Monthly Archives: April 2017

Give the kid a pencil

Standard

pencil

The pencil, a universal symbol for schools. We see their images on Back to School advertisements, in flyers, on school newsletters and on classroom walls. Who would think that they could cause so much controversy.

The inspiration for this topic came from I read a post on Twitter by Danny Steele @SteeleThoughts about pencils. It read

“If your student forgets his pencil, give him a pencil. Don’t make a thing of it. There are better ways to teach a kid responsibility.”

You would not believe the responses. It had received over 1200 likes, over 600 retweets and 25 replies and counting. Should this even be something that has to be put out there as a message on Social Media? Yup, apparently so based on the conversations that ensued. There seem to be three camps out there. One camp feels, just give the kid a pencil, another feels that there needs to be some sort of responsibility and therefore require collateral and another is very cut and dry, if the kid doesn’t bring a pencil they will be asked to leave the room.

There are some students who come to school without having eaten breakfast, have no lunch, no gym strip, they have clothes that looks old or too small and yes, may have no pencil. Isn’t providing them with a pencil an easy fix? Quietly handing a student a pencil when they need one, without making a federal case out of it can be the first step in building a positive relationship with them. It’s a simple gesture which can say a whole lot. It tells the student that you want to provide them with what they need to be successful in your class.

Sure, there’s the possibility that the student is being irresponsible and sending a subtle message to the teacher that they “couldn’t be bothered to bring a pencil” but isn’t it our job to teach them responsibility and encourage them to be actively involved in the class? Step one, hand over a pencil, ask for collateral if that’s what you want, but sending them out of class? Surely, that’s not the way to deal with it. Treating a student with kindness, getting on with the day’s lesson, isn’t that the easiest route to take? The least disruptive to the class?

Haven’t we all forgotten a pencil at some point in our lives? I know that on occasion I have shown up at a meeting without a pencil. I haven’t been singled out and embarrassed by anyone. I have been provided what I need at my table without issue. Actually, most of the time there are pads of paper and plenty of pencils and pens laid out at the table in anticipation that we, the adults, came unprepared. Not once have I ever been asked to leave a meeting because I forgot my pencil. (Though, I’m sure we all have wished at least once, that we had been. Meetings are not always a whole lot of fun.)

Please, just give the kid a pencil.

Spring? Break

Standard

books by fire

 

The #compelledtribe common topic for April is to share how I used Spring Break to become a better educator.

While many people headed off to find sunshine, our family had decided to stay home this Spring Break. Our 16 year old daughter was scheduled to get her wisdom teeth out smack in the middle of Spring Break so we thought we would all just stay home and relax.

Here on the North Coast of BC we use the term Spring Break rather…hopefully. Sure, on the calendar it should be Spring  but more often than not the weather is not even close to evoking feelings of Spring. You know, rejuvenating, energizing, out with the old type stuff. Well, our Spring Break started with several days of snow. Now don’t get me wrong it sure is pretty, with all the trees and mountains covered in the white fluffy stuff. But…Spring? Not even close. It was another winter break so it made you feel like sitting in your PJ’s with your blankie in front of a fire and hibernating with a good book. So, I embraced that feeling to its fullest extent and planted myself on my couch in my “spot” as I like to call it, for much of the time and did a whole lot of reading. My daughter and I did some baking as well because, as she said, “It feels like Christmas so why don’t we do some Christmas baking!” She is always able to look at the positive and make things fun, that’s one of the many things I love about her!

Anyway, back to me, in my flannel PJ’s in my “spot”. I started with a fun book. I do a lot of reading about education and leadership throughout the school year so I thought I’d start with a fun, non work related book. My friend, a teacher on staff, dropped it off in my office on the last day before Spring Break and told me to “Read this over break, you’ll love it!”, as she headed off to pack for her trip to Montreal. It was Jenny Lawson’s, “Furiously Happy”. That woman makes me laugh out loud. I burned through that book in no time, it was so entertaining, strange and refreshingly honest.

Next…

I have a stack of books on my nightstand and another stack on the floor beside it but nothing was calling to me and I had already committed to binge reading so, what to do? I turned to Twitter to see what books my PLN was tweeting about and there were several. One was “Lead like a Pirate” by Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf. I had read many things about the “Pirate” movement but I wasn’t quite sure what it was all about. What did eyepatches and hooks have to do with schools? But,  people were loving the book so I downloaded it on my Kindle and started. I was “hooked”! I know, lame teacher joke, can’t help myself sometimes! But truly, I was loving this book. It was filled with real life stories and lessons learned through experience in schools as leaders and teachers. By the way, for those who aren’t familiar the whole PIRATE thing, it is an acronym for Passion, Immersion, Rapport, Ask and Analyze, Transformation and Enthusiasm, nothing really to do with eyepatches but the connection is so much fun! I was drawn into the book and found myself participating in chats with the authors and readers. It was and still is providing me with some great professional development.

All the while I was also re-reading “The Innovators Mindset” by George Couros and participating in his #IMMOOC challenge. I find myself going back to his book often to revisit the ideas and find inspiration. During my Twitter convos around these books I learned about #BookSnaps from @TaraMartinEDU. I watched her video on how to do a BookSnap and I was on my way. These are such a great ways  to share what you are learning through your reading, express your opinions, be creative and engage in discussions. I shared what I learned with my husband, he’s a teacher too, and he  has used them in his class.

I went on to read a couple of other books but I’ll share about those in a future post. During the rest of the break I went on a few nice long walks to get some fresh air. Walks in nature are such a great way to clear your head and get yourself moving. I didn’t sit in my spot all Spring Break! My husband and I got out of town for a couple of days, took a long…very long drive actually and enjoyed the scenery and some shopping. It was a great Spring Break!