Teacher Feature #50 – Pay It Forward

Food for Thought, Teacher Feature No Comments »

Pay It Forward Day is the last Thursday of April each year. This year it occurs on April 30th and it provides teachers with a powerful opportunity to teach more than traditional curricular concepts. My Dad used to say … “We are put on this earth to ensure that when we do leave, we have made the world a better place.” Likewise my thoughts return to my days as a Wolf Cub when we made the promise “to do a good turn to somebody every day.”

Teacher Feature #50 - Pay It Forward - 400x300
Teacher Feature #50 – April, 2015

I encourage teachers to explore the Pay It Forward Day free downloads and School Kits. In addition to the resources provided online, one can use the “Search L-L-L Blog” tool at the right and enter “Pay It Forward” (without quotes) to locate previous posts that I have written about this powerful teaching opportunity.

Recently a friend forwarded this YouTube video to me, which I will call “The Man in the Queue”, which I encourage you to share with your students. Likewise, a past video that I’ve entitled “Kindness Keeps the World Afloat” demonstrates how a simple act of kindness can cause an amazing ripple effect.

However, some of you may not yet be convinced and might say … “Ya …Great idea Brian. Too bad you couldn’t have shared this with me about 10 days ago so I could research, download, duplicate, and distribute this to my kids on April 30th.” To which, I reply, “True … I am posting this later than I intended. However, take time on April 30th to briefly expose your students to the Pay It Forward Day concept and ask each of them to think about what they might do as a random act of kindness. Afterall, now that you have the nessary preparation time, you and your students have all May to make the world a better place through doing a good deed.”

Take care & keep smiling :-)

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Teacher Feature #49 – Finesse Stress

Food for Thought, Teacher Feature, Tip No Comments »

The task of being a teacher today is one that may be filled with a variety of frustration. In fact, I believe that the daily stress in our teaching profession has increased drastically over the past decades. This is due to the fact that a teacher’s range of responsibilities and related expectations have diverged dramatically.

Earlier this week, a friend sent me a “swinging” image with the following text “Every time you feel yourself being pulled into other people’s drama, repeat these words … “Not my circus, not my monkeys”. This stress-reducing mantra is a translation of an old Polish proverb “Nie mój cyrk, nie moje małpy!

Not my circus - Not my monkeys - 400x300

Teacher Feature #49 – Polish Proverb – March, 2015

I wondered why we, as teachers, can identify so well with this powerful, proverb. In my case, during an educational career spanning 40 years, I worked as a classroom teacher with junior and senior high students for 12 years. The vast majority of my educational career was spent as a provincial and divisional Computer/Education Consultant. Many might argue that spending only 30% of my career as a classroom teacher, reduced my exposure to stress significantly. However, I maintain that any dedicated individuals, working in the educational system today, be they Teacher Assistants, Teachers, Consultants, or Administrators are subjected to stress. With this in mind, I wondered why this might be the case.

When I attended university, I worked each summer at Coca Cola on the bottling line where bottles were cleaned, filled with product, capped and packaged for distribution. I’m sure there were the odd days when the job may have had its stressful moments. However, at the end of the day, when we “punched out” our time card, we went home and left those frustrations, and work-related problems, at the job site.

Educators, it seems, do not have such luxuries. Their job, together with the stress of the day often goes home with them. Furthermore, today’s educator seems to be tethered to the job and often to parents by email and other social media applications. The job, which we all know, continues well past the 9:00 am to 4:00 pm day when the school is open. Furthermore, the “teaching day” together with it’s related responsibilities, continues to get longer.

Another reason that I think teachers may gravitate towards drama and added stress in the workplace is that we all want to be helpful. We want to be the “ring leader” and bring happiness and put smiles on everyone’s face. Most students who enter the Faculty of Education do so because they want to improve education and help students succeed. So when students, or other educators, attempt to draw one into their problems, and the related drama surrounding the situation, we often feel the need to “jump in with both feet” and do our best to help. Unfortunately, the results can be both overwhelming and we may not be as helpful as we had first intended. If you are one that can’t avoid jumping in to help “every circus in town”, the following Bill Cosby quotation below will probably resonate with you:

“I don’t know the key to success,
but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”

Am I suggesting that you withdraw your help from everyone? No … I think it is more important that you look at “each circus” and determine how best you can support the situation. Sometimes, even walking away and forcing those individuals to work through the issues themselves, provides them with a chance to learn and develop their own coping skills.

When a “new circus” arrives in town, you have to ask yourself … “What is my motivation for becoming involved and, more importantly, what will my involvement cost me in terms of time and stress?” Take time to ask yourself if you can really bring, or add, something unique to help resolve the problem for all involved. If you cannot, bow out gracefully, rather than simply adding another individual to the melee.

Lastly consider what will be the consequences, should you not choose to participate. After all, if you are not going to be part of the solution, don’t be part of the problem. Sometimes one has to be selfish, if you are already trying to manage several monkeys in your own circus. Furthermore, in today’s educational environment, you know there are always going to be new circuses coming to town.

These can be tough decisions but perhaps you will remember this Polish proverb and ask yourself whether you might reduce your stress by not getting involved but in just “monkeying around”.

Take care & keep smiling :-)

Larger Image: Brian Metcalfe’s Teacher Feature “photostream”
https://www.flickr.com/photos/life-long-learners/sets/72157625102810878/

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Teacher Feature #48 – Independent Thinking

Food for Thought, Social Networking, Teacher Feature No Comments »

Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder of Facebook, has stated:

“Back, you know, a few generations ago, people didn’t have a way to share information and express their opinions efficiently to a lot of people. But now they do. Right now, with social networks and other tools on the Internet, all of these 500 million people have a way to say what they’re thinking and have their voice be heard.”

What can we, as teachers, do to encourage such independent thinking in our students? First and foremost, we must provide a classroom environment that encourages students to risk-take and feel comfortable when they make mistakes.

Teacher Feature #48 - 400x300
Teacher Feature #48 – Author Unknown – February, 2015

In my mind, two important skills that all students should acquire in any K-12 grade or curricular area are: the ability to problem solve and the the ability to collaborate. In today’s ever-changing job market, these two skills will provide our youth with an opportunity to enter the work-force with assets that will always be in demand.

As a former Mathematics and Computer Science teacher, I was always encouraging my students to problem solve and my classrooms were decorated with puzzles to stimulate the minds of my students. I must admit that when I first began teaching Grade 7 & 8 Mathematics, I tended to think that the way students in my class should solve a particular problem should closely follow the algorithm that I used or was demonstrated in the textbook. Thankfully, when I started teaching Computer Science to Grade 11 & 12 students, I quickly learned that there were many different ways of programming a computer to solve a problem, True, some computer programs might be more efficient because they used fewer lines of code, but I embraced the diversity of my students’ solutions and was quick to demonstrate the variety of solutions. In addition, I found that students in Computer Science seemed to collaborate and help each other de-bug their print-outs looking for the errors in syntax or logic.  For me, teaching Computer Science was a powerful environment for problem solving and a culture to foster collaboration.

With this fresh idea of problem solving fixed in my mind, I want to share with you some unique activities or lessons that I have used with students. I’m sure, as educators, each of us can recall a handful of lessons that were truly inspiring or ones that had a profound impact on both your students and yourself. Like the above powerful quote, I want to share with you some classroom ideas and activities that will cause your students to think and wonder.

So stay tuned, as I share some of my “most unforgettable classroom problem-solving experiences” in my upcoming posts.

Take care & keep smiling :-)

Larger Image: Brian Metcalfe’s Teacher Feature “photostream”
https://www.flickr.com/photos/life-long-learners/sets/72157625102810878/

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How heavy is a glass of water?

Food for Thought, Reflection, Tip No Comments »

On Valentine’s Day, I attended a function where Doreen Blackman, another retired teacher, handed me a piece of paper containing the following story and suggested I might enjoy the message. After reading it, I knew I wanted to share it through a blog post. When I got home, I searched the web and found a variety of similar posts to the following:

glass-H20-400x600-TA professor began his class by holding up a glass with some water in it. He held it up for all to see and asked the students, “How much do you think this glass weighs?”

“50 grams!” ….”100 grams!” ….. “125 grams!” … the students answered.

“I really don’t know unless I weigh it,” said the professor, “but, my question is: What would happen if I held it up like this for a few minutes?”

“Nothing” … the students said.

“Okay what would happen if I held it up like this for an hour?” the professor asked.

“Your arm would begin to ache,” said one of the students.

“You’re right, now what would happen if I held it for a day?”

“Your arm could go numb, you might have severe muscle stress and paralysis and have to go to hospital for sure!” ventured another student and all the students laughed …

“Very good, but during all this, did the weight of the glass change?” asked the professor.

“No” was the answer.

“Then what caused the arm ache and the muscle stress?”

The students were puzzled.

“What should I do now to reduce the pain?” asked professor again.

“Put the glass down!” said one of the students.

“Exactly!” said the professor.

Life’s problems are something like this. Hold it for a few minutes in your head and they seem OK.

Think of them for a long time and they begin to ache.

Hold it even longer and they begin to paralyze you.

You will not be able to do anything.

It’s important to think of the challenges or problems in your life, but EVEN MORE IMPORTANT is to …

“PUT THEM DOWN” at the end of every day before you go to sleep.

That way, you are not stressed, you wake up every day fresh and strong and can handle any issue, any challenge that comes your way!

So, when your day ends today, remember my friends to …

PUT THE GLASS DOWN!

I must admit that, as someone who can be somewhat perfectionistic at times, I often spend hours trying to complete a task to my high standards. My wife says in some cases, I may in fact perseverate when I cannot solve or complete a task to my self-imposed benchmark. I recall when I was an Educational Technology Consultant and was editing and writing my monthly “Bits and Bytes” educational newsletter, I often got home from work at 2:00 or 3:00 am. Such 18 hour days often occurred at the middle of each month when my newsletter submission deadline approached.

A colleague often asked me “When is the job good enough?” In other words, could I submit the newsletter after working a 10 hour day knowing that it was not still not up to my standards. I admit, that in those days, to use this water glass metaphor, I was reluctant to spill any water regardless if it would reduce the stress I was feeling.

When I look back at the efforts of our Educational Technology team, we were amazing, worked long hours both in the office and at home and were motivated from within to complete all tasks to the best of our abilities. We didn’t take short cuts, we didn’t spill any water, and and we rarely “put the glass down”. Now that I’m retired, I must take care to put the glass down each night, so I can focus on any time-consuming tasks with a fresh, new outlook each morning.

Take care & keep smiling :-)

Credits: The above anecdote is modified slightly from the post “Put the Glass Down”.

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Happy Fifth Blogging Birthday

Food for Thought, LwICT, Reflection No Comments »

My “Life-Long-Learners” blog started as a New Year’s resolution on January 1st, 2010. My first blog post was entitled “Life-Long-Learners and the ‘3Rs’”. In it, I shared my thoughts about the “3R’s” … not the traditional “Readin, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmetic” but rather “Resolution, Retired, and Re-wired”.

My New Year’s resolution, five years ago, was to begin sharing my educational ideas and resources through my brand-spankin’ new “Life-Long-Learners” blog. After three years of retirement, I missed the important interaction with educators and students that had motivated me during my forty years as a K-12 teacher and Educational Technology Consultant. In fact, Manitoba Education’s recent implementation of the K-8 “Literacy with Information and Communication Technology (LwICT) Across the Curriculum” helped re-wire my focus on how educators needed to change and how technology could enhance learning in all disciplines. Will Richardson stated that “… we as educators need to reconsider our roles in students’ lives, to think of ourselves as connectors first and content experts second”. This profound idea resonated with me five years ago and even more so today. In fact, throughout the past five years of blogging, I have tried to foster “connections”, share ideas and resources, and model Michelangelo’s famous statement “Ancora Imparo!” which he made at 87 years of age.

However, as I reflect on my 5th blogging birthday, I think the following “Creative Commons” licensed photo captures the way I feel.

Five cupcakes in a row 400x266

On January 1, 2010, when I wrote my first blog post, everything was in focus as I embarked on this new learning adventure. Not only was I learning WordPress and finding new ways to engage my mind, the “icing on the (cup)cake” was my ability to share ideas and resources with other educators. Furthermore, the individuals, who took the time to provide me with feedback through posting comments, made my life special and helped me to be a better life-long-learner.

However, as my years of blogging continued, the focus, like the picture, became less intense and began to blur in the background. Lately, I’m finding that I lack the necessary “connections” with the students and teachers that have inspired me to write. When working as an Educational Technology Consultant, I always found the questions that were asked by educators to be the stimulus I needed to write an article which shared ideas and resources.

This is not to say that there have not been opportunities to regain my focus. For example, my excursion into the world of “Digital Storytelling” through the innovative on-line DS106 course was an opportunity that engaged me and fostered an exciting, new way of learning.

However, now that I have been retired for 7.5 years, I am struggling to find innovative ideas and perhaps, more importantly, time to write blog posts.

True, I continue to regularly attend MAETL meetings and ManACE TIN nights, where I always get energized by the innovative ideas that educators and students share. The DS106 “Daily Create” is emailed to me and provides a daily source of inspiration. However lately, I seem to be too busy to tackle these activities that are supposed to take about 15 minutes to create.

In the past years, I seemed to regularly post between 3-4 articles per month. Lately, I’m finding that the end of the month creeps up rather quickly and I seem to be creating a “Teacher Feature” on the last few days of the month. One might say “Who cares?” but I have made a commitment to myself to post one “Teacher Feature” each month. However, when one looks back over the last dozen or so of my blog posts and finds only “Teacher Features”, and few ideas or resources that might immediately be useful in a classroom, one has to wonder if my blogging days are drawing to a close.

Perhaps I’m just tired. I recently joined a mens’ Barbershop Chorus called the Winnipeg Golden Chordsmen and I am certainly enjoying the camaraderie and the singing. I am finding that at my age, I am not learning the lyrics as fast as I might have when I was in university. Furthermore, I know that I am a sight learner and as such, I don’t internalize the melody as easy as my colleagues who are aural learners. When asked to join the Executive, after only eight months as a “newbie”, I decided to give it a try. This venture has provided me with a new learning opportunity and I have been busy helping out the organization in a variety of ways.

Although I have always thought of my blog as a vehicle for sharing and reflecting on K-12 education supported by technology, perhaps I may broaden my perspective somewhat. I suppose I could still share ideas but also consider how my new experiences with music and singing have inspired me. In fact, I have always tried to explore and foster “connections” through the lens of an educator. Perhaps, I am learning to focus in new ways and make new connections, as I engage in my new choral singing experience.

Rather than end this post with the singing of “Happy Birthday” in four-part harmony, I have decided to share the following quotation by Brian Eno:

When you sing with a group of people, you learn how to subsume yourself into a group consciousness because a capella singing is all about the immersion of the self into the community. That’s one of the great feelings – to stop being me for a little while and to become us. That way lies empathy, the great social virtue.

Take care & keep smiling :-)

– Flickr – Creative Commons image “Five (No Jive)” by Gerry Dulay
– https://www.flickr.com/photos/gerrysnaps/4131141430

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A Teacher’s Daily Survival Kit

Food for Thought, Tip No Comments »

Early this month, Gerald Brown, the former Chief Librarian of the Winnipeg School Division, sent me a “survival kit” by email. True, variations of this list have circulated over the past 20 years but the message contained within, is still very important.

survival kit 400x400

In fact, my wife, who taught at the elementary level, used to make up “kits” like the following, including all the objects, together with the important instructions, to give out to each student in her class. This unique “survival kit” was as one of the many ways she used to foster how important each and every student was.

DAILY SURVIVAL KIT

Today, I am giving you a DAILY SURVIVAL KIT to help you each day.

A Toothpick … to remind you to pick the good qualities in everyone, including yourself.

A Rubber Band … to remind you to be flexible. Things might not always go the way you want, but it can be worked out.

A Band-Aid … to remind you to heal hurt feelings, either yours or someone else’s.

An Eraser … to remind you everyone makes mistakes. That’s okay, we learn from our errors.

A Candy Kiss … to remind you everyone needs a hug or a compliment everyday.

A Mint … to remind you that you are worth a mint to your family and me.

Bubble Gum … to remind you to stick with it and you can accomplish anything.

A Pencil … to remind you to list your blessings every day.

A Tea Bag … to remind you to take time to relax daily and go over that list of blessings.

This is what makes life worth living every minute, every day.

Wishing you love, gratitude, friends to cherish, caring, sharing, laughter, music, and warm feelings in your heart in 2015.

Take care & keep smiling :-)

– Flickr – Creative Commons image “Altoids Tin Survival Kit” by Chris
– https://www.flickr.com/photos/64mm/5407944209/

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Teacher Feature #46 – Sharing the Light

DS106, Food for Thought, Reflection, Social Networking, Teacher Feature 2 Comments »

As the current year draws to a close, I have been pondering what message I might include in this month’s “Teacher Feature” remix. I must thank Kevin Hodgson, a talented Grade 6 teacher, for inspiring me. Yesterday, Kevin entered the following comment in my previous blog post:

This is the kind of reflective practice that I cherish in DS106 and all of its assorted connected cousins. Thanks.

Teacher Feature #46 - Edith Wharton - 400x300
Teacher Feature #46 – Edith Wharton – December, 2014

Wanting to learn more about this individual, who graciously took the time to read and comment on my blog post, I did some research. I was delighted when I clicked on his hyper-linked name at the top of his comment.  Not only did it take me to his “Kevin’s Meandering Mind” blog, I also found his Dec. 23rd blog entry entitled “Annotating a Connected Song”.

His animated music video “Writing on the Wall” resonated with me because Kevin created this song as a tribute to all those who have influenced him over the past year. Furthermore, I was delighted that he took the time to share the important “behind the scenes” steps that he takes when creating a song. So often in education, we are overwhelmed by a student’s finished product, be it a well-researched blog post or essay, a musical composition, a thought-provoking poem, a complex computer program, a sculpture, or a collaborative video. What we often fail to recognize are the steps and revisions taken to create the final product. Kevin, through this reflective process, demonstrates the “messiness” that is part of the creation of his animated music video tribute.

Kevin caused me to reflect on my sharing, as well. I must admit when I was an Educational Computer Consultant, working with students and staff in K-12 schools, I generated a number of educational resources which I willingly shared with others. It was the day-to-day interaction with educators that provided me with the motivation to produce and share ideas and resources. Now that I am in my seventh year of retirement, I find that I no longer have the daily requests for help and, as such, do not create as many relevant resources to share.

To reflect on the “Teacher Feature” message above, I find that my educational role is becoming less of a candle and more of a mirror. True, I may no longer produce up-to-date, step-by-step resources like I once did, but I still can share the light. I would hope that through my connections with a very dedicated PLN of educators, my serendipitous discovery of new ideas and resources, together with my innovative colleagues in DS106, I can reflect and share their creative ideas with my readers.

With such connections … the educational future looks bright indeed!

Take care & keep smiling :-)

Larger Image: Brian Metcalfe’s Teacher Feature “photostream”
https://www.flickr.com/photos/life-long-learners/sets/72157625102810878/

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Engaged Learning Is Authentic Learning

Application or Web App, DS106, Food for Thought, Problem Solving 1 Comment »

For me DS106 was an amazing learning experience. I enrolled in this free, online Digital Storytelling class, hosted at the University of Mary Washington, in the Spring of 2012. Jim Groom and Alan Levine (aka “cogdog”) were the instructors who introduced me to a completely new style of authentic learning.

Having conducted numerous workshops for educators over the past 35 years, I always prepared appropriate handouts to distribute to participants. If, for example, I was reviewing the elements of Microsoft Excel, I made certain that all attendees had step-by-step resource material which corresponded to the version of Excel that they would use on their computer.

In DS106, we spent time manipulating images and creating animated GIFs. I expected that the instructors would also provide step-by-step resource material that would help class members learn the basics of Photoshop or GIMP. Not so … rather the class was encouraged to search the Internet for tutorials which matched the application and version to which the student had access. Also we were encouraged to share what we learned, comment on other student’s blog posts, and network with our classmates so that we formed a true learning community.

Additionally, the flexibility of the course “hooked” me. I was impressed by what Jim Groom stated in his welcoming post entitled “ds106: We’re open and you’re invited“.

… what made it amazing was that anyone can do as much or as little as they wanted as part of the open, online section and leave the rest. We don’t accept apologies and we don’t believe in guilt, there is no sorry in ds106. Simply come prepared to make some art, have some fun, give some feedback, and leave when you want.

Although I was retired at the time and had much more time to devote to this endeavour than the average teacher, I liked the idea that I could opt in or out whenever I wished. In fact, I continue to subscribe to the “The Daily Create” activity which continues to stimulate my imagination.

Tonight, after supper, was the first time I turned on my computer today. Today’s “Daily Create” asked us to “Generate a Meme Image That Emphasizes the Spirit of DS106″ I must admit that I was not that familiar with the “meme culture” so I skimmed over the explanatory text and viewed the visuals submitted earlier today. My first thought was that I might be able to add some text to a Creative Commons photo and create the following remix to pay tribute to the amazing learning opportunity afforded me through DS106:

DS106 Learning - 400x300

Thankfully, I went back and read the directions more closely. Alan Levine suggested that the visual should attempt to explain DS106 “to the outsiders, the people who just do not know or understand what you have been doing?” I then realized that baby’s message above did not explain how learning in the DS106 way was any different from other learning techniques.

I then noted, in The Daily Create’s fine print that we could use Imgflip’s Meme Generator to produce a visual that highlights our experience with the DS106 learning community. Ever ready to try out a new application, I searched Flickr for an engagement ring with Creative Commons attributes which allowed me to modify the image. I uploaded this image into Meme Generator, added the top and bottom lines of text, and produced the following meme with a message:

DS106 Engagement 400x286

When I enrolled in the DS106 course and was challenged to manipulate images, create audio and video segments, without my familiar step-by-step handouts, I was forced outside my comfort zone. However, it made me realize that teachers today may be doing a dis-service to their students by supplying too many instructional step-by-step resources. When our students graduate and enter the work force, they are going to have to learn on their own. Undoubtedly they are going to have to become problem solvers and find answers online or learn new tips and strategies from their colleagues. Regardless, if they are to be successful, they are going to be engaged in authentic learning. We, as teachers, need to foster such authentic learning by having students successfully search for answers on their own and engage in more challenging collaborative learning opportunities.

Take care & keep smiling :-)

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Teacher Feature #45 – Vision and Venture

Activity, Food for Thought, Project, Social Networking, Teacher Feature 4 Comments »

I first “met” Laura Stockman on the Internet four years ago, when I serendipitously chanced upon her powerful 2007 blog post entitled “25 Days to Make a Difference”. With the help of her mother, who was a teacher, 10 year old  Laura posted a challenge. To honour her grandfather who had recently passed away from cancer, Laura decided she would save her December allowance, of one dollar a day, and donate it to a charity on Christmas.

Teacher Feature-45 Laura Stockman
Teacher Feature #45 – November, 2014 – Vance Havner

Laura used the power of social networking to challenge readers “to TRY to do something every single day during the holiday season to make a SMALL difference in his or her world.” Whoever made the most difference in December, could select the charity to which Laura would donate her $25.00 on Christmas night. Laura was surprised with the response and the number of readers who matched her donations during the Christmas season.

Laura’s initial challenge really resonated with me and so I wrote a blog post entitled “How to Make a Difference in December”. My colleague, Chris Harbeck,immediately adapted Laura’s idea and engaged his middle school students to donate 25 cents per day and issued a challenge to other teachers and students in his blog post entitled “Would your students donate $0.25 cents per day?” A few days later, Karl Fisch, a high school teacher in Colorado, read Chris’ post and challenged his students and staff with the post “A Quarter is More Than Just a Fraction”. In addition, Karl introduced us to Kiva.org, which in a non-profit organization that helps facilitate the lending of $25 micro-loans to alleviate poverty throughout the world.

I strongly believe in the metaphor that our actions are like a pebble tossed into a quiet pool of water. We have no idea how the ripples that we create will benefit others. Laura’s initial challenge, together with the power of connectivity through the Internet, demonstrate how one person can influence many.

In fact, it was through social networking that I learned of Laura’s new vision. After my most recent post, Laura sent me a thank you “tweet” in which she introduced me to her most recent endeavour shared through her blog entitled “25 x 25 Days to Make a Difference”. Laura wants to recreate her ripple effect by helping “twenty five local kids as they venture out to do good deeds this holiday season”. However, all students who participate in doing a good deed each day in December can qualify to recommend the charity to which Laura should donate her $100.00 on Christmas day.

Those students wishing to participate in Laura’s new “good deed a day in December” challenge are requested to share their good deed via either a picture on Instagram or Twitter or a blog post. Obviously the more good deeds that are documented and shared with Laura, the more chance you have of being able to recommend the Christmas charity recipient.

In closing, it is obvious that Laura Stockman has followed up her vision with a worthy venture. I encourage teachers and students to join in her Christmas activity and we’ll all step up the stairs together.

Take care & keep smiling :-)

Larger Image: Brian Metcalfe’s Teacher Feature “photostream”
http://www.flickr.com/photos/life-long-learners/

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Teacher Feature #44 – Teaching Superheroes

Food for Thought, Teacher Feature No Comments »

It’s the last day of the month and I am scrambling to write this month’s “Teacher Feature” blog post. I was motivated to write this message by the antics of some of our neighbourhood children who, dressed as superheroes, visited our home tonight shouting “Hallowee’en Apples!” or “Trick or Treat!”. Many of these children were elementary school age and it got me thinking about my teaching colleagues, who are indeed real superheroes.

Teacher as Superhero - 400 x 300

Teacher Feature #44 – Author Unknown – October, 2014

When I began teaching in 1967, I was able to spend almost all of my school day focusing on the curriculum and helping the students in my classrooms. Today, however, there seems to be an ever-expanding plethora of demands on teachers’ time. Often more than half of the weekly hours that the average teacher devotes to school-related activities are non-classroom duties. Often it is spent preparing for classes, marking, working with individual students, supervising extra-curricular activities, attending meetings, committee work, completing paperwork, and contacting parents. In addition, today’s teacher is expected to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, partake in professional development, and learn to use technology and social media to improve the educational experience for all members of their class.

Furthermore, when I began teaching I believe that I had the support of all my parents. Should a student misbehave in the classroom, I knew that his/her parents would back me up and that the individual student would be reprimanded by his parents as well. Toady, I’m not sure that all parents respect and support teachers to the same degree as they have in past.

Donald D. Quinn expresses the challenges of teaching today with the following comparison:

“If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn’t want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher’s job.”

I am proud to state that I have met so many dedicated teachers over my 40 year teaching career who were indeed superheroes because they strongly believed in the words of Barbara Colorose:

“If kids come to us from strong, healthy functioning families, it makes our job easier. If they do not come to us from strong, healthy, functioning families, it makes our job more important.” 

In closing, I leave my colleagues and educational readers with these wonderful, wise words: “To the world you may be just a teacher, but to your students you are a hero.”

Take care & keep smiling :-)

Larger Image: Brian Metcalfe’s Teacher Feature “photostream”
http://www.flickr.com/photos/life-long-learners/

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