Tag Archives: education

Teachers are True Heroes

Currently the labour situation in BC is very challenging. My daughter, a middle school student, decided to write the newspapers to offer support for her teachers. A shortened version of her letter was published, but here is the full text of her letter:

To the Editor,

My first day of school. I remember letting go of my parents’ hands and walking into the colourful yet intimidating classroom. Immediately I was overwhelmed with emotions. When my parents had to leave, I remembered feeling so alone; so afraid. Little did I know I was about to embark upon the most incredible, exciting journey of my life.

As I began my journey through school, I quickly realized that I had no reason to be nervous. Whenever I needed help, a teacher was there for me. Whenever I needed someone to talk to, they would listen to me. They always respected me. They always listened. They always helped. They always cared.

It sickens me to see how teachers are so disrespected by the government. The current political situation is unacceptable. All teachers do is give, and this is what they get? It’s not fair. There needs to be a change, and it needs to happen now.

I would honestly be nowhere if teachers weren’t as supportive and generous as they are. Not only have I learned my academics, I have also developed great life skills. Our world would be a chaotic mess without teachers – can you imagine your life without an education? There’s no debate that teaching is one of the most important jobs ever.

I don’t know if I’ll ever truly understand how teachers can be so passionate about what they do. Every day they wake up eager and enthusiastic to educate young people. I feel so privileged to have the opportunity to get an education as exceptional as the one I’ve been receiving so far, and I’m only in Grade 9.

“I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” – Christopher Reeve

Teachers are true heroes. Is this any way to treat a hero? Let’s make a change.

Willa Holmwood
Kelowna, BC

Test Anxiety: What do we teach?

cc licensed flickr photo shared by albertogp123

Recently the Fraser Institute released the results of the Report Card on British Columbia’s Elementary Schools: 2011 Edition. This report consists of ranking schools in comparison to each other based on standardized tests – the Foundation Skills Assessments Tests. In this type of report there are bound to be perceived winners and losers despite the suggestion that the results must be interpreted carefully. The reality is that most media, and in turn the public,  focus on the top and bottom schools. Further, it seems to suggest that the good schools obviously have ‘the answer’ while the schools that struggle need to pull up their socks. The reality of the situation is quite a bit different. Upon closer examination, beyond the narrow focus of what has been co-opted into a type of ‘high stakes’ test, a very different picture of the true quality of a school emerges.

I am the parent of a student who once attended Raymer Elementary – one of the lower ranking schools. I know that to judge a school using the FSA results is both unfair and demoralizing. A letter to the editor was published this past week in a local Kelowna newspaper explaining this unfairness, but I have yet to find it anywhere online. I’ve received permission from the author to post it here so a fuller picture can emerge. Here is the full text of the letter:

What do we teach at Raymer?

We teach empathy and understanding towards the 50% of the students in the class who don’t speak English at home, but are still willing to try their best on a government exam.

What do we teach at Raymer? We teach how to show tolerance and compassion towards the classmate who has not had enough to eat at home and is angry with the world!

What do we teach at Raymer? We teach by showing how love and safety still exist in a world that sometimes forgets that little eyes see all.

What do we teach at Raymer? We teach honesty and forgiveness towards inappropriate behaviours.

What do we teach at Raymer? We teach diversity since there is a big chance that your best friend may move away during the school year and you will have to find another best friend from the several that will join your class some time throughout the year.

What do we teach at Raymer? We teach that the values of life are worth more than the value of your bank account.

What do we teach at Raymer? We teach reading, writing, mathematics, science, language, socials, physical education, art, music, drama, problem solving, personal planning, computer, creative thinking, library, spelling, and nutrition.

What don’t we teach at Raymer?  We don’t teach the children how to judge a person by only one action, activity, or test!

Too bad the members of the Fraser Institute did not go to Raymer! What a wonderful school it is!

D. Zerr  (on behalf of the staff of Raymer Elementary School)

A Different Point of View…

Every year Rotary International holds a public speaking contest for young people in our school district. The structure and format of the speeches follow a detailed rubric, and students must follow these guidelines closely. This year the theme of the contest is “The Future of Your Community”, and it can be explored literally or with a more creative viewpoint. Imagine my pride when I discovered that my 12 year old daughter chose to write and speak about technology. I have included the text of her speech as she “guest blogs” the rest of this post for me. I know she would love to read your comments.

The Future of Technology in My Community

by Willa Holmwood

Imagine it’s a beautiful, sunny day outside. The wind is gently blowing and birds are  joyfully chirping.  As you sit on your computer you think to yourself, “what’s wrong with this picture?” It’s astonishing to realize that the average teenager spends over thirty hours in front of a screen every week. This caused me to think about what our future would be like in our community if we continued spending this much time online.

For this speech, I decided to list some pros and cons of using technology such as televisions and computers. Here are some reasons why they might have a negative impact in the future.

When you are on the computer, the only people you interact with are the people who are online. This can create poor social skills when you actually go to talk to somebody outside of the screen world. Because the fact that many Internet sites or games can be addictive, it becomes harder and harder to let go and eventually you start missing out on fun opportunities. Once when I came home from school I noticed that I was on facebook, my mom was on her computer, and my dad was on his. We all realized that technology shouldn’t rule our life and that we had the control and the power to turn it off. Instead of staring at a picture of a tree on a computer screen, why don’t we venture outside and go and climb one? Besides these reasons, over-using computers can hurt your  health. Common problems are back pains, sore necks, achy wrists, and dry eyes. What might happen to our community if we do not address these concerns?    I’m definitely not against technology; in fact I love it and use it every day! But when we spend too much time using it, and not enough time enjoying the real world, it can become an issue.

Fortunately, technology has some really fun and captivating things in it. Here are some reasons why it might make a positive impact in the future.

I think that the main reason people use computers or watch T.V is because it’s human nature to be curious. It’s an intriguing place to be. Online we explore and discover things we couldn’t even imagine. Another huge plus of technology is the amazing connections you can make. Meeting people all around the world and learning their customs and beliefs is an adventure. For instance, my mom is a teacher and blogs about education. She put a picture on her blog and the photographer, who is Greek but lives in Poland, posted a comment to say thanks. In Twitter she connects with other educators from all over the world – Australia, China, England, Finland, Japan, South Africa, and that’s just the start! It doesn’t get much cooler than that. Also, on the Internet you can share your own stories. Whether it’s with music, video, poetry, or even just writing, you can feel free to express your thoughts with the world.

As I look back, I realize that technology is really new and people are just learning how to use it properly. Myspace was only created in 2003, Facebook in 2006, and Twitter in 2007. These brand new technologies are exciting but it’s important to the future of our community that we take the time to learn about them.

So now imagine it’s a beautiful sunny day outside. The wind is gently blowing and birds are joyfully chirping. As you climb trees and play about you think to yourself, “what’s wrong with this picture?” The answer is absolutely nothing.

This is the future of our community.

Come on in, the water’s fine


cc licensed flickr photo shared by gothick_matt

Exploring web-based technology challenges today’s educators to remain students themselves. Recently I presented a workshop on digital identity and social media to a group of receptive teacher-librarians. Despite their willingness to learn, question, and explore it became apparent that there was no avoiding the overwhelming flood of information. With so much to consider and so many technical skills needed it’s akin to being information soaked by a fire hose. These topics and tools are complexly interrelated and have their own language and expectations. And even though I was the guide for this particular session – I realized I related to how they felt. I have experienced the dazzle and thrill of classes taught by Dr. Alec Couros, and know firsthand what it is like to wonder if I could possibly keep up. It was a colleague of his, Dean Shareski, that I remember telling me to go slowly and give myself time.

The web opens up endless possibilities for educators. Its constant state of flux means the only thing we can truly master is our ability to learn. I was honoured to work with the teacher-librarians that attended the workshop because their passion for learning was palpable, and they were committed to working through complex ideas and technology. For myself, I continue to proceed at my own pace, and savour every opportunity. While I’m pretty decent at technology, I’m no tech superstar. Luckily, I know many technical experts through my PLN and don’t hesitate to tweet for help when necessary.

So I’m going wading, and if the water is too cold I may have to acclimatize for a bit before venturing deeper. And that’s ok. Because I am going swimming and I’m planning on getting my hair wet.


cc licensed flickr photo shared by joebart