Category Archives: Guest Bananas

Everyone Matters

The school my husband and I teach at has an unofficial motto, “Everyone Matters”. We encounter situations and behaviours daily that can challenge this credo. Recently, Bearded Husband wrote a journal entry for a course he is taking. He was asked to respond to his quote:

“Creating a non-threatening environment in which students are emotionally and physically safe has a significant impact on student learning and achievement.” Marzano (2003)

I’m proud to teach with this man and to have his words shared here. Thank you to my fellow teachers for the dedication you bring to your job, even when it’s tiring, even when you want to give up. You matter.

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It can be a tough process in life. We all have a basic need for it. Identity issues or a negative sense of self can arise if we don’t have a deep sense of it. Without it, we don’t function as we were meant to – we fall apart; we ache; we hurt others.

A sense of belonging.

If one lacks a feeling of belonging, it can negatively influence who we are, how we act, how we treat others. As educators, we are called to ensure that students in our care feel safe, secure, and valued. That they belong. We want students to have the courage to be authentic and put themselves out there. To feel like they’re allowed to be imperfect, that they don’t always need to be right. To realize that it’s okay to struggle, to feel imperfect. That’s important. We foster that attitude through our actions, words and beliefs.

Teachers matter to student achievement more than any other aspect of schooling. Us. We matter. Our knowledge, our skill, our leadership, our commitment to students. We develop students’ potential to become contributing citizens of our society by modelling care, trust, respect, and integrity. We are called to ensure our learning communities are safe. We want students to see themselves as an important part of a diverse community of learners where differences are valued – where it’s okay to display our strengths and needs. We all want to feel included. To belong.

Coming to this realization has made me a better teacher. It’s a tall task to meet a child’s basic needs. I encounter children daily who may not feel safe for several reasons: they are bogged down with problems related to financial distress, family dysfunction, health and well-being concerns, and neglect. I’m proud to say I’m part of a school team that does our best to alleviate these worries by providing programs beyond the call of duty. Attendance is a real issue for some. But we know that students are less likely to miss school if they feel safe. A big part of that is up to me.

Through reflection and dialogue with colleagues I continually refine my teaching practice. I try to be sensitive to the factors that influence student learning. As a teacher, I do my best to provide a non-threatening environment to relieve students’ anxiety and tension. I encourage students to take risks, to speak their ideas, to feel like they belong and are valued.  I foster this through my actions and words – by modelling it. We engage regularly in class meetings, we set fair but firm expectations together. We seek ways to put others first by volunteering our time and effort. But ultimately, it’s up to me to set the tone. So I establish high expectations and insist they be met. I treat students equitably and with respect. I take time to establish a sense of trust. I ask students to focus on what we can do for others rather than on what we can “get” from doing something. I find effective resources to plan for and respond to the needs of individual students and learning communities. I provide whatever accommodations necessary to enable them to succeed. I do these things because I want my students to grow and learn and achieve more. I want them to have a chance to succeed in life. So I do what I can to create a sense of belonging.

We’re all in our own little communities with people who aren’t the same. Being different needs to be seen as a good thing. We all have strengths and needs different from each other. Everyone matters.

We are all worthy of belonging.

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Local Mom Under Scrutiny

Dear readers,

Today we feature a submission by rookie reporter, 8-year-old Moyer. He is an up-and-coming journalist with a knack for digging deep into his topics. Mr. Moyer is not afraid to tackle any subject, no matter how sensitive or inaccurate.

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In addition to being a crackerjack writer, he also does his own illustrations.

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Editor’s note: the views expressed in the above article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Tough Bananas, Jan Moyer, or most Starbucks consumers.

 


Create Your Own Village

This post has been on my mind for months and I finally put it into words. Honoured to have it posted on BonBon Break (a new community I am excited to join). Click here to check it out and while you’re there, get inspired by other posts. Stay a while.

A big thank you to all the friends, neighbours, and coworkers in my life who inspire and encourage me. And thank you to this month’s theme sponsor, OurPactApp.


1 Simple Trick…

It’s my most Buzzfeed-like title to date.

Today I’m posting over at What The Flicka and sharing some thoughts on getting your kids to pitch in with household chores. Here’s the link: http://whattheflicka.com/1-simple-trick-to-convince-your-kids-to-pitch-in/

Thanks – you guys are the best.


Happy Anniversary TB – a working title

Today marks two years of blogging. That’s kind of a milestone, right?

Thank you everyone who takes time out of their lives to read Tough Bananas, comment, and share. I never thought that blogging would introduce me to so many great people and new friends, but here we are. And aside from teaching, marriage, and parenting, I think this is longest I’ve stuck with anything. And coffee. And chocolate. You get the idea.

You can find me over at MomBabble where some of us moms share how we knew we were pregnant. Even though I did that four times, I only have one exciting backstory. Enjoy.

Pretty big for a single serving, but you can do anything if you believe.

Pretty big for a single serving, but you can do anything if you believe.

And thanks. Seriously.


Double Double Guest Posting

It’s a two for one!

Today I’m guest posting at the always delicious and freshly-brewed Coffee Shoppers again. It’s fun and delicious. Ever wonder what people really mean when they ask you to go for a coffee? Wonder know more – I explain all over there: Let’s Have Coffee. If you like that, take a minute and read past guests posts, a review of “Balzacs“, and some thoughts on Tim Hortons.

And, I have a post up on What the Flicka for the first time. I have four boys and find I get a little punchy when it comes to stereotypes about “boy” and “girl” toys and stereotypes in general – you can read that right here: But That’s For Girls.

As always, thanks for coming along for the ride.


The Sting

A big welcome to guest writer, Andi. You can’t find Andi anywhere on social media, but take my word for it, she’s real. She even buys me American Reese, so you know she’s a solid person. A true friend. And she has some great stories – like this one.

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I’ve never considered myself an unlucky person but the last few years of my life are tempting me to reconsider. I think that what may have sealed it is what I have started referring to as “the wasp incident”.

I was driving home from a rather discouraging day at work. It was one of the last lovely days of the season so I decided to  pull my day out of the dumpster: tunes turned up and windows rolled down. Five minutes from home and my spirits were lifting when suddenly I went, “Ow!” immediately followed by, “MY BACK IS ON FIRE!!!”

Not a wasp

Not a wasp

Now I may or may not have been moving at a good clip in the passing lane at this point and in the excitement, may have transferred my stress to the accelerator. I reached behind me with one hand to hold my wildly waving shirt (reference wide open window comment above) away from the spot on my shoulder that felt like it was pumping fire into my back. It’s amazing how quickly your brain can fire when you feel that level of pain. After about two seconds I deduced that I had been stung by a bee. I also realized that I needed to get home as quickly as possible to make sure that the stinger was no longer in my back as it felt like bursts of electricity were shooting into my shoulder blade.

A few seconds later I decided I should close the windows to prevent the wind from working against me by blowing my shirt against said ‘ring of fire’. I switched hands to hold my shirt away from my back while trying to roll up the windows and that’s when I realized that this was not a bee sting but a wasp sting. Fun fact: Wasps do not die after stinging their target. I can confirm this as the wasp flew up and stung my finger and then fell down the back of my shirt and stung me under the waistband on my pants. Thankfully, the music was loud to muffle my loud exclamations of surprise.

For the record, I did consider pulling onto the side of the road to get rid of the wasp and try to address the fiery inferno on my back, but quickly decided that was a poor choice. I was only two minutes from home and to address the stings, I needed to remove my shirt. Although I live in Ontario where it is legal for women to go topless, I’m not comfortable personally applying this legislation to the side of the road two minutes from where my kids go to school.

Also not a wasp

Also not a wasp

When I got home I quickly (and likely a bit distractedly!) dismissed the babysitter and then dragged my eleven-year-old daughter into my bedroom to take a photo of my back since no other adults were around. The photo showed an angry red rash the size of a dessert plate so I did the logical thing and rushed to Dr. Google for advice. This was when it was confirmed; the first webpage I clicked on read, “Bees and wasps inject their venom into unlucky people.” Clearly, had I been a lucky individual I would have been wasp-proof.

Easily one of my most exciting rides home ever and clearly, I will not be wasting my money on lottery tickets any time in the near future. As well, no more open windows. Ever.

Evil in winged form

Evil in winged form