Category Archives: school

A Little Cuddle Goes A Long Way

presenting blankets to Crystal Cole from DECHMy Child Studies class has been working on a project for the local pediatrics ward. They are making fleece comfort blankets, they have challenged themselves to make 46 of them.

You may be wondering why the hospital needs little fleece blankets.  The key word is comfort.  When a child has to go to the hospital they are met with a barrage of strange items, procedures, and people.  As agencies like Project Linus know, a cuddly blanket can bring, “… love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need …” Going into the project, having done it with students in the past, I was aware of the value of the project for children in the hospital.  What surprised me this time was the value I saw for students.

As soon as the fleece was in the room some students were picking up the material and holding it.  Once we started making the blankets, even the smallest scraps were being kept by one person or another, even students in my other classes were having a great time playing with it.  Some made little miniature blankets and pillows, some bracelets and necklaces.  One young man in another class cut a piece in the shape of a wide tie and even asked me for a safety-pin so he could keep it on.  Who knew a little cuddly fleece could do so much?

Blanket project crew

Storm Day Denied: When Wearing The PJs Inside Out Doesn’t Do The Trick

If you live in an area which has snow storms during the winter, chances are you are familiar with the unexpected treat of a storm day.  For the most part these are only a boon for school students and teachers as technically they are caused by it being unsafe to have the buses on the roads.

If this is all sounding familiar to you, then you may also be aware of some of the superstitions that go along with the forecast of a storm.  When the radio first forecasts any amount of snow hopes begin to rise, and when they change to a snowfall, or winter storm warning the action begins.  First, of course, it is important not to talk about it due to a risk of jinxing things.  Then there are the night-time rituals like putting your pajamas on inside out, getting homework done, mittens under the pillow, and they go on.

Much as you may rationally understand that there will not be a storm day, when the alarm goes off the next morning and you don’t hear a cancellation notice, your heart falls.  From that moment frowns and grumbles are the order of the day.  The kids are extra cranky, especially if they didn’t finish their homework.  They spend the whole day looking longingly out the window and asking if they are going to get sent home early.

In some ways this is like the Christian story.  We have the forecast of the second coming of Jesus, of the New Earth.  When it happens it will be completely undeserved, a total change from the everyday with nothing scheduled, no to-do list, and no struggles.  We know it is coming,  and yet when we get up each day it is in the same life, same hassles, the same old Earth.  We don’t need to go through special rituals, wear things a particular way, this is already a done deal and all we have to do is continue to believe.  

Will I recognize my former students in thirty years time?

I wrote the other day about a talk I attended about holocaust experiences by Dr. Israel Unger.  While it was fascinating and moving, it was not the only really interesting that happened that evening at the church.  It turned out that Dr. Unger’s wife was a teacher at Fredericton High School where she taught math to both my husband and I and actually remembered both of us.  Did I mention that I graduated from high school almost thirty years ago?

Our kids found it fascinating to stand at the reception and talk with Mrs. Unger about our their parents as teenagers.  They were looking for stories of poor behaviour, but, however we thought we may have come across to our teachers, she said we were good kids.   We reminisced some about things like the time Tom and his friends took her literally when she said that if they wanted to bring food to class, they had to bring enough for everyone.  They ordered pizza for the whole class.  

For me, as a current high school teacher, what was most impressive  was the fact that she was able to remember us at all.  When I commented about the fact that I have so much trouble remembering my students names even the next year.  She made a very astute observation.  She pointed out that when she was teaching us, each course lasted the whole year and not just a semester and that it is much harder to really get to know kids in just a semester.  Educationally you get to know your students quite quickly in terms of their names, their academic strengths and weaknesses and the best way to help them.  What a semester doesn’t allow for, she pointed out, was time to really get to know our students as people.

Luckily, I get to teach many of my students in more than one course and work with some in extra-curricular activities.  These are the kids I have a chance to get to know well.  One of my students asked today how I can stand teaching the same thing three or four times per day for years on end and I was able to answer totally honestly that it was them that made it fun.  The variety comes from their different personalities, their different reactions to the material we cover etc.

In thirty years time I don’t know if I will recognize my former students.  I expect that I will at least remember the ones with whom I have had contact through Face Book.  I just hope that, whether or not my memory improves, I will manage to convey to them somehow how much I care about them.   

On Guard: How To Abide By a Code of Conduct

Standing Guard

Yesterday was the first day of school for 2011/2012 and as I was going over things with my 140 new students we looked at the code of conduct for schools in New Brunswick.  There is nothing shocking in the code and, as I said to the kids, if we could all follow that every day our school would be amazing!  The thing is that we all intend to do just that.  There is not one of us, I don’t think, who gets up in the morning planning ahead to break a few rules, be rude, pick a fight, deface some property and maybe steal something!

I am also listening to The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas and now feel I have to temper that last statement.  One of the characters is an exception to what I wrote in the last paragraph.  She does, indeed, wake in the morning with plans to, at one point in the book, connive to get someone to murder the Duke of Buckingham, break her out of a sort of prison, and provide her transportation from England to France where she has further designs to murder, or cause to be murdered, at least one more person.  I can hardly stand to listen to those portions of the book in which she is weaving her plans!  She is, in a word, evil!

I suppose that people who make their livings through crime are often engaged in planning to do things which would be contrary to the code of conduct.  I do maintain, however, that my students do not leave home in the morning with a plan to break the code of conduct.  What happens to most of us is that we get caught in unexpected circumstances for which we lack the preparation, or the strength to avoid reacting on a purely emotional level.  Sadly, neither my ever vigilant pooch, nor a selection of rapiers will protect me against the next time I

slip up and do something I will later regret.  My only real shield is the Word and my strength is the Holy Spirit.  The more I keep what I know about God’s commandments and the knowledge of the great sacrifice of Jesus in the forefront of my mind, the less likely I am to fail and the more ready I will be to apologize to anyone I have wronged.

As a student, I am responsible for my own behaviour to the best of my abilities.
I will be responsible for my own personal choices.
I will respect others’ differences, ideas and opinions and treat everyone fairly.
I will not tolerate bullying of any kind and I will report bullying when I have knowledge of it.
I will do whatever I can to help those around me who may be struggling.
I will respect the school’s rules.
I will attend my classes, do my homework, and be prepared and on time.
I will behave in a way that is empathetic, responsible and civil to those around me.
I will resolve my conflicts in a constructive manner.
I will treat school property and the property of others with respect.
I will respect myself. I will respect others. I will respect my environment.

Please Step Up: Calls For Change

I don’t know who wrote this or where it originated, but I ran across it on Face Book one day a couple of weeks ago and it is one of the few things that I actually copied and pasted into my status update.

“Special request to all you kids returning to school in the next few weeks. If you see someone who is struggling to make friends or being bullied because he/she doesn’t have many friends or because they are shy or not as pretty or not dressed in the most “in” clothes PLEASE step up. Say hi or at least smile at them in the hallway. You never know what that person might be facing outside of school. Your kindness might just make a BIG difference in someone’s life! Pass It On ♥”

Unlike the “games” people play on Face Book which involve obscure notices with meanings blocked from the opposite gender or some other group kept out-of-the-loop, this message is clear about its intent and encouraging positive change.  This sort of move toward kindness, as you know if you follow my blog, is of great importance to me.

Where have we heard these sentiments before?  If Jesus had used Face Book the status update may have read something like this…”

My brothers and sisters, fellow children of God, don’t waste your time while you are waiting for my return .  If someone is struggling in any way, hungry, thirsty, friendless, or being bullied, LOVE them and do what you can to help them. Say hi or at least smile at them, share what you have. You never know what others might be facing in their lives. Your kindness might just make a BIG difference in someone’s life, and what you do for them you are doing for me! Pass It On ♥

As The Sun Sets on Summer

For teachers in New Brunswick, today was the last day of summer vacation.  Monday morning we will all return to our schools for meetings and preparations for ten months of duty, lesson planning, marking, teaching and running extra-curricular activities.  A week later the students will also return and it will be as if we had never left.  Our days will have routine again, and the daylight hours will gradually get shorter and shorter.  I love the fall, the crisp air, the fun of shopping for school supplies, meeting a pile of new students and time with my colleagues!  Soon we’ll be going to the exhibition to eat dippy dogs (fresh made corn dogs), carmel corn, and cotton candy, and see the beautiful handiwork on exhibition and the animals in competition.  This is the sunset of summer.


I hope this doesn’t sound like I’m not looking forward to being back at work!  I am ready to go back. Today, at our final day of Vacation Bible School, our Bible story was the parable of the talents.  The servants who put their talents to work pleased God, while the servant who was afraid to lose the gift and buried it was a disappointment.  All those people whom God has gifted with the ability to teach will be back at it, putting the gift to use just as the students will be using their gifts to get their education and set the path for their lives.

I would like to beg your indulgence to add teachers, and students alike to your prayer list for the coming week. 

The Chairs Are All Stacked, The Papers All Filed

It is the last day of work for teachers in my school district today.  In classrooms everywhere the desks and chairs are all piled up, the paperwork is all filed and our desks are cleared of any sign of all that we have done for the last ten months.  I joke with my students that there are only two days in the year when you can actually see my desktop, the first day I report to work and the day before I leave for the summer.

In our “paperless” society my desk was normally buried under seven or eight piles of paper; things to be marked, things to be filed with the office, notices to pass out, notices that were handed back in, planning aids, and professional readings usually to a depth of about three inches.  As well my in boxes and out boxes would be filled, sometimes to overflowing.  In amongst all this there were batteries for the babies, id tags and security bracelets, bottles, diapers etc. (if you are new you should know that my class uses the Real Care Babies).

Along with the papers, my computer was on and running almost continually (except for that one horrible day when we couldn’t get any of the electronics to run and had to teach the old-fashioned way) with mark programs, attendance programs etc.

More important than all of this, of course, were the thirty some young people in the room with me who needed attention, inspiration, direction and often comfort and guidance as well.  When not in class, before school, at lunch and after school teachers are engaging with students, watching for problems, and running clubs and organizations.

So, here’s to my empty desk and those of all the other teachers who are finishing their school yearsMay our coffee mugs grace our deck furniture and side tables, may our email all be of a personal nature, and the desktops gather dust until we begin it all again in the fall!