Have a spooktacular day!

In households around the city families are carving pumpkins, preparing costumes and more than likely taste-testing the Halloween candy. Parents will send their princesses, pirates and ghostbusters to school tomorrow.

Let’s face it: students enjoy Halloween much more than most teachers. Yet if you teach in an elementary school, Halloween comes with the territory. It’s just a bunch of hocus pocus… enjoy the day!

What a story…

Last week I was reminded of the thrill of emergent writers when I spent time in kindergarten and grade one. In both classes, the students were eager to write, thoroughly engaged in the process and enthusiastically able to explain what they had written.

Despite the various levels of their writing – pictures only, mock letters, a string of letters, invented spelling or more conventional spelling – all students were engaged in the process. Each stage is an important one for emergent writers.

Although our ultimate goal is to teach students to be effective writers, teachers of emergent writers must be careful not to overcorrect. Overcorrection quickly dampens the enthusiasm of our young writers. When they are still experimenting with language and letters, proper spelling and punctuation are secondary. We must celebrate their attempts at language and honour what they have written.

Rather than correct their work, we can teach the elements of good writing through modelling and explicit instruction. And by the way, good writing includes much more than proper conventions… just ask our kindergarten and grade one students!

Teaching with intention

Last week I was reminded how important it is to teach with intention. My reminders came in the form of adults working with special needs students. Everything they did and didn’t do, everything they said and didn’t say was purposeful.

The result? Students who know that the adults in the room care for them, students who are engaged and students who are learning at their own pace. In other words: education.

We are changing the world, one intention at a time.


Dear Students,

On this Thanksgiving Day, I am writing to express my gratitude.

To those of you who greet me with a hug every day without fail, thank you for beginning my day with a smile.

To those of you who hang onto my every word, thank you for giving me the validation that what we do is important.

To those of you who share a cracker or a candy from your lunch, thank you for showing what it means to give.

To those of you who find learning challenging, thank you for demonstrating the true meaning of perseverance.

To those of you who have experienced abuse, neglect or trauma in your young lives, thank you for inspiring me by your courage. Thank you for giving me perspective and reminding me that life is precious.

To all of you, thank you for making my work both rewarding and enjoyable. Thank you for making me a better educator and a better person. And thank you for ensuring that I laugh – every day.

Sincerely, your teacher.

True Inspiration

Last night we saw The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the Citadel. It is based on the book of the same title by Mark Haddon and told from the perspective of a 15 year old boy on the Autism Spectrum.

I was struck by the myriad of emotions his parents experienced day to day: fear, joy, anger, pride, frustration and ultimately, immense love.

Each day we work with kids of varying abilities and needs. Reality is, some kids have more severe needs than others and they will face challenges throughout their lives. Their parents too, face challenges and fears most of us can only imagine.

I watched a video yesterday about another teen with Autism: art sensation. As inspired as I was by the teen (well worth 7 minutes of your time to watch the video), I was most inspired by his mother: a mother who clearly would do whatever it takes for her son.

Each day we are surrounded by inspiration. Who is yours?

Nicole, you are mine.