THE LIBERALS ARE IN WITH A MAJORITY. NOW WHAT?
THE FRONT LINE
TEACHERS CHANGE (AND OFTEN SAVE) LIVES
A PAPAL VISIT
A LOOK AT POPE FRANCIS’ NORTH AMERICAN JOURNEY
VIOLENCE AT SCHOOL
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE TEACHER IS THE VICTIM?
Update on the Local Bargaining Process Navigating Your Way Through Edu-Jargon Integrating Technology into the Classroom
CONTE NTS/DEC 2015 INBOX 4
OECTA’S INDEX / CALENDAR
FEATURES 9 THE PAPAL VISIT Pope Francis raised big questions, while communicating inclusion, during his
recent trip to North America.
By Christopher Lombardo
10 CANADIAN REVIVAL The Conservatives are gone and the Liberals have a majority government.
By Adam Lemieux
13 OECTA’S PROVINCIAL LTD PLAN What you should know about your long-term disability coverage By Adam Lemieux 14 TEACH ON, WARRIORS Teachers are the first responders, the front line, and the best hope we’ve got
for a better world.
By Glennon Doyle Melton
16 THE SCHOOL BOARDS COLLECTIVE BARGAINING ACT Bill 122 lays out rules for what is bargained centrally and locally By David Church
TEACHERS AID 17 INSIGHT Not on the same page: The importance of communicating clearly By Doug McCarthy 18 TEACHER ADVISOR Violence in the workplace: What happens when a teacher is the victim? By Joe Pece 19 LEGAL BRIEF UBC v Kelly: A human rights low point By Charlene Theodore 21 PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT How to successfully integrate educational technology into your classroom By Anthony Carabache 22 BEGINNING TEACHERS Navigating some of the confusing acronym jargon in education-speak By Claire Laughlin
PEOPLE WORTH WATCHING 23 THE TRUTH NORTH For 22 years, Cathy Szczepaniak has worked tirelessly to raise funds for the
Holy Childhood Association.
By Christopher Lombardo 24 OECTA UNIT PRESIDENTS Meet the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association’s new Unit Presidents. 27 THE SNACK TEACHER Jennifer Daley-Stewart co-ordinates an innovative program at her school that
provides healthy food to students.
By Christopher Lombardo
VIEWPOINT 29 OUR NATIONAL SHAME Lawyer Dennis Edney provides a shocking account of the torture of Omar Khadr
– and Canada’s part in it.
By Adam Lemieux
Michelle Despault Editor Adam Lemieux Associate Editor Fernanda Monteiro Production Anna Anezyris Advertising EDITORIAL BOARD Ann Hawkins President
Let me begin by offering sincere wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I hope the peace and grace of Christ will be with you during this special, holy season and throughout the year ahead. The school year is well underway, but bargaining remains top of mind for many members. Now that we have ratified our central table agreement, local bargaining has begun. Your bargaining teams are prepared to work with school boards to reach fair settlements. As of this writing, one local has already ratified its agreement and another is going through the ratification process. We are also pleased that ETFO teachers and CUPE education workers were able to reach central table agreements. We continue to offer solidarity to OSSTF support staff, who are currently still without a deal. The tense bargaining and work-to-rule campaigns have created challenges for OECTA members. I thank everyone for their co-operation and resolve. We are also active elsewhere in the labour movement. As I write to you, I am looking forward to the Ontario Federation of Labour’s 13th Biennial Convention. Delegates will be electing new leadership and debating resolutions related to human rights, women’s issues, health and safety, and the OFL constitution. OECTA has submitted a number of resolutions and will have a full delegation in attendance. We have now had some time to take in the results of the federal election. I am optimistic that the new government will be more respectful of democratic principles, and that it will work to restore positive federal-provincial relations as well as Canada’s reputation for peacekeeping and environmentalism. Also, I was very pleased to have been in attendance when Justin Trudeau met with the Canadian Labour Congress and recommitted to repealing the former government’s anti-union legislation. OECTA is proud to have been part of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation campaign calling for an end to child poverty and increased mental health supports for youth. We will continue to urge all members of Parliament to take these matters seriously. One crucial issue that came up during the election campaign was the international refugee crisis. Millions of people, many of them children, are seeking to enter Europe and North America as they flee violence and poor living conditions in their home countries. The scale of the emergency can seem overwhelming, but we all must heed the calls from Pope Francis and Cardinal Collins to assist in any way possible. For our part, OECTA has donated $30,000 through the Archdiocese of Toronto to help sponsor a Syrian family. As we enjoy the comforts of home and the joys of family and friends this holiday season, let us be mindful of those around the world who are less fortunate. In solidarity,
| DECEMBER 2015
Liz Stuart First Vice-President Marshall Jarvis General Secretary David Church Deputy General Secretary
@OECTA is published five times during the school year. Opinions and ideas expressed in @OECTA are not necessarily those of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association. @OECTA 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, Toronto, ON M4T 2Y8 PHONE 416-925-2493 TOLL-FREE 1-800-268-7230 FAX 416-925-7764 www.oecta.on.ca Publication Mail Agreement No. 0040062510 Account No. 0001681016
Cover: The Birth of Jesus is an illustration
created by Roy Ketcheson, a visual arts teacher at St. Francis Xavier High School and a member of OECTA’s Ottawa unit. This illustration, which is the winning submission from OECTA’s Christmas Card Contest, was created with Prisma pencils on illustration board. Ketcheson, who also has a background in advertising and graphic design, freelances for a variety of publications, has illustrated two children’s books, and commissions and recreates paintings from master artists.
UP FRONT LOOKING FOR AGM UNIT DELEGATES
OECTA’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) will take place March 12 to 14, 2016 at Toronto’s Westin Harbour Castle. If you would like to be considered as an AGM delegate for your unit, please contact your Unit President. The deadline for all units to submit the names of delegates is January 23, 2016. SIGN UP FOR AQ COURSES
OECTA’s fall online AQ session has been deferred. The fall sesion will run from January 4 to March 11, 2016. Spring session registration opens Dec 1, 2015. Check out the full AQ course menu on the inside cover, visit the Courses section of the OECTA website (www.oecta.on.ca) or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. OECTA SPONSORS YOUNG AUTHORS AWARDS
OECTA is a proud sponsor of the annual Young Authors Awards/Prix Jeunes Écrivains. The awards celebrate the writing talents of students who submit short stories, poems, nonfiction articles and reports in both English and French. The first place winners at the school level advance to the unit level and then to the provincial competition. A collection of the winning entries is published in book form each year. Teachers must submit their class entries to their OECTA school association representative by February 12, 2016. DESIGN THE OECTA CHRISTMAS CARD
Do you have an artistic side? OECTA is looking for season-themed art to use on our 2016 Christmas card (the winning entry will also grace the cover of @OECTA next December). Submit an original, two-dimensional piece of finished art (photograph, sketch, collage or painting) to OECTA’s Communications Department at: 65 St. Clair Avenue East, Suite 400, Toronto, M4T 2Y8 or by email to email@example.com, by April 1, 2016. Please include your unit and contact information with your entry. SHARE YOUR COMMUNICATIONS SUCESSES
April 1, 2016 is the deadline to enter your unit’s publications and communication projects to be considered for an OECTA Communications Award. These awards are divided into five categories: 1) Website Design, 2) Publication, 3) Public/Media Relations, 4) Catholic Connection and 5) Most Improved Website or Publication. Share your good work and highlight your unit’s efforts. For more information, visit the OECTA website at www.oecta.on.ca.
ACKNOWLEDGE A GREAT TEACHER
Do you know an outstanding teacher? Why not nominate them for an OTIP/OTF Teaching Award? These awards recognize teachers who inspire students, colleagues and parents in publicly funded education in Ontario. Anyone can nominate a teacher in one of three categories: elementary, secondary, or a beginning teacher in the first five years of teaching. Winners receive $1,000 and a Certificate of Recognition for both themselves and their schools. The deadline for nominations is March 31, 2016. TRADE PLACES AND TEACH IN AUSTRALIA
Want to go Down Under? OECTA members are invited to trade places for a year with a teacher in an Australian Catholic school as part of an exchange program organized by the Canadian Education Exchange Foundation (CEEF). Visit the OECTA website (www.oecta.on.ca) in the Teaching Opportunities section under Career Development for more information. To register, contact Carol Wilkins via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 705-739-7596. LIGHTING THE NIGHT AGAINST VIOLENCE
D e c e m b e r 6 m a r k s t h e Na t i o n a l D a y o f Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, commemorating the murder of 14 women at Montreal’s École Polytechnique on December 6, 1989. This year, on the anniversary of the massacre, OECTA will take part in the YWCA Rose Campaign’s “Light the Night Against Violence,” which works to reduce violence against women, increase public awareness and prevent violence before it starts. As part of the campaign, the OECTA Provincial Office, and many of our local units, will join others in lighting buildings, monuments and landmarks in red.
LEADERSHIP TRAINING PROGRAM DATES
OECTA’s Leadership Training Program is a reflection of the Association’s commitment to training strong member advocates and activists. In 2016, OECTA will offer four days of training for both the Foundational Program and the Specialized Program on March 31, April 1, May 19 and May 20, 2016 in Markham. OECTA will cover participants’ release time, travel, accommodation and program costs. The online application process opens December 1 to 14, 2015 for the Foundational Program, and January 5 to 22, 2016 for the Specialized Program. If you are interested in participating, speak to your Unit President; visit www.oecta.on.ca under the Leadership tab for more information. DECEMBER 2015 |
OLDER, NOT WISER
DECEMBER Spring AQ Course Registration Opens December 1
By Adam Lemieux 17% 13%
Proportion of Canadian population aged 14 and under, 2006 Proportion of Canadian population aged 65 and over, 2006
Proportion of Canadian population aged 14 and under, 2015 Proportion of Canadian population aged 65 and over, 2015
Projected proportion of Canadian population aged 14 and under, 2024 Projected proportion of Canadian population aged 65 and over, 2024
Average annual undergraduate tuition fees for full-time students, Canada (minus Ontario), 2015 Average annual undergraduate tuition fees for full-time students, Ontario, 2015
Percentage of Canadians aged 20-29 living in the parental home, 1991 Percentage of Canadians aged 20-29 living in the parental home, 2011
Average participation in political activities other than voting, Canadians aged 30 and over, 2014 Average participation in political activities other than voting, Canadians aged 29 and under, 2014
$596 million 2,141
Funding cut from federal science and technology departments and agencies, 2008-2013 Full-time equivalent positions cut from federal science and technology departments and agencies, 2008-2013
Studies published by the National Research Council, 2010 Studies published by the National Research Council, 2012
Response rate to 2006 mandatory Census of Population Response rate to 2011 voluntary National Household Survey
Leadership Training (Foundation Program) Registration Opens December 1
National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women December 6
Jubilee Year of Mercy Begins December 8
International Human Rights Day December 10
International Human Solidarity Day December 20
December 21 to January 1
JANUARY Fall/Winter AQ Courses Start January 4
Leadership Training (Specialized Leadership Program) Registration Opens January 5
Sir John A. Macdonald Day SOURCES: . Maclean’s PHOTO: © Arthimedes / Shutterstock.com
. Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) . Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) . Samara . Statistics Canada
International Holocaust Remembrance Day January 27
National Family Literacy Day January 27
FEBRUARY 1 Billion Rising February 14
Family Day February 15
Adam Lemieux is the Communications Specialist in the Communications Department at OECTA Provincial Office.
| DECEMBER 2015
World Day of Social Justice February 20
Pink Shirt Day February 24
OECTA EVENTS Who speaks for education?
Visitors from Down Under
OECTA President appears on TVO’s The Agenda
A cultural exchange between OECTA and Australian teachers’ affiliate, IEU
Who are the guardians of the public education system in Ontario? Some say it’s parents, others think it’s trustees, and some even believe it’s politicians. But Ann Hawkins, President of OECTA, who believes everyone has a role to play, notes that it’s teachers who holds students’ best interests at heart.
In mid-September, OECTA hosted colleagues from the Independent Education Union (IEU) in Australia, an affiliate that represents teachers and support staff workers in non-government schools, early childhood centres and other non-government educational institutions. The IEU has a membership of approximately 75,000 members.
The question was put up for debate to a panel of education experts on TVO’s The Agenda hosted by Steve Paikin in September. The program touched on a variety of subjects: the quality of education in the classroom, e-learning, labour unrest, the Ontario Labour Relations Act, and education funding formulae. Hawkins advocated admirably for teachers in a lively panel discussion that included a former member of the Mike Harris cabinet and former education minister Janet Ecker. Other panelists included Doretta Wilson, Executive Director of the Society for Quality Education, Marit Stiles, Toronto District School Board Trustee, Ward 9 (Davenport), and Chloe Kemeni, President of the Ontario Student Trustees’ Association. Paikin asked Hawkins, “Who is responsible for making sure our students are better educated? Are you as teachers ultimately responsible?” Hawkins made the case for teachers and publicly funded education: “We’re the one who are the gatekeepers of what goes on in education delivery in classes in Ontario,” she said. “We’re ultimately responsible for the curriculum that’s passed down to us.” Later, she voiced objections to the encroachment of private sector interests in public education: “Education International World Congress was in Ottawa in July. One of the biggest concerns worldwide is the protection of publicly funded public education, and the privatization and the commodification of the classroom,” said Hawkins. “And it’s become a huge concern. We’ve got private companies, and… there are dozens of them and they’re called Edu-businesses… who have taken the reins and control of education out of the public domain and turned it into the private.” For those who didn’t get a chance to check out the spirited discussion, it is available on the TVO Agenda website and on YouTube.
Left to right: Chloe Kemeni, President of the Ontario Student Trustees’ Association; Janet Ecker, President and CEO of Toronto Financial Services Alliance; Doretta Wilson, Executive Director of the Society for Quality Education; Marit Stiles, TDSB Trustee, Ward 9; Ann Hawkins, President of OECTA.
OECTA welcomed four Aussie colleagues – Les Porter, Tina Smith, Lyn Caton (New South Wales Branch) and Marit Clayton (Victoria and Tasmania Branch) – to Provincial Office. The purpose of their visit was to gain insights into bargaining processes but also to examine organizational structure, politics and issues common to both our affiliates. They focused on OECTA’s recent #TeachersMatter campaign and the Association’s work-to-rule guidelines. The visitors, who just reached an agreement themselves after what Porter described as “a very long and drawn out process,” noted familiar themes in the negotiations that took place for both the IEU and OECTA. “Teacher professionalism and working conditions are being challenged in both countries,” he said. Porter appreciated the hands on support the Association gives to Unit Presidents and said he “could not be more impressed with the quality of Professional Development and documentation provided to members.” He praised Counselling and Member Service’s On Thin Ice: Maintaining Professional Boundaries, saying the resource is “most impressive.” In addition to bargaining-related meetings, the group attended a Provincial Executive meeting, bargaining and contract services sessions (our Bargaining and Contract Services Department planned some fieldwork for them) as well as an @OECTA editorial meeting. It wasn’t all business though. The Australian guests found time to explore Toronto, visit Niagara Falls and take in a Blue Jays game. Says Porter: “Visits like this can only continue to strengthen relationships between OECTA and the IEU. We have our structural differences but are similar in many, many ways.”
Back row: Les Porter, Liz Stuart, Marshall Jarvis and David Church Front row: Lyn Caton, Marit Clayton, Ann Hawkins and Cristine Smith
DECEMBER 2015 |
OECTA EVENTS Beginning Teachers Fall conference a useful primer for those starting classroom careers The Beginning Teachers Conference, held October 16 and 17 at the Toronto Airport Hilton was a big success, with attendees representing every part of the province.
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Entitled “Hats Off To You,” the conference kicked off with words from conference chair Nina Merritt and OECTA president Ann Hawkins. Hawkins told the crowd of beginning teachers, “Teaching is the best job in the world. I’ve never been bored a day in my life!”
Acceptance of advertisements in @OECTA neither endorses nor warranties any products or services.
Next, Tom Doyle of OECTA’s Bargaining and Contract Services Department delivered a talk called “The Collective Agreement and You.” Doyle offered a historical perspective on bargaining before going over key issues related to prep time and teacher assignment.
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During the lunch break on day one, participants took part in different workshops. In “Learning to Say No,” Bruno Muzzi, of OECTA’s Bargaining and Contract Services Department, covered such issues as the duties of a teacher, moving along the grid, and health issues exacerbated by stress. Peter Cameron delivered a talk entitled “The Connected Classroom,” in which he discussed social media and technology in the classroom.
TO PLACE A CLASSIFIED AD CONTACT: Anna Anezyris, Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, Tel. 416-925-2493 ext. 412 Email: email@example.com
Claire Laughlin of OECTA’s Professional Development Department readied OTs with an interview preparation primer, offering tips on how to research schools, communities and boards and doing mock interview questions.
WANT TO ADVANCE YOUR CAREER?
Saturday morning, Joe Pece, head of OECTA’s Counselling and Member Services Department, discussed the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and explained contribution rates, citing different examples of retirement incomes. Saturday afternoon included the opportunity to attend outdoor workshops on physical literacy, as well as elementary ecology science programs that explained biodiversity.
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Among other great talks, Cheryl Fullerton of OECTA’s Government Relations Department gave an overview of key issues at stake in the federal election. And Mary Lachapelle of OECTA’s Counselling and Member Services Department discussed professional boundaries in her talk called “On Thin Ice.”
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The conference was a rousing success, with many teachers reporting that they found useful information to take back with them to their classrooms and beyond.
Toronto Elementary Catholic Teachers attend the Beginning Teachers conference.
| DECEMBER 2015
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THE PAPAL VISIT Pope Francis raised big questions, while communicating inclusion, during his recent trip to North America. By Christopher Lombardo
The papal visit to North America in September was marked by firsts – the first visit by Pope Francis to the U.S., the first canonization mass held on American soil (of Spanish Friar Junipero Serra, who brought the Catholic faith to California) and the first ever address by a sitting pope to a joint session of U.S. Congress. In his dissertation at the U.S. Capitol, Pope Francis asked that we all “summon the courage and the intelligence to resolve today’s many geopolitical and economic crises.”
Need to Enrich People According to Dr. Rixon, who praised the great work being done by Catholic teachers in Ontario, when it comes to high-profile visits such as this recent one, “there’s always a need to enrich people.”
One of these crises is the environment. The Pope’s encyclical on the environment and human ecology, Laudato Si, called on the world’s industrialized nations to take firm steps to tackle climate change and pay their “grave social debt” to the poor.
And it’s these big questions that are the questions of our age, especially regarding our economic structure and how we treat the environment. The Pope, during his travels, asked that we live in harmony with creation according to a “logic of respect and care” warning of a “selfish and boundless thirst… for material prosperity” which excludes the disadvantaged and misuses natural resources.
While his approach may have ruffled some feathers of those on the political right, Dr. Gordon Rixon, Associate Professor at Regis College, the Jesuit School of Theology at the University of Toronto, says the pontiff was merely tracing the contributions of his predecessors when it comes to teaching about the environment.
His Holiness’ trip was marked by dialogue and exchange, says Dr. Rixon. “Pope Francis is able to communicate a sense of inclusion, welcome and respect while at the same time raising big questions about culture, the environment and the economy.”
Christopher Lombardo assisted in the Communications Department at OECTA Provincial Office.
“Pope Francis is mostly pulling back from the culture wars, emphasizing the joy in the faith and that evangelization should be done through attraction,” says Dr. Rixon. He says, “Francis’ gift is to make a connection between the face of real people and the institutional questions of our age.” Stronger Connections
The Pope is looking to make a stronger connection, especially between young people and the church. At a mass in Philadelphia, Pope Francis asked, “Do we make space for them and help them to do their part?”
PHOTO: © Mike Dotta / Shutterstock.com
Ryan Clancy, a religion teacher at St. Anne’s in Clinton (Huron Perth Secondary Unit), says, “I think papal visits and other large events for the faith are always a good idea to further Catholic education.” Some of Clancy’s Grade 12 pupils were able to travel to Philadelphia to see the Pope and to take part in a youth congress that coincided with the event. On their first day they packed food donations for the Helping Hand Rescue Mission. Students also visited relics of St. Maria Goretti, an Italian-born martyr, beatified in 1947 and one of the youngest canonized saints. Inspired students reported being overwhelmed by how everyone came together for a common purpose, with one student saying, “Our common faith made us all friends.”
Outdoor mural dedicated to the Pope’s visit in New York, 2015
DECEMBER 2015 |
CANADIAN REVIVAL Stephen Harper is gone and Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party has a majority government. What now? By Adam Lemieux
Canada’s lost decade has come to an emphatic end. After almost 10 years of Conservative rule, Canadians entrusted Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party with a convincing majority government in October’s federal election. Amidst the excitement about Stephen Harper’s departure, it is worth a few moments to take stock of what just happened and what we can anticipate moving forward. Overall, the campaign left much to be desired. Conservative Party candidates were discouraged from attending local debates, and Stephen Harper refused to participate in the televised leaders’ debates traditionally organized by a consortium of major broadcasters, opting instead to commit to a handful of smaller forums. Thomas Mulcair, wishing to project the image of a serious frontrunner, said he would only take part in events attended by the Prime Minister. This left Justin Trudeau with little choice but to acquiesce. Some of the new debates were refreshingly substantive, but they did not have the promotion or reach of the usual format. As a result, many Canadians cast their ballot without having had any long-term exposure to the leaders and their platforms.
Scandals and Antagonism
Instead of adult conversations about the important, complex issues of the day, we were treated mainly to fleeting scandals and antagonism. Social media accounts for candidates from all parties were mined for posts, no matter how old, that might be offensive or unbecoming of a would-be member of Parliament. Some of what was turned up was noteworthy, but most of it was not. Meanwhile, millions of dollars were spent producing
television ads, pamphlets and digital materials, many of which included claims about rival parties and leaders that were either baseless or deliberately misleading. As the Conservatives grew increasingly desperate, they upped their attack on Muslim women wearing the niqab and floated the idea of a hotline for Canadians to report “barbaric cultural practices.” When this didn’t work, Stephen Harper appeared at two rallies with none other
Not that there were any groundbreaking manifestos to dissect. None of the major parties challenged the prevailing orthodoxy about the economy and public finances. There were a lot of talking points about taxes and spending, but no meaningful examination of what is really required to build and operate the programs most of us desire. Even the Liberal commitment to run a few modest deficits to fund some new infrastructure is nowhere near what this country actually needs. The NDP made some bold proposals, but these were undercut by their promise to immediately deliver a balanced budget.
| DECEMBER 2015
ILLUSTRATION by Roy Ketcheson
than Rob Ford, whose countless past transgressions include video evidence of him using homophobic slurs to describe the Liberal leader. But optimism prevailed in the end. Turnout reached its highest rate since 1993, and the use of advance polls was up 70 per cent compared to 2011, in spite of Conservative efforts to suppress the vote by altering identification criteria and prohibiting Elections Canada from promoting voting among marginalized communities (such as students and First Nations). Of course not everyone is satisfied with the results. A surprising number of quality NDP MPs, who had performed so ably as the Official Opposition, were cast aside in the wave of Liberal momentum. But credit must be given where it is due. There was clearly something in the Liberal message and in Justin Trudeau’s personal demeanour that convinced
many of us this was the kind of change we wanted. Fair to be Skeptical
So what can we expect from a Liberal government? There is some cause for cynicism. It is fair to be skeptical of Justin Trudeau’s relative lack of experience, and it is easy to see why some are put off when his rhetoric crosses the line from buoyant to saccharine. He proved himself a skilled campaigner, but might struggle to find his way with the rigors of
on reserves; investing in infrastructure, particularly public transit; tweaking the tax and benefits system to better serve low- and middle-income households; and beginning the process of reforming our electoral system. The latter will be especially interesting to watch, given that the overwhelming majority the Liberals now enjoy is due in large part to the way our current first-past-the-post system awards seats.
In terms of tangible actions, we should demand that the government immediately follow through on some key campaign promises. decision-making and statesmanship. At the same time, it is difficult to shake the notion that this is still the same old Liberal Party. Past experience tells us that, having run and won on a passably progressive platform, they will now veer rightward in an effort to satisfy their friends in the business world. Certainly, the revelation that campaign advisor Dan Gagnier was also giving tips to TransCanada Corp. on how to lobby the next government is a worrying sign that the pipeline between the boardroom table and the cabinet table will be as free-flowing as ever.
There are also longer-term discussions the Liberals have committed to, which we desperately need. Climate change, child care, and population aging are challenging national issues that require co-ordinated responses. Stephen Harper refused to provide this kind of leadership; the last time he met with the provincial premiers as a group was in 2009. The new government must strive to make the federation more cohesive and functional.
But we can also be hopeful. If nothing else, Trudeau seems genuinely determined to revitalize the idea that government can be an active, constructive force in national life. He will be joined by an impressive – and somewhat diverse – roster of MPs, who will give us much more thoughtful governance than we have received during the past decade. They will be aided by scientists and other experts in the public service, who will once again be empowered to contribute evidence-based advice to the policymaking process.
Perhaps the biggest question is how far the Liberals will go in restoring the integrity of our democratic institutions. While not all of his abuses of power were entirely novel, Stephen Harper’s consistent contempt for rules, transparency and collegiality was truly without precedent. Ultimately, it was probably these attitudes, more so than Conservative policies, which turned Canadians against him. For now we will take the new Prime Minister at his word that he intends to practice “positive politics” and will not find it expedient, once in power, to resort to trickery and bullying. After all, as Trudeau himself has acknowledged, we voted not just for a different government, but a better one.
In terms of tangible actions, we should demand that the government immediately follow through on some key campaign promises: engaging First Nations and addressing the deplorable living conditions
Adam Lemieux is the Comunications Specialist in the Communications Department at OECTA Provincial Office.
DECEMBER 2015 |
| DECEMBER 2015
PHOTO COURTESY OF OTIP
OECTA’S PROVINCIAL LTD PLAN What you should know about cancelling your long-term disability coverage By Adam Lemieux
Most members are in a highly vulnerable financial position when they are confronted with a loss of income during a lengthy or permanent disability. The OECTA provincial long-term disability (LTD) insurance plan provides a safety net that will replace a percentage of your salary and provide pension plan protection if you are unable to work because of an illness or injury. This being said, it is possible to terminate your LTD coverage, in which case you will no longer have premiums deducted from your pay. Three Scenarios
There are three scenarios in which you might be able to cancel your LTD insurance: 1) You are eligible for a 66 per cent unreduced service pension, or will be within the later of either: the next 100 working days, or the expiration of your sick leave credits. • To qualify for an unreduced pension you must have the “85 factor,” meaning your age and years of qualifying service add up to 85. • To qualify for a 66 per cent unreduced pension, you must meet the above criteria with 33 years of credited service. 2) You have reached the end of the month in which you turned 65, or you will reach the end of the month in which you will turn 65 within the later of either: the next 100 working days, or the expiration of your sick leave credits. 3) Your retirement date is within the next 100 working days, and you have notified both the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and your school board. What is OTIP? The Ontario Teachers Insurance Plan (OTIP) is a not-for-profit insurance advocate that is part of the education community. OTIP is governed, led and inspired by the four education affiliates and their local leaders. OTIP’s products and services include a full range of group and individual insurance from your group benefit plans and long term disability coverage to individual insurance products such as your home and auto coverage.
Eligible Until Retirement
You should know that you are not required to terminate your LTD coverage simply because you have notified your board of your intention to retire. You are still eligible for coverage up to the date of your retirement, and you the have the right to make a claim if you become disabled prior to this date. If approved, LTD benefits would be payable until: you recover, you become eligible for a 66 per cent unreduced service pension, or you reach the end of the month following your 65th birthday (as long as you were not receiving Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan benefits). You might have sound reasons for cancelling your LTD coverage and discontinuing your premium payments, but you should carefully consider your options. You likely do not want to be in a situation where you are unable to work and are not receiving sufficient income. Also note that coverage cannot be cancelled retroactively. If you wish to terminate your LTD coverage, you should complete an Application for Coverage Termination. Submit the completed application to your local OECTA unit office at least two months prior to the desired cancellation date to ensure the board stops deducting LTD premiums on time. Be sure to include the required supporting documentation. Your LTD benefits plan is sponsored by OECTA Provincial and administered by the Ontario Teachers Insurance Plan (OTIP). Please do not call your school board for assistance; direct any questions to your local OECTA unit office. Adam Lemieux is the Communications Specialist in the Communications Department at OECTA Provincial Office. n The information for this article was provided by the Ontario Teachers Insurance Plan. To learn more, visit www.otip.com.
DECEMBER 2015 |
TEACH ON, WARRIORS Teachers are the first responders, the front line, and the best hope we’ve got for a better world. By Glennon Doyle Melton
I had emailed Chase’s teacher one evening and said, “Chase keeps telling me that this stuff you’re sending home is math – but I’m not sure I believe him. Help, please.” She emailed right back and said, “No problem! I can tutor Chase after school anytime.” And I said, “No, not him. Help me.”
never really understood the “old way we taught long division.” It took me a solid hour to complete one problem, but l could tell Chase’s teacher liked me anyway. She used to work with NASA, so obviously we have a whole lot in common. A Sacred Trust
And that’s how I ended up standing at a chalkboard in an empty fifth grade classroom staring at rows of shapes that Chase’s teacher kept referring to as “numbers.”
Afterwards, we sat for a few minutes and talked about teaching children and what a sacred trust and responsibility it is. We agreed that subjects like math and reading are the least important things learned in a classroom. We talked about shaping little hearts to become contributors to a larger community, and we discussed our mutual dream that those communities might be made up of individuals who are kind and brave.
I stood a little shakily at the chalkboard while Chase’s teacher sat behind me, perched on her desk, using a soothing voice to try to help me understand the “new way we teach long division.” Luckily, I didn’t have to unlearn much because I
And then she told me this: Every Friday afternoon she asks her students to take out a piece of paper and write down the names of four children with whom they’d like to sit the following week. The children know these requests may or may not be
PHOTO: OECTA member Elizabeth Wild, teacher at St. Sebastian CES, Dufferin-Peel Elementary Unit.
few weeks ago, I went into Chase’s class for tutoring.
What a way to spend a life: looking for patterns of love and loneliness, and stepping in –every single day – to alter the trajectory of our world.
honored. She also asks the students to nominate one student whom they believe has been an exceptional classroom citizen that week. All ballots are privately submitted.
violence begins as inner loneliness. She watched that tragedy knowing that children who aren’t being noticed will eventually resort to being noticed by any means necessary.
And every single Friday afternoon, after the students go home, Chase’s teacher takes out those slips of paper, places them in front of her and studies them. She looks for patterns: Who is not getting requested by anyone else? Who doesn’t even know whom to request? Who never gets noticed enough to be nominated? Who had a lot of friends last week and none this week?
And so she decided to start fighting violence early and often, and with the world within her reach. What Chase’s teacher is doing when she sits in her empty classroom studying those lists written by shaky 11-year-old hands is saving lives. I am convinced of it.
You see, Chase’s teacher is not looking for a new seating chart or “exceptional citizens.” She is looking for lonely children. She is looking for children who are struggling to connect with other children. She is identifying the little ones who are falling through the cracks of the class’s social life. And she is pinning down, right away, who is being bullied and who is doing the bullying. Beneath the Surface
As a teacher, parent, and lover of all children, I think that this is the most brilliant Love Ninja strategy I have ever encountered. It’s like taking an X-ray of a classroom to see beneath the surface of things and into the hearts of students. It is like mining for gold – the gold being those little ones who need a little help. These are the children who need adults to step in and teach them how to make friends, how to ask others to play, how to join a group, or how to share their gifts with others. This strategy is a bully deterrent because every teacher knows that bullying usually happens outside eyeshot and that kids being bullied are often too intimidated to share. But as Chase’s teacher said, “The truth comes out on those safe, private, little sheets of paper.” As the teacher explained this simple, ingenious idea, I stared at her with my mouth hanging open. “How long have you been using this system?” I said. “Ever since Columbine,” she said. “Every single Friday afternoon since Columbine.”
And what this mathematician has learned while using this system is something she already knew: that everything – even love and belonging – has a pattern to it. She finds those patterns through those lists; she breaks the codes of disconnection. And then she gets lonely kids the help they need. It’s math to her. All is love – even math. Altering the World
Chase’s teacher retires this year after decades of saving lives. What a way to spend a life: looking for patterns of love and loneliness, and stepping in – every single day – to alter the trajectory of our world. Teach on, warriors. You are the first responders, the front line, the disconnection detectives, and the best and only hope we’ve got for a better world. What you do in those classrooms when no one is watching – it’s our best hope. Teachers, you’ve got a million parents behind you whispering together: “We don’t care about the standardized tests. We only care that you teach our children to be brave and kind. And we thank you. We thank you for saving lives.”
Glennon Doyle Melton is the New York Times Bestselling Author of Carry On, Warrior, The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life. She is founder of the award-winning blog Momastery (momastery.com) and of the non-profit Together Rising (togetherrising.org).
Good Lord. This brilliant woman watched Columbine knowing that “all violence begins with disconnection.” All outward DECEMBER 2015 |
THE SCHOOL BOARDS COLLECTIVE BARGAINING ACT Bill 122 lays out rules for what is bargained centrally and locally By David Church
On September 17, 2015, OECTA ratified a tentative agreement on central terms and conditions under the School Boards Collective Bargaining Act, 2014, which is also known as Bill 122. This legislation requires that every collective agreement between teachers and school boards contain two sets of terms: those negotiated centrally and those negotiated locally. The central agreement was negotiated at the “central table” between OECTA and the representatives of the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association and the Government of Ontario. The topics that were negotiated at this central table were agreed to by the parties, except for a few that required a ruling from the Ontario Labour Relations Board.
Michelle Despault E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Central items that were negotiated included areas that had a broad impact across the province, including salary, benefits, class size, hiring practices and professional autonomy. Anything that was bargained at the central table, whether there was agreement or not, cannot be bargained locally. Anything that was not in the scope of central bargaining would fall to local bargaining. Ratification of the central agreement satisfied the first part of the negotiations process under Bill 122. Once the central agreement was ratified, local OECTA bargaining units started the process of negotiating agreements with their respective school boards in the areas that were not in the scope of central bargaining. The process around teacher transfers between schools is an example of an issue that could be negotiated locally. Once a local bargaining unit and school board reach a tentative agreement that is ratified by the local membership, the collective agreement is in place and the terms and conditions will be implemented. On October 22, OECTA announced the first of its tentative local agreements with the 700 member-strong Algonquin-Lakeshore Unit and the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board. The second of OECTA’s local tentative agreements was reached on October 26 between the Peterborough, Victoria, Northumberland and Clarington (PVNC) Unit and the PVNC Catholic District School Board. At time of writing, PVNC members had voted to accept their local agreement. Other such local agreements are expected in the weeks and months ahead. David Church is the Deputy General Secretary at OECTA Provincial Office.
| DECEMBER 2015
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NOT ON THE SAME PAGE The importance of communicating clearly By Doug McCarthy
I was completely caught off guard when my eight-year-old daughter asked, "Daddy, where did I come from?" She seemed too young to be asking about the birds and the bees, and I assumed when the time came she would ask her mother. My anxiety was heightened by the prevailing wisdom that parents should be direct and honest with their children when they ask about sex. On the other hand, I was a teacher. Surely I should be able to handle this moment. As we both sat down on the couch, I started by asking her, “So, Stephanie, why do you want to know where you came from?” Her response was, “Well, my friend Kerstin says she comes from Windsor – and I was wondering where I came from.” Well, this was very good information for me to have! To this day I wonder what would have happened if I hadn't harvested this piece of intelligence with my simple question.
The Notion of Winning
A common barrier to a good diagnosis is when both parties focus more on the notion of winning (or at least not losing too badly). A successful practitioner tries to change the winlose paradigm to one of attempting to understand another's point of view more clearly. Asking open-ended questions and responding in a way that signals understanding is an effective way to collect diagnostic information. Signalling that we understand, does not necessarily mean that we agree. However, people who believe their point-of-view has been clearly diagnosed and understood by others, are often more open to logical solutions. The better the information provided, the better the diagnosis will be. And this results in logical solutions that are acceptable to all parties involved.
Not on the Same Page
In many situations we would not accept solutions offered to us if we did not feel there had been adequate diagnosis. Imagine our reaction if we complained to our mechanic of an unusual noise in the engine of our car and he responded, “Okay, I will get you a new motor.” We would understandably be upset that a major, expensive solution was offered without any thorough diagnosis. Yet, often times solutions to communication problems are adopted without a lot of thought.
Doug McCarthy is a retired OECTA member and principal, and currently a member of OECTA’s Speakers’ Bureau.
PHOTO: © Aniwhite / Shutterstock.com
Most of us have experienced or witnessed two people trying to communicate when they are 'not on the same page.' A question gets asked, an answer is given, and the questioner replies, “That is not what I meant!” In his book, The Conflict Resolution Toolbox, Gary Furlong says the common cause of communication problems and the unsuccessful attempts to resolve them stem from the lack of information required for an adequate diagnosis. Assumptions about problems and solutions are made without all of the essentials being revealed. Furlong says, “… the first critical skill the practiced professional must have is the ability to diagnose, to determine the root cause of a specific problem.”
VIOLENCE IN THE WORKPLACE What happens when a teacher is the victim? By Joe Pece • The parent or guardian should be
PHOTO: © Lightspring / Shutterstock.com
• The student should subsequently not
Over the past 15 years, there have been a number of legislative changes intended to address violence in Ontario schools. Unfortunately, these changes have not stopped incidences of violence. OECTA’s Counselling and Member Services Department still receives calls from teachers who are victims of violence. More often than not, the aggressor is a student. However, a teacher can also be victimized by a colleague, administrator or parent.
Where a potentially violent situation has been identified and cannot be eliminated, specific protective measures should be developed. This usually involves modifying existing practices or written procedures to conform to the board’s violence prevention policy as required under the OHSA.
Assault is an act of verbal aggression, or an act or threat of physical aggression, which produces damaging or hurtful results. By definition, acts of workplace violence fall under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and must be reported and investigated.
Steps to Take
All workers have the right to a safe and healthy workplace, and the responsibility for providing and maintaining this safe workplace belongs to the employer. All workers also have the right to know about hazards in their workplace and safe procedures. Employers must provide training programs to all workers to enable them to identify any hazard in their workplace and to help them perform their work in a safe manner. 18
| DECEMBER 2015
When acts of violence are perpetuated by a student, the Behaviour, Discipline and Safety section of the Education Act governs the discipline of students. If a teacher has suffered an assault in the workplace, the following steps should be taken: • The assailant is to be removed from the presence of the teacher immediately. • The teacher is to receive immediate medical attention where warranted. • The incident should be reported immediately to the administration and the police. If the police have not been notified, the teacher should do so. • The teacher should contact the local OECTA Unit President and the OECTA health and safety representative. • If the investigation establishes that an assault has taken place and that the assailant is a student in that school, the student should be immediately suspended from school.
be assigned to the teacher’s classes. In the event that the assaulted member is not a teacher of the student, the principal shall, in consultation with the member, develop a strategy to ensure the student and member are not in close proximity during the school day. • In the cases where the student is identified as special needs, there may be mitigating factors that limit the discipline imposed on the student. This does not limit the development of a strategy involving parents, teachers and administration, in order to address recurring incidents of violence by that particular student. • The teacher should document what took place before, during and after the assault, including the names of witnesses. The teacher should ensure that the appropriate safe schools and/ or violent incident reporting forms are filled out and provided to the principal. • The teacher should visit a doctor and report any injury. The doctor should complete Form 8 with the Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB). If the teacher requires time off from teaching duties it should be without loss of pay or sick days. The administration should file a Form 7 with WSIB to claim workers’ compensation. If the administration does not file a Form 7, the teacher has the right to file a Form 6 with the WSIB. Further information related to Safe Schools and Health and Safety can be found in the Members’ Centre on the OECTA website at www.oecta.on.ca.
Joe Pece is the Department Head for the Counselling and Member Services Department at OECTA Provincial Office.
A HUMAN RIGHTS LOW POINT The UBC v Kelly case is sure to have an effect on employees in programs where work experience is a prerequisite to certification. By Charlene Theodore
Carl Kelly, a medical school student at the University of British Columbia (UBC), was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and a non-verbal learning disability. He was in the residency program (a paid learning program offered by the university) and had a job waiting for him at his father’s medical clinic. UBC removed him from the program, ostensibly for reasons of unsuitability and, as a consequence, his residency employment contract was terminated. He also alleged he suffered negative consequences to his health as a result. The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal found that the university contravened both Section 8 (discrimination of accommodation, service and facility) and 13 (discrimination of employment) of the Human Rights Code. The Tribunal found that while the university had made some attempts at accommodation, it had not gone far enough to discharge its duty. Specifically, it was noted that the university decided against implementing several accommodation requests from Kelly’s treating physicians, without reasoned consideration. The Tribunal ordered UBC to cease the contravention and reinstate Kelly in the program.
the Tribunal’s highest damage award for injury to dignity was $35,000. Appealing the Decision
UBC appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of British Columbia. The Court found no fault with the finding of discrimination award and the award for lost wages. They did not, however, uphold the ruling on damages for loss of dignity. In their decision to set aside the $75,000 award, the Court noted that the award appeared to set a separate set of standards in assessing damage awards for high-income professionals. The Court did not consider the circumstances of the discrimination severe enough to warrant a large award. This case will no doubt have an effect on employees in programs where work experience is a prerequisite to a certification or professional designation such as teaching or law. It will be interesting to see the influence of this case on those professions and on the recent upward trend in the quantum of human rights damage awards.
Following his reinstatement, the parties returned to hear the determination on what further remedies, if any, Kelly was entitled for the discrimination. By this time, Kelly was back in the program and doing well with the assistance of the recommended accommodations. UBC argued, in part, that readmission into the program and implementation of the requested accommodation should be a sufficient remedy to address the discrimination.
Charlene Theodore is in-house Legal Counsel at OECTA Provincial Office.
PHOTO: © klublu / Shutterstock.com
The Tribunal thought otherwise. Kelly was awarded lost wages in the amount of $385,000. The Tribunal went on to consider the personal, social and employment ramifications to Kelly as a result of the actions of the university and awarded him an additional $75,000 in damages for loss of dignity. This is notable in an area of law that often sees damage awards as low as $1,500. Prior to this case, DECEMBER 2015 |
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EdTech: THE RIGHT WAY
How to successfully integrate educational technology into your classroom By Anthony Carabache
Are you thinking about moving forward with integrating technology in your classroom? Experience has shown there are three rules to successful integration of educational technology (EdTech): 1. Have a plan 2. Use non-invasive technology 3. Be OK with “trying again” The Plan
Having a plan is the most critical factor for success when attempting to integrate technology into everyday teaching. The plan can be broken down into three main parts: 1. Identify the overall expectations from the curriculum you
would like to explore.
2. Identify a non-invasive tech tool that will help facilitate
learning based on that expectation. 3. Build in time for trial, error and retrial within the activity.
When you begin with the big ideas featured at the beginning of each section of a curriculum document, you start with broad ideas that promote student inquiry. Non-Invasive Technology
The web has become saturated with a variety of tools and apps that help make learning fun, engaging, visible, measurable and interactive. On the surface this looks like a very good thing, but, as teachers, we must remember our responsibility to protect our students. Consider the following questions before selecting your next online tool: 1. Is the tool licensed by the Ministry of Education or by your
Understand that being patient with yourself is just as important as having patience for your students. Select a tool that is simple to implement and manage, and establish rules and expectations with your students. When you select a tool, set a realistic goal about its frequency of use. Once or twice a week is an ideal pace for someone beginning a tech integration journey. Here is an example of a sample lesson for Grade 9 mathematics that uses non-invasive tools: Curriculum Goal: MPM1D – Investigating Properties of Slope 1. Have the class view video 1 from Study.com (see link below)
and select five students to write notes using Todaysmeet.com. Assign another student to moderate the notes. 2. Watch the second video from Khan Academy via YouTube and ask five other students to write notes about points made that may not have been made in the original video. Assign another student as the moderator of those notes. 3. Have a class discussion about which video achieves its goal to introduce slope and why. 4. Create groupings of three students and challenge each group to create a tutorial about how to calculate slope (with paper, tech, etc). 5. Build in time for exploration and dialogue 6. Attempt to solve real-world problems based on the lessons learned. 7. Assess for learning and provide meaningful feedback. Non-Invasive Tech Tools:
2. Does the tool respect student privacy? 3. Does the tool collect invasive data such as age, location,
gender and school name?
4. Does the tool necessitate use of your personal device? 5. Does the tool necessitate parental permission? 6. Does the tool require you to keep pictures, videos or any
An excellent video repository for all subject areas.
An excellent video repository for all subject areas but requires vetting.
An introduction to ‘back-channeling’ and collaborative note-taking.
other data locally on a device?
7. Are data recoverable if lost? 8. Is there teacher support at your school or board for that
There are many applications that are powerful learning tools and are also non-invasive. The key here is to answer the question, “What do you want the tech to do?”
Anthony Carabache is a member of the Professional Development Department at OECTA Provincial Office.
DECEMBER 2015 |
THE TEACHING PROFESSION’S ALPHABET SOUP Navigating some of the confusing acronym jargon in education-speak By Claire Laughlin
Time and again I hear from beginning teachers about educational jargon. Many of us talk about education and a number of other related fields and partnerships simply by some commonly known short forms or initials. This article, suggested by the Beginning Teachers Committee, is intended to explain a number of terms and outline how OECTA represents you on a number of fronts. Let’s start with those linked to OECTA. OTF stands for the Ontario Teachers’ Federation, which represents all Ontario teachers in safeguarding pensions and public education. OECTA is one member group, joined by AEFO (representing teachers in French language school boards), ETFO (representing teachers in the elementary schools of public boards) and OSSTF (representing teachers in the secondary schools of public boards). OTF, and all the member affiliate groups, also belong to CTF (Canadian Teachers’ Federation), which represents all provincial and territorial teacher organizations, at the federal level. Teacher associations are also linked with the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) and the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) on issues such as affordable childcare and eradication of poverty. Ministry Terms
Now let’s examine some of the MOE (Ministry of Education) terms and references. If you are a Grade 3, 6, 9, or 10 teacher, you know EQAO (Education Quality and Accountability Office) champions Ontario’s testing agenda with the stated goal of “providing reliable and useful information that is used to improve student learning”. OECTA firmly believes that the ongoing assessment and evaluation that occurs in the
classroom more realistically represents how Ontario’s students are performing and can provide more relevant and reliable information about student learning including 21st century learning skills. However, the Ministry does have a number of other key initiatives, which will help you meet the needs of your students. FNMI refers to Ontario’s strategy for First Nations, Metis and Inuit students. The primary goals are to improve student achievement for aboriginal students and to close the performance gap between them and non-aboriginal students in the areas of literacy, numeracy, student retention, and more. Of importance to beginning teachers is the resource associated with Ontario’s FNMI strategy entitled Aboriginal Perspectives: A Guide to the Teachers Toolkit (available on the www.edu.gov.on.ca website). Approximately 70 per cent of Canada’s aboriginal population live in urban centres. It is important that all teachers look at ways of incorporating aboriginal perspectives into their programs. In addition to the FNMI strategy, Ontario has an Equity and Inclusivity (EI) Education Strategy (not to be confused with the other EI, Education International, which represents organizations of teachers across the globe). Inclusive Education is based on the principles of acceptance and inclusion for all students. Students see themselves reflected in their curriculum, their physical surroundings, and the broader environment, in which diversity is honoured and all individuals are respected. Differentiated Instruction
THE TEACHING PROFESSION’S ALPHABET SOUP
Differentiated instruction, or DI, is essential for beginning teachers in order to ensure all students learn in a diverse, inclusive environment. DI, which must also include differentiated assessment, refers to instruction and assessment that is responsive to the learning preferences, interests and readiness of the individual learner. DI moves instructional practice from program-based pedagogy to studentbased pedagogy; it tells teachers how to teach a range of learners by employing a variety of teaching approaches. Education for All, identified as a key resource in our last @OECTA edition, is an exemplary resource to help beginning teachers enhance their teaching. These acronyms are just the beginning; there are more than can be covered in just one article. Others, included in the diagram beside, will be clarified in future issues of @OECTA.
Claire Laughlin is a member of OECTA’s Professional Development Department. She is also assigned to the Beginning Teachers Committee and Conference.
| DECEMBER 2015
PEOPLE WORTH WATCHING
THE TRUTH NORTH For 22 years, Cathy Szczepaniak has worked tirelessly to raise funds for the Holy Childhood Association. Cathy Szczepaniak
By Christopher Lombardo
“Why would you want to do a profile on me?” asks Cathy Szczepaniak, a French teacher at St. Ann Catholic Secondary School in Sault Ste. Marie. “Unless you’re doing normal and boring.” When working with kids though, Szczepaniak, of OECTA’s Huron Superior Elementary Unit, amends her earlier statement, saying “It’s never boring!” Timmins-born and Sault Ste. Marieraised, Szczepaniak is a veteran of the Catholic system, who completed her post-secondary schooling at Carlton University and the University of Ottawa (B.Ed.) before returning to the Sault. As an undergraduate she studied French, Italian, Spanish and linguistics and got into the teaching profession largely “because she was a child who liked to play school.” She made the decision to teach while an undergrad thinking she “might have good knowledge to impart.” She undoubtedly has. And she has contributed a lot outside of the classroom as well. Pontifical Mission
A principal made Szczepaniak aware of the Holy Childhood Association, a pontifical mission founded in France
in 1843 by Bishop Charles de ForbinJanson, a missionary interested in rescuing abandoned infants in Asia. That year, he called upon French children to help save children in China by asking them to become Missionary Children. Today, the purpose of the Holy Childhood Association is to encourage all children to be aware of the needs of youngsters living in mission diocese throughout the world. The group, with offices in 120 countries all over the globe, has a motto: “children helping children.” Szczepaniak became quite involved in Holy Childhood and has been helping out for about 22 years. What appeals to her about the Association is that “all the money raised goes directly to the kids.” Every year, half a million dollars of student-raised money helps build schools, provide health care, medication, nutrition programs and teaching resources. And Szczepaniak is tops in the diocese when it comes to fundraising.
father: “You look always look behind you and always look at people who have less than you.” During Lent, the Association holds a campaign to raise funds for kids in troubled places such as South Sudan and Zambia. Szczepaniak stresses, “You want students to grow up having empathy for those around them – it’s such a global world.” The students raise funds by helping to sell raffle tickets for tablets and season tickets for the popular Soo Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League. In the 11 years she was with St. Ann (she recently retired from teaching), she and her students helped raise nearly $8,000. The kids are really keen on it and take a little mission box home and get family members to donate and participate. “Sometimes the simplest things are the best,” says Szczepaniak.
According to Szczepaniak, it’s initiatives like these that allow kids to “imagine how life could be” if they were born without the advantages of being Canadian. It’s a lesson she learned from her hard-working, Italian immigrant
Christopher Lombardo assisted in the Communications Department at OECTA Provincial Office.
DECEMBER 2015 |
PEOPLE WORTH WATCHING
2015-2016 UNIT PRESIDENTS Meet the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association’s new unit presidents.
Nick de Koning
Brant Haldimand Norfolk
| DECEMBER 2015
Simcoe Muskoka Elementary
Thunder Bay Elementary
Simcoe Muskoka Secondary
Thunder Bay Secondary
St. Clair Elementary
St. Clair Secondary
St. Michaelâ€™s CSTA
Unit President contact information: www.oecta.on.ca in the About Mark Berardine Wellington
Donald Garant Windsor-Essex Elementary
Heather Manassis York
section under Bargaining Units.
DECEMBER 2015 |
WANTED AGM Election Tellers Applications are being accepted by the Provincial Executive for five (5) Association members or retired members willing to carry out tasks related to the election process during the Annual General Meeting. DEADLINE
Friday, January 8, 2016 Selection will take place in mid-January
Starting at 5 pm on March 11, 2016 to March 14, 2016
Westin Harbour Castle, Toronto
APPLY ONLINE AT
To assist the elections chairperson in conducing all aspects of the elections, including distribution and/or collection of electronic voting devices, and other duties as assigned
Expenses will be assumed by the Provincial Office according to OECTA guidelines
www.oecta.on.ca PLEASE NOTE THAT YOU WILL RECEIVE A CONFIRMATION E-MAIL WITHIN 48 HOURS. SHOULD YOU NOT RECEIVE THIS CONFIRMATION, IT WILL MEAN YOUR APPLICATION FORM HAS NOT BEEN RECEIVED.
PEOPLE WORTH WATCHING
THE SNACK TEACHER Jennifer Daley-Stewart co-ordinates an innovative program at her school that provides healthy food to students. By Christopher Lombardo
“I am becoming known as the snack teacher,” says Jennifer Daley-Stewart with a laugh.
prepped – washed, chopped and sliced. “They have it down to a fine art,” says Daley-Stewart.
Daley-Stewart helps co-ordinate the nutrition program at her school, St. Anne Catholic Elementary (Windsor Unit), a project she jokes she was “volun-told” to help out with. But she’s really glad she did.
Ultimately, she says the kids have the final say, and they really appreciate being able to try out different fruits and vegetables.
The program has been a big success at the school, providing healthy, nutritious snacks three times a week to 450 students, and to those students most in need. And Daley-Stewart has a personal interest in getting kids to eat healthy. She has two kids at home with attention deficit issues and says nutrition plays a huge part. “We know that sugary snacks don’t help,” says Daley-Stewart. “It can hinder focus and cause an energy crash. It doesn’t provide good energy to sustain momentum through the morning.” Kids Missing Breakfast
Daley-Stewart says programs like these are also important because students are coming to school having missed breakfast, which really takes a toll. Backing for the program comes through the Ontario Student Nutrition Program, and workshops are held every fall to help coordinators like her understand Ministry guidelines regarding which snacks can be served. “It’s very detailed,” notes Daley-Stewart. “There has to be food group balance.” And the program has been a hit with both parents and students alike. Parents are relieved to know that servings of fresh fruit or vegetables are provided to their children.
Daley-Stewart says she had a little girl in Grade 2 who had never eaten broccoli: “As a kid who ate broccoli every day in the winter, I couldn’t believe it,” she says, noting that this little girl ended up loving the vegetable so much she was given a few heads to take home. Struggling Families
“It really hit home that a lot of our kids are accessing food banks on a regular basis,” says Daley-Stewart. “Their lives are limited to what comes out of a can.” She says that many families don’t have access to a car, so hunting down healthy groceries can be a bit of a challenge. “As a person of relative privilege, it’s a real eye opener,” she says. “You forget there are families struggling to provide the basics.” And for those who can’t quite make ends meet, there is an emergency food cupboard available. Daley-Stewart and her colleagues pick up things like cheese, yogurt and granola bars that fit the provincial guidelines. If any students are hungry and have missed breakfast, the teachers make sure they are fed. In recognition of her commitment to inspiring healthy food choices, President’s Choice, a Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games sponsor, presented Daley-Stewart with one of its torchbearer positions in the Games Torch Relay. She was one of 100 people honoured nationally, carrying the flame through the city of Windsor. “It was a real honour,” she says.
“We work closely with produce wholesalers, selecting things that are in-season locally, to cut costs,” says Daley-Stewart. Parents have been “extremely receptive,” and Daley-Stewart credits them for making the program run so smoothly. Parent volunteers help out each morning, as produce needs to be
Christopher Lombardo assisted in the Communications Department at OECTA Provincial Office.
DECEMBER 2015 |
OUR NATIONAL SHAME Lawyer Dennis Edney provides a shocking account of the torture of Omar Khadr – and Canada’s part in it. By Adam Lemieux
The basics of Khadr’s story are known to many of us. In 2002, the 15-year-old Canadian citizen, whose father was connected to al-Qaeda, was sent to live in a militant compound in Afghanistan. He became engaged in a firefight with American soldiers, during which U.S. Sergeant Christopher Speer was killed. Khadr, who was badly wounded in the shootout, was tortured and interrogated at a military hospital in Bagram, Afghanistan before confessing to murder. He was then transferred to the infamous Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, where he was eventually charged and pleaded guilty. After years of dithering and protest by successive governments, a federal court ordered that Khadr be allowed to serve his sentence in Canada. A few months ago, again over vehement objection from the Conservative government, he was granted bail while he appeals his case. Future of Democracy
Prior to Edney’s presentation, much of the audience likely agreed that the saga has raised troubling questions about the tendency for security concerns to trump liberty and human rights in the 21st century. But what they heard that afternoon was truly disturbing. Edney described a monumental struggle, which he says offers “a frightening lens into the future of democracy and the decline of the rule of law.” Edney recalled that when he first met Omar Khadr, the boy was like a “broken little bird.” He had suffered years of horrific and humiliating violence at
Omar Khadr stops to look out on the North Saskatchewan river during his first long walk and bike ride on May 9, 2015, two days after being freed after having spent nearly half of his life in custody.
the hands of American interrogators. Added to this was the sham process that he was prosecuted under, which the U.S. Supreme Court, the Alberta Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada have all said contravened domestic and international law. There is never any justification for violating human rights or undermining the rule of law, but in Khadr’s case the excuses have been especially weak. The young man had certainly fallen in with a dangerous crowd. It is debatable whether he had any choice. This is why there are explicit international protocols protecting child soldiers, which Canada has ratified and is supposed to enforce. Furthermore, there is considerable doubt as to whether Khadr even threw the grenade that killed Sgt. Speer. There
were no eyewitnesses and Khadr gave his confession under extreme duress. As for the guilty plea, Edney asked, “Who amongst us would not have taken that plea bargain to escape that hellhole?” Disregard For Moral Laws
Canada has been complicit in the abuse. As the story initially unfolded, Liberal ministers regularly stood up in the House of Commons to say they would trust the Americans’ assurances that Khadr was being treated in a humane way. Since taking power in 2006, the Conservatives were almost gleeful in their belligerence. Edney said they demonstrated “a shocking, reckless and ruthless disregard for those moral and legal laws that give effect to the idea of fairness.” They fought Khadr at every Continued on next page. DECEMBER 2015 |
PHOTO: © Michelle Shephard
In keeping with its mandate to foster peace and social justice, OECTA recently co-sponsored an event at the Empire Club in Toronto featuring Canadian human rights lawyer Dennis Edney, who is best known for having represented Omar Khadr since 2004.
Omar Khadr’s ordeal should forever stain our conscience. Edney called it “a collective failure to extend justice and humanity.” turn, branding him a terrorist and using him as a political wedge and fundraising tool. Omar Khadr’s ordeal should forever stain our conscience. Edney called it “a collective failure to extend justice and humanity.” However, as OECTA president Ann Hawkins said during her closing remarks at the Empire Club, the tragedy should cause us to reflect not only on the fragility of our civil liberties, but also on the enduring power of the human spirit. Dennis Edney at the Empire Club event
| DECEMBER 2015
Rather than succumbing to acrimony or vengeance, Khadr has set his sights on a more hopeful future. He has been taking
university courses and says he plans to become a doctor, to ensure that nobody has to suffer as he did in that hospital in Bagram. As a society, the very least we can do is apologize, compensate him appropriately, and support him in his rehabilitation. Let us be worthy of his forgiveness.
Adam Lemieux is the Communications Specialist in the Communications Department at OECTA Provincial Office.