A Good Read

On the weekend, I finished reading a book entitled, Inside Out Coaching:  How Sports Can Transform Lives by Joe Ehrmann.  The author is a former scholarship athlete who played football in the NFL.  He now coaches high school football, writes and speaks about the impact coaches have on children.  He certainly provides an important and thoughtful perspective on a coach’s influence.

While reading the book, I made notes on a number of quotes/stories that he references.  Two of my favourites are below.  This morning I forwarded the first story on to my son’s soccer coach as I know he’s experienced similar situations to this one over the past few years.

From page 193
The following is the story of the coach and a conversation he had with one of his players. Please note the quote is taken directly from the book and does not reflect the everyday vocabulary of the author of this post.

“Do you understand what cooperation is?  What a team is?”  The player nodded in affirmation that he knew.  “Do you understand that what matters is not whether we win or lose but that we play together as a team and do the best we can individually and collectively?”  Again, the player nodded yes.  “So,” the coach continued, “I’m sure you know that when a coach makes a bad call or the referee drops a penalty flag you shouldn’t argue, curse, or call them a peckerhead.  Do you understand all that?”  The player again said he did.  Coach continued, “And when I take you out of the game so another player gets an opportunity to play, it’s not good to call your coach an idiot, is it?”  The player shook his head.  “Good,” said the coach, “now go over there and explain all that to your mother and father.”

From page 214
We are all familiar with the saying, “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.”  Ehrmann prefers Buffalo Bills coach Marv Levy’s retort:  “The only must win was World War Two.”

Derek Logan
Head of School

Do What Is Right

“Happiness varies more with the quality of
human relationships than with income.”
– World Happiness Report, presented at the United Nations Conference on Happiness

Call us old-fashioned. For all the impassioned talk about ‘21st century skills’ and life-changing advances in technology, manners remain at the core of what makes the world go around.

Our grade fives went on a field trip the other day. At KCS we directly teach, practice, review and remind students of behavior that is right. Before leaving to get on the TTC, the grade five teachers did so.

Here is Mr. Sawyer’s account of what followed: “…the thing that stands out most in my mind was the excellent manners that the students displayed on the subway…I felt so proud watching students in our class get up and offer their seats to elderly passengers or to women with small children.  I also saw two occasions where a boy from our class offered their seat to a lady.  All of this was done without me saying a word…I had many people comment to be about the excellent manners of our students.  I agree!!!!!!!”

Positive relationships with others, nourished through the use of manners, have always mattered. Encouragingly, in a world that has sometimes forgotten the importance of this, it is starting to get the public attention it deserves.

Offering your seat, holding the door open for others, welcoming visitors to the school, and greeting others each day are but a few of the ways in which ‘doing what is right’ is practised at KCS. Practice makes perfect.

Grade fives, that was perfect.

Andrea Fanjoy,
Assistant Head, Academics
Kingsway College School

Just Play and the Lessons Learned

Over the past eight years, I’ve been involved coaching and taking my son to minor sports, mainly soccer.  I’ve watched him play for club teams and various school teams over the years.  I’ve written about some of my thoughts on what I’ve seen in minor sports in this blog and in other newsletters at KCS over the years:  treatment of referees by spectators as well as the behaviour of some coaches are topics that I’ve observed and commented on. Upon reflection, I realized that I’ve never written about the players.  And this brings me to a story of watching my son play basketball with five guys he never knew before he stepped on the floor with them on Easter weekend.

My thirteen year old son, Brandon, and I went to work out at the fitness facility our family joined.  We started off together doing various exercises and then he went off to shoot baskets in the gym.  Earlier this year he decided that he was going to play on the school basketball team for the first time.  The playoffs were starting the next week so he wanted to go and practice dribbling and shooting for a while.  After an hour or so I finished what I was doing, and with the help of an oxygen tank, made my way up to the gym.  When I arrived, I noticed Brandon was involved in a 3-on-3 game with some other boys, who ranged in age from 12-15.  I sat and watched for twenty minutes.

To me, this was sports at its essence:  a group of children getting together to play a game.  It reminded me of my childhood when a bunch of us would congregate after school or on the weekend to play road hockey, soccer, football or baseball.  We’d set a time to meet and then we “figured it out” from there.  So many times, other kids we didn’t know would wander by and get invited to play in whatever game we were playing.  Brandon and these five other boys ended up together on the court not knowing each other when they arrived.  They picked teams, changed them when necessary, and called their own fouls.  They congratulated each other on great plays and shots; they competed, disagreed, laughed and poked fun at each other for over an hour.  Amazingly this was all done without listening to the input of others on the sidelines.  They just played.

I think for my son, he likely took away other memories than I did from that Saturday; as a thirteen year old, he’s likely forgotten about the game in the same way he forgets about the things I ask him to do around the house!  But for me that game allowed me to witness something about Brandon’s personality: it showed me that he has the willingness to get together with others he doesn’t know for a brief moment in time, and because they shared a common interest, have a good time.  It also  reminded me what my role is as a parent of an athlete: to get Brandon to his games and training on time, let his coach do the coaching, and let Brandon tell me about the training or the game afterwards.  The rest is really up to him.

Derek Logan
Head of School

Act with Empathy

One of our grade one classes had a big talk last week about the habit ‘Act with Empathy’. A classmate was away that day having teeth extracted, so they all thought about what they could say to express their empathy and make him feel better.  Here is what they came up with:

  • I feel bad for you.
  • I hope you feel better soon.
  • I hope your mouth doesn’t hurt.
  • I hope you come back to school tomorrow.
  • I miss you.
  • How did it feel?
  • I’m really sorry for you.
  • I hope you can come back to school tomorrow.
  • I hope you get better soon.
  • I hope your teeth get better soon.
  • I hope you get used to it.
  • I hope your teeth grow in soon.
  • I hope you could get a good rest in your bed today.
  • I hope you can have some fun tomorrow.
  • I hope you lie down in your bed so you have energy for tomorrow.
  • I hope you can go to school tomorrow and you can eat apples, your favourite.
  • You can cut up your apple.

Empathy matters, so we teach it at KCS. ‘Sharing What We Know’ also matters, so we do that too. If someone in your life could use a little empathy and you’re wondering what to say, revisit this post. The grade ones know what to do.

Andrea Fanjoy,
Assistant Head, Academics

Grade 1s are So Honest

Today we had a Spirit Day at KCS.  It was beach day.  I was sitting in my office with one of my colleagues with my door open.  My office is across the hall from the grade 1 classrooms.  The younger students are always interested in seeing what the faculty and staff wear on Spirit Days.  The two boys peeked their heads in to see what I was wearing – my Toronto Maple Leafs beach shirt, shorts and sandals.  One of the boys said to the other, “He doesn’t look that weird.”

Derek Logan
Head of School

7/8 Boys Floor Hockey Team Triggers Memories

Last Wednesday, I went to our boys floor hockey tournament in Oakville with Mr. Marshall.  As I expected, the boys were competitive, terrific sportsmen, and represented KCS in the way I’ve come to expect over the past thirteen years.

The boys were playing our arch rival, Mentor College, in the semi-finals.  Mentor had squeaked out a 5-4 victory in the round robin portion of the tournament against us, and following the game I heard a number of their players say in front of our boys that they were expecting to play Fern Hill in the finals.  Our boys had other plans for the first 21 minutes of the game.  We were up 6-2 with six minutes remaining…but we lost 7-6.  I was disappointed for the boys, but fifteen minutes later, they had “recovered” from the defeat and they were back to being their usual selves on the bus ride back to KCS.

As we were driving home, and I was thinking that this is what Ron Wilson and Randy Carlyle must have felt like this year, I remembered a particularly memorable defeat that my Dad reminded me of just a couple of years ago when he said to my son, Brandon, “You should ask your Dad about the time his team lost to Ottawa in hockey.”  I remember him saying this and thinking to myself, I’ve forgotten about this loss for the past 30 or so years, and yet you’ve kept this in your memory bank for that long.  One of the messages of this exchange is that the things we do as kids can often stay with our parents longer than it might stay with the child who actually does them.  Anyways, when I was either 14 or 15 we were playing ice hockey against Ottawa.  We were winning 4-0 with two minutes to go in the game.  When ended up losing 5-4 in the first minute of overtime.  My Dad had remembered this event and triggered my memory about it two years ago when he was speaking with my son.  The KCS boys on Thursday brought it back.  I have a message for the boys:  You’ll forget about this in time.  Your parents might not.

Derek Logan
Head of School

More than Spring has Sprung at KCS

Springtime is the land awakening. The March winds are the morning yawn.
~Quoted by Lewis Grizzard in Kathy Sue Loudermilk, I Love You

The warm sunshine, return of the robins, dancing daffodils and burgeoning tree buds weren’t the only new arrivals to recently grace our community. Though the emphatic entrance of spring was deeply appreciated, something else has awoken that even topped the weather for its sheer delight.

After years in our thoughts, dormant but developing, KCS is now proud to offer electives, electives with some significant twists, twists that had many of the grade 6 students, who get first crack at this opportunity, beside themselves with excitement.

A general introduction to electives was in last week’s parent e-newsletter Stay Connected. They’re designed for students to just learn for the love of it, learn by choice, not for marks, nor because the Ministry of Education says you must. It’s a time to develop the Habits of Mind, Body and Action that indisputably set us up to be successful. And it’s a time to offer an unlimited array of meaningful learning. If teachers and students can dream it, they now have time to do it. Directly connected to our school mission of developing lifelong learners, it’s designed to stoke the flames that fuel lifelong learning.

Judging from my small group of third-language learners, it’s working.

Students in grade 6 were given eight electives to choose from. Based on their choices, the forty-two students are now in one of six electives for 100 minutes each week of third term. One group is learning to cook from Chef Cirillo of Cirillo’s Culinary Academy. The result of their labours this past week was a mouth-watering chicken cacciatore dish that went directly to a youth shelter. Another group is engaged in geocaching. Enriched technology, art and drama are also taking place. And my group has each student learning the foreign language of their choice. Concurrently, (and thanks the significant help of Rosetta Stone language learning software), the students are learning the following languages: Mandarin, Japanese, Italian, Spanish and Filipino. Just because they want to.

Some of you may have read Sir Ken Robinson’s book The Element: How finding your passion changes everything. He’s right, of course. The bulk of his book exposes the far too common disconnect between the regular school day and finding one’s passion, as if passion only has relevance in extra-curricular pursuits. Not here.

One of my students announced he was going to try to learn enough Mandarin to use it exclusively with the flight attendant on an upcoming family trip (hmm, not sure how that will go but keen to know!) To achieve his goal he has asked if he can use the software at home and if there are apps he can download on his iPad.

Lifelong learner, check.

Being Remembered

During our chapel service on the last Friday before the March break, I said goodbye to one of our grade 1 students who was leaving KCS the next day to move to Sweden with his family.  As Josh was a grade one student, he had only been around KCS for the past seven months, but he will be remembered positively in many ways by his classmates and teachers.

Before leaving for chapel, I was speaking with Ms. Murphy about Josh.  His friends had made him a book to take with him:  Things We Like About Josh.  In the book it mentioned that Josh always played fairly, he was a fast runner, a funny guy and a super soccer player.  The book spoke volumes about the person he is becoming at such a young age.  For me, I will always remember Josh as being very respectful.  He would always say hello to me or give me a high five.

We will miss Josh around here this week and in the years to come, but we know his move to Sweden will bring about many memories and adventures.  It got me to thinking:  when a person leaves a place (work, school, etc.), how would they want to be remembered?  Just prior to the March break our 35 grade 8s decided on which schools they are going to attend for high school:

Bishop Allen:  5
Branksome Hall: 2
Etobicoke School of the Arts: 2
Father Redmond: 3
Greenwood College: 7
St. Clement’s School:  2
St. Michael’s College: 6
St. Mildred’s School: 1
Upper Canada College: 2
The York School: 1

As the grade 8s finish their final term at KCS, I hope that they will all consider the question:  how do I want my classmates and the staff and faculty to remember me at KCS when I leave?

Derek Logan
Head of School

A Tribute to Quiet Leaders

Be quiet. If you listen, you will hear them roar.

A quiet leader at KCS told me about the new book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. Susan Cain, introverted author and now uncomfortable-yet-superb TED Talk speaker (see her speak here), makes the compelling argument that volume, voice and unabashed extroversion should not be treated as a preferred modus operandi, the standard all should strive to reach. Communication matters, but so does quiet, and particularly so for some.

This reminds me of some students I know.

Each term, a student from each class in grades four through six is chosen to receive the Junior Merit Award. The second-term ceremony was the week before March Break. Making the ceremony a teachable moment for all students in the audience, homeform teachers introduced the recipients with a speech that made clear why they were chosen. Here are some of the many ways in which the recipients are exceptional:

  • Concise writing
  • Clever sense of humour
  • Hard-working
  • Always listening and learning
  • Showing concern for others
  • Consistent sportsmanship
  • Listening carefully to suggestions
  • Though shy, first to participate
  • Exceptional effort
  • Courageous
  • Exemplary work

The second term awards were handed out the same week this quiet teacher-leader and I were talking about Susan Cain and her work. Though talking about ‘quiet’, it was loud and clear to us that the very worthy recipients were living proof of Cain’s message. Knowing the six students, they are quiet leaders. They are supremely able, significant contributors. Their modus operandi is a model to us all.

In our rather loud and busy world, take time to be quiet, and notice the quiet leaders in your life. Their example speaks volumes.

Andrea Fanjoy,
Assistant Head, Academics