Day 110 (of 187) we don’t talk about “that” – inspired by the @ScottMillerBbl article on @mariners speedster @FlashGJr

Day 110 (of 187) we don’t talk about “that” – inspired by the @ScottMillerBbl article on @mariners speedster @FlashGJr


First the article:


Secondly: I have been a Mariners fan for as long as I can recall – I wrote fan letters as a kid and even had a little shrine set up in my closet during baseball season – and though we lived in rural BC, because my mom grew up in Seattle we would regularly visit my grandparents there and each summer…. a trip to the kingdome – a tradition rekindled by my mom when my first daughter was born and we went (and continue to go) to a game – of course our first game with a 5 month old was an 18 inning marathon…. but we also made arrangements in our travel plans to get to games over the years that would let my kids run around the bases (only losing my son once – on jersey night….and of course I had called this problem in the third inning when security was asking me to describe him: 6 years old…Mariners cap…Ichiro jersey – just like 90% of the kids on the field….was it possible that the hat was distinctive sir?…yes – chrome on the brim….and my son did what he was supposed to do if he ever got lost: stopped and stayed where he was. So all ended very well)

Thirdly: we don’t like talking about this trauma inducing event that Dee experienced…and many of our learners experience… domestic abuse. And as a principal, I try to remain impartial and non-judgemental…try…. but…. well …. it’s tough as I was fortunate to grow up in a household that was non-violent – so this is a situation that I have a hard time understanding…I can be empathic, but while I have seen some tough things, this is an area I thankfully cannot put myself in the shoes of  – and yet while we/I promote and encourage role models to talk about their mental wellness struggles – how the raised awareness of depression and anxiety and self – esteem and etc along with strategies on how to deal with these – the trauma of domestic abuse is definitely a “dirty little secret”



In sports, leagues are taking on this topic to varying levels of success – blending a balance of suspensions and fines … but it always seems to depend on how good the athlete is on the field as to how “the abuse” is explained….be it a whipping a kid with a switch that is “cultural” or an event captured on a security camera “that doesn’t tell the whole story” …. one in four women and one in seven men experience a form of severe physical abuse. one in four and one in seven. But when one sports team cuts an athlete for breaking a domestic abuse rule…so often another team is willing to sign them up for “a fresh start” – with or without counselling or other interventions in place if they think the player can put buts in seats and be drafted by fantasy sports General Managers. As Dee puts it so well:


“Can I say something that’s going to sound really messed up? The world sucks so bad that a guy will be in trouble for a few days and then people forget about it and pull for him again.


And this isn’t just with athletes and other celebrities – it can be with the parents and students we work with each day. Its relatively easy to see and react to physical impacts (bruises scars etc) but so much of the abuse is about power and control, and much like mental wellness in schools, if it’s not easy to see, it’s too easy to diminish. Victims are often reluctant or afraid to speak up and share. It’s not worth the repercussions that they may experience. After all, we’re at school now – it’s safe and we are all ready to learn.


Right.  “Ready” – trauma influenced learning is so difficult … the conditions for learning have to be met before learning can take place. And we can’t see what happened in our students homes the night before…over night…early in the morning.


(and as a weird connection – Dee’s father is Tom Gordon – named by Stephen King in his book “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon” – a girl who has to face her fears inspired by the heroics of this pitcher)



And we can look at Dee as a speedster infielder who could probably play centre field – who signed a great contract and has no worries.  Right.  “no worries” because money takes care of everything. He took the name “Dee” to remember his mother who was taken from him so early in life. He was not groomed to be a baseball star – i his neighbourhood it was about basketball. His family had to rally round to support him.



He gives back through his Flash of Hope initiative. Because he ‘gets it’.  He lived it.  He lives with it.



Don’t think domestic abuse is lasting? Dee’s mom was then from him when he was 7. When he signed his “big league contract” his first purchase wasn’t a house or fast car – it was a tombstone for his mom.



This dirty little secret needs to end. And a great time to start thinking about this is today because the @mariners first pre-season game is today. So practice being mindful about the domestic abuse you may be aware of and not saying something about… or the domestic abuse that is happening that you’re not aware of…there’s a reason why I don’t object to hoodies and hats in school – because nothing tells you somethings up like a hoodie pulled tight over a hat pulled down low… but it’s not going to be a quick and easy conversation. And look to help – even Major League Baseball has instated both proactive training programs as well as a confidential help line – for victims or those perpetrating the acts – confidentially so that is someone is struggling, they can be provided support to help stop the cycle of abuse….because they learned it somewhere… kids do what they see.



Practice now so you’re ready for the bigger conversations when opening day happens on March 20th. Who is kicking off the season? The Mariners of course. Seems appropriate. Let’s all help stop the cycles of domestic abuse. one conversation at a time.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 109 (of 187) hundreds day…even if it isn’t

Day 109 (of 187) hundreds day…even if it isn’t

Today we celebrated the hundredth day of school….even if it actually wasn’t. Days in school are never too precise. Each of my blog years ends in different numbers because there are always “tweaks” to our 180 school days and 6 non-instructional / professional development days. Snow days (though they didn’t stop my blog) sick days, forgetting to count a day…things happen. But it’s nice to have an anchor day to look at how far we’ve come over the school year and put the number 100 in some perspective.

Many on our staff dressed as if they were 100 years old – my own attempt was admittedly feeble – my sweater and reading glasses weren’t up to what lengths others went to…. but still led to some fun as our primaries took over the gym to have a wide variety of hundreds day activities. From taking 100 steps to shooting 100 pucks with our visiting hockey players from our BCHL Powell River Kings who come each week to read…or have a bit of fun with our young ‘uns. 10 excerces 10 times, sorting, shirts with 100 buttons and googly eyes… lots of fun all morning long.

Some stretch thinking: what was our world like 100 years ago…

What might our world and school be like 100 years from now (still classrooms with desks in rows organized by year of birth….sorry…slipped into a tangent….)

What would you do with $100

What is a highlight from the past 100 days at school?

How many days are left in the year?

What do you have a hundred of?

What could you eat a hundred of? (Shoutout to the late great comic Mitch Hedberg who liked how rice is great when you want to eat a thousand of something)

So many pinterific things that can be done: tell a story with 100 words (can they be repeated a la Dr Seuss in Green Eggs & Hams and it’s 50 words)

Ooh a poem with 100 letters; syllables; vowels; rhymes

A time machine/capsule for students in 100 years (or even the next hundreds day)

A great chance to explore thematic days….. a chance to do different, because when we do different we suddenly recognize how much we can do….differentiated…. more to follow on this theme/push!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 108 (of 187) the day after tomorrow

Day 108 (of 187) the day after tomorrow



The movie The Day After Tomorrow was about getting through some significant climate change…on a smaller perspective, the school community is coming through some interesting climate change – last week we had two snow days…and a professional development day blended with a long weekend with our provincial Family Day holiday. In other words – there are some students who haven’t been to school for four days…7 days…and 10 or more days…



In other words – not everybody is happy.


Transitions are hard. Sometimes the hardest door to go through is the open one…



Sometimes you’re a jerk Landy. Sometimes the names get a tad saltier. I don’t mind. They tend to be distractions from the bigger issues – the issues that are keeping some students home for one more day….


….and for other students, acknowledging maybe it’s not that they won’t step up and own their choices…perhaps they can’t (the benchmark between behavioural and organic interventions)


students whose absence is “sometimes noticed” because of a change of tone in the classroom….or recess areas…or my office…. but a day away is only a delay – and as I remind people – payback can come with interest (or really, lack of interest in conforming to the classroom dynamics – especially in activities that started while they were away…)



So the “superstorm” came … and went… sort of – still some snow falling in this area that traditionally does not get a lot of snow – but schools are open and roads are salted – though there are areas that are still nervous – such as LA and a possible mega storm?? from drought to flood – “the other big one



We can prepare all we want – but there are always unexpectancies that we can only prepare for in a vague way – such as today being ready to be reactive to student and classroom needs…whatever they may be. Kinetic sand…lego…bouncy balls…comics…not even need can be solved the same way – and tools that worked previously are not guaranteed to work this time …otherwise it would be behavioural and not so complex…I like behavioural challenges – interventions have an impact; it’s when you’re on intervention plan 9 that we need to rethink our strategies – or more specifically, are we taking the right approach in the mindset of the plans we are designing.

Sigh. I have not yet found a great panacea for the return from long delays – especially when weather is a bonus factor. Oh – and a full moon? Causation or correlation? 🙄 I guess all we can do is….be prepared! For what? Exactly!




Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

T3D #9 starting with PBL

T3D #9 starting with PBL


Project Based Learning can be both powerful and personalizing – and is not subject specific! But I have been asked “where should I start?” – here are my three thinks about where to start with PBL:


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 107 (of 187) pro-d sharing on descriptive feedback and the portfolio

Day 107 (of 187) pro-d sharing on descriptive feedback and the portfolio



Changes can be uncomfortable…. and when the bulb burns out of a projector…tricky to share – so here is the youtube clip for the Medieval Helpdesk that helps show that making changes has never been “easy”….




But today within my school district i was able to share some thinkings about two areas of key interest to me:


Descriptive Feedback


the eportfolio


Two components that I am working on creating a more comprehensive combined “special project” coming soon!


It was (as always) nice having some great questions and very positive feedback as education makes a shift to more personalized methods of learning, assessing and communicating what happens in education!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 106 (of 187) every feather has a purpose

Day 106 (of 187) every feather has a purpose

To celebrate “pink thinking” in advance of “pink shirt day” aka anti-bullying day, I created a display. Our school symbol is the eagle and we have been using eagle feathers to acknowledge good work around the school. I wanted everyone to have a feather to reinforce their thinking of “pink thoughts”

Meant to be a visual to “see how they can soar”…

Every name is on a feather – but mixed up, not in any area because of grade or behaviour or anything else. They can find themselves wherever they are, because every feather has a purpose…

Feathers protect from the elements (rain sun heat cold)

They allow for flight

They personalize (colours)

Contour feathers provide protection

Down feathers provide warmth

Semiplume provide insulation and buoyancy

Filoplumes help keep other feathers in order

Some feathers help with flight, others for direction.

So for our wing/feather display,

It doesn’t matter which feather they are; they have importance and a necessity for the bird (school) to be successful.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 105 (of 187) the call for peer reviewed research in education and problems within this…

Day 105 (of 187) the call for peer reviewed research in education and problems within this…

Research takes time. It takes time in which other studies are coming out with potentially contradictory information….but who gets published first and retweeted the most…wins?

Being an educator who believes in inclusion, Project based learning (including geniushour and SOLEs) self regulation, eportfolio using formative descriptive feedback loops – I sometimes get questions about “what the research says”. Partly because studies on things like standardized high stakes tests did get a fair bit of research when/as one-type-of-testing was more the norm….despite the many students who weren’t good at this type of “demonstrations of learning” often being excluded from some classes or even from schools (especially after funding counts were confirmed).

And by no means am I against research – I just want to point out that all of us ,pick and choose the research we like. Otherwise the Black Box article would’ve fundamentally changed how ALL classes work all the time using Formative Assessment more often and confirming some key classroom practices:

1. Clear learning intentions. Verbal is minimal, written on board (few friends an I used a dart board) as a reminder. 

2. Provide examples of a range of work (great that we have BC Performance Standards that include a range of exemplars for many subjects [not project based exemplars but…] for K-10 at

3. Questions. Good deep questions – both to AND FROM learners. (This has led me towards elements and strategies like Geniushour and Self Organized Learning Environments)

4. Timely descriptive feedback (this is what led me towards what we now see as eportfolios)

5. Peer and self feedback (I found great value using document cameras and later iPads to show & share authentic student work to provide immediate feedback for areas for improvement and things to celebrate) <— this has been a key driver around how to communicate learning around competencies.

6. Practice and reflection. (Practice needs to be meaningful – more than just a compliance activity – and taking time to reflect on what has been done has inspires my ongoing “days-of-learning blog”

But some don’t want to do it all – or have explored “parts of this” because it is different/hard to do consistently. But this research did confirm practices that many educators found effective, not because research told them so, but because it worked – the research confirmed its effectiveness.

And there is bias when things are “peer reviewed”. But lately I’ve been hearing more and more podcasts and social media connections looking for the research (around the work of Carol Dweck, Jo Boaler, Sugata Mitra, Sir Ken Robinson) on how “different impacts students”. Yet it takes time to do research. When working on my Masters, articles cited were based on information from a few years previous – so sometimes there isn’t the “right” information to base practice on and we have to make assumptions. Especially as different publications will want to “encourage” articles that support their philosophy – there is a need by some educators to “publish or perish” and there are many different ways to do this….

My fear: the best research is longitudinal – which looks at things over time. But learners aren’t widgets. What was a hit for one group of students was a miss for others. The well researched Friends for Life Program was recently discontinued in Bc but programs with mixed research results such as DARE co it use to be encouraged because they feel good whatever the evidence says….

My bias: research is like a cookbook. Good recipes to start from. Maybe like a musical composition. Lots of good information to take in and explore….but there is also a value to fusion…and jazz….taking something and working on it inside out. We need to try some things out based on guesses and hunches –> that don’t come out of thin air…that are based on prior and current readings….podcasts….conversations…and built upon a relationships and trust.

The worst statement I recently read about the value (and mixed research on) of memorization (and I do believe that memory is a good thing, I just don’t like the value we put on short term memory retrieval for spelling tests and chapter quizzes rather than deep memorization which is based on understanding the why and the how) – where the author states “to be a good poet, have kids memorize more poetry – because poets memorize their works” which as someone who has written poetry for publication….offends me tremendously. It’s like reading the thesaurus will make kids better writers because they’re being exposed to more words. It is so much more complicated than that! (And yes, I’m trying to refind the link to that article but I do like this one which has some similarities )

I’m not saying educators shouldn’t be using key research in daily practice! Indeed we should! I have used the work of others to influence how my “passion project time” as geniushour; group work shifted because of Sugata Mitras “classroom in the cloud” and work on Self Organized Learning Environments (SOLEs); I pushed more Project based math learning after reading Jo Boalers work confirming some of my thinking and pushing in other areas; more music in the class due to an article commenting on how the best forms of music for math & learning based on bpm (beats per minute) were Baroque and Disco….still looking for this article for someone….I need to better tag some favourite articles!

I am suggesting that educators not be afraid to try something different. In theory learners are learners, but in practice over 20+ years I have not had two classes that were the same…which is what encouraged me to be okay with trying different to meet the needs both for different groups of students….but also knowing each individual has different needs/wants for their own best learning – and pushing for more personalized learning journeys….it sounds new, but really resembles the original classroom set up by Socrates with a focus on good questions being asked both by teacher and student.

In other words, don’t always wait for others to tell you what will work. Be a poet…a jazz musician… a fusion chef – create your own mini-research inquiry project… Google and explore twitter to see if others are already doing the same or similar….peer reviewed research is a very good thing…but not the only thing!

More to come!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment