Category Archives: Education

Growing Up Inclusive

Growing Up Inclusive is the topic I’ll address this coming Saturday afternoon at an event sponsored by Steinbach Neighbours for Community.  How do we help children develop inclusive attitudes, so they automatically look first for what they have in common with others and are quick to appreciate and learn from the differences they discover between themselves and other people? I’ll explore some ideas gleaned from my experience as an educator, parent, and community volunteer.  

I’ll look at the value of exposing children to a wide variety of experiences and people.  I’ll tell some stories about what our family learned when we lived and worked on the Hopi First Nation in Arizona but I also want to give parents, teachers, coaches, grandparents, church workers and other child advocates ideas for things they can do in their own community and province to give kids a chance to see the world from new perspectives. I’ll talk about the importance of helping children take responsibility when they use speech or display actions that show disrespect for people who may be different than they are in gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, ethnicity, age, body size or ableness.  I am going to tell stories about people I know who have done that with sensitivity and firmness. Children need help learning to monitor their speech and actions so they are inclusive, and we can guide them. 

Who are role models for our children?  It is helpful for kids to have a wide variety of adults in their lives who show them what it means to be inclusive. Their primary role models are their parents, but many other people can be examples for our children.  I will talk about people who have been role models for me and my children and what I learned from them. Who are role models in the world of politics, entertainment and sports we want our children to emulate?

There is such a wonderful diversity of reading material available for children.  How do we choose books that foster an attitude of open-mindedness, so our kids learn there are different kinds of families and different ways to express one’s spirituality?  What sorts of literature will help them appreciate differences in sexual orientation, race and cultural practices? Can books help them understand why some people are homeless or why a person facing physical challenges has great strengths we can learn from?

Mural of Canada’s children on Broadway Avenue in Saskatoon

I will also look at ways parents can encourage their children to develop their own individual interests, personality traits and talents regardless of what society may say they should do or be like based on their gender, age, ableness, body size or cultural background.  Children whose uniqueness is appreciated will grow up to be adults who appreciate the uniqueness of others.

Finally, I will use examples from my own family to show why it is important to teach our children to be more than just witnesses to inclusive behaviour but true advocates for it.

I’ll be giving my talk Growing Up Inclusive on the second floor of the Steinbach Curling Club at 12:30 on Saturday, January 25th. I invite you to join me as we look at some of the ways we can work together to help children grow up to be accepting human beings who are active participants in making our communities places where all are welcome.  There will be an opportunity for questions and answers after my talk. An interesting session is also planned for the morning with Providence College Professor Val Hiebert and lunch is included in this free event.  You can learn more on the Steinbach Neighbors For Community Facebook page or website.

 Other posts………

Steinbach Pride- Homecoming, Forgiveness and Hope 

Include Me Please

Safe and Inclusive Schools


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A Bath Tub in My Classroom

reading in the tubI wrote a blog post not long ago about the Olden Days which proved very popular and got quite a few comments.  One of the readers was a former student of mine Jennifer Cure Kehler.  She wrote this about my post.

“In my “olden days” I had an incredible grade one teacher who taught me, and many other students that reading can be/is…. comfort. A bathtub full of cozy pillows and some good reading material was the GREATEST reward of all! I think she was ahead of her time!”

kids in the bath tubWhat Jennifer is referring to is the fact that for many, many years I had an antique claw-footed bathtub in my classroom.  It was designed as a spot for children to read.  I found the tub in an old house on the site where my parents were going to build a new home. I asked Dad if I could have the tub and he hauled it to my classroom in his truck. We painted it bright yellow and filled it with pillows and it was a popular reading spot.jeff and justin in reading corner The tub was part of a reading corner lined with shelves of books, a covered mattress for a reading couch, lots of big pillows, an old big armed wooden chair, a rug, and apple baskets filled with more books. When I left Elmdale School in Steinbach to move to the new elementary school in Mitchell I insisted on taking the tub with me.  I still remember how the school division employees grumbled about having to move the heavy thing.  

I don’t know where the bathtub ended up.  When I left my teaching position in Mitchell to go and teach in Hong Kong the bathtub stayed in my classroom. Although the bathtub was a popular place to read it was also a good place for kids who weren’t feeling well to lie down or have a nap.  It was also a nice place for kids to curl up if they needed some time alone. 

trina and roxie in reading cornerJennifer’s remarks about the bathtub sent me looking for some old photos of the tub.  And I managed to find a few. Thanks, Jennifer for bringing back some good memories from my teaching career. 

Other posts……

Teacher Can You Spare A Dime

Stopping By Woods- A Children’s Masterpiece

Counting On Their Fingers

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Generation Lockdown

The other day I walked into a Winnipeg kindergarten class just as the teacher was instructing the four and five-year-olds in her room about how they should behave during the lockdown drill that was going to happen in a few minutes.  I thought how sad it was that such little children needed to be educated in the steps to take should a dangerous person with deadly intent enter their school building. How did it make them feel ? 

On Wednesday night we went to the Winnipeg Art Gallery for a special showing of the Cannes Lions International Festival film that features all the award-winning advertisements for the past year. One that really made an impression on me was a public service announcement by the organization March For Our Lives.

A school girl instructs warehouse workers in active shooter protocol

It shows a schoolgirl named Kayleigh giving adults in a warehouse work area a training session on how to survive an active shooter event. The employees in the advertisement at first seem a bit amused that a young girl has come to talk to them. But as she solemnly instructs the adults in how to recognize different kinds of gunfire sounds, how to hide from a shooter, how to barricade doorways and ultimately escape by breaking windows, the faces of the people around her register shock and sadness. You can tell they are thinking, “What kind of world do we live in that a little girl needs to know these things?”

The advertisement titled Generation Lockdown reminds viewers that lockdown drills have become commonplace in schools ever since the Columbine High School shooting twenty years ago.

The ad ends by asking people to learn more about a variety of gun control measures being proposed in the United States that would prevent dangerous people from getting guns.  The organization that made the ad says 95% of school kids beginning at age five are now trained in what to do in active shooter situations because they have to be prepared for them to happen at any time. 

You can watch Generation Lockdown here.

You can find out when you can see the Cannes Lions film at the Winnipeg Art Gallery here. 

Other posts……..

Duck and Cover

Best of the Cannes Lions

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Filed under Childhood, Education, winnipeg art gallery

Overheard in Winnipeg Grade One Classrooms This Week

Bulletin board display in one of the schools I visit

Story 1

I am waiting for a post-observation chat with the student-teacher I am supervising when a child approaches her.  He is getting ready to go out for recess. 

Child:  Miss P could you please tie my shoes for me?’

Miss P:  Sure I can. 

She bends down and starts tying his laces.

Miss P:  It’s pretty cold and icy out today.  Don’t you have any boots? 

Child:  How long is a week?

Miss P:  A week is seven days. 

Child: Then I have to wait seven days to get boots because that’s when my Mom says the cheque will come.

A poster I saw in the hallway of a school I visited last week

Story 2

I am visiting with my student teacher when a mother comes in to talk to the classroom teacher. 

Parent:  I just wanted to let you know I have to move again but I will try to find a place close by so my daughter can keep coming to school here.  

Teacher:   I am glad you came in today because  I have a report that we have been waiting for a long time for you to sign. It is about a special education plan we want to put in place to help your daughter with her reading. 

Parent:  She read a book to me the other day and I nearly cried. 

Teacher: (Speaking softly and putting her hand gently on the mother’s arm) Yes her reading is getting a little better but she needs to come to school more often if we want her to make some real progress. 

Parent:  I know. I try.  But some days I just don’t feel that well and it’s too hard for me to get her ready and walk her to school. 

Other posts……….

The First Shall Be Last

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The First Shall Be Last

 The media was filled with stories yesterday about Manitoba school students’ abysmal results on standardized achievement tests. Sadly Manitoba is coming in dead last in some academic categories. Why?  I suspect it’s because we come in dead first in so many other ways.  Here is where we excel!

1) We are the province with the highest child poverty rate. I wonder if a lack of proper clothing, food and shelter could possibly impact a child’s learning?

Minimalism an art piece about Manitoba’s high incarceration rate by Kent Monkman

2) We are the province with the highest incarceration rate. I wonder if having a family member in prison could possibly impact a child’s learning?

The Scoop a painting by Kent Monkman shows indigenous children being taken away to foster and adoptive homes

3) We are the province with the highest number of children in foster care. I wonder if being separated from your family or worried about a parent who is struggling with life challenges, could possibly impact a child’s learning?

Mural on the wall of one of the schools I have visited

This month I am in inner-city Winnipeg elementary school classrooms every day evaluating student teachers.  I could write a long list of things I’ve seen related to Manitoba’s three big problems that would break your heart.  I could also write another long list of things I’ve seen caring educators do to try and help kids impacted by Manitoba’s three big problems. 

I strongly suspect that if we can improve our dismal scores as a province in the areas of poverty, incarceration and foster care we will improve our academic scores too.  

Other posts…………

Overheard in Winnipeg Grade One Classrooms This Week

Five Things I Believe About Learning


My Mom Starts School


Filed under Education

A Recipe Book That Brings Back Memories

My aunt has been downsizing for a move and during the process, she found this recipe book I gave her for Christmas one year. I made the recipe books with my grade three class. We put them together as a fundraiser for the Junior Red Cross. I was curious about the Junior Red Cross and found out it was an international organization for kids that operated in conjunction with the Red Cross from 1919 to 1980.

Initially, they raised funds for nurseries for war orphans but during the late 1950s and early 1960s when my grade three class was involved, much of the money Canadian school children raised went to the Crippled Children’s Fund to pay for medical treatment for children in each province with physical disabilities. Remember this was a time when the polio vaccine was just starting to be used and there was no universal health care. My grade three teacher Mrs Kihn had obviously enrolled our class in the charitable efforts of the Junior Red Cross and selling our recipe books was a fundraiser. I can’t recall how much we charged for each book but I certainly remember making them. It was a long tedious process.

We put two little balls of plasticine on our desks and stuck a pencil in each one. Then we slid first the back cover, and then each of the forty-five pages of the book and the front cover one by one over the pencils which had been placed exactly the right distance apart. When we were done our teacher carefully slid the compiled recipe books off the pencils and inserted the plastic rings to hold them together. I think we each made five books to sell and let me tell you it took a long time. We had obviously brought recipes from home that our mothers had written out and sent along with us to school. At age eight I’d certainly never made sweet and sour spareribs and I am sure little Herby Peters who went on to become the managing partner of a large Winnipeg law firm had never made date cake. Our teacher Mrs Kihn must have typed all those recipes onto mimeograph sheets and copied them all on an old Gestetner machine. Then she will have cut them apart with a paper cutter and punched holes in each sheet. A laborious task indeed! And there were forty children in our class who each made five recipe books. That’s 200 hundred recipe books Mrs. Kihn prepared for us to put together. 

My grade three class at the Kornelson School in Steinbach. I am second from the left in the second last row and Herby is in the middle of the girls in the back row. 

Mrs Kihn went to great lengths to help her students become civic-minded young people who were motivated to help others. I don’t think I fully appreciated that when I was sliding all those pages over the pencils on the second floor of the old Kornelson School in Steinbach.  Now I do!

Other posts………

My Polio Vaccines

Kornelson School Memories

Duck and Cover

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5 Things I Believe About Learning

For a professional development session last week I was asked to make a list of things I believe about learning.  After lots of deliberation here is what I decided were my core beliefs.

My husband and son playing chess at our kitchen table in Hong Kong

  1. We learn best by being active participants.  We learn by doing, by exploring, making mistakes and asking questions.

    Children in my classroom who worked together to make a mural for the poem Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

  2. We learn from each other. Learning is a collaborative and social experience.

    Practicing my sketching skills in Old Market Square Winnipeg

  3. Learning should be challenging, satisfying and joyful.

    Our son learning about Canadian history at Lower Fort Garry near Winnipeg

  4. Learning is about making connections- personal connections,  historical connections, textual connections, cross-curricular connections, and community connections.

    My Mom learning Tai chi in Hong Kong

  5. Learning is life long. 

Other posts……..

Counting on Their Fingers

Stopping By Woods- A Children’s Masterpiece

Improving Education in Manitoba


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