Thursday, December 31, 2015

Supporting Refugee Students: Strategies for Teachers

They say teachers are unprepared, but we are prepared for anything society throws at us. I have taught kids who fled the Gulf War, were some of the Vietnamese boat people, and those who fled war in Afghanistan. You cope. You support them. Mind you, it is different at the elementary level, but this is where your humanity must kick in.

Hugh John MacDonald School in WinnipegENCORE: Teachers struggle to prepare for needs of Syrian refugee children

Thousands of children entering public schools across this country are there as refugees of war. An expert on the integration of refugee children say Canadian teachers or their school systems are ill-prepared for the new arrivals.There are more resources.
By Jan Stewart
In the meantime, in nearby Carleton Place, a mother of three has lost her life in an horrific traffic incident on a snowy day. There is much on helping kids cope with death and bereavement. I hope they get much support. I have written and posted much on this topic: bereavement. It arises almost every school year.

This poor woman, age 29, with three kids.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

People For Education News

Board contemplates new model for French language

Ottawa DSB proposing bilingual kindergarten for all students

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board has proposed major changes to its French language programs. Under the proposed new policy:
  • All students would start taking French in Junior Kindergarten, with the time divided into 50% English and 50% French.
  • Early French Immersion students would take English and Mathematics in English starting in grade 1 (2 hours per day).
The board says that the change would address issues of equity of access to programs, and would give all students a foundation in both languages to prepare them to continue in either Immersion or Core French.
The board undertook extensive consultations on the new policy, and will conduct further consultations this fall.
To read the board's proposal, click here.

School repair and renewal falling behind

100,000 Ontario students in portables

Ontario's Auditor General says that Ontario needs more overall coordination and clearer criteria for spending on infrastructure. In her 2015 annual report, the Auditor also found that despite Ministry of Education estimates that $1.4 Billion per year is needed to maintain schools in “a state of good repair,” actual funding over the last five years has averaged approximately $250 million annually.
Among the Auditor's concerns: the government plans to allocate two-thirds of its infrastructure spending on new construction and one-third on repairs and maintenance, despite the fact that its own analysis shows that those proportions should be reversed.
To read more, click here.

New report shows public wants higher spending on education

Parents and public surveyed on testing, funding, confidence in public education

The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education has released its 19th annual report on Public Attitudes Toward Education. Among the findings in the report:
  • 70% of parents are very or somewhat satisfied with the job schools are doing; 
  • 77% of parents are very or somewhat satisfied with the job teachers are doing, compared to 69% of the public;
  • 40% of parents are somewhat or very dissatisfied with the job schools are doing contributing to students' physical development; and
  • 61% of survey participants think spending on kindergarten to grade 12 education should increase greatly or somewhat.
To read the report, click here.

Social media this week

What people are talking about...

"This is way more difficult than rocket science, ladies and gentleman." In this podcast People for Education conference participants react to new ideas about citizenship
Moderate amounts of screen time may be good for kids, according to a new study.
An article in the Guardian, says new brain research shows more pathways are created in the brain when learning engages all the senses.
A new report says the TDSB needs a supervisor to change the culture of fear." Read coverage in the Globe and Mail, or read the full report from Barbara Hall.
"There is no more urgent issue in Canada than Indigenous people and their relationship to the larger culture in Canada". Jesse Wente talks about racist comments on social media.
A Toronto Star columnist says, "Don't fear the cyber-bullying kids, fear the so-called grown-ups."

To keep up to date on all the latest social media news, check out our Facebook page or follow us on twitter: @peoplefored, @anniekidder, @jacquistrachan.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Teachers struggle to prepare for needs of Syrian refugee children

Best practices, sustainable plans, connect services, make a difference.
Teachers do not choose their students. They are assigned a group of children and must create a classroom community from these individuals from varied backgrounds and experiences every school year.

Administrators are the ones who need to be educated.

Over my 25-year career (spanning JK to gr. 8), I have sheltered children who were victims of violence, who lived in foster care and/or group homes, who fled Vietnam, who ran into the hills to feel gunfire during The Gulf War, children whose mothers were drug addicts and were in the custody of fathers, children whose uncles were suicide bombers 'defending our people' as they said, there is no difference.

I had an opportunity to learn from children whose religion, culture and traditions were different from my own. It enriched my life.
  • You take them in, welcome them, accept them and assure them that they are safe now. 
  • You listen. 
  • You fight for their right to feel safe in the classroom community, in the school and in the larger community. 
  • You advocate for them. 
  •  You protect them from racism and/or bullying in your classroom community, and teach them how to handle such. 
  • You educate them on life in Canada; sometimes this includes their parents. 
  • You give them the tools to cope in their new world. 
  • You help them integrate into the school by appointing mentors. 
  •  You learn about their culture and traditions to better understand them. 
  • You help them find their joy. 
  •  You help them laugh and feel loved.
These children bring a wealth of experience to Canada. They are survivors. They are to be loved, not feared.
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