Opinions expressed on this blog are my own and do not represent any other organization or affiliation I may have.

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Spelling Detectives

Another activity to use in class:

1.) Write the weekly spelling words in random order on the chalk board and tell the class to study the
words carefully for one minute.
2.) Tell the students to put their heads down - no looking!
3.) Erase one of the words and rewrite it - this time spell it wrong.
4.) As the class has their heads down say, "Oh my, something looks wrong - all spelling detectives raise
your heads and see if you can tell me what word is not spelled correctly."
5.) After 30 seconds, call on a volunteer to tell you the word and how it should be spelled. If the child
answers correctly reward the class a point. If the child does not answer correctly, identify the word and
give yourself 1 point.
6.) Repeat Steps.

Saturday 14 January 2012

Presenting to the Provincial Bargaining Team

I was excited to present to the Provincial Bargaining Team on Teacher's Teaching on call issues on behalf of the TTOC Advisory Committee.

Although I am early in my teaching career (6 years) I am an experienced TTOC (6 years, minus 7 months of temporary contract time over those years).

With so many TTOCs remaning on-call for multiple years, it is important they are treated fairly and not as second class citizens. Too many TTOCs live in poverty due to lack of work.

When presenting to the Provincial Bargaining Team I tried to explain the reality of teaching as a teacher on call.

Some things TTOCs would like to see include:

1. Being paid on scale from day one.

Currently a TTOC must work  4 consecutive days in order to be paid on scale. In many districts there is over-hiring to prevent shortages, however, this means less work for individual TTOCs who rarely get 4 consecutive days of work. With sporadic work and breaks between days worked, teachers teaching on call are paid significantly less than their colleagues on contract, yet are givent eh same responsibilities in the classroom. TTOCs are an important part of the education system, replacing classroom teachers when theya re unable to be there, and as such, TTOCs deserve to be paid fairly for each day worked.

2. Access to affordable benefits and an ability to accumulate and use sick days.

TTOCs need access to affordable benefits. The available packages available for opt-in are far too expensive for most TTOCs who already stuggle financially. There needs to be coverage for teachers-on-call especially, because they are in multiple schools and if sick risk spreading illness to students. TTOCs do not accumulate sick days, nor do they have medical benefits. TTOCs hope to have an ability to accumulate sick days so they can stay home if they are sick and not risk getting children sick too. TTOCs needs access to affordable medical benefits so they can get healthy and return to work.

3. Fair Distribution of Work / Hiring Transparency

Every district has different hiring practices and currently BCPSEA wants to take even more control of this. Some districts don't even post temporary positions which makes it even more challenging to find positions. Other districts post all positions and allow TTOCs to apply to them. TTOCs are hired onto a district as employees and should have the ability to psot and fill into positions. Furthermore, the hiring practices need to be transparent so that teacher's feel there is a fair distribution of work.

TTOCs are often treated poorly within the teaching profession, yet they are the most vulnerable with unpredictable schedules, income and schedules. We are not paid for ProD in most cases, yet Professional Development would be beneficial to helping us grow professionally and stay life long learners.

When I presented to the Provincial Bargaining Team I felt that I was heard, but not wholly. I felty that BCPSEA listened to what I said that may fit into their agenda, instead of hear my whole message and that is that TTOCs, like all teacher's need improved working conditions because that means students improved learning conditions!

Tuesday 10 January 2012

Shaping the future of education in B.C.
Vancouver Sun, Mon Jan 9 2012
Page: A8
Section: Letters
Byline: D.A. Harrison
Source: Vancouver Sun

I am a teacher. I am passionate about my profession and I am in it for the love, not for the money (though I would like to be fairly compensated for what I do). So why am I in job action? Because I am tired.

I am tired of a government that unilaterally stripped our contracts 10 years ago, was found guilty in the Supreme Court of B.C., yet continues to ignore that ruling.

I am tired of a government that creates a "law" to mandate class sizes, yet ignores that law and declares over-sized classes as "suitable for classroom learning."

I am tired of a government that downloads so many costs onto the school system that schools are reliant on charities (Adopt-a-School, etc.) to provide basic educational supplies, yet can find $600 million for a new roof on BC Place.

I am tired of having so many of my colleagues (special education assistants, clerical, etc.) and resources stripped from the system just to keep the classroom doors open, even as the class sizes get larger and larger.

Yet, each day, I go to school desiring to give my very best to my ever-growing classes.

I do it because I am passionate about helping each and every one of my 150 students become the very best they can be.

And I remember how things used to be and how they should be. That is why. Yet I am tired.

D.A. Harrison, Langley

Shaping the future of education in B.C.
Vancouver Sun, Mon Jan 9 2012
Page: A8
Section: Letters
Byline: Betty Flichel And Alison Peyman
Source: Vancouver Sun

A lot of parents and caregivers are frustrated about the local teacher's strike, but as always, the special needs children lose out more than the able youngsters because of funding and teacher's aid support cuts. When there is a strike, the children lose an opportunity for lessons in life skills and social interaction.

How are the teachers expected to cope with 30 children at once -including special needs children - without teacher's aids?

Three special needs children per class is the law, but often there are more than that. A lot of times, teachers are not trained to interact with special needs children.

We know that teachers are doing their best, but most parents expect a report on how the child is doing in their course work. We've read that the reports are likely to be more general, as they are done by the principals of the schools rather than by the teachers.

All children lose out when sports teams, band and choir are not avail-able during the strike and when classes are too large. We need to put the special needs assistants back to work so that as many as possible of B.C.'s special needs children can have success in school.

Betty Flichel and Alison Peyman, Vancouver

Shaping the future of education in B.C.
Vancouver Sun, Mon Jan 9 2012
Page: A8
Section: Letters
Byline: Patti Bacchus
Source: Vancouver Sun

Re: Keen students can benefit from 'selective' schools, Column, Jan. 2

I always enjoy retired School Superintendent Geoff Johnson's opinion pieces in The Sun, but it seems he didn't do his homework. His column implied there aren't "differentiated opportunities within B.C.'s public sys-tem" or even full-time International Baccalaureate Programs. Wrong!

I invite Mr. Johnson to visit the Vancouver school district to sample the rich array of "personalized" learning options. He could start with the VSB/UBC Transition program, which supports academic excellence while promoting social and emotional development of academically gifted adolescents who are committed to the goal of early entrance to university. Graduates of the two-year pro-gram achieve early entrance to UBC by writing the four provincial examinations required by the faculty of their choice.

Or perhaps he'd be interested in one of the Vancouver school board's 20 mini school programs that offer enriched and unique programming, or even Hamber secondary's accelerated/enriched humanities program or its new Challenge Academy. Contrary to Johnson's comments, there are even International Baccalaureate programs that are a school option versus after-school add-ons.

The VSB provides many more learning options that can be further explored at vsb.bc.ca/programs

Personalized, 21st century learning is well underway in Vancouver schools and there's no shortage of teaching expertise, innovation and excitement. The biggest challenge is securing the funding to sustain these valuable pro-grams. Many have additional costs and work best with small classes and are under persistent financial pressure and threat of program cuts.

Patti Bacchus Chairperson, Vancouver Board of Education

Shaping the future of education in B.C.
Vancouver Sun, Mon Jan 9 2012
Page: A8
Section: Letters
Byline: Frederick Rathje
Source: Vancouver Sun

Re: Group kids by ability not age at school, public says, Dec. 29

Janet Steffenhagen's article is an invitation to each of us to participate in the education change being considered by the B.C. ministry of education. Most helpful was the link to the government forum and the thoughtful commentary found there.

Interestingly, the site links to education resources in other provinces and countries, including Finland.

Our polar neighbour not only excels at our favourite sport, hockey, they also lead internationally in educational outcomes in the rankings by OECD PISA (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development Program for International Stu-dent Assessment).

The recent publication, Finnish Les-sons, by Dr. Pasi Sahlberg, gives excel-lent insight into Finland's education transformation and the reasons for its success. I hope politicians and educators in B.C. are paying attention.

It's time we, as parents, get re-educated about what is sensible educational transformation so we create one we can afford to fund and one that serves students and teachers alike. The Finnish approach is one we cannot afford to ignore. If education were like the NHL, we would put Finnish educators on our transformation team!

Frederick Rathje, North Vancouver

Shaping the future of education in B.C.
Vancouver Sun, Mon Jan 9 2012
Page: A8
Section: Letters
Byline: Jim McMurtry
Source: Vancouver Sun

The provincial government is having a hard time cooking up an original educational plan because it knows that all the ingredients have been used before. The idea of grouping children by age was common in the past in one-room school buildings. I don't think teachers were thrilled with kids of all maturity levels in the same room, and I don't believe that older students felt very happy about being schooled with younger students.

The Clark government appears increasingly desperate to come up with a new educational plan called Personalized Learning, but every one of its tenets has been in place in schools since Maria Montessori ran the educational system in antebellum fascist Italy.

If the government wants technological change, it is already with us, for I remember desks with places for ink jars.

Schools are embracing computers and Internet projectors to make learning more enjoyable and relevant to each child. Nothing the Clark government is proposing is new.

Jim McMurtry, Surrey