Image courtesy of lolaleeloo2
When I was a kid, my sister bought me a copy of Aesop’s Fables and I immediately fell in love with it. I had heard some of the stories before, but this was a gold mine! Even at a young age I was able to see how these short, simple stories could teach life lessons in a easily digestible way.
As I grew older, I came to appreciate cultural fables from around the world, but I also started to notice that some of these stories were teaching ideals that I don’t agree with. The obvious one’s are related to stereotypes, but there are others that teach messages of revenge, judgement, and intolerance hidden beneath the surface. Continue reading Assisting
Image courtesy of Ben Grey
I grew up in a small town in Canada before moving to the ‘big city’ of Calgary when I was 14. One major difference I noticed right away was the disparity between the haves and have nots. Sure, there was rich and poor in the town I had grown up in, but I don’t remember seeing it displayed in such a noticeable way as I did in Calgary.
For the most part, my parents never made any remarks about a person’s wealth, but there was this one friend of my parents who had a lot of money and owned property in various places including a cabin in Montana. She drove a nice car, but nothing flashy. She didn’t act rich, but she certainly was. One day, she was over at our place and the topic of skiing came up. She mentioned that she had this place in Montana and that she was more than happy to have people stay there for free any time we wanted. It wasn’t one of those ‘I’ll make the offer so that I can show you how much money I have’ type of statements, it was a genuine ‘what’s mine is yours’ sort of thing. After she left, my parents remarked that it wasn’t good or bad to be rich, it is what you do with what you have that makes the difference.
Another story comes from an offbeat British fellow named Jamie McDonald who is currently running across Canada to raise money for various hospitals for sick children. He doesn’t have a support team or even a real plan other than to get across Canada before his visa runs out! He is a genuinely nice guy who would give someone the shirt off his back if need be. Don’t take my word for it, read his posts on Twitter and Facebook and you will see that he doesn’t have much, but he is giving all that he can to help others.
I am starting to realize how important it is that we share with others what we have in terms of our experience and expertise. Continue reading Sharing
Image courtesy of Ben Dalton
I have mentioned in previous posts that I have only two rules in my classroom: have fun and respect one another. At the beginning of each term, I have my students work out what that means based on various topics including cell phone use in the classroom, attendance, and cultures. From that, we build a code of classroom conduct that each of us, including myself, need to follow. It works well and it tells my students I respect them as a person and I hope that they would do the same for me.
A week ago, I came across this news article of a teacher in Mexico who confronted her students about some nasty things that had been tweeted about the teacher by one of the students. I won’t get into details, but the teacher used the classroom to address the issue in a very direct way. The comments on the CNN news article show a number of people in support of the teacher saying, “She is the authority in her classroom,” and “Humiliation is needed in schools, much more of it”. The whole event, from student to teacher to administration to the general public’s reaction has made me feel sad. I don’t think the issue here is ‘putting someone in their place’. I think the real issue is how we view one another as human beings.
After reading the article and watching the video, I started to think about each person or group of people affected by this event and I started to see how complex this issue is and how difficult it is to ‘place blame’ (not that I think we should). I decided to break it down in a sort of chronological order as things progressed. Continue reading Understanding
Image courtesy of Christoph Rupprecht
Today marks the beginning of another week of TESL practicum observations for me. While I have enjoyed watching these new ESL teachers starting off their journey, I have to say I am a getting a bit tired. I realize that this is an important step for these trainees, but I feel like this is taking a whole lot more out of me than I had anticipated. It is funny considering that I’m not the one doing the lesson preparation and having to teach the class. I am not entirely sure why it takes so much of my energy, but I think I have a partial reason. I think it is because I care about helping them.
Long ago, I was in their shoes. I remember being that energetic, enthusiastic, nervous-to-the-core, rough-around-the-edges teacher in training. I distinctly remember the disaster of my first class and the not-so-interesting second class. But what I remember the most was the support I received from my TESL instructor, Gail Tiessen. I am so thankful for her. She was kind, firm, direct, and quick to help. Her comments kept me going, thinking, and improving. I am happy to still call her my mentor.
Yesterday, I was in church and the pastor was using the analogy of a pair of oxen being yoked together to work the fields. These oxen would not be able to finish the work on their own. Also, young oxen might not know what is expected of them without the support and guidance of the more experienced oxen by their side. The yoke isn’t there to punish them, or to say they can’t do it, it is there to give them support and guidance.
This analogy got me thinking about how we support and mentor those who don’t have the same amount of experience as ourselves. Continue reading Mentoring