Am An Unapologetic American - For Now

I am an unapologetic American, for now. When my country of birth voted for Trump in 2016, I will admit surprise, but not shock. Democracies don't always get it right, but to fall for the same con twice -the Canadian side of my citizenship would make me apologize for that. 
Back in 2016,  the media made it seem that only ignorant, white men would vote Trump. With that level of shame and condescension aimed at disgruntled voters, the results should not be shocking to anyone who claims to understand people. 
No one would admit voting for Trump, so the accuracy of any polling was off.  As any teenage parent or high school teacher can attest, shame is an effective motivator, if you want the opposite reaction of what's intended.  Keep telling Americans not to do something with derision and just ask the British how that will go. Still, I am hopeful after now seeing Trump for what he is, Americans  will correct course. Even with a media establishment bias that seems hell bent on repeati…

When Will This End? Vaccine or Not - The Pandemic Ends Early Next Year

If you are trying to find a sliver lining to this pandemic a popular one is to appreciate its historical significance. You may have been told or said to others to think of the stories you can tell your grandkids about the pandemic of 2020.  Sadly, it will be a sombre tale. But it will be one that I am glad to proclaim will come to an end after one year.  Yes, the pandemic will stop as soon as we decide to put an end to the pain and suffering caused. Of course I am not talking about the disease. Sorry, but that's not coming to end just yet. The response to it, however, will. Pandemic fatigue has already set in and although many including myself have resigned themselves to writing off 2020, the novelty of these unprecedented times is beginning to wear thin. Friends who only dared go out for essentials back in the spring - were out and about this past summer and continue do so where allowed. With each cancelled event, celebration postponement or business lost impatience grows. I wasn&#…

Guest Contributor Ed Hicken Tells Educators ....

Why Everyone Wants to Work In Your Department

Administration/Front Office: The office does control the world. Our world at least. We have democratic processes and committees, but honestly, if anyone in the office wants to make an announcement, call a meeting, cancel a meeting, ring a bell to end class 5 minutes early or whatever, they could just do it and we would follow along (grumbling, but obedient nonetheless). That is power. You are all better people than I am for handling it with such aplomb. I would be a corrupt monster, ringing bells and calling meetings haphazardly. And yes, this is an email where I am going to use dorky words like 'aplomb' -buckle up!
Arts: This is the only subject students actually try to do in the rest of their classes. Seriously - kid not paying attention in class? They’re either doodling images, listening to music or acting out. But what about kids just looking at their phone, you say? Memes? Spotify? Youtube? TikTok? Instagram Photos? ART! ART! …

2020 Back To School Tips

Been so much discussion about the merits of various reopening plans that I thought a change of topic was in order. I want to go back to March when everyone put politics aside and dug in to support one another. With that spirit in mind, I wanted to share my back to school tips for in class teachers.  I talked with a number of colleagues this summer and did some summer internet surfing for ideas. This list is by no means exhaustive so please send me any of your tips for this fall and I will add them.  1. Get Your Sleep This year it is more important than ever that we get enough sleep and have a good diet to make sure we don't get run down and make ourselves more susceptible to any type of illness. I have had this discussion with my own kids and plan to do the same with my students on the first day. 2. Be A Rock Try to diffuse anxiety - don't add to it. Be a rock for the students. If you have been a neurotic wreck to anyone who would listen this summer, please don't bring tha…

Teacher Unions - You Need to Calm Down

Been tapping my thumbs quite a bit on twitter lately, as it seems many educators have expressing their concerns of various school re-opening plans.While many of my colleagues have been critical of various governments, my ire has been directed at the teacher unions and their fervent followers.Obviously, my comments have been questioned by teacher union supporters, with many questioning my views. What they fail to grasp is how a teacher and passionate public education supporter would take issue with their own unions.Perhaps a little background is in order for how my view has developed during my 20 + year career.  Being politically minded, I was very interested in the teachers union and its role in public education. Early on I was voted by peers to be my schools collective bargaining rep and later a district federation VP. Here, I received further negotiation training and sat on multiple rounds of negotiations with my corresponding school board.My rose coloured, idealistic glasses were s…

Social Media - The Rules

Like many people not shy to share their opinions I have been on social media  specifically twitter a lot more during this pandemic.  While it can be enlightening to gain perspective from different points of view, it is not without peril. 
Social media like many indulgences is fine in moderation and self regulated use, but it can turn quickly agsinst you if abused. Witnessed that personally with friends and family.
To avoid its trappings, I have my own set of guidelines. 
When Facebook got started it was to connect socially with friends and families. Now it has become an immersive platform that many connect with first when they go on-line. People have their own rules, on who they "friend". I was pretty restictive with it to start as being a friend means a lot more than an aquaintance. But I moved on that, still keeping in mind I was sharing persoanl family pictures, stories and moments on the platform. 
When I start writing for a brief time I would post columns here too. Found ou…

When The School Bell Rings - We Must Be Ready For All

Been certainly enough speculation from concerned parties about what is going to happen in Ontario Schools this fall. Since I have more than a little skin in the game, I wanted to share my thoughts on the matter. 
Knowing first hand as an educator and parent the vital role teachers play in the development of young minds I was very satisfied to hear that Sick Kids recommended that school return back to the classroom (with enhanced cleaning and safety measures of course) this fall. 
I thought this would be met with relief, and it was for some. But for many it seemed to only bring anxiety. I can understand this feeling of unease coming from some parents, but I thought educators would embrace being relevant and essential again. Teachers know the dark side of abuse and neglect that occurs in homes of the vulnerable. For these students, school is their safe space. We also know that e-learning does not work for many students with special needs and those facing tech inequity. So barring a change…