I’m an Ontario Certified Teacher!

An old post from when I first graduated from teachers’ college.

Two weeks ago, I graduated from teachers’ college. Since then, I’ve been thinking of something inspirational to write, but I realized I’ve already written what I want to say.

Us teachers lookin' regal on graduation day.
Us teachers lookin’ regal on graduation day.

My first blog post ever explained why I want to be a teacher. It still captures best why I went to OISE.  It also explains what kind of teacher I want to be.

So, I’ve posted it below for you to read.

I have only one thing to add… a big ‘THANK YOU’ to all those people who stood by me during my studies! To start with, I thank my boss, Gilbert, for keeping me teaching part-time and tolerating my ‘pedagogical experiments’ in the classroom (Baroque music & other oddities…but they work).

I also owe a lot to friends, family, and teacher associates who:  drove me to bus stations, bought me Timmies, shared inspirational stories, or just understood when I disappeared under a pile of tests.

You guys are the best. Continue reading

Building self-esteem in students– have we gone too far?

Are your children spoiled? Quite possibly.

Our nation- wide, well-intentioned “grow self-esteem in students” movement has gone too far. Before you hurl stones, let me preface this by saying I’m a teacher committed to building strong self-concepts in students,  especially body-conscious girls. And I don’t think praising students is bad.

But I think some praise is bad.

Some praise is downright destructive.

Continue reading

Every teacher & parent should watch this!

An old post I wrote while studying to become a teacher.

Activist, author, and child prodigy  Adora Svitak  makes the case for childish thinking in her compelling TED talk.

She’s 16-years-old but eloquent as my 40-year-old aunt…and that’s eloquent.

I’ve taken the quotes that really stuck out to me and pasted them for you below.

“WHAT ADULTS CAN LEARN FROM CHILDREN”

[by Adora Svitak]

Straight from Svitak:

‘irrational’ thinking

“The traits the word ‘childish’ addresses are seen so often in adults that we should abolish this age-discriminatory word when it comes to criticizing behavior associated with irresponsibility and irrational thinking.”

“…who’s to say that certain types of irrational thinking aren’t exactly what the world needs?”

optimism & dreams

“For better or worse, we kids aren’t hampered as much when it comes to thinking about reasons why not to do things.”

“…we kids still dream about perfection. And that’s a good thing, because in order to make anything a reality, you have to dream about it first.”

control & care

“Now, what’s even worse than restriction is that adults often underestimate kids abilities. We love challenges, but when expectations are low, trust me, we will sink to them.”

“…to show that you truly care, you listen.”

legacy

“But there’s a problem with this rosy picture of kids being so much better than adults. Kids grow up and become adults just like you. Or just like you, really? The goal is not to turn kids into your kind of adult, but rather better adults than you have been.”

my two cents…

I agree with Svitak about everything, except  for one thing; as a student, I don’t think she fully appreciates classroom control. It’s necessary.  No classroom can function well without some rules and guidelines. I know, because I once set very little rules or guidelines (not my thing, anyway), and my students were less focused and less successful because of it. It’s a fine balance. We teachers need to give as much freedom as possible so long as learning is not impeded.

one more thought…

Svitak paints an accurate picture of kids who “still dream about perfection.”Listening to her, I remembered a situation that captures the child mentality perfectly.

Once, I left my black handbag in a classroom over lunch break. I returned to the empty room to find a one of my grade 5 students, Emma, hunched over my bag. “Oh no!” I immediately thought. I’m ashamed to admit it now, but I though to myself, “she must be taking something from my bag.”

Rushing over to Emily to “catch her” red-handed, I soon became embarrassed. I saw that she was holding a mop of soggy tissue papers, cleaning my bag from the grit it picked up from the floor. “What are you doing?” I asked. And then she looked up at me, a small mess of freckles,  and said in her slow, deliberate way, “Cleaning…your bag…” I thought she had been stealing, when she had just been helping me behind my back.

Kids do really think a different way, see the world differently. It’s a shame that we grow up.

Do you think you’re childish enough? Or, have you become too serious and narrow-minded to the see the big, bright picture? Have you lost your rose-coloured glasses?

Something to think about…

Every teacher & parent should watch this!

An old post I wrote while studying to become a teacher.

Activist, author, and child prodigy  Adora Svitak  makes the case for childish thinking in her compelling TED talk.

She’s 16-years-old but eloquent as my 40-year-old aunt…and that’s eloquent.

I’ve taken the quotes that really stuck out to me and pasted them for you below.

“WHAT ADULTS CAN LEARN FROM CHILDREN”

[by Adora Svitak]

Continue reading

Why do we un-teach intuition?

[I wrote this post when I was studying to become a teacher]

Last Sunday, fate arranged for me to eat burrito across from Ian, creative strategist, business owner, and writer. He taught me something in this school of life, and he can teach you. He taught me the value of intuition.

He came dressed in a sock

His sweater was a over-sized sock— trendy these days, I guessed. A pair of aviator glasses hid his bright green eyes. Despite his youthful look, I sensed his depth.

I wanted to know how he became a success reaching the top of every hipster’s dream, Mount Everest, Holy Grail – the advertising industry.

Ian had found his inspiration in some classroom, I was sure, or in some lecture hall, in some teacher. Armed with knowledge, he’d rough-housed in the creative marketplace.

Continue reading

“Class Action” film: are we for social justice in our schools?

I wrote this post when I was studying to become a teacher.

Last week was my final week of classes at OISE.

The final assignment for School and Society course was to create an artifact representing our commitment to social justice in the classroom.

To create my film artifact, I did some digging and found some stories. The facts I found upset some people. Others questioned them.

I embraced their emotions. Facts that are hidden and hard-hitting often stir them. Click to watch my social justice artifact here:

What is “social justice”?

Continue reading

Girls Part III: Why does the Sisterhood Circle Club cook chicken soup?

I wrote this post when I was studying to become a teacher.

As a kid, one of my favourite rituals was steaming my cheeks over a hot pot of chicken soup, even if my parents thought it was nuts.

To me, the pot of soup was a world of little people, tossed about in the tide of life. You see, when I helped my mom roll matzo balls, I shaped and marked them in certain ways– a sprig of parsley here, a dent there– and gave each ball personality. This one was a doctor, the other a maid.

A pot of matzo ball chicken soup
This is not what you think it is.

When we threw them into the pot, I became invested in these characters’ fates and I desperately looked out for them; I wanted to know why the doctor fought with carrots and why the maid mushroomed to twice her size. It made for a rich story. It was a tasty soup. And when my family sat down to eat, it became a glue between us.

The experience was stamped in my mind as  the sacred chicken soup ritual.  Cooking the soup came to represent community, imagination, and survival in my life. Here’s how the Sisterhood Circle girls got a taste of the same:

Continue reading

Girls Part I: 10 statistics– Canadian girls’ self-esteem

ibrain technological alteration of student's mindsAfter reading iBrain: surviving the technological evolution of the modern mind, I was struck by facts and ideas that made me see  my students differently.

These facts challenged me, but they did not discourage me. I do not have a  gloomy vision of my Digital Native students’ future. It is not a depressing vision. It is not a dark vision of education gone wrong.

It is just a very different vision.

Brain evolution demands changes in the way we teach. Here’s what teachers should know about their Digital Native students:

Continue reading

Future Minds Part III: Top 9 stats & facts about Digital Natives

ibrain technological alteration of student's mindsAfter reading iBrain: surviving the technological evolution of the modern mind, I was struck by facts and ideas that made me see  my students differently.

These facts challenged me, but they did not discourage me. I do not have a  gloomy vision of my Digital Native students’ future. It is not a depressing vision. It is not a dark vision of education gone wrong.

It is just a very different vision.

Brain evolution demands changes in the way we teach. Here’s what teachers should know about their Digital Native students:

1. They’re reading less– “studies show that fewer young adults read books for pleasure now than in any generation before them. Since 1982, literary reading has declined by  28 % in 18-34 year olds.” (Small & Vorgan, p. 3)

2. They must learn to use their brains efficientlyIn an earlier post about brain evolution, we looked at how this generation multi-tasks constantly. It’s a negative habit, because “Switching back and forth [between two tasks], like answering email while writing a memo, may decrease brain efficiency by as much as 50%, compared with completing one task before starting another one.” (ibid., p. 68)

3. They really like video games– “Digital Natives constitute the major market for video gaming: more than 90% of all children and adolescents in the United States play these games” (ibid., p. 36)

4. 20% are Internet addicted– “An estimated 20 % of this generation meets the clinical criteria for pathological Internet use– they are online so much it interferes negatively  with almost every aspect of their lives.” (ibid., p. 30)

5. There are gender differences in Internet usage– Females tend to use the Internet for social purposes– to stay in touch. Males feel more comfortable in virtual gaming social networks: “80% of online virtual gamers are young men– and not just teenagers; the average age is 28.” (ibid., p. 57)

6. They are raised partly by TV– The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents “limit their child’s television watching, [and recommend] zero television for children less than two years of age.”TV watching at such a young age can lead to permanently impaired attention abilities. (ibid., p. 67)

The problem is that 20% of children under the age of 5 have a TV in their bedrooms, and 30% of kids ages 3-6 have TVs in theirs. (ibid., p. 67)

7. They need family– “In a 2006 survey of nearly 100,000 teenagers across 25 states,  a higher frequency of dinners was associated with more positive values and a greater commitment to learning. Adolescents from homes having fewer family dinners were more likely to eixhibit high-risk behaviors, including substance abuse, sexual activity, suicide attempts, violence, and academic problems.” (ibid., p. 93)

8. They’re bored in traditional classrooms– “Many students acknowledge that classroom learning and the customary lecture/note-taking system seems boring to them.” (ibid., p. 26)

9. They may benefit from educational games– “we do know that a limited amount of video gaming may enrich some forms of cognitive performance.” Scientists and video game designers are at work to create games that attract Digital Natives and strengthen their minds. (ibid., p. 40)

Did any of these findings surprise you?

This is Part III of a series of posts based on the research of Gary Small, MD & Gigi Vorgan published in their book, iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind.

 If you’d like to read more about this and other social trends affecting education, sign up to follow this blog at the top of the home page.