When you have to make it memorable….

Lately, I’ve had the opportunity to fly a number of times. During the short flight from London to Toronto, the flight attendant stands in the aisle and completes the demonstration. On larger aircraft the safety video plays on either individual screens or larger ones which descend from the ceiling of the plane.  As a frequent flyer, I’ll admit that I watch half-heartedly, anticipating the seatbelt demonstration, the oxygen mask order of application, the lighted aisle way and identification of the nearest exits.

A few weeks ago, I was on a Delta flight to Ft. Lauderdale and as we were about to take off, the obligatory safety video started to play. But this video was different…. The airline, in their infinite wisdom (knowing that most of us tune out instead of tuning in during the demonstration) created and showed a video that was not only informative, but humorous.

According to the YouTube video, “Safety information is information that no one should miss, even if they’ve heard it a dozen times. So to help encourage even the most frequent of frequent fliers to pay attention we’re constantly adding fresh scenes and moments of fun. It’s part of Delta’s commitment to making every part of our passengers’ flight a memorable one.”

I started to reflect on that concept for teaching and learning.  How do we take the everyday and ordinary and effectively weave in humour in order to make it more memorable for our students?

For those of us whose audience is educators, do we make a concerted effort to include humour as an effective presentation tool?

As with all presentation tools, one must use caution.  Here are a few reminders about including humour:

1)     Make it relevant to the topic and tastefully placed within the presentation

2)     As with everything, rehearse it

3)     Make it personal, so it will come across as authentic and appropriate

4)     Don’t let the humour overshadow the message

5)     Make it brief and meaningful



Angels Among Us

“I believe there are angels among us. Sent down to us from somewhere up above”. That is a line from one of my favourite Alabama songs.

Macaroni, ceramic, crystal, silver and gold ~ Christmas angels come in all shapes and sizes.  But what about those angels who surround us throughout the rest of the year?

I finally watched one of the classic Christmas movies, last night.  Believe it or not, I have never watched, “It’s a Wonderful Life” from beginning to end.  I have known the basic premise and seen various scenes, but this is the first time that I’ve enjoyed the whole movie from beginning to end.

And as Clarence earned his wings and the final bells rang, I started to think about all of angels we have in our world of education.  Those people who work tirelessly behind the scenes to empower our teachers who inspire our students. Those people who remind us that even though our work is challenging it is worth it.images (1)

There are those parents who share how much our students enjoy coming to school and what a difference we are making in their lives. Those few words of encouragement go such a long way.

Our crossing guards and bus drivers who brave all kinds of weather to ensure that our students arrive safely in our schools.

All of the dedicated, caring front office staff, who greet everyone who enters the office with a smile and a determination to provide them with whatever they need from a registration form to a bandage and everything in between.

Our custodial staff who know the importance of a clean and safe school. How a school looks speaks volumes about pride and a sense of belonging.

Then there are our colleagues who seem to know when we need a helping a hand, a great idea to inspire our students, an offer to do a supervision duty for us or a much needed smile as we rush through the hallway.

I wonder if without those angels, we may find ourselves on a figurative ledge feeling the enormity of our responsibility of educating this generation of learners.

I have been very blessed in my career to be surrounded by angels and I hope that I have taken every opportunity afforded to me to be an angel in the lives of others.

Who are the angels in your life?


Come write with me…..

The gift of a book

2014-12-13_1711As educators, we all know the power of placing a book into the hands of a child and watching them sparkle with delight as they crack the spine for the very first time. There is nothing more rewarding.  For those children in our personal lives, we’ve gladly given them books for birthdays, Easter, Christmas and “just because”.  But for many of the children who we support in our schools, home libraries are a luxury that many families can not afford.

This year, one of the initiatives that our Literacy Coordinators are involved with includes supporting a select number of students in 10 of our most needy schools.  We are working with entire school teams to enhance teacher capacity in the area of supporting struggling readers, scaffolding the learning that is happening in terms of guided reading instruction and assessment strategies and supporting the discussions that are taking place at School Literacy Team meetings, where a full school approach to knowing, supporting and celebrating the accomplishments of these students is at the forefront of what is happening.

In the summer, children were given the opportunity to choose a handful of books to have for their very own as well as pictures books for others in their lives to share with them.  Parents were provided with suggestions and strategies to support home reading programs and they expressed their gratitude for the gifts.

We are now in the process of repeating the book celebration and providing those same students with more books to add to their home libraries.

School teams have planned wonderful celebrations to celebrate the gains that these students have already made in their reading ability. They are celebrating the wonderful teachers who have taken on this challenge of reflecting on their practice and exploring new strategies to meet the needs of all of their students. Parents are being celebrating for supporting home reading programs.

Today, a number of the involved teachers forwarded pictures to our team. The students were smiling with pride and gratitude. Parents were gracious and thankful. Teachers were beaming with pride, knowing that they have made a difference.

We will all sleep well tonight knowing that we’ve placed one of the greatest gifts into the hands of some very deserving children and that the intangible gift of a school’s “love and dedication” will continue to encompass these “babies” as they gain more and more confidence in their abilities and see themselves as capable readers.