Letters to the Editor

Professionally Speaking welcomes letters and articles on topics of interest to teachers. We reserve the right to edit letters for length and to conform to our publication style. To be considered for publication, letters must provide the writer’s daytime phone number. Address letters to: The Editor, Professionally Speaking at ps@oct.ca or 121 Bloor Street East, Toronto, ON M4W 3M5.
Inclusion, global view, standards and careers

Being inclusive

Further to Building Inclusive Schools (June 2010), we can never do enough to ensure that all of our students, ethnic minorities, immigrants, the poor, etc feel safe and welcome in our education communities.

Having taught in some low-income schools in downtown Toronto, I understand the need to implement inclusive programming for all our students. My only concern with the article is that it focused exclusively on the LGBTQ community and did not mention other segments of our population that need similar support. Please don’t misuse the term “inclusion” so that it actually becomes an exclusive one.

Shawn Goldman, OCT, teaches kindergarten at Oriole Park PS in the Toronto DSB.

Education in the developing world

I was delighted to see your story about the condition of schools in Haiti (September 2010). It is important that Ontario teachers focus not only on problems affecting our system but also on problems affecting education in the developing world. We are so lucky here in Ontario, and we have so much to share.

Last spring, I attended a fundraiser for a group of teachers planning to go to Kenya that summer to develop mutually mentoring relationships with teachers there. The group, Teachers Helping Teachers Canada, had been formed a year earlier by five elementary teachers who had escorted students on a Free the Children initiative and wished to return to work with their colleagues.

The education needs of the developing world are enormous. Queen Rania of Jordan speaks passionately about the thousands of schools that need to be repaired, the dearth of textbooks and the world’s need for 10 million extra teachers.

Teaching is fundamentally the act of sharing, and as a College rich in physical and intellectual resources, we can do much to empower others. Ultimately, the future happiness of our students will depend on the stability and happiness of our ever-shrinking global community.

Karen Eckert, OCT, teaches Grade 9–11 French at Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts in Willowdale.

194-day removal and job market

I would like to applaud the recent decision of the College to remove the 194-day stipulation. Contrary to the belief of many Ontario-educated teachers, this decision will not result in an influx of previously “interim” teachers into the job market.

I am now staying away from the public schools – well, I am not as desperate as before to get my 194 days documented and because of that running amok, applying to all possible school boards within 100 km, before my interim certificate expires.

As a foreign-trained teacher who graduated magna cum laude and studied English in Great Britain, I had to satisfy language requirements higher than those for law and medical schools in Ontario. Then, in three years, to get where I am now (a private school), I had to complete three AQs, all paid for with a line of credit, and volunteer for a year at an Ontario public school.

If my certificate had expired without my having 194 days, I could not have collected documents again from the country I came from because of the bureaucracy and corruption reigning there. My only way out would be to apply to an Ontario faculty of education and start all over.

Now that I have my “full” certificate, I am happy, for now, teaching adults at a private learning centre. I still apply to boards now and then, but I am not desperate anymore. I hope that my example persuades Ontario graduates not to worry about competition.

Teachers trained outside Ontario have been through a lot to get their certificate, so all is fair, if you ask me.

Olga Abramova, OCT, teaches ESL, FSL and accounting at Grade Learning in Toronto.

Modelling admonishment

I can’t tell you how disheartened I was to read the letter by John Douglass Hume (June 2010) – in which he states that he was disheartened to read of a teacher being admonished for giving a small quantity of cannabis to a colleague – and then to learn that he teaches nine- and ten-year-old children.

In a democracy, we all have the right to choose behaviours and actions we believe to be acceptable.

However, our society determines through its elected officials in governments or in organizations like the College which behaviours and actions are reasonable and which are not. The courts determine which behaviours and actions are lawful and which are not. Purchasing, possessing and trafficking illegal substances are still criminal offences. Sometimes, given the circumstances, these offences may not be seen by society as the worst offences possible and may therefore be tolerated to a greater degree.

Remember, the teacher Mr. Hume defends did not lose his job and was not suspended, but he was admonished. Why? Probably because the elected members of his professional organization determined that his behaviour was not worthy of the standards they expect their members to model.

I am saddened that Mr. Hume does not understand or accept the responsibility he has as an educator of young people. The expectation is not to be perfect citizens but rather to work with parents for the benefit of our students.

As educators, we have a higher responsibility than most. Parents and students should be able to count on us for this higher order of behaviours and actions. If we are not prepared to accept this level of responsibility, perhaps the teaching profession is not the right career path.

Bill Boyer, OCT, is Head of School at Neuchâtel Junior College in Switzerland.

Combining careers

I read your article Careers Beyond the Classroom (September 2010) with great interest. I have worked as a part-time teacher and part-time journalist for the past six years. I plan to pursue both careers until I retire and can’t see myself doing one without the other. The jobs complement each other very well, and I have learned invaluable lessons from my experiences writing for both a local newspaper and my school board as well as teaching Core French and integrated literacy. I would encourage anyone to explore their talents in other areas while they teach, instead of waiting until retirement when it may be too late.

Stephanie Dancey, OCT, teaches junior and intermediate Core French and primary integrated literacy with the Peterborough, Victoria, Northumberland and Clarington Catholic DSB.