Looking out my window at a beautiful sky, a current strong contrast with the heavy rain showering down a few hours ago. Right now, calm sky, true blue, powder puff clouds, and that feeling one gets when the air is so clear one can feel bathed in possibilities.
The window is wide open, and the screen hardly visible; yet as I type I find myself marveling that there may be teachers and students who dread a unit on poetry- when poetry as an expression of feeling is what I know a poet would be able to do with my current view. To freeze frame it for a second and third look through words which could express that combination of new day, new desires that the calm after a rain seems to unceasingly bring.
Am I writing poetic prose? Not in the mood to critique myself this morning. Yesterday I had the opportunity we each are given at a birthday; a chance to wonder anew at life itself and the gift of another year. I spent the early part with a large crowd of strangers brought together for a good cause; cheering or running ourselves to raise funds for a relatively new centre at a local hospital; a centre geared toward making it easier for parents to navigate a hospital health care system- and one geared especially to mental health. Kudos to the families whose hard work and caring developed the second annual RBC RUN FOR THE KIDS; my son ran 25 kilometers and though he didn’t hear me cheering amongst the crowd when in just under two hours he crossed the finish line (!) he, and all who ran, cheered, volunteered and/or organized the event made this a truly special birthday. For in looking back over all that we as a family accomplished this past year, I am truly amazed. Mother of two, my daughter was at her part time job, so couldn’t be with us at the event, but her diligence and work also suffused my day. When I work with children or adults, I am so aware of how emotions affect our ability to absorb information. The RBC run is for all the children and their families who might for a period have forgotten how to sing; mental health and all its variety of issues was recently brought home with the unexpected death of famous actor Robin Williams- a man who appeared to be sharing his very soul with his audiences, yet who hid his pain until the pain took over. His death a tragedy; and within our cities today, young people suffering as well- some who it is to be hoped may be helped by the Sunnybrook hospital Family Navigation Project- the more awareness, the better chance for healthy living.
Knowing how much I care about big picture goals as well as the details to make such goals real, and having children who are able to put into practice some of my dreams- I am not a runner-but am a believer- in the fact that opportunity allows for change, and that people working together be it running for a cause, or alerting the “world” that such causes are worthwhile, can and do, daily through little acts of kindness, create that wonderful word- GRACE – for each other. Amen.
Posted in Tutoring
Tagged Academic Practice, adolescence, Birthdays, celebration, challenges beliefs, education, Grace, mental health, RBC Run for the KIDS, Robin Williams, Sunnybrook Family Naviagation Project, tutoring
Profession or calling, enterprise or extension of self- how does one really decide?
Students entering grade 12, or first and second year University, or even earlier- here in Ontario, in grade eight, being asked to project forward, to pick their own learning stream, to choose applied or academic, to “guess” which courses truly will fulfill the goal of satisfied, independent adult “one day”. And then, to their surprise, when at University, to learn how many students ( just like them) are now changing direction, “discovering” through course selection new interests, new opportunities, and their own voice. Such a beautiful discovery; recognizing when to take to heart the comments of advisors and professors, when to decide one’s own goals, when and where to focus both attention and action.
When we look at pictures of High School students from the early 60s when streaming was in effect, almost an entire class when off to University in the pursuit of similar goals- I have heard first hand stories of a class in which all but one entered sciences, followed by medicine, and that one, first obtained a degree in commerce, then entered medicine as well! Today’s more individualized timetables suggest a more personalized approach to course selecting, but is this the reality?
A VIP for a Bank told me he hadn’t been considered good at math in High School, not showing interest- then took a commerce course and loved discussing what to do with “widgets”. For the record – he deals with a tremendous amount of “math” today. There are similar stories, and of course the current jokes about how it might be more worthwhile to put one’s hope into the non academic aspect of school, and encourage a student to focus on an area where showing talent; schools for the arts, and sports oriented programs seem geared to recognizing that there is more to an individual’s “one day-someday” plan than the letter grade, however, when a student’s inklings are for academics, then let us not put down the high scoring community. Too many students still suggest to me their middle school fear of being considered nerdy (actually they often use a much stronger term) if they do achieve, and wish to achieve top grades. It is therefore not surprising to recognize the way in which highest awards are often given to the newest newcomer students- students whose families continue to focus on education, students whose families risked a great deal to make life anew in Canada, and one of their dreams was a full education for their children.
When we collectively consider “school” we may need to reassess the messages we are sending to the very students involved: are we creating an inclusive environment where students needn’t wait till post secondary or later to begin to find their voice? Are we offering within the school the safety of genuine communication, between peers, between students and teachers, between parents and teachers, between administration and the entire community? Somewhere, between “get 100” and “fail forward” we need a new slogan; a concept of opportunity shared, versus hierarchical put downs that seem so accepted within our educational settings.
Together- whole child, whole heart, whole community; holistic education. Let’s get it together !
There is a strange pause of recognition when a submitted article gets published on line; the reading through the magazine to discover that — why- “that” is me!
I work with students who range in age from the beginning readers through post secondary, and the adult professional community too. This article references the youngest set, and I expect/hope to continue to share suggestions for each of the other age groups and school communities.
http://toronto.momstown.ca/ The Magazine
http://toronto.momstown.ca/school-life/how-best-support-your-kids-school The article
Thank you to all the lovely followers of this blog, and to the people who have connected with me on Twitter – mytutoringspace – Your positive support, the likes, the personal comments which I try to answer as quickly as possible – make everyday a little bit brighter.
RESPECT: we love to share the music- attempt to belt out the song- post the word on our pinterest pages and expect “that is that”- Ugh Ugh – real RESPECT involves so much more.
I spend more time than I ever anticipated being on line these days, reading over blogs, wondering which ones do offer a controversial stance, which ones I could use as demonstration material to share with students, which ones are written from a point of view with which some of us may disagree, however that will still maintain the academic professional concept of “respect” – this way I would be able to demonstrate how disagreements do take place over issues, without descending into cussing or personal hurtful swipes. When working with older students, looking at debating and beginning the analytical questioning of argument, it is useful to use real life issues; the ones in the news, the ones affecting their future. It is therefore so discouraging to read a blog which may begin about a topic, and read its quick descent into rude language- students may use this language, they may hear it – that is not the point- the point is that when I click through other blogs written by educators, I plan on using these blogs as examples of Free thinking, the ability to agree to disagree, about issues.
Name calling, racist remarks, ignorant rants- you name it – the blogsphere permits all of the above- but though times have changed in this past century and teachers today may take a stand on issues, may stick their necks out without fear of losing their jobs, may get married, and have children and return to work- (yes there was a time when for females anyhow, such was not an option) – If labelling oneself and one’s blog as part of the “team Teachers” which ever side you are on- I so wish that the simple concept of RESPECT would reverberate ( lovely word hunh? like the idea of a ripple in a pond…) and that I could comfortably know that RESPECT is both a noun and an action, applied, generated and appreciated- then students will observe such thinking in action, and perhaps – just perhaps, recognize how to apply the concept themselves.
The mini essay, 6 word style, is a definite challenge for students in terms of understanding how to pick and choose words (diction) to make each word count. Of particular importance to the High School students when they begin essay applications, and must restrict themselves within a prescribed number of words, younger students too benefit from this form of word play; they may create a six word definition using words which a teacher supplies, or by first coming up with a series of words then deciding if the words relate to a topic. Initially six word style writing works best when done as a class then in mini “teams”. Each team may be given a particular word, a dictionary and a thesaurus, and a few sample six word “stories”. Ideally students begin by writing out way more than is needed for a particular blurb, then eliminate extraneous material until the focus is clear.
Here is an example: The essay in 6 words : Brainstorm, write it out, share, revise
– yes, I know we are encouraging students to use the internet and more and more online resources such as a mapped Thesaurus, however sometimes the tactile aspect of using books to look things up provides a different result. When students in the elementary to junior years are presented with the wonderfully visual texts that junior dictionaries have become, they almost immediately find themselves curious to learn more, distracted- a bit – but in a positive way, recognizing that these “old fashioned tools” may offer information in a “cool” way as well.
Six words about me: I love learning, and sharing results
what I consider relaxing 🙂 weekend wishes to all!