Grade 5/6 Students Questions

Wow! Kids are always asking big questions! Getting ready to return to school, I found a file from last year containing these kid-created gems and just had to share!

It was a new class of grade 5/6 students, and I asked them, “Do you have any big questions that have been on your mind that you would like to explore in the dialogue circle?”  I emphasized “big” questions as opposed to smaller questions like, “What colour socks am I wearing?” and “What should I have for lunch?” Here’s what they came up with after just a couple minutes with no other prompting.  Mind blowing!

Child Honouring with Raffi

raffi 3 FEELING INSPIRED! It was such a treat to meet with the world renowned children’s entertainer, author, child advocate and visionary, Raffi! Watching Raffi engage with all his fans of all ages during my visit was such a treat–you can really see and feel how much he cares!

I consider myself a #Belugagrad through and through: I grew up with Raffi’s music and felt his hopeful message open my eyes to how I could find my place and make a difference in this world.  In 2006, my first year of teaching, I got my copy of a book he co-edited, Child Honouring: How to Turn this World Around–it transformed my thinking and has impacted every day in my classroom since.  The Child Honouring Covenant and Principles deeply resonate with me, so I signed them and hung them on my classroom wall!

Caring for children’s needs must come first–and everything else will fall into place and the world will be better for it.  I believe teaching children is a sacred privilege, and I will work every day to earn that privilege.  Thank you, Raffi, for your support for teachers during the B.C. teachers’ strike, for your musical gift for the generations, and for being a role model.

Remembering a Teacher’s Legacy: Mr. Eric Ratzlaff

A few days after I posted this entry, it was seen by Catherine, Mr. Ratzlaff's daughter.  She sent me a picture of the banner (a photo I had never seen)...and sure enough, there we are: I'm holding the end on the left, my good friend Deanna is holding the end on the right, other students surround sending their love, and Mr. Ratzlaff is centre--with a smile we'll always remember.

A few days after I posted this entry, it was seen by Catherine, Mr. Ratzlaff’s daughter. She sent me a picture of the banner (a photo I had never seen)…and sure enough, there we are: I’m holding the end on the left, my good friend Deanna is holding the end on the right, other students surround sending their love, and Mr. Ratzlaff is centre–with a smile we’ll always remember.

“A teacher affects eternity: he can never tell where his influence stops.” -Henry Adams

What legacy do we leave as teachers?  What lives on beyond our days in the classroom?  Today I was sad to hear of the loss of one of my favourite high school teachers, Mr. Eric Ratzlaff–but I also know this wonderful teacher I had at Abbotsford Senior Secondary leaves a great legacy.

Mr. Eric Ratzlaff, TeacherMr. Ratzlaff was funny, kind, smart, and he loved teaching and he had a great way with students. He taught for 37 years, and yet I remember in high school hearing that he was retiring that year and thinking, “It’s too soon!”  He had so much energy and passion!

Hearing of his coming retirement, I remember not being aware of what specifically was planned to honour Mr. Ratzlaff (I learned later there was a retirement party), and I remember thinking we as students couldn’t let this teacher go with out making sure he knew for sure he made a difference and was loved by his students.

I remember my friends and I cut up colourful pieces of paper and brought them around to students in Abby Senior and invited them to write their well wishes to Mr. Ratzlaff. Then, we glued the many dozens, probably 200+ thoughtful notes on a giant piece of that long rolled paper you find in schools.

When we presented the giant banner to him, and he was moved and graciously, kindly accepted–but I remember thinking that in his humble way he didn’t seem to grasp in the moment how truly awesome he was in our lives–he was almost embarrassed by the attention.

Mr. Ratzlaff laughed with us later the next day saying how awkward it was to walk home with such a giant rolled up card! We teased him back that we were glad to give him an occasion to really think about the weight of his impact on students!

Mr. Ratzlaff, thank you for giving yourself to teaching, for sharing your joy in learning, and for the way you respected and inspired students. Your legacy lives on–I know I carry a memory of your teaching with me in the teacher I have become, and in thinking about the teacher I want to be.

Thank you, Mr. Ratzlaff, for everything.

Read Obituary.

A big thank you, to Mr. Ratzlaff--a great teacher.

A big thank you, to Mr. Ratzlaff–a great teacher.

My New Website:

Hey, everybody!  I’ve had a great time with this blog–what a learning journey!  It sure is neat to look back through your mind in a way, as you scan a few years of blog posts.  I will continue to add blog posts here as I get the inspiration, yet perhaps you have noticed: I have a few new websites:

And one that I want to highlight today is my new personal website:



 Come on over and check it out!


My Talk at TEDxVictoria: “The Power to Question”

It’s here–my talk at TEDxVictoria is live!  It was an amazing experience to grow through preparing and sharing this talk, “The Power to Question“, on stage at the MacPherson Playhouse.  The day was surreal, magical–the speaker line-up was outstanding and it was a privilege to be able to share the stage with them.  I made so many new friends and have such high praises for the TEDxVictoria team.  They took care of everything and the day went beautifully.

I still get a little nervous when I click play on this video…I remember the feeling backstage, the anticipation and butterflies.  Usually when I speak I can see the audiences faces, but with the bright stage lights, the audience was all in black. It was all black, but not a void–I could feel the warm, supportive presence of the audience. Thank you to everyone involved in TEDxVictoria 2013–and thank you to you for checking out this talk!