Friday Two Cents: Caring And Fairness – Aspirations To Live By


This past week I witnessed something disturbing that has been on the increase in the past few years; student violence against teachers.   I think everyone is aware that since schools were created, there have been some acts of violence when it comes to student upon student.  Bullying, fighting and other offences were commonplace in the schoolyard, even in today’s schools.  However in recent years the incidents of student violence against teachers is on the rise. 

According to a survey by the provincial union for the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association, they found that 60% of teachers (both elementary and secondary) have personally experienced violence on the job.  The survey was published in June 2017.  Some of the highlights of the survey are …

  • 60 per cent of teachers personally experienced violence.
  • 70 per cent of teachers witnessed violence.
  • 26 per cent of teachers took time off due to school violence affecting their mental health.
  • 15 per cent of violent acts involve weapons, 76 per cent of which using classroom objects.
  • Almost 25 per cent say school administration discouraged them from filing reports or going to the police.

Pan F.;  (2017, June 29) Violence against Catholic school teachers frequent, says survey.CBC News. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/kitchener-waterloo/waterloo-region-catholic-school-violence-against-teachers-oecta-1.4184015 

I know many people may be aware of violence against a teacher in the older grades but I have witnessed such violence in the students as young as Kindergarten.  On several occasions I has seen students be so violent that the teacher had to remove the other children from the class while the student ransacks the classroom. Does anyone stop them?  No.  They continue until they are done.  Some even continue their rampage into the hall destroying artwork, turning over furniture and hitting other people they see.  Then to make matters worst, they may go after the teacher or ECE in the room with an object as a weapon. 

Student on a Rampage

Unfortunately that is not the end of the behaviour.  I saw that once the student had finished their rampage they are not required to clean up the mess.  No, the teacher cleans it up.  I look at this and say, “What are we teaching the student? You can destroy public property, hit people and getaway with it?”  The last time I checked that is call vandalism and hitting another person with out their consent is called assault.  Both are offences in the Criminal Code of Canada but for some reason these students are not charged or their parents held accountable for their actions.  

I don’t want to say, “When I was a student …” but unfortunately something has changed.  The reality is not simply that I witnessed and was a recipient of student violence against teachers, but there is documented proof that there is an increase. The truly scary thing is that people I knew, family and former friends would not stand for any type of violence against them in their workplace, yet they don’t think this is an issue when it comes to teachers.  “If you don’t like it, get a real job.” some would say.  

I am not sure what is the answer to this issue, all I know is that there is an issue and colleagues of mine and myself are feeling the strain and physical violence and abuse of these students. Even parents are not concerned with their children being violent to adults and other children.  Every parent is out there to look after their child and make sure that they get an education almost and any cost.  Yet they forget one vital lesson that is more important than math, reading or writing, they need to learn caring and fairness for others. How is it fair for one student to disrupt the lives of 20 others and the teacher who is trying to help/teach them to be the best person they can be.  

Society needs to remember the words that Colin Powell once said …  

‘Children need to get a high-quality education, avoid violence and the criminal-justice system, and gain jobs. But they deserve more. We want them to learn not only reading and math but fairness, caring, self-respect, family commitment, and civic duty.’ Colin Powell

More than simple words but aspirations to live by.  

Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association;(June, 2017). Workplace Violence and Harassment Against Teachers: Results of a comprehensive members survey. http://www.catholicteachers.ca/OECTA/media/pdfs/News/2017/OECTA%20Survey%20on%20Violence%20in%20Schools/na_schoolViolence_v3_june27_2017_reduced.pdf

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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 Cent: Kindness During Christmas 


In the past couple of weeks I was able to supply in several different classrooms. With the Christmas season upon us it was a great opportunity to read my favourite Christmas story,  “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” by Dr. Seuss.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas By Dr. Seuss

If you are not aware of the story I strongly recommend you read it or more importantly share it with a young person in your life. It tells a tail of a person “The Grinch” who hates Christmas and in the end decides to steal it from the town near his home. He thinks that if he takes all the decorations, the food and presents that he will have stopped Christmas from coming. Yet the town’s people still celebrate Christmas without any of the stuff associated with it. The Grinch realizes that Christmas is not about the material gifts, food or decorations. That there is something more about this holiday, more than all the hype and acquisition of stuff. Perhaps this holiday is about being with family and people we love and care about; it’s about something more.
I have always enjoyed this story at Christmas because for me the giving and receiving of presents, is not what Christmas is all about. Even at a young age I thought that Christmas has become too materialistic, too commercial. I read this story every year and it helps me to remember the important parts of Christmas. It is about being with people I care about and the good feelings that are shared with them. It is about my traditions and faith that comes from my family and friends. No matter how upset I am during this time of year, I try to see that there are others out there worse off and I thank God for the blessings that I do have.  It is not always easy. I have had Christmas’s were I was downright miserable. But I try to see past these troubles, to see the joy and positive aspects of the season. 
This year I was out shopping for my family and the malls were full of people looking for stuff.  Many seem to be fixated with getting things. Even the students in the school appear to be focused on the material aspects of Christmas.  Everywhere I go there are ads and commercials wanting you to buy stuff.  That if you get more stuff the world will be better.  One perfect example is the “Ugly Sweaters”.  People buy these ugly seasonal sweaters just to say they have one but I say “No Thanks”.  This one example of widespread commercialism that is simply about having stuff.  It looks like this feeling of rampant commercialism appears to be spreading everywhere and sucking the joy out of the Christmas season.  Yet something as simple as an act of kindness happened that renewed my hope in people and the season. 
I was sitting in the food court of the mall having lunch one day, observing all the people rushing this way and that.  One person walked by and dropped a $20 bill near by.  A person at the next table rushed over, picked up the bill and quickly gave it to the person who dropped it.  They were extremely grateful to the person and some nice words were exchanged between the two.  That simple act of kindness not only made the person who dropped the money happy but also the person who helped.  To be honest I too felt good about that gesture and from what I observed of the other people around the area who witnessed the exchange, many of them had smiles too. 
Maybe there is still hope for people in this world.  I should keep in mind, the quote;

 

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

 

During that this time of year every act of kindness can have the same effect as ripples from a pebble being tossed into a pond.  So small at first but look how they grow. 

Friday Two Cents: Spontaneous Act Of Kindness


twoCentsOldNew

‘Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.’ Lao Tzu

A week ago, we had a guest speaker come in to do a workshop of sorts on the Arts and how to bring it into the curriculum. I love the arts and I enjoyed the session immensely and it was something I desperately needed at the time.

It had been a rough January in all aspects of my life. I pride myself in keeping my professional and personal life as separate as possible. However this year teacher’s college has been very difficult. Overwhelming course loads, assignments, lesson plans have greatly taken away and seeped into my personal time. Everything has been intermixing and all I can see is chaos. I’m at the point of exhaustion and breaking down.

After the art workshop, it inspired me to do the only thing that calms me down and bring some order and serenity into my life, Art. I went up to my studio, got some paper, my pastels and began drawing. Below are the results of my endeavors.

Titled "Quest for Peace"

Titled “Quest for Peace”

It’s a visual representation of what my life is like in teacher’s college and my life in general. The left side is what I feel right know everything is mixed together and you cannot see different colours or the different aspects of my life. The right side is where I want to be. That is how my life was like before all this chaos. Everything was separate, professional and personal.

I looked at the drawing and thought how can I get to the right side. Get organized, finish assignments, get things done but it takes time and my personal life will be limited even more to get to that side. Yet something happened that helped me get closer to the middle.

In a class at teacher’s college, a colleague introduced an activity she did at the student council. There they got sheets of paper with the names of everyone there. 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. She thought it was a wonderful idea and she brought it into the classroom and we all did it.

The feeling was amazing. I felt great writing about everyone there and everything I wrote was genuine and from the heart. Some people I wrote a couple of words, others a couple of sentences. But the best part is when we got our own sheets at the end. What people said about me was amazing and it truly made my day during a difficult time. This spontaneous act of kindness was so uplifting that it began to clear some of the chaos from my life. I may not be all the way to the right but I am much closer to the centre than I was a week ago.

Inspiring Words from my Colleagues

Inspiring Words from my Colleagues

Amazing what a spontaneous act of kindness can do for someone.

 

 

Friday Two Cents: Patience Is Bitter, But Its Fruit Is Sweet


twoCentsOldNew

“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.”Jean-Jacques Rousseau

 

For the past few weeks I have been in a state of turmoil and the emotions have been stretching from angry to despair. Yet today I have come to the end of these trials and end up victorious.  There are still many battles to be fought and won, but with what I have learned is that patience, is at times unnerving, but necessary. 

Yet today, when I went into school after a long absence, the children greeted me with such joy and caring, that I could not but feel overwhelmed.  For in their innocent eyes, warm hugs and gentle words, I found the fruit if human kindness.

 

It is nice to know that in a world where all you see is suffering, there is still such kindness.

Ailish Sinclair

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