OK, so here’s the deal – I just retired from teaching (32 years). I’ve taught in 2 provinces and in private and public schools. I’ve been a principal, vice-principal, district supervisor and, something of which I am rather proud, I’ve taught at least 1 course at every grade level – yes, that includes kindergarten.
I’ve learned a lot along the way; many things, of which, I wish I knew when I started out. And the stories – so many stories. Many of which are quite humorous, some heartfelt, some inspiring. I’ve often thought it would be neat to write a book, and many have encouraged me to do so.
Thank you to Tara Audibert, a student of mine in the early 90’s. She recently made contact with me and, has since, encouraged me to go down this road. She feels that a blog is a good way to start. The fact that I don’t need a plan, I just write, is very appealing. I guess I will try that; ie, just write stories and, perhaps, some tricks-of-the-trade that I have picked up along the way. Let’s see where this goes.
I should mention that I have some very strong opinions about many controversial matters. I want to jump up and down and scream about how inefficient our education system is. How and why we are failing to serve so many children. I want people to know who the biggest bullies in school are. I want dedicated teachers to know that it is OK to feel the way they do. I have suggestions for change; however, until those in a position to create positive change are willing to put aside their personal agendas then I am afraid we will fail to see the improvement our children deserve. But I think I will leave that for my book; that is, if I ever write one.
So let’s see where this goes. I hope this endeavour makes some sort of difference.
It was 1999 and I was principal of Macdonald Consolidated School (I doubt if today you would have a school named for the founder of a tobacco company). I was standing in the main foyer of the school and the K-2 children were coming in off the playground following morning recess. For many of the children it would have been the first time they saw me that day. I was smiling and greeting them when a grade1 student approached me. The conversation went like this:
“Mr Caines, Bobby said the R-word on the playground.”
Not being sure what the R-word was I replied, “Are you sure it was the R-word?”
“Yes. I heard him.”
In my head I am going through all the naughty words I can think of but coming up blank. So I asked, “Did he say it to you?”
“No. He said it to Chris, but I heard him.”
Still I couldn’t figure it out. I looked at the teacher-assistant standing beside me, who was listening to the conversation, and she shrugged her shoulders. I took the student over to the side and said, “I don’t know which R-word you mean. I am going to ask you to tell me but I don’t want you to say it if you are uncomfortable saying it.”
“I don’t mind telling you.”
I asked, “So what did he call him?”
“He called him an arsehole”
It was good to know that our phonological awareness program was working.
One day following mid-morning recess the duty teacher brought two boys (grade 3) before me who were fighting on the playground. She left them with me as she had to get to class. I took the boys into my office and said, “Fellows, I have a busy morning ahead of me and I don’t want to spend any more time trying to figure out what happened. I am going to ask each of you to be honest and explain to me what went on. I don’t want any interrupting. Do you both agree?” They said yes.
To the first fellow I said, “Tell me what happened.”
“He choked me.”
“What do you mean he choked you?”
“He put his hands around my neck like this and choked me.” The boy demonstrated by putting both hands around his throat.
“I see. What happened just before he choked you?”
“Nothing? Nothing at all? It was just a walk-by choking?”
“That’s right. I did nothing at all.
I turned to the second boy and thanked him for not interrupting and asked, “Did you choke him?”
“Yes I did.”
“Thank you for your honesty. Why did you choke him?”
Motioning to the first fellow, “He kicked me in the privates.”
Both boys :“Did not”, “Did too”, DID NOT!”, “DID TOO!”
“Hold it there fellows, we agreed that there would be no interrupting.” Turning to the second boy I said, “So, you are telling me he kicked you in the privates.”
“Tell me, where did this take place?”
Pointing to his crotch he said, “RIGHT HERE!”
Later on it occurred to me that that night he could well have said to his parents, “You know, the principal doesn’t know where my privates are. He asked me to show him.”
All in a day’s work.
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