Day 174 (of 186) competition = one (and its not an honour just to be in the finals)

Day 174 (of 186) competition = one (and its not an honour just to be in the finals)



I like competitions. With the caveat that its the participants choice. When it’s an “everybody takes part” or “parental decision” I encourage “ribbons for all”

intrinsic ribbons.png


When it becomes the participants choice, Im okay with keeping scores and selecting “a” winner (and therefore a whole bunch of losers….) As its claimed in the movie The Highlander: There can be only one.



A good reminder was this weekend where many soccer teams were competing for two spots in the provincials from our region – except it wasn’t 2, it was only one – as another team had already secured one berth as one of two teams from the host community. So…in a “fun league” everybody but one ends their season with a loss (and usually some parents who are furious over a missed call/unfair reffing/etc etc)



Just like at school when you are select “the one” student for an award/trophy/etc – you are telling one that they are good and the others in the room that they are not. And as much as “we” (adults) like to believe that the recognition is a “carrot/reward” that motivates people, so often it is not – its already known who will win which award (because they have over the years) or who the top 2 or 3 are.



I preferred seeing a strategy of certificates my niece and nephew experienced: everyone gets a certificate of achievement and each certificate has spaces for stickers when a certain “performance level” is reached – its not about rewarding the “best” but acknowledging everyone who has worked to attain a certain achievement on a rubric where descriptors can be seen and achieved.



But – if you are only looking for “the best” – be honest and blatant about that….or don’t.  The reason why awards ceremonies are being challenged so well by educators like Chris Wejr: and are being used so well by educators like Dean Shareski and his “Deanies” (where the points don’t matter and if it feels right, it gets a shoutout!).



This year I am giving class awards. But inspired by the book/movie Wonder: everybody deserves to get a standing ovation – and they will. They will get to choose the award that they would like to “win” and I will present it on our final day….because sometimes people just want a bit of recognition – and really are scared about being “the one kid who didn’t get a ribbon on a fun/sports day” .



If still dong awards – give some consideration why? because for every one winner there are hundreds of losers – and we may say “its an honour just be be recognized/shortlisted/in final group” but thats almost as big a lie as saying:



And nice to see in Mr Browns Precepts (from Wonder) that mondays precept is:

Even if you don’t

win, listen to

the small voice inside

of you that say you

are always a winner.



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Day 173 (of 186) it’s not the students who are squirrelly at the end of the year (even if we think it’s them)

Day 173 (of 186) it’s not the students who are squirrelly at the end of the year (even if we think it’s them)

Had a discussion with a young teacher who was agreeing with somebody about how the kids were acting as the end of the school calendar looms.

Also in the discussion:

  • the spring tea afternoon – and the associated music presentations
  • the upcoming fun dayS (or is that daze)
  • the unitS that are hoped to be crammed in
  • the surprise project for the outgoing principal
  • the “news” (had an RCMP issue on day 172)
  • changes to some of our families
  • the field trips (and why does class x do y while we are just doing a)
  • “Final exams” – okay that just at my home and with my oldest, but it is another remnant of a bygone education system 😜😇
  • Our own stresses we don’t always manage well this time of year (kids always sense the changes in our demeanour – or de-meaner)

Can we really blame the kids when the adults have caused so many disruptions? If we are panicking about the time (or lack thereof) what can we expect from those who are around us?

Have fun whether you like it or not!!

If anything this is a great time to remember

  • Breathing breaks (90 seconds or so of slow breathing – in through the nose, out through the mouth)
  • Mindful music
  • Boredom breaks (5mins of doing nothing – not even colouring reading etc)
  • Squatting while pulling on earlobe (30 seconds)
  • Turn off lights
  • Go for a walk (ideally in nature)
  • That others are also feeling stressed (and stress likes to spread itself around!)

Always a good idea to be mindful of what is going on in and around the calendar – and being aware & prepared for the pre-trauma that some experience at the end of a school year. Summer vacation may seem like a good idea on paper (which was used when our economy was focused around agriculture) but our tech calendars can see that summer vacation is hard for/on many. Perhaps a more balanced calendar would be valuable (but don’t ask me – I cane up with a 365 day model….)

And interesting that 4 minutes after I pressed “publish” my watch buzzed reminding me to some slow breathing as well…

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Day 172 (of 186) when a threat is made at your kids school….

Day 172 (of 186) when a threat is made at your kids school….

I read the texts of the student who made a threat to the learning community he and my daughter (and hundreds more) attend. I saw a couple of intervention entry points….if there were more than one follower attached to his “public journal”….maybe someone may have been able to be proactive in what ended up being a “threat to a school”. But reading the calls for help after the fact only make me wonder how many more kids are trying to get an intervention….and not finding the right audience?

The threats were worrisome. No names. But I’d be concerned. I was concerned. I am concerned.

Mental health is hard to talk about. And it “reads like” this child had reached out previously, but all too often if you’re not at “immediate risk” to yourself or others, there are often more serious cases to be addressed first….and it’s so hard to tell if a threat is serious or not, which is why it needs to be taken seriously.

Guns and lists were mentioned. There was a sense of a plan in the tweets. Was a weapon actually available? That’s the first thing we need to think about. We also have to be aware of this students baseline and how common/frequently he used the language he chose. And on top of that, being on a bus while this information is coming to light creates tensions everywhere. The bus driver can’t be forgotten at this time.

I’ll admit to being relieved that my daughters first text (before I learned of the situation) was that she was all right. Felt even better when I heard that her friend was on the bus when the police intervened and he wasn’t too sure what happened – other than the adults in the building being very stressed the RCMP did a great job at being involved without escalating anything that may have happened (and it sounded like nothing was going to happen). And the officers who attended this event also need to be thought of and supported – nobody signed up to have a big gun next to a school bus.

My assumption is that there will be many calls for “consequences for the threat” – my reminder is that we often lash out at those we love because we know (or want to know) that the care and compassion will overcome the words and tears. My hope is that the reaction will be holistic. That the issues that are creating the turmoil can be named and helped. And it’s not getting easier with more celebrities being linked with suicide – because if those people who “have it all” can’t handle it, what chance does someone without resources have?

And then post-traumatic incident, I still need to check in with my kids and see how they are feeling and doing after an incident literally so close to home

And it sounds like some of the safeguards that are “watching” social media were helpful. This child had one follower. But his voice was heard. And even though it was coming across as a threat, his asynchronous voice was heard before a decision was made that could never be unmade.

As a parent-educator I know there are reasons why we need to talk about things we’d rather not acknowledge and practice for events we hope will never happen and statistically know they won’t happen….until they do. So we get to give our kids an extra long hug before bed. And I hope that our community responds to this child the way my oldest did to her first “threat” way back in kindergarten – another child said he was going to saw her head off. The teacher and principal were good, but best was my kiddos observation that “he just needs a friend dad. He doesn’t know how.” And then she told her mom about her plan to make sure he gets a good swing at the next recess….little things matter as interventions more than we may ever know.

We know how many school shooting and suicides there have been….we can’t put a number to how many have been prevented because we chose to be kind….

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Day 171 (of 186) World Cup!

Day 171 (of 186) World Cup!

I love the World Cup. I first discovered it in high school. A month long tournament that countries spend about three years trying to get into. A great example of external evaluations – and summarize performance pieces.

There are no sure things. I love rooting for the Dutch team! My wife’s family is from Holland (and I ❤️ orange) I also love rooting for the “surprise teams” such as Iceland! And then I have to get used to disappointments – Italy didn’t qualify and they are usual contenders for the Cup! And what!? As I put up my World Cup board I remembered that the orange team I love to watch, were also upset along the journey! There’s a couple people I get to tease now!

But I love the event as it gives us another chance to reflect on where in the world some countries are and discover some ancestries and some bias (one girl couldn’t believe that Scotland didn’t qualify but England did – I think she’s gonna hate me wearing my lions jersey on Monday for their first game that they won’t score a goal in….😜)

And some fun jigsaw learning and sharing:

It’s also fun to talk geography at a national level – because it was exciting to learn that in 2026 “North America” gets to host an “expanded tournament” – with 3 “host teams” there will be over 40 countries in group play!

So….how well do we know our neighbours:

I expected some cities (okay – almost all the US and Mexican sites) to be challenging. But I’ll admit to being surprised after having taken looks at Canadian maps through the year that we still didn’t know where the center of the universe was (Toronto 😜) and many common US cities were not in the right country….

It did bring up a fun discussion about Sewards folly and the 7.2 million dollars (about 113 million in today’s $) used to purchase Alaska from….Canada? Nope – Russia….

But we are now going to a mini review of “things we need to know about Canada as we are 🇨🇦)

Sometimes formative assessment brings sighs….but it also helps reinforce what stuck and what did not….thanks World Cup.

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Day 170 (of 186) don’t cancel recess

Day 170 (of 186) don’t cancel recess

It’s an easy trap to fall into. If learners aren’t being successful in a particular subject area, it can be easy to want to remove a preferred activity. The usual is math. And a suggestion was to keep some struggling mathematicians in during recess or lunch.

The key time for some de-regulation. Movement. Social activity. If we take that away….will things get better?

Perhaps if it’s a behavioural issue. I like behavioural problems. Offer a reward for a task and things get rolling. But when it’s a mental wellness/learning condition…that’s trickier. Taking one thing away won’t make things better. It makes more things worse.

One of my big take away from us on “the Finnish” model of 45 work and 15 break is that the 15 minute break (or saved by the bell) is an important aid in making a transition. My kids have learned (behavioural training perhaps) that they can get frustrated in a topic and the consequence is not struggling with more of the same. If anything a consequence is going to be connected to the subject area/time.

When I coached, I always hated when colleagues would threaten athletes with removal of participation on the team if they did not complete tasks. I was always tempted to pull a kid out of an academic class because they weren’t performing proper tackling technique right and they needed to do more of it.

Or when kids were sent to my library for a time out: “sit and so nothing” doesn’t jive with me unless it’s a “boredom break” ™. Or even worse – overdue book = copying from dictionary.

I’m (surprisingly?) more okay with kids getting moved from gym to the library to do something futile such as copying out a sports rules because at least is connected to the topic (parallel activity even if it’s not great – if at least creates time and space to rethink and replay).

But mental work can be hard. I’ve been as tired from a day of heavy thinking as I have with a day of heavy lifting.

So…imagine spending a chunk of time in a zone of frustration and then instead of getting a break and a chance to hit a ball in the gaga pit or talk to person x, you stay behind to continue the frustration. As I say to my kids: I’m okay with you getting frustrated but I’m not okay with you staying frustrated.

And breaks like recess are important. And I may have over-shared then as I am now why I won’t entertain keeping kids in for “more of the same” as the educating adult, I need to do different(iated) next time.

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Day 169 (of 186) Dear ttoc

Day 169 (of 186) Dear ttoc

Dear Teacher Teaching On Call in my class:

Unless I say urgent (probably because it involves someone else) it’s probably not urgent. It will be a weird day because so much of what we do and why we do it had been built up on evolving relationships throughout the year – and you “jumping in” , while appreciated, will shake things up a bit. Just be mindful that “it’s okay” and for a day….how can you make the day of “different” a good experience for them…and you….

I left a math worksheet because I don’t know your comfort level – feel free to deviate!

I said be free so feel free to make changes. Going outside is never a bad thing. I have a class that doesn’t like it when I’m not there – and they ain’t afraid to make that clear! But they also need to see and experience that “change” isn’t always “worse”

Play a game…well, the game station is there for a reason! Feel free to make the day “yours” <— because you’ll notice there’s and “ours” in that word!

The kids will probably lie…or stretch the truth – especially in the lab so while we don’t usually get YouTube EVERY time, we do use YouTube some times, so it’s okay if you “let them” —> but nothing with shooters!

Leave me a note. I’m expecting everything from a one word “wow” that spoke volumes because of how I know the person who was in, to “see the principal” because…..well….anyways- notes about the day are helpful (and yes, saying “you can probably guess who ___” without saying names is fine!

Realize that I don’t pass judgements too often (there was one sub who even made my “kids who get along with anyone” confess that there was a miss-match “and we lost it when we had to unfold and flatten what we put into the recycle bin ♻️”) and I’ve only been disappointed once when I found out a TTOC had accepted a gig in my room and then turned it down for a different class that popped up that day….

Working with my class is something I don’t let happen often. I don’t like having my kids leave my room for pull-outs so I hate it when I’m not there too. So know that I am wishing you the best day possible. I am hoping the class will be better for you than they ever are for me, even though I know they won’t – relationships can be tricky and students will sometimes think that if they like the sub, it means they don’t like the regular teacher….when I had a teacher reduce her assignment, her class was almost in an open revolt against the partner teacher – we had to have them co-teach a couple of days so that the class could see that a) they liked each other and b) teacher B was not trying to take over teacher A’s job but was just helping her out; it made a significant change over night.

So knowing you need more time than you have to make connections and build relationships….thank you and good luck!!

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Day 168 (of 186) gotta make time to read for fun

Day 168 (of 186) gotta make time to read for fun

I asked my daughters if either of them had read a book that @pernilleripp recommended. When Pernille types, I listen! But I was a bit sad when I heard “if it was published in 2018, I haven’t had time to read it.

June is busy. But it shouldn’t be too busy to read those “paper tablets” – and our recent visit by our awesome Okanagan Regional Librarian-guru emphasizing summer reading blended into our final reaching challenge:

Reading a popular series. No questions (from me). Key expectation: find a series of books that will make you want to go to the library to read more – even reading just 100 words a day means the brain is processing 36,500 more than if it didn’t read. And I’ve promised my class that I would do the same – reading fo fun – fiction, not a “teacher book” and supporting what good readers do:

And while specific skills are nice, I wasn’t going to over emphasize what we’ve been talking about all year:

And of course, reading is more intriguing when it there are role models – how many homes are rich on books (and as much as I love paper-screens, I’m okay with e-reading too

I mean the good stuff that good readers do:

  • reread favourites (not for understanding meaning, but for fun – it can be fun to sit down and revisit some favourite characters – in my case I am reading some David Eddings on my iPad and have Princess Bride as my paper example
  • don’t worry about the reading level – independent reading (97% +) is important when doing reading for meaning (aka reading for a task) but not always necessary when exploratory reading – if it’s too complex, they’ll put it away
  • stop reading if you’re not finding it interesting….unless someone you trust told you to “keep going”…sometimes you have to take another’s advice…
  • Find something they love to read…whether it is Garfield or Rowling; a comic or a classic. Deep reads or spooky tales. These last weeks, I really hope to have each of my kiddos find something that hooks them into reading – because the good stuff that good readers do is:
  • find the time to read…not because someone tells them to, but because we want to.

Hmmm. Maybe I need to put these into a colourful bookmark type thingy….

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