Monthly Archives: June 2014

3 Reasons Why School Becomes Undesirable

Here’s a great blog explaining 3 reasons why your child is reluctant to attend school and may be “skipping” school.


Report Cards are a Test of Parenting Skills, not just Your Child’s Progress

It was the second last day of school when an irate mother stood in the hallways of our elementary school, confronting one of the best teachers I have ever met about his “lack of communication” with her. She was incensed that her daughter had received “Cs” in language arts and she hadn’t seen this coming. Why hadn’t he told her? The teacher calmly replied that the work had been going home throughout the year and didn’t she see for herself how her child was doing? The mother ignored this of course. It wasn’t her fault. It wasn’t her child’s fault. It was his. Blame the teacher.

The first thing everyone does when they look at a report card is to flip out when they see a grade or a comment they don’t like. Sometimes, as in the example above, the anger is directed at the teacher (foolish). Worse, sometimes it’s directed at the angry-woman-Manaschild (really foolish). I had an interview two parents of a wonderful little girl who had a B+ average, probably the highest average any child will get in elementary school nowadays. The grading system is different when we were growing up. We don’t give A’s when a child does the assigned work perfectly well. This is the provincial standard and an expectation of our students. A’s belong to children who function beyond the curriculum, who clearly bring more to their learning than necessary for that grade level.

This mother ranted and nearly yelled and cried, red-faced, accusing, at me and the other the classroom teacher. She was furious that her child wasn’t getting better grades. The whole time the little girl sat silently, witnessing her mother’s tirade. Wonderful motivation. Interesting how responsibility is never directed where it belongs – at the parents, the judges of the report cards. Why is this the case? Let me explain.

If you have a child in elementary school, being grades 1 – 8, your child needs great guidance in how to learn, when and how to do homework, learning the importance of learning and not just for the grades. You, the parent, are fully responsible for this. Yes you would think your child, by grade 6 or 7, would have a grasp on this and simply do the homework. If your child is reasonably mature, obedient to you and your rules, and if you have done your job well and your child has learned self-discipline and the importance of homework, your child will settle in and get the homework done every evening. If your child is immature, disobedient towards you and your rules, and if you have not done your job well and your child has not learned self-discipline and the importance of homework, then you will have to continue a highly structsuccessured homework routine in your household in order to get it done. Yes these are harsh words and yes, many of you need to read them.

Homework is a significant factor in getting good grades. It is a great way to establish communication between family and school. What better way to know what your child is learning in school than to examine nad participate in the homework? What better way to demonstrate your sincerity in assisting your child’s academic success than to supervise and help your child with homework? So what you’re tired? So what you’ve had a long day? So has your child.  That’s one reason why children are called a sacrifice. If you aren’t willing to make that sacrifice then don’t have kids. Now get on with it and help him/her get the homework done.

Some parents work two jobs and aren’t home to help their child with homework. This is very difficult. In that case your child might have an older sibling who can help him/her with homework. No? Then hire a teenager in your neighbourhood, or a kid from the local high school, to work with your child. They don’t cost much. Work out what you can pay, say, $10 an hour, or less if you’re lucky. It’s good work experience for a teenager’s resume and you have peace of mind knowing your child will get the work done.

teacherThe teacher does her or his job – material gathering, lesson planning, teaching, classroom management (that means telling your child to settle down and pay attention and yes, your child is one of the disruptive ones now and then), grading papers and projects, supervising work groups, communicating with you whenever there are concerns on either your part or the teacher’s, attending professional workshops to keep skills current, enrolling in further university degrees to increase knowledge, and much more. Full load, right? And so it should be. That’s our job. Your job is to raise your child. Along with that responsibility comes teaching your child how to be in school and how to manage homework. Before you get the “dreaded” report card in your hands and start spewing fire at the school, the teacher, and your child, consider these tips:

  1. Have ongoing communication with your child’s teacher about his or her success. If you have concerns about a particular subject, behaviour, bullying, family issues that could be affecting learning, anything else that affects your child at school and at home, it is YOUR responsibility to take control over the situation. The teacher doesn’t know if you just lost your job or there is a sick person in the family. These are serious issues that are affecting you and therefore your child. Does that affect learning? You bet it does.
  2. Establish a homework routine for your child. This video deals with high school but is applicable to children in all grades. Every day after school your child needs ME time to recuperate from a long day of listening and learning, just like you do after a long day at work. Let your child play video games, go outside, visit a friend, have a snack, etc. After there is at least an hour’s break get the homework started and if you’re lucky, it might even get finished. Depending on the amount your child has, it might not. It might have to be broken into sections where some homework is done before dinner and some is done afterward. This is perfectly acceptable.
  3. Are you having difficulty establishing a homework routine? Search for ideas on Youtube, ask the classroom teacher for ideas, chat with your friends and see what they do at home. You’re not in this alone, including at home. Whatever you do, do not make rewards an incentive for homework completion. Homework is a given in the household, just as picking up the clothes off the floor, making the bed and going to bed on time. Negotiation about when homework will be done and who will help your child is fine. Rewards for doing homework is not. Try these ideas:
    don’t do homework in the bedroom or in front of the TV. designate a special area for homework, complete with a table or desk and table lamp, as well as needed school supplies.
    – have a minute timer or a regular clock on your child’s desk. Set the timer by short intervals for young children. They will need a break probably every 10 minutes. Longer work periods and fewer breaks is okay for older kids.
    – go through the homework with your child to determine what your child understands and what s/he is finding difficult. Sit with your child for the difficult work and assist him/her. If you are the impatient type, do your child a favour and skip this step. Find someone else to help your child with homework.
    lay out the required work in front of your child. Place a math book, and a language arts book on the table/desk. Open the books to the homework and discuss the length of the work with the child. Make sure your child has a visual reference and knows when s/he is done. The visual can be helpful in maintaining focus. Simply thinking “I have homework” is too abstract for some children.
  4. Consider acceptinbooksg help from the school social worker. You might be in a difficult situation where parenting your child on your own, or with a partner, is challenging. This can happen for many reasons, none of which may be “your fault.” There could be issues in your child’s character that are beyond your control and are seriously affecting both his/her school success and sense of well-being. We don’t want to place blame. We  don’t look for reasons to think you are a bad parent, even though we know that’s what is worrying you. We want to help you get your family on track so your child can succeed at school. Social services are a vital service and exist because they are necessary. The social worker is there for you. Use him/her.
  5. Contact the teacher if you have concerns about the amount of homework your child is doing. If your child is completing more than a half hour an evening from grades 1 – 2, that is too much. From grades 3 – 4 about 45 minutes an evening is reasonable. The amount a child can handle increases by approximately 5 – 10 minutes per grade thereafter. School isn’t all about homework. If your child isn’t getting most of the work done at school you need to know why. There should be ample time to get most academic work done during the school day. Personally I’m not a fan of homework assignment for the sake of assigning homework. I send home whatever isn’t getting done in class or the work I can see the child is struggling with and needs to practice. For instance, multiplication tables are difficult to learn for grade 3 children. When a parent or sibling is willing to drill the child and make it into a game, that is very helpful for the child in learning answers.
  6. Boy-ReadingContact the administrator if you have serious issues with the teacher. If the teacher isn’t responsive to your phone calls and notes, if your child is telling you s/he feels intimidated by the teacher and isn’t willing to ask for help. First start with the classroom teacher. Don’t accuse and yell. You’d be surprised how often your child is lying to you because s/he has been put on the spot at home about a poor grade. You’d be surprised how often your child refuses to utilize classroom time to its fullest even when you and the teacher are communicating about his/her learning  behaviour. If you don’t like what you are hearing from the teacher, by all means, speak to the principal.

We are a partnership – child, parents, school community and teachers. It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a village to educate a child. Your child is one of the many in our village. We want to help you. We want your child to succeed. We want your child to feel good about him/herself, learn social skills and teamwork, and take pride in his/her school accomplishments, in other words to build a solid character in the community. Along with academic achievement, this is the main point of being in school. And when that happens, there are no “nasty” surprises on the report card; when it doesn’t happen, rest assured there is no one to point fingers at except yourself.





A Traitor Amongst Us

My administrator, the boss of me, us and the whole school, has turned on us. Unbeknownst to me until this afternoon, I discovered this principal who works with all of us, teachers, whom Hudak hates (see my previous blog), is VOTING PC!  I can’t believe that.  He knows the consequences for his colleagues:

  • merit pay
  • lack of pension funds
  • much larger class sizes
  • budget cuts in various areas of education, such as special education
  • cutting 19,000 teacher assistant jobs

Merit Pay
This is an American thing, a terrible system whereby a teacher’s salary reflects the overall grade point average in his or her school. Qualifications, seniority, pay grids, none of it has anything to do with our salaries. That means that children who are very low academically, and those who have special needs, will also contribute to my salary. It won’t matter that we work our lives out to help these children to succeed and close the gap between those who earn provincial standard grades and those who don’t. Our merit stems only from the outcome with student learning. I realize that sounds reasonable to those of you who have no concept of teaching, and who have a child who probably isn’t the best in the bunch in terms of achievement. Here is the reality of it: if I teach in a community of overachievers who have big plans for their kids, and people who are quite affluent, you can bet your bottom dollar (which is where ours will be if this teachermerit pay comes to pass – god forbid), then my salary will be considerably higher than if I teach where I currently am teaching, in a high needs community that struggles with crime and often has Children’s Services involved with its families. Does that seem fair to you? Would you work for merit pay with your company? If your corporation is significantly down in the second quarter would you expect to be paid significantly less? Didn’t think so.

Lack of Pension Funds
Our pension is the same as anyone with a union – 10% of our overall salary. It’s a decent pension. For those of you without one, you can always invest in an RRSP using 10% of your salary. Hudak wants to cut our pensions significantly. We’d be lucky to get 5% of our salaries now. This is for no reason other than pouring every dollar into big business and tax write-offs for corporations. Not for you, the individual. For business, many of whom are firing a lot of good employees even as you read and I blog somewhere. I refuse to be a Walmart greeter when I turn 60. And before you say, well get your own RRSP, that will be difficult to do when I’m working for merit pay. I really would appreciate keeping my medical coverage and living just above the rate of inflation. That would be great, especially considering how much money I have to spend on supplies for my classroom due to that non-existent budget in our school.

Class Sizes
They will increase by at least 8 – 10 children. There is no cap on Kindergarten class size as of successnow. Most of the teachers in our school have up to 29 or 30 four and five-year old children in their rooms. Standing room only. Somehow they manage to get every child in the room to do academic work. They refuse to simply offer a “play-based” curriculum, as established by Mrs. Dalton McGuinty. Her plan was to allow the children to play all day, without attempting any written or somehow applied academics. Art, perhaps. Storytime, most likely. But that’s all the kids are supposed to get from Kindergarten.Yes I know McGuinty was a liberal, but there are some issues I disagree with in my party. Shocker. Now add about another 10 four and five-year olds into the classroom. We’ll be lucky if children don’t get hurt. Not only that, but children in all grades will get far less attention and assistance from the teacher. There will be 40 of them and 1 of her. Good luck with that.

Budget Cuts
You remember how Snobelen (Mike Harris’ choice for Education Minister) slashed the Special Education budget by $50 million. You may remember Snobelen’s comment to a reporter before the mess he and Harris made of this province. Snobelen’s comment was “we plan to do a lot to curb the crisis in education.” The reporter replied, “what crisis? There is none.” Snobelen’s answer was gold: “Then we’re going to make one.”You find that back_to_schooloutrageous?  Hudak will make Snobelen and Harris look like boy scouts. A severe budget cut means less supplies, textbooks, assistive devices and just less of everything for the kids. Think about that if you will.

And this is the party my principal is voting for. Why? Because he is a sneaky guy who is all about the bucks. Administrators do not have a union. They were exiled from OECTA and the OTF eons ago. What have they got to lose? We have a huge budget for supplies this year but he refused to allow us to use it. We got maybe half of what we were entitled to which was a whopping $400.00 for the year. This isn’t money in our pockets. This is strictly classroom and school investment. One thing I will say about our administrator: he certainly doesn’t care about the financial, psychological or educational effects of the PC party in our school. And if he isn’t with us, he’s against us. Not the wisest move to pull on his own staff.

Job Losses
19,000 teacher assistant jobs will be cut over the next four years if Hudak pollutes this province with his politics. In the previous link, watch Hudak trying to sidestep his own campaign about job generation. What a turd. There will be no qualified Kindergarten teachers anymore. There will only be Education Resource Workers (ERW) teachers educating your children. They have never been to teacher’s college. They have no formal university degree. They have no experience teaching an entire classroom of children. They do not know the Ontario curriculum for Kindergarten. Some of these ERWs will probably do a decent job however they aren’t trained in how to observe, assess and evaluate children. Teachers have taken years of this in order to give your child a fair and accurate grade. Don’t forget. These hard-working but unqualified people will be trying to manage 30 – 40 children in the same room without an assistant.

Impose Extra-Curricular Activities
All extra-curricular activities are already covered in the Ontario curriculum. Let’s say your son or daughter likes to play soccer and wants a soccer team at school. Soccer and other ball sports are are already in the physical education program. Imposing means hours and hours or more overtime without receiving a penny, something we do anyway marking, planning, preparing our lessons. Would you work for 14 – 20 hours of unpaid overtime a week? Didn’t booksthink so. Schools already provide wonderful extra-curricular programs. Some teachers lead extra-curriculars for 20 – 30 years, or the duration of their careers. Why? Because they love to do it and they want to present their children with the opportunity to experience teamwork. Hudak, like Harris, is good at making it seem as though teachers don’t care enough about their students as it is. However it would appear that 37% of the idiot voting body have already thrown the baby out with the bath water. To those who vote for Hudak: when we slip into another recession, when you lose your job due to budget cuts in your corporation, when your child is barely making passing grades because of class size and a lack of assistance from the classroom teacher, just remember: you’re the one who voted PC. Not happy with any of the candidates? Fine. Get off thte couch go to the voting polls and SPOIL your ballot. At the very least exercise your right to vote. If we’re going to lose humanity with the PC government (on a worst case scenario), at least keep democracy somewhere in the picture. You give Kudak the opportunity to turn Ontario into the dictatorship he envisions, he’ll move faster than Hitler grabbed the mantle from the dying German Prime Minister and imposed Facism on Germany for 8 years. Don’t snort. It’s happened there, why not here?





Holy Houdac Horrors, Batman!

40 years of faulty wiring

I hate Tim Hudac. Who? Hudak is the idiot running for Ontario Premiere as a representative of the equally idiotic Ontario Conservative Party  in a neck and neck race against Kathleen Wynn, the representative of the Ontario Liberal Party. Hudak frightens me on so many levels. In the mid-1990s, when Mike Harris butchered the province’s funding, damaged the education system with by cutting 50 million dollars in funding, made the medical establishment work about 20 hours overtime unpaid without enough doctors for people who were placed on wait-lists for a year or more, and messed up a number of infrastructures in law enforcement, that was bad. It was the darkest time in Ontario’s political history. Jobs were cut in both public and private sectors. Of course being a corporate kiss-ass (that, after all is that the Conservatives are about), he made life for corporations and profiteers as cushy as…

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