covereng.jpg (10339 bytes)
chair.jpg (11036 bytes) Professionally Speaking welcomes letters and articles on topics of interest to teachers. We reserve the right to edit letters for length. To be considered for publication, all letters must be signed and provide the writer's daytime phone number. Letters should be addressed to: The Editor, Professionally Speaking, 121 Bloor Street East, 6th Floor, Toronto ON M4W 3M5; e-mail: ps@oct.ca


Lost Sites

In the March NetWatch column, Quentin D'Souza offers some advice on how to find Canadian content on the Internet. While most of his suggestions are useful, I am afraid the task of finding Canadian sites is not quite as simple as he implies.

Search engines like canada.com use automatic software that looks only at the location of the server on which the information is posted, not the content, to determine whether a site is Canadian. Foreign information posted on a Canadian server will thus be designated Canadian and Canadian content posted on a server outside Canada will not.

A case in point is the web site of the Great Lakes Sea Kayaking Association, which I maintain. Our association is based in Canada and our content is 100 per cent Canadian. However, we are a small non-profit group with few resources and our web site is hosted by geocities in the U.S., which offers free web pages.

You will find us using most major search engines, but they will not indicate that ours is a Canadian site. I doubt that our situation is unique.

If you depend only on Canadian search engines or maple leaf logos to identify Canadian sites on the Internet, you will miss valuable Canadian content sites. I am afraid there is no simple way to find Canadian content web-sites. You must check the content itself, not trust the search engines.

Sandy Richardson
Sandy Richardson teaches Mathematics at Monarch Park Collegiate in Toronto.


Give Us the Tools

Some teachers are good test takers and may not necessarily be good teachers. Testing them will certainly not solve this problem. What we need to do is to create a positive environment with professional development days offered to both elementary and secondary schools that will allow teachers to take courses during the day. We have only four days open for professional development and yet the government is insisting on testing teachers. They are not giving us the tools with which to develop ourselves professionally. Teachers continue to learn but on their own time after school.

Jeremy Cox
Jeremy Cox is a Grade 5 teacher at Our Lady of Mercy School in Mississauga.


Retiring Teachers

I notice how many pages of recent issues have been dedicated to the looming teacher shortage. I would like to ask what the College of Teachers is doing to encourage retiring teachers to stay on.

For myself, if we were not treated with disdain by the province, if the working climate were more conducive, and if innovative work schedules were to be aggressively investigated, I would be glad to stay on. I would happily teach passionately and energetically for a semester - even at the elementary level should this be an option - perhaps job-sharing with another colleague.

Phil Penney
Phil Penney teaches Music at Elkhorn Elementary School in Toronto.


Don't Forget Specialists

While you are trying to find acceptable evaluation formulas that would apply to all teachers in the profession, I hope you will take into account the specialists who are still working in numerous schools.

I have yet to hear or read about this. Whether it is in Phys. Ed. or the Arts, the resource centre or computers, for some of us to write some test that verifies our knowledge of the curriculum in Franšais or Mathematics would be unfair.

I have spent the last 13 years teaching the Arts (Music, Dance, Drama and Visual Arts), and if somebody wants to check my knowledge in the field of artistic education to ensure that I know how to convey it to students, no problem.

But don't ask me to write a math test when I've never taught that subject. If I ever have to go back to teaching general subjects, then I'll need to go back to school to get the proper training. Even though there are fewer and fewer specialists in our elementary schools, we should not be completely forgotten.

Louise Potvin-LalibertÚ
Louise Potvin-LalibertÚ teaches Integrated Arts at Úcole Paul VI in Hawkesbury.