Would You Wear the Santa Pants?

Posted: 23rd December 2016 by kkeerybi in Uncategorized

I wrote this post last night as I was mulling over this dilemma but didn’t come to a decision until this morning, so couldn’t include the conclusion until now.  Welcome to my overthinking world!


For the last several years, I’ve been in and around schools in December.  It is a fun and busy time of year in a school:  the first snowfall, concerts, family events.  It has a little bit of everything and lots of celebrating.  But this is the first year in a school that I’ve heard so much more about Christmas than I have about any other winter event or holiday.

It’s my first year in this school.  I know that every school community has a culture and vibe of it’s own.  I know that this school is situated in a community that looks and feels different than many of the other schools I’ve been in.  But I have still been overwhelmed by how much Christmas talk there has been.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Our teachers and students talk, sing, and learn about a wide variety of cultural traditions and celebrations.  We have some students who do not celebrate Christmas and others who celebrate a mix of other cultural or religious celebrations in addition to some Christmas ones.  But when I talk with students, I’m hearing a whole lot more about Christmas than I have in any other year.

So, this brings me to my wardrobe dilemma.  I celebrate Christmas; that is certainly part of my own personal traditions.  We are having a last-day-before-the-break assembly tomorrow, and many people will be dressed in festive wear.

Do I break out the Christmas pants?

On the one hand, I want to be a real person to the students I work with.  I celebrate Christmas and I am proud to do so and share my experiences with the students.  On the other hand, I want to respect the students in the school who do not celebrate Christmas and may get swept up in a wave of CHRISTMAS because the voice of the majority drowns out the smaller, but still oh-so-important voices of the minority.  In the past, I have downplayed it all and kept as holiday-neutral as I could; to be respectful towards all of my students.  But I wondered, is this the year that I celebrate along with the crowd?

What to do.  Wear the Santa pants or stick with my regular (boring) principal garb?

Here is the addendum I have added this morning.

Wardrobe decisions shouldn’t keep one up at night.  This one did.  I feel a little silly about that but I think it is actually a bigger issue.  How do I show respect and care towards all my students equitably while still honouring the connections I have with them and helping them to see me as a real person and not just a cardboard cut out in an office?

I don’t know if it was the right decision or not, but I decided today to wear the Santa pants.  It is a part of me.  And while I might reply “Merry Christmas” to those students who say it first to me, I will try to learn how to respectfully and appropriately celebrate with my students who have different meaningful celebrations in their lives.

In the meantime, me and my Santa pants will enjoy this last day of school before the winter break.  Merry Christmas.  Happy Hanukkah. Happy Winter Solstice.    Did I make the right choice?  Was I inconsiderate?  What do you think?


Amaryllis Thoughts

Posted: 27th November 2016 by kkeerybi in Uncategorized


When I was a primary teacher, I think I grew an amaryllis flower in my class every December (except for that one year I was in the classroom with no windows, but that’s another story).  Since we travel most Christmases now and I don’t have my own little group of students to grow for, I haven’t done this in a while.  This year, I decided to grow one again at home to add some festive cheer to our stay-at-home Christmas.

The amaryllis box says it needs four to six weeks to grow.  About ten days ago, my youngest daughter and I got it started.  We talked about how tall it would get and how quickly it would grow.  And then we waited.

And waited.

Still waiting.

The photo above is our mighty amaryllis ten days after planting and I’m beginning to have my doubts that it is going to reach maturity in four more weeks.  We’re getting a little impatient.

In other news, this weekend I have been working on planning out a math-focused Professional Development Day for the educators I work with.  During the initial planning, I was working with my colleagues Lisa Neale and Mark Verbeek to plan out what learning opportunities we could provide.  When we hit a bit of a roadblock in the planning, my wise friend Lisa reminded me that we sometimes need to slow down to make progress.

My PD thoughts turned to my amaryllis.  While I was focused on watching the stem (not) grow to great heights, I completely forgot about what might be going on under the soil.  Maybe my amaryllis has spent it’s energy these last ten days spreading roots so that when the stem does start to grow tall, the bulb will be strong enough to support the height.  You need strong roots before you make great surges in growth.

So now I’m rethinking my plans for the PD Day this week.  I want all of the educators I work with to soar to new heights in their practice.  But maybe I need to make sure that I’ve given them the time to grow strong roots first.




Learning to Fail

Posted: 12th October 2016 by kkeerybi in Uncategorized

This year I started at a new school that has an active and interested parent community who wants to know more about what is happening in their children’s classes.  To help this, I started a blog on our school website.  I’m hoping to use this forum as a means to start different conversations with the community.  What follows is a post that came out of some of the work of our recent PD day.  We’re trying eliminate the “f word” mentality to failure.  What do you think?

I don’t know if there is anything more difficult for parents to do than to watch their child fail at something.  Whether it is a sport, an academic task, a developmental milestone, or a social situation that just goes frustratingly wrong for your child, failure of any kind is painful to watch.  Do you give them a nudge and help them succeed?  Or should you set them up for success by altering the task to make it manageable or to eliminate the possibility of failure?  Or do you bite your tongue, sit on your hands and watch them fail, with their tears/disappointment/anger/frustration weighing heavily on you?

On our recent Professional Activity Day, the staff at our school spent some time discussing failure.  Here are a few of the thoughts we discussed.

Some amount of failure is not only inevitable, but important to a child’s growth and learning.  It’s true – as painful as it may be to watch a student fail, we know that some of our best learning comes out of experiencing failure.  You fail, learn from your mistakes, reflect on what you could do differently, develop motivation to try again, and then try again.  Hard won success out of failure can often equal really good learning.

Failure is an indication that learning is difficult.  We want the learning our students do to be challenging.  If learning comes too easily, it means we aren’t ensuring that those students are learning to their full potential.  But hard learning means that there will be failure along the way.  Which would you prefer?  Hard-earned deep learning or easily achieved more superficial learning?  The truth is, we need a balance of both, but we can’t avoid that difficult learning.

Perseverance can be tied to a student’s willingness to try (and fail).  In the education world, there has been lots of talk in recent years about developing perseverance or “grit” in students as a key indicator of rich learning.  When you look at many of the key skills we are measuring in student achievement (problem solving in mathematics, inquiry skills in language and social studies, for example), a student’s ability to persevere through difficult learning is vital.  Ironically, this mindset of perseverance that is essential to student success in difficult learning, is inhibited by a student’s worry about failing.  Too often we see students unwilling to even attempt a task because they are afraid to fail.  We have a difficult job to convince students to put that fear behind them and give it a try…so that they can be more successful.

So what are we doing about it?

We’re talking about failure.  Whether it is on morning announcements or in class meetings, staff are committed to making failure a topic of discussion.  If we take away the taboo of the topic, we hope students will be more willing to see it as a necessary part of life and learning.

We’re modelling failure.  We know that school staff are learning role models for our students.  So, we are “thinking aloud” our own failures and showing students how we own them and then modelling the process we take to move past them.  I even wrote about it in my professional blog to share my own learning from failure.  You can see that here, if you are interested.  https://kkeerybishop.commons.hwdsb.on.ca/2016/07/11/fail/

We’re providing opportunities for “hard” learning.  We know that we need to offer students tough problems and deep learning that will stretch them.  We know that it may mean that we have to bite our tongues when students start working on a math problem and go awry.  Sometimes we don’t “save” them right away, but let them work through the problem, misconceptions and all, to let them come to the realization on their own that they are wrong.  And then we let them figure out where they are going next.  Many of our lessons involve conversations about those misconceptions and what led to them because this is a rich source of learning for students.  Hard learning, but rich.

Please don’t misunderstand.  We are not trying to set our students up to fail.  We want them to succeed at learning widely and deeply.  The truth is, though, that to do that we will have to help them experience failure along the way.  Just like every parent who watched their children learn to walk had to also watch them fall at times, we know that we’ll have to weather some difficult experiences of failure with our students in order to help them find success.

The Blog Post That Wouldn’t Let Me Sleep

Posted: 23rd September 2016 by kkeerybi in Uncategorized

It’s late.  My house is quiet.  Even the teenagers are asleep. But I’m not.  My mind is spinning too much to let me rest.

I could use the rest.  It has been a busy month/week/day.  But tomorrow (I guess it is actually today now) is a big day.  It is our first Professional Learning Day of the school year.

I love PA days.  I’m enough of a teacher-geek that, while there are lots of interesting things to do as a principal, getting to spend some time teaching and learning with staff is a highlight of the job.

This PA day, however, has me thinking a little too much.  I’m not sure why.  That’s why my head is spinning.

The topic isn’t that strange.  It is a variation on a PD session that I have participated in many, many times.  We’re looking at system goals, deconstructing student learning, analyzing evidence and setting school goals.  It’s a pretty typical beginning-of-the-year session.

But for some reason, the session tomorrow (um, today) has me thinking about Friday night movies.  You know those Friday nights when you want to celebrate the fact you made it through another long week but you are so exhausted that all you can manage is to curl up on your couch and find an entertaining movie to enjoy?  I was thinking that those movies tend to fall into two categories.  You’ve got your quirky or surprising or shocking flicks that blow your mind because they are full of surprises and shift your understanding of film entirely.  Can you think of what some of those have been for you?  You probably can, because when you experience a mind shifting kind of movie it becomes unforgettable.  But then there is the other type of movie.  That’s the old familiar:  you choose it because it is a comfortable genre, with a predictable (but enjoyable) story line and maybe even featuring some well known actors that have often been with you in your living room on Friday movie nights.  How often do we turn to these kind of comfortable type of movies?  For me, it’s pretty often.

So what do Friday night movies have to do with PD?  I’m glad you asked.

The session we’re working through tomorrow (right. Today), has the makings of an old familiar movie.  We know what the story line will be as we follow through on our predictable steps of reflection, deconstruction, analysis, construction and plan for future analysis.  We’ll fondly recall the actors to get us through the movie; those strategies we’ll plan to use (the need for ongoing feedback and assessment, small group and differentiated instruction, meaningful tasks, learning revolving around critical skills).  We even have a familiar setting in the system goals we’re aiming for:  getting kids to read, write, engage in mathematical thinking and do so with enhanced personal and social well being.

But.  The teacher-geek in me knows that all of that can lay the groundwork for a pretty mind-blowing second act.  If we do our job right tomorrow and develop a common understanding of our goals, their purpose and the means to help us reach them, we’re setting ourselves up for some exciting times.  Because that’s when it happens, right?  When innovation or creativity or some mind shifting unforgettable-ness (I’m making up words now.  It’s that late) can occur because we have all focused in on what needs to be done and why we have to do it.

Educators are all about routine and structure and familiarity except when they’re not.  And when they’re not, they are all about finding new ways to get our students to learn even better than they have before.  That is, essentially, our two movie mash-up; the best of both Friday night movie night worlds.

I don’t know if any of this makes sense to you.  I’m not even sure if any of this will make sense to me once I’ve had a chance to rest and reflect.  But for those who find themselves engaging in a familiar pattern of professional learning tomorrow (I know.  I know.  Today) or in the next little while, I wonder how you will approach it.  Will you roll your eyes and say “here we go again”?  Will you settle back to just comfortably absorb an old familiar story?  Or will you find your popcorn and get lost in it all from the opening credits knowing that you might just experience something unforgettable if you keep with it?

Always a Student

Posted: 13th September 2016 by kkeerybi in Uncategorized

About a year ago, I started an adventurous (for me) project.  I love writing and have been able to write professionally in a variety of text forms over the last twenty years.  One text form that I most appreciate as a reader is the fictional novel.  So, I had some ideas about what I wanted to write and went for it; I started writing a novel of my very own.  Three months and 100 000 words later, I thought I was close to being done.  Life got busy and I had to take a break from writing for several months, but this summer I tried to get back to it.

And hit a brick wall.  Hard.

After almost four decades of considering myself a capable writer, I discovered something completely unexpected.

Editing (and I mean editing, not just proofreading), is really hard and I’m not good at it.  Also, I hate doing it, which is probably closely related to the fact that it is hard and I’m not good at it.  Half the time I don’t know if I’m making progress or a mess.  The undo button is my best friend.

As a result, I found a lot of other projects to occupy my time.  Despite the fact that the previous summer I had found time to plan, research and then write 100 000 words of text, this summer even washing my windows pushed higher up the to-do list than editing did.  After years of advocating and programming for, and even teaching courses on, reluctant writers I became one.

While not great news for my foray into novel writing, it has given me some new perspective on our students and writing and learning.  Here’s what I have learned:

  1. It’s Complicated.  Teaching the writing process (brainstorming, drafting, editing, proofreading, publishing) is important.  While we don’t expect our students to take each step of the process with every writing piece, we do have to make sure they get comfortable with all of these complicated processes throughout their educational years and in a variety of text forms.  Some students (or, ahem, adults) will avoid certain steps; spending excessive amounts of time on other steps or breezing through a step with a minimum of effort and effectiveness.  We need to equip our students with strategies to support all of the steps.
  2. We Need to Know Before We Teach.  Teachers need to experience the writing process in a variety of ways to provide students with the strategies they will need.  I admit that I have taught writing for many years…and then I taught teachers how to teach writing…and I STILL am struggling with one critical step as a writer myself.  How well did I provide my students with the skills they needed?  Images of teenagers – my former primary students –  now unable to edit haunt me.  (That may be a little melodramatic).
  3. Work Avoidance.  When I was avoiding editing, I did things like washing my windows.  Students tend not to be that productive in their work avoidance techniques, instead turning to things like disrupting others, acting out or shutting down.  We know that when some of those behaviours hit in our classrooms one reason we can suspect is work avoidance.  Figuring out how to end their frustration with a task and help them get back on their way can cut down on the disruptive behaviour.  Dr. Ross Green tells us that “children do well if they can”.  We need to work to help them get to a place where they can do well.
  4. We need the check ins and instruction.  Every tv show I’ve ever seen featuring a classroom scene shows one of two things:  a teacher lecturing or students working independently.  Since we aren’t into making “made for tv” classrooms, our learning spaces should feature a much higher proportion of small group guided instruction, small group and individual conferencing, student self reflection, and workable teacher feedback.  These teaching strategies are so much more effective then lecturing or assigning.  This summer, I think if I had been able to show some of my work with an experienced novel editor and talk through what I needed to do, set myself some goals, and learn some new strategies to get me over my road block, I would be a lot further ahead.  Sure, my windows would be dirtier, but maybe I would now have a finished writing piece.

I haven’t given up on my writing.  When I do finally get to the end of this process, I’m sure it will help me be a better educator.  In the meantime, I’ll use what I have learned so far to support our students when they do struggle.  Gaining this new perspective helps me see the struggles in a new light.  I’ve heard that some of the best teachers were struggling students and I’m beginning to see why that could be.

As my teenagers are fond of saying, “the struggle is real”.  It’s also not fun, but maybe some good can come from it.  In the meantime, I am in the window cleaning business until I can find a new angle to approach my editing.

Stay tuned.  I’ll let you know when I make a breakthrough.




The Old Weathered Desk

Posted: 1st September 2016 by kkeerybi in Uncategorized

office desk


This is a student desk that sits in a corner of my new work space.  It is weathered and worn, with initials carved into the wood.  Yes, wood.  This desk is so old it is made of heavy, real wood and features an inkwell hole in its top.

I love this desk already.

I love that there is room for me to share my office with students.  I hope that students will come down to visit me and do some school tasks in this alternate work space.  I hope that when they come, they will see it as just that:  an alternative, not a punishment.

I love that this old desk has history.  Those initials and dings all speak to many years of students who have sat at that desk learning, dreaming, and growing.

Now the desk sits waiting for a new year (educators, students and parents all know that this is the real new year).  Old desk, new year.  There’s something about that contrast that just represents education so well, I think.  Isn’t that what we do?  We take the old, traditional and steady and blend it with the new, innovative and original.

I don’t know what is in store for that desk this year.  But I’m pretty sure it is going to be great.

Happy new year, learners.


Post Script:

Just in case you were worried that this was in any way me professing the need for desks for learning, it isn’t about that.  Desks are one structure we can use to help us facilitate learning but not the only one.  Case in point, right beside the old weathered desk is another piece of furniture I’ve brought in for students.  Take a look.

office desk

What Did You Make At School Today?

Posted: 12th August 2016 by kkeerybi in Uncategorized

Summer is good for many things, one of which is professional reflection.  Ok, it isn’t one of the more exciting of summer things, but it is still a good one.

This summer as I’ve done some professional reading and lots of personal playing, I’ve had a bit of an epiphany.

I’m a maker.

Yep.  That’s my big epiphany.  I make things and I like making things.  I like cooking.  I like sewing.  I make pottery.  I like gardening.  I like to get my hands on power tools.  I like designing things and then working on making them.  Walking the aisles of craft stores and hardware stores gives me a bit of a buzz.  I like writing purposeful things that I can point to and say “read this.  I wrote it and I think you’ll like it.”  I think this qualifies me as a maker.

Summer, to me, is a great time because I have more time to play and make stuff.  During the school year, time is at a premium and while I still might have time to make something, I have significantly less time to play.  It is all about churning out a product.  Get dinner on the table.  Check.  Whip up that item for the birthday party this afternoon.  Check.  The Hallowe’en party is in 10 hours, mom and I NEED a costume now.  Sigh.  Check.  I do all of these things, and I like them, but it isn’t very fun.  It isn’t always joyful.

But then there is summer play.  I’ll go to my mom’s pottery studio and play on the wheel there just to see what I can throw, without necessarily worrying about the end product.  I’ll whip up something in the kitchen because I’m inspired by the gorgeous produce around me and not because everyone is starving.  This is the joy of making.

In our schools and in the educational buzz world, maker spaces are big.  I’m all for them; letting students get their hands dirty and make something is a worthy project, and I’ve talked about it a little before here:  https://kkeerybishop.commons.hwdsb.on.ca/2016/01/16/thinking-about-maker-spaces/  But as people jump on the maker space bandwagon (and, I must stop here and say that I really admire the bandwagon jumpers for at least trying new things), I wonder if we need to think about what this is going to look like in our classes?

When we plan to make our schools and classrooms maker spaces, are we going to:

  • allow students to play?
  • allow students to create joyfully?
  • allow students to discover and explore?

Or, are we going to:

  • limit their creativity and expression to fit in our boxes of what is acceptable to create?
  • create a prescribed checklist of conformity to make sure we are all making and thinking the same?

I recognize that educators are in a quandry.  We have a specific set of skills and knowledges that we are required to provide learning opportunities for and to assess and evaluate, so there are going to be checklists and guidelines.  While we are still following curriculae and evaluating students’ ability to achieve, it has to happen.  But educators are pretty innovative people.  I have confidence that there will be plenty of educators that will find ways to honour the curriculum and the requirements of teaching and still find opportunities for students to play, to make and to create joyfully.

Maybe, when it comes to us planning our maker space opportunities during this coming school year, we need to be reminded of the joy we felt in the summer when we just made something because we loved to play.

Are there any other joyful summer makers out there?  How do you see balancing the needs of your maker spaces in a curriculum-based classroom with the need to allow students to play and create joyfully?



My Favourite Things

Posted: 20th July 2016 by kkeerybi in Uncategorized

I’m just back from an extra long weekend at the cottage with my family.  I love that all of my kiddies still look forward to going (even though internet connection is sketchy at best!) despite their busy lives.  One of our favourite holiday games is “Top 5…”  Sometimes it is something as mundane as Top 5 Beaches we’ve been to.  Other times it is a little more bizarre, such as the memorable Top game of “Top 5 foods you have eaten off the ground”.  (I declined to participate in this one, just so you know).

During some quiet beach time, I got to thinking about education.  I am, if I go by my pension date, about halfway through my career in education.  Why haven’t I ever done my Top list about being an educator?  If you read my previous blog post, I have had a difficult year, but I am still looking forward to going back to school this fall.  Why is that?

So, based upon some lake-side reflection, and at the danger of sounding like Julie Andrews (no kittens or raindrops in my list, though), here is my Top 5 List about Why I Love Being An Educator.

5.  The Perfect Blend of Collegiality and Autonomous Learning.  It seems to me that educators are very lucky to have opportunities to learn new things on our own based on our interests and experiences, but also to learn with a group of colleagues and be able to test out and use both sets of new ideas.  While I haven’t always been a fan of mandated learning, I do love the buzz in a school when you have several people working towards common goals and seeing each other try things out and succeed.  But I also love the vibe that individuals bring in when they bring their own passions and share them with their students and colleagues.  Seriously, how lucky are we?

4.  Boldly Learning Where None of Your Thoughts Have Gone Before.  Five years ago, my focus of learning was all curriculum-based.  Now, I am more likely to be trying to figure out how to develop student self regulation skills, or how to get students to think deeply and divergently.  I wonder what I’ll be focusing on in another five years?

3. We Get to Play in Many Sandboxes.  This one may not be as true for secondary educators, but isn’t it exciting that we get to go to work every day and:  do math, share our favourite books, inspire young authors, teach a new playground game, dabble in the arts, and wonder about our connections to history and geography?  All in the same day?

2. Talk About Contributing Members of Society.  When you think about the different layers of our work, educators find so many ways to contribute to the betterment of our world.  Sure, we teach young minds and prepare them for life but we also support parents and families to make connections between education today and their child’s needs.  We connect children and their families to resources they might desperately need like social work or special education modifications and resources.  We provide opportunities at school that students might not get at home, whether that is the chance to try their hand at coding or sculpting or knowing what it feels like to be part of a basketball team or to organize a charitable donation activity to learn how to give back to others.

1. The Students (and if this isn’t in some way your number one answer too, you probably shouldn’t be an educator).  How amazing is it when you can actually see that moment when a student: 1) masters a new idea, 2) has a skill breakthrough, 3) wonders something so far out of your frame of reference it blows your mind, 4) shows you glimpses of the amazing contributing member of of society he/she is destined to become, 5) realizes that he/she is important.

Again.  How lucky are we?  What is your Top 5 list about being an educator?


Posted: 11th July 2016 by kkeerybi in Uncategorized

If you’ve been hanging around any educational chats in the last while, you have likely read, discussed or posted your own thoughts on developing risk taking in students.  Whether you have called it grit, building perseverance skills, one of the cute FAIL acronyms (Fail=First Attempt In Learning, etc), or development of problem solving capacity, it all boils down to the same thing.  We are all extolling the benefits of letting kids fail in their learning.

Well, let me tell you, even if it is good for you, failing sucks.

This year, I jumped on the #OneWord bandwagon and set my goal for the year.  You can read about my thinking back in January when I set the goal, here:


The word I chose to represent my goal this year was stretch.    It’s been a busy six months, but as I reflect on how I’ve done on my goal, I find that I have failed far more than I have succeeded in stretching to meet the specific tasks within my goal.

Wait, did I say fail?  But that can’t be!  We don’t really fail anymore, do we?  Besides, the year is only half over.  There is still time to succeed.  Many goals need tweaking along the way once you get into them.  There were extenuating circumstances that affected my progress.

These consoling excuses are all true, but I still have to admit that I have failed.

Much like the experience of our students, I’m not really used to failing.  I was a successful student in school.  I have excelled in the extra curricular activities I choose to pursue (of course, who chooses to pursue the ones they aren’t good at?). I pride myself on successfully completing my to-do lists.  I even feel guilty when I abandon a book I don’t like.  Failure, as society has conditioned us to believe, is not an option.

So, as I sit back now and lick my wounds, I have to reflect on where I go from here.  I still have half a year on my goal of stretching.  Some of my failures are things that I still intend to pursue further armed with some new knowledge, new strategies and from new angles.  Others I am going to admit are currently beyond me (not an easy admission to make) and I’ll spend some time thinking about whether they are things I need to work on at another time.

It’s interesting to note that, in reading over my One Word blog post, I assumed success.  Even though the goals were a stretch, I assumed that I would succeed because I usually set goals for myself that I am eventually successful at.

Now the question is, can I use my failing experiences to help better prepare students to fail too?  (You don’t know how weird it was to write that.  We really ARE conditioned to avoid failure, aren’t we?).  I think so.

  • Failing still feels like, well, failure.  If we are preparing students to experience it, we need to prepare them to know that it doesn’t feel great.  Giving them a FAIL acronym or pat them on the back for developing “grit” doesn’t adequately acknowledge the emotion or frustration they will feel when they fail.
  • Teach students that there will be some goals that are beyond them, some that are well within their reach, and others that they will have to chip away at to succeed.  Learning that not every goal is achievable is a key, although maybe controversial, lesson in critical and reflective thinking.
  • Admit our own failures.  We provide students with role models in everything else, failure mentors shouldn’t be any different.  Using ourselves as those mentors is probably more meaningful to a student than telling them how many times Alexander Graham Bell’s communication inventions failed before he finally placed that first phone call.  If we are their mentors, we can walk them through the ups and downs of failure.
  • Celebrate the successes within the failure.  When I now sit back and reflect on one of my colossal failures this year, I can see glimmers of good stuff within it.  I learned how to do things differently, I made a difference to this person, I changed a practice for the better.  Those are the things I need to build on.  The same would be true of our students when they fail.  We have to do this carefully, though.  Glossing over the failure entirely and only focusing on the good may protect them from the hurt of failure, but may not teach them how to get over it.  We can’t teach students to avoid failure altogether.

Stretching is still my goal for 2016.  Some of my original goals are things I’m still working on.  Others are shifting as conditions have changed.  And some, I have failed.  But I will learn from those and find new ways to stretch.

Measuring Milestones

Posted: 28th June 2016 by kkeerybi in Uncategorized

Tomorrow my daughter Eden graduates high school and it has me thinking.  So often we parents measure time by the milestones of our kids, don’t we?

Today, Eden’s graduation has me thinking back the first grade two class I taught in 2006. I taught at the school my kids attended and Eden was in grade two as well, right next door to me. Now, this was a little too close for comfort for me (I am pretty much the opposite of a helicopter mom) but I tried to stay out of her way and she tried to stay out of mine and it worked fairly well for us. But my own class of students that year were a very challenging bunch, and I gained some extra special challenges as the year went on when some students were not thriving in other classes.  I liked working with students who needed a little extra patience, time, listening ear or love. (I still love working with students like that).

But Eden’s graduation has me wondering: how many of my grade two class ten years ago will be walking across a stage to receive a diploma this week? How many of them have plans for their future and the means to make those plans happen?

I count myself lucky that my husband and I have successfully helped navigate half of our offspring so far to this milestone. Truthfully, I know we had it pretty easy and it was still HARD.

Our children, so far, have been blessed with physical and mental health that have allowed them to thrive. They’ve had a stable home environment with someone always to vent to, problem solve with, cry on, and celebrate the good stuff. They have found the academic burden challenging at times but always totally manageable. They have had good friends. They have made good decisions when it comes to respectful, responsible behaviour. They have never had to worry about where their next meal was coming from, where they would sleep next week or when they would next see their parents.

When I think back to my grade two class of ten years ago, I can probably count one one hand the number of students that were similarly blessed.

One hand. Less than 25%. All the rest faced bigger challenges, even as 7 year olds.

And it was STILL hard.

Educators, we have that unique opportunity to help some kid, sometime, get closer to a goal of getting across that stage and getting a diploma….or of making their life better in some other way. All of those baby steps along the way by all those educators can make the difference for every child. Every child. Not just some small percentage.

Tomorrow, when my girl walks across that stage, I will be silently thanking every educator that helped her get there and praying that there were more educators after me who have helped to get my little grade two class of 2006 across a stage too.

Every child deserves that. That’s why we do what we do, right?

Rest up this summer, educators. Next year, we have more lives to save.