Friday Two Cents: Dear Parents, STOP!


Entitlement – noun [mass noun]

  1. The fact of having a right to something
  2. The amount to which a person has a right
  3. The belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment

I have heard this word uttered in many instances by different people. Parents talking about children both young and grown, teachers about students, and the media about every generation from Gen. X, Y, Boomer Echo and Millennials.  Of course the current cohort of students are just the latest generation to be labeled with this sense of entitlement, yet many believe that in their case the label might be accurate.  Many see students acting like they deserve everything in life without working for it.  Or that whatever they want they have the right to get everything they want simply because they want it.  

Examples of these students/children are popping up in schools, playgrounds, malls and in the media showing that this may be the truth for a lot of them.  As an occasional teacher I have observed student behaviour for many years and I have to say that I do agree with this assessment. Yet the bigger question is not why are today’s youth showing a sense of entitlement but where are they learning it? For this, all you have to do is look no further than the parents.  However many, if not a majority of parents would say that they are not to blame, that it’s someone else’s fault.  That it must be something they learnt from school.  Sorry to bust your bubble parents but your child will learn more from you than they will ever from a teacher.  They started learning their behaviour from the moment they were born and looked at their first teacher.  You.  

I want it because I want it.

  I have found it baffling that parents under value their contribution to the education and moulding of their children. Many believe that their child will learn more from a teacher than from them. I have told many parents that my contribution to their child’s learning is a musicale one in the larger scheme of things. Many don’t believe me but then I explain it this way.

  ‘Your child will be in school for about 14 years (elementary, middle and high school). They are with me for one out of those 14 years. It’s not even a full year, 10 months. Furthermore its only five days a week, for about 6 hours a day. That’s assuming they start when they are four years old. Yet for the first four years of their life and the remaining 14 years, who are they with all the time? So I ask you, who do you think has a greater influence in teaching your child, me or you?’ Their stunned silence speaks volumes.

I know that some are listening but I saw a fantastic letter written by a parent to parents about this very subject and I would like to share it with you.  

A letter by Lisa Collum

If one parent can get it and I know it will take some time but hopefully more will read this and wakeup to the fact that their child is the way they are because of them.  Then maybe we will see a difference in how the youth act.  Only time will tell.  

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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: 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.  

Friday Two Cents: A Problem Solving Model


In it there are four levels to achieve your goal to solve a problem.  The great thing is that you can use this problem-solving model not just for mathematical problems but also other problems in you may face in your life.  Here is my break down of the model…

A couple of weeks ago I wrote several posts about resolutions and making plans to help you beat the winter blues.  I have always thought that planning out things helps to solve the problems that I face on a daily basis, yet I have wanted something tangible that I can see in black and white to help me explain it to others.  I did find such a piece when I took a mathematics additional qualification course a couple of years ago.  It was in the Ontario curriculum, Grades 1–8: Mathematics (revised) document of all places. It is on page 13, figure 1: Problem Solving Model.  

Understand the Problem (the exploratory stage)

This stage should be self-evident.  I cannot tell you how many times I would have students come up to me and say, “I don’t get it.”  Then I would ask, “Did you read the question?”  Most of them would say ‘Ahhh no.’  ‘READ THE QUESTION’ I would say and then look in the question for the pieces you need to answer it.  Others I would rephrase the question to emphasize the important information they may need.  Basically what is the question asking of you: what is the problem?  The best advise I say to people is talk to someone about the problem so you can see it for different angles, especially after you read it several times.  

Make A Plan

Is there another situation that you may have seen a similar problem?  I tell students don’t try and reinvent the wheel.  Or in other words don’t start from scratch look at another situations where you solved a similar problem and try and rework it for this situation.  In essence, “Make a Plan”, think of a strategy you used before and use that plan.  Tweak the plan to fit your needs.  

Carry Out the Plan

Put you plan into motion.  Draw, write, use objects to help you visualize the plan and then implement it. Use different tools to make you plan work, monitor it and make adjustments when needed.  If you planned for something and you don’t need it, don’t use it. Why waste time and energy when you do not need it. 

Look Back at the Solution

Check you results, go back to the question to make sure that it actually answers it.  Does it make sense?  You have to go through the process again from the beginning to refine you answer or correct any mistakes you may have seen.  Could you get the same result another way, perhaps and easier way? This way you can use that revised plan in the future.  

I created this visual to help myself and others try and visualize how to solve a problem.  Maybe it will inspire other teachers and students to think more about how any problem can be solved so long as you have the tools and desire to make the effort in trying.  Remember what Napoleon Hill once said …

‘Effort only fully releases its reward after a person refuses to quit.’ Napoleon Hill

A Problem Solving Model

Ontario Ministry of Education. (2005). The Ontario curriculum, Grades 1–8: Mathematics (revised). Toronto: Queen’s Printer for Ontario. http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/math18curr.pdf

Friday Two Cents: The Joy In Helping Others


‘It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.’ Napoleon Hill

The week before the start of school is a very interesting time for a supply teacher such as myself. I do not have a classroom to prepare, class lists to look through and lesson plans to create. For all intensive prepossess I can simply continue with my summer vacation and that was exactly what I was planning to do.

However something inside me said I should be getting ready for the upcoming year with the students. Therefore I decided to enrol in a teacher event at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). They host many events for teachers to spread the word about the different activities and exhibits happening at the AGO. This particular event was the reopening of the J.S. McLean Centre for Indigenous and Canadian Art. They had many wonderful works of art created by indigenous and non-indigenous artists from Canada. Yet this was also an opportunity for the AGO to inform the teachers about the programs they offer, both for the students and the teachers as professional development.
The exhibit was wonderful but I found myself thinking about what programs/lessons that would be good for the students. I was collecting information on different things for other colleagues and in doing so it made me feel good.

Not only was I collecting information this week but also I went in to help a colleague set up their room. I knew she needed some help but more than this I wanted to be in a classroom helping someone. I went in a couple of days to help move furniture around, prepare activities and even some computer work. She thanked me and many other people said that it was nice of me to help. But I didn’t do it to be acknowledged or thanked. It simply felt good to help someone.
Reflecting back on this week I only spent a couple of days helping someone with their room but I also was able to pass on the information I got from the AGO to another colleague. I discovered that in the process of trying to help others I ended up helping myself. For even though I thought of others needs and what I can do for them, I ended up meeting my own needs; the need to help others, which in the end brought more joy to me than doing something for myself.

Helping Others

Friday Two Cents: Time To Recharge


 

Well teachers, we made it.   Another year has come and gone and now begins the two month-long process of recharging you batteries. Yes it’s a great time to do nothing and many people may be jealous of the two months but remember one thing, you deserve it.

The public may only see you work six hours a day with the students, five days a week and you now get two months off, yet you and I know what they don’t see adds up to a lot more. Sometimes you stay late helping students with their homework, or mark their work and we both know you have to get all your lesson plans prepared before but you can only do this once the school day is over. Yet sometimes you volunteer your time to run extracurricular activities like sports teams, school committees and countless clubs. Not to mention the tests, individual lesson plans and reports you write on a constant basis, all during your own time.
You deserve a break but I know that it is not easy. The most difficult part is how to begin. Luckily I was able to find five meaningful places where we can start.   These five were published by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley and I thought it may be a good starting point.  

 

8 Essentials for Forgiving: Raise your hand if you have any residual “grrr” feelings from this past school year. We’ve all experienced times when a student, parent, or colleague treated us unfairly or said something hurtful, and sometimes it can be hard to let go of the bad feelings. But holding onto grudges, even small ones, only makes things worse for you. By helping you forgive, these steps can reduce your stress and make you feel better. 

Gratitude Letter: Now, raise your other hand if there’s someone who really made a positive difference in your life this past year. It could be someone at school, someone who supported you from the sidelines, or anyone else who you never got to thank properly. Taking the time to write a note of gratitude to them—and even better, delivering it in person—won’t just make them feel great. It’ll make you happier, too! 

Awe Narrative: From making intense decisions to dealing with little details, it’s easy to get consumed by the day-to-day challenges of teaching. To break out of that tunnel-vision head space and expand your perspective (and maybe even remember why you became a teacher in the first place!), try thinking and writing about a time you felt awe. Believe it or not, doing this can make you feel like you have more free time and increase your life satisfaction.  

Meaningful Photos: Want another way to boost your happiness and sense of meaning in life? It’s (almost) as easy as taking a selfie—but so much more fulfilling. Just take a picture or two each day of things that you feel make your life meaningful and then, at the end of a week, reflect on why those things mean so much to you. Now that you’re no longer stuck in a classroom for eight hours a day, get out there, get creative, and remind yourself of all the wonderful things that make your life worthwhile. 

Self-Compassionate Letter: Teachers, on the whole, are a pretty self-critical bunch. We dedicate our lives to caring for others, but we often don’t extend the same kindness to ourselves, instead beating ourselves up over every little thing. Thus, the idea of writing a letter to yourself expressing compassion for one of your own flaws or mistakes may seem strange, but it really works—it not only makes people feel better, but also makes them more motivated to improve. This would be a great way to set the stage for being kinder to yourself next year.  

Campbell, E. (June 17, 2015) Five Ways for Teachers to Recharge This Summer. The Greater Good Magazine, The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/five_ways_for_teachers_to_recharge_summer

Writing down you thoughts.

 

These are just a few of dozens of ideas and articles available but they appear to be a good balance. I have actually done a few of these to help myself relax and recharge, perhaps they can help you too.

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