Magic? Or Is It?

This post almost acts as a Part 2 to the recent one that I published on The MEHRIT Centre blog. I’m grateful to one of our camp instructors, Patricia Ung, for letting me blog about her and share what’s possible when a big heart, some extra time, and important academic considerations all coincide.

Patricia is an L.T.O. (Long Term Occasional) teacher in our Board, and while we share some common friends, this is the first time that we’ve had an opportunity to meet and work together. I’ve loved visiting Patricia’s class when I’m at her camp site, and I always get swept up in the amazing learning opportunities that she has for her campers. She’s working with a group of students in Grades 4-6 (about to begin Grades 5-7), so she really has to differentiate to meet a variety of needs and appeal to a variety of ages, but she happily takes on these challenges every day.

While there are so many wonderful things that I could talk about when it comes to Patricia, it’s her incredible ability to form strong and meaningful connections with students, which inspired this post.

This blog post actually picks up from the tweet that I shared in my MEHRIT Centre post.

I was not the only person who noticed this camper in the hallway. Patricia did too. While sometimes giving space and time can help support Self-Reg and reduce stress, Patricia wondered if there might be another way to get this camper involved in the learning. This camper was not on her attendance list, but she knew that she had a classroom of students who would welcome and connect with this student. She spoke to the administrator of the camp about her observations and connected with the instructor that had this student. Patricia wondered, could I invite this camper to join my group?

Through conversations, connections around some interests, the opportunity to work alone while being together (i.e., part of a group with other students), and a low-pressure invitation to join the group, this camper moved out of the hallway, and is now learning and thriving along with the rest of the class.

Changing a trajectory for this student was magical. The choices that Patricia made, along with the time invested to make these changes, were what allowed for this magic to happen. Outside of the academic growth that we’re noticing at the Board camps this summer, it’s these kinds of connections and the positive impact that they have on learning, that we are noticing just as much. I chose to blog about Patricia today, but I could have blogged about so many other instructors, who are working their magic for the benefit of kids. Prioritizing “caring adults” within the camp space, has allowed for this fluid movement of students, so that all campers can be part of various environments that work for them. As another school year is upon us, I can’t help but think about this summer anecdote and what might greet us in September.

  • Maybe there will be children who don’t want to come into the classroom.
  • Maybe there will be children who struggle with leaving their parents.
  • Maybe there will be children who sit on the outskirts and observe, but are reluctant to participate.
  • Maybe there will be children who scream, cry, or throw things.
  • Maybe there will be children who just want to go home.

While we might not have a wand or a magic spell to address all of these scenarios, Ms. Ung shows us that with love, time, support, and a combination of deliberate decisions, we can all work a little magic of our own.


Twitter Through The Ages — Is It Time To Go Back To The Days Of Old?

Earlier this week when I opened Twitter, I noticed an anniversary tweet (which I then helped personalize).

Thirteen years and almost 210,000 tweets later — yes, apparently I have a lot to say — I realized how much my tweeting habits have changed. When I started using Twitter, I was all about connecting with other educators and administrators about classroom practices. I reflected a lot on my readings and in-school professional development in this space. I also used hashtags and engaged in Twitter chats to learn new ideas, ask questions, and explore ideas with others. I wanted to read what all of my followers wrote, and I tried hard to reply to as many people as possible.

As I began to follow more people, this amount of interaction became more challenging. I still tried to tweet out blog posts that I read and/or commented on, and engage in professional dialogue with others. I didn’t engage in as many Twitter chats as before, but I read tweets from some favourite ones, including #tmctalks and #kinderchat, and tried to chime in when I could. Then the pandemic began. Things changed again. The tone of many tweets changed. Some became more emotionally charged. Many veered from professional dialogue. Social media provides an outlet for people to share their thinking, and I understand why many individuals looked to Twitter as a way to vocalize their thoughts. Knowing that my Twitter followers range from educators to administrators to community members and parents, I had to think carefully about what I wanted to share. Pretty soon, my daily tweets were often shares of Doug Peterson‘s daily blog posts (a favourite blog of mine) and my many word game updates. While I still periodically share other blog posts, most of my daily Twitter dialogue revolves around Wordle reflections.

Then this past week, I started getting ready for our Board summer camps. This year, I’m one of two coordinators for the three different programs (happening at five different sites). Yesterday, I was at one site getting supplies unpacked and organized with the camp staff. Usually throughout the summer, we share daily tweets through our camp Twitter account. As I was unpacking, I decided to take a few photographs to tweet out later. Those that know me, know that I can have a fairly sarcastic sense of humour, and I knew that this box post might not be one to share on the summer camp Twitter account, but was one that I had to share somewhere. This led me to Instagram.

As I was driving home though, I thought more about this box structure. Maybe there’s more than just humour in this. I then sent out this tweet.

The great thing about this is that it led to the most wonderful Twitter discussion with a fellow educator, Usha. Since her Twitter account is private, I asked her if I could screenshot this conversation to share in a blog post, and I’m so grateful that she agreed. This is that post.

I haven’t had an opportunity to chat with my teaching partner, Paula, about these ideas yet, but thinking more about this conversation, I’m almost wondering about the addition of some smaller boxes into a building/construction area. Paula and I also love to use shelf spaces for small world play, and these boxes with some art materials, plasticine perhaps, and even loose parts, could lead to some wonderful small world play.

This was from a previous school year, but how might boxes add another element to this building and storytelling?

I share this exchange because this Twitter discussion reminded me that the Twitter of 13 years ago is not lost. Maybe I need to be looking at other ways and other times to engage in professional dialogue in this space. Twitter could provide an online learning team, and I wonder how it might further contribute to our thinking and learning with our in-person school team. How do you connect with others through social media, and what benefit might some “joint reflecting” have on classroom practices? Thanks Usha for reminding me about why I loved Twitter all those years ago, and how I can find this same love again!