Over the next year, I would like to share what I consider to be some of the 10 most important unwritten social rules in Canada that newcomers and their families need to know to succeed in Canada. In this first post, I’ll give you the list of all 10 secrets, as well as the first secret.
How am I qualified to know these secrets?
Keep in mind that these are what *I* consider to be the most important secrets. I am drawing on a lifetime of experience in Canada as a mother of 3 and as a worker in education, banking, computers, and employment counselling, but that doesn’t mean these social rules are cast in stone or true in every community across Canada.
Okay, so here is the list of the 10 most important secrets I’ve learned for succeeding socially, as well as in Canadian schools and workplaces:
- CHILDREN & SCHOOL: Why doing everything the teacher ASKS on an assignment and doing it RIGHT DOESN’T get a 4/4.
- CHILDREN & SCHOOL: How to understand educational jargon on report cards.
- CHILDREN & SCHOOL: HOMEWORK – Parents are teachers too! (& some resources to help)
- WORKPLACE CULTURE: Why should everyone volunteer?
- WORKPLACE CULTURE: Small talk is important – but know WHEN to use it!
- WORKPLACE CULTURE: Email: how to sound friendly but professional.
- WORKPLACE & SOCIAL CULTURE: Social rules for dealing with bosses and co-workers.
- SOCIAL CULTURE: How to break the ice & make friends with your neighbours & others.
- SOCIAL CULTURE: How to respond to invitations (accepting, declining & expressing uncertainty).
- SOCIAL CULTURE: What to bring (and NOT to bring!) when invited to a Canadian social event.
Secret #1: Children & School
Why doing everything the teacher ASKS on an assignment and doing it RIGHT DOESN’T get a 4/4:
Sample Assignment Grades (out of 4)
4 out of 4: Exceptional Work = In Canada, we have a very strong work ethic. We expect everyone – even children – to do about 25% more than is required + All that is listed in ‘3 out of 4.’
Here are some examples of ways to get a 4/4:
- Even in Kindergarten, my kids made a cover page, which included their name, the teacher’s name, the title of the assignment, and the date for all assignments. When they were younger, they often drew a picture on the cover page. All assignments were handed in inside a plastic report cover (from the dollar store).
- If kids are supposed to research 3 sources, research 4 sources (not Wikipedia after about Grade 4); remember, do at least 25% extra!
- Kids who relate the topic to their own or their family’s experiences or compare Canada to their home country will usually get extra points.
- DON’T COPY & PASTE from the internet! Even in the lower grades, children who write in their own words get extra points.
- Check for spelling errors! Parents can and should help with all assignments. Check your child’s homework after he or she is finished. Teachers here expect children to be self-correcting, but kids need to learn how to do this from us, rather than from the teacher.
3 out of 4: Completed Work (= 80 to 100% of what was required)
- Follows all of the criteria in the given rubric
- Neat and easy to read – checked for spelling errors
- Must have date and name
- Must be handed in on time
2 out of 4: Incomplete Work (directions not followed) (= 50 to 80% of what was required)
- May be difficult to read
- Follows some of the criteria in the given rubric
- Missing information or the information is incorrect; not checked for spelling errors
- May be missing name or date
- May be on time
1 out of 4 Incomplete Work (= less than 50% of what was required)
- Difficult to read; not checked for spelling errors
- Follows few of the criteria in the given rubric
- May be missing name, date
- Late or not handed in
As mentioned earlier, these are tips that I found to be true and want to pass on to my students . Tell me what you think… if your community or your experiences are very different from mine, please share your experience in the Comments. I’m not afraid of being ‘wrong’ – so your input can only enrich our communal knowledge!
Post written by Kate Maven. You might have met her as Kate Cushing or even Kate Rowlands. Kate is a novelist with a Master’s degree in English, and has taught all levels of adult LINC & ESL, workplace English, computers and even visual art.