Comic Strips: The Fundamentals


If you ask any of the students I have taught, what is my favourite sport, their response would undoubtedly be baseball. Therefore it makes sense to put in an instalment or two centred one the students and the game.  

I played baseball as a child and as an adult so whenever I can I love to help out with school softball teams (boys and girls). As a supply teacher I cannot be an official coach but that’s fine with me.  I find I have a tremendous amount of enjoy helping the students develop their love for the game.  People asked me, “Don’t you want to be seen as a coach?  Get the recognition?”  I say no, I am not here to get recognition.  I simply want to help the students learn the game and more importantly have fun doing so.  

That’s where this comic came from.  I help wherever I can and when I do it is usually with the fundamentals.  Pitching, throwing or batting. This situation came out of helping some students and I thought of this scene as a “What if” scenario.  And the rest as they say is history.  

I hope you enjoy May’s The Craziest Things: The Fundamentals.

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Comic Strips: Social Justice


Definition:  social justice        noun [mass noun] 

justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society: individuality gives way to the struggle for social justice.

In every class we teachers try and instil a sense of social justice in the students with their friends, peers and people outside the school.  It is not an easy task yet I find the effort is necessary to help encourage them to become a responsible member of society.  

I find that in the older grades many of the students take this sense of social justice to heart.  Yet there have been times when they present a situation where I have to either; take a step back and think really hard about what they said or just laugh out loud.  A situation did happen to me that was very similar to this comic.  Instead of spoiling the comic, I will simply let you read it.  

I hope you enjoy April’sThe Craziest Things: Social Justice.

Friday Two Cents: The Measure Of A Person


Upon returning from the spring break I had the opportunity to work in a few kindergarten classrooms where I know the early childhood educator (ECE).  I started my journey in the education field as an ECE and working with some whom I have known for some years is quite rewarding. Yet something this week came to mind as I was working with an exceptional ECE.  

You see, I have the unique perspective of working as an ECE and as a teacher in a kindergarten class.  I have worked both sides and I have seen the good, bad and ugly of both professions. In many kindergarten rooms there are two adults educating the students, a teacher and an ECE.  I can best describe this partnership in this way.  A teacher is like the officer or captain of the unit/classroom they oversee the planning in room and do a lot of the paperwork involved with the job.  They now the rules and regulations and curriculum involved in making the ship run smoothly.  The ECE’s are the NCO’s (non-commissioned officers/sergeants), they oversee the smaller everyday running of things.  They also are the backbone of the unit making sure that the unit runs smoothly according to the captain’s (teacher’s) plan.  Yet they also have a level of experience/knowledge that makes them invaluable to the officers and unit.  They are almost like the glue that keeps things together. 

As in any unit, when both the officers and sergeants are working together, the unit functions like a well-oiled machine.  The same can be said in a kindergarten classroom with the teacher and ECE.  I had the opportunity to work with an ECE who shows her passion for teaching.  Yet in many circles she is looked down upon because she is an ECE.  She is not a teacher with all the degrees and additional qualifications.  Many teachers would only see a support person not an equal. But she works and programs in the classroom as well or better than some teachers I have worked with.  Why is it that we cannot see the wonderful educator she is simply because she does not have the qualifications.  Is it truly a matter of position, of rank or privilege that holds people back in recognizing her contributions? 

I know that there are some ECEs that are not as passionate as the ECE that I worked with, as I would imagine in any profession, but I think that they are in the minority. I think and was told that I preformed as well as this ECE.  I took my experience as an ECE and brought it forward into my teaching career.  There are many ECEs working that would exemplify their teaching skills in their work with the students and they are not teachers.  So why we cannot acknowledge them as being great educators in the system as well as teachers?  

I have felt the sting of discrimination of being an ECE and a teacher. When I worked as an ECE in a classroom I was treated as a support staff and told to do whatever the teacher told me to do. Yet once I received my teaching licence and I was still working as an ECE, until I got onto the supply-teaching list, teachers would treat me different than before.  I was seen as a second teacher in the room, asked for observation notes; or to plan lessons.  Even though the education policy says that the teacher and ECE are seen as equals, many do not put this into practice.   

Perhaps it has to do with human nature and how we measure people.  Do we measure them by their actions or by they status in a society?  All too often I have seen people measure others because they see them as inferior to themselves and they devalue them.  Perhaps we as a society need to treat others, as we would like to be treated. J.K. Rowling once said …

‘If you want to see the true measure of a man, watch how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.’ J. K. Rowling

For if a person can treat someone as an equal, even when society sees them as inferior; then maybe we can finally see no difference when it comes to valuing people for whom they truly are. 

Friday Two Cents: A Moment Of Tranquility


‘I’m learning a lot about myself being alone, and doing what I’m doing.’ Chantal Kreviazuk

‘The best part about being alone is that you really don’t have to answer to anybody. You do what you want.’ Justin Timberlake

This week I went to see Captain Marvel in theatres on the first showing of the opening day.  But it’s not the movie that made me stop and think but the fact that I wanted to see it alone without any of my friends.  I enjoy my friends company but for some reason I wanted to see this movie and I did not think of asking anyone.  

At the theatre enjoying a movie

I ordered the ticket two weeks before the opening day.  I have seen movies on my own before so this experience was not new.  As well in the past I went to see other movies on their opening days such as Star Trek, Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.  Yet I felt a need to spend some quality time with my favourite person. Me. 

I was reflecting on this because many of my colleagues and friends said they would have liked to go too but wondered why I did not ask someone.  The only thing that came to mind was perhaps my work as an occasional teacher.  I love working with the students and I adore my colleagues but I felt the need to be alone with my thoughts to reflect on anything and everything in my life.  

Some people said that I might be becoming introverted, yet upon reflection I disagree.  Many introverted people feel uncomfortable in group situations yet I look forward to them. I like meeting people and interacting with them.  No, I think there is another explanation.  In the past month I have worked almost every day, in a host of classrooms and in a couple of schools.  A room teacher interacts with their class only, about 25 – 30 students.  I must have interacted with over 500 – 600 students in that span.  I believe taking some time to be alone with my thoughts is simply a case of sensory overload.    

Therefore I fully embraced my time before, during and after the movie.  I went out for a steak dinner, enjoyed the movie and after I went home to write and reflect on the events of the day.  For it felt like all the noise of the day had been wiped away to reveal thoughts of clarity and tranquility that I haven’t experienced in quite some time.  The best way to describe it is like I was on an island of tranquility in a sea of chaos.  

Sometimes we all need that island of tranquility.

‘In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you’. Deepak Chopra

Comic Strips: I Don’t Wanna!!


With the arrival of March comes March Break or as some call it, Spring Break.  Students, parents and teaches are looking forward to the start of March Break on Friday this week.  With this in mind, I allowed my mind to wander to some of the situations I have seen and lived, that I want to bring to life in The Craziest Things.  

March Break is a time many look forward to. Not only students need a break but the teachers as well.  Everyone looks forward to the time away from the busy classroom.  Yet through the years many don’t want to return.  Then I thought of something and that is when this month’s comic sprang to life. 

I hope you enjoy March’s The Craziest Things: I Don’t Wanna!!

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

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.  

Ailish Sinclair

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