Teachers Must Entertain

The other night, as I read A Framework for Understanding Poverty, by Ruby Payne, I found some of the Hidden Rules Among the Classes very interesting.  Payne says that “the bottom line in generational poverty is entertainment and relationships” (pg. 41), This intrigued me.  Relationships I can understand, but really, entertainment?

She  describes a situation where teachers are very concerned about a family because they did not have a fridge.  So, many of the staff members came together, pooled their resources, and bought the family this much-needed fridge.  About 3 weeks after this purchase, the students from this family were away for a week.  Upon their return, when asked where they had been, the students told their teachers that they had gone camping because their family was so stressed.  When asked how they could afford to go camping, the students responded that their family had sold the fridge (pg. 41)!  Oh my!

I do not think this is unusual behaviour in families in poverty.

When I think back on my own childhood and wonder if this held true for my family as well,  I believe that it did, in many respects.  My family had one of the first computers when they came out – OK, maybe not the name brand Commodore 64, but a computer, nonetheless: The RadioShack Colour Computer.  Did we really need this computer?  No.  Not really. Did we use it primarily for entertainment purposes?  Yes. We had a nice stereo system in our various homes.  My dad had a nice SLR camera. I can think of many things we had for the purpose of entertainment.  I can also think of other things that were not entertainment related that we did not have.

So, if entertainment and relationships are the most important factors for the children who come from poverty, one may think how should we use this information in the school and in individual classrooms?Continue reading “Teachers Must Entertain”

Blogging 24-7

I don’t know what the deal is, but I can’t seem to shut off my brain …

Is it because I have been ill and in so much pain, I’m not able to sleep?

Is it because of the lack of stimulation of my brain the last 7 months staying at home?

Is it because of the excitement for new learning I am gaining every day and the need to reflect on my own learning – in the present and past?

Or, perhaps it is just mommy-brain, from having a 6 month old, and knowing that if I don’t write it down, I will forget what I want to write in my next blog post.

Perhaps it is the Twitter Honeymoon I am going through. Is there such a thing?  Will this excitement for learning from my colleagues wane?  Will my priorities shift? When I get over this strep throat, will I have more pressing things to do and think about?

Whatever it is, I find myself carrying a notebook with me wherever I go, wherever I plant myself, even next to my bed at night.  I have actually woken up in the middle of the night to write down some of my thoughts and ideas for future blog posts or future searches I want to do online.

I like to think of my excitement, my energy, my new-found hobby as being part of my commitment to Life Long Learning.  Part of my love of learning.  Part of my geek-ness, perhaps.

As my blog is titled, It’s All About Learning!

So, fellow bloggers, do you do the same?   Or, am I just crazy?  OK, maybe don’t answer that question!

Happy Blogging!  Happy Learning!

Powerful Chit Chat

As I have mentioned, I am currently reading A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby Payne.  I am reading this book mainly because my new assignment is the Vice-Principal  of an Inner-City school in my district.

I found Chapter 2 – The Role of Language and Story – to be quite interesting and informative, both educationally and personally.  I had never really been introduced to the different Registers of Language.  VERY interesting. Apparently all languages follow 5 registers: Frozen, Formal, Consultative, Casual, and Intimate (pg. 27). She goes on to state that

“minority students and poor students cannot use formal register. It is further complicated by the fact that to get a well paying job, it is expected that one  will be able to use formal register. Ability to use formal register is a hidden rule of the middle class … and allows one to score well on tests and do well in school and higher education.” (pg. 28)

This made me really think about how many other “middle class” hidden rules I must be missing out on growing up in poverty.  Hmmmmm….  Continue reading “Powerful Chit Chat”

PLN’s & PPN’s

Last night I was reflecting upon why I have so readily embraced Twitter and what it has to offer on a professional level.   It’s not just because I am a Plunger, either.  You see, I have done this type of networking in the past.  Years ago, as a teacher, I was an active poster on the Teachers.Net chatboards where  teachers come together to share ideas, resources, and research.   I was also involved with a few education-related groups on Yahoo Groups.  I learned a great deal from sharing with the educators on these groups.

Then, I started to have children and started networking in other ways.  When I was pregnant with my second child in 2007, I became active in a Birth Board Group at Baby Center.  There were 1000’s of moms-to-be (and a few dads) who would share their pregnancy experience, ask questions, give advice, etc…  It was a great community!  In fact, my Personal Parenting Network (PPN) has continued since I was pregnant with my son.  The January 2008 Moms have created a private board online where we share our parenting trials, tribulations, joys, and dreams.Continue reading “PLN’s & PPN’s”

I Am a Plunger

About 10 years ago, I had 3 websites that I developed and kept up to date: Educational Links for Teachers, Poetry Pages for Teachers, and a Classroom website.  All of these have been taken off the net, unfortunately.  Not sure why I took them down, but I did.  I’m not even sure how I would go about putting them back up, as they are now stored on those old floppy disks.  Hmmmmmm….   I digress.

While I have always been interested in technology and what it has to offer, I have just recently ventured back into this world again (besides Facebook, flickr, email, and my online parenting network group that is).

After spending the last 7 months or so on maternity leave, after having our 3rd child in December, I am craving to learn.  To learn professionally.  So, on July 8th, 2011, I started my blog to document my own learning.  At the same time, I started exploring Twitter.  Not sure why, but I am so glad I did (as I discuss in my previous blog post).  In this time, I have also

  • explored many different blogs – most by wonderful educators. I have many blogs bookmarked and many of these blogs have wonderful blog posts just waiting for me to read.
  • downloaded numerous articles amazing educators shared on Twitter.  Many I have read, but still some waiting for my attention.
  • set up Tweetdeck, which has helped me to organize and not become so overwhelmed  by all things Twitter.
  • started my Diigo account where I can house all my links, articles, and such. I have even used it to highlight a few articles I found online.  What a great tool!
  • explored Pinterest – what fun!  This is a great tool, where you can pin things you like  to virtual bulletin boards.  You can search through pinterest to find what others have pinned to their boards.  This is a great tool for educators to find ideas and more wonderful blogs out there.
  • shared what I have learned with other educators I know.
  • All the while, I’ve been trying to keep up with my 365 Project (which, while I have continued to take photos each and every day, I have not downloaded them from my camera for the past 5 days or  so). I need to get on that.Continue reading “I Am a Plunger”

Learning To Tweet


Here I have been, venturing into the world of Twitter, without a clue of how I am supposed to Tweet.  There are certain ways people tweet with @ signs and # signs and names and tags and hashtags and mentions, etc…  Oh my. I still don’t know how to do all that they do with such ease.  I’m sure I will learn.  But, learning takes time. We must be patient with ourselves.  This is a good lesson for all, actually – not only do we have to be patient (and kind) to ourselves, but we need to be patient and kind to others who are taking risks and learning something new.

I would like to share a few of the things I have learned, in the few days I have been tweeting:

  • There are amazing individuals who are knowledgable and willing to share their great knowledge openly with anyone.
  • People (Tweeters?) are so welcoming, inclusive, and friendly in Twitter-land!
  • I am so impressed with the amount of professional sharing and learning going on in Twitter.
  • Twitter is truly one of the best places today for Professional Development! While this surprises me, because I was not sure what to expect when I re-entered the World of Twitter, I can not emphasize this enough!
  • School Trustees, Superintendents, Assistant Superintendents, District staff, teachers, and fellow Administrators (among others, I’m sure), have shared numerous interesting articles, videos, magazines, websites, and blogs about important issues in education happening NOW!  The relevance is incredible!
  • If you have a questions, just ask, and people will answer.
  • I have also learned things about these people as people: sick children, 7-11 visits (free Slurpie Day was today, don’t ya know), special pets, thesis completion, etc…). One of the Tweeters actually has twin babies born twenty days before my son was born this past December.  What a small world.
  • People care for one another in Twitter. They really do. I read encouraging words, heard laughter, read heart-felt condolences, felt appreciation, the list could go on. They care.
  • Twitter is a community of real people, sharing real ideas, and making a real difference in each other’s lives and, in turn, in the lives of our students.Continue reading “Learning To Tweet”

I’ve Got a Secret

The district in which I work as a Vice-Principal is a large, complex and diverse district.  We have 124 schools (100 elementary, 19 secondary, and 5 student learning centres) with 69,145 students.  That number is expected to grow by at least 1000 students this fall (like it seems to each fall). The diversity makes this district to be a wonderful place to be. There are so many opportunities and ways to further your own learning as an educator and leader.

My new assignment is at a school which is different from the others I’ve worked at as Vice-Principal.  The first school I was assigned to 6 years ago was in a middle-upper class neighbourhood. My second assignment was at a school in a solid working class neighbourhood (I think that’s what you’d call it) where the families worked very hard and respected all that the school offered their family.  My next assignment is in a school that receives Inner City funding by our government.

Inner City funding is based upon a variety of factors, which include, but are not limited to, socio-economic status of the residents, number of students in care of the Ministry of Families (Foster Care, for instance), and the number of single-parent families. There are a variety of different levels  of Inner City funding given to schools based on those (and other) factors.  Our school is in a middle level of Inner City funding, meaning there are some schools which receive more inner city funding, and some school which receive less.

When I knew that I was going to be receiving another assignment, I asked to be placed in an Inner City school.  While I have worked for approximately 17 years in my district, I’ve never worked at a school of this nature. Now, one may think (or laugh), “Boy, she’s really in for it!”

Well, the thing is, I’ve got a bit of a secret.Continue reading “I’ve Got a Secret”

Ugly font may improve learning – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

A little light-heartedness…

Now, this is going to be surprising to many, I think.  Who knew that a font could be disliked by so many. Who knew that people would think Comic Sans was ugly or difficult to read? Well, the lovers of Comic Sans will be loving this article….

Ugly font may improve learning – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

This is terrific!

Comic Sans is the font that I use all of the time.  It is my default font in my email.  I use it when I write memos to teachers.  I use it when I write letters. I use it for everything. I guess I started using in when I taught Grade one and couldn’t find many fonts that actually made the letter /a/ as a primary letter /a/ and not a curly letter /a/ (if you know what I mean).

My use of this font actually bothered someone I worked closely with for the past couple of years.  He hated this font!  I didn’t get it. I don’t find it difficult to read at all. In fact, I find it quite easy to read.  It’s such a cute font.  Such clean lines.  Hate is such a strong word for such a cute font!

I guess with this article as back up, I’ll continue to use it (with a smile on my face)!

Does anyone else love to use Comic Sans?

Edited to add…..

Who knew that I was a Comic Sans Criminal….


Thanks to @ChrisHunter36 for this link.  Hilarious! Busted!


A Lesson Learned

As I get ready to start a new school year, at a new school, I am reflecting on my previous years experience as a Vice-Principal.  My mind is filled with so many questions.  What worked in my previous assignments?  What didn’t work as well?  What would I like my goals to be for the upcoming year?  Where will I fit in this new school?  How will things work? ….  Above all else, one question keeps returning:   What lessons have I learned that will help me in this new assignment?  While all these questions are important and will likely be addressed in future blog posts (or dreams – I tend to dream about work a lot – sad, I know), I am going to focus on the last question here today.

Of course, I have learned so many lessons in my 6 years as a Vice-Principal, I will concentrate today on just one of these lessons.  The lesson I am thinking of is focused around believing in each and every teacher, regardless of where they are in the stage of their career.  I had worked with the teacher I am thinking of for about 1 year (I’ll call her Mrs. M.). She was a good teacher. Mrs. M. was effective with her students in many ways, had a wonderful heart, worked hard, and loved her job.  She was a great teacher with whom to work.   Continue reading “A Lesson Learned”

A Brief, But Meaningful Encounter

Currently, I am returning to work following maternity leave after having our 3rd child at the end of December (2010).  I have just recently received my next placement as Vice-Principal in my district.  This is very exciting and I am really looking forward to the opportunity.  More on that in future posts…  As you can imagine, after not working for the past almost 7 months, my work is on my mind a great deal (in a good way).

When I was at the grocery store the this evening, I was reminded again at how fortunate I am to be going back to work that I love.  I had a brief encounter with a gentleman at the grocery store.  He was approximately 40 years old (ok, he looked my age and that is probably why what he said stood out for me) and was talking to a friend (?) about his same age.

Standing by the tomatoes, he said, in a frustrated voice, “Man, I wish I never had to go to work again!”Continue reading “A Brief, But Meaningful Encounter”