Friday Two Cents: Teach The World

With the Christmas season upon us I indulged on a yearly tradition of setting up my Christmas town at school. A couple of students and the principal asked how long I have been setting up the town at the school. I told them it is the 8th year I have set it up, yet I started building the town about 10 years prior to that starting with only 5 buildings that I hand painted and with a simple train. Today it has grown to over 50 builds, all hand painted and some that I built myself.

Many have told me that once the town goes up then they start to feel that the Christmas season has arrived. I too feel this once I put up the town, my tree and my nativity scene, which are all up now, the feeling of the Christmas season is upon me. Yet with this feeling of joy and happiness there comes a bit of melancholy. Not because there are those who do not have much, I do feel for them but mostly for the people who have too much. For them Christmas is about acquiring things, or making sure that they get the perfect gift for someone so that you can look good; in other words, excessive consumerism.  
Mind you I do go out and get presents for my family, but I always add a personal note letting them know I care about them. Yet as I walk around the malls I have to laugh to myself. I do love to shop but shopping for me is looking at all the people as they scurry around obsessed with getting stuff. I love their reaction when they get the thing and when they cannot. They seem to miss the point of the whole Christmas season and spirit.  
Christmas for me is about giving thanks for what I have like my health, family and my passions. It’s not about getting or giving stuff; it’s about appreciating the time you have with others, about giving yourself to them to help them feel happy too. For me the tree, the nativity scene and the town is a symbol that everyone in my life is truly special to me. From my immediate to my extended family, close friends, friends/colleagues and even the students and their parents. Everyone that has touched my life is special to me. That is why I cannot get into this consumerism that seems to be everywhere.
I think the best way to sum up how I feel is a song I heard on a local radio station, CHFI 98.1, which is playing Christmas music until Boxing Day. It is by ‘The Tenors’ – Santa’s Wish (Teach the World). I placed a YouTube link below for you all to see it and I think if you do, you too may feel the same way.




Friday Two Cents: I Took A Risk

This week I worked everyday in several classrooms and come Thursday I was prepared to take Friday off and but something happened that gave me the strength to take the plunge and work in a new classroom. It all began early in the week when a friend and colleague asked if they could give my contact info to a school that I have not been to. I said sure, the more schools know me the more opportunities I can gain experience working in different classrooms and school environments. They in fact contacted me the day after to ask me to work in a classroom. Unfortunately I was already booked that day at another school but I thanked them and they said they would keep my info for anything in the future.

A couple of days passed and like I said I was thinking of taking the Friday off unless a school I was familiar with needed a supply teacher. Yet by some coincidence I noticed that a supply job was available with this new school that called me earlier in the week. I was feeling a bit run down and I was still recovering from a cold therefore I seriously wouldn’t mind a day off to rest and recover. But a voice inside me said, “Why not try something new.” So I took the position and went to the school.
It was a kindergarten teaching position so I was very familiar with the full day kindergarten program (FDK). I arrived early at the school and met the principal and vice-principal that called me earlier that week. They were friendly as was many of the staff. They were very thankful that I came in and they welcomed me to the school. The students were not sure about a new teacher in the classroom, yet once I started playing with them they started warming up to me. Then when I brought out George, well that’s all it took for them to accept me into their classroom community. At the end of the day they all had smiles on their faces when they said a friendly good-bye when it was time to go home.
Upon reflection, if I hadn’t taken the chance and went to that new school I would not have met those wonderful staff and delightful students. Going to that new school just solidifies my belief and desire to try new things and keep my mind open for new opportunities to learn, grow and experience new things. As Paulo Coelho said …


‘Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.’ Paulo Coelho


I took a risk and it paid off.





Friday Two Cents: Art Is Taking Risks


‘We have to take risks with art. If we don’t, it all becomes a bit boring.’

Julie Walters

This past week I had an interesting interaction with someone who made me stop and think. I was indulging in some drawing this week because I saw an individual that inspired me to draw them. She is rather attractive and I drew her from her head down to her chest but wearing clothes. Everyone who saw me drawing the images thought it was good yet one individual, who thought it was good too, said that I should be careful when I am drawing in public because someone may be offended by what I draw.

I thought about this comment they made and I had a few feelings come out of it. I felt some concern about what people thought about my drawings but mostly resentment and anger that I was in essence scolded for drawing something I like and I felt inspired to do. Yet as the resentment and anger subsided I began to feel that this person was either jealous but more over that this person was placing their negative points of views/emotions on me. I for one do not want to live my life based on negativity so I pushed them aside and thought of the positive side of the encounter.
I want my drawings/art to bring out different emotions in people. If some people are not comfortable with it that is the risk one takes showing it to others. My professor once told me that it takes courage to do art. Not to create it but to show it to others. It takes courage to have others see what you have created and artists take risks every time they show their work. I guess that I am following in the footsteps of some great masters when they took the risk of showing their works to others. Probably a lot of people did not like some of da Vinci’s, Michelangelo’s or Picasso’s work but they did not let those negative comments stop them from creating and neither will I.




Friday Two Cents: Experience It At Least Once


‘The only source of knowledge is experience.’ Albert Einstein


‘Experience is the teacher of all things.’ Julius Caesar


This week I was working as a prep coverage teacher for music and gym and in the process I discovered something, I enjoy doing prep coverage. For those of you who do not know what prep coverage is, it’s the time the home room teacher gets everyday to help them prepare for lessons and other things they need to get done for the class (example: write report cards). Many times these are times that the students get to experience/learn other subjects such as physical education or something from the arts. This particular week I was the music and physical education/health teacher for the school.

When I took the position I knew it was a prep coverage but I did not know what subject matter I would be covering. I thought it would be art or phys. Ed., subjects I am very familiar with. Yet when I arrived they told me it was phys. Ed. and music, I thought “oh boy, music”. Mind you I took music since I was 10 years old and I played in many bands but I have not played in 10 years and teaching it is a lot different from playing it.
So I told myself  ‘you have a good background in music and you can do what the teacher left for the students to do.’ Unfortunately the previous teacher did not level specific instructions and left it up to me to teach the classes. So I had to come up with lessons on the spot for 10 different classes ranging from kindergarten to grade 5. Thank goodness we were covering rhythm and I had some experience teaching students this in the past.
The planning went well and the students appeared to enjoy my lessons and I think that they learned a few things too. Yet what was surprising was that I discovered that I enjoyed being the prep coverage person teaching one to two specific subjects. When I got into teaching I knew that I would be working with students from kindergarten to grade 6 and I would have to teach a variety of subjects. Mind you I did teach visual arts prep for a half day once and when I go into different classrooms I do bring in my visual arts background into other subjects to help teach the students.  But I never had the opportunity to teach a single subject matter to the entire school.
This opportunity has opened my eyes to another possibility in the teaching world, prep coverage. Of course I think I would be more comfortable teaching visual arts or possibly physical education, but this experience has opened my mind to possibly teaching drama or even a core subject like math.
I knew when I took my additional qualification in visual arts, I was motivated to continue along that path and earn my visual arts specialist. Now that I have had a taste of what prep coverage is like I think this is something I would probably like to do. I guess no one knows what we like to do until we get to experience it at least once.    

Friday Two Cents: What’s In A Name


‘What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.’ William Shakespeare

Something interesting this school year has been happening to me. It involves how the students address me. In the majority of schools I have worked in, they call me Mr. Gauchi or Mr. G, yet in one school they have been calling me Mr. Paul and this year I have asked the students and teachers to please call me by my last name. You see at this school I was working in the after school program where they call teachers by their first names, however when I started working for the board at other schools as a supply ECE they called me by my last name. This past year I was finally placed on the occasional teacher list so I can supply teach, therefore I made the decision that I would like to be addressed by my last name. I find it to be more professional and whenever the staff and students have asked me why I tell them this.   The staff and students have accepted this yet there are a few adults who looked at me with a disapproving look.

It is not as if I get upset with people if they address me by my first name I simply remind them to call me by my last name, usually with a smile. Yet these adults give me a look that says “Oh you think you are so big now because you are a teacher and not an ECE.”   This usually does not bother me, but this has not been the only instance from these people where they resist something I have said. I have been getting this type of behaviour when I make suggestions or tell them something else in the school. It’s as if by calling me by my last name that I am a different person and from whom they know.
Mind you I do feel different ever since I started working as a teacher instead of an ECE. There is more responsibility and I have become the central person in the classroom. The students look to me for guidance and support, the Captain of a ship, as I once stated. Perhaps it is just me, but I have always trusted my instincts and they usually end up being correct.
I am not sure why this would be an issue for some people. We all have the right to be addressed the way we wish to be addressed. In the end I am still the same person I was those years when everyone called me Mr. Paul. Perhaps this has something to do with change. Most people do not like change and yet everyday is different from the last. I think Lao Tzu said it best …

‘Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.’ Lao Tzu

I have embraced a lot of change in the past 5 to 10 years, both personally and professionally. It has not been easy but looking back I can honestly say they have been for the better. Change naturally occurs and the more easily we embrace the change, the less sorrow we may endure.


Friday Two Cents: Friday the 13th Origins


‘Human behaviour flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.’ Plato


Today is Friday the 13th and in many western cultures, including Canada, we see this day a being unlucky.   Many people believe in this superstition yet they do not know where it came from. Therefore I decided to look up this superstition and see where it’s origins came from.

One possible origin story can related to the Code of Hammurabi. It is one of the world’s oldest legal documents, which may or may not have superstitiously omitted a 13th rule from its list. Others claim that the ancient Sumerians, who considered the number 12 a “perfect” number, considered the one that followed it decidedly as non-perfect.
One of the most popular theories, links Friday the 13th with the downfall of legendary warriors known as the Knights Templar. Founded around 1118 as a monastic military order was devoted to the protection of pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land following the Christian capture of Jerusalem during the First Crusade. The Knights Templar quickly became one of the richest and most influential groups of the Middle Ages, thanks to the generous donations by the crowned heads of Europe, keen on being in the Knights good graces. Yet by the turn of the 14th century, the Templars had established a system of castles, churches and banks throughout Western Europe, their vast wealth caught the eye of several ambitious and greed men.
It all began in the early morning hours of Friday, October 13, 1307.
Throughout France, secret documents had been sent by couriers a month earlier. The papers included sensational details and rumors of black magic, devil worship and shocking sexual rituals. They were sent by King Philip IV of France and Pope Clement V. King Philip was a greedy monarch who in the preceding years had launched attacks on the Lombards (a powerful banking group) and France’s Jews (who he had expelled so he could confiscate their property for his depleted coffers).  Clement also issued a papal bull ordering the western kings to arrest Templars living in their lands. 
On that day and the days and weeks to followed, over 600 Templars were arrested, burnt at the stake and executed in numerous ways. Even the grandmaster Grand Master Jacques de Molay was captured and eventually burnt at the stake. Just before he died Jacques de Molay cursed King Philip’s line and the Pope. Within 13 year King Philips’ sons and grandson were all dead. Pope Clement V died about a year after Jacques de Molay yet while his body lay in state in a church, a thunderbolt struck the church and subsequently burnt with such intensity that after the fire was put out the Pope’s body was nearly completely destroyed.

Maltese Knight – The Knights Hospitaller

Talk about bad luck for the Knights Templar, King Philip and Pope Clement V. No wonder Friday the 13th is seen as bad luck.


Source: Maranzani B., (Oct, 2017) “Why Friday the 13th Spelled Doom for the Knights Templar”, The History Cannel.

Friday Two Cents: Discovering More Through Play

This week and next I will be working in a kindergarten class where the teacher has asked me to present a lesson centred on math. Math has always been my favourite subject second only to art and when given the opportunity, I raised to the challenge.

It is the beginning if the year and I know that these students are new to counting, especially in French. So I decided to begin by seeing how much do they know when it comes to counting. I came up with several activities to help them and the teacher assess where the students are in their math skills.
I began with some activities with the students using 10 frames, rekenreks, printing the numbers and a bingo game with snap cubes. I noticed a few things that made me see that no matter where I go and with whom I work with, children learn a lot though play. Several of the activities are centred on a play base system. Yes they are doing their work by learning to count in French and they are printing the numbers but to get to those numbers they have to use a spinner like you would use in a game. And the more I and the teacher played / participated in the activity, the more the students, 1) appeared to enjoy it, 2) hopefully learn something from the experience and 3) we learned where each student is in their counting.  
Every time I enter a classroom I always have this quote from Plato in the back of my mind…


‘You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.’ Plato


These activities I did with the students are a clear indication that Plato’s words ring true.




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