Total Pageviews

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Growing Pains of FDK/ELP

Earlier this week the Ontario Ministry of Education changed part of their plans for the new FDK/ELP.  The before and after school programs as part of the FDK/EKP will no longer have to be run by the school/board. The Ministry's Press Release words the changes as 'giving parents more options'. The Toronto Star & Parent Central refer to it as 'scrapping a key component'. Dr. Charles Pascal's Report on 'Early Learning' (2009) was to initiate a new era for Early Learning in Ontario. Proponents quickly applauded the initiative, Ministry of EducationThe Globe & Mail,and Wonder Moms. With the 3-5 year phase in of the program beginning in the fall of 2010 the first major hurdle/roadblock arose, the running and funding of the before and after school programs, the Globe & Mail,  'Failing Grade'. Were schools and school board prepared to run these programs? The government was slow with announcing (adequate) funding. Many boards stepped back from this initiative. The idea of seamless programming was removing childcare centres and other partnerships (YMCA, Early Years/Best Start) out of the picture. Could not these partnership be enhanced to meet the programs needs? Down the road & not overly publicized with the implementation of the FDK/ELP is the move for the Ministry of Education to provide both education and social services ( and all) for children 0-12. The school was to be developing into the 'Hub' of the Community for children. This included removing and incorporating the corresponding Ministry's / Agencies / Departments and funding into the Education Ministry. Or the plans to bring 3 year olds into FDK/ELP. Has the government made a radical move or is it moving too much too quickly? For some yes. Are 3 & 4 and even 5 year olds ready for this? Emotionally, Physically, Socially? 'Good Intentions' make the case that children learn things at certain stages of their life. Is there a stigma if you don't enroll your child in FDK, even though school is optional until age 6? 'Your child will be behind.' Look at Finland, everyones reference, poster child, these days. Are we removing the joys and tribulations of parenting and placing them in the hands of teachers and ECEs? Would/could universal childcare not serve the same purpose with similar results? Hold On To Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld & Gabor Mate has an interesting perspective on parenting. The more parents are removed from the children's upbringing and placed with their peers, the more they depend & relate to their peers than their parents. I am hoping that the FDK/ELP is only having Growing Pains and the Ministry will take the time, plan and implement properly and provide adequate/long-term funding to make it work. I am maybe way off base here but I am trying.

These are the views of the author and are not representative of those of the AMDSB.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Your Words. My Words

The acquisition of knowledge used to be only by word of mouth, then came books, then computers and the internet and now the joy of twitter. The exchange of information and ideas these days is endless as is the amount of information out there. Twitter has opened a whole new world to me. The freethinking, the collaboration, the respect amongst the tweeps is refreshing. (At least the 300 I presently follow.) The knowledge and insight I have gained in the area of education is bountiful. Whether it be @SirKenRobinson, @pmcash, @dougpete, @KimMcGill, @gcouros, or the many others (not to offend any of you) the thoughts and articles they write make you think and inform you. When one's words make you think I ask myself would I every be able to write something like that?

All too often when I write and ultimately when I speak, I reference others. You will notice the majority of my tweets are retweets or my blog articles are filled with links. (I like letting people know what is happening and why.) Do I not have any original thoughts of my own? Am I too afraid/self-confident to let my thoughts be known? . Here is an example: I can't remember who's tweets or articles I read these from. 'Just Do It' and 'Don't Be Afraid to Fail'. Those two articles helped to bring me to where I am now, tweeting & blogging as a School Board Trustee. 'Just Do It', if you don't start, you can never finish or accomplish anything, whether big or small. Right now I have started something big. 'Don't Be Afraid to Fail', you always can learn from your mistakes and don't let your failures stop you from moving forward. Don't be afraid to start something for fear of failure. When you are surrounded by people who are knowledgeable and care, they are there to assist you and the failures are few.

Someday I may write that original tweet or compose that thought provoking article. For now My Words maybe Your Words but they are Good Words.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Parent Involvement II

Some articles seem to hit a cord and 'Frazzled Moms Push Back Against Volunteering' did just that with me. What do parents do when they reach the 'I can't take it anymore' point? 'I have done my time.' 'I did my share.' 'Who will step up, if I quit?' 'I am too busy.' As volunteers we have all heard this from our fellow cohorts and probably from ourselves as well. When do the other 80% take on our 80% of the work? Does it come down to prioritizing where we place our energy in the school community and where the school wants our energy? Focusing My Energy reflects on that. What role should parents being playing in school? What role does the school want us playing? The Ministry of Education outlines the roles and responsibilities and scope of School Councils. At times though we wonder why we are there? Is our time being put to good use? Does our input matter? This Parents for Education article questions parents as partners. All too often parents and School Councils are trying to find that happy niche to play in their school. Are we there as volunteers in the classroom, fundraisers, workers, consultants, developers? Work on finding that niche for you and the Council but stay within your comfort zone and that of those around you. We all are there for the betterment of the school and its (our) children. It doesn't hurt to step back and look at things. A new or different approach or direction or that talk maybe all that is needed before saying, 'I quit.'

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Voice of the Committee

As Trustees, part of our job is to sit on Committees of the Board. AMDSB Policy 10 Some of these committees require all Trustee membership, others 1-3 Trustees. The make-up of the Committee maybe Trustees and/or staff and/or parents and/or community members. It is within these committees that the Trustees begin to learn the functioning of the Board. The trustees also begin to view/direct policies and procedures that the Board operates by and is governed by.
 The Board's Committees are classified as: Standing Committees - Committee of the Whole, Finance Committee, Director's Review, and Board Review/Self Evaluation: Statutory Committees - Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC), Suspension Appeal Committee/Expulsion Committee/Expulsion Appeal Committee/Discipline Committee, Supervised Alternative Learning (SAL), Parent Involvement Committee (PIC), and Audit Committee; Advisory Committees - School Year Calendar, Student's Advisory Committee & Student Trustees, and Joint Health & Safety Committee; Ad Hoc Committees - Policy Committee and Board Review Committee; Others - Curriculum Pool, Human Resources Pool, Foundation for Enriching Education Perth Huron, AODA, Huron-Perth Student Transportation, Safe Schools, Key Contributions & Service Awards, and Accommodation Review Committees.
One can now begin to see the time commitment of the Trustee between their Committee(s) obligations and the regular Board Meetings (Committee of the Whole).

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Meeting. The Team

I had the opportunity to meet all my fellow AMDSB Trustees on Thursday at the 2010 Regional Trustee Orientation Seminars in London. With 5 new trustees and 4 returning trustees things maybe a little slow to begin with, as us rookies learn the ropes. The new trustees are Michael Bannerman & Alyson Kent representing Stratford, Lynette Geddes representing West & South Perth and St. Marys, Julie Moore representing Perth East and myself, Robert Hunking, representing Huron East & Central Huron. The returning trustees are Colleen Schenk representing North Huron & Morris/Turnberry & Howick, Al Sygrove representing Goderich & Colborne/Ashfield/Wawanash, Jenny Versteeg representing North Perth, and representing South Huron & Bluewater Randy Wagler. The Seminars that day including speakers on Student Achievement, Bill 177 and the Early Learning Program (FDK). We also had time to discuss and talk amongst ourselves about our role as trustees. The open and frank conversation between the trustees shows the willingness to respect and encourage each other. Connected Principals: TRUST .The challenges of the next 4 years lay before us, we will meet them. We may stumble at times, be unsure of ourselves, ask the wrong or 'stupid' question occasionally and make mistakes but we will do the best we can and learn along the way.  The Leading Blog: Ten Truths About Leadership

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Ombudsman Cometh

Saw this tweet/article 'Ombudsmaning-it' by @HugoWSRatMassey (The Education Reporter). NDP MPP Rosario Marchese has introduced a bill that will place school boards and others under the eyes of the Ontario Ombudsman. This is something that I will need to follow as a new trustee. I see nothing wrong with people having a place/person to go to if they feel their complaints are not being heard. How this plays outs or is implemented will determine its effectiveness. The issues could be a child being bullied, bussing, special needs and even ARC's. This could be one of the biggest complaint area. Will parents use the Ombudsman to try to overturn school closures? Will try to keep myself and you updated as things unfold. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Parent Involvement

The satisfaction of volunteering is very evident in school. Parent involvement or engagement (a future blog) has become an essential part of the school environment. Much can be said/discussed about the parent's place in the school system. In this blog I am just going to touch on some information that parents can use to help them become part of their child's school or think about it. Get Involved  by Kids Health. People volunteer in school because they want to, not because they are mandated. Parent involvement is now part of Ontario's Education Act. Visit Ontario Ministry of Education .Most parents volunteer in the classroom or are involved through the School Advisory Council (SAC). Many school boards have a Parent or SAC section on their website, AMDSB School Councils , with various information, SAC Handbook , SAC  Video Tutorials. School's SAC's play many roles within the school and vary from school to school. The degree of parent involvement varies as well. Parents need to feel welcome and respected in the school and classroom by the teachers, principal and other parents. The articles and resources for parents, teachers and administration are endless on parent involvement. A good website is Parents as Partners. I will be returning to this topic in future posts as it is an important and necessary part of the school environment. A first step Inform, Invite, Perform . To my fellow parents out there, Thank you.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Canadian Education

Education is always taking a bad rap. Read these two posts and you will realize things are not that bad here. The first is from the Washington Post and the second is from Newsweek Magazine. Let's strive on what we are doing right.


As this is a journey for me and for some of my readers, my posts and links may not be of interest to some readers, especially those who have been in the education field for a period of time. To myself and other newbies,  most information is new or at least needing a refreshing. Here is a prime example, how many parents have taking the time to see what the Ministry's Curriculum Guidelines look like. Ontario Elementary Curriculum . It takes time to comprehend all the information, let alone determine how to teach it. You maybe asking yourself  "If he doesn't know what is to be taught how can he be a good Trustee?" This is an area I need to work on. Fortunately for me, Trustees do not determine directly what or how subjects are taught, this is left to the Ministry, Board Staff and teachers. We do watch and see that it is being taught in an effective learning environment for students and teachers. Within the Ministry's Curriculum Guidelines are standards or levels for students to obtain and it these that the Board uses to determine if the Board is meeting its goals set out in its, AMDSB Strategic Directions. Standards, levels and testing is a whole different discussion. (This discussion will come.) To the non newbies your direction and input and comments are always welcome on all subjects.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

What is That?

Every world creates their own lingo and has their own tools. The Education Tech world is no different.
Storybird, ebook, Backchannel, Digg, BrainNook, Animoto, Bitstripes, Wordle, Blogger, Wiki, Twiducate, Tweetdeck, Wallwisher, Prezi, Voice Thread, Skype, Ning, Grouply, DropBox, Livescribe, IWB, Evernote, Google Docs, Ustream, Wordcloud, Voki, Delicious, PowerPoint (old) Yfrog, etc., etc., etc. The list of eprograms and etools is endless. What should be used in the classroom? What is the best for my situation? Do the parents understand what is happening in the 21st Century Classroom and what WEB 2.0 is about? Here is a local example of what schools can do to educate the parents.Hullett Central PS.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Strategic Directions

As mentioned in my Nov. 2nd Blog the 'Rules of the Game' one of the responsibilities of the Trustees is to develop their Board's Strategic Directions. Here are the Strategic Directions for the AMDSB . It has been divided into 5 sections:

1) Student Achievement
2) Citizenship
3) Staff
4) Engaging Our Community
5) Effective Use of Resources

The Board's procedures to achieve the path(s) and goals laid out are developed by the staff within the framework of the Education Ministry's Guidelines, Framework, Standards, ETC. It becomes the responsiblilty of the Trustees to monitor the success of the Strategic Directions.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Read this article on Twitter today Canadian Education: We're in Need of a Good Controversy or Two by Stephen Hurley and thought I would blog about it. First off we do not need to behave like the Americans and reform by creating a "crisis" and try to destroy the system in order to change it. What Controversy do you want to create? Is the education antiquated? Slow to adapt to new ideas? Stressing teaching over learning? I  have stated before Reform  and by many others education needs to create Life Long Learners. So whether education is going through a reformation or a transformation or a revolution or an evolution the stakeholders are the students. A starting point could be a simple as 4 Ways to Transform Your School Culture  by Tanya Roscorla. The sharing of best practices has been made simpler by the use of Twitter and the Internet. Use it. These two articles may sum things up the best Reforming Through Our Strengths by Chris Wejr and For the Love of Learning by Will Richardson. I don't know if we need a controversy but what we need a progressive movement forward.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Rules of the Game

Being a Trustee is not a game but like a game there are rules. In education these rules are referred to as Policies and Procedures. The first glance many people get, unless they have been active in Boards activities, on being a Trustee is probably the Making a Difference for Kids Running for Election as a School Board Trustee by OPSBA . If this did not scare you off, you start looking at your Board's Policies, in my case the Avon Maitland District School Board AMDSB. School Board Websites are a wealth of information for students, parents and teachers and even Administrators. The distribution of information at the Board level to schools and parents is critical. Here though, one discovers the Policies that help Govern the Trustees and the Staff.  Once you have read  the Trustees Job Description and  the Role of the Trustee , follow it by the Board Governance Bylaws., you realize there are many rules of the game. All this leads to  the Strategic Directions, the framework from which Procedures are now developed to implement this plan.How is the Board going to meet its plan as developed to meet Ministry expectations?  By now ones head is spinning and you realize you have just started your journey. However, wait to see what the Ministry has to say on the matter. That is later, I now need to refresh myself on all this that I now posted. 

Monday, November 1, 2010


Why did you run in the election? Why do you think people voted for you? Why?

Everybody has their own answer(s) to these questions. My other/old website may/can answers some of those questions, too. In 2008/2009 my children were in grades 2, SK & JK and like many parents I was not overly involved in my children's school beyond helping with homework and attending school activities. That year our school came up for an Accommodation review and for some reason the need for information took me over. I did not want to just be involved, I wanted to be engaged. I became a member of the Accommodation Review Committee (ARC) and of the School Advisory Council (SAC). Once you begin to discover the workings of the school system, from the classroom to the Ministry, your questions never end, as is most circumstances the answer(s) leads to another question(s). I feel strongly that all parents need to know how the education system works and how & why decisions are made whether at the school level or at the Ministry. I realize a Trustee's role is it develop/set policy but they are also the means of communication between the board and parents.

Was this what the voters were looking for or was it the discussion on the various issues/concerns happening these days in education? Could voting be consider a form of Parent Involvement? Does experience play a role in voters decision or are they looking for new blood or perspective? What about name or reputation? Only the voters know why they did what they did.

I would like to acknowledge my fellow candidates Wilhelmina Laurie and Pam McLellan. There were three strong and dedicated candidates in this election. We are all the better for it.

I am using this blog as a form of expression for me and also as opportunity to dialogue with people. As a learn, you will learn with me. I thank you for this opportunity and hope you will help me on 'My Path of Learning'..

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Transition

As a begin this new blog/website I must say good-bye to my old site. 'A Discovered Passion for Education' was created as my campaign website. It grew as I posted comments and added links to various articles and other websites. I do not know how many people viewed my website or let alone clicked on any of the links. The site however was a learning experience for me as will this new site. I hope you enjoyed the old and hope the new is enlightening to you as it will be to me.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A New Journey

October 25, 2010 began a new and important change in my life. I was elected a Trustee of the Avon Maitland District School Board. Where this journey will take me and how will I handle it, is in my hands. The voters saw ability and confidence that I could perform in this role. It is up to me to learn and grow. There are endless resources out there and many medium. I have become a Twitterer and the knowledge that I have learned there is immense from my fellow tweeps and the many posts and blogs. This is a journey that I want to share with you whether it be my personal development or the knowledge of the education field/system within the AMDSB or the Ministry. Let the Journey begin.