Friday Two Cents: Valentine’s Day Kindness

This past week many students had a lot of exciting things happening at school. Monday was the 100thday of the school year; Tuesday we had a rare snow day and the schools were closed; Wednesday report cards went home and Thursday was Valentine’s Day.   Yet I saw something during Valentine’s Day that I thought is worthy of mentioning.  In a school I work at, the kindergarten teachers decided to do something different and dare I say daring.  Instead of giving parents a class list for the students and parents to make Valentine’s cards, they helped the students to each make a card and have everyone in the class sign it.  

When I heard of this idea I loved it right away.  I know that it would be a lot of work for the teachers to organize but I thought this would teach the students so many things in the process. First off it is Eco (environmentally) friendly. How many of us would go out and buy or create cards for February 14thto simply throw them into the trash on the 15th. Second it is in line with the idea of inclusion in the classroom.  The idea is that everyone gets a card but we have all seen that not everyone gets one and that one child feels terrible when they do not get a card.  Or worse specific children are targeted to not get any cards because someone else tells everyone to not give them one.  Along that same idea not everyone can afford to purchase cards and if they make homemade ones they are ostracised because of it.  

Valentine’s Day Card

I was so impressed with the idea I suggested it to other teachers and parents at other schools. Yet their response was less than enthusiastic. Many flat out rejected the idea. They said that many of the parents are into doing the cards and they go all out with cards, candy and other stuff. In fact many students are not writing names or messages on the cards but the parents are.   

I found this interesting and a bit disturbing.  Yet from what I have observed in our society I should not be surprised.  There are a lot of people interested in only showing off and making themselves feel good at another’s expense.  These cards would alleviate all these problems and self-centredness for many people. In short it gives a small act of kindness to everyone in the class and I know that even a small act of kindness can make you feel amazing.    

Inspiring Words from my Colleagues

When I was in teacher’s college many of us, myself included, was stressed out and at our breaking point.  Yet during a class a colleague handed out pieces of paper each with our names on it. The sheets would go around the room and everyone would write one thing, a phrase or one word about what they like about that person or what best describes that person. After we each got the paper and I can tell you once I say all the comments the feeling was amazing.  When I heard of these valentine’s cards, it reminded me of that activity and how I felt receiving it in the end.  Yes the cards involve simply writing your name, but your classmates still took the time to sign your card.  To a child that simple act of kindness, signing their card, would go a long way to making them feel amazing.  

In the end isn’t that’s what Valentine’s Day all about.  Sharing love and kindness with others.  I am reminded of the famous quote by Aesop …

‘No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.’ Aesop

My deepest thanks and highest praise to my colleagues in the kindergarten program for implementing this wonderful Valentine’s Day act of kindness.  


Friday Two Cents: New Rules, Positive Behaviour And Discipline

This past week has been a bit trying to say the least. The students in the class are all great yet the dynamic in the room between the students has been a bit … unkind to one another. One of them even told me that they were not being good friends to one another. These are kindergarten students so the social behaviour is something that needs to be taught and encouraged in great deal at school.

With this information the teacher and I embarked on a new inquiry, ‘Being a good friend to each other.’ I was asked to try to develop a few lessons to help the students be kinder to one another. The first thing I thought of was to create a chart of positive behaviour we need to work on. I read the book “What does it mean to be kind?” and the class and I created a chart together. We called it Manners and we came up with a few ideas. The first was saying please, thank you, you’re welcome and I’m sorry as the number one class rule. We also came up with listening to each other, helping others, being patient, sharing and treating others the way you want to be treated.   Not a bad start for kindergarten students.
The next day I reminded the students about these rules by pointing out examples from their own actions when they were and weren’t following the rules they helped to come up with.   Yet I also brought in a couple if things to help solidify these rules. One was a book called “How full is your bucket?” and the other was my Mufasa and Simba puppets.
My Mufasa and Simba puppets helps the students see that the adult lion Mufasa has rules that Simba may not like but they are there to keep him safe. These rules are not there because he wants to be mean to Simba or that he does not like him but because he cares very much for Simba. The moral is that adults have rules for kids because they care about them and they want them to be safe. As well, if Mufasa is upset with Simba for breaking a rule he is not angry with him all the time, he still cares for him. The same is true with adults like their mothers, fathers and teachers.
The book “How full is your bucket?” encourages positive behaviour by using the idea of an invisible bucket to show children how easy and rewarding it is to be kind, appreciative, and caring by “filling buckets.” This is not a new concept for the students but perhaps some reminding will help them. I reintroduced the bucket idea on Thursday and all day Friday they kept talking about filling each other’s buckets.
It feels good to see that they are embracing this idea and the other concepts I have been trying to instil in the students. Yet the one thing I have been doing as well is being very firm when it comes to room discipline. I allow the students free expression yet the rules, manners and the bucket ideas are being strictly reinforced by the teacher and myself. I thought that they may have a problem with the extra discipline I am introducing but it appears that the students are welcoming it. I have noticed a bit more smiles on the students and a feeling of calmness in the room when it comes to the students’ personality dynamics. I guess the drill sergeant in me has a place within a classroom even when I am only there for a short stay. Only time will tell if these initiatives will hold up for the rest of my stay.  

Friday Two Cents: Are You A Pessimist Or An Optimist


“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Winston Churchill


To say that this week was eventful would be understating the truth.

It began with me going with the students of my practicum to the Science Centre in Toronto. There we explored and learned about different structures and how they are constructed. Yet the day after that trip, we at the university received news that specific people, TAs and contract professors are on strike. We all wondered what would happen. Would we be able to go to practicum because we are not at the university but in schools. It turned out that the teacher federation would be supporting the strike and instructed the teachers in the schools not to mentor us teacher candidates (TC). Therefore practicum was canceled until further notice. Additionally so were all our classes.

We were in the lurch and we could not even go to the school and say goodbye to the students. Yet the bigger problems are how would this effect our graduation, assignments for our classes and after our looking for a job? We all have roughly the required number of days to be able to graduate as teachers, it is all about the courses but who knows what is happening. Also, what are we to do in the mean time?

Well many of my fellow TCs and I just began working on the assignments to get them ready for when the strike would be over. But what else can I do? Well I took a dark cloud and used it as an opportunity. I am a supply Early Childhood Educator (ECE) for the school board so I started taking jobs so I can work with students again. I went to two different kindergarten classrooms and I can say that I miss kindergarten. I really enjoy teaching these little people. Yes I do not know them very well but both class where so open and inviting. I was there in one class for only 3 hours and the students gave me a hug before they left with their parents for the day. I had forgotten and missed how warm-hearted kindergarten children can be.

Sunset in space

Then I also got the opportunity to go into another class as a specialist.  A teacher had invited me to come into her kindergarten class as an expert on “Space“.  The students had been exploring the subject and had questions on it.  Some where, “Is there a planet inside the sun?” Others where very thought out like, “How does the sun work?” or “Why does the sun get colder in the winter?”  Well I answered their questions with the use of and App I have on my iPad which had great graphics and 3D models of the planets and the solar system.  I was also invited to return to the class the following week to demonstrate how far the planets are from the sun (another question).  There questions where so amazing and they were very attentive.  Many said thank you and hugged me before I left.  

Winston Churchill

Amazing that I had these great opportunities as a result of the university strike.  Well I guess the quote form Winston Churchill was right; “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Which one are you?


Friday Two Cents: Truly Important In Life


Oh my goodness!!!! Today was a rollercoaster of a day.

It started at 0600 with a call to go in and supply teach in a class. I had to gas up so I left the house around 0700, filled up the car and making it in for work on time for 0800. I then spent a lovely but long day in the kindergarten class. I helped them finish up their Mothers’ day gifts, read a story and put on a puppet show, in between my regular duties.

After the school day I was with the kindergarten and grades 1 & 2 children for a make up T-ball game that was postponed because of rain earlier in the week. I was tired but their energy and enthusiasm just kept me going. The best part was after the game. I usually give out freezes to the children who play in the game, but I could not find any at any store. I guess with all this cold weather the retailers did not bother to stock them.

I told the children that I know that I usually given them freezes after a game, but I could not find any, so I got lollipops instead. I asked them if that was all right, and of course their collective response was a resounding “YES!”   They all had a lollipop and where so happy with the game and the treat in the end that I had to smile. I had a hard morning but their faces made my afternoon.

Oh that’s not all. After the game I had to go the university for my last course before getting my degree. I knew I would be in class for 4 more hours but I pressed on. I was tired and really feeling the riggers of the day pressing down on me. Yet half way through the course we got a break and I checked my email. There was an email from my sister with some pictures of my niece. Today is her fifth birthday and she was so excited about it. She was wearing her uniform and had a lovely hairstyle just for today, but she was also very happy because she got an Elsa costume. She wanted to show my parents and me and those pictures re-energized me for the rest of the course.

I finally got home after being out of the house for over 14 hours and you know what I learned today? That no matter how trying the day may be with people or how tired you are, a smile or a hug or a picture of an excited child, will always fix everything. At those moments all the problems of the day just melted away and I remembered what was important in life. You have to let it go, be yourself and enjoy life. Work and school is not my life, loving and being loved by those close to me is what is truly important in life.

All you need sometimes is a hug.

Ailish Sinclair

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