The day went well and the students were very excited for the art lesson. I told them that they would be drawing faces in the style used by comic books like Marvel, DC and also by Disney to create their characters’.  They are grade 3s so I went through the steps of creating a face using shapes for each part.  Large circle for the skull and small for the pupils.  Ovals for the jaw and eyes as well as a triangle for the nose.  I also showed them the lines of symmetry in the face to help them place the different elements onto the face.  

During the lesson the students were asking me all sorts of questions.  Mostly about the different comic book characters.  “How would you make Captain America’s helmet?”  “How do you draw Belle’s hair?”  Additionally, I mentioned that they could also create their own cartoon character like Pokemon, or others like Bugs Bunny using the same technique.  That was when many in the class looked confused and did not know who I was talking about.  I mentioned, and showed images on the computer of other Loonie Tunes characters.  

They said that they knew who I was talking about but many said that they could not see them because their parents would not let them see it.  I asked why and they said that they were too violent.  I could see their point, the coyote blowing stuff up, falling off a cliff or or shooting a duck in the face.  Some of them did see those cartoons and I asked them “You know that those cartoons right?”  They said oh yes, that it wasn’t real.  So after that I moved on with the lesson.  

The rest of the day was fantastic and I dismissed the students at the end of the day.  Yet I could not help but think about what the students said about the cartoons.  It wasn’t the fact that many did not know the cartoons but the fact that their parents did not let them see them because they thought that they were too violent; and yet the fact that the students knew that these were just cartoons, not real.  

I remember seeing these cartoons when I was younger and I remember knowing that they were just cartoons, not real.  Many of the parents today were like me growing up with these cartoons but I do not remember anyone placing dynamite under someones chair or building a canon so they can be shot out of it.  We knew it was not real.  So what happened?  Did they grow up and all of a sudden they think their children aren’t smart enough to know that what they see on tv, YouTube and in movies are not real?  

No.  I think children are as smart as before.  Perhaps the parents want to shelter their children from these images.  Perhaps they think these cartoons will influence them in a negative way.  Parents, I’ll let you in on a secret.  If you did not think these cartoons are real I think you can trust your children to know this too.  Children are a lot smarter than many adults give them credit for.  It was the same thing when I was a kid and now I can see it in the students I teach.  

Parents think they know best and in most cases they are right.  But once in a while trust your children, give them some freedom to express themselves.  They can surprise you.  All they need is for you to believe they can make the right choices.  Heck we did.  

Comic Strips: I Can’t Wait

 Being a supply teacher and an artist, I sometimes have the opportunity to combine my passions.  Creating my comic strip entitled The Craziest Things is one of them.  The genesis of this comic strip came from the situations I have observed from the students.  I thought it would be great to create a comic strip based on those situations and thus The Craziest Things was born.  

. . .

These days the students are very aware of their place in the world.  With the internet, global issues such as climate change and pollution are things that they know more about than previous generations.  Yet for all their knowledge and limitless information they turn out to be as human as any child at their age from any generation. 

  I hope you enjoy November’s The Craziest Things: I Can’t Wait.

Ailish Sinclair

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