Monday, 20 November 2017

Snow Fun for Everyone

Gilles Vigneault wrote "Mon Pays" back in 1964. The iconic song includes the lines "Mon pays ce n'est pas un pays, c'est l'hiver" - my country is not a country it is winter. Coming from a northern district experiencing record snowfalls this month, I can certainly relate. In the north Peace, winters can come early and stay long. We can have snow on the ground from October to April, and temperatures in the minus teens are not uncommon. Some folks lament the coming of the cold,  and I've yet to meet anyone who loves to endlessly shovel snow, but being a northerner does not have to mean six months of hiding from the elements.

Weekends can be filled with a variety of recreational activities including hockey, skating, sledding, snow shoeing, skiing and other outdoor activities. Students can keep active during the week as well. If the sun is out,  students should come dressed for the season so that recess and breaks can be happily spent out of doors. When the windchill or blowing snow conditions create an inside day,  schools meet the challenge with a wide variety of indoor games and activities ranging from reading to intramural games or activities in the gym.  Technology can help, but authorities such as Participation recommend limiting screen time as an alternative to more active winter pursuits.

This November, Mother Nature and Old Man Winter have combined early and often to bring us record snowfalls. Getting out and getting around can be a challenge, but there's no reason that students can't continue to be active learners through our winter months. Being outside and active helps rejuvenate the mind and can help students to deal more effectively with education matters.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Halloween Fun

Last week students all across the district celebrated Halloween.  The day may be eagerly anticipated by most children, but it can be fraught with anxieties for staff. Aside from the elevated energy levels costumed students bring to school, the event poses other challenges as well, like how to ensure costumes are appropriate, or how to ensure those who don't observe the customs of the day can still be comfortable? One significant question can be to what degree should staff join in?

At the central office staff don't necessarily get to interact with students but the question about whether or not to dress up still applies. While a festive atmosphere can help explain a costume at schools, at the Board Office a costume can raise eyebrows. I'm a strong proponent of bringing fun to work. Our office staff work hard but they also a fun group. This year staff embraced the opportunity to show some character, and a Halloween themed potluck lunch ensured everyone had a chance to get in to the spirit of things.

At the school level many of our principals used the day to model positive role models while joining in the fun. Our secondary school admin team agreed to "boldly go" where few had gone before, channeling their inner Star Trek characters, while at one of our elementary schools the office staff illustrated just how super they really are, donning their capes and familiar blue and red outfits.

Research clearly demonstrates the benefits of bringing a sense of fun to work. Students and staff alike get to see each other in a slightly different way. People who can enjoy a sense of fun together work together with greater confidence, are kinder and gentler on each other and achieve greater success on a variety of tasks. 

In his article Joy in School  Steven Walk supports these ideas writing"  "Schools need to find ways for students, teachers, and administrators to take a break from the sometimes emotional, tense, and serious school day and have some fun together." Walk further states that such events "help everyone get to know one another better, tear down the personal walls that often get built inside schools, form more caring relationships, and simply have a wonderful time together."  Creating positive shared experiences helps everyone get the most out of education matters.