Category Archives: Reflective Learning

Climbing the teaching mountain – a reflection

So I finally reached my summit. After 35 years of teaching, I’m hanging up my teacher gear- bag, tools and first aid kit. I write perhaps with with far too much sentimentality but with sincerity. Most of you know I hold little back. 🙂

I use the my beloved mountain climbing hobby as a metaphor.  it seems an appropriate device but I am a reader not a writer. Like climbing rock, a gradual and arduous task, despite the glory of reaching various summits, has crux and crag. As a teacher, we experience some heavy lifting. Being a professional is never easy but the  current generation of colleagues embrace a task more complicated than my own. I write to my predecessors but mostly my junior colleagues.  Teaching need not be just one trek but a series of climbs and opportunities. You have to work at something. Try to love what you do. Forget ‘missionary zeal’ just have fun whenever you can. Your authenticity is what makes you unique and worthy of guiding our grandkids. 

  

I notate ‘opportunities’ because I’ve been a lucky teacher to have dabbled for 35 years in a variety of professional assignments.  SD23, despite my frequent rants of impatience, has offered me transitions and opportunities that met my diverse yearnings.  From teaching high school PE to eventually landing my dream job as teacher-librarian at Kelowna Secondary, I respect the flexibility our District accommodated my professional growth.  I never dreamt or planned on a library career but maybe that’s why it’s worked out so well for me- I had passion and insight when the door opened. I have taught something to ever grade K to 12.  It’s been a trek not a stroll in the park but I only wish the same to the talented hard working educators behind me. 

In 1981, I took an temporary assignment as a PE teacher at KLO Secondary, as this was my major and obsession at the time, I was naturally delighted.  Jobs were tough to acquire in 1980, so it was a timely opportunity. I was soon pulled out and asked to teach a Grade 7 class at Raymer Elementary because of an urgent vacancy. Having completed half my SFU practicum in elementary school in Vernon, it was fortuitous. I loved my novice years at Raymer but mostly it affirmed my career choice as an educator.  I have now taught these students’ children- a surreal but rewarding experience. Many of my predessors have commented on the same truth. Kids, and teachers come and go. 

I moved schools initially because an admin/mentor Al Stonehouse argued that 5-7 years at a school is the most impactful.  Off to Hudson and Pearson Elementary, where I learned the art and science of teaching and had many terrific experiences and relationships. I explored other curricula and the burgeoning education technology  field, including post-graduate studies at SFU. The experience was a trek that almost broke me but I acquired new insights and many skills. This phase was a series of small delightful hikes as opposed to an ‘Everest’ expedition. I was taxed but now I knew I wanted to try other destinations.  I had the encouragement of District staff to attempt a revisit to high school. They had an opening at Mount Boucherie Secondary School in the Ed-Tech field so as the manic risk-taker I can be, I gave my k-7 binders away and brought my Apple Mac Plus to high school- 20mb drive and all! 

Although I had the chance to venture out and explore interests like fine arts, outdoor education, and even some special education, my focus was on an information technology program. At the time, it was an alien notion. It wasn’t business or computer science but a new field trying to react to the new internet world.  What I didn’t comprehend was that my trek through elementary instruction and technology, not PE, would lead me to a career as a teacher-librarian. A novel ascent I never even considered, never mind aspired to.  I spent hundreds of self-taught hours and grabbed many courses and workshops along the way but I would soon be transformed as a librarian. 

By the opportunity of solving the dreaded timetables and the foresight of my colleague, Sharon Bede, I found myself hiking into the library one September day. I am a man for challenges, fed by, as I know now, my bipolar disorder; 🙂 so I naturally headed up the trail without much planning or awareness.   There would be nasty MBSS Bears on the trip but I wasn’t afraid- I was young and stupid.  Sharon asked the administration to fill the 0.3 TL with me rather than search outside. In my naive- and yes, manic, compulsive manner, I said yes. 

I loved the interaction with staff and the diverse curricula.  I was a voracious reader, so it seemed prudent to build on the opportunity to stretch myself. I went back to school and lifted my professional development up this unique unpredictable climb as a librarian.  I had Bede as a guide, so I wasn’t going to fall in a crevasse! I was delighted with the burgeoning new role of school libraries and could see that my resume would equip me well. I had so many rewarding and fascinating years at Mt. Boo. I worked with so many master teachers, like Bede, Colin Castle, Rob Eikenaar, Lois Flavelle, Bob Dickeson, Catherine Heymen, Barry Kingsley and Don Treadgold to name a few. People like Hugh Gloster, Dave Swanzey and Terry Bush, who showed confidence in me to lead students into the alpine, emboldened my sense of value as a teacher. I had opportunities like travelling to Europe with Rob Eikenaar, other chaperones and senior students, including a trip with my son to Italy. I have so many fond memories of our adventures but it was librarianship that had become my new obsession.  The Library at MBSS was so valued by the school it felt like an honourable vocational to aspire to. I was an impatient man who needed change but the librarian role felt appropriate and enduring.

I hated to leave my dear friend and supporter, Sharon, but the door opened up for a transfer to Kelowna Secondary School as a 0.5 part-time librarian. The timing was perfect for another new trip. My children were going to enter KSS and as a lifelong coach, participating with my children in their sporting life was ideal. Having my children at my alma mater seemed a sentimental but practical option.  I knew Kay Treadgold, the award winning TL at KSS, and was assured the Owls were a good choice.  knew I was fortunate to find another expert guide, not just for librarianship but my life. 

I have playfully called myself, a ‘Sherpa-librarian’ because I realized I too had become a library guide. My expeditions were scary, venturing into the Internet with students. There was resistance.  Not everyone was a willing member of the digital reality but Kay kept me motivated and resilient, especially when we both planned and moved to a new library at the newly built KSS at Raymer Ave.  Leaders like Rick Shave, Craig McLeish and Bill Lang invited me into the process. I could contribute to the building of a new Everest expedition. Kay and I could design and plan a newer vision of school libraries by constructing a facility that would take us out a dark old library into a large bright centre that could provide teaching opportunities we only dreamt about. The training and new gear set us up to deliver services to a school that we knew would be embraced by fellow trekkers. 

We soon found ourselves putting the expedition into high gear when Principal, Susannah Brown, encouraged our vision. Our energetic, passionate staff soon joined us in a progressive approach to a school library program. Unlike the old stereotype, our library was not wear old teachers go to pasture.  We were not your ‘grandmothers library’.  I think our friend Sharin Bede, at MBSS, was now envious but always a cheerleader, along with our friends at the Central Okanagan LSA. It was a heady time with many new potential methods, resources and curricula to explore.  Wow! I had found myself on a trek into the high alpine. I was on an ascent of Everest of soon I would be rejoined by Sherpa Bede- the Hungarian guide extraordinaire. 

With some trepidation, knowing Kay was retiring soon, we found ourselves in a crux. Finding a top notch TL to replace Kay was a daunting ascent.  This time, Susannah Brown was the guide who had a map. We would recruit, steal, bribe Bede to cross the bridge to the dark side. Now how could I not be happy? Luck, Grace or Brown’s divine  intervention, I had my partner back. Kay could not be happier. Win. Win. 

Now I’m saying that my journey wasn’t without blisters, scrapes and fatigue. I battled personal  issues for years. I had spells of bad health and personal challenges but my fellow professionals helped pick me up- literally. We sadly have just witnessed Sharon’s health ordeal. Colleagues get sick, transfer, retire- whatever. It’s life.  Life intervenes, like the weather, and one can’t direct every course but only dress for the cold and wet, hoping for sunshine. My vocation had intimately become part of my life over the years. Colleagues, and even students have guided me to safety.  KSS rescued me from the abyss many times.  I could not have climbed my mountains without the help of fellow hikers.  I like to think I grabbed a hand or two over the years.  Like my friend and hiking mate, Roger Kirk, says, “not arriving home safe isn’t an option. Safety first.” Look after yourself. Put the safety of your family first. JSS thrives as a team effort.

Last year, with fellow teacher Sherpas, Kirk, Moisan, and Pendray, I fell short of summiting Mount Rainier, but succeeded nonetheless. I reached new high ground.  Teaching has been like mountaineering, you aspire to some insane, lofty goal but enjoy the trip regardless of what altitude or landmark you accomplish. You ascent as a team but not every person summits. That is the way.  The school library program at KSS became my Rainier and I climbed it. 

Teaching is a very intense demanding human service. It’s a very honourable profession with very little respect and a modest renumiration but the rewards can be a personal and social journey. We occasionally can find solace, if not glory; like when we see girls grow into women and boys into men.  I’m always humbled by the huge transformation we can see in our teens.  We sometimes cannot believe our eyes. Periodically, like sunshine after a storm,  they even seek you out and thank you for being there- as a cherished guide- a compass.  During my career, I have had alumni connect and share their gratitude.  Although rare, even parents write letters of gratitude.  Our career is a sacred one. Cherish it. Defend it. Our efforts are respected, even admired, by the coalition of the willing.   

Those moments of dignity, help heal the frustration and isolation that many of our fellow Sherpas periodically feel. When the cycle of despair occasionally hits you- and it will- lean on your fellow climbers and focus on your own family. If you stumble or find yourself exhausted from the trek, remember that any hike is a reward in itself and ultimately, you grunt your way uphill for them. 

With love, devotion, and fond memories,

Your Sherpa-librarian,

– Al Smith, KSS 1999-2015

_____________

A few images to reflect my journey…

   
Outdoor Ed, MBSS, ‘I really took teens up here!’ 

Every new climb is a new success    

Nancy and I trekking skis up Kokanee Glacier- on a weekend! Really? Youthful indiscretion 

  

  

It takes all kinds of Sherpas. These ladies can carry a heavy pack.

  

excellent service, including access, welcoming scholarship and things like free books…

  

Despite hazards like Sharon’s absence, 2015 was a special year. Thank you

  

COTLA. Fellow Sherpa-librarians

      

Remember, witnessing students apply your guidance and strategies, large or small,  is a landmark event.

  
Athletic challenges at KSS, as player, coach or organizer, since 1973! A rare tradition 

  

Not all accomplishments are on mountain tops. Sometimes it’s just getting yourself a new glorious view.
   
Chez Moisan- Preparation need not be complicated. 
  
  
  
 

Celebrate every hill. You earned it. 

  

Integrate your personal experiences into your classroom world.

  

Find gratifying ways to convert one success into new endeavours

  

Experiment – take chances with things that you love. [ like trying to paint the ones you love 😉 ]

   
  

Grad ‘speed dating’ – we host WWII & WWIII

  

Gotta love teens make themselves at home 🙂

  

Even big kids can read little kids big books. These 2 read aloud Henry Climbs a Mountain, ” you mean you guys have that book?!” Cute. 

Some students learn to own it. 

   

Access and opportunity- the rest is up to them


Authentic traditions are worth the effort to uphold.  

 

Thanks Pierre, for being my Sherpa! 

3 Comments

Filed under Editorial, Library Update, Personal Learning Network, Photos, Professional Development, Reflective Learning, School Library, Teacher Professional

Serving up a Learning Commons recipe …

A blog post by Chris Kennedy of West Vancouver, recently inspired me to add my own spices to what is cooking in the learning commons kitchen. I couldn’t agree more when he writes, “While the physical spaces are exciting, the changes to our mindsets are far more powerful. “( Kennedy)

As an experienced teacher-librarian and kitchen hacker, I believe that an exemplary school library is a dynamic learning process not just a nice space. A learning commons model is more than a new space that people congregate in but a cultural, social hub of learning. My librarian mentors knew this for years-some time before David Loetscher or Watters started promoting it. (Loetscher ) The collective wisdom of teacher-librarians has been cooking up innovation in schools for years. (Kuhn) It’s refreshing nevertheless to see revitalization of school library programs and perhaps this will ebb the tide of reductions or library closures. Libraries aren’t simply replaced by the mechanics of web2.0 but rather the new capacity can teach us how librarianship supports learning.

Wikipedia entry defines a LC …

Learning commons, also known as scholars’ commons, information commons or digital commons, are educational spaces, similar to libraries and classrooms that share space for information technology, remote or online education, tutoring, collaboration, content creation, meetings and reading or study. or study.( Wikipedia)

Like a great classroom, it should be an experience as much as a room.  Like cooking a five star meal, it takes more than a set of instructions. A school learning commons needs a team of chefs, great ingredients, effective execution and a creative spirit. Like a great restaurant, a learning commons needs a welcoming environment, great service and a comprehensive menu that prides itself on the experience of building a culture of scholarship.

The school’s hub of learning also needs to cater to diverse demographics.  It needs to be well prepared for the multiple needs that demand support. A school library cannot transition into a learning commons(LC) model overnight.  A LC can be a very exciting and powerful ‘learning’ asset because a progressive program addresses diverse student opportunities that nurture school goals and promote achievement.

Student achievement is a complex matter. If it was easy, we all could do it. A simple recipe for education innovation is seldom effective or enduring.  The new ‘learning commons’ if not built organically will also be doomed and a 2015 footnote. A successful school library is a cultural reality not simply a physical space regardless of how modern it may appear.  It takes experience, expertise and vision by many educators to develop a program that serves the needs of each unique school.

As a teacher-librarian in a large senior high school, our library program has demands and patrons quite different than a small middle school. It tales a team of people to assess, design and implement a sustainable service. An effective library program needs to evolve not revolutionize. Innovation can take time.

When I reflect on our successes and failures, it was planning and people that was the driver. It is my opinion that a library program that effectively serves its clientele is a dynamic social experience not just a physical asset. .  When learners/patrons are engaged with quality resources and services there are substantial costs. The physical space needs attributes that allow the community to thrive. Resources need to be acquired, updated and managed by trained personnel.  The teacher-librarian may be the chef but the entity needs many others to truly create delicacies.

A learning commons is the natural evolution of an exemplary school library program. A school cannot create a LC by simply borrowing a recipe. To build something meaningful from scratch is a major hurdle. A school with a tradition that recognized the diverse contributions of its library has the roots to grow.

The development a great ‘learning commons’ takes more than a nice presentation or directive. It takes a difficult execution of a plan that finds inspiration from the gifts of each school. An effective learning commons demands a school culture that always places learning and scholarship as a priority over appearances or expediency. It takes a culture of trust and collaboration. Teachers need to respect and value the library staff and students need to believe it benefits them collectively. It is not just a holding area. Not unlike a superior restaurant, a library needs a restauranteur, chefs, servers, etc all working effectively toward inspiration.

A beautiful restaurant that serves uninspiring food is a waste. Delivering great services and opportunities without a great space is almost impossible. Unlike the old ‘book truck’ , a modern library now needs to be more than just a great ‘eat street’ sandwich truck. Schools need a library that can provide a large nutritious and creative menu 24/7.

Much like a chef starts with quality ingredients , an inspiring menu and trained staff, a LC needs a great space, appropriate resources and a qualified teacher-librarian. Like superb waiters, that deliver the best dining experience, an LC also needs library clerical expertise. ( my mother would say – tables don’t get cleared and dishes don’t get washed by themselves. ) The learning commons model demands even more social interaction, resource management and instructional design than the ‘library’ before it. Like good food, one cannot rush the preparation or cooking. It needs to be an institutional designed process not simply an experiment. Without these conditions the LC will not be sustainable. I believe this because I know teaching and learning is a complex social endeavour not just an exercise in handing out books.

With many misconceptions around the library’s transformation into a ‘learning commons’ the Kelowna Secondary School LC is derived from an excellent traditional of fine dining. The teacher-librarians, has worked with admin, teachers, and students to develop a culture of inquiry not just trendy fast food. We collectively desire a library that’s provides quality
main courses that match the school’s positive cuisine.

IMG_3147
We don’t remove books ( we buy more) and replace them with comfy chairs( we’ve had those for a decade) We remind ourselves that a common area that includes measurable student learning must also require some careful planning and slow cooking. One cannot just buy ingredients and throw them in small space and hope it tastes delicious!

Starter Recipe for Learning Commons:
1. Add a quest for knowing and finding meaning
2. Mix with spaces that provide a variety of activities
3. Frequent stirring by a teacher-librarian
3. Add scholarship to taste and
4. Cook well with heaps of love.
Yield: happy people that grow

Also Read: http://cultureofyes.ca/2015/02/12/the-learning-commons-mindset/ “I like the library metaphor from Joan Frye Williams (shared in this blog from Joyce Valenza):

“Our libraries should transition to places to do stuff, not simply places to get stuff. The library will become a laboratory in which community members tinker, build, learn, and communicate. We need to stop being the grocery store or candy store and become the kitchen. We should emphasize hospitality, comfort, convenience and create work environments that invite exploration and creativity both virtually and physically.” ( Valenza)

-Al Smith

@kssreads

IMG_3061

IMG_3134

IMG_2576

IMG_2640

IMG_2644

IMG_3002

IMG_2751

IMG_3010

______________

Kennedy, Chris. “The Learning Commons Mindset.” The Culture of Yes. 12 Feb. 2015. Web. 16 Feb. 2015.

Kuhn, Nicola. ‘ Evidence Based Inquiry of the Role of teacher-librarians’, The Bookmark. BCTLA. Web. 2011.

Loertscher, D (2014). “Makers, Self-Directed Learners, and the Library Learning Commons”. Teacher Librarian 41 (5): 35–38.

Watters, Audrey (23 November 2011). “Libraries and Museums Become Hands-On Learning Labs”. KQED MindShift. Retrieved 1 August 2013.

2 Comments

Filed under Editorial, Library Events, Personal Learning Network, Professional Development, Reflective Learning, School Library, Teacher Professional

Blended learning assessed…

http://www.christenseninstitute.org/does-blended-learning-work/

When we talk to education leaders about blended learning, we often hear the question, “Does it work?” What they want to know is, “If I fund a blended learning initiative or implement a blended learning program in my schools, can I be confident that it will improve student learning?” Typically, these education leaders can see the potential that blended of aviation history demonstrating that fact.
…student-centered instruction, which in turn can produce strong student learning outcomes. Many schools today are testing and refining their blended learning models in order to figure out how to achieve increasingly stronger student learning results. The success of any blended learning program, however, depends on how well school leaders design and implement it with clear goals in mind
…”

( Arnett)

– See more at: http://www.christenseninstitute.org/does-blended-learning-work/#sthash.vE54TmgW.dpuf

From
Al Smith
twoloons@icloud.com @literateowl

__________
http://www.christenseninstitute.org/does-blended-learning-work/
Arnett. “Blended Learning.” N.p., Oct. 2014. Web. 10 Oct. 2014. .

Leave a comment

Filed under Education, Professional Development, Reflective Learning, Teacher Professional, technology

Epic life- reflection reblog…

Wow! Where was this post 20years ago! 🙂 doesn’t matter- I knew it. I was just to absorbed or misguided to see it as an action. We all get off track of priorities despite ‘knowing’ , that developing boundaries for life’s priorities isn’t theory but an act of intention. I will share this with all the new fathers and mothers in my professional network. Very very sound reflection from Mr. Spencer. Thanks

“…. I recorded this reflection last night after putting my kids to bed and thinking about the trajectory of my career. I’ve chosen to do less and embrace the notion of doing the small things well. I think that’s what makes life epic…”( Spencer)

http://www.educationrethink.com/2014/10/the-epic-life.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+JohnSpencersBlog+(Education+Rethink)&m=1

IMG_2461.JPG

From
Al Smith
literateowl@gmail.com @literateowl literateowl.com

-_______________

Spencer, Jason. “The Epic life”. ‘Education Rethink’. (Online) 10-07-2014.

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Learning Network, Professional Development, Reflective Learning, Teacher Professional

http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs184/1011211969009/archive/1116170274223.html

This brings to mind one of my favorite quotes: “The meaning of communication is in the response elicited, regardless of intention.”

….It doesn’t matter what we say, or what we do – the meaning of what we communicate ultimately lies in how it’s received by the recipient…
….We may “mean well” by saying certain words, but if the receiving person is hurt by our words, then as far as they’re concerned, we said something hurtful….
…we may think we’re teaching one lesson when we are actually teaching another….
This week’s spiritual-religious advice: Pay attention to how your words and actions are received by others – that’s what really counts…(Rabbi Brian)

IMG_2739.JPG

___________________
RabbiBrian. “Lessons Taught”. The home of religion outside the box. 09-24-2014.
http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs184/1011211969009/archive/1116170274223.html

*******************Al Smith*************************

Teacher-librarian

_____“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of the mind.”______________”Each time you open a book and read it, A tree smiles knowing there’s life after death.”- unknown
*******************

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Learning Network, Reflective Learning, Teacher Professional

Owls are Leaders that endure.. @bccancer

I think we all should hear about some positive school news because there isn’t to much lately.

BC Cancer Foundation (@bccancer) 2014-06-03, 3:02 PM @kelowna_owls have raised $300,000 for cancer research since 2001! So proud to have you as our partners in discovery! pic.twitter.com/CNIlOPSBoR From Al Smith – @kssreads

I usually reserve this blog for library and learning concepts or issues but heck what is more important than building the sense of community service in students and social commitment than cancer campaigns and science research?

At KSS we lived it with cancer victims in our student body. We still live it with cancer survivors on our faculty. Students, fit wives of PE teachers, Fine Arts teachers- librarians; no one is untouched. At KSS, our Rec Leadership Program includes several classes of teens led by teachers Fane Triggs and Tony Sodaro. In addition to the instruction pieces they volunteer loads of energy and hundreds of extra hours each year to package projects like the KSS CANCER WEEK event. Not just one activity but a comprehensive multi-event/multi-day campaign. It’s not just a letter home. It’s a full scale real world exercise in community service and fundraising. Car washes, breakfasts, HEADSHAVING , Golf tournaments, rallies, …more.., The school has supported the event over the years, as they do so many other large KSS projects because we strive to provide our students with opportunities and experiential learning that includes people skills and learning by doing and sharing the experience as a team. These mostly extracurricular events cannot be easily run in small schools and they cannot be a success without many teachers ( and admin support) working voluntarily in the evenings and during weekends. Big projects mean many extra teachers need to be away from their own children in order to dedicate themselves to KSS students. They don’t do these talks for any extra money. They don’t do it for promotions. They don’t do it for for any other reason than a sense of professionalism and a bond to Owl culture and tradition.

20140603-181417-65657619.jpg
The Cancer Week campaign is now part of our school culture. It’s part of our yearly planning and conversations. I’ve come to be proud of how so many teachers annually dedicate time and energy on various extracurricular projects at KSS that drive community partnerships. We’ve seen how our school can plan and execute large events with notable excellence. Teachers have worked with well with administration, district staff, patents, students and the wide community to build a school project like four decades of Western Canada Basketball, or the notable Encore Music or hosting Debate or BC Provincial tournaments or Student Leadership Conferences… Etc.

These events take heart. They take teachers with skills and volunteerism that very few people understand- especially the Government. Wondrous events like the KSS CANCER WEEK campaign that endure and built hope beyond the classroom walls exist because teachers like Triggs and Sodaro chose to be as resilient as any survivor and don’t lose hope.
………..

Ps.
Think of the positive impact to thousands students over a dozen years? Who may become future Foundation chairpersons?

Think of a school project that averages a donation of $25000 EACH year?

Share this with those who think ‘those who can’t -teach’ . Those of our community who may be the most gifted and dedicated to people and certainly children- are teachers. That’s worth something!

Leave a comment

Filed under Education, KSS Student Body, Reflective Learning

Heritage Fair- Fête du patrimoine

Fête du patrimoine- today a PBL event was sponsored by teacher, Mademoiselle Bonnette.  This morning students defended their ‘innovations and inventions’ project.
Fête du patrimoine, aujourd’hui un événement PBL a été parrainé par l’enseignant, Mademoiselle Bonnette. Ce matin, les étudiants ont défendu leursinnovations et inventions’ projet.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Leave a comment

Filed under KSS Student Body, Library Events, Reflective Learning, Student Showcase

Book Riot- ‘world without libraries’

From August post…

5) “Close your eyes. Imagine you are walking through New York City. You see many empty lots say ‘Lot for rent’ or ‘Century 21 is going to be here.’ You were going to the library to get a book on plate tectonics when it hits you…NO LIBRARIES! We would have no places where you could just get in the zone and read. When you are going to a library, you are always welcome. You are away from all the city hustle and bustle madness. You are CALM. They always said ‘Silence is golden.’”

6) “At the library you can find anything from aardvark to zebu. When you are there and reading you are holding a work of art in your hands. You can feel the authors presence telling you the story. Wouldn’t Benjamin Franklin be upset if there were no libraries and he worked so hard on inventing them?”

7) “Libraries make people feel at home. When I first moved to New York City, coming from a more rural area of New York, everything was very confusing and weird but the library was something I had seen before.”

8) “They say everyone smiles in the same language. If this is true then everyone is speaking in the same language when they visit a library.”

9) “Libraries make the world go round. They keep the little sanity we have left here.”

And finally,

10) “The world without libraries is like a cone without ice cream.”(Meade)

20140106-063215.jpg

Leave a comment

Filed under Public Libraries, Reflective Learning

Love each other or perish -Auden . What do we owe our future?

“Love each other or perish” – W.H. Auden

CBC Sunday with Michael Enright hosts a fascinating Canadian program on planning our future. What kind of Canada do we wish for? How do we get there? The cities need billions of dollars to fix their crumbling urbanscapes yet hundreds of km north, our Canadians have contaminated water and no housing. How do reconcile food banks and 1% multi millionaires in a civil society with an unsustainable resource economy?

What do we owe the future? (at 04:16)

ScreenCBCAs we contemplate the approach of another new year, we will look beyond 2014 – way beyond – to what we owe the future. Michael talks to three eminent and thoughtful panelspeakersCanadians; Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada; David MacDonald, a United Church minister who was a long-time Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament, and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi. They have a wide-ranging conversation about our obligations to the future generations we will never meet.

( CBC url )

__________________

Enright, Michael, and Susan Mahoney, prod. “Michael’s Essay; Our Debt to the
Future;.” Sunday Edition. CBC, 29 Dec. 2013. Web. 29 Dec. 2013.
<http://goo.gl/q67tmR&gt;.

WH Auden Quotes. Goodreads.com, n.d. Web. 29 Dec. 2013.
<http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/30865-love-each-other-or-perish&gt;.

Leave a comment

Filed under Global Informed, Media Literacy, Reflective Learning

Teaching is more than a prescription or curricula

So, the BC Government just released a grocery list of Curriculum amendments. After last years’ BCEdPlan there remains very little consensus. About direction. Consultation was superficial and clouded by election campaign and a severed teacher’s negotiation. Education for a decade since contracts were torn up and policy, designed around Fraser Institute reports, has been in turmoil. Year2000 Royal Commission long forgotten. Despite this, BC public education has excelled. Our children have been served pretty well compared with other global jurisdiction. Spectacular special needs integration, economic crash, teacher relations upheaval and some major social change have all been adapted into schooling as best could be expected.

Perhaps the only trend now I’m sensing is a big disconnect between the stakeholders. Our students don’t follow all the hoopla and are essentially not informed or asked. Perhaps children shouldn’t be consulted either? They are children after all. Professionals and parents should be leading, guiding, parenting- the village should be raising them. Perhaps we have already gone too far already. Helicopter parenting and an enabling school system that is creating a generation of very anxious and neurotic youth. ( medical experts claim so) Some say our children are spoiled, other say they are neglected. I see both every day. I also see beauty and wonderful gifted youth.

Government and parents have a paradoxical love hate relationship. School boards and the Ministry try hard to make parents happy with policy tweaks yet major erosion of services and funding has caused grievances. I say funding because while budgets are large the 21stC has also seen private school underwritten with substantial monies and this has impacted the distribution of resources. A squeeze if you like. The recent CUPE contract to point. Costs have to come from current district budgets. Something in public school service to kids has to give. Duh.

The teacher stakeholder group is indifferent, frustrated if not disheartened. After decades if teaching, I have never seen teachers work so hard and tackle so many variables inside and outside the classroom but my real thesis today isn’t the hardships but the uniqueness of our plight. Teaching isn’t about curriculum or pedagogy or new prescriptive methods discovered in fain land or Louisiana( BC educators are already some of the most skilled and innovative already) it’s about relating to students as people.

I had a young woman drop by our KSS learning commons today and ask for Mr. Smith. 🙂 Our loyal on the job library assistant Mrs Kole naturally directed her so she could find me. As a hundred times a day, I expected some kind of inquiry about books or technology or whatever… Today was different. Today I was reminded about why teachers and direct relationship building is vital. Connected learning and blended learning is fine but education is greater than the sum of its technical pedagogical parts.

The young lady wanted to know about a few of my acrylic paintings I had recently displayed in the library. On a whim and encouragement from some art students I hung my own art projects in the library. She asked, “someone said you have paintings here, can I see them?” I felt honored if a little embarrassed. I’m not used to that kind of personal inquiry but we had a delightful talk about art, personal motivation and why we try new things.

You see I just started painting this spring because some grade 12 kids coaxed me. I was a quasi fine arts patron at KSS setting up a gallery in the library and trying to help out whenever I could, . visiting shows etc. This delightfully mature girl was on a mission of inquiry. She was seeking a spark of interest. She was reaching out for the human experience. Taking risk. Building personal relationships of exploration and trust such as this, big or small, are priceless investments in our youth. No curriculum or trendy political motivation or school of thought will change that. We need to invest in our people- in our children, not shiny new things. Years ago I liked the expression Hi-Touch over Hi-Tech. I think it still applies more than ever.

20131105-191233.jpg

20131105-191419.jpg

20131105-191610.jpg

20131105-191651.jpg

Leave a comment

Filed under criticism, Education, KSS Student Body, Reflective Learning