Follow Recommendations from a Twitter-Obsessed Nerd

I love Twitter. I spend an unhealthy amount of time on Twitter. I know what you might be thinking: “This is a terrible idea. Why would someone be on that site? Isn’t it all trolls?”

Look, reader, you’re not wrong. There are a lot of trolls on Twitter. There are a lot of people who are not very… diplomatic… about how much they hate educators.

But those people aren’t why I’m on Twitter. I mute them (or block the really bad ones) and carry on.

The real reason I’m on Twitter is that there are so many incredible, knowledgeable, passionate educators and education advocates on there who give me a lot of insight into the world, both as an educator and just a human being, that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

It’s hard to know where to start, though. I get that. It took me a few months to build up a feed that I felt was really worthwhile and meaningful. When I look for people to follow, I’m looking for people who challenge my worldview, inspire me, show me how to see the world through a different lens.

There are a few people whose posts I always stop to read when I see them. I want to share a few accounts that I think are worth your time if you’re on Twitter or thinking about joining. I’m not going to try to describe what each Twitter account is about, because I tend to follow people who don’t just post about one thing. I can’t reduce them to one topic, one idea, one thing. They’re people.

These accounts are not educators, but I found them all through #onted (Ontario education) threads and discussions.

In no particular order (well, the order is ‘how they appeared in my Following list as I scrolled it looking for the ones I wanted to mention), here are some great Twitter accounts that I enjoy:





















You should check out some of those accounts if you have a few minutes. They’re worth your time. If you have any favourite Twitter accounts that you follow, please let me know!

A Year in the Life: Collective Bargaining Committee

(This is post #3 in an ongoing series. For earlier posts, click here and here.) 

Around two years ago, I did something bold, for me: I put my name forward to run for a non-released position with my local. I’d been my school’s steward for several years by that point and had also attended the annual meeting in Toronto a few times. I’d served four years on a provincial standing committee. It felt like taking a more active leadership role within my local would be a good next step to get involved.

In my local, there are a variety of elected positions available to members, from released officers (our president, VPs, and chief negotiator) to non-released executive positions. The one I chose was the Collective Bargaining Committee – a group comprised of the chief negotiator and twelve others elected by the local. It’s a large committee whose responsibilities are primarily, as you might expect, related to bargaining and defending our collective agreement – but there are other duties, too, which I’ll get into in a minute.

Sending the e-mail to put my name forward was the easy part. Just a push of a button, really. It was everything that came after that which made me nervous. Despite having a job where I stand in front of people and talk all day, despite having done a lot of theatre in my youth, the idea of getting up in front of my local and giving a speech was terrifying. But I did it! I may have put off writing my speech until the last minute, as always, and I may have been petrified the entire time, but I got up there, made my case, and was elected to the CBC.

I’m in the second year of my 3-year term now. I’ve really enjoyed my time serving on the CBC, and boy, what a time I chose to be in this position. Between provincial bargaining, local bargaining, and the pandemic, it’s been… interesting, to say the least.

So, what does a member of the CBC do?

It’s worth noting that all locals have slightly different structures, and the position I have here may not exist in your local. Keep that in mind!

Naturally, our primary responsibility as CBC is to negotiate and administer the local collective agreement. During that process, we meet as a group to discuss membership priorities, collaborate on a preliminary submission for bargaining (our first presentation to the employer of what we’re looking for), and elect representatives from our committee to sit on the table team (the people who are actually there in the room when bargaining is happening).

I have to say, it can be very empowering to see your suggestions actually get put into the preliminary submission that goes to the table. Even if your suggestion feels like a small thing at the time, it’s exciting!

Beyond bargaining, however, we also have other duties throughout our terms. We have several committees which we serve on jointly with our employer, some which are a regular part of our year (such as staffing) and others which are shorter-term. During staffing, we collectively monitor the vacancy lists as they’re posted to ensure that nothing wonky happens along the way. There’s an annual survey sent to members to ensure that the CA is being followed and check in on members’ working conditions (e.g. 20 minute instructional blocks, adequate prep and supervision time, etc.) that we review. We hear about grievances (in vague details, to be clear) and discuss issues that we have heard or witnessed in schools.

We also discuss really important issues during our discussions on bargaining – such as when to go with what the majority of members have asked for and when we have a duty to fight for something even if it isn’t one of the highest-ranked priorities of members. Sometimes, the needs of the few must outweigh the needs of the many, particularly when dealing with equity issues.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I threw my name into the running for this position, but I’m really glad I did. My term will be up at the end of the 2021-22 school year, so I’ll need to decide if I’m going to try for a second term or look for other opportunities. No matter what I decide, though, this has been an incredibly valuable experience that taught me a lot about my local and collective bargaining.

This Year’s Teaching Adventure: Minecraft

Every year, I seem to take on at least one new thing to try in the classroom. I’m definitely guilty of jumping into things with both feet – and sometimes, just sometimes, taking on a bit too much at once.

This year, I’m trying to limit myself to one “big” new thing. My school board just granted us access to Minecraft: Education Edition, so that’s where all of my creative energy seems to be going this year.

I can’t imagine there’s anyone left who doesn’t know what Minecraft is in a general sense. What you may not have considered previously is that Minecraft: Education Edition provides all kinds of really interesting opportunities for student learning in a highly engaging context.

I can’t say it’s been smooth sailing. Every time Minecraft gets an update, the game seems to be blocked on my board’s network again – which, this year in particular, can take a few weeks to get sorted out depending on how busy the IT department is. But the game itself is very easy to learn and runs on a wide variety of devices. 

My students LOVE Minecraft. Every day, they ask if they’ll have some time to play. I’m quite familiar with the game as I’ve played the standard edition at home for a few years, but using it in the classroom is a brand new adventure.

Our first foray into the game involved working with a group to create a treehouse. It was a low-stress way to introduce students to the game without too many expectations. It also provided an opportunity to work in a bit of oral language, as students could then show their completed treehouse to the class and give everyone a tour.

I learned a few things quickly:

  1. If I host the game and then leave it running while I work with other students, my Minecraft students WILL create elaborate structures around me as a (harmless!) joke. I have now been encased in glass, built into a tree, had a hot tub built around me, and been set on fire multiple times (both by accident and on purpose).
  2. If I don’t provide clear guidelines for what they are doing, they will quickly throw something together that they think satisfies the requirements and then disappear, having gone off in search of treasure and discovery.

For our second big task, I had students design houses that would fit into 10×10 grids. I used one of the worlds built by the Minecraft team – called Starter Town for those interested – and showed the class the town we would be creating together. I assigned them each a plot of land in the world where they would build their house.

The world with our town in it also contains many other things to explore and discover. This week, I assigned them a scavenger hunt within the town and surrounding area. Not only does it encourage them to go off exploring and learn about in-game features, it also allows me to work in a bit of French reading, as they have to follow clues to know what to look for in the world.

Before I set them loose in the town to build their houses and explore, we discussed our digital community and what sorts of behaviours supported our community or hindered it. Students signed to acknowledge that they knew the expectations as members of the community.

My students are still hard at work building their houses, but they already have two dozen ideas for other things they think the town needs. When we finish, we plan to invite other classes in our school to visit our town and maybe do a scavenger hunt of their own. Eventually, we’d like to find some opportunities to collaborate with other classes in a shared world – we miss working with other classes in the school!


I’m really looking forward to finding more ways to integrate Minecraft into the classroom. If you’re also using Minecraft, what kinds of things are you doing with your students?

Reflecting on Professional Practice During a Pandemic

Three months into the school year, I find myself reflecting on my teaching practice a lot. I started the year feeling frustrated that everything was so different, most of what I enjoy about teaching is gone, and students were more difficult to engage in learning than I had ever experienced before.

Now, as we round the corner into December, I’m realizing that within this very different school year, there are also things to rediscover – things I had lost or forgotten about somewhere in working full time, parenting, dealing with personal issues, trying to survive.

Here are a few of the things that I find are really working this year that I hope to continue once we’re on the other side of this whole mess (and we will, one day, be living in a world where “pandemic” isn’t the word of the year).

Focus on the Big Ideas. All too often, I get caught up in all of the specific expectations in the curriculum. My class goes off on tangents. We get far, far away from the “big ideas” – the key takeaways in each unit. Usually, I’m able to get us back on track after a while, but “a while” isn’t a luxury this year affords.

To keep myself focused, I’ve been posting the big ideas in my classroom. Having them visible – to both students and myself – helps us remember what the point is. My students will connect their learning directly to those big ideas during discussions. It’s helped us have more targeted, intentional conversations about Social Studies and Science in particular.

Don’t be afraid to go back to fundamental skills. This year, I’m teaching a 4/5 split. My grade fours (16 of my 25 students) are in their first year of French Immersion, some with no French exposure at all before the first day of school. My grade fives have been in immersion since last year. The last time I taught this split, I mainly kept very early literacy skills (phonics, word sorts, etc.) to my grade four students because the grade fives were already able to decode, read with decent fluency, etc.

This year, I don’t really have the same ability to split the class and teach only one grade. My grade four students still needed instruction on French phonics, though, and rather than giving the fives independent work during those lessons, I decided I would just include everyone in these lessons. The whole class will do short “chalk and sock”-style lessons, for example – which is a lot to manage with 25 students, but not impossible.

A few months later, I can look back and say that was absolutely the right call. My grade fours are making great progress (some even further ahead this year than I would normally see by December!) and my grade fives have shown huge improvements in their literacy skills. They may have seemed “beyond” these lessons at the start of the year, but that didn’t mean that the lessons would be worthless to them. The extra practice has given them a big boost this year.

Next year, should I find myself teaching grade 5 again, I’ll likely continue whole-class lessons on phonics, spelling patterns, etc.

Not everything needs to be a big, creative, grandiose project. I really love finding creative ways to teach concepts and have my students show me what they know. My students generally love them, too. This year, though, it’s difficult to find the time or energy to come up with the same level of engaging tasks as I normally would. I’ve had to scale back my plans and teach in a much more traditional way for some concepts.

At first, I was worried about it. Would my students be miserable? Would they learn as much as they usually do? How deep would their understanding be? While I will admit their engagement in some tasks is lower than I would see in a normal year, I can confidently say that they are still learning what they need to learn. It’s not as fun to teach and they don’t get as excited about it, but they ARE learning.

This is an important lesson for me, because I often take on too much at work due to guilt over not being the super fun, creative, quirky teacher with the wild ideas. I needed the reminder that it’s really, really okay to step back and scale it down. My students will still be learning.

Finally, I REALLY need to get better about packing up well at the end of the day. I sheepishly admit that I have, in pre-pandemic times, been that teacher who has come to school sick because everything was in too much of a shambles to even know where to start planning for an OT. The pandemic really snapped me out of that mindset, but I have a long, long way to go in leaving my classroom “OT-ready” at the end of the day. I still find myself saying, “It’s fine, I’ll put those away tomorrow morning.” Except I can’t be certain that I will be back in tomorrow morning. I could wake up symptomatic and have to get a COVID test. I could have to stay home with one of my children. I could be put in self-isolation unexpectedly.

I know myself well enough to know that I’ll never be one of those teachers who can leave a perfectly tidy desk and classroom at the end of the day, but I can at least try to be better than I have been in the past. I’m getting there – it’s just slow.

I’m sure these won’t be the last little revelations that I have this year. I know none of these are new ideas – it’s just been interesting to suddenly see them differently or be reminded of their value.

Has the pandemic surprised anyone else with some teaching strategies or practices that have worked well and that you want to continue when we’re “back to normal”?

Creating a Safe Space for 2SLGBTQ+ Students and Families

Growing up as a queer kid in a small town, my experience in school wasn’t always very welcoming. Everything felt like it was designed in a way that assumed that I – and everyone – was cis and straight, from the books we read to the forms we took home and the way everyone spoke in class. Because I didn’t fit into the world they were presenting me, it felt like there was something wrong with me.

When I became a teacher, I made a promise to myself that I would do everything I could to avoid doing the things that made me so uncomfortable as a student. I don’t want any of my students to feel like they or their families aren’t seen, valued, and most of all, completely normal. 

There are many simple ways that you can make your classroom more welcoming to queer students, families, and colleagues. While this is by no means an exhaustive list, here are some things I would like you to consider for your own practice:

Drop the words “Mother” and “Father” from your communication home. I still see educators doing things like sending home student information forms with a ‘Mother’ field and a ‘Father’ field. This only serves to ‘other’ students whose families don’t fit this image. While you’re at it, why not make sure you have more than two fields for parents/guardians?

Stop playing “boys versus girls” or using gender as a way to split up students in class. Not only does it reinforce archaic notions of some imaginary divide between genders, but it also puts some of your queer students in an awkward and difficult position. You should never be creating a situation where a student has to out themselves or mis-gender themselves just to participate.

Include 2SLGBTQ+ content in your class without always making being queer “the point” of the lesson. While it’s important to openly discuss queer issues and perspectives in your classroom, it’s also important to make sure that you are including queer content without feeling like you need to justify it in some way. Your students need to see themselves in your teaching, but they also need to believe that you see them as a normal part of the world that doesn’t always need to be pointed out, discussed, and defended.

Schitt’s Creek did that very well, if you are familiar with the show. The writers included queer storylines without making them about trauma. They presented the world how it should be, how it can be, and it was beautiful.

Don’t wait until you have a queer student (that you know about) to offer support to your students. My school has a few genderless washrooms and I make sure to point them out to my students in the first week of school so that they know they’re available. I have a “Positive Space” sign up in my classroom at all times. I keep my language inclusive, making sure that I’m not saying things like “your mom and dad” and instead say “your family”. I share information about Youthline the same way that I share info about Kids Help Phone.

Stop assuming kids are “too young” to talk about the 2SLGBTQ+ community. There is no such thing. Kids aren’t too young to learn about cis/het families, so what’s the difference?

Teach gender-neutral language. I teach FSL, and I introduce gender-neutral pronouns alongside “il” and “elle”. It takes no extra effort on my part – I’m already teaching pronouns in Language Arts. You know what’s really cool? When they have the language ahead of time, they often use it openly, without hesitation, and without prejudice.

There are so many other things you can do to create a more welcoming space for your queer students and families, but I’d be here all night if I tried to capture them all. Those are just a few suggestions of small but meaningful changes you can make to help your students feel safe and seen. I hope you give them some thought.

A Year in the Life: Being a School Steward

This is the second in an ongoing series about what it can look like to be an active, engaged ETFO member. Find the first entry here.

My first foray into union involvement was when I was encouraged to attend a monthly union meeting with the steward for my school. We went to the meeting, and there I listened to passionate educators discuss issues of importance in our local. I listened to my local president and released officers answer steward questions with compassion, patience, and wisdom.

When my steward asked me to be the official alternate a few weeks later, I was excited to take on the opportunity and learn more about being a steward. What does a steward do, exactly? 

Allow me to tell you a little bit about what it’s like to act as steward for your school. (The finer details of being a steward will vary from local to local, so keep that in mind.)

Attend regular union meetings. In my local, they’re held once a month. At those meetings, we hear updates from released officers on various issues in the board, committee reports, and equity presentations. We have an opportunity to ask questions and raise concerns. 

Forward key information to colleagues at school. As a steward, I receive information via e-mail and board mail that needs to be distributed to fellow ETFO members. This can include meeting minutes, info on upcoming PD opportunities, important memos about key issues (e.g., report card guidance), etc.

Support colleagues at the school level as needed. The most common type of support that I provide is through advice to colleagues when they ask me questions. Sometimes those questions go beyond my ability to answer, so I reach out to released officers. Sometimes, supporting my colleagues means helping them approach admin with concerns.

Defend the collective agreement. When ETFO members are asked to do something that contravenes our collective agreement, it’s my responsibility as steward to approach admin and have a discussion about it. I’ve been fortunate to have many excellent, supportive principals and vice-principals, so this has been a very rare part of my responsibilities.

Act as picket captain during job action. I’m sure picketing is fresh in most ETFO members’ minds this year. As picket captain, my responsibilities were mainly organizing shifts, getting information out to everyone, gathering questions, and making sure safety guidelines were being followed.

Being steward is a great opportunity to take on a leadership role in your school. It’s also an opportunity to learn more about your federation while helping your colleagues at the same time. If it’s something you think you might be interested in, chat with the steward at your school and see if you can tag along to a meeting some time!

A Year in the Life: What does being actively engaged in your local look like?

I consider myself a fairly involved member of my local. I’ve served as steward for 8 years, participated in committees, attended workshops. A few years ago, I took a big leap: I ran for an elected position (Collective Bargaining Committee). Most of this has just been me grasping at things that I thought sounded interesting at the time, but I’ve often found myself wishing that I’d gotten involved sooner. If I’d known what was involved in some of these opportunities, I would have gone for them much earlier on!

With that in mind, I thought it could be worthwhile to document the different ways I engage with my local throughout the year, in the hopes that it may inspire some of you to seek similar opportunities in your own locals.

For post #1 in this series, I think I should talk about how I got started in all of this back in 2012 and wound up as my school’s steward.

I don’t come from a union background. My parents have never been members of a union and we never really talked about unions – positively or negatively. I wasn’t an OT for very long, primarily because of the perpetual FSL shortage, but I attended a few informational meetings while I was. Then, in 2012, I was hired into a permanent position at the school where I had been working as an LTO teacher.

At that time, we were in the midst of contract negotiations. The steward at my school had been steward for a long time, upwards of 10 years, and she suggested that I tag along to a few meetings to see what it was like. I’m the first to admit that I’m a highly curious person with serious FOMO (fear of missing out), so I liked the idea of going to the meeting and hearing more about our bargaining situation first-hand.

At the meeting, I got to see the union in action. We heard from released officers, committee chairs, stewards. We had opportunities to ask questions, table motions, and interact directly with the people elected to represent us. It was thrilling for me. Who knew I liked meetings so much?! I loved hearing from people from all over my board. Until that first meeting, I hadn’t fully realized how much things could vary from school to school. It was also fascinating to hear people speak so passionately about their areas of expertise, whether that was in LTD, Health and Safety, equity, bargaining, etc.

After that first meeting, I started attending more often with my steward, serving as a de facto alternate. She helped me navigate some of the intricacies of being a steward, what the different acronyms meant (because oh BOY are there a lot of acronyms that everyone seems to just assume you know!), who the long-time stewards are that I could ask questions of, some of the history of our local. She started including me in some of her interactions with colleagues so that I could see what it meant to be a steward at the school level.

When we staged our one-day political protest, I was volunteered to be picket captain. I’d never held a picket sign in my life, and suddenly there I was, responsible for rallying my colleagues and managing the site. Whoa! But also, super energizing!

The following year, I officially took over as steward, giving my colleague a much-needed break. I served as steward for my school from that point until the end of last year, through good times and bad, seeing them through some of the most tumultuous times I’ll ever see in both my personal life and my professional life. There were long days, but I really, really loved the sense of purpose and connection I felt in serving as steward. I also learned so much about my union that I never would have known otherwise!

This year, I’ve stepped back as steward – in part to try to encourage some of my colleagues to become more involved, and in part because I need to take a break to focus on some things in my personal life. It feels so strange not being the point person for communication, questions, problem solving. At the same time, I’m excited to see my colleagues getting more involved. I hope one of them finds it all as interesting as I do.

If you’ve been wondering what it’s like to be steward or you even just want to learn more about your local, I urge you to reach out to your school steward and see if you can attend a meeting. You just might find that you love the job!

10 Years In, and Out of My Depth

This year has been… interesting. I’m entering my 10th year as a teacher this year, and in that time, I’ve been through some wild times – mostly in my personal life, sometimes in my professional life, occasionally in both at the same time.

This year has been, hands down, the most difficult – and we’re only two weeks in.

This is harder than teaching while 7 months pregnant in a high-risk pregnancy.

Harder than teaching while my mother underwent cancer treatment.

Harder than jumping into an unfamiliar assignment 1.5 days before the school year started.

Harder than coming back to work after parental leave to a new admin, a fall reorg, surprise tornadoes in September.

Other bloggers here have said so many of the things that I would have talked about – feeling out of my depth, like I can’t find my feet, like everything could change on a dime and we have no control.

What I’m struggling with the most, though, is how to teach French Immersion. So much of my program usually relies on students being able to interact in authentic and meaningful ways – something that I can’t quite seem to make happen when they’re all sitting in rows, facing the front, wearing masks.

I’m an experienced French Immersion teacher. I’ve been teaching FI of some kind since 2011, and specifically Middle French Immersion since 2012. I usually feel pretty grounded in my teaching, with confidence that I know how to adapt my teaching so that all of my students can succeed. I’ve walked into a class of 34 first-year immersion students! But this year, I’m struggling.

I say all of this because I want you to know, if you’re a newer teacher out there who’s thinking they’re out of their depths, they’re struggling to keep their head above water, they can’t find their feet – you aren’t alone. Being a new teacher is HARD. It’s fraught with uncertainty, anxiety, and second-guessing. Being a new teacher in a pandemic, though? That’s something else entirely. It’s a new league of “hard.”

Please, be kind to yourself this year. This is not the year to take too much to heart about your ability to teach. This is a year for survival – knowing that things will look, feel, and be different, and that many aspects of your program may not even work.

At the end of the day, ask yourself these questions:

Are your students cared for?

Are your students happy?

If you can say yes to those questions, you’re doing fine.

Report Cards – FSL Comments

To date, I’ve written two posts (here and here) with sample comments for the Learning Skills section of the Ontario report card. Those are arguably the most difficult comments to write, but I’ve also found French language comments to be challenging. I change my style and choices every year, it feels like, so these are by no means perfect, but I thought some of you may like to see some of the comments I use for reporting on French Immersion and Core French. Use bits of these, adapt them, share them – these are here for your reference and to help you out!


Program: Middle French Immersion (year 2) – Term: Progress Reports – Profile: Progressing With Difficulty (D-level)

(NAME) is making some progress in the grade 5 Middle French Immersion program, although she requires considerable encouragement to engage with the class during instructional time. With frequent support, she is beginning to speak in French with her teacher and peers. She should strive to make use of in-class supports (e.g., anchor charts, notes, word wall) to assist her with her learning. Continued reading at home (preferably aloud) will help her to develop stronger reading skills.

In subjects where the language of instruction is French, (NAME) consistently needs one-on-one assistance to understand the material being taught and complete her work. Going forward, she would benefit from developing listening strategies to help her understand what is being taught (such as listening for key words, watching the speaker, using visual supports).


Program: Middle French Immersion (year 2) – Term: Progress Reports – Profile: Progressing Well (C-level)

(NAME) is progressing well overall in the grade 5 Middle French Immersion program. With one-on-one or small group assistance, he is usually able to demonstrate an understanding of the material discussed in class. He makes good connections between what he is learning in class and his personal experiences. Oral communication is an area of need for (NAME) as he requires frequent support when speaking spontaneously. He would benefit from using a variety of speaking strategies (e.g., hand gestures, visual supports, rephrasing) to communicate his ideas without substituting English words. (NAME)’s writing strategies are developing well, and he makes good use of classroom resources (e.g., Word Reference, anchor charts, notes) to complete his work.


Program: Middle French Immersion (year 2) – Term: Progress Reports – Profile: Progressing Well (B-level)

(NAME) is progressing well so far in the Middle French Immersion program. He is beginning to speak with more confidence in rehearsed situations, such as prepared presentations. When speaking, he is usually able to communicate his thoughts and ideas effectively, although he sometimes needs encouragement to persevere in French when the vocabulary is less familiar. He can work on improving his communication skills by using speaking strategies (e.g., using gestures, finding another way to say a word, using anchor charts) to avoid resorting to using English in class.


Program: Middle French Immersion (year 3) – Term: Progress Reports – Profile: Progressing Very Well

(NAME) is progressing very well so far in the Middle French Immersion program. She is a highly effective communicator and speaks with confidence in both spontaneous and rehearsed situations. When writing, she is able to use the self-revision checklist (POMMES) to correct any errors in her text. She can work to improve her speaking skills by striving to speak only in French during class time.


Program: Middle French Immersion (year 3) – Term: 2 – Profile: Significant difficulty, little progress

(NAME) continues to demonstrate significant difficulty in French-language subjects. She has missed a large amount of French instruction time this term due to late arrivals and absences, which has hindered her development as she has missed many opportunities to practice her French skills in class discussions and group work. (NAME) is reluctant to speak French in class, rarely even using common phrases such as asking to use the washroom, though with encouragement she will sometimes form short sentences when speaking to teachers. She consistently requires one-on-one support to understand lessons. When reading, she shows surface-level understanding of texts at the Grade 6 level when supported by the teacher or her peers. Engaging (NAME) in French subjects has been a challenge this term, as she often needs reminders to stay on task. (NAME) will need to put much more effort into French subjects next year in order to catch up to where she should be. Her immediate focus should be on developing her oral communication skills, particularly speaking.


Program: MFI (year 3) – Term: 2 – Profile: B level

(NAME) demonstrates a high degree of comprehension during listening activities and discussions. She is able to follow complex instructions without assistance from her teachers.  When speaking, (NAME) usually communicates her thoughts and ideas clearly. She is developing a good accent and pronounces most familiar words correctly. Overall, she speaks with some ease in spontaneous and rehearsed contexts. Going forward, she would benefit from building her confidence when speaking, which would help to develop her intonation and fluency.  (NAME) is developing good writing skills. She has a wide vocabulary and is able to apply most conventions with success when creating written texts. When given feedback, she is generally able to apply that feedback and make revisions to her writing. When reading, (NAME)’s decoding and comprehension skills consistently meet the grade 6 expectations. She generally identifies the main idea and important details in a text, though at times she requires some encouragement to provide evidence from the text to support her ideas. (NAME)  is encouraged to continue reading French books at her level over the summer to continue developing her reading skills.


Program: MFI (year 3) – Term: 2 – Profile: A level (shockingly similar to the B level comment… to show you how I adapt it but don’t overdo workload by completely changing wording)

(NAME) participates actively in all aspects of the French program. She demonstrates a high degree of comprehension during listening activities and discussions. She is able to follow complex instructions without assistance from her teachers.  When speaking, (NAME) nearly always communicates her thoughts and ideas clearly. Her confidence allows her to speak with considerable fluency in both spontaneous and rehearsed contexts. She is developing a good accent when speaking and pronounces most familiar words correctly.  (NAME) is a strong writer. She makes great use of a wide vocabulary and a good understanding of French conventions to create a variety of written texts. When given feedback, she is able to apply that feedback and successfully make revisions to her writing.  Overall, (NAME) is a strong reader in French. When reading independently, her decoding and comprehension skills exceed the grade 6 expectations. She identifies the main idea and important details in texts with ease. (NAME) is encouraged to continue reading French books over the summer to continue developing her reading skills.


Program: Core French – Term: 1 – Profile: Strong academics, good engagement

(NAME) participates actively in all aspects of the Core French program. She has strong communication skills and consistently speaks in French during class activities. She has demonstrated leadership in the classroom by helping her peers when she is able to. When writing, (NAME) makes good use of classroom resources (e.g., dictionaries, models, anchor charts) to complete tasks independently. Going forward, she is encouraged to speak in French with her peers during class time to further develop her skills.


Program: Core French – Term: 1 – Profile: Good academics overall, solid B-level achievement

(NAME) is an active and enthusiastic participant in Core French activities. She uses many comprehension strategies (e.g., context clues, mots amis) to help her understand what she is hearing and reading. Using models, she can produce a variety of text types with familiar vocabulary and sentence structure. She often tries to use new vocabulary in her writing and enjoys finding new ways to say something. Overall, her oral communication skills are developing well, though she would benefit from making more of an effort to only speak in French during class activities. When speaking spontaneously, she can usually communicate her thoughts and ideas clearly. That said, she has a tendency to switch to English if she is not certain how to say something. For next term, she is encouraged to persevere and try to finish her thoughts in French without reverting to English.


Program: Core French – Term: 2 – Profile: Good effort but lower achievement, C/D level

It has been a pleasure to teach (NAME) this year. She is always ready to learn and approaches Core French activities with enthusiasm. She has made some progress with her communication skills in French this year, although she continues to need considerable assistance to complete reading and writing tasks in particular. She is starting to make good use of listening strategies to follow along with lessons and complete tasks using simple French vocabulary. (NAME) typically needs reminders to use classroom resources to help her complete her work, such as word walls and models. For next year, she is encouraged to work toward participating more frequently in class discussions and striving to use what she has learned in the classroom on a more consistent basis.


Program: Core French – Term: 2 – Profile: Limited French exposure before this year, good progress, B level

It has been a pleasure to teach (NAME) this year. He is always ready to learn and approaches Core French activities with enthusiasm most of the time. He has learned many useful listening strategies which have helped him tremendously in the class. With some assistance, he is able to understand lessons, follow instructions, and complete tasks using simple French vocabulary. He is learning quickly and puts great effort into using the language skills he has learned on a daily basis. He makes good use of classroom resources such as word walls and dictionaries, although he occasionally needs help finding the correct words to put his ideas into writing. For next year, he is encouraged to work on adding expression to his French reading now that he recognizes most common spelling patterns.

More Learning Skills Comments!

One of the most popular posts I have written over the past few years was a collection of Learning Skills comments I put together. It continues to get views and comments regularly, but like most of us, I cringe when I look back on what I wrote three or four years ago. They’re not bad comments, I just feel like I’ve learned so much since then.

So I’m back! With more comment samples for you! You’re free to use these – modify them, mix and match them, grab one or two sentences, whatever you like! These are here to help you and give you an idea of how one teacher in Ontario writes their comments. I’ve also posted some FSL comments for the Core and Immersion teachers out there.


Profile: strong learning skills, good leadership qualities, regularly engaged in class, working on developing more confidence

It has been a pleasure having (NAME) as part of our classroom community this year. She is an enthusiastic, hard-working student who always strives to do her best. During lessons, she listens attentively and regularly offers her insights, although at times she seems unsure about her answers. As her confidence builds, her active participation increases, and she should be very proud of her accomplishments to date.

When working independently, (NAME) makes good use of alternative workspaces (e.g., the library, the hallway) to provide her with a quiet space for working. While she occasionally allows herself to get distracted by socializing with her peers, a quick reminder is often all that is required to return her attention to the task at hand. She makes good use of success criteria and learning goals to ensure that her work is meeting expectations. 

Collaboration is one of (NAME)’s strengths. She often takes on leadership roles when working with peers, such as organizing what needs to be done and creating a plan to ensure the group is successful. Her kind, open-minded personality allows her to work with any student without issue. On the rare occasion that conflict arises, she is always able to find a solution without assistance.

(NAME) has become a strong role model for her peers. Her dedication and cheerful disposition are great assets to our school community. Keep up the great work!


Profile: weaker learning skills, not fully engaging in French Immersion program, finds academic demands challenging, tends to shut down when encountering difficulty

(NAME) is a kind, compassionate student who is beginning to develop more confidence in his abilities. When he feels certain that he is on the right track and understanding the material, he is an active participant in class discussions. Much of the time, however, he requires frequent reminders from teachers and peers to engage in respectful listening behaviour, as he is often chatting with friends or playing with objects during lessons. Given that he often seems to feel overwhelmed by the expectations of the Middle French Immersion program, particularly during subjects where French is the language of instruction, he would benefit immensely from listening more attentively to his teachers and peers.

(NAME)’s independent work has been inconsistent this term. Much like during class discussions, when he feels confident about his abilities, he is able to complete his work with some support and extended time limits. Most of the time, however, he is quick to become frustrated if he encounters difficulty. Once this happens, even with encouragement and one-on-one support, he often refuses to complete his work. Next term, he is encouraged to seek opportunities to work with his teachers (such as sitting at the round table during independent tasks) where they can more easily check in with him and assist him with his learning.

Collaboration is similarly inconsistent for (NAME). He is most successful when working in groups created by the teacher, as he is less likely to become distracted by socializing. When working with friends, however, he needs frequent reminders to return his attention to the task at hand. He would benefit from reflecting and making careful choices about who he chooses to work with for collaborative tasks.

(NAME) is developing some self-regulation strategies to assist him with his learning skills and habits. When he chooses quiet workspaces away from friends or makes use of classroom tools like noise-cancelling headphones, he is more successful. He is encouraged to continue making use of these accommodations over the second term to help him focus on his learning.



Profile: strong learning skills, good leadership qualities, tends to go overboard on projects

It has been a pleasure to teach (NAME) this year. She is a cheerful, kind student who demonstrates great curiosity for learning. She is an active participant in class discussions and collaborative tasks, quick to make connections and think critically about what she is learning. Her leadership, reliability, and flexibility have all been wonderful additions to our classroom community.

Collaboration is one of (NAME)’s strengths. While she strongly prefers to work with her friends, she is able to work with most students without conflict. Her conflict resolution skills are well-developed and she is generally able to resolve any interpersonal conflicts without needing to involve her teachers. She is a good leader who tries to ensure that all members’ ideas are included in the planning of group tasks.

When completing projects, (NAME) is usually quick to come up with creative, outside-the-box ideas to extend her learning. That said, sometimes these ideas become too large or complex to complete within the given timeframe. When this happens, she has a tendency to ask for additional time rather than adjusting her plans. Next year, she is encouraged to plan in such a way that she can adjust and scale back the plan rather than requesting extra time, as additional work time for one project results in lost time for other instruction.

All the best next year, (NAME)!


Profile: student who tends to rush, engages in discussion on topics of high interest, needs to work on collaboration

It has been a pleasure having (NAME) as part of our classroom community this year. She is a creative, enthusiastic student who always brings a unique perspective to our class discussions. She participates actively in most class discussions, although at times requires reminders to put away her book in order to give her full attention to the lesson. 

When working independently, (NAME) is at her best when she is highly engaged in a task, such as tasks involving environmental issues. When her interest in the topic is high, she puts significant effort into her work and eagerly shares her knowledge with her peers. Conversely, when the topic is less interesting to her, she has a tendency to rush through her work in order to finish quickly and move on to something new. Overall, she takes feedback well when it is about specific criteria that she overlooked, but she is reluctant to go back to add more detail or expand on her thoughts. She would benefit from taking time to review her work, ensuring it is detailed and meets the success criteria for the task.

When collaborating with others, (NAME) strongly prefers to work with her close friends and requires considerable encouragement to engage fully in other groupings. She occasionally needs redirection to stay on task during group work, as she sometimes goes to find her friends’ groups to chat. She is encouraged to approach collaborative work with a more open mind next year, as she is a valuable group member with a wealth of knowledge to share.


And a few other snippets you may find useful:

During independent work periods, (NAME) can generally be counted on to stay on task, though he needs occasional reminders not to get caught up socializing with his peers. His willingness to seek assistance or clarification has increased since the beginning of the year, and we hope that he continues to come forward when he needs guidance with a task. Though his resilience is improving as the year progresses, (NAME) continues to become frustrated with himself when he finds a task difficult. Once this happens, he is sometimes receptive to teacher assistance and feedback to help him work through the task. Next term, he would benefit from taking advantage of opportunities to work nearer to his teachers (such as at the round table) during independent work periods to provide him with opportunities to check in more regularly while working.


(NAME)’s greatest area of need this term has been in developing positive collaboration skills. She strongly prefers to work with her friends and is reluctant to fully engage in group tasks with some students, sometimes going as far as to ask to work on her own or switch groups rather than work through conflict. She is highly motivated to do well, which sometimes leads to clashes with other students when they have different plans for how to approach a collaborative task. Next year, she should continue to work on “guiding from the side” by helping her group to stay focused and on task while also allowing her peers’ ideas to take the spotlight more often.


I’ll also try to put together some of the comments I’ve written for other subjects, particularly things like French. I find it can be very challenging to know where to begin with Language comments for French Immersion – especially for smaller programs like the one I teach (Middle French Immersion). Hope these are useful to someone out there!