What do you love most about teaching?

I’ve been giving this question a lot of thought.

Although I have many answers, most of all, I love our ability to empower students. Whether it be through literacy, or through the personal connections we make, we have the capacity to raise confidence and self esteem, to impact the way our students feel about themselves and their place in the world.

When I work with struggling readers, I look forward to the day when the students realize that letters combine to create words. That day they make the connection that the words on the page hold meaning. That day they gain a skill they will use every day forward.

When I work with students in the classroom, I revel in the opportunity to share my love of writing. I enjoy giving them strategies to help make writing a little easier and potentially more enjoyable, too.

When I work in my role as assistant principal, I appreciate the time I have with those children who struggle with behaviour. I know that the behaviour is their way of communicating anger, frustration or even sadness. I am reminded of this quote: “The kids who need the most love will ask for it in the most unloving ways.” I appreciate the opportunity to connect with these students: to allow them to express their emotions in a safe environment, to show them that they are cared for and valued, and ultimately, to show them their own self-worth.

What an awesome influence we hold. This is why I love to teach.

My answer is books!

We live in a confusing world. Some days I watch the news and shake my head. I myself don’t know how to process the events, let alone explain them to those in our care who are young and impressionable.

Books have always been my answer when it’s time to have difficult conversations with kids.

When discussing death, I tend to read the picture books The Memory Tree by Britta Teckentrup, That Summer by Tony Johnston or The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White and Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson all also effective.

When discussing prejudice or intolerance, I read Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles, The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson or Don’t Laugh at Me by Allen Shamblin and Steve Seskin.

When discussing messages of kindness, The Big Umbrella by Amy June Bates and Juniper Bates, Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson and The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig are excellent choices.

Books generate such wonderful discussion. And, I guess that’s why I love working with children. Children have the ability to frame things with such humanity and hope. “While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.” Angela Schwindt

Olympic Musings

Every time the Olympics roll around, I find myself thinking about the role of sport in our society.

I played several sports as a kid and I have as an adult, as well. I see value in the camaraderie, the activity, the discipline, the health benefits and the inevitable lessons about winning and losing.

And like many Canadians, I enjoy watching the Olympics: everything from the athlete profiles, to the events themselves. I find myself feeling proud of these athletes that I only know through television. I admire what the Olympic and Paralympic athletes do to get themselves prepared to compete at such a high level: the training, the sacrifice and the discipline. Often, these athletes have overcome great hurdles through incredible dedication and hard work.

But there is one thought about the Olympics that I can’t ignore. When I hear how many billions of dollars are spent, I wonder… are they billions well spent?

Many of those dollars are spent on infrastructure. And depending on what is done with the infrastructure after the fact, there could be value. Often though, the newly built stadiums and venues are under-utilized or even left abandoned. And a considerable portion of the money is spent on making sure the host country is shown in a positive light to the world; some have even called it one-upmanship from one Olympics to the next. Even the bids for the Olympics run into the millions of dollars.

Yet when I think of the millions of people living in our world in dire conditions – without adequate food or housing, without access to clean water or health care – I struggle with the billions spent on the games.

Not to be a downer. I just think there must be a way to engage in a world event such as this, encouraging patriotism and fostering world unity, but also to be more cognizant of the money poured into the event. To find ways to eliminate some of the exorbitant spending.

So as we cheer on our athletes, let us also remember to advocate and support those in our world who go without.

Wilma Rudolph has said, “Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit.” In sport or in life.


We write for life.

One of the things I love about teaching writing to kids is that it is a skill they will use throughout their lives.

And even though it is something I love to do, I know that not all of them like it and many of them never will. But, I want them to know how important it is. And if they learn to love it, or even like it a little more, wonderful.

One day, they may write a poem, a thesis, a job application, a blog, a journal entry or a love letter. They will find their voice and they will write.

We write for life.