Do we really mean,”You matter?”

I wat to preface this post with that I know I know that the majority of teachers became teachers because we love children and want what is best for them. In that regard I have no doubt. 

In fact, when I first started teach thus is why I did. I loved working with kids and helping them learn. However, having my own children has led me down an interesting path of learning and reflecting. Most of my recent posts have been a long the lines of community, listening and wondering how do we retain our children in school.

Today I just happen to be in a school and as I look around I see the wonderful signs we all post about everyone matters, your not alone, we are a community, character is everything, etc. And yet I also see posted in the office the late policy.

5 lates and it is a call home, 10 latest you have a detention and 15 you are suspended. Now I am the first to advocate that all students need to be in school and that school is very important to your future success but I do wonder this. When we make these policies are we really worried about the child or more about the funding that goes with them.

If we truly care about the student, why are we suspending them instead of figuring out why they are late? 

As Shanker says, there is always a reason for behaviour. There us no bad children.

 Every child has a story even in Highschool.  I understand that we are trying to teach them the harsh reality of work that if they do not show up they will be fired but there has to be a better way then a suspension? What is that teaching them?

I recently posted a post about listening to students. I have learned so much from them this year. The fact that they could distinguish truly listening and being put off was amazing. They know when someone cares about them. 

If we really mean the signs we put up in our schools then I think we have to rethink our policies. Is there a better way? How do we build trust, understanding and help students be in school?

Love to hear your thoughts.

You’ve got a Friend in Me….

So this post has been sitting in my drafts for a bit now but having just come back from Connect it reminded me to 1 finish this post and 2 what this post meant.

I hope it doesn’t seem to disjunct as I blend two great events that spurred on these thoughts but here we go.

During connect I was lucky enough to be apart of Fair Chance Learning Igniting Niagara Falls. It was a great night if meeting people and building relationships. As I sat there listening to everyone talk I was reminded of how all our talks seemed to focus on the importance of relationships. 

During my Ignite I talked about the power of listening but I included this slide. It was advice that my grade 6 class last year gave for the new year. It was the first card that in loved he most:

Be with people who make you a better person.

A couple of weeks ago i was again lucky enough to be a part of Ontario GAFE summit where I was a part of an amazing group of educators doing a funny demo slam for the amazing Sylvia Duckworth.

It was a lot of fun to meet new people like Jen Giffen and reacquaint myself with amazing friends (Sylvia and Kim). However, what the best part was that it reminded me about friendship. Yes friendship.

I have some really great people in my PLN and I am blessed to have a growing PLN and great friends because of it.  I know it is funny but I do feel like my PLN are friends, especiall my Power PLN (stealing Peter Cameron’s reference there). For those that don’t know Peter’s phrase, he calls those that are closely connected his POWER PLN.

For many of us we would consider friends people who are close to us. When I was a kid it would be the ten friends that lived on my block. However, I think with social media our worlds are ever expanding. Those same ten friends, who to be honest, may not really have been your friends, have now moved out to the world around us.  To me the people that I watch and interact with everyday are my friends. I have invested time into watching their classrooms and for me that is a powerful connection. It becomes even better when you meet people face to face.

I’ll share one more example, the week before the summit I was blessed to a part of an great discussion with an amazing group of educators who I, for the most part, have never met in real life. The funny part was the conversation was exactly around this very topic, among other things. We started the conversation with the fact you have these followers and how do you connect with everyone. The thing is you can’t. You cannot have the time to talk to each and everyone every single day but at the same time I still feel like that I have a connection with everyone.

Now you may wonder why I think this but to be honest I feel like I have a connection with each person. I’m an extravert at heart and I love each interaction I have on my social media platforms. I feel like when I watch what people share I get a glimpse of who they are. I get a piece of their life and I absolutely love this.

Meeting my PLN thsee past few weeks just reminded me that I have made some really great connections. Connections with people that I would never have met if it wasn’t for being connected. Because of my PLN I am able to go to conferences and build even deeper connections with people that I would never have done.

There have been a lot of talk and reflections after connect but all of them seem to keep coming back to those relationships. And the more I am in teaching the more I see how teaching at its heart is about those connections. As a profession we are a giant tribe of people but at our heart we are areal the same.

I encourage you to think about your relationships. When you get a chance do you cultivate it?  How do you stay connected and build relationships? 

Sorry for the length of this post and I hope it makes sense but in the end I just want to sat THANK YOU to all of my PLN, those I see on a regular basis and even those I connect through my feed. I love learning from you and no think you are all amazing. I hope to meet every one of you someday but if I don’t, know that you have a friend always in me.

 

 

Is Cell phone Banning equivalent to Book burning?

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So this post has been sitting in my drafts for quite some time. To be honest I have no idea why this is such a hot topic but recently it seems to have resurfaced as a huge issue in education. It is not really a post that says, though shalt use cell phones but I do just want you to consider the implications of outright banning of anything.

When I heard this debate resurface I immediately, I thought back to stories of when burning/ censoring books from the general populace. Have we started that process again but with cell phones?

For me, the cell phone is one of the greatest tools that I have ever seen as an educator. For me, it has the power to connect information so that students can use it for their studies. For example, how many of us remember these?

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I remember having a set of them in my living room and every other year we would get a new one as information was updated. These were quickly replaced with CD ROM’s and then eventually the internet. Still when I was a child information wasn’t always there for me. In fact, these were often the only thing that I wasn’t allowed to take out of the library. This was how we used information. This was were information was kept.

I personally think that the role of school has changed. School use to be a repository of knowledge but now knowledge is at our children’s fingertips. When they don’t know something they just go search it up. I mean I still remember my daughter at the age of 5 wanting to know how to build a firetruck in Minecraft. What did she do? Found a youtube video and built it. This was at the age of 5. These are our children and we need to rethink how they are accessing information.

I was at a dinner party with some great educators and this thought came up too. We discussed that as teachers when we didn’t know something we would often search for information and do the research on the topic but now for the first time our students are looking in the same places as we are.

By having a cell phone ready to use, allows students to access more information when they want it. Additionally, it also has a built-in calculator, its communication device, and has solid education apps. It is also a camera, a recorder, and a note taker. There is more computing power in a phone than our first computer as a child. The possibilities are endless.

I understand the argument that students will only use them for social media, taking inappropriate pictures of teachers or some other naughty thing but guess what they are already doing that. Why not teach our students how to harness the power that is in their hands properly versus just banning and telling them no.

My last argument is has blocking anything ever worked as a successful strategy? I know as a parent we say no to our children but we should be explaining why we don’t block or take away cause that just causes them to want it more. Students will always find a way to access the information they want. We need to teach them how to use it properly for good.

I know this is a hot topic but I would love to hear your thoughts.