Kids Say the Darndest Things

I recall when my own children were in Kindergarten. All three of them had the wonderful opportunity to have the same, caring teacher. My middle child, who to this day, continues to embrace the “shock and awe” factor, would often come home from school and regale us with tales about his day, complete with details about the sandbox, the building block centre and stories about who said what to whom. I remember going to his first parent teacher interview and the teacher sharing some very sage words of wisdom. She told me that her rule of thumb is that she’ll only believe half of what the students tell her about their home life and she asks that we do the same in regards to what they share about their day at school. As my children grew up, the stories about their day at school diminished into a simple sentence or the dreaded response to the question, “What did you do at school today?” “Nothin’”.

As we continue to search for ways to engage our parent community, I’m wondering if we, as educators, can provide ways for students to expand on the “Nothin” answer when questioned about their day.

Today, a cool thing happened as I was doing a walkthrough. In one of our Early Years classrooms, the teacher was sharing a video she had taken of one of her students reading a story, with our newest technology purchase ~ an

 iPod Touch. The teacher had the student write a quick email to his dad, “Look what I just read” and the teacher emailed the video clip and the email to the student’s dad at work. Dad then replied. What a wonderful real life application. Think about their dinner conversation that night.


Earlier in my career I worked with a colleague who developed the “Picnic Table” concept. Each Friday, the students were asked to take home their laminated picnic table, make their parents a coffee, a pop or a glass of juice and then sit down and share specific learning activities from the week. The students were provided with a script and the parents had to sign off that they had taken part in the picnic table discussion.

When I think about the things that I bring home and share with my own family, they are usually the exciting components of my day when I’ve had the opportunity to interact with others. Being in my office and working on reports etc, is not a very engaging dinner table discussion. But on those days when I get to work with teachers, students or colleagues and I’m challenged to do something new or out of the ordinary, I can easily dominate the discussion from the appetizers straight through to the dessert.


My question for today is…..

What happened in your classroom today that students will be excited about sharing with their parents?

The Pledge

Welcome to the November edition of the Principal’s Blog. This month, we are joining the other schools in Thames Valley as learn about anti-bullying initiatives and explore bullying awareness strategies. On Monday November 14, every student and staff member attended a special assembly where we all took the Pledge and declared our intention to stand up to end bullying when ever and where ever we see it occurring. As a follow up to the assembly each student was asked to reflect, in writing, what being an Upstander means to them. The writing task was aligned with their current literacy learning goal and accompanying success criteria. As a school, we continue to improve our students ability to effectively communicate their thinking as they organize their ideas and information in both literacy and numeracy.

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to read “Have you Filled a Bucket Today?” to each primary class. We talked about how to be a bucket filler and how to avoid being a bucket dipper. Those students continue to make connections about how their actions affect others. Our Early Years classes are now reading the book and creating activities connected to being “bucket fillers”. Our students are learning how to be an Upstander by being a good friend and by making others feel good about themselves.

Parents, you play an important role as we continue to create an environment where everyone feels valued and accepted. If your child is experiencing challenges with other students, or they witness an example of bullying, please encourage them to share their concern with a staff member as soon as the event occurs.

Together we will create a school environment were everyone feels safe, every day!


The Pledge

To mark the beginning of Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week, all school community members within Thames Valley District School board and our co-terminous board ~ London District Catholic School Board, will be asked to take “The Pledge” on November 14 at 10:00 a.m.

“I believe that everybody has a right to live in a community where they feel safe, included, valued and accepted regardless of differences.

I pledge to be respectful of others and stand up against bullying wherever and whenever I see it.”

As a school administrator, I feel strongly that we not only teach our children to comprehend, compose and communicate their calculations (my own contemporary version of readin’ writin’ and rithmetic) but that we purposefully teach our students what it means to be a good citizen.

As I’m composing this blog, I’m reminded of the Robert Fulghum poem, All I really needed to know I learned in Kindergarten.

” All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school….”

The rules of Kindergarten are simple and if everyone followed them, what a wonderful world we would live in.

As I counsel students in my office, after an altercation at school, I often refer to the “Golden Rule ~ Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. That has always been a simple, yet powerful message for students who have a sense of empathy and understand that their actions have hurt another person.

What does global citizenship look like in 2011? Is it any different than when I attended school? Or when my parents attended school?

Have the “bullies” changed within this generation? When I recall my days in elementary school, there was one “known” bully in our class. We all knew who he was and we all stayed away from him. As I grew older and became more aware of his home situation, I started to understand a little bit better why he felt that violence was the answer to everything.

Fast forward to today….Cyber-bullying is a term that was not part of our vernacular when I attended school, yet today, as a school administrator, it is rare to go through a week when I’m not dealing with an issue that either started or escalated on Facebook. Has this technology provided students with a forum to say things that they would never do face to face?

 Are the “victims” more reluctant to bring their issues to the attention of others? If so, how can we change that culture?

The “Pledge” is a step in that direction. This week, we will be focussing on encouraging Upstanders to Take a Stand and celebrating their strength as they do so.