Friday Two Cents: Limits


The other day I was out enjoying my summer vacation on a patio when a familiar noise caught my attention.  It is of a child having a tantrum or fit in public.  Sadly, I say familiar because more and more I am seeing this type of behaviour in our society.  Yet this was not the worst of the offending behaviour.  The child was between the ages of 7 – 9 and they wanted something and was hurling abusive language at the parent.  This was a clear case of “parental abuse” and in public.

Parental abuse for those of you who do not know is defined by Cottrell (2001, p.3) as ‘any harmful act of a teenage child intended to gain power and control over a parent. The abuse can be physical, psychological, or financial.’ Yet I have seen studies that about 11% of abusers are under the age of 10 years of age.  What I witnessed was clearly parental abuse, by a minor and unfortunately these incidents are on the raise.  

From what I have read in studies experts say it may have something to do with the increase of rights to children in our society.  Even though the parent has the economic, social control in the relationship with the child, with increased children’s rights over the last twenty years, parents are feeling their parental rights are being removed (Holt, 2011). It would seem that with government regulations into children’s rights they appear to be entering into the family cultural make-up.  

Yet whatever the reasons by scholars and researchers, the fact is that there appears to be a shift in the decision making centre of the family. For many decades the decision-making was left to the parents.  What to eat, where to live or where to go on vacation.  But in resent years I have seen this authority move towards the children. 

I am not saying that children cannot make decisions for themselves but why are we having the members of the family with the least amount of world experience and knowledge make crucial decisions.  As an example; I have seen student’s lunches comprised of only treats such as cookies, chocolate bars and chips.  This had nothing to do with socio-economic or cultural issues.   I once asked the parents about what they put into their lunch and their overwhelming response is, “They won’t eat anything else.  But at least they are eating something.” I tried to reassure them by saying that if you put healthy things in their lunch everyday eventually they will eat it.  Children will not starve themselves; eventually they will eat out of necessity/instinct.  Yet they continue to do what the child wants and not what is best for them.  When did being the responsible adult go out of fashion? 

A child is simply that, a child. By definition; https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/child

– A young human being below the age of puberty or below the legal age of majority

– A person who has little or no experience in a particular area

I think the issue has to do with parents who have forgotten to give their children a healthy dose of vitamin N, “NO”. You want to stay up late after your bedtime?  No. You need 8 – 10 hrs. of sleep to be ready for the day’s activities. You want to stay in all day and play video games. No.   Go out and play with your friends face to face build human relationships. You want French fries and cake instead of the veggies and fruit.  No.  You need healthy foods as your body is growing not empty calories and sugar.  Oh by the way childhood obesity is on the rise, I wonder why? 

I understand that parents want to be friends with their children and give them everything they did not have but there has to be limits. Perhaps this is what happened to the child I saw the other day.  They have not learnt any limits or consequences.  As an adult we all must live with limits to help us function in society.  Many of us learnt this at an early age.  But we also know that the older you get the harder it is to change.  Why not teach limits to the children at an early age so that once they have accepted the limits they can then do what Albert Einstein once said …

‘Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.’ Albert Einstein

Otherwise we are sending them out into the world with an ACME Dynamite kite without knowing their limits or consequences.  And we know what happened to the coyote when he got his ACME kits. 

Cottrell, B. (2001). Parent abuse: The abuse of parents by their teenage children. Ottawa: Family Violence Prevention Unit, Health Canada.Cottrell, B. & Monk, P. (2004). Adolescent to parent abuse. Journal of Family Issues, 25, 1072–1095.

Holt, A. (2011). From troublesome to criminal: School exclusion as the ‘tipping point’ in parents’ narratives of crime. In C. Hayden & D. Martin (Eds.) Crime, anti-social behaviour and schools. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Advertisements

Friday Two Cents: Dress Code


I was having a discussion with a couple of other teachers about a new dress code policy that the school board would be implementing in the coming school year.  Among some of the changes are that students will be able to wear tops that may expose shoulders, backs, stomachs, midriffs, necklines and cleavage and bottoms may expose legs, thighs and hips.  Also headgear (hats) will be permitted in the classroom so long as it does not obscure the face.  

The school board’s reason for the changes is to have a more student centric dress code that reflects student voice.  As well as to make it more equal to all nations and ethnic groups.  

The new dress code includes the following: 

  • Students must wear clothing that covers groin, buttocks and nipples in “opaque material”
  • Students may expose shoulders, stomachs, midriff, neck lines, and cleavage
  • Students may expose legs, thighs and hips
  • Students will not be permitted to wear undergarments as outwear, but straps and waistbands may be exposed
  • Students may wear any headwear that “does not obscure the face”
  • Students may not wear clothing that promotes “offensive, lewd, vulgar, or obscene images or language, including profanity, hate and pornography.”
  • Students may not wear clothing that promotes “discriminatory, Islamphobic, sexist, transphobic, homophobic, classist, abelist, or sizist” content
  • Students may not wear clothing that symbolizes, displays or references “tobacco, cannabis, alcohol, drugs or related paraphernalia”

As a supply teacher working with mostly elementary students, most of these rules do not affect many of the students I deal with. Yet much of the secondary teachers see this on a daily basis.  

Student Voice

My opinion on the matter is rather divided.  On the one hand I agree with the idea of student voice and being respectful to other cultures.  Yet on the other hand I see school as a student’s work place and many if not all workplaces have a dress code according to their corporate image.  Some places may even call it “dressing professionally”. 

As a student I went to a Catholic school with a school uniform.  At the time I did not like the idea of the uniform but the more I wore it the more I did not give it much thought, it was simply the thing to do.  Later in the military we all had uniforms.  Not until I left and started working did I realize how much mental effort was required to choose what you would be wearing to work the next day.  

School uniforms

I read an article that studied the effects of decision-making on our mental health.  It showed that we make hundreds of decisions in a day and after a time it begins to wear us down.  The study continued to say that we use up mental energy to make these decisions. That we have a limited amount of energy a day to make these decisions.  Of course in the morning deciding what to wear uses up some of that energy.  

They say the best way to reserve that energy is to make these decisions prior. Thereby having your clothes ready in the morning for you to wear.  When I had a uniform everyday I never had to think about what to wear.  I knew what to wear and it became a simple act of getting dressed.   Did this not thinking about what I would be wearing help me in school?  I am not sure but what I do know is that I do prepare my clothes the night before and I find that it is one less thing I have to worry about in the morning.  Which makes my morning routine that much easier. 

Perhaps instead of allowing an unlimited amount of choices to students and thereby using up their mental energy on deciding what to wear, maybe they should save that energy for other things.  Uniforms may not be desirable by many students but from my own experience I did find it easier and who knows, I could have had some extra energy for my studies, extra-curricular events and some “other” teenage activities.  Having one less thing to worry about as a teenager, that could have been enough to make sure I was one type of teenager and not another.  

Friday Two Cents: The Language Of Art


This past week I had completed my Additional Qualification course (AQ) on Visual Arts Part 2.  During this entire course I had the opportunity to learn new and exciting things to bring into the classroom for the students.  Some included techniques in areas that people would consider traditional art forms like painting, drawing, sculpting.  Other practices would be considered in new areas of art such as photography, Photoshop, digital art and word art. 

The one area I liked and was intrigued about was the language we would use to help the students express them selves in art.  In other words, it’s the language used in the art class.  Many classrooms have word walls for the students to help them understand, write and spell the words mostly used for literacy. Yet for other subjects, like math, there are other word walls that help the students understand the words or concepts within the subject.  To use math as an example …

Sum– the total amount resulting from the addition of two or more numbers.  

This helps the students use the language most used in the subject.  During this course I found some words that works with the Art curriculum.  I made a chart that can help students and other educators.  For just as Hippocrates once said …

‘The chief virtue that language can have is clearness, and nothing detracts from it so much as the use of unfamiliar words.’ Hippocrates

Art Word Chart Page 1

Hopefully these words can help others understand and create wonderful and meaningful pieces of art.  

Friday Two Cents: Art Is Everywhere


‘The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.’ Pablo Picasso

For the past week I have been fortunate to be taking an Additional Qualification course (AQ) on Visual Arts.  I have already taken Part 1 and now I am continuing my art education with Part 2.  

In the course we are learning new techniques and art mediums to bring the world of art to the students.  I’m not talking about crafts like making Mother’s day gifts, but well thought out art that the students did.  Yes we are learning the traditional art techniques but we need to help the students think more on why they create the art.  I have had many discussions with people that we should be looking at the process of art with the students and not the final product.  This course centres on that governing principle. 

We had wonderful experiences with art this week and we have one more week to go but we were also fortunate to go on a field trip to the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinberg.  They have wonderful art pieces that are all created my Canadian artists.  They also have a large collection of First Nations art on display as well.  We were able to have a wonderful tour that helped us explore works from the Group of Seven, First Nations art and other pieces including works from a Nova Scotia artist Maud Lewis.  

After had a workshop were we would be able to create our own Art pieces in the same style of Maud Lewis.  We had about 30 minutes but I think my creation was pretty close.   Her work is considered by many as folk-art and to some it may seem simplistic.  Yet exposing her pieces to the students could encourage them to think; if she can paint these works them maybe I could too.  In the end isn’t that what art is supposed to do?  Encourage conversation and inspire others.  

I have always thought so.  

Friday Two Cents: Oh The Places I’ve Seen


In Canada it is the final week of classes in the elementary school system.  This month also marks the 2nd anniversary that I started as an occasional teacher in a school board.  Yes I have been working with students for several years but those years were when I was an early childhood educator (ECE).  I have worked in many different classrooms as an ECE and I learned a great deal.  Yet nothing has been a greater learning experience than working as a certified teacher in these classrooms.  

Since the beginning I have kept track of how many different schools and classrooms I have been in.  Partly because it helps me with Additional Qualification course requirements, but also when someone asked me how many different classrooms I have been in I had to stop and think because I was not sure.  Amazingly, in the two years I have been in 80 different classrooms.  

I started in 2017 and since then, I have been at about 25 different schools and 80 different classes.  Over this time I have been in some classes that had the same teacher, but from year to year they had different students.  The students’ personality differences change the dynamics in a classroom wherever I have worked in with a similar teacher; therefore I see the class as a different classroom.  In some cases I have been in 14 – 18 different classrooms at the same school. I even have been in several French immersion classes during this time period. 

Yet reflecting back on the past two years, I can say with one thing for certain.  Kids are kids no matter where you go.  They are all very curious; they love to ask questions on topics of their interest and personal questions about your life. They all enjoyed my drawings and creative work with them and of course they loved George and my other puppets. Whenever I go back to a school or a classroom they always ask about George.  

However even though I have been in all these different classrooms it sometimes feel like a hollow victory.  I look at this number and all the experience I have accumulated and yet I am still looking for a permanent position, even an LTO (long term occasional) as a teacher of my own classroom. On top of it all there are times I feel that there are sometimes-unrealistic expectations on me from everyone around me.  Students, parents, teachers and others all want you to be Superman to fix everything and be whatever they want me to be instead of being myself.  

In the last two months I have worked in 20 different classrooms in 30 days.  Mind you I am grateful for the opportunity and I do enjoy being with the students but it does take a toll on you.   There are days when I feel like I am making progress and advancing in my career.  Then there are days when the harsh reality of my situation sets in and you are only as good as your last job.  The saying … “It’s not what you have done for me that counts but what you have done for me lately”, comes to mind.  On several occasions I have felt that no matter how good I do my job, I feel unappreciated.  That for all my helping and hard work, to make a class and a school that much more enjoyable for the students, it falls to the side like leaves falling in the autumn breeze.  I feel like no one notices … no one cares. 

However those feelings pass as I try to be positive and think of the most important aspect of my journey into the different classrooms.  My observation and learning from the different teachers and their teaching styles.  I have observed and conducted many lesson plans they have left me to do and what is great is that I have been asked to conduct my own lessons in these classrooms. Lesson plans for math; language, art, technology and science just to name a few.  I even helped out a school with their science project on the life cycle of the butterfly.  I don’t have my own classroom but it feels good to do some lesson plans to keep my teaching juices flowing.  

Below I have created a logo of a blue silhouette male teacher holding the hands of two students.  Each of these silhouettes’ represents a different classroom I have worked in.  On the top left side I placed the grade or subject I was teaching and on the right side the year I worked in that classroom. The font is unique to the school year; Helvetica was used for 2018-19.  The classes that I worked in French immersion are represented with a white fleur-de-li because the majority of the classes I work in are English.  Directly beneath the logo you can see a tally chart of all the classes I have been in.  The 25th is shaded in silver and the 50th is in gold.  

Saying I have been in 80 different classrooms is pretty impressive.  However, I have to remember to think of the positive side of my journey and remember those famous words written by Dr. Seuss. 

“Oh, the places you’ll go!
There is fun to be done!

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
 
KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!
 
You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So … get on your way!”  
Dr. Seuss

I’ve already moved a few mountains, what’s a few more.   

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.  

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. 

Ailish Sinclair

Stories and photos from Scotland

doug --- off the record

just a place to share some thoughts

Sauce Box

Never get lost in the Sauce

The Trombonist's Mouthpiece

Music, education, and philosophy

Paul Gauchi

My innermost thoughts I wish to share. These things Inspire me, maybe they will inspire you.

Lucia Lorenzi

the body politic: musings and meanderings

Luciana Cavallaro

Award-Winning Author

The Art Studio by Mark Moore

Where Imagination Becomes Realality

Daniel is funny

Monsters, Jokes, Analogies

A Step onto the Road

The journeying of a literary hopeful

teachingontheverge

Thinking deeply about education

The Baggage Handler

I made the impossible easy in both worlds!

Bucket List Publications

Indulge- Travel, Adventure, & New Experiences

Belief Blog

Spreading the Power of Belief

The First Gates

Stories, Dreams, Imagination, Soul

Unbound Boxes Limping Gods

The writer gives life to a story, the reader keeps it alive.