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

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Friday Two Cents: A Tradition In The Heart Of The City


This week I was able to break away from my routine and go enjoy something that I have been going to since I was a child, the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE). This year is the CNE’s 140th anniversary. Every year I enjoy going to see the art, craft and hobbies exhibits, the shows and of course sampling the different types of foods they have to offer. I even have a tradition of getting a corn dog once I enter the grounds. I know that it is not a healthy choice but once you enter the grounds healthy choices are thrown out the window. Besides, it is the only time during the year when I eat a corn dog.

This year I was able to see two amazing shows; the aerial acrobatic and ice-skating show Quatro and the Legends Of The Silk Road Come To Life. Quatro is a poetic display of dazzling ice-skating and aerial acrobatics performed by a former Cirque du Soleil artist. This wonderful show is not too far from the Legends Of The Silk Road Come To Life. A spectacular indoor lantern festival where 17 spectacular illuminated sculptures make up an incredible display of lights and colour. The theme is centred on the legends and myths associated with the ancient Silk Road. These astounding shows are only two of the numerous displays and activities you can do at the CNE.
The CNE is in the heart of Toronto and is amazing every year. Unfortunately it is only available in the city for a limited time and as of the 1st day of school approaches it will be gone for another year. That’s why I always have mixed feelings about the CNE. I love going but I know that once I leave the grounds it means summer is over and school will start soon. Oh well I guess I have to just wait and look forward to next year, but at least I have some great experiences and memories to keep me going until new years edition.

Friday Two Cents: The Truth Is Usually In The Middle


‘All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.’ Galileo Galilei

 

If you are in Toronto, you are aware that the provincial government is planning to table legislation to lower the number of city councillors in Toronto from a proposed increase of 47 to 25. From what I have seen in the “media”, the message I am getting is that this is all bad. I have seen the Leader of the Opposition (LOTO) in the Ontario Legislature speak against it and many councillors too. On the other hand the Ontario government thinks it’s a good thing. Yet is it really that bad? You see these individuals all have an agenda.

The LOTO is supposed to be against the government and the councillors, well many would lose their jobs or would have to really fight/ campaign for a city councillors’ job, therefore I find their opinions biased. Also the government is biased with its own agenda. As well the “media” is only interested in one thing. No not reporting the news, but creating revenue for their parent company in the form of advertisement. Hence making the biggest splash or the most noise to attract viewership is their number one goal. So if it makes better ratings to show the side making the most noise than they’ll do it. So what is better? Big or small government?
I thought it best to look for myself and the best way is to ask the question … “Is bigger government better?” I thought I’d do a Pro and Cons list.

               Pros …

  • Government is designed to help people. They fund programs and organise the city systems, e.g. trash removal, police, fire department etc. More councillors mean more people thinking of ideas to help the people.
  • More voices on the council. More people representing the people, more voices speaking out. More councillors for the people to go to, to have their own voice heard.
  • Better representation. More councillors means fewer people that the councillor represents. (E.g. 1 city councillor for 65,000 people instead of 1 for every 100,000.)

                Cons …

  • It costs more. More councillors mean more costs to pay them. High costs mean an increase in taxes, thereby increasing the tax burden on the people.
  • Too many voices on the council means too many opinions. Every person has an opinion on what is best. Fewer people on the council means quicker consensus. (If you ever heard them constantly debate the subway issue you’d know what I mean). 
  • Bigger government hurts economic growth. A study entitled Measuring the Size of Government in the 21st Century, published by the Fraser Institute, indicates that larger governments can hurt economic growth (Matteo, 2018).
After looking at these pros and cons, and other research I looked into, I see that the biggest losers are the councillors themselves. Besides the research paper about economic growth I also read an article about municipal councillors, that state that once you are in, you basically have a job for life. They call it the Incumbent’s advantage. Statics prove that once you are in you have a 90% chance of being re-elected (Porter, 2014).  As well, if you look at London, England their city council has 25 councillors for a city of 9 million and it works.
All this aside, what is the true story? Where is the truth in all this? As a friend once said to me, everyone has a side in the story and the truth is usually in the middle. Yes there are benefits for and against a large and smaller council. The job and responsibility of the electorate is to be well-informed and then make the best decision with the available data. That is where it should come down to, us, the voters. My grandfather once said something and it makes perfect sense for all this noise in the media. ‘Listen by force, but do what is best for you.’ Grandpa was always right.

Grandpa was always right.

Porter, C (2014, Sept) City councillor, a well-paid job for life? The Toronto Star. https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2014/09/17/city_councillor_a_wellpaid_job_for_life.html
Matteo, L. Di. (originally published January 14, 2014,updated May 11, 2018) Bigger government isn’t always better government. The Globe and Mail. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/economy-lab/bigger-government-isnt-always-better-government/article16314426/

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Friday Two Cents: What A Piece Of Work Is A Man


 

This past week I have been enjoying my vacation time by indulging in some of my favourite pasts. Bike rides and walks along the lakeshore, reading, writing, drawing and painting. During these long periods of activity, my mind has been free to wander and think of endless possibilities and things that are right in front of me.

The best way to make any sense of what I have been thinking can be best said from a quote in Shakespeare’s Hamlet …

Hamlet
What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how
infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and
admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like
a god!

Hamlet Act 2, scene 2.

 

Hamlet said this little speech in irony. Perhaps Hamlet intended to fend off the questions or nosy inquiries from the kings’ spies, yet he finds nothing too impressive about man (humanity). Yet what Hamlet says in irony I take as my conviction.
During my activities I have had time to reflect on what we (humans) have done with our time on this planet. For I have seen the evils of what man can and have done to their fellow-man, yet I have seen many examples that man has the capacity to do good as well. Art has given me the means to look into the soul of humanity and try to understand what makes us tick. Engaging in my own art projects helps me to understand the soul of humanity and our desire to understand the world around us. What other creature on this planet can create something as breathtaking as the Mona Lisa or apiece of street art I see in downtown Toronto. All of this is an expression of us trying to understand why we are here. Art has developed and grown as our civilization has grown. Humanity’s journey of self-discovery and understanding can be reflected in its many forms of artwork. In many ways our art is a window into our very soul.
My own exploration and experiences in art has given me some insights, yet I am far from finding the answers to these questions; but I know the journey is worth it. Lao Tzu once said …

 

‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.’ Lao Tzu

I would add to this …
“Sometimes the journey is as important as the destination.” Paul Gauchi
  

Here’s to the journey into the soul of humanity and my own.

Friday Two Cents: Keeping A Routine And Keeping Healthy


With the summer upon us and I am, like the children, off for the summer enjoying a well-deserved rest. A time to recharge my batteries and get things done that I put-off during the year. I have a list of things I need to get done around the house yet I decided to make sure I looked after my own health at the same time.

Working as a teacher is no an easy job. It is a mental and physical job that many people think is easy to do. ‘You’re playing with kids. How hard is that?’ Trust me it’s not easy. Put aside the fact that teachers must program the daily lessons, write reports and supervise the students, it is also very physical. Everyday I would look at my step counter and on average I would do between 14 000 and 15 000 steps daily. That level of activity is taxing and does take its toll after a time. Yet I must admit once you get use to it you miss it after a while.
During the summer months I have taken it upon myself to keep healthy and physically fit. I big part is maintaining my diet. I have a routine that did not change over this past three weeks of the summer and it has helped.  I try to keep to the same routine but I also know that I am not perfect and I allow myself to occasional indulgence but in moderation.
Eating is only part of it; I also go to bed and wake up at the same time. I exercise and keep physically fit but this week I have taken up something that I haven’t done for about 5 years; ride my bike. I have a stationary bike at home that I use often but going out seemed such an inconvenience. I use to ride almost everywhere when I was younger, yet when I got my licence I rode less and less. This year though I thought why not start again.
I got my bike ready and the day after I finished my Mathematics course I went down to the lakeshore and rode along the bike path. It was an exhilarating experience and it is true what they say, once you have ridden a bike you never forget. I rode along the same path I did years ago everything about riding came back. The breeze whipping across my face; the sensation of my legs as I pump them up and down and the sense of accomplishment after riding the set amount of kilometers I set for myself.
I know this is only the beginning and I am being realistic. I know not to push myself too much but I intend to continue for at least the summer. After that who knows. Trying to keep healthy is a lot of work but as I have discovered, its fun too.

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Friday Two Cents: To Boldly Go


 

This past week has been a whirlwind of a week to say the least. First off I finally made it onto the Occasional Teaching (OT) roster of a school board. I say finally because after 2 years in university, one year of teacher’s college and 2 years of supplying as an early childhood educator (RECE), I can say that I am working in my chosen career.

First Day as an occasional teacher (OT)

As great as that sounds it is only the beginning. I went in on Monday to the school I usually go to for my first day as a supply teacher. The experience was amazing! I was in a grade 5 class where all of the students basically knew me and I knew about half of them since kindergarten. I then covered a few other classes where I had the same experience.
At the end of the day I received some good news for me. A teacher had gone on sick leave and they asked me if I could cover the class until the end of the school year. I jumped at the chance and the best part  was that it would be in a kindergarten class that I have already worked in as a RECE!!
So the following day I started in the kindergarten class as their teacher until the end of the year.  The experience was a lot different then when I was a RECE. I have been in the several classes as a RECE for several weeks and months at a time, yet being a teacher in a class is totally different. They say the weight of responsibility weighs heavy on those in authority and I can now say from experience, that it does.
Before, I was helping the teacher, something very similar to a “sergeant”. Someone in authority and respected, but subordinate to someone else.   Now as the teacher I am like the officer, the “captain” of the ship. You still have someone to report to, the principal (Admiral), but you chart your own course, steering the ship in a direction towards a destination for learning. The crew (the students) are your responsibility, you must keep them safe and ensure that they benefit for your leadership.
This week of being the “Captain” in the class was amazing. I had the benefit of the programming of the previous teacher and then I threw in my own spin in teaching the material. Next week I bring in my own plan of action, so to speak. This coming week I am the captain of the S.S. Kindergarten. Their on going journey, into a new and exciting world of learning and exploration. To boldly go where we have not gone before.

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Comic Strips: The Beauty Of Their Dreams


 

The latest publication of the newsletter has been sent out and with it the last comic strip of 2016-17 ‘The Craziest Things’ along with it. The June comic strip is a culmination of the year’s drawings of the students in the graduating class at my school. Every month I create a comic strip with the students in the grade 5s in a situation that I have observed them doing. I sometimes take a little creative license but in many instances, what you see is what happened.

But like I said, the June comic is a culmination of the year and these children will be graduating to a new school to begin the daunting task of fitting into middle school. Yet for the last comic of the school year I like to create a scene with a farewell message or words of wisdom to the graduating class. You can see a few of the previous years in the comic section on my blog. One year the scene was a class photo, one was about different people you meet in your life and another was about shooting for the stars.
This year I went for the theme of the beauty in their dreams. Dreams are what drive many people; from the dream of getting that dream job to a family. Dreams help inspire and drive many people to do their best and never give up. I thought of an endless road that can allow your mind to wander. To help you dream of the endless possibilities one could experience. Therefore I placed the students on that road and wrote …

 

The future belongs to those who believe

in the beauty of their dreams.

Good Luck Class of 2017!

 

A quote from Eleanor Roosevelt. The future is for those who can believe in their dreams.

I hope you enjoy The Craziest Things: The Beauty Of Their Dreams.

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