Time for some Positive

30 05 2014

Handy size so you can print and put on your lawn, the trail head etc.  The QR code sends email to Christy Clark. 🙂

KIDS FIRST-QRHere is a PDF for easy printing.



Connections and Learning

21 10 2012

I just spent a day at a teacher librarian’s conference where I was surrounded by people who are excited about change in education and at the same time scared stiff.  Chris Kennedy, Superintendent of West Vancouver School District gave the Keynote speech.  He talked about the role of teacher librarians in technological implementation in schools. I was intrigued by a few things that he said, so after reading his blog, I took a look at the work of Will Richardson, via this TEDxMelbourne presentation .

Richardson is a big voice for educational reform.  He has some interesting ideas, but one in particular made me crazy.  He said something to the effect of there is no point in learning facts, you can look them up on google.  I have to disagree, a lot.  Education is more than learning facts.  Could you google an article on foreign policy and read it if you had to look up every country, every politician and every big word?  I know I couldn’t. How about math? If you don’t know basic addition are you ever going to understand algebra? Calculus? Chemistry? No.

Education needs to be about training your brain how to find answers, not about getting them.  There is merit in learning basic facts, they allow us to make connections to other ideas and form questions.

I am very interested in the work of George Siemens who is the founder of the Connectivism: Open Social Learning theory.  He argues that learning is all about making connections. Something elementary teachers have been fostering for years.  This is not a new idea, but how we use it in a technological age is. Siemens talks about “Sensemaking not learning.” When learners have the tools of their sensemaking under their own control, they have the capacity to shape and direct the activities that they find meaningful.”

He says that Open Social Learning is:

  • responsive to the needs of the individual
  • adaptive
  • fluid, varied and contextual

I’m not convinced that this is not already happening in elementary schools.  We use “think, pair, share,”  we encourage group work and group learning, we take advantage of “teachable moments,” we adapt lessons and curriculum to the needs of the students, we try to teach in themes to make sure our students are learning in context. Perhaps our educational leaders need to be elementary school teachers instead of University Professors. That is one thing I do agree with Richardson about.  Teachers need to start screaming about what we believe in, and stop being so polite. Otherwise we are going to have an education system which is built by politicians and businesspeople.

Time for a Rant

1 03 2012

Today the teacher’s union in BC voted to escalate job action.  We have been without a contract since September.  When asked, a clear majority of teachers said that the biggest issue they wanted resolved was class size and composition.  Unfortunately the government took that out of our contract (illegally- per a supreme court decision) and it can’t be negotiated.

I am new to teaching, having had other careers including database management, banking and Export Management. I decided to become a teacher late in life because it was what I had always wanted to do, but was told that I was “too smart to be a teacher” or “would never make any money as a teacher.” I am fortunate to have a spouse with a good paying job, so I can pursue this passion.

I’m ok with my salary, I’m ok with Net zero, I’m ok with professional development being changed, I’m ok with the idea of having evaluations of teachers, and I’m more than ok with the idea that we should trust our administration to know who is the best candidate for the job rather than the person with the most years. (most of them find creative ways to do this anyway.)

I am NOT ok with removing restraints on class size and composition.  I have 27 kids in my grade 4/5 class, let me give you a little breakdown.

# of kids who can’t read at grade level = 3 (one who can’t read at all…)

# of kids who have to be given a personal invitation to begin each task, EVERY TIME = 3

# of kids who have a ministry designated learning disability = 5 (only one overlap with above)

# of kids who don’t have a designation because they are still on the “list” = 2

# of kids who have severe medical conditions which limit their ability to learn = 3

# of kids who are ESL = 2

Didn’t even get to the ones who have parents who are divorcing, are moving, don’t get breakfast etc. That is just “normal” these days.

Who is losing out here? The kids.  All of them.

Too Late I guess

21 01 2010

It seems that the school board passed the motion for our librarians to “deliver an increased proportion of non-instructional time.” at a savings of $410,000 at the expense of every student in the district who will now receive less or no music from a specialist teacher.

Its sad.

Maybe not, I just got this response from one of our Trustees:

I am very supportive of the Arts and Music for all the reasons you mention. I was not aware that these cuts may impact music programs in the way you are stating. I have forwarded your letter to John Lewis and our Board Chair and Vice Chair for comments.”

I wonder how the notes from the public meetings missed this important aspect of transferring time to librarians.

Save Music in our Schools!

13 01 2010

The district has proposed that teacher librarians be given 50% of the NIT time at each school as a cost cutting measure. What has been left un-stated is that these NIT hours are currently used to provide Music programs in the elementary schools. The effect of the change to the teacher librarian’s covering NIT time will mean some large portion of our children will not get Music instruction, and our schools will not have a dedicated Music teacher.

Visit http://savemusic44.wordpress.com to see how you can help.

Do it soon, the board is announcing their plan on January 19th, 2010.

More budget cuts

28 11 2009

Well it seems that our school district is still feeling the effects of the recession. At a meeting on November 18th it was suggested that they cut the time of teacher librarians to 50%, which effectively cuts the time to music programs district wide as well. If you don’t understand how this works essentially teachers are given 100 minutes a week to prepare lessons and do marking etc., while each teacher is having this non-instructional time, someone has to be with their class. Traditionally this role fell to music teachers, who provided a music program in this time. This year  teacher librarians were told to fill 25% of this time, and next year it will be more.  In my case this year it meant that there are 3+ classes who don’t get music from me, and I am teaching math learning assistance instead of music for part of my day.

I wonder if parents realize what is happening? Will music programs become like band and strings programs in our district, and be funded by parents directly? Could they?

It is very sad.

Please come to the meeting on December 1st at the Lucas Center to voice your opinion. Budget Challenge 2010 is a meeting about funding for our schools that will directly impact music programs across the district. Please come and make your voice heard to support our music program.