Power of Building Relationships in Education

Crisis Prevention Institute – The Power of Building Relationships in Education (August 2023)

I have been a certified CPI trainer in my school district on non-violent crisis intervention. The Crisis Development Model can be a powerful tool in helping educators understand the levels of behaviour and the steps we take in addressing it.

The Integrated Experience tells us that behaviour influences behaviour. We may not be able to control the choices of others but we are in control of ours. In building safe and healthy relationships with students and colleagues, we need to understand our influence on others. We can build others up as quickly as we can bring others down.

This article is a portion of a conversation from a CPI podcast and it speaks to the idea of “purposeful interactions” and addressing escalated / dysregulated behaviours in the classroom through relationships.

Students thrive on positive (safe & healthy & supportive) relationships. They provide a strong foundation for individuals to try new things, to be honest and to be vulnerable which are important life-long skills.

Listening to Students’ Stories can Improve Math Class

Mind/Shift – How Listening to Students’ Stories can Improve Math Class (September 2023)

This is such a fresh approach to Math: humanizing it. As educators, we know that our students bring their own experiences, perceptions and hopes for themselves in many ways. I can’t say I ever really asked or considered a student’s hope for themselves in Math in a meaningful way. I see now that, giving students regular opportunities to reflect on their Math experiences and sharing them with us, allows us to be more aware and meaningful in what we teach, how we teach and support students to realize their hopes & goals for themselves; in Math and hopefully more.

Emotions Come and Go in Waves

EdSurge – Emotions Come and Go in Waves. We Can Teach our Students How to Surf Them (October 2022).

Social-emotional learning continues to be an important part of modern teaching. With so much going on for our students and ourselves, having the skills to navigate difficult situations is essential. SEL skills have to be explicit taught and practiced. It should be a part of each instructional day at different times. This normalizes it and that’s the hope – that our students do this as a means of taking care of themselves and others.

6 Strategies to Help Neurodiverse Students Fully Engage in Class

Edutopia – 6 Strategies to Help Neurodiverse Students Fully Engage in Class (September 2022)

As educators, we recognize that each student in our learning space is unique. The diversity of the strengths & stretches of our students are what make each year different and they pose different challenges for us. We always plan our learning opportunities with the goal of engaging as many of our students as possible. To do this, we need to keep adding tools to our toolbox.

You know I’m a big fan of Edutopia as I find their work easy to read and implement. Give it a look and challenge yourself to try one this week. Good luck.


Culturally Responsive Pedagogy / Teaching

Some links for those of you interested in understanding and exploring culturally responsive pedagogy / teaching.

https://culturallyresponsivepedagogy.com.au/ (Australia)






Book Displays

Hi all,

So it’s been a while… I’m hoping to do more regular updating of the blog over the next few months… HOPE being the key word.

I enjoy reading and I find books are one of the easiest entry points in getting students to engage in literacies. Even still, a teacher may need to throw in some razzle dazzle for our more reluctant students.

Am I dating myself by saying razzle dazzle? Rhetorical question. Haha.

Here are some ideas around displays that could help build some excitement for reading / books. Even the least Pinterest-y of us could pull off a couple of these. If you do give it a try, I’d love to hear from you about your experience.

Tournament of Books (The Primary Punchbowl)

Airport (Library Displays)

First Line (Book Bub)

Online Math Apps

Two posts in a row!

I’m getting ready to teach summer school – primary Math and Language Arts. In my prep, I found this great website of online Math apps.

Math Learning Centre

Apps include:

  • Pattern Shapes
  • Number Pieces
  • Clock
  • Fractions
  • Geoboards
  • Number lines
  • Number frames

I’ve played around with them a bit and they’re relatively easy to use (for educators and students) The apps allow images to be more engaging because they are uniform (ex. your base 10 blocks will be colour-coded and match size-wise). It’s useful as a tool for students who need adapted or modified learning opportunities.

According to the website: All apps are available in two or more versions: a web app for all modern browsers, and downloadable versions for specific operating systems and devices (such as Apple iOS for iPad).

When I was in the classroom, I relied a lot on projecting visuals (ex. worksheets, textbook pages, etc) on the whiteboard. Having these visuals displayed for the whole class allowed me to highlight key text + elements. For example, having the worksheet projected on the whiteboard allowed us to go through the handout and practice answering questions.

I’m hoping (there’s that word again – HOPE) to post about my summer school adventure and I’ll make it a point to share about my experience using them with my students.

Outdoor Education

My family and I went camping this summer as we have for several years now.  Seeing their joy from being in nature is a big reason we go. The kids explore trees they don’t normally see, rediscover insects in unusual places, and ride their bikes along dirty, winding paths that aren’t available to us at home. For many people, feelings of peace, connection, and fulfillment come from being in natural environments.  Even in our own cities, local parks offer trails, ravines, and other natural elements provide us those feelings that can’t be experienced inside the walls of our homes and our classrooms.

The current pandemic has forced school teams to rethink how educational opportunities can be offered to students; specifically outside the classroom. Many educators are exploring aspects of outdoor education and outdoor place-based learning.

There’s very little argument amongst parents or educators that getting people outside for fresh air and movement is good for physical and mental health; particularly for our friends who only have these opportunities through school. As educators, there is so much focus on in-school learning opportunities for academics, it’s easy to forget there’s a whole world (literally) of opportunity beyond those walls. Outdoor-based lessons and activities vary from primary to high-school, subject matter, and levels of student accessibility. The versatility of outdoor education means that it can be differentiated to meet each and any student at their entry point to learning.

Each class will have its own unique context (Ex. class composition, access to support staff, neighbourhood environment, barriers to learning, etc). I encourage all educators to take this on as you can. Start small. Pick one subject. One lesson. As the expert on your class’ context,  you can make informed decisions about when to start and how to start.

Embracing this, and other learning opportunities, is never easy. There will be a learning curve; some steeper than others. The benefits for our students can be worth it in the end; particularly for our students who may struggle with traditional, in-class instructional models.

I am getting more familiar with outdoor education and, like makerspaces and other ideas I’ve shared here, I’m hoping to introduce more parents and educators to them in hopes of sparking change in mindsets and practices.

My one and only student teacher (shout out to Keirsten) created a FANTASTIC two visit trip to Renfrew Ravine. Here’s a small glimpse of some of the activities:

  • Observe mosaics and A/B partner share
  • Sensation wake-up – Focus and being aware of senses
  • Eco-Art with leaves and rocks
    • Student work was captured electronically for follow-up activities
  • Meditation Walk – Students will focus on listening to what is around them and make visual representations of what they hear (in their outdoor education book)
  • Sound Mapping

Whether you’re starting small or going all-in, outdoor education is another great way to offer differentiated learning opportunities across many subjects that will engage students. Keep scrolling for some links to ideas and resources to get you started.

Good luck and be safe.


PBS – 5 Ways to Get Your Class to Explore the Outdoors (April 15, 2019)

BC SD27 (Cariboo – Chilcotin) – Outdoor Education Resources

Plant a Seed and See What Grows – Outdoor Educational Learning Resources

Forest School Canada – Forest and Nature School in Canada: A Head, Heart, Hands Approach to Outdoor Learning (June 2014)

Columbia Basin Environmental Education Network – Education Resources

Primary – Forest School Math Activities

The Outdoor Playbook

EdCan Network: Dr. Gillian Judson –  A Walking Curriculum (June 2, 2020)

MindShift (KQED) – Ben James: A Growing Demand for Wilderness Education May Widen Learning Inequality (September 16, 2020)

Edutopia – Laura Lee: With Safety in Mind, Schools Take Classes Outdoors (September 18, 2020)

Nature Natalie – How to Start an Outdoor Classroom at Any School (Webinar)

Mind/Shift – Kara Newhouse – 5 Tips for Embracing Outdoor Learning in Any Setting (October 7, 2020)

Mind/Shift – Kara Newhouse – How Outdoor Learning Can Bring Curiosity and Connection to Education in Tough Times (October 6, 2020)