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Volunteer opportunity for teachers and retired teachers in Ontario

Posted: - Modified: | education, toronto

I know Deniz from LifecampTO, and I’m all for helping newcomers with their job search. Know anyone who might be interested in this, either as a volunteer or as someone looking for a mentor?

From Deniz:

I am wondering if you can help me on a project that I am doing for not-for profit org called Skills for Change. This is a community based, charitable org. providing educational programs and settlement service to newcomers. Currently I am looking for 20 experienced practising or retired teachers who can voluntarily coach newcomer, certified teachers in their job search process. Please see the message below and let me know if you can pass on to your network.


Volunteer Opportunity for Teachers to become a Coach

Are you a practising or retired teacher? Would you share just 4 hours a month to help a newcomer teacher adjust to teaching in Canada?

On behalf of Teach in Ontario, Skills for Change is currently looking for experienced teachers to coach Internationally Educated Teachers (IETs) in their transition to teaching in Ontario.

For more information, please contact

Deniz Kucukceylan – Mentoring Recruiter
Skills for Change – Toronto, Canada
(416) 658-3101 ext. 203

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Cat’s doing better; school barbecue

| cat, education

I didn’t feel well this morning either, so I stayed home with the cat. W- took care of both of us. I felt much better after a painkiller, so it turned out to be a pretty productive at-home day.

The cat bravely snarfed down her medicated food and then sniffled through the day, coming up to us for cuddles and spending the rest of the time watching squirrels and birds from her bed near the window. She used her litter box today – hooray!

We also attended the school barbecue and curriculum night. I asked the teacher what Grade 5 students typically found challenging, and how we might be able to help. He suggested checking out the Math textbook’s companion website, asking her questions about reading and writing, and looking for ways to make far-off concepts like ancient Greece be more vivid. =) Time to build a model of the Parthenon!

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The Incoming University Student’s Guide to Web 2.0

| education, tips, web2.0

Read extensively. The university library’s an amazing resource. Yours might come with access to online research libraries, too. Combine that with Internet resources such as Wikipedia, blogs, and so on. Speed-reading can help you browse through information quickly so that you can focus on the good stuff.

Write. Writing is a great way to remember what you’re learning and reflect on how you’re doing things. This will help you get better and better at what you do, and you’ll be able to recognize the things you’re good at and that you enjoy. If you write on a blog, you can use it to reach out to people. Write about what you’re learning, and you’ll help other people who are learning about it too. Write about what you’re doing well, and you’ll start building a network and a reputation that will come in really handy when you’re looking for work.

Connect. Find out if there’s a Facebook group for your incoming university class. If not, start one and invite other people to join. It’s a great way to connect with people even before the first day of class. Feeling shy? That’s okay, everyone is too. If you focus on helping other people connect and make friends, you’ll become more and more comfortable, and you’ll make friends along the way too. Don’t hesitate to look for role models online, too. Many people have blogs that you can read to get a sense of what life is like in their industry. Read, then comment, then contact them, and you’ll get a head start on growing your network.

Behave online and offline. The Internet remembers, and even sites that promise you privacy occasionally mess up and expose things you’ve shared to the world. Think twice about posting pictures of wild parties, underwear-on-your-head shenanigans, and other things things that future employers and coworkers might take against you. In fact, since just about anyone can take a picture of you and post it up on the Net where you don’t have control of it, you might want to keep clean entirely. You don’t need to posture to be cool, and you can have fun without doing things you’ll regret.

Don’t let yourself be limited by anything or anywhere. I took my bachelor’s degree in a university in the Philippines. Great school, but it didn’t have all the courses I wanted. =) I was on the Internet learning from course materials from everywhere: MIT, Georgia Tech, wherever I could find information. Now there are even more choices. Check out places like MIT OpenCourseware and Stanford iTunes for free courses. This is great not only for learning things, but also for getting a better sense of what you like. In fact, it might be a good idea to check the courses out now before you declare a major. You don’t need to understand everything. You just have to get a sense of whether you’ll like the course or not. That way, you’ll spend less time switching around to find something you enjoy and will use.

I think I’ll make a few sketches about this over the long weekend. =) Any other tips for incoming college and university students?

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The Reading Solution, and thoughts on education

Posted: - Modified: | education

If you’ve read my blog posts from the past few weeks, you know that
I’m entirely in favor of convincing impressionable young children that
reading is fun and worthwhile. Similarly-minded people may want to check out The Reading Solution: Make Your Child a Reader for Life, an excellently-written book by Paul Kropp that shares strategies on how to help kids fall in love with reading – from infancy to adulthood.

The main points are: read with your child every day, reach into your
pocket to buy books, and rule the media (TV time, etc). Kropp shows
the importance of reading with kids every day, even when they seem old
enough to read on their own. Check out Kropp’s must-have lists by age for
ideas, and add your own favorites.

I don’t know how feasible it is to ask people to read together every
day, but I think it’s a great idea even for grown-ups. My mom told me
stories of how she—not a nanny—would read to me over and over and
over again, and I still think my automatic warm and fuzzies come from
that time (yes, even when I’m reading gnarly research papers!). When I
moved on to reading – and not just the Dr. Seuss books I also loved as
a kid, but the communication and business books she also had around
the house – I remember occasionally talking about good books with her.
I wish I had more of those times. There’s something about sharing the
experience of a book with someone, talking about what you’ve learned
from it and what you think about it… It’s a way of fully
experiencing the book and bringing it into yourself. Someday I would
like that to be part of my daily ritual – to quietly read for fifteen
or twenty minutes, and then share what I’ve learned from that and from
my day with whoever’s around (or my blog, although I don’t quite get
the fun immediate social interaction that way).

Kropp says that it’s important to continue that ritual of daily
reading even when kids can read on their own. Reading with other
people makes reading fun, because it’s so much more than reading. It’s
asking questions about words or stories or life. Let kids interrupt
you and go off on tangents. Point out connections. Reading together
also shows kids that you value reading. And let them see you reading,
too! I remember my mom reading all these books and talking about them…

I liked the chapter on how to deal with excellent, average and
ordinary schools. Kropp has good advice for dropping by a school,
evaluating the environment, and suggesting best practices, such as
daily quiet uninterrupted reading time. I remember how my mom was
involved with the Parent-Teacher Association in our grade school,
pushing for gifted education programs and making sure that we were

Another thing that struck me about the book was Kropp’s advice to
have children do their homework at the kitchen table or some other
central place in the house. This shows them the value that schoolwork
has to the entire family. One of the comments that J made about her
homework made me think a bit; she once shrugged and said, “Well, my
teacher doesn’t check it anyway.” At some point I want to explain to
her why teachers give homework (so that you test your knowledge and
maybe come up with questions for grown-ups or for the next class) and
how she can make the most of it.

If you’re wondering why some of my recreational reading and reflection
has been about reading lately, it’s not just because of J. I used to
read my mom’s gifted education books when I was a kid. =) I can’t help
it even now. Part of me steps back from conversations and thinks of
phonemics or problem solving or science and what else I can fit into
those teachable moments that happen. Put me in front of someone who
wants to learn, no matter what age they are, and I’m going to rack my
brain for a way to help them learn.

There’s an updated version of Kropp’s book, if you’re curious.

While you’re reading about reading, check out my mom’s blog posts.

(Isn’t it *so* awesome that I can refer you to my mom’s reflections?)

Random Emacs symbol: search-forward-regexp – Command: Search forward from point for regular expression REGEXP.

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My mom reads my blog

| education, family

My mom reads my blog, and that’s absolutely terrific. =) I love
hearing her insights into the things I’m trying to figure out, and it
makes me feel even warmer and fuzzier because she’s my mom. Here’s one
of her recent comments:

“I want small groups, so no one can hide in the anonymity of crowds. ;) I’m tired of audiences. I want participants. I don’t want to hear presentations. I want to be part of conversations.” This kind of thinking is what is setting you apart as a teacher and as a student. I am proud that this is the way you think and feel, and I know you will try your best to bring out not only the best in you, but also the best in others, and you will acknowledge that the others are doing the same to you. We should approach each other, like you said, not in the traditional manner of teacher teaching and student learning. There is no reason why they can’t be both teachers and students at the same time. I believe that the most exciting times are when teachers and students discover “lessons” (learnings?) at the same time. When a teacher helps to bring a student to where he is by teaching him what he knows, the teacher is still where he is; and save for the additional information, the student is!

probably still where he is, but when they discover something together, both move at least a step higher in the quest for knowledge.

So many of my thoughts on education and other things come from my mom.
She checked out practically every grade school in the area looking for
the best school for my sisters and me, choosing St. Scholastica’s
College because it offered small group instruction with individualized
pacing. She pushed for the creation of a gifted program and then for
its expansion to include all students. She read to me until her voice
cracked: The Three Little Pigs, the Big Fish, One Fish Two Fish Red
Fish Blue Fish… And when I moved on to more complex material (having
figured out how to read The Three Little Pigs upside down), she left
interesting books lying around: kid-friendly encyclopedias and
references, books on business and career, even books on parenting
teenagers (which naturally I read from cover to cover).

She never dictated a career for me, but instead helped me learn how to
listen to the world and to myself. She never emphasized grades, but
instead emphasized the learning experience. That said, when I got
three Ds (got bored in my merit English classes for fiction and
poetry), she warned me that I’m going to have to work extra hard to
get people to overlook that on my record. ;) But she taught me what it
was like to love learning and to want to fill other people with that

I love my mom. =) Give your mom a hug today.

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On tutoring

| education, teaching

Awwww! Someone found OnTutoring useful!

From :

This set of instructions for the tutor to take into account when
tutoring is very helpful and lets the tutor know that it is not all
about lecturing the student in the session. The student should speak
more and the tutor should let the tutee set the agenda, this is how
the tutee will really learn the subject matter. Also the tutor must
keep a positive attitude so that the tutee stays positive about the
subject and does not just give up. I chose this list because it is
more descriptive than the first list, and it is more of an agenda
helper while the last list was overall ideas that should come natural
to the tutor.

I can use this list because it entails that the tutor will carry out
these tasks so that the tutee is comfortable working with me. I think
it is important for every new tutor to know that this is very
important. You want to make the student feel welcome in the tutoring
center, and you want to feel comfortable and personal in a session.

I would remove the parts that mention reading/writing because I am a
math tutor, but overall this is a great list that every tutor can use.

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Education brainstorming

| education, teaching

Big thanks to Cindy A. Trinidad, Roy C. Nicolas, Dominique Cimafranca, Charo Nuguid, JM Ibanez, and Clair Ching for sharing their education-related insights with me. They helped me think about what I want to do after graduation. =)

Cindy shared how seminars on teaching technique greatly helped her
manage her classes. She runs an end-user training company that caters
to children and adults. This is how her new hires learn how to teach:

  1. Take a course even if you already know the content. You need to
    learn about technique.
  2. Practice and play around with the product until you feel comfortable with it.
  3. Practice teaching the subject to your teacher, who can give you
    feedback on unclear or incorrect things.

We all think that teachers have to spend a lot of time walking around,
keeping an eye on students’ progress and making sure everyone can keep
up. =)

Cindy also shared with us her thoughts on the need for good textbooks,
and the abysmally low pay for writing such!

By asking questions, Roy helped me narrow down what I want to do.
We came up with something along the lines of:

  1. Find out who my market is and what they need. I’d like to focus
    first on finding highly-motivated teachers in private
    technical/vocational schools and colleges. I want to find out what
    they need.
  2. Profit! ;)

Heh. Well, must figure that out sometime.

That isn’t the only way, though. Dominique told me about Positive(?),
an initiative to help improve computer science education in colleges.
(Whee! I’ll just piggyback on that.) Charo told me about Voice of
America(?) and that one can actually do quite a lot without major
financial backing.

Anyway, here are the main insights:

  • I might be able to turn this into a business. A business means I
    might be able to attract other people to get into it.
  • I might also be able to get this funded by philanthropists. To do
    that, I need a good program.
  • I can start small. Let’s change my corner of the world first.
  • Motivation is key. We spent a bit of time talking about how to deal
    with closed-minded people and people who don’t want to share their
    knowledge. I’m in favor of going after people who don’t need to be
    persuaded to share their knowledge. I want to find people who can’t
    help but teach.
  • Mentoring is very important, but most teachers are on their own in
    classrooms. Waah. Maybe there should be something like
    Toastmasters, but for teachers… ;)
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