Monthly Archives: April 2011

Nesbitt School is a community school as well.

For any who may not know, Nesbitt School is an elementary school in Rosemount, Montreal, that the EMSB has put up for consultation on its potential closure. Nesbitt today remains a large school with an active and vocal parent community. One of the reasons for putting Nesbitt out for consultation is the belief that it is not a community school. The community is not impressed.


Over 100 years ago, my Grandmother attended Nesbitt School. My Great-Grandparents bought land from the Molson family across the field from Nesbitt and built a house – a house that still stands today and that still has my family members living in it.

My Mother attended Nesbitt School in the 1940’s and 50’s. I attended Nesbitt School in the 1970’s. And next year, a young cousin is enrolled and looking forward to his Kindergarten year at the same school his Great-Great-Granddad went to.

The house my family owns is no longer a field away. It is three blocks away. Our little K guy’s Mum was happy to know that he would travel that same route walking through a lane or two and attend the same school that she and her two brothers attended in the 80’s and 90’s.

What is a community school if it is not a school that has served its community for over 100 years, and continues to serve it today?

Is it any wonder that school boards all over continue to lose the trust of their communities?




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Teacher absences

As parents of students currently in school, my wife and I are often amazed at just how often one of our two boys has a substitute.  We’re probably (hopefully!) exaggerating, but it seems to us that just about every day there’s at least one period that has a sub – sometimes a great sub, but often someone who really has no plan and is apt to put a movie on for them.

We’re talking about grades 9 & 10 here – to me, every period is time that should be spent learning, and watching movies without any teaching context? Not so much, for me.

Anyhow – this weekend I came across the following article – it’s a quick read, and the sentiments we have in this house are echoed.

Teacher absences and their Effect on kids.

I like to see my own sentiments echoed.  🙂



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Four Characteristics of Successful Teachers

Redistributed from:  Faculty Focus

By: Maryellen Weimer, PhD in Philosophy of Teaching

The quest to identify the ingredients, components, and qualities of effective instruction has been a long one. Starting in the 1930s, researchers sought to identify the common characteristics of good teachers. Since then, virtually everybody who might have an opinion has been asked, surveyed, or interviewed. Students have been asked at the beginning, middle, and end of their college careers. Alumni have been asked years after graduating. Colleagues within departments and across them have been asked, as have administrators, from local department heads to college presidents.

Despite this large database, researchers continue to explore this issue and, surprisingly, find new groups to ask and new ways to analyze the results. Even more amazing is how much overlap and consistency there is across these many studies, and the study we’re about to highlight here is no exception. The researchers studied a group of 35 faculty members who had received a Presidential Teaching Award at a public university in the Midwest. To be considered for the award, teachers had to write a 1,500-word essay describing their teaching philosophies and teaching goals. Using a qualitative methodology (hermeneutics), researchers analyzed these statements with the goal of identifying the factors that made these teachers successful. The researchers found four categories of comments characteristic of all these award-winning teachers.

1. Presence – “The term presence for this study is defined as a deeper level of awareness that allows thoughts, feelings, and actions to be known, developed, and harmonized within. Presence is also the essence of a relationship and of interpersonal communication.” (p. 13) Illustrating this particular category were comments in the essays indicating how important it is for teachers to get to know their students. “The classroom should not be a sea of faceless forms,” writes one teacher. (p. 13) Another frequent theme in this category related to the importance of caring for students. “By caring for my students, I mean that I am genuinely interested in my students’ learning and understanding the course material, and in making a significant contribution to the success of their careers.” (p. 14)

2. Promotion of learning – These teachers also wrote of the importance of student learning and their roles in promoting it. They held their students and themselves to high standards, seeing students’ work in their courses and programs as preparation for lifelong learning. They also wrote of the need for students to do more than just memorize material. “Mere possession of scientific knowledge without the ability to apply it is of limited value in nursing practice,” wrote one nurse educator. (p. 14) Equally important was their shared view that promoting learning goes beyond content acquisition. Education is also about personal development, and teachers have a role in promoting that kind of learning as well.

3. Teachers as learners – These exemplary teachers described themselves as learners, each making it a priority to keep their teaching current. “As teachers, we must continue to re-engineer our curriculum, experiment with new and different methods of delivering course content, and bring emerging technologies into our classrooms.” (p. 15) These teachers valued opportunities to revise course content, to teach new courses, and to work on degree-program curricula.

4. Enthusiasm – “Effective teaching presupposes a command of the material and facility in communicating it with clarity, grace, fairness, and humor. But most of all it supposes enthusiasm.” (p. 15) This enthusiasm starts with a love of the content, but it goes beyond that and includes a genuine love of teaching and a passion for students and their learning. “I am also concerned that my students develop a passion for learning that goes on well after the course has ended.” (p. 15)

In their conclusion, these researchers note that “there is no formula for successful teaching. Each professor is unique and has an individual educational philosophy and teaching goals.” (p. 16) Even so, good teachers share common commitments and characteristics—they do in this study and have done so in many others as well.

Reference: Rossett, J. and Fox, P. G. (2009). Factors related to successful teaching by outstanding professors: An interpretive study. Journal of Nursing Education, 48 (1), 11-16.

Excerpted from “Qualities of Successful Teaching.” The Teaching Professor, 24.1 (2010): 6.


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The biggest difference in education here and in Finland

From the first ever international summit on teaching, here is the fundamental behind their success:

In a statement rarely heard these days in the United States, the Finnish Minister of Education launched the first session of last week’s with the words: “We are very proud of our teachers.” Her statement was so appreciative of teachers’ knowledge, skills, and commitment that one of the U.S. participants later confessed that he thought she was the teacher union president, who, it turned out, was sitting beside her agreeing with her account of their jointly-constructed profession.

Beyond Finland’s homogenous population and beyond their relatively higher standard of living, this fundamental respect for teachers and what they do, for education and what it brings to a society, to me, is the foundation for why they continue to lead the world.

Read more at the Washington Post.



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Sir Ken Robinson video – Learning Without Frontiers

No real commentary necessary here – this guy just “gets it” in terms of education.

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