OCTOBER 2018 ISSUE
MAGAZINE of the Ontario English Catholic Teachersâ€™ Association
IN THIS ISSUE:
Living our legacy, 75 years later
Curriculum changes, cellphone bans, and the new political reality The importance of trustee elections Lessons in leadership
CO NT E NT S/OC T2018
INBOX 4 PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE 6
9 UP FRONT
FEATURES 9 A MATTER OF TRUST Teachers can help elect trustees who will serve the whole Catholic school
community By Adam Lemieux
CELEBRATING 75 YEARS
Canada’s first poverty reduction strategy is most notable for what is not there By Adam Lemieux By Carley Desjardins
14 THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS Doug Ford and the introduction of anger-based policymaking By Mark Tagliaferri
TEACHERS AID 16 LEGAL BRIEF Women and leadership: lessons learned By Charlene Theodore
19 INSIGHT Navigating change By Michelle Despault 20 CATHOLIC CONNECTION Living the legacy we call OECTA By Shannon Hogan 21 TEACHER ADVISOR Recent legislative changes that impact the teaching profession By Joe Pece
PEOPLE WORTH WATCHING 22
ONE EXCHANGE, TWO PERSPECTIVES
By Richard Murray and Laurel Macdonald
THOUGHTS ON THE CANCELLATION OF
INDIGENOUS CURRICULUM WRITING
By Clare Caza and Tesa Fidler
26 PROMOTING MEMBER ENGAGEMENT AND ACTIVISM By Robert Smol 27 ADDITION OR DISTRACTION? Discussion about banning cellphones in classrooms should be a two-way conversation By Cynthia Bifolchi 29 WE USED TO TALK FACE TO FACE By Anthony Carabache
30 FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH Traditions By Gian Marcon
INBOX Michelle Despault Editor Adam Lemieux Mark Tagliaferri Associate Editors Cynthia Bifolchi Writer/Researcher Fernanda Monteiro Production Anna Anezyris Advertising EDITORIAL BOARD Liz Stuart President Warren Grafton First Vice-President Marshall Jarvis General Secretary David Church Deputy General Secretary Carley Desjardins Communications Specialist/ Writer Catholic Teacher is published five times during the school year. Opinions and ideas expressed in Catholic Teacher are not necessarily those of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association.
Catholic Teacher is a member of the Canadian Educational Press Association, and the Canadian Association of Labour Media. Return undelivered Canadian addresses to: Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, 65 St. Clair Avenue East, Suite 400 Toronto, ON M4T 2Y8 PHONE 416-925-2493 TOLL-FREE 1-800-268-7230 FAX 416-925-7764 catholicteachers.ca Publication Mail Agreement No. 0040062510 Account No. 0001681016 Cover: This year, we honour the 75th anniversary of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association. To mark this celebratory occasion, we sought a logo that represents a symbol of our diversity and the many communities of which we belong as Catholic teachers in the Province of Ontario. We are proud of who we are, and we hope that you too will see yourself reflected in this special image.
PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE Welcome back! I hope you found some down time this summer before settling in to the new school year. It was a busy summer at the provincial level, with the many education-related announcements from the new Ford government, Canadian Teachers’ Federation and Ontario Teachers’ Federation annual meetings, and with preparations for our 75th anniversary year well underway. As I begin my second year as president of this Association, I could not be prouder of the direction we are heading. In 2018-19, we will, once again, hold our Beginning Teachers Conference; host our first-ever Women’s Leadership Conference, Fempower; run four days of training as part of our specialized Leadership Training Program for current and future leaders within the Association; and much more. I would like to talk about Fempower for a moment. There is a lot of excitement surrounding our inaugural women’s conference, but there have also been some inquiries about its purpose. There may even be some who are concerned that the conference will entail “man bashing” or that it’s “reverse discrimination” to not include men. I can assure you that nothing could be further from the truth. At the January 2018 Provincial Executive meeting, a resolution was passed that set-in motion OECTA’s inaugural Women’s Leadership Conference. This decision was in response to pent up demand for a women-centric leadership opportunity within the Association. The purpose of the conference is to give women the opportunity to meet and share concerns and experiences that are particular to women in the workplace, and to build capacity in a positive, safe space. As a woman holding the highest office in this Association, and after attending a series of women’s symposia within the education sector this past year, I can’t stress enough the importance of women supporting one another in a collective effort to educate and empower. As women’s rights activist Gloria Steinem explains, women-only conferences are “lifechanging, because for the first time, many women find themselves in the majority in their aspirations, in a concentration, in a critical mass of people who support them, who have shared experiences, who can give advice, who ask advice.” OECTA’s Fempower conference is about creating a positive space where women can do just that; where they can feel empowered to find and use their voice. We understand that there have been questions and concerns that if men are not included in the conference, how can we work with them, or seek their support. In no way is the intent of this conference exclusionary of the need for male allies. It is my hope that the success of this year’s conference will lead to an opportunity for both male and female members of our Association to share in the conversation, together.
In many ways, these concerns are familiar. When we first launched the Beginning Teachers Conference in the early 2000s, there was resistance by some members who didn’t qualify to attend because they were no longer in their initial years of teaching. Since then, the Beginning Teachers Conference has been thriving as part of our regular programming for some 14 years. Change and progress are often met with resistance, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t the direction we should be heading as an organization. The Provincial Executive’s commitment to equity does not stop there. At this summer’s retreat, the executive reaffirmed its commitment to equity within the Association by approving the formation of an Equity and Diversity Advisory Board consisting of members from various equity-seeking groups, including members of colour; First Nations, Métis and Inuit; disabled; and LGBTQ2SI. It is time that we start hearing directly from a broader spectrum of members if we are going to understand and address matters related to the needs of these communities and barriers to involvement within the Association. Stay tuned for more details and how you can get involved. For 75 years now, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association has evolved to reflect the diversity of our membership and the ongoing progressive value of Catholic education. As we unite in new ways during this anniversary year, we will also reflect on our history as members of this organization. It is our sense of community and collectivity that we will draw on throughout this celebratory year. As such, we would like to engage and incorporate your everyday experiences as Catholic teachers into our celebrations as much as possible. It is not every day that we have the opportunity to come together on an Association-wide celebration, and I ask that you reach out to us with any photos, videos, or special stories that you would like to share by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. As you take on the challenges of a new school year, I encourage you to reflect on and find inspiration in who we are and where we’ve come from as Catholic teachers. We are part of an extraordinary history of Catholic education in Ontario, and we each have an opportunity to help define the future of our Association and the students we teach. Where we are going has never been more important. Best wishes for a successful year. God bless,
Liz Stuart President
CALENDAR Health & Safety Regionals Northeast – October 1 East – October 15 Southwest – October 22 GTA – October 29 Northwest – November 5
O C TO B E R
World Teachers’ Day
8 Thanksgiving 17-18 Beginning Teachers Conference 17
International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
8-9 Fall Council of Presidents Meeting
N OV E M B E R
EVENTS CTF FORUM ON PUBLIC EDUCATION Safe and Caring Schools was the theme of this year’s Canadian Forum on Public Education, hosted by the Canadian Teachers’ Federation in Edmonton on July 9 and 10. Catholic teachers had a strong presence at the forum. OECTA President Liz Stuart participated in a plenary session with presidents of other teaching affiliates from across the country, to explore the research each organization conducted on violence in the classroom, and to look for ways to address the issue through education policy and practice. Peter MacDonald, Staff Officer in the Government Relations department, presented OECTA’s research findings in more detail, and also outlined how the Association used the research to develop the policy recommendations that formed the basis of Safer Schools for All, which then led to successful engagement with the government. The forum included other plenary sessions and workshops connected to the Safe and Caring Schools theme, including: Everyday Mental Health at School; Educating Against Gender-Based Violence; Creating Equitable and Inclusive Schools; and Poverty as a Classroom Issue. Maggie MacDonnell, a teacher at the Ikusik School in Nunavik, delivered a moving keynote address to end the first day of the forum. MacDonnell, who won the Global Teacher Prize, considered the Nobel Prize for Teaching, described the challenging obstacles her students face everyday. These include poor learning conditions, a high suicide rate among youth in the community, and other mental health and addiction issues. MacDonnell’s speech was titled “Running for Resilience,” and in it she explained how she started a running club, which empowered her students to build self-esteem and chart a positive path to recover their health and persevere.
15-21 Bullying Awareness Week 20
Universal Children’s Day
22-23 Fempower - OECTA’s Inaugural Women in Leadership Conference 25
International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women
International Human Rights 10 Day
OECTA IN-HOUSE LEGAL COUNSEL ELECTED OFFICER OF THE ONTARIO BAR ASSOCIATION The Association is proud to recognize the achievement of In-house Legal Counsel Charlene Theodore on her election to the position of Second Vice-President of the Ontario Bar Association (OBA). Given the OBA’s governing structure, Charlene will become President in two years – making her the tenth female President, and the first black female President, since the organization was founded in 1907.
GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF YOUR APPS 2
A SUMMER OF LEARNING
After a successful inaugural year in 2017, OECTA’s technology conference, Get Your Head Out of Your Apps, returned this past summer. It was held over two days in Toronto, and provided attendees and instructors from units all over the province with a valuable opportunity to collaborate, learn, and share their experiences on all things education technology.
This summer, more than 300 teachers registered for OECTA’s one- and two-day Summer Institutes and workshops. Sessions were offered in key areas, including Kindergarten, well-being, and technology, in both face-to-face and online formats. The online option certainly sparked a great deal of interest, with each offering filled to capacity!
The conference began with a welcome address by President Liz Stuart, followed by a positive and inspiring keynote from Anthony Carabache, and a fun interactive session with Belinda Russo, both Staff Officers in the OECTA Professional Development department. This set the tone for two days filled with activities, discussion, and even a very competitive Rock, Paper, Scissors tournament.
The Kindergarten Institutes focused on extending teachers’ understanding of the program, as well as documentation, noticing and naming the learning, and much more. Activities and rich conversations dominated the sessions.
Attendees broke off into smaller groups for an array of tech workshops, spanning topics like video production, coding, and how tech fits into a faith-based learning environment. Instruction was also given on a variety of practical tech tools, like Padlet, Flipgrid, and Google Apps, with the goal of enabling teachers to use them in their classroom right away. Breaking off into smaller groups enabled attendees to choose the workshops they were more interested in, and allowed for deeper discussion. For many teachers, using tech in the school or classroom can seem daunting – a teacher-focused tech conference is truly an effective way to open discussion and inspire. Thanks to all the organizers, instructors, and participants for making Get Your Head Out of Your Apps 2 such an awesome event.
In the well-being workshops, participants discovered new techniques and practices that work to bring self-awareness and calm to the classroom. Through yoga, meditation, mindfulness, reflection, and prayer, teachers explored a multitude of practices that work to improve well-being. Online technology workshops allowed participants to refine their Google Apps skillset and find opportunities to integrate new applications into their practice. The face-to-face Technology Institute revealed the principles of effective video production, while participants scripted, shot, and edited a scene. Additionally, almost 100 members participated in the innovative WebExperience sessions that were offered over the summer on the topic “Interview Skills.” Participants were provided with information and strategies on how best to prepare for an interview, understand the information/responses employers are seeking, and boost their confidence. These interactive online sessions, accessible from wherever you are, remain a very popular method for members to undertake professional learning.
OTF FELLOWSHIPS Two Catholic teachers have been named Ontario Teachers’ Federation (OTF) Fellows. OECTA President Liz Stuart received the honour alongside Victoria Hunt, former Department Head in the Government Relations department at the OECTA Provincial Office. The fellowships were created in 1962 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of OTF, and they are awarded every year in recognition of nominees’ service to OTF and the teaching profession. Congratulations to both of this year’s OECTA honourees!
OCTOBER 2018 | CATHOLIC TEACHER 7
UP FRONT MAKE A DIFFERENCE WITH PROJECT OVERSEAS
Want a chance to travel and make a difference for teacher colleagues in other countries? Every summer, the Association, through the Canadian Teachers’ Federation, sends elementary and secondary teachers to developing countries to provide in-service training. Locations are usually in Africa or the Caribbean. Basic travel and living expenses are covered for participants. The deadline for applications is November 1, 2018, for placements in summer 2019. Application forms and program information are available at catholicteachers.ca in the For Your Career section, under Leadership Opportunities. imagineNATIVE FILM + MEDIA ARTS FESTIVAL
imagineNATIVE is the world’s largest presenter of Indigenous screen content. They have been providing platforms for acts of reconciliation for more than 20 years and welcome approximately 20,000 guests throughout their five-day film festival, which takes place in Toronto. With multiple Canadian, North American, and global premieres, imagineNATIVE will present more than 100 feature films, documentaries, shorts, and music videos created by Indigenous filmmakers, with almost three-quarters of the films made by Indigenous female directors. Visit imaginenative.org for more information and to purchase tickets. CBC S THE FIRST PAGE RETURNS
The First Page is a creative writing challenge for students in Grades 7 to 12, created by CBC Books. CBC is challenging students to write the first page of a book set 150 years in the future, with the protagonist facing an issue that is topical today and setting the scene for how it is all playing out in a century and a half. The contest is open to all Canadian residents who are full-time students enrolled in Grades 7 to 12. Entries will be judged in two age categories: Grades 7 to 9 and Grades 10 to 12. Entries should be 300 to 400 words in length and have a title. Submissions will be accepted from November 8 to 29, 2018. For more information on the contest, and discussion guides and writing tips from Canadian writers, visit http://bit.ly/2wqL8DY or email email@example.com
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BE A DELEGATE AT OUR 75 TH AGM
Consider being a delegate to OECTA’s 75th Annual General Meeting (AGM), as we return to the city where it all began – Ottawa. AGM 2019 will take place March 9 to 11, 2019 at the Shaw Centre in downtown Ottawa. The AGM will culminate a year of activities and recognition of this milestone anniversary. If you would like to be considered as an AGM delegate, please contact your unit president as soon as possible. SUBMIT A RESOLUTION
The Association accepts resolutions submitted by local bargaining units and provincial committees for consideration and debate at AGM. Resolutions seek to amend the policies, procedures, and by-laws of the Association and are fundamental to our democracy. The resolutions that are carried become part of the Association Handbook, which dictates the priorities and actions of the Association. If you have an idea for a resolution, please speak with your local bargaining unit. The deadline for submitting AGM resolutions is December 1, 2018. SPECIALIZED LEADERSHIP TRAINING PROGRAM OFFERED IN 2018-19
OECTA will offer the Specialized Program in the 2018-19 school year. One session each of Advocacy and Member Engagement, Collective Bargaining, Grievance Officer, and Conflict Management will be offered with a capacity of 30 participants in each. Information about the programs is available at catholicteachers.ca in the For Your Career section, under Leadership Opportunitues. The four days of training are scheduled for February 7 and 8 and April 4 and 5, 2019, in Toronto. The prerequisite for participation in a Specialized Program is either completion of the Foundational Program or having served one year or more as an OECTA release officer. Participants who have completed the Foundational Program or Specialized Program(s) will be invited by email to apply for a Specialized Program. The online application process for the Specialized Programs runs October 9 to 25, 2018. The entry level Foundational Program will next be offered in the 2019-20 school year.
A MATTER OF TRUST
Teachers can help elect trustees who will serve the whole Catholic school community By Adam Lemieux
Although we are still reeling from the results of the provincial election, there is another vote on the horizon that should not be forgotten. Across Ontario, the municipal elections on October 22 will be an opportunity to select city councillors, mayors, and school board trustees. These are worth taking seriously, because the decisions made by local officials often have the greatest direct impact on our daily lives. This is particularly true for teachers, whose working conditions are heavily affected by local collective bargaining and the decisions of trustees. To help create the best possible environment for teaching and learning, it is crucial for teachers to show up and make informed decisions at the ballot box.
Ontarians. The widespread attention and criticism garnered by the story put the entire publicly funded Catholic education system at risk. We need trustees who will focus on creating safe and welcoming learning environments for all teachers and students, rather than sparking unnecessary and unconstructive debates.
As elected representatives, school board trustees are tasked with advocating for the public. They are supposed to balance the diverse interests and values of the community when administering policy and finances. It is a weighty responsibility, and one that most trustees take seriously. But too often, trustees bring with them ill-considered and unhelpful ideas about education and management, or out-of-date social values that put publicly funded Catholic education in a bad light.
By the time this issue of Catholic Teacher magazine is published, the vote will be just around the corner. But it only takes a bit of time to search online for newspaper stories or campaign websites to help you learn about the candidates, and a few more minutes to make sure that you get to the polls on Election Day. In some regions, advanced voting can be done online, making the process easy and accessible. Be sure to check your local municipal election website for details of where and how to vote.
Some trustees see their role as necessitating an adversarial relationship with teachers. For example, in negotiating the last collective agreement, members in Niagara and Thunder Bay experienced protracted, often highly disrespectful bargaining. While there will always be some natural tension in the employeremployee relationship, especially during bargaining, teachers play an integral role as professionals on the front lines of the publicly funded education system; everyone will be better served by electing trustees who have at least some appreciation of teachersâ€™ role and perspectives.
Your participation could make a significant difference. Turnout in the 2014 municipal elections averaged a mere 43 per cent, and in many cases voters did not even bother to tick a box for school trustee. This means that relatively few votes could sway an election. At the same time, we know that those who vote for trustees often do so with little thought, which gives an advantage to incumbents, who have the benefit of name recognition. So it is especially important to cast your vote if you want to defeat a sitting trustee.
In other cases, trustees have used their position to pursue their own ideological agendas, to the detriment of the broader school community. For instance, arch-conservative trustees in Halton recently moved to prevent students from fundraising for charities whose activities do not adhere to a strict definition of Catholic values. This was contrary to the spirit of the Catholic Graduate Expectations, and completely out of step with the values of most
The fallout from the recent provincial vote has driven home the point that changes in leadership can lead to dramatically new politics and policies. For the benefit of teachers, students, and our communities, it is up to all of us to ensure that the municipal elections result in change for the better. Adam Lemieux is Communications Specialist in the Communications department at the OECTA Provincial Office.
OCTOBER 2018 | CATHOLIC TEACHER 9
Canada’s first poverty reduction strategy is most notable for what is not there By Adam Lemieux
n late August, the federal government released Canada’s first national poverty reduction strategy. It is the outcome of two years of study and consultations, building on years of advocacy by low-income people and other anti-poverty activists. You will be forgiven for having missed it. The long-awaited document, titled Opportunity for All, was released in the dog days of summer, while many people were trying to avoid the news in favour of more relaxing pursuits. The contents of the report also leave a great deal to be desired. While there are notable philosophical underpinnings and meaningful administrative benchmarks, there are no new programs or funds, and certainly no suggestions for how to fundamentally reorganize the economy or society. What was envisioned as a monumental initiative, one that would lift the hopes and prospects of the millions of Canadians living in poverty, has been met mostly with shrugs and murmurs.
in legislation, through a new Poverty Reduction Act. Progress will be reported on annually by a newly formed National Advisory Council on Poverty. Many of these are significant steps that no federal government has been willing to take before. As political scientist Jennifer Robson has noted, it is important for the government to openly acknowledge that a certain segment of the population can be considered poor, as this creates a reasonable expectation that something will be done to solve the problem. It is also widely accepted that in public administration, as in life, it is helpful to have goals to work toward. The poverty reduction targets are not particularly ambitious, but they at least offer a tool by which to hold the government accountable.
The good news is that the government will finally set an official measure of poverty, using what is known as the “market basket measure.” The threshold will reflect the income required for individuals and families to afford basic needs and achieve a modest standard of living, for 50 different regions and 19 specific communities across the country. The national average is roughly $18,000 per year for an individual, and $37,500 for a family of two adults and two children.
The document also sets out a holistic definition of poverty reduction, including a range of indicators by which it can be measured. These have been divided into three pillars. • Dignity, which depends on basic needs being met, namely food, health care, housing, and some income to avoid “deep poverty.” • Opportunity and inclusion, which entails increasing literacy, numeracy, and youth engagement, and reducing income inequality. • Resilience and security, which is about preventing people in the middle class from falling into poverty, and/or helping them to quickly get back on their feet.
By this measure, 12 per cent of Canadians lived in poverty in 2015. In response, the strategy establishes concrete poverty reduction targets: a 20 per cent reduction by 2020, and a 50 per cent reduction by 2030, relative to 2015 levels. The plan is for the official poverty line and the poverty reduction targets to be enshrined
Poverty is primarily about a lack of resources, but the lived experience can be complex and multifaceted. The structures and scars of poverty can trap some people for a lifetime, while others experience quick entrances and exits from low-income existence. At the same time, intergenerational transfers of wealth and
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privilege perpetuate inequality over generations. Again, to have an official government articulation of these intersectional forces and circumstances is not without merit. More of the same
What is missing is a plan to fully address the causes and consequences of poverty, in the short or long term. The majority of the paper is taken up with restatements of policies that have already been implemented or announced, such as the Canada Child Benefit, the National Housing Strategy, or the increase to the Guaranteed Income Supplement. There are also references to planned investments in infrastructure, early learning, cultural spaces, the reduction of student loan debt, and more. These programs respond to clearly identified needs, and some of them were widely lauded when they were first introduced. The problem is that nobody has ever before claimed that they will make dramatic reductions in poverty. And at the current levels of investment, they most definitely will not work to eliminate poverty entirely, which should be the real goal. The signature programs and investments that we would have expected to be part of a ground-breaking poverty reduction strategy are nowhere to be found. The disappointment among advocates has been barely concealed. “We are happy to see that an official measure of poverty will be enshrined in legislation,” said Joe Gunn, Executive Director of Citizens for Public Justice, a faith-based group that has been at the forefront of the charge for a national anti-poverty strategy. “But while targets are good, results are better.” “The sobering reality is that far too many Canadians are still struggling to make ends meet, and much more still needs to
on “middle class Canadians and those working hard to join them.” More to the point, earlier this summer, the Canadian Press uncovered documents showing that the government spent more than a year working to craft a “storyline” for how myriad existing programs could be linked under the banner of the poverty reduction strategy. This was a clue that the strategy was being conceived of less as a comprehensive, whole-of-government action plan, and more as a public relations exercise. Still, we have every right to be disappointed. As with democratic reform, or Indigenous reconciliation, or many of the other major issues the Liberal government promised to tackle, the initial signs were promising. Prime Minister Trudeau named respected academic Jean-Yves Duclos as the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, and put him in charge of the project. The government then created the position of Economist-in-Residence, and recruited Miles Corak, another expert in the field. As the team travelled the country and solicited input, feelings of anticipation and cautious optimism began to grow. We cannot help but be underwhelmed by the timidity of the final product.
be done,” said a release from Food Banks Canada, the umbrella group for the country’s emergency food programs. This assessment was echoed by Anita Khanna, National Co-ordinator of Campaign 2000. “While the strategy is a significant step forward,” she said, “we know that its longer term targets and timelines may be cold comfort for children who may not know when their next meal will be, where they will live next month or if they will have a winter jacket when the first snow falls. That is why we will continue to urge government to move past taking baby steps to reduce poverty and instead sprint to the finish line.”
Long days ahead
Perhaps none of this should be surprising. Poverty has been a seemingly immutable problem in Canada. The existing economic system is celebrated and reinforced by those in power, and there are few political incentives for pursuing the bold social policy initiatives that would make a meaningful difference. While the document speaks of a guiding “moral purpose” that seeks to give all Canadians the opportunity to flourish, the strategy ultimately rests on traditional values: that a good citizen strives and plays by the rules, and can only expect so much help from their neighbours. It is yet another extension of the government’s focus
Where do we go from here? There is always some trepidation among advocates when a government acts on a major demand, because political leaders will say the job is done no matter how little actual progress has been made. For now, there will be a period of regrouping, before relaunching the push for real action in advance of the 2019 election. If no further policy initiatives are forthcoming, the only recourse will be to hold the government to the commitments that have been made, in terms of financial investments and poverty reduction targets. But this is not much help to those in search of work, housing, food, or social support, for whom 2030 is a lifetime away. In the days after the strategy was released, CBC interviewed Al Urrutia, a flood evacuee from Pinaymootang First Nation, who now lives in a tent city in Winnipeg. “Poverty is a sad thing. It’s a sad story,” said Urrutia. “We have to do this every day.” Adam Lemieux is Communications Specialist in the Communications department at the OECTA Provincial Office.
OCTOBER 2018 | CATHOLIC TEACHER 11
â€œAnd now that we are organized, together for union brings success.â€? By Carley Desjardins
Seventy-five years ago, in February 1944, an organizational meeting was held in Ottawa to create a provincial federation to which all English Catholic teachers in Ontario would belong.
The Association was incorporated on September 8, 1944. The signing of the Letters Patent took place at a drug store at the corner of Echo Drive and Pretoria Avenue in Ottawa, because a notary public was required to be present and the druggist happened to be a notary.
The first Annual General Meeting was an outstanding success. More than 600 English Catholic teachers crowded the Royal York Hotel in Toronto, where delegates adopted a fee of $2 for regular members, of which 62.5 per cent was to go to the provincial treasury, and 37.5 per cent to the local units.
let us march on
first President of OECTA 1944-45
In our silver anniversary year, the Association had a membership of approximately 14,000, and a Provincial Office staff of 19. In July 1975, after a period of unprecedented turmoil marked by mass resignation, the School Boards and Teachers Collective Negotiations Act (Bill 100) became law, establishing legislation for the negotiations process and giving teachers the right to strike.
After many years of advocating for the extension of public funding of the Catholic school system through to Grade 13, in 1984 the provincial government responded to our efforts. Full funding was extended to Roman Catholic school boards as part of Ontarioâ€™s publicly funded school system. Since the constitutionality of full funding was confirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada on June 25, 1987, Catholic teachers have proudly continued to provide an education experience that is academically superlative and boldly contemporary, rooted in a hope-filled vision of life that is guided by the Gospel values.
Carley Desjardins is Communications Specialist/Writer in the Administration department at the OECTA Provincial Office.
Doug Ford and the introduction of anger-based policymaking By Mark Tagliaferri
Just before 11:00 a.m., on a sweltering-hot day in June, an email was sent from the Ontario News Room: “Doug Ford and Cabinet to be Sworn-in as Ontario’s First Ever Government for the People.” It was a slightly confusing title. Was this really to be Ontario’s first ever government for the people? Who, exactly, had previous governments been for? Strange as this language was, many were willing to chalk it up to bravado: a new majority government puffing its collective chest after spending most of this century confined to opposition status. But the headlines kept coming (and they keep coming), thick and fast: “Ontario’s Government for the People Shares Top Legislative Priorities for Upcoming Sitting.” “Ontario’s Government for the People Announces Compassionate Wind Down of Basic Income Research Project.” “Ontario’s Government for the People Respecting Parents by Holding Unprecedented Consultation into Education Reform.” The Progressive Conservative (PC) party won a clear majority and have a mandate to govern. There is no obvious need to repeatedly state they are governing for people. So perhaps this is nothing more than frivolous political rhetoric; an exercise in branding and sloganeering – fitting for a Premier whose family made its fortune producing bumper stickers and labels. And yet, the more one thinks about the phrase, the more revealing it becomes. When we take a more serious look at the claim that this is Ontario’s “First Ever Government for the People,” we open a window into the government’s operational philosophy, and shine a light on their new, often terrifying approach to policymaking, which has set the tone for the next four years. Premier Ford was not elected on the strength of a detailed or costed platform. He avoided media contact throughout the campaign, and refused to explain or justify many of his statements and promises. In riding after riding, PC candidates snubbed debates and dodged media queries. His majority victory is not easily explained by traditional demographic analysis: Ford voters were a mixed-bag of wealthy and “working class,” white and racialized, rural and suburban, private sector employees and public sector union members.
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Instead, what the Ford campaign did so effectively was to connect with and validate – and in some cases, stoke – people’s anger. One of the key campaign architects, Melissa Lantsmann, reflected that their campaign “tapped into an anger that voters in Ontario felt; they felt left behind and they felt like they weren’t listened to anymore.” This populist wave of anger propelled Mr. Ford to the narrowest of victories in the PC leadership contest, and swept him into Queen’s Park. But there are questions that always plague politicians who harness populist discontent: are people voting for change in general, or for your specific idea of change? Once in office, do you seek to govern for everyone, or only for the individual factions that came together to lead you to Election Day victory? It is not certain that Premier Ford has grappled with the nuance of these dilemmas. In any event, his conduct since taking office has made it clear that in his mind, the majority government he won – with 40 per cent of the popular vote – has given him a unanimous mandate, and carte blanche, to implement anything he wishes. Armed with the certainty that “every single person” he has spoken to agrees with him, the Premier has set out to exact revenge on behalf of “the people” ... his people. Almost immediately, the legislature was recalled for a rare summer session. The unprecedented slew of legislation that followed was a testament to policymaking based on the anger of constituency groups – in some cases minority groups with extreme ideas. It manifested itself in a number of ways: cancelling the Green Ontario Fund; withdrawing funds for refugee settlement; cancelling Ontario’s cap-and-trade program; scuttling a law that would have improved police oversight; repealing the 2015 Health and Physical Education (HPE) curriculum; cancelling the Basic Income Pilot; cancelling safe injection sites; and cutting the number of Toronto municipal wards from 47 to 25 in the midst of the election campaign. All of it aimed at destruction rather than construction. Every policy in which the Ford government has engaged seems designed to appeal to a voter who is angry: at downtown elites, at fat-cat unions, at teachers trying to inculcate students – at anyone who opposes “the people.” Gone is any pretense toward evidence-based policy. In its place: anger-based policy.
The problem is that anger-based policy is reactionary and instinctive; it requires no evidence, justification, or consistency. After cancelling the Basic Income Pilot, the PCs were confronted with their campaign promise to continue the program. The government balked, saying it would be better for those people to get jobs. When it was pointed out that 75 per cent of participants were already working, the government stopped answering questions. Following the repeal of the 2015 Health and Physical Education curriculum, the Association and other education stakeholders made our voices heard; communications were distributed to members and President Liz Stuart, along with several local unit presidents, appeared in a variety of print, radio, and television media. Across the sector, educators agreed unanimously that students need a curriculum that reflects the realities and challenges of modern society. President Stuart explained the multi-year, multi-consultation process by which the 2015 curriculum was developed. She also noted how Catholic educators worked alongside parents, trustees, school administrators, and the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario to approve the curriculum and update the Fully Alive program. Joining with educators, parents, and students were a wide range of legal and health experts, who presented evidence that reverting to the 1998 version of the HPE curriculum would potentially endanger students by removing discussions of contemporary civil rights and the dangers associated with modern technology. None of this mattered to the Ford government. Support from extreme social conservatives such as Tanya Granic Allen and Charles McVety had been vital to Premier Ford’s leadership victory. And so the government dismissed the mountains of evidence and public outcry, and took the step of reverting to a 20-year old curriculum while proposing a (now third) province-wide consultation. Going even further, in an attempt to drive a wedge between teachers and parents and erode the important communication that exists between them, the government established what has been called a “snitch line,” where anyone can make anonymous complaints about a teacher, for any reason they like. Anger-based policymaking has also been employed as a means to settle political scores. Such is the case with the introduction of Bill 5, the Better Local Government Act. At no point during the campaign did Mr. Ford or any PC candidate discuss reducing the number of municipal wards, anywhere in the province. After all, with municipal elections slated for October, campaigns were already underway; people had sacrificed a great deal of time, money, and effort. Yet, the issue of municipal politics – or specifically, Toronto City Council – has long bothered Mr. Ford, since his infamous time as a city councillor, and his failed attempt to become Toronto mayor. And so with the power of a majority government that legislates the existence of municipalities, Mr. Ford exacted revenge against former political foes. Throwing out nearly four years of
independent research – which concluded that 47 municipal wards would allow for better representation in the city of Toronto – Bill 5 reduced the number of wards to 25, casting the elections process into chaos. Predictably, Mr. Ford’s adoption of anger-based policymaking has been met with a whirlpool of resentment. Within two months of his election, the government was the subject of no less than 10 legal actions. After the first two rulings went against the government, Premier Ford dug in. “The people” would not be denied. After a judge ruled that Bill 5 was unconstitutional, the government took the unprecedented step of indicating their intention to invoke the “notwithstanding clause” to override the court. In so doing, the Premier laid bare his conception of democracy: “Democracy is going every four years to elect a government... without worrying about your mandate being overturned.” He made clear that no “lefties,” “special interests,” or “politicized appointees” would defy his legislation. This is the new reality at Queen’s Park. A government whose policies are largely unpredictable, derived from anger, and designed for revenge. The hard-fought victories of labour advocates, which resulted in legislation such as the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, are now in jeopardy. The government has already heeded the call of chambers of commerce, halting the scheduled minimum wage increase to $15 per hour. In an echo to the days of Mike Harris, consultations on “cutting red tape” will commence. It is vital that we remain cognizant of the challenges that Doug Ford’s government and anger-based policymaking can present, especially as the Association commences collective bargaining next year. In the coming months, if you take a drive along the Canada-US border, you might see the massive sign being erected indicating that Ontario is “Open for Business.” Will it be closed for public services? Only time will tell, but the warning signs are literal. Mark Tagliaferri is Communications Specialist in the Communications department at the OECTA Provincial Office.
WOMEN AND LEADERSHIP: LESSONS LEARNED By Charlene Theodore
Outside of the work I do on behalf of Catholic teachers, I am a committed volunteer. Between Catholic school, the Church, Girl Guides, and my grandmother, the obligation to be of service was instilled in me early on. Stepping up to help my community has always come naturally to me, or so I thought. In June of this year, I was elected Second Vice-President of the Ontario Bar Association (OBA). In accordance with the organization’s governing structure, this means I will become President in two years. The OBA, a branch of the Canadian Bar Association, represents 17,000 lawyers, judges, notaries, law teachers, and law students from across the province. As the leader and voice of our province’s legal profession, the organization promotes fair justice systems, facilitates effective law reform, and upholds equality in the legal profession. But although the OBA is devoted to eliminating discrimination, its history is fairly monolithic: I will become only the tenth woman, and the only black woman, to serve as President since the organization was founded in 1907, despite the fact that female membership has grown over the years to about 40 per cent. My campaign was personally challenging in a way that I did not anticipate. All my years of volunteering, chairing committees, and speaking on panels could not prepare me for the unique experience of campaigning. Vying for this leadership position meant advocating for myself in a way that I had previously only done for others. I was surprised when my disagreements in spirited conversations were seen as antagonistic or aggressive. I was surprised at how much I began to worry about what I wore to campaign events, sensing that I was being scrutinized. As a black female lawyer, who is committed to ensuring equality of opportunity and access to justice, I was most surprised when I was met with assumptions that I was a one-issue candidate, someone who was ill-equipped to speak on the myriad other issues affecting my profession. Stepping forward into leadership is an exercise in having to prove yourself over and over again. I know my worth, and I know I have the experience and training to be an effective advocate. However, there was something about stepping out of the background and demanding the spotlight for myself that made me uncomfortable. After it was all over, while I was happy I won, it dawned on me just how challenging it is for women to put ourselves out there.
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It was also made clear to me just how little some men understand or appreciate the massive structural advantages they continue to enjoy in society, and how difficult it is for women to move into leadership positions. For example, in November 2014, an article was published in Maclean’s, titled “No excuses: Why women need to step up.” The author, Scott Gilmore, offered this advice to women frustrated by a lack of representation in public office: Women are the only ones who can change this… No network? Build it. Men don’t inherent a circle of cronies at birth. They gather them compulsively. Shamelessly. Watch a public speaker descend from the podium. They are immediately surrounded by young men asking for a business card. They may be pushy strivers, but women can and must do the same.
No money? Raise it. It may seem easy for a man to do this, but fundraising is a painful task for any gender. Nevertheless, it’s a simple three-step process: Pick up the phone. Ask someone for money. Do it again.
Lack confidence? Find it. Sadly, men come by it naturally. But this will help: Look closely at the slate of men you are proposing to run against. If that won’t bolster your self-assurance, nothing will.
No time? Make it. Fathers who run for office do not have an extra 20 hours in their week to play with their kids. They make a conscious choice to sacrifice time with their family for time on the campaign trail. Men don’t believe you can have it all. If you want to run for office, you will have to accept that, too.
If only it were that easy. If everyone had the same starting point, and the same access to resources, education, and opportunity, Gilmore’s sentiment might hold true. But people from equity-seeking groups know all too well how insurmountable the barriers to “just doing it” can be. These barriers are often imperceptible to those who are not forced to confront them on a daily basis. It was a lesson I learned firsthand during my own leadership contest. We still have a long way to go for women to fairly access leadership positions – especially racialized women. However, I learned some lessons from my experience, and I think those lessons can apply whether you are campaigning, pitching a new idea, or bargaining.
1. Do it for the right reasons – When times get tough,
knowing you are doing it for the good of your community will sustain you more than personal acclaim.
2. Build a team – Whether it is a campaign team or a group of mentors you have on standby, you need a sounding board, constructive critic, and cheer squad in your corner. 3. Know your facts – When you are challenged, your response is only as effective as your preparation. Whether it is across the bargaining table or at the debate podium, preparation is your friend. 4. Be positive – Talk without fighting. Do not get sucked into
mudslinging. Use your words to lift you up, not tear others down. “When they go low, we go high,” as Michelle Obama said. In a world where women are disproportionately targeted with negative speech online, staying above the fray with a positive message still works.
5. Be true to you – Do not change who you are to appease
others. Even if it works in the short term it is not sustainable over the long term; eventually they need to see the real you. Be yourself, but be measured and always be aware of how your message is being received.
Providing support to aspiring female leaders is as important today as ever. This is the goal of Fempower, the Association’s inaugural women in leadership conference. I am proud to be a featured presenter at the conference, and I look forward to sharing more with my fellow women of OECTA. Charlene Theodore is In-house Legal Counsel at the OECTA Provincial Office.
APPLY ONLINE AT catholicteachers.ca Applications are being accepted by the Provincial Executive for active or retired OECTA members.
DEADLINE November 16, 2018 (Selection will take place early December)
WHEN From 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 8 to 5:00 p.m. on Monday, March 11. WHERE Shaw Convention Centre, Ottawa WHY To work under the direction of the Elections Chairperson and provincial staff in order to assist the Annual General Meeting in conducting its business. Tellers will be assigned duties throughout the meeting, including the support of the delegates during special votes and elections using electronic voting devices.
“When they go low, we go high.” MICHELLE OBAMA
You will receive a confirmation email. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org If you have any questions.
OCTOBER 2018 | CATHOLIC TEACHER 17
Check out OECTA’s archived WebExperiences – recorded professional development workshops that are designed for teachers, by teachers. Available in a number of content areas and across various grades, and with more than 30 sessions to choose from, there is something for everyone. Watch alone, with your grade partner, or with a group. Sessions are designed to offer practical, effective strategies that can be implemented into your teaching practice the very next day. Mathematics & Technology
Choose from more than 20 Math Monday sessions, which explore time-tested best practices and provide opportunities for new learning experiences. Whether you are looking to introduce coding into your primary classroom, wondering how to spiral your math program, or looking for opportunities for inquiry in your secondary math class, you will be sure to find a session that suits your needs. Kindergarten
Choose from among the 10 KinderExperiences offerings, designed to support teachers with the new Kindergarten program. Each session has been created to align with best practices, and provides teachers with the opportunity to share ideas and strategies to support learning in each of the four frames. The sessions cover a variety of topics, ranging from play-based learning and inquiry, to writing the communication of learning, through to effective ways to capture and document student learning. Mental Health & Well-being
This extended session is facilitated by Dr. Wendy Stanyon, a mental health registered nurse and Associate Professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, in the Faculty of Health Sciences. Dr. Stanyon’s session explores how increased awareness and understanding of mental health challenges can assist teachers in better responding to their students’ diverse needs. The session also provides helpful strategies for how teachers can support students who may be struggling with mental health challenges.
Are you looking to apply for an occasional teacher position, attain a permanent position, or looking to change your role? If so, the thought of enduring the interview process may seem overwhelming. But fear not. This session will inform participants on what they can expect in an interview. The session also offers the opportunity for participants to review effective responses to common interview questions about curriculum, classroom management, special education, and what it means to be a Catholic teacher. Resources, tips, and strategies will be shared to assist participants in preparing responses that are rooted in best practices and each participant’s unique experiences. Here’s what teachers had to say about OECTA’s WebExperiences…
“Excellent presenters and useful games to implement in my classroom” “… an easy way to gain knowledge and share ideas with other educators” “Very easy to use the platform” “It was a great chance to see what others are doing in their classrooms, to be challenged, to share ideas, and to be motivated. I found this type of networking especially important and helpful when I was the only teacher in my division at my school”
OECTA WebExperiences are only one way that the Association supports its members through professional development. Keep informed about all of OECTA’s professional development opportunities by visiting catholicteachers.ca, in the For Your Career section.
NAVIGATING CHANGE By Michelle Despault
I have always considered September and the start of the new school year to be my real New Year – a time of significant renewal and change. I still celebrate until the wee hours of the morning on December 31, and I make numerous (often fruitless) resolutions, but the scope and significance of change experienced in September greatly outweighs that of January. The change we encounter in January is often self-directed and of our own choosing. With hope and optimism we make choices about doing things differently, or doing different things, and we are mostly responsible for the impact of those changes on our lives and well-being. The start of the new school year also brings a promise of renewal, which may or may not be accompanied by the same hope and optimism for what is to come. But unlike the calendar New Year, the changes we encounter at the start of a new school year are usually external to us and outside of our control. The education sector in particular sees a great deal of change. There are the typical changes in students, schools, and roles/ responsibilities, which can open the door to exciting new possibilities. But there are also new initiatives that get rolled out, or as is the case this year, get rolled back, and what was once familiar is replaced by uncertainty and accompanied by a lack of preparation. It is this uncertainty and fear of the unknown that is the source of the anxiety and stress we feel with regard to pending change. While there are some of us who can manage to roll with the punches and remain positive about what is to come, the vast majority of us dread change. As with anything unknown, our minds more often than not begin to imagine the worst case scenario. We want to mentally and emotionally prepare ourselves for what is to come – and it feels much better to over-worry, and then be pleasantly surprised when things are not as bad as we thought they would be. If we do not worry about what is to come, we feel we are not preparing ourselves, and it is much harder to deal with the reality of the situation when it turns out to be worse than we imagined. Not only do we have to deal with the difficult reality, but we layer on top of that the guilt of not having been better prepared. In many respects, fearing change is a human survival mechanism. But change is inevitable and constant, so we need to be able to effectively navigate the waters if we are to thrive. Change is the only constant in life
As Heraclitus noted, “Change is the only constant in life.” Without change there is no growth, no evolution, and no progress. Much of our stress and anxiety are rooted in our wishing that something was not so. But in the words of the
Borg (the only “Star Trek” reference I will ever make!), “Resistance is futile.” Change itself is neither good nor bad – it just is. It is our reaction to the change, and the assumed impact it will have on our lives, that is the source of our issues in dealing with change. We are the ones who characterize the change and then live our lives in response to our characterization. Not everyone reacts the same way. And if we can characterize it one way, then we have the power to look at it differently. Focus on what you can control
There is a quote from Mary Engelbreit that goes, “If you don’t like something, change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” So how do you change the way you view something? Try on different perspectives – consider that gender, race, age, income, occupation, etc. all play a part in contributing to our viewpoint and that of others. Consider different possible outcomes to the situation. Recognize that there is not only one way to view a situation. It helps to get clear on the source of your reaction and what specifically is triggering you. Perhaps the change is bringing up feelings of powerlessness, uncertainty, or inadequacy. It can be helpful to sit quietly and ask ourselves, “Why does this bother me?” and, “Why am I feeling this way?” then work to address what comes up. Affirmations are an excellent practice to help counter or mitigate these feelings – working to re-presence you to what is really true, and not just the limiting beliefs that your negative emotions are feeding you. Focus forward
We may or may not embrace the changes that come our way, but as Socrates so beautifully puts it, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” Change opens the door to new opportunities and experiences of life. Sometimes it pushes us outside of our comfort zone or challenges our status quo thinking. While it may feel uncomfortable, this is where our growth lies. In fact, there can be no growth without change, and the greater the adversity or resistance, the greater the growth required to overcome it – growth in thinking and in character. As we begin to change our perceptions of situations and people, our experiences of them begin to change. So let the winds of change blow you in new and exciting directions that lead to an expansion of who you are. Michelle Despault is Director of Communications at the OECTA Provincial Office.
OCTOBER 2018 | CATHOLIC TEACHER 19
LIVING THE LEGACY WE CALL OECTA By Shannon Hogan
“Oh to be alive in such an age, When miracles are everywhere And every inch of common air Throbs a tremendous prophecy Of greater marvels yet to be.” WALT WHITMAN
As we begin a new academic year, the recognition and celebration of our Association’s 75th anniversary will be front and centre throughout the OECTA community. Seventy-five years ago, a world war was raging – the tyranny of dictatorship reigned in several countries across Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and Japan. As subjects of the British Empire, Canadians had been in the theatre of battle since war was declared in 1939. My own six uncles were off in distant lands, engaged in battles by air, land, and sea. Food rationing was the norm. During that time, in the midst of great hardship and loss, there was a resilience among people, which seemed to rule the day. According to my parents and others who experienced events firsthand, people exhibited a certain strength and an unrelenting integrity, despite encountering prejudice, the destruction of civil discourse, and a separation of people based on race, faith, and origin. Throughout history, it seems that when humanity has encountered great challenge, it has responded often with courage and fierce compassion.
The words of Mohandas Gandhi on this topic remain relevant: “When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it --- always.”
Then, as now, we are called to live out our vocation as Catholic teachers with a purpose and dedication to the core values that grounded our Association from its inception. We proclaim Christ as the pure opposition to all tyrannical ideals and images. The image itself, of a crucified Christ, is utterly counterintuitive to the machinations of dominance, hatred, and control.
It was during that time of great turmoil in the world that the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association was born. Our own sacrifices were made as we overcame challenge, prejudice, and indifference to provide a strong voice for the Catholic community in Ontario. The hard-fought battle for our existence, though not like that being fought on the world stage, ignited the courage and fierce compassion of our founding members – a courage and compassion that was encouraged by what was happening in the world around them.
Through his resurrection we proclaim Christ triumphant over death, in all its forms and mutations. We live and teach in the knowledge that “nothing can separate us from the love of Christ” (Romans 8). No war, no tyranny, no challenge to our faith or our schools. Nothing can ever take that love from us.
In 2018, we enjoy the fruits of those victories. We are called to speak out against injustice and limits to freedoms wherever we are witness to it. Likewise, as Catholic teachers we are called to be leaders in the defence of our system whenever it is challenged.
As we celebrate our 75th anniversary as an Association, let us rejoice in the great legacy left to us, and commit to defending it and engaging in its growth for generations to come.
Presently, there are many world situations that seem to mimic the 1940s – tyrannical leaders, the language of prejudice, the separating of humans by race, faith, and origin, and the destruction of civil discourse. These ring an all-too-familiar bell.
Shannon Hogan is a member of the Counselling and Member Services department at the OECTA Provincial Office.
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It is that love that we offer in our schools – the enduring kind – that can be seen above the large clouds of political bluster, and heard above the vile roar of prejudice, intolerance, and exclusion.
RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT IMPACT THE TEACHING PROFESSION By Joe Pece
Firstly, as a result of the legislation, the powers of the OCT Investigation Committee have been expanded to address situations in which the committee believes that a member may be incapacitated. In the event such a determination is made, the committee can require a member to submit to a physical or mental examination, and subsequently could make an order to suspend the member’s certificate until they submit to the examination. In addition, the Investigation Committee may refer a complaint to the OCT Council or Executive Committee for the purpose of placing a member on interim suspension and/or imposing terms, conditions, or limitations on a member’s teaching certificate. This can occur in situations where the Council or the Executive Committee is of the opinion that the actions or conduct of the member expose, or are likely to expose, a student to harm or injury. Secondly, amendments were made that relate to orders of the Discipline Committee. The changes pertain to members who are found guilty of an act of professional misconduct consisting of, or including, sexual abuse of a student, or a prohibited act involving
child pornography. In such a scenario, the committee shall make orders for the revocation of their teaching certificate. Finally, a new section has been added to the Act that requires the College to establish a program to provide funding for therapy and counselling for students who are the subject of sexual abuse, or of a prohibited act involving child pornography. More importantly for the member, the OCT is entitled to recover from the member the money paid for therapy/counselling for the eligible student. Although Schedule 19 makes a number of amendments to the Act, it does not alter teachers’ responsibility to exercise professional judgement in their interactions with students, both within and outside of the school day.
Bill C-45, Cannabis Act As of October 17, 2018, the legalization of cannabis will take effect, and people who are of legal age will be able to consume marijuana recreationally without criminal penalties.
With the legalization of cannabis products, members should be aware that although the use and possession of marijuana will be legal, it is not appropriate for you to be impaired at work. The same expectations that hold true for alcohol and other substances will apply to cannabis products. Just as there are implications for being impaired at work, members should also be aware that off-duty conduct can have employment and/or OCT implications. Be careful not to post pictures or videos that display inappropriate conduct of any kind, because you might be scrutinized for that behaviour. In addition, there are possible ramifications for impaired driving and international travel. The rules for driving and crossing borders have not changed. Keep in mind that criminal charges can bring possible discipline from your employer and the College. The legal ability to access or possess cannabis does not remove other legal expectations and obligations, or the higher standard of behaviour to which teachers are held. In addition, you should be aware that the Act restricts youth access to cannabis and imposes serious criminal penalties on those who provide cannabis to youth. The legalization of cannabis also modifies several relevant sections under the Education Act. Once proclaimed by the Lieutenant Governor, several sections of the Act will be updated to include “cannabis” alongside alcohol as activities that will lead to suspension, or possible suspension, unless the pupil is a medical cannabis user.
Joe Pece is Department Head in the Counselling and Member Services department at the OECTA Provincial Office.
Regardless of the legalization of cannabis, teachers must maintain their professionalism, as well as uphold their responsibilities under the Education Act with respect to student behaviour and discipline. OCTOBER 2018 | CATHOLIC TEACHER 21
ILLUSTRATION: @arxichtu4ki / Shutterstock.com
Ontario College of Teachers Act Last spring, the Ontario legislature passed Bill 31, the Plan for Care and Opportunity Act, 2018. Passed as part of the omnibus bill containing the Liberal government’s 2018 budget measures, the new legislation made a number of amendments to various statutes. Of particular importance, Schedule 19 of the bill amended the Ontario College of Teachers Act, 1996 with respect to the powers and procedures of committees of the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT).
PEOPLE WORTH WORTH WATCHING WATCHING PEOPLE
ONE EXCHANGE, TWO PERSPECTIVES Richard Murray (Australia) and Laurel Macdonald (Canada) share their experience thus far on their current job exchange
Richard Murray To say that participating in a teacher exchange to another country is a magnificent experience is an understatement. The past few years, since my wife and I first decided to explore the option of a Canadian couple going on a school exchange, have been an amazing adventure into the unknown. While the teaching aspect of things is both familiar and different, simultaneously, it is the opportunities to explore a new country or two while you undertake your teaching duties that makes it truly wonderful. Although I was contracted to start teaching at Holy Trinity Catholic High School, in Kanata, on January 31, 2018, we flew into Los Angeles on December 31, 2017. My wife and I had previously discussed doing a west coast USA/Canadian tour, and this exchange provided the perfect confluence of circumstances that meant we could travel for a month on the west coast before I had to start teaching. We spent time exploring what Los Angeles and San Francisco had to offer, then flew to Calgary to start the Canadian leg of our holiday, which involved stays at Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper, Whistler, Whitehorse, and Vancouver. During this time, we engaged in such adventures as walking the Johnson Canyon in Banff, in -28 degree temperatures; a dog sled ride in Jasper; a horse sleigh ride at Lake Louise; a nighttime snowcat ride in Whistler to the top of a mountain for a fondue meal; snowshoeing and staying up to see the Aurora Borealis on Tagish Lake, Whitehorse, in -23 temperatures at 2 a.m. (not to mention a perfectly clear view of the Milky Way); a foodie tour of Granville Island Markets in Vancouver; and many other little walks and trips around, which allowed us to see as much as we could of these locations. Since arriving in Ottawa, I have been busy adjusting my mindset to teaching in a Canadian high school, and especially teaching Grade 9 and 10 students, which I had never done before, having retrained in 2004 and
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landing my first job in 2005 teaching at a senior campus (akin to Grades 11 and 12 in Canada). I have found this quite challenging, but also very rewarding, as the kids here have been great and the support from the teaching, administration, and management staff has been outstanding! My busy teaching schedule has not stopped us from including some other adventures, with trips to Montreal, New York City, and Niagara Falls, to name some recent highlights, as well as trips around the Ottawa area to take in the local sights. The Canadian League for Educational Exchange recently conducted two days of professional development, which included a reception by the Australian High Commissioner, Her Excellency Natasha Smith, which was a highlight on the social side of things here for my wife and me. The exchange teachers and our family members who attended felt very much at home and valued as “unofficial ambassadors” in a little piece of Australia, here in Canada. The main difficulty we have found is living and working in a foreign country seems like home, but in so many ways is very different. No such thing as “snow days” back in Australia. Milk in plastic bags? At the same time, it is good to see how other countries approach the teaching of your subject, and to consider what is similar, but also what is done differently and potentially better, which you can assimilate into your teaching, and use upon your return. I have been inspired by some of the approaches taken by the English department staff here and have already considered how I will incorporate them into my practice when I return to Australia. I would thoroughly recommend a teacher from either Australia or Canada seriously consider taking on an exchange. Yes, there is a lot of paper work and toing and froing involved in organizing your exchange, but all that quickly fades into the background once you arrive and take on the many wonderful experiences working and living in a foreign country, and seeing all it has to offer. Richard Murray is a teacher at St. Mary’s Senior Campus in Maitland, New South Wales, Australia.
Laurel Macdonald When I turned 40 almost two years ago, I decided that I would use the year to try to accomplish 40 new things. So, on a whim, my husband and I submitted an application to go on a teacher exchange, fully expecting to be denied since we were almost a month past the due date. To our surprise, just four months later, we were signing a contract to move across the world to the Land Down Under, Australia. It is hard to believe it has already been more than a year since our son vehemently resisted the move to Australia, not understanding how leaving his family, friends, hockey, home, and dog could be a good thing. My husband walked away from his job of seven years not knowing if there would be work available for him when we landed in Oz, while my daughter worried about sharks and blue bottles, spiders and snakes. In truth, it is unfathomable that I actually signed the contract to move to Australia, because everything I researched on the internet, or was told by well-meaning friends, was of the dangers that my family may encounter. Every rational part of my brain screamed for me to renege, and warned me that this move was a selfish decision that could traumatize my children and put my family’s economic security and physical safety in jeopardy. But, before I could rationalize my way out of the contract, we were already stretching our legs after a 24-hour flight, while strolling on the Sydney Harbour boardwalk. Literally, in that moment our inbox chimed announcing an incoming email, which detailed a one-year contract for my husband, located just ten minutes from our Australian home. Then, on our drive to Newcastle, the palm trees and stunning scenery consistently took our breath away, while the laidback surfing culture lulled us into a sense of security, only for us to be abruptly shaken into the reality of our culture shock by the beautiful birds that were surprisingly more intimidating than the snakes, spiders, and sharks, combined. In the beginning, every day had a learning curve. I giggled often as I walked away from cashiers, wondering what offer I just turned down because I could not quite understand the lingo. I also hung my head low more than once, contemplating how to empower my children who, on one occasion, turned to me and said, “I just can’t handle one more new thing.” And, of course, I swallowed my pride as I drove on the opposite side of the road, or when I attended staff events where I walked aimlessly hoping to see a familiar face.
friends. Recently, my son speech in front of his Year 5 admitted that “sometimes the are the most rewarding.”
performed a cohort in which he most difficult things
So, here we sit, having experienced the highs of holding koalas, lizards, and pythons, mingling with kangaroos, feeding a giraffe, snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, surfing the ocean waves, battling a surprisingly strong current and coming out champions, eating delicious desserts during our new favourite time of day: morning tea, and riding camels on the most beautiful beach we had ever encountered in our lives. We met fellow Canadian exchange families who have been great travel companions and supports, and we have become closely connected with Australian colleagues and neighbours who have developed into family. So what does a typical day look like for a Canadian exchange teacher in Australia? Every moment, I discover a magic that has awoken me from the monotonous 9-5 sleepwalk that could be midlife, even when doing such simplistic chores as hanging laundry on the line. Now, I giggle when I walk away from the cashier and realize that I understood every word and even responded with an accidental “heaps,” “fair dinkum,” “no dramas,” or “too easy.” I laugh with a new understanding of Australian humour, and I am no longer shocked when someone asks for my thongs or a rubber! And, I am empowered when I navigate the halls of my school or the streets of Newcastle and Sydney with a comfort that calls for me to actively remind myself that I am not at home. So, if you are questioning whether this adventure is one that you would dare to attempt, I implore you to take the advice of David McCullough and “resist the easy comforts of complacency,” because the challenges and rewards are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that my family and I are so happy we had the courage to embrace. Laurel Macdonald is a teachers at Holy Trinity Catholic High School in Kanata, Ontario.
Now, my husband admits that he has loved every minute of what he calls the best and most surreal year of his life, having composed a list of accomplishments from golfing with kangaroos to exploring a large territory with colleagues who have truly become mates. I gained a full year of exemplary professional development. Meanwhile, my children excelled in the swimming and athletics carnivals; performed in a book parade, Easter hat parade, and school musical; won spelling bees, tennis competitions, and student council seats; and made lifelong
OCTOBER 2018 | CATHOLIC TEACHER 23
THOUGHTS ON THE CANCELLATION OF INDIGENOUS CURRICULUM WRITING Shortly after the provincial election in June, the new Progressive Conservative government abruptly announced that it was cancelling planned curriculum writing sessions, meant to update the curriculum to ensure that Indigenous people and perspectives are appropriately represented, in response to the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Minister of Education Lisa Thompson indicated at the time that the curriculum revisions would go ahead at a later date, at the time of writing there has been no indication as to when or how this will occur. Two Catholic teachers have submitted their perspectives on the governmentâ€™s decision, and what it means for teachers and students.
ith the support of our school board, several colleagues and I applied for the Teacher Learning and Leadership Program. We have spent the last year connecting with elders and knowledge keepers in the community. It has been a tremendous learning experience not only for us, but also for the teachers and students with whom we have shared our learning. One of most important things I have learned is that if we hope to include Indigenous content into our classes and make reconciliation a reality, we have to do this in consultation with Indigenous partners. This is why I was so disappointed when I heard that the Ministry of Education had cancelled the curriculum writing sessions this summer. This was an opportunity to have content and curriculum created by Indigenous people from across Ontario. This would have been a tremendous support for us as non-Indigenous teachers who are working hard to implement the recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
s an Anishinaabe educator and parent, I am incredibly disappointed with the provincial governmentâ€™s decision to postpone the second phase of the Ontario curriculum revisions this past summer. I had the privilege and honour of being part of the writing team during the first phase, which began in 2016 and is being implemented this fall. The first phase of the revisions focused on Grades 4 to 6 social studies, and Grades 7, 8, and 10 history. It was unlike any other curriculum work I have experienced in my 20 years as an educator. The group of approximately 25 Indigenous educators and community members from across Ontario spent many hours in thoughtful discussion and collaboration. Every day began and ended with an elder leading us in ceremony and circle. The group gathered again for a week during the winter to continue the revisions. Every expectation, idea, and question was carefully considered. As an Anishinaabe person, the curriculum writing was a journey, reflecting on the history of my people, recognizing the Indigenous knowledge that is resilient and still very much alive, and acknowledging the injustices my parents experienced as students of the residential school system. The revised curriculum ensures that children across Ontario are learning the truths of our history in this country that we now know as Canada. Students will learn about the knowledge that has existed in our communities for generations, and understand the impact of colonization on Indigenous peoples. I was invited to be part of the writing team for the second phase. It was exciting because this phase would include revisions to Grades 1 to 3 social studies, Grade 9 geography, Grade 10 civics and careers studies, as well as senior-level social sciences. I sincerely hope the provincial government recognizes the significance of moving ahead with the curriculum revisions. We must continue the work of ensuring that we stay on the right side of history. Miigwetch. Tesa Fiddler is Indigenous Education Resource Teacher for the Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board.
Clare Caza is a law, history, and civics teacher with the Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board.
OCTOBER 2018 | CATHOLIC TEACHER 25
PROMOTING MEMBER ENGAGEMENT AND ACTIVISM By Robert Smol “We must discover member interests and needs and then satisfy them.”
My OECTA: A guide to member engagement and activism
Regardless of how crowded our schools, classrooms, and routines may get, the profession of teaching can be a painfully lonely undertaking. In spite of the opportunities to collaborate with staff, each and every one of us is required to face our increasingly diverse students, as well as ballooning classroom management challenges, alone. Added to this is the fact that, frequently, these challenges must be confronted without the traditional support from administration that previous generations of teachers relied upon. This can seem daunting. However, it is important to remember that educators have both the opportunity and the means to surmount these challenges.
of Ontario is any indication, there will be challenges for OECTA in the years ahead. But just as vivid in my memory to the anti-teacher, anti-union policies of the Harris years of the 1990s and early 2000s is the painful impact that his policies had on the morale of teachers. Back then, as a struggling occasional teacher trying to get established, I found that apathy, isolation, and fear helped feed into the political and policy threats that our profession was facing. Knowing all too well what Doug Ford and his party stand for, my bet is that this is likely to happen again. When it does, the union will need an active, engaged base to keep the collective morale and self-worth of teachers alive. More than ever, the membership will have to find innovative ways to reach out to fellow members in our schools and across the province. Bringing a voice to our values
The Association can play a formal role in protecting and connecting educators. For example, in many units, social and sports activities are already underway. Just as with our students, these serve as an excellent catalyst for future collaboration and communication.
How can this be done? Our Catholic faith and our curriculum acknowledge that each and every person is endowed with certain gifts. Thus, it is incumbent upon every member to find ways to harness those gifts to engage other members, especially those who may feel alienated or disengaged.
But member engagement should not be confined to the formal and the structured. Educators must also transcend the walls that separate our classrooms, departments, grades, and schools through member engagement. It is through the proactive individual efforts of members that the union finds its expression of teacher advocacy in every facet of our school culture.
Proactively, member engagement can begin with, and be as simple as, a friendly wave, smile, or kind word to some stressed out, scrambling colleague. If the teacher is encountering a specific hardship, engagement can involve taking the time to refer them to the collective agreement and/or the staff rep so that they may know what their options are.
Member engagement involves all members promoting the highest intentions and aims of the collective, even at the lowest, most informal levels. It involves proactively reaching beyond one’s immediate circle of trusted colleagues and routines and finding ways to somehow let the lonely, stressed, disengaged member know they are not alone and that there is strength in community.
On the reactive end, engagement involves standing up to, and refusing to engage in, negative, destructive gossip about colleagues, especially those who are being bullied by administration. It can also mean confronting misinformed negative feedback against the union with fact and perspective. Member engagement does not drive our values. Instead, our collective values, and how we assert them, is what gives substance to member engagement.
Member engagement vs. conservativecorporate agenda
The idea of an active, engaged, supportive community of members runs counter to the ideologically conservative and corporate-inspired forces that oppose the union movement. We see some of these elements today among school board administration. There, an ideology of selfish personal gain and exploitation masks itself behind notions of rights and freedom. In the workforce, this translates into appeals to “choice” and “freedom,” without consideration to either the damage that may be caused to others, or to the collective workplace protections and rights that make real choice and freedom possible. Certainly, if the former Progressive Conservative government
There is much that our collective agreements and legislation such as the Occupational Health and Safety Act have to offer members. However, my observation over the years has been that members either are not aware of the protections offered to them, or, more importantly, do not know how to engage the process. This is where the power of information and speaking truth to power comes into play. Member engagement needs to involve every legitimate opportunity to convey and apply the union message. It begins with the bulletin board
In this digital age we have at our disposal a variety of tools that should be engaged. Still, the information battle begins at the Continued on page 28
26 CATHOLIC TEACHER | OCTOBER 2018
ADDITION or DISTRACTION?
Discussion about banning cellphones in classrooms should be a two-way conversation By Cynthia Bifolchi
PHOTO: @Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley / Shutterstock.com
he idea of outlawing cellphones in classrooms always engenders passionate debate among educators. However, a recent announcement from Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government calling for a province-wide ban has added a new, higher-stakes dimension to the argument. “I’ve heard from both parents and teachers that cellphones have become an unnecessary disruption in classrooms, impeding the education of our students,” Premier Doug Ford tweeted. “Our government will consult on the steps schools should take to remove distracting cellphones from the classroom.” The message presents a foregone conclusion: cellphones are bad, teachers and parents want them gone, and so the government will figure out a way to do that. It does not say, for example, let us carry out some research on cellphone use in classrooms and see what we find – and then we will propose the next course of action. What is striking is that for such a resolute standpoint, one that pledges to change provincial education policy, no evidence is presented of the actual harm caused by cellphones. As expected, responses came flooding forward, with a wide range of conflicting views serving to highlight that this is a much more complex issue than the government’s announcement would suggest.
Some people may agree with an outright ban, but responses across social media, blogs, and opinion pieces show that for the most part, the issue is not black or white. For example, some agree with a ban, but feel it should be down to the discretion of teachers, schools, or school boards. Others say a ban is counterproductive, as cellphones can add to the learning experience if used properly. Others worry that children with special education needs who rely on devices will suffer. For some, it is an issue of cost: if children cannot use their phones as a learning tool for certain lessons, will the government
provide alternatives? Then there are the practical considerations, such as how exactly a ban would be enforced. Of course, the question of banning cellphones in classrooms is not just a Canadian one. The issue is being debated all over the world. Cellphones are a relatively new phenomenon, and educators and school authorities are trying to figure out the best course of action – a challenging task given the lack of precedent, and the rapidly changing nature of tech and the use of tech in education. Continued on page 28
OCTOBER 2018 | CATHOLIC TEACHER 27
Continued from page 26
bulletin board. Where appropriate, newspaper clippings and other information dispelling the myths and misconceptions of what teachers and the union do help the staff get some perspective against what they are hearing. On another level, the staff room or the OECTA bulletin board may provide information on a specific function or obligation that teachers need to consider. For example, in my school last year a forward-thinking health a safety representative posted a quick aide memo in our mailroom, next to the health a safety forms, informing staff which ones they have to fill out in which situation. More impromptu information initiatives like this need to take place wherever they may legitimately be employed. Power of media
Informed opinion and reporting from reputable media sources can be a powerful tool against disinformation. Having worked as a freelance journalist for more than fifteen years, I have used the power of the press to make my point in areas such as veterans’ rights, foreign and defence policy, and education. In many cases, my motivation was to dispel untruths that various political parties and their supporters were trying to foist upon the public. Although journalism has now become a parallel, part-time career, it began as a somewhat angry and impulsive attempt at member engagement through information. Twenty years ago, in response to a statement made to the press by a school superintendent, I wrote a letter to the editor challenging the superintendent’s short-sightedness. Other teachers, supporting what I wrote, followed this letter with other supporting letters of their own. The result was that those in authority did not necessarily have the final say on the matter. Today, a letter to the editor is only one in a host of options in our media toolbox. Twitter, Facebook, blogs, not to mention the comment section normally allowed at the end of online articles, can serve as a means by which our perspective can be kept alive in the debate. The more that the truth about the teaching profession, and how we stand for education, is made public, the more it will be part of the conversation. Not allowing the government to drive the debate
Continued from page 27
In France, the government decided a blanket ban was the way to go. As of September this year, bringing cellphones, tablets, and other internet-connected devices into the classroom is banned by law. The policy, a campaign promise by French President Emmanuel Macron, applies to students aged three to 15; for students over 15, the use of cellphones is left to the discretion of the school. According to French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer, the ban sends a “public health message” to families: “We know today that there is a phenomenon of screen addiction, the phenomenon of bad mobile phone use,” he says. “Our main role is to protect children and adolescents. It is a fundamental role of education, and this law allows it.” But if “bad” mobile phone use exists, does that not mean “good” mobile phone use is also possible? There have been many studies in recent years on the use of cellphones in classrooms, but the range of arguments and counter-arguments show that there is no one “right” answer. There are just too many variables at play. For example, a study by the London School of Economics titled, “Ill Communication: The Impact of Mobile Phones on Student Performance,” found that after schools banned mobile phones, test scores of students aged 16 improved by 6.4 per cent. But another study, conducted here in Canada, found that banning phones was not the answer, particularly when it came to selfregulation. Thierry Karsenti, a professor at the University of Montreal and Canada Research Chair on Information and Communication Technologies in Education, carried out a study on 4,000 students around managing cellphone use, and found that education and meaningfully building the studentteacher relationship was a more effective way to promote good cellphone use in students than implementing a ban. “When there’s that respect there, the two can coexist and technology can be leveraged in powerful ways to benefit student learning,” he recommended. A recent editorial by the Toronto Star is calling for a more measured approach, led by teachers. “Teachers, who know their students best, should have the last word,” it says. “They should be permitted to use whatever strategies they feel are necessary to create the optimal learning environment for their class, including bans if the devices prove too distracting.”
I have no doubt that in the months ahead, the current Ontario government will try and steer the debate over the future of education with their misinformed, draconian corporate agenda. In response, the membership needs to be mobilized in countering the government’s negative agenda, wherever and whenever it plays out in the public sphere. For members themselves, they need to be left with the sense they are not alone with their thoughts, opinions, and frustrations. Regardless of how you do so, I would implore all of you to find ways to become active in member engagement. And remember, even the smallest action can have a significant positive impact for your colleagues and our Association.
This is a crucial point. While the issue is rife with debate, what is most important is that educators are properly consulted before any decisions are made. A measured, careful consultation is in the best interest of students, parents, and teachers, rather than a partisan directive triggered by informal chatter. As one Ontario educator put it: “As a teacher I can say cellphones in the class can be distraction-tools. But cells can also be used to enhance what’s happening in the class. Some teachers want cellphones banned and some don’t. I hope you are listening to both sides of the issue Mr. Ford.”
Robert Smol is a member of the Dufferin-Peel Secondary Unit and a freelance journalist and columnist. He is a recipient of a 2018 Member Engagement Award for his work informing and engaging members through media.
Cynthia Bifolchi is Writer/Researcher in the Communications and Government Relations departments at the OECTA Provincial Office.
28 CATHOLIC TEACHER | OCTOBER 2018
WE USED TO TALK FACE TO FACE By Anthony Carabache
My eyes roll to the back of my head every time I hear a tirade on the current youth by a fellow ’80s child, extolling the virtues of growing up when “kids played outside, rode bikes, and actually spoke to one another face-to-face.” I just hit the snooze button. The trip down memory lane eventually ends, so I try not to prolong it. At work, it is much different. As a teacher, I am fascinated by the world our children are growing up in, as I try to balance the values of an ’80s child with those of the 2000s, the Generation Zs. As for myself, the son of Egyptian immigrants who came to Canada in 1972 with little knowledge of the culture or language, I was raised in a strict Middle Eastern home. The school bell ended the day at 3:30 and I was to be home by 3:45. That was just the way it was. Contact with my social circles was limited to whatever I could muster during the three harrowing recesses at school. I am not so sure that socialization in the ’80s was so much better than now, I just think we need a better understanding of how we got here. Online chat actually started in 1973, but it was not until 1996, when a small company named Mirabilis developed a platform called ICQ, that real-time chat started to take off. The platform was one of the first to be adopted by ’80s children in their late teens and early twenties, and at its height in 2001, ICQ had just over 100 million users, with 42 million daily users worldwide. I actually still remember my first ICQ message to a friend in Calgary:
ICQ technology became the basis for AOL’s chat development, and by the late2000s AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) became one of the most popular chat services on the planet, boasting anywhere between 60 and 70 million users in 2006. Windows Live Messenger, AOL’s direct competitor, had racked up 330 million users by 2009 in its rise to dominate the chat. By this time, the ’80s child was still straddling two distinct worlds of socialization, one that was novel and gave voice to everyone, and one that was still considered the norm and dependent upon physical engagement. While the world was at the height of the online chat craze, fledgling companies like Facebook and Twitter were exploring another type of real-time socialization product. Instead of sharing a conversation, these platforms focused development upon sharing experiences, thereby deepening online interaction. In hindsight, it would not have been surprising to see that AIM and Messenger’s decline coincided with Facebook and Twitter’s ascension into the newly minted “social media” experience in and around the mid-2000s. Socialization could be experienced across multiple accounts, in a multitude of ways, using a variety of media. That ’80s child was now being lured into a world of deep online social culture, and by now, they were fully fledged adults, making up the rules as they went along. As proprietors of social media culture continued to sell online experiences in different ways, the ’80s child entered the workforce and the basis of social media technology began to seep into productivity software. Lines were being blurred between socialization and professional interactions, to the point where they were often becoming too closely connected.
And now, our children are moving into completely new worlds of socialization, with the online gaming experience. Children of all ages, backgrounds, and upbringings are meeting online in worlds shaped just for them and, in many cases, by them. Strolling around in their avatars, children – and many adults – are engaging in a socialization that embraces new, yet not-so-new, elements such as strategy, dependency, and consequence. Not unlike that portrayed in the recent Steven Spielberg film, Ready Player One. Children used to say, “Did you see what Tim wrote on Facebook last night?” Now they say, “Can you believe what Tim did on Fortnite last night?” The social structure of our gaming children has expanded exponentially, beyond culture, time zones, and even language. Clubs are being formed, missions are being accomplished, and even heartache and sadness are being experienced. The level of interaction is much greater than it ever could have been for an ’80s kid. Make no mistake, this new socialization does have impact offline, and it certainly does take a pretty big bite out of face-toface socialization time, especially in the home, if you let it. At the outset, it really is about introducing balance between social worlds, and determining how important face-to-face contact is compared to online socialization, by recognizing how much time we protect or devote to each. It is not that one is better than the other, it is more about what we need from one another as social beings. Anthony Carabache is a member of the Professional Development department at the OECTA Provincial Office.
OCTOBER 2018 | CATHOLIC TEACHER 29
FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH
TRADITIONS One of the summer rituals for many of us who are from the Greater Toronto Area is an excursion to visit the “Grand Old Lady,” otherwise known as the Canadian National Exhibition. The CNE, or the Ex, as it is also known to veterans, has always been a culminating highlight, especially to kids like me who bubbled with anticipation as we attempted to stretch out the last few days of summer vacation before the inevitable arrival of Labour Day and an equally inescapable return to school. A few years back, I made the effort to count the number of times that I had attended the Ex with friends and family. Including the years where I had attended multiple times, I came up with the impressive number of 52. With this many trips through the Dufferin Gates, the food building, and the midway, it is not an exaggeration to state that the Ex is very much a part of me. In fact, this is quite literally true, given the number of Tiny Tom donuts and ice cream waffles I have enjoyed over the years. First opened in 1879, the Ex is the oldest and largest annual fair in Canada, and as such it has developed and celebrated a number of traditions of its own. Among these are the annual Labour Day parade which, along with the air show, marks the end of the fair’s 18-day run. However, this year was different for everyone. 30 CATHOLIC TEACHER | OCTOBER 2018
The Labour Day parade usually involves a march of organized labour that begins in downtown Toronto, passes through the Princes’ Gates, and enters the CNE grounds for a rally and celebration. But this year, the parade bypassed the Ex in a visible show of support for the members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 58, who have been locked out of Exhibition Place since July. Instead, this year’s parade was led by IATSE Local 58 and diverted to Lamport Stadium, where the various participants from across the labour movement were able to assemble in the spirit of solidarity and support. This year was also different for me, personally, because for the first time in my life I consciously decided not to attend the CNE. I refused to cross a picket line that was populated by members of IATSE Local 58 and their supporters. Let me be clear, this was in no way a difficult decision, despite the lifelong connection that I and many others in my family have with the Ex. Nor was it a unique decision made in isolation, as evidenced by this year’s greatly diminished CNE attendance numbers, and the impact this had on the fair’s bottom line. Clearly, many others from inside and outside the labour movement chose not to attend this year, out of support for the locked-out workers.
It has also not escaped me that just as the summer was ending with a picket line, we were entering into a new school year under the cloud of the new provincial government, under the leadership of Doug Ford, which has signalled clearly that it intends to test the resolve of organized labour in general, and teachers in particular. The specifics of how this will unfold remain to be seen, but as always our vigilance and resolve will need to be honed as we prepare for what may be headed our way. Fortunately, this is part of the OECTA tradition. A tradition of defending the hard won rights of our members. A tradition of promoting respect for our professionalism and dedication. A tradition of fair and just engagement. This year will no doubt bring the regular challenges, and some extraordinary ones as well, but with each other’s support we will emerge united in our professional resolve, because that is our tradition.
Gian Marcon is a member of the Bargaining and Contract Services department at the OECTA Provincial Office.
PHOTO: @Niloo / Shutterstock.com
By Gian Marcon
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October 2018 Edition