Category Archives: Guest Blogger

When It Comes To New Technology, It’s About Engaging The Students

The use of technology in education has been a popular topic in educational circles and the media for the last few years. It is often a discussion based on extremes where one either believes that our students should abandon paper and traditional learning methods and tools completely in favour of a fully digital and connected educational experience or schools should shun technology completely for the safety and well-being of children who already spend far too much time using devices. As is often the case with extreme and conflicting points of view, the right path lies squarely in the middle.

I readily admit that as someone who experienced high school in the 1980s, I feel lucky to have actually witnessed and participated in the evolution of both television and computers from relative rarities to technologies people cannot live without. In high school my classmates would rush home after school so they could watch these wonderful new music videos for hours, arriving at school the next day to show off a new dance move, hair style, or single white glove! I spent my afternoons after school tinkering with the latest used computer I had managed to buy with my allowance and paper route money. I got the sense that while my parents did not fully understand my fascination with a useless (to them) computer, they were relieved that I was not ruining my life glued to the television watching music videos that were destroying society as they knew it.

Television and music videos did not destroy society and result in a lost generation. What did happen is parents (and educators) became aware and engaged in what the children were watching. Parents set limits and had conversations about what their children saw. Educators realized that because newer forms of media engaged children, that some of this same media could be leveraged for educational purposes. The world continued to spin and life progressed. The “good old days” were only good in the old days.  Society progresses and changes and going backwards is neither possible nor desirable. Human beings make mistakes. Better to learn from mistakes when students are young and have supportive, responsible teachers around to guide them rather than trying to learn from mistakes as an adult where the consequences can be far-reaching and difficult to mitigate.

Technology in school is not a passing fad. Technology is just one of many tools that teachers here at Mentor College and TEAM School use every day to guide our students to success. The ability for our students and teachers to use digital tools will continue to increase in importance with every passing year. Some argue that technology in our classrooms creates student distraction. The solution back in the good old days when students passed notes as a form of distraction was not to ban paper, so why would we even consider banning technology?

Technology does not replace teaching, rather it augments it. We have an exceptional group of educators in our schools who invest their time and efforts into helping your children become the exceptional young adults they all have the potential to be. We believe that the thoughtful, meaningful, and appropriate use of technology in our classrooms will ensure your child reaches his or her full potential.

Mark Sheward
Technology Resource
Mentor College/TEAM School

A Phoneless India

The moment I tell people I travelled halfway across the world to Udaipur, India, the first question I get asked is “So, did you have WiFi?” – to which I shortly respond with “No.” And yet, this answer so dry and simple always shocks them. “What did you do? How did you text people?” Well, that one is easy. I didn’t text people, nor did I have the burning urge to all day long. I was 11,462 km away from home, surrounded by an entirely new culture, with nothing but my camera, best friends, and curiosity by my side. Why would I need my phone?

Not being able to use my phone for two weeks turned out to be a much easier task than I had previously expected. Before going to India, I was petrified of not having my phone. I mean, my parents couldn’t call me on my birthday, I couldn’t text all of my teammates and friends with the latest gossip, and I couldn’t fall asleep scrolling through the Instagram explore page. Going on my phone turned into part of my daily routine, and I honestly thought that I needed my phone to survive, but I was very wrong. I can truly say that I didn’t miss my phone at all, and even when I was granted certain opportunities to use it, I opted not to.

There were so many wonderful experiences in India that I feel like I would have missed out on if I had my phone. For example, every day we would have some down time to do whatever we wanted before dinner, whether it was playing cricket, showering, or talking with friends. I always took this opportunity to lie in the grass, write in my journal, and have some great laughs with my friends. I know for a fact that if phones were to be introduced into that scenario, that free time probably would have been much different. With that being said, however, I honestly don’t think any of us missed our phones all that much. Yash Pujari, another student on the trip, even said “I didn’t really notice that [my phone] was gone.” And that was the truth. Once the surrounding culture, unique people and breathtaking scenery engulfed you, there was no need to be on your phone. I feel as if I can speak on behalf of the entire group when I say this, but because we were in India for such a short period of time, any time on our phones would have been a wasted opportunity.

Even after coming home from India, I noticed a huge change in regards to my dependency on my cell phone. I mean, sure, I still use it to text my friends, but I do not need it like I did in the past. I feel as if now it is much easier to put my phone away for long periods of time, as I don’t have the urge to check up on what has happened in the past two minutes of someone’s life. It is almost as if I can see the futility in cell phones now, as there is so much of the world that I can finally see now that I moved my iPhone screen out of the way. Thus, as my time in India was probably two of the happiest weeks of my life, it also taught me an important lesson to experience the world more and be engulfed in technology less. So, I guess I will leave you with a challenge. I challenge you to put your phone away for two weeks, and see what happens as a result. Did you notice things you never have before? Did you find yourself talking to more people? Did you finish your work faster? Did you realize that you are not as dependent on your phone as you thought you were?

Sierra LeBlanc
Grade 11 Student

Season’s Greetings!

macdonald-cThe holiday season offers us the opportunity to extend goodwill greetings to all, as we look forward to spending time with friends and family. Our school holiday also offers us the chance to rest and to reflect.

As always, term one is very busy and includes many events that take place from the start of school in September until the holiday assembly on the last day of classes in December. As we reflect on all of those activities where we watched our students perform in an ensemble, take part in a club or activity, or play in a sport event, we also had the opportunity to see and to recognize the dedication and enthusiasm of our staff members who supervise, lead, and coach these activities.

As teachers, we work with fantastic students who challenge us, and who remind us daily of those positive reasons why we want to be educators. Our students are great kids that come from families who put an emphasis on education. The end result is that parents, teachers, and students all come together and share the same goals.

As families, and administrators, we are fortunate to have excellent teachers for our students. They are teachers who put great effort into their daily academic instruction, but also organize, lead, and support our students through various clubs, sports, and activities.

It has been a very busy term, so it is now time to reflect, be thankful, celebrate, rest and recuperate in order to be ready for the next term.

We wish you and your family a restful and meaningful holiday season. We look forward to seeing our students, staff, and everyone in the TEAM and Mentor community in the New Year.

Season’s Greetings and Happy New Year!

Chuck Macdonald
Director – Mentor College/TEAM School

Mentor/TEAM Guest Blog: The Sound of a Musical

wilkinson-kSomething very special has happened to me during the rehearsal process for The Sound of Music. As we have been working to portray the von Trapps and their story of music uniting them as a family, I’ve come to realize that we as a school are doing the same thing. I’ve had so many comments from teachers and parents expressing the same sentiment: “I love The Sound of Music – it’s been my favourite since I was a child.” Mr. Macdonald even mentioned that at one time as a young boy, he pretended to play the pipe organ processional for Maria’s wedding on the arm of the Macdonald living room easy chair!

I am told that it was only in the very beginning of the school (when there were under 100 students in all grades) that students young and old have been involved in the musical. Watching the young actors look up to the older ones and seeing the teenagers take such care of the children has been heart-warming. Knowing that there are 27 students who want to take part in the pit band is incredible. With all four divisions involved in the show, it’s hard not to feel the ever-present sense of community and love for this music surrounding me. We all seem to connect with this show in one way or another.

Throughout this rehearsal process I’ve felt a sense of family here at Mentor more than ever. I hope you do too as you watch the show. After all, you are a part of the Mentor family, and family is what Mentor is all about.

Where can I get tickets?

Kara Wilkinson
Head – Theatre Arts Department
Mentor College

What Silence Can Teach Us

img_0570It has been a busy few weeks here at Mentor College with the introduction to of Edsby to students and parents. Instructions have been shared with students, parents have been notified of this new program via email, teachers have been posting on their pages and many other forms of communication are taking place between students, parents, teachers and principals.
Prior to Thanksgiving, I was fortunate enough to travel to the Outdoor Education Centre with 2 of High School’s leadership classes. We were able to avoid the rain and that presented an opportunity that I have not had in a very long time. Following our campfire on Saturday evening some students noticed the starry night sky above. They asked if we could all lie down on the grass volleyball court and watch the stars.

As we lay on the field a hush fell over the group. Chatter turned to complete quiet and for twenty minutes, 37 seventeen-year olds remained speechless, literally and metaphorically. The only sounds were the oohs and ahhs when a shooting star (or 4) streaked by. I lay there waiting for the silence to be broken by a giggle that I knew would erupt into laughter. It did not happen. Eventually the air became a little too cool and we moved into the OEC to warm up. As we walked back Ms. Higgs and I overheard students state they had never heard the world so quiet.
There are not enough moments like these in our lives. Our fast paced world has almost taken over our daily lives. It is difficult to escape the notifications from our devices or even the hum of electricity. If you have the opportunity in the near future I would highly suggest taking some complete quiet time like this for yourself. Consider it a restart of sorts.

Another more impressive moment was seeing maturity in action. These students knew the significance of what they were doing, when they were doing it. We are very good at appreciating memorable moments after the fact, but to recognize value in the moment and then fully embrace it was impressive to say the least.

Finally, as an educator I believe in the power of experiential learning. Whether it is an overseas trip to India or Iceland, running a school event like our annual Fashion and Art shows or simply sitting quietly under the stars, experience is a powerful teacher. At Mentor College we are proud to offer numerous clubs, organizations, teams and events that create these opportunities for students to share in and learn from. As you browse through your Edsby pages you will see the wide variety of opportunities that your student can take part in. Please encourage your child to engage in some of these in order to have the best possible school year.

Aneil Panchal
Assistant Vice-Principal
High School Division