Day 182 (of 186) the question you’re not going to like to reflect on

Day 182 (of 186) the question you’re not going to like to reflect on

John Daly, a golfer who has long been a controversial figure (many demons impacting his talent) requested using a golf cart while participating in a seniors tournament:

He has a long lasting injury that may qualify him to use a golf cart under the ADA (America disabilities act) but he is not liked by many. Scott Verplank is a well liked golfer who also has a health issue. He is allowed to use a golf cart.

Each request is reviewed on a case-by-case base and they won’t speak publicly about private medical conditions.

Here’s the reflection question:

How often are we more willing to make accommodations for “good kids” and sometimes “less than willing” for kids who rub us the wrong way – are we doing things impartially? Really….?

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Day 181 (of 186) can we rationalize the thinkings of role models from the past

Day 181 (of 186) can we rationalize the thinkings of role models from the past

Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote books that have been read for generations. Made into a tv series. But because of some of the language she used, her name is being taken off a long standing award:

It might be that Alfred Einstein also had some “insensitive” terms he used:

Mark Twain, who has a writing award named for him, has a prominent character whose name I can’t in good conscious even bring myself to type out!

And the “in the cupboard” book….good entry point to discussing terms that have always been offensive…though still have some that embrace the name….unlike the Cleveland baseball club and Edmonton and Washington football teams whose nick-names I tend to not use. Change is inevitable – let’s become respectful sooner rather than later…

How do we consider thinking and writing from a bygone era in a time where we are more aware than ever that names – especially stereotypical ones- can (and have) indeed hurt, demean and oppress people.

Many books that were once considered “children’s books” are now more appropriate for a more mature/older audience because of the era they represent. I still have to have discussions about words starting with N, R, I and G (and a few other letters) that are inappropriate in our era. They are hurtful and harmful. But what if some of the writers and editors of the time didn’t know how future generations would read them. I’ve had to “edit on the fly” a few read alouds that I forgot were using “terms our grandparents used, but I sure won’t” in them.

Heck -I even stumbled upon a line in a fiction book I’m re-reading that talks about someone using an offensive term with a character reminding a friend to “stay calm. They didn’t invent the word”. If it’s the word you have in your vocabulary….and in larger society’s vocabulary….can we assign today’s values on the past (or futures) reality?

So, if we are judging people from history by the expansive language (and mindsets) we have today….how far do we go…and do we connect actions as well…many presidents were slave owners…but were there better space owners than others…? If you grow up not knowing or learning different….well, in schools we remind ourselves that kids do what they see…and if you only see and hear certain things….can we assign blame? Or can we just be reminded that almost (probably all but I’ll digress) every hero has faults and ideas that can influence how we look at them – people are people…and thoughts we have today may also be reflected upon 7 generations from now by people wishing we knew better as we do and say what we do.

I think the award can still be named after Laura Wilder….but my thought may change…but as the sign outside my window says:

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Day 180 (of 186) on privilege- thinking of @pernilleripp & @downsteresa

Day 180 (of 186) on privilege- thinking of @pernilleripp

Pernille looks like she could be on a tv sitcom representing a typical. Or the American family. Not because she’s white with blonde hair, but like so many she’s an immigrant making a “better life”. And best of all, pointing out things that “aren’t right” because many prejudge her as “not an immigrant” because of her hair and skin colour…..(many ironies here). But at iste she made a powerful declaration

North America has a long history of hypocrisy in its immigration policies…which at times have been “covered up” by school systems. Canada likes to consider itself a “multi-cultural mosaic” – as long as you don’t google search the Chinese Exclusion Act or the Komagata Maru or when Jewish families were leaving Europe in the 1930s or even/especially Residential Schools. We may poke fun at our cousins to the south about “wall building” and attitudes towards Islamic Immigration but largely only because we don’t like to look at our own track record when we haven’t “walked the talk” of multi-culturalism.

As a white male, I thought that when I played an “awareness activity” that I would have scored higher (and more privileged) than I actually did. Maybe because I haven’t always been “of the majority” where I have lived and worked…but my privilege exists when I move from area to area – and my own expectation that others are treated as I am – sometimes fairly sometimes unfairly but typically “equally”.

I’ll even admit I had some prejudices in my youth that have changed as I became better aware – specifically not prejudging groups based on interactions (or lack thereof) with individuals. It’s important to acknowledge that our thinking yesterday and today does not have to be the same as tomorrow. I hope I am never stuck in a “fixed mindset”. I’ve even admitted when I thought some of my past thinkings were wrong and that I’d likely see that I was on the wrong side of the fence. As a f’r instance – I’m not a fan of “affirmative action” but that’s because philosophically I believe everyone should be treated fairly based on abilities and skill sets. I don’t like it when jobs are posted saying people of specific ancestries may be given preference…but pragmatically I “get it”. Our systems have not been kind to certain groups of people. We have to get it right…we have to do better.

It’s why I respect people like Teresa Downs who, as superintendent of Gold Trail sharing her own thoughts and facing expected (and unexpected) criticisms of her and her job…

It’s not easy to reflect that perhaps schooling and working experiences were better for some than others because of having a “right look”. But I shake my head when reading opeds calling for her to step down if privilege got her to what she is doing – because it takes key skills to be a superintendent and two wrongs don’t make a right. What we want to do is make better decisions each day. Make mindful decisions that consider how attitudes may have influenced journeys….my dad got looks from his teachers because of where his address said he lived….distrustful looks….and that made him very aware of obstacles “others” will face for a variety of reasons beyond skin colour.

But I also know that things aren’t yet where we ought to be as a society – while I teach my kids how to address a police office, I don’t have the same conversation as seen in the tv show Blackish–s

with my family that others need to – especially about figures of authority…and that needs to change. And this episode did lead to some very good discussions about why an episode like this needs to be aired.

And while thinking about Pernilles iste presentation, I liked what I read on twitter where someone pointed out that discussions on white privilege is not just about saying sorry for what has been done, but also being willing…being mindful…to change things today for a better tomorrow. Systems and thinkings need to be more inclusionary in practice and in thinking.

Talking about this can be uncomfortable enough….walking the talk….even more so. But if enough people make mindful changes in their thinking and doing – it might just be enough. Starts have included more couples being able to be officially/legally wedded, females being able to drive in some countries they couldn’t a few weeks ago, but so much more still to be adjusted so that everyone has a sense of equal value to our local, regional, political, and global communities. We are getting there and conversations about “privilege” can help. They’re just not always comfortable – but “we” (of all communities) gotta be comfortable with the uncomfortable to make things better. Like with education being in that zone of proximal Learning is where things happen!

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Day 179 (of 186) aloha means hello and goodbye…

Day 179 (of 186) aloha means hello and goodbye…

Change is uncomfortable. As June races by I see that in the actions and tones of voice of my kids at home…and kids at school….and adults everywhere.

One of my students shared that their house sold – I asked if he knew where they were moving….he said no – not sure if he was staying in the neighbourhood…or area….or province. My kids at home are stressed because of our move to a new school district and community – but at least we know where we are going….to have that much uncertainty…..we’ll I’m glad we spend a lot of time on self regulation tools and strategies.

The nice part of saying goodbye to one community is that you get to say hello to another – as one of my favourite sayings goes: aloha means hello and ngoodbye – not just as a word but as a mindset. As June has so many difficult “goodbyes” – from THE END of a specific grade to the end of time in a brick and mortar school building to changes to where people will be sleeping….

It’s also hard to blend sadness of leaving with the excitement of what’s next. We are sad to be leaving the community we have been in for the past six years but excited about the opportunities for our family for the foreseeable future! And it’s okay to have those mixed feelings – any time there is grief/loss/change the emotions are mixed and sometimes confusing.

Time to take a breath. Try to relax (in between packing boxes) and get ready to say Aloha.

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Day 178 (of 186) neat perspective of projector use…



Sometimes I come across neat shares from “others”.  In this case, my rant has been about projectors – specifically how they force the classroom shape to remain traditional.  The projector is set up facing one direction of the room. This means that it becomes a challenge to use the other spaces – and reinforces the mindset that there is ONE important part of the room and all knowledge comes from there….



Its why I have been more supportive of projectors on carts – blaming the lack of ceiling mounts as a budget strain, but secretly hoping it keeps classrooms shifting the mindset of “in rows facing the teacher” to more of a 360 degree experience. I know that my room frustrates some because I have students choose where their desk is and what direction it is facing. I am proud that even though the room I am in has a projector facing south that there are desks and groups facing all cardinal directions.



And then I heard it: start with projectors mounted on the ceilings to get comfortable with them and then evolve into using it multi-directionally. 



I liked that – helping the “shift” from traditional to disruptive. Wireless connectivity to the projector! Perhaps soon even having battery operated projectors (though probably not soon as my projector drains our UPS (uninterrupted power supply box) very fast. Very. Fast.



But maybe….by encouraging more projection and less handouts, we can also see an evolution from kids in rows (based on height? alphabetical? maybe {gasp} based on academic achievement?) move to a more free flowing class setup. I’ve evolved to having my workstation in the middle of the room because that is where the ceiling mounted unit is and the connection wires can come straight down….but maybe for this final week I’ll focus more on having less of a presence in the middle of the room just to see if how the projector is used can also change if it is already “in place”! 

Might not be a big deal to some, but I know that the setup and flow of a classroom can be very important….both in mindset as well as in practice! Be mindful of how your room is set for next year!

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Day 177 (of 186) the “unlocked door” policy

Day 177 (of 186) the “unlocked door” policy



I know many have “open door” policies – meaning that they are always open to help solve or discuss problems. Both in the classroom and in the school, I have tried to have an “unlocked doors” mindset.



For staff, I try to make sure the school is unlocked – I did so before I was ever a Vice Principal because as a “morning guy” I’m at school well before the buses (and usually before anybody else) and I like to use time to “unlock” doors as a way to check around the school to make sure that there aren’t any obvious problems going on (drips from ceilings) and see what is on display in the halls.



For my learners, I like to make sure the classroom is unlocked because I like having “our room” be “ours” – which means if they want to come in during the morning, I’m good with that. I know that not everyone does well in the mornings and sometimes having time to settle in the room can be very self-regulating (again, probably why I like getting to school early!). Being able to see what’s on the daily schedule is helpful. Having “talk time” can be valuable. Being able to chat with me can also give insights into how the weekend/night before was. Presence matters.



And as I sometimes share that for those with mental wellness challenges, the most difficult thing to go through can be an open door….I want to make sure everyone has the time to enter the room and the knowledge and belief that this room is “theirs” and that they can feel safe and secure to start their day of learning.

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Day 176 (of 186) When adults model…..not the rules…

Day 176 (of 186) When adults model…..not the rules…

I’ll keep who shared this with me anonymous, but I kinda chuckled:

There was a CEA (education assistant) being seen by students – putting their phone inside a book and pretending to read the book – even turning the page occasionally – but reading something on her phone….

I’m not one to chide the use of the tool – but I do wonder about the culture where things need to be hidden….especially when it’s just because the tool isn’t traditional (I still shake my head when colleagues confiscate phones but treat kids reading books in their laps differently….

I support the availability and use of handheld devices by staff to take notes, send a message (even/especially a text to the principal – good or bad!) and don’t want people to be embarrassed and trying to hide what they were doing – because I have a simple belief – people want to do their job and tech helps this….in a variety of ways!


If you’re going to say something mean it. If phones are banned. It shouldn’t be just for the students. But gotta admit – banning a tool that can be used for reading – and adapting itself for non-readers to listen to texts – doesn’t sound like it’s a “best plan” – especially when there is an opportunity for an adult to model how they may be using their device for reading during reading time!

I just know that “kids do what they see” and if they see effective, positive use of tech, that helps them see how they can use the tool. If they see adults circumventing the rule….does the rule need to be adjusted? (My rule continues to be {for both electronic and paper tablets} tool or toy).

Just a reminder as we enter the end of the year and prepare for transitions, it’s a good time to give a mindful re-look at “the rules” and doublethink if they still mean what they ought to mean….and for those reading ebooks (yep – got a bunch on my device to travel lighter!) be proud – and be aware that people typing away aren’t always texting….there are many reasons that fingers may be flying on a device! Or is that against the rules too??

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