This document was recently shared with all Vancouver school administrators.  It is a wonderful frame for consideration and conversation…

This topic is also briefly addressed on the Ministry’s ERASE website at:

When a child is having a problem with her or his peers, it can be hard for parents to know what is really happening – is it bullying? Or is it something else?

Each type of behaviour must be handled differently, to keep children safe and help them learn how to get along with others.

Peer Conflict   Conflict between and among peers is a natural part of growing up. Children will have times when they disagree and can’t solve their own problems. They may even become so frustrated that they say mean things or act out physically by hitting, kicking or trying to hurt.

If it’s peer conflict you will be aware that these children:

  • usually choose to play or hang out together;
  • have equal power (similar age, size, social status, etc.);
  • are equally upset;
  • are both interested in the outcome; and
  • will be able to work things out with adult help (after calming down).

Adults can respond by helping the children talk it out, and see each other’s perspective. This is often referred to as “conflict resolution”.

Mean Behaviour  Children may try out behaviours to assert themselves – sometimes saying or doing mean things – such as making fun of others, using a hurtful name, taking something without permission, leaving a child out, or “budging” in line.

If it is mean behavior, usually:

  • it is not planned and seems to happen spontaneously or by chance;
  • it may be aimed at any child nearby;
  • the child being mean may feel badly when an adult points out the harm they’ve caused.

When adults see mean behaviour they should not ignore it. Adults should respond quickly, firmly and respectfully to stop the behaviour, to let kids know that their actions are hurtful and to re-direct children to more positive behaviour.

This quick response stops children from developing a pattern of mean behaviour as their way of interacting with peers, and prevents mean behaviour from escalating into bullying. It is a lot easier to correct a child for one nasty comment than to change a pattern of cruelty that grows over time.

Bullying Behaviour  Bullying is serious behaviour that has three key features – all three must be present for the situation to be considered bullying:

  • Power imbalance — One child clearly has power over the other(s), which may be due to age, size, social status, and so on.
  • Intention to harm — The purpose of the bullying behaviour is to harm or hurt other(s) – it’s intended to be mean and is clearly not accidental.
  • Repeated over time — bullying behaviour continues over time, and gets worse with repetition. There is a real or implied threat that the behaviour will not stop, and in fact will become even more serious.

The effect on the child who is being bullied is increased fear, apprehension, and distress. Often by the time adults find out about what is happening, the child has tried many ways to stop the bullying but cannot do so on their own.

Adults must address the bullying behaviour and ensure the safety of the student who has been targeted. They also need to reassure the children who may have witnessed the behaviour that adults are taking care of it.

When schools respond to bullying, staff will also help the child who has been bullying others to take responsibility for their actions, and change their behaviour. They will monitor the situation to ensure the bullying stops, and will support the child who has been bullied to regain confidence and a sense of safety. Staff may follow-up with the students who observed the behaviour to help them learn what to do when they see bullying.

The “conflict resolution” style of bringing the children together is not recommended in bullying situations, until considerable time has gone by and all children are feeling safe enough to talk about what happened so that relationships can be healed.


Reading Resolution

I’m always cautious around the word ‘Resolution’ as it implies the possibility of not having been ‘best at’ whatever you are resolving to accomplish.  Nontheless, be it a reflection or revisitation or resurgence…I am resolving to read more this year!  Not only do I want to be reading more…young adult books, picture books, professional books, personal reading….I also want to find more opportunities to share and talk about books.  If we want to be part of a community of passionate readers, we have to walk the talk!

Here goes:

My 2013 Reading Resolutions are:

1. Take time to track my reading.   I’ve started to track this year’s reads through Goodreads – a great site for sharing.  I’ll also find ways of sharing with students, parents and staff beyond my blog.

2. Be part of many reading circles:  

  • as a member of a book club with great long time friends.
  • in classrooms
  • as a member with Strath kids who’d like to start their own book club and invite me to take part
  • as a teacher among other teachers
  • as a parent among other parents

3. Have family ‘turn off the screen & read time’ with my family. With iPads, iPods, video games, tv, computer engagement in our home – we are not finding ourselves reading the way we used to – me especially!!  We’ve promised to get back to ‘unplugging’ and reading each evening, reading aloud, sharing titles, reading alone and tracking our reads together as a family who loves books.

OK – here’s the brave part…..

4.  Read 232 1/2 books.  (365 days this year and a book a day didn’t seem possible….)  As I created my account on Goodreads today, it was humbling to only put my 13 titles on the page….what about the other 1000’s of titles I’ve read!!  Be that as it may, my titles will include picture books, young adult books, my own personal reading – novels,  professional books, and hopefully, I’ll add some more specific challenges for myself around exploring some new genres, new authors, and expanding my collection of beautiful books.

Happy reading to all!

Some holiday reading for you!

I am looking forward to the holiday break for many reasons but one of those reasons is the opportunity I will have to catch up on some reading of great books!  One of my favourite personal field trips is to Vancouver Kidsbooks.  I call ahead asking the amazing staff there to pull some of their favourite new titles, or some great new read alouds or some books around a particular theme, and when I arrive with my hot chocolate or coffee in hand,  it’s a day of being ‘bathed in books.’  I’m delighted to then come back to school after one of these visits  and find time to share these new titles with the staff and students.  It’s a wonderful feeling to pass a great book along into someone else’s hands to enjoy as well!

One of the titles on my list....

This is the first book I'll be reading! Can't wait!

The following is a link of the top 20 kids books of 2012 according to School Library Journal readers –


Dr. Steven Layne provides some tips below for parents to promote reading at home and nurture a love of reading in their children:

Parent List of Do’s for Promoting Reading at Home
The following things can help to build a love for reading and
books in your child.
DO . . .
* read to your child from wonderful children’s literature! Ask librarians and teachers for
recommended titles. Read about things that interest your child: ballet, dump trucks, etc.
Remember that children can listen and comprehend things well beyond their silent reading
*schedule a family reading night/time on the calendar just like soccer practice or piano lessons.
*read a book as a family then watch the movie and discuss the differences.
* allow your child to have at least one magazine subscription if at all possible. It is important that the magazine arrive in his/her name – not in yours! For suggestions see your public
* take your child to the public library often! If he/she doesn’t have a library card, make it a big deal to go get one. Everyone in the family should have one; everyone in the family should use it. Kids respond to adult modeling.
* let your child see other family members reading, often! Parent and teacher modeling is the second most influential factor in promoting a love of reading in young people!
* give a “no reason gift certificate” to your local independent bookstore (where they sell books not crumpets and CD’s).
* keep a “bag of books, magazines, comics, etc.” in each of your cars. Stock it with some
favorite material for each family. Stock every room in the house with books– bathrooms, too!
* (if your child is old enough) offer to read a book that he/she loves and write your thoughts
about it. Then, share them with your child. You can also keep a dialogue journal where you
and your child write to one another as you independently read the same chapter book.
* read a book aloud as a family on vacations.


Season’s Greetings

December has been a wonderfully festive month with children sharing and celebrating the season and their learning and here we are at the end of 2012 – another year gone by!  We all hope that you have a great Winter break and find some time to be with family and friends and also some time to relax.  It is our joy and privilege to work with your children. The holidays come and go quickly and before you know it, we will be back to the regular rhythm of the school year.   I’ve included a few photos from some of the many many events and learning from this past month – enjoy!

A magical day on top of Grouse Mountain for our students!!

From our Winter Concert - Jingle Pirates!

December in our Town

The choir led us through the many Winter celebrations with their sweet voices!A magical day on top of Grouse Mountain for our students!!

What would December be without gingerbread houses and their sweet aroma filling the air?!

Cozy K's by the fireplace with stockings hung!


It’s been a while…

Lots has been happening in our classrooms, in our school and in our wonderfully vibrant community.  Our monthly assemblies capture images of learning and celebrating throughout each of the months.  If parents ever have the opportunity, please join us for one of our beginning of month, full school gatherings.  Halloween saw lots of ghoulies, princesses, superheroes and such travelling the halls – the children were wonderful throughout the day.  Our Remembrance Day gathering was a powerful selection of song, speeches and presentations.  Thank you to Mr. O’Neill and his choirs, to Madamoiselle Caroline and her students and to our students hosts in Ms. Walker’s class.  Please take time to check out the classroom blogs on our school website.  Ms. Quons and Ms Russo’s blogs capture snapshots of the students’ learning.  Especially powerful are the students words, literacy connections, and artwork expressing what peace means to them.  If you don’t have a chance to join our assemblies or stroll the school’s halls and see the beautiful displays of learning on the bulletin boards, simply check out the the classroom blogs! 

Our PAC is launching our second annual Scholastic Book Fair.  We hope that families take time to visit the Primary building basement to look t selection.  Funds raised go to support adding to our school library.  One of our objectives this year is to build our classroom collections and to find many opportunities to celebrate our communities of readers.  It is our objective to have a community of children who not only can read but do read.  

Finally, thank you to families who have contributed to our performance fund.  This fund, supported by parents and by donors allows our students to go on field trips, work with artists in residence, scientists in residence, and to see performances in our school.  Watch our newsletter for upcoming events and join us or if you have time to carve out of your day, accompany your child’s class on a field trip!


A great first week…

It’s been a great opening week.  Our students are settling into their new classroooms and the buzz of excitement around possibilities that come with a new year is evident throughout the school.  Student involvement opportunities are unfolding, staff are planning together and community partners are re-connecting.

When asked what makes Strathcona a special place, the sense of community is always one of the first things that comes to mind.  Newcomers to Strathcona   always remark on the inclusiveness and sense of family that is evident in the hallways.  At Strathcona, students, staff, and parents work together to create this atmosphere and it is something that I am very proud to be part of.

Integral to the sense of community, however, is the work that is done by the Strathcona Parent Advisory Council (PAC).  Being a parent of child at Strathcona  affords you membership into this group of dedicated and devoted partners.  An article studying “Neighborhood Effects” by the Canadian Policy Research Networks cites that “families and children who live in supportive communities, where they are respected and their contributions valued, will do better than those in communities lacking cohesion.”

Parents often ask how they can be partners in their child’s education:

  • Read to your child — reading aloud is the most important activity that parents can do to increase their child’s chance of reading success
  • Discuss the books and stories you read to your child
  • Help your child organize his/her time
  • Limit screen time
  • Talk to your child regularly about what’s going on in school.
  • Check your child’s homework regularly.

At school, the opportunities for parents to contribute are endless, from volunteering in the classroom, to sharing talents, or to joining an occasional PAC meeting.   When parents are partners in their child’s education they have the opportunity to interact school staff and other parents. They learn first-hand about the daily activities and the social culture of the school, both of which give them a better understanding of their child’s daily experiences.

This week, the PAC executive have begun meeting, Hot Lunch Orders are placed and delivered, children run to support cancer research, and we come together Friday morning as a school community to launch the school year at our first monthly assembly.  We invite you to join us, be involved, and volunteer, if not this week, in the weeks to come.  There is a role and place for every parent in the PAC.  Our school is the amazing place it is because of the diversity and contributions of all of our members.  I look forward to seeing you at school!





Welcome back!

Welcome to new and returning families!  I hope that you are returning from a wonderful summer break.  The vista above was a large part of my summer break – although while the view may not have included our wonderful Strathcona community, you were never far from my thoughts.

I greatly look forward to a year filled with learning – of course – but also conversation, collaboration, laughter and celebration of our wonderful community of learners.  Thank you all again for placing your wonderful children in our hands to work and learn with.

All the best for a great 2012 – 2013 school year!


Strathcona thinks Pink!

This is a bit of a delayed post as we were having technical difficulties.  On February 29th, across Canada, students take time to stand together against bullying and discrimination.  At Strathcona, we came together at an assembly to share our thoughts.  The students in division 5, Mr. McInnes’s class, had been working to raise awareness throughout the month of February.  They shared powerful messages, they sold the Anti-bullying Pink t-shirts and pink accessories to staff and students.  They did an an amazing job decorating our auditorium with pink and messages about the impact of bullying.  They are amazing student leaders!  I planned to share some messages that day at the assembly, but the work of these students and then the amazing message put together by the students in Ms. Daly’s class left me speechless.  I knew that there was nothing I could share at that moment that could possibly deliver a more powerful message than those already expressed by these students.  I know I can’t possibly capture the essence of that assembly, but I do what to share the video created by Ms.Daly’s students and share some images from that day.  This is the video link for you to enjoy:  PINK DAY





And here’s our Charter of Respect redone in Pink!  Strathcona Charter Pink Day.B

Why bathed in books?

While strolling the halls this morning, I dropped into Ms Ng’s class to welcome them back and was invited to hear what they were talking about.  (I love visiting the Jr. building of Strathcona as the halls are always alive with displays of their learning and the children are more than thrilled to talk about what they have portrayed in their work.   – I digress – Ms Ng’s students were talking about their Spring Break experiences but wanted to share their ‘Book Heads’ with me.  What is a book head you ask?  (which of course I did too)  The children ignited!!  “Ms J, we become book heads when we read – we become part of the book!  That’s what happens when we read!!”  Peter, whose book head is displayed, put it quite simply:  “Ms Jorgensen, when you read, you become smarter.”  It’s as simple as that!

This leads me to address this blog’s title:  Bathed in Books.  When asked by anyone; a parent, a colleague, a friend, “What is it we can do to help children learn, succeed…?” My answer is invariably that children need to be bathed in books, great books, wonderful books, those ‘just right’ books a variety of books.  They need to read to each other.  They need to be read to.  They need to talk about books.  They need to explore.  They need to enter into those grand conversations that only those who read can enter!  They need to be BATHED in books from the day they enter the world and their classrooms and schools most certainly need to provide the opportunity to enter the water!

What do I love about getting good books into the hands of children?  You might as well ask me:  “What do you love about eating or breathing?” Answer: “I consider these things essential. What more needs to be said?”

OK, perhaps there’s a bit more to be said. I think that once they have basic food and shelter, good books are THE most important thing that we can give to children. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Good books can be teachers, conveying knowledge across the curriculum.
  • Good books can be vehicles, opening doors into other worlds.
  • Good books can be time machines, transporting kids to other time periods, past and future – real and imaginary.
  • Good books can be kaleidoscopes, helping kids to see things from other perspectives.
  • Good books can be mirrors, helping kids to see themselves.

And, of course, access to good books plays a huge part in motivating kids to spend time reading. When they spend time reading, they become better at reading. Their vocabularies improve, along with their understanding and self-confidence.  They have positive outcomes in the short-term, and continue to reap the rewards of reading across a lifetime.

So, I’d have to say that what I love most about getting good books into the hands of children is the potential to change their lives for the better. I mean, really. What a tremendous gift, to know that by helping kids to gain access to wonderful books, we can help improve their lives forever.   Don’t forget Peter’s wise words:  When we read, we become smarter!

Messages during these challenging times for all

I feel it important to share with parents some information  that might not be known regarding these days of job action.  Over the past months, during Phase 1 of teacher job action, teachers have continued to provide rich learning experiences for the children in their classrooms.  During this first phase of job action, teachers have not been  meeting with management, supervising exams or playgrounds, fundraising, or doing formal report cards.  Parents are sometimes concerned about whether or not they can meet with their child’s classroom teacher about his/her progress and learning.  The answer is absolutely yes!  Teachers are not formally reporting, however, they continue to value the home school partnership.  Times can be set up to support these conversations throughout the week.  As a parent myself, I have learned a great deal about my son as a learner through these conversations and communication with his classroom teacher.  In fact, the information about who he is as a learner, has been far greater and far more productive from these conversations than information I could have gained from a report card. 

As we move forward, know that we ALL are doing so with the same intentions:  to provide the best learning experiences for EVERY child and to continue our belief that we can only do so as a community where relationships are valued and all are respected.  These values epitomize what Strathcona is all about and I am proud to be part of it.