Raising Adults

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Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that as another school year ends there is an increase in articles about the state of parenting and also how children are spending their time.  I know I could choose not to read them, but I see such articles shared a lot online. It can be easy to point to —- (insert various labels or styles of) parenting as causing increased rates of anxiety, depression, low-resilience, entitlement, risky behaviour (or not enough risk-taking), etc.  Some offer solutions or better strategies.  Here are two articles I read recently about a new book, How to Raise an Adult:

What Overparenting Looks Like from a Stanford Dean’s Perspective (an excerpt from the book)

How to Raise an Adult (a review of the book)

The latter ends with a quote from the author of the book,

When parents laugh and enjoy the moment but also teach the satisfaction of hard work, when they listen closely but also give their children space to become who they are, they wind up with kids who know how to work hard, solve problems and savor the moment, too. In other words, get a life, and your child just might do the same someday.”

Sounds simple enough, but…

I talk with many parents now with older and adult children.  Not all did the “bad” parenting behaviours often listed in various articles, yet their adult children are experiencing anxiety and other personal struggles as they try to take on more independent living.  There is a lot of uncertainty — in post-secondary options, career planning, job stability, living affordability, etc.  Young adults have absorbed many “messages” and expectations from schools, the workplace, family, peers, media, etc., and have to sort all that out.  We have numerous conversations about this in my own family.  It can be quite annoying when an 18 year old says, “I can do what I want — I am an adult now”… yet they clearly aren’t and haven’t taken on adult responsibilities and independence yet.  This can be frustrating and discouraging for everyone.

I have posted previously about the hasty judgement of parents without taking the time to understand their context.  I still wonder if the state of society and schools should be examined more often to clarify the ways parenting can be a response to certain conditions, expectations, and the “promises” of success.  What are parenting “trends” a response to… rather than causing… ?  Can the focus become more about changing the state of society and communities rather than the state or approach of parenting?

I need a bigger picture of what is impacting youth and young adults rather than just analyzing parenting.  Are parenting articles and books really helpful, or do they just stress out parents even more?  Let me know if you read the book!

 

 

A School Council “poem”

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Many schools and school boards in Ontario host appreciation nights for their parent volunteers and school council members.  Appreciation can be shown in various ways throughout the school year as well.  Sometimes the nature of volunteer work on a school council can be met with tension and not always appreciated. Parent representatives have to be voices of dissent at times and tread tricky waters as volunteers in education. 

I often can’t find this short school council “poem” when I am looking for it. I have no idea who wrote it, but I thought I would post to my blog for easier retrieval and sharing. I have sent it to parents in the past, especially when they were feeling conflicted about their continued involvement on a school council.  My days of school council involvement are well behind me, but in case anyone else would like to make use of it:

 

No one said that recruiting volunteers would be easy.

No one hands out gold medals.

No one waves flags for the work accomplished.

But you know. You are keenly aware of the value of the work

of the volunteer who makes a commitment to a school council.

*author unknown (let me know if you know of the source though)

A Canadian refresher

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I’ve never learned so much about Canada until I had to teach about it…

For a second time, I taught an evening class in May to help adult newcomers learn about Canada and prepare for the Canadian Citizenship test.  They learn about Canada in English classes and elsewhere, but this session provides further support and review, as well as practice test questions.  The study guide, Discover Canada, is an excellent resource from CIC .  Students receive a hard copy, but there are also options to read and listen online.  I would suggest it for anyone who would simply like to rediscover Canada as well.  The information can seem extensive, but it does cover challenging topics such as history and government quite well.  The new things I have learned (relearned?)… and I was born in Canada!

This past May, there were a number of “anniversaries” that related well to the content of the course.  Social media brought such tidbits to my attention.  For example:

May 3 marked 100 years since the poem, In Flanders Fields, was written.  More here.

May 10 marked 45 years since Bobby Orr’s famous goal. More here. (yes, we covered Canadian sports!)

May 24 marked 97 years since Canadian women received the right to vote in Federal elections.

And of course, the Queen’s birthday in May, but June 2 marked 62 years since the Queen’s Coronation.

January 2015 also marked the 200th anniversary of the birthday of Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald.

Did I miss any?

There are many resources for the study of Canada, but it is important not to overwhelm newcomers with too many sources of information. I enjoy supporting their individual needs and inviting their stories, while still including the specifics that help for the citizenship test.

My enthusiasm for the wonders of Canada may still not be enough to do service to the beauty and diversity of the country.  (I have yet to visit every province myself.)  One “home study” suggestion I give (for those who can access) is this video, an aerial adventure over Canada.  It can be viewed in 3 shorter parts as well — a bird’s eye view from coast to coast at least! (Part one, two and three, if you wish)

Let me know if you would like a test! :)

Personally, I blog…

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This past weekend I read a few blog posts specifically about education blogs and bloggers.  I noticed a few of the posts shared by Doug Peterson on Twitter.  His own blog was reviewed by a preservice teacher and it started some conversation and a response post by Sue Waters, “Blogging is personal.. or is it?”  I found the discussion about voice and the personal aspects of blogging interesting.  Sue offers some good advice to new bloggers.  I also got thinking about how bloggers can be personal as well as personable and professional.  It may all be about style of writing and personality as well.  I think just having a blog involves some personal risk too.  With each post there is a certain amount of personal risk-taking — whether resources or ideas or reflections are shared.

I think that it is okay if people want and look for different things from blogs.  A blog that didn’t appeal at one time may end up having an appeal at another time.  This could be due to the blogger’s or the reader’s change in situation or growth over the time.  I read quite a few blogs regularly and I don’t have any problem if the posts take on a personal approach or offer a personal reflection or story.  I enjoy “seeing” more of the person behind the postings.  When I started tweeting and blogging, I never expected the connections and friendships that would come out of it.  I also didn’t expect to continue as I did.  I think having a chance to do personal stories or reflections on a blog helps me, so I won’t fault anyone else for doing the same.  It isn’t always easy.

Nathan Hall’s recent post celebrating his own blogging connected some dots for me too.  I thought he offered a great argument for reflective blogging and some great advice to help sustain blogging, be real, and take risks.  Here is his list (but do read his full post please):

  1. Don’t focus on the numbers; they will only take attention away from what is really important. Does it really matter how many people liked your post? It may be that the one post that only gets a few visits might be just what one person needed to read that day. It’s all about the bigger picture
  2. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. You are a person. People do stupid stuff from time to time. People are generally understanding, and if they aren’t, don’t dwell. Make this a time to learn from your less than glamorous moment and others will as well.
  3. Be real. This goes together with number two. You can try as you might to look better than you are or to pander to the masses, but most people will see through the thin veil of vanity and you will tend to lose strength in your message. Stay true to you.
  4. Don’t try to compete with others. It isn’t a game with others as your opponents. One thing I have learned more than anything during this time is that I am not the smartest, best, or any other superlative and I am more than content with that. I actually do think I have some things to share with others, but I gladly concede any titles to others.
  5. Push yourself, but don’t feel you have to always find something to blog. There have been more than a few times that I have put the writing to the side for a season. When I felt the urge to share something, I’ve picked it back up again. It has its ebbs and flows.
  6. When sharing your posts, put it out there a few times, especially on Twitter where it can be buried fairly quickly, but don’t overdo it. It is just a personal thing, but I don’t like to share a post for more than 24 hours on social media. After that, I feel like I look desperate for visitors and I don’t feel good about it. Again, this is just my own decision and others feel differently. Feel free to make your own choices on that.

I appreciate the personal and personable approach of bloggers like Nathan and Doug and many others. I think it is possible to “blog the personal” and still benefit others.  Many bloggers do so from the good of their heart.  It can be the great thing about blogs — choice in how and why you use a blog, as well as in which blogs you read, as Sue Waters discussed in her post as well.

But I am sure there are still some drawbacks to blogs for many.  Can there be too much pressure to post what you think your readers expect?  Too much choice?  Is it different for education blogs?  What sustains you in blogging and/or reading blogs?

A parent’s vision leads to research

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Not long after starting this blog, I invited some parents to guest post and share their visions and thoughts about parent engagement.  It has been over 3 years since a few of those posts, but those same parents have continued to contribute to education and schools in on-going ways and in new roles.  I plan to catch up with all of them again soon, but for now I wanted to give an update about my good friend, Tracy Bachellier (@bachtrac on Twitter).

Tracy shared this as the second parent here and then to her blog in early 2012.  One of the hopes she stated,

There must be continued support, resources and respect for all parents, students and educators as engaged partners in education.”

Since that time she certainly has put more action behind her words and vision! Tracy has now completed her Masters in Education and a Master’s level research thesis on — you guessed it — Parent Engagement!  More specifically, and also the title of her research thesis, Parent Engagement Pedagogy and Practice in New Preservice Teacher Education Programs in Ontario.  You can access Tracy’s full research document here.  She has done some great work, reviews and analyses, as well as shared some good practices and recommendations for preservice teacher education programs to benefit new teachers, and ultimately students and their families.  I hope readers will take some time to review her research efforts further.  The table of contents reveals the areas she examined, compared, and related to the Ontario context.  A great read in its entirety, with an excellent summary in the Discussion section (page 74).

Congratulations, Tracy! Hat’s off to you! Cheers!

Supporting Family Engagement: An interview @WithEqualStep

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Since connecting on Twitter with Nancy who is behind the @WithEqualStep Twitter account, we have chatted a lot about parent engagement in education.  She has mentioned the workshops that she does in her district to support school council functioning and parent engagement, but I didn’t really know the details of her work and outreach.  Nancy agreed to answer and clarify through three direct questions of mine and I am happy to share her responses on my blog.  I appreciate the wisdom she articulates behind what she supports and facilitates for school councils — for all its membership and the schools they serve.  I am also excited to hear that she is close to launching her website with more resources and information about her work.  In the meantime, an interview…

1.  Tell me about the kinds of workshops you do?  Why do you do them?  Who are they for?

Nancy: “We work to support family engagement in education. Our workshops are designed for parents, educators and community.

For councils, possible workshops include the legislation that governs school councils, writing practical bylaws, and suggesting best practices for effectively supporting their parents. We do the same for the province’s PICs. For educators, we assist them in creating sustainable engagement that is integrated into the curriculum and life of the school, for example building beneficial two-way communication. We also work with principals to understand the legislation so they may establish effective partnerships with councils. Finally, working with community organizations, we have developed and delivered workshops for newcomer parents on the Ontario education system and their place within it.

At the end of the day, every parent and teacher wants only the best for their children. We help councils, PICs and staff build the capacity of our parents to do just that.”

2.  What will school council members learn about in your workshops?

Nancy: “Few councils have a clear understanding of what their role and responsibilities are or could be, so they may learn more about the legislation governing school councils. This begins with the writing of meaningful bylaws that govern how the council will work in their community. Once established and working, we can help councils learn how to operate efficiently, developing methods for strategic planning. We also feel there is a need for councils to learn how to assess and evaluate their work. Too often, good ideas are abandoned because they didn’t work well; or bad ideas continue because they’ve “always done it.” Effective councils have a vital role to play in building parent capacity to support their children.”

3.  What do you say to a parent, an educator or council member when they say that the School Council regulations and/or bylaws are too overwhelming or that they scare parents away?

Nancy: “Many councils think bylaws are scary. Perhaps they’ve seen long, complicated ones. But really, bylaws are there to give structure to the council. Without structure you risk a collapse at some point.

Here is how I like to think of it. Regulation 612 is the framework of a house – it tells you what the structure will look like in style and size. The bylaws are similar to the walls – what will the interior of THIS house look like? How many rooms? Where are they? I don’t want to know what colour the walls are or what furniture you’ll have or who gets what room. That will change each year. But I do need to know what type of house it will be.

Regulation 612 tells Councils how elections must be run; what the makeup, minimum number of parents and roles of their membership must be; how conflict of interest and dispute resolution must be handled (the framework). Bylaws describe the membership size for each school; how their finances will be handled; what permanent committees they will have; their voting procedures, etc (the walls). Bylaws do not have to say what days the meetings will occur; who will sit on committees; what projects the council will undertake; how decisions will be made. (the wall colours)

When writing their bylaws, Councils should think about their community now but consider that it will change every year and make allowance for that. Build the structure but let each council decorate!”

Thank you, Nancy!  I wish you all the best in continuing your work and sharing your expertise and insights with others.  I can’t wait to see your new “home” online!

If you would like to contact Nancy directly, you can email her at withequalstep@gmail.com or tweet her via @withequalstep

 

 

For the record…

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I find that I seldom bother adding photos to my blog posts lately, but I have learned a lot that I didn’t know about proper credit and attribution of photos and images since the time I began blogging.  I am likely guilty of posting a photo without proper credit.  This is the most recent post I read on the topic (via Doug Peterson).  Also this post via Chris Wejr, which links another related post written by Chris.

I used to have a photo of me linked to this blog (via Gravatar).  The way that the picture was showing up with posts to social media was more than I was comfortable with, so I changed it to a flower.  I haven’t made proper credit to that photo.  One of my daughters took it and she gave me verbal permission to use it without concern for public credit.  I guess this post is somewhat of a credit and a “for the record”, in case anyone was wondering.  My daughter and I are both fine with this for now, but will we regret it? It’s just a flower picture maybe… but I was in awe of how pretty it was regardless of what effect I applied to it.  However, I stayed with the original colour for my “profile”.

IMG_3733 (3)IMG_3733 (5)IMG_3733 (4)IMG_3733 (2)

 

 

 

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