Thirteen stories from Ontario teachers
How do we consider the needs of all our students when one of them is particularly difficult to handle?
What do we do when we are sharing a class with another teacher whose approach to classroom management is fundamentally different than ours?
How do we respond to parental concerns about a child with special needs?
These are a few of the questions addressed in Cases for Teacher Development: Preparing for the Classroom, developed by the Ontario College of Teachers and published by Sage. A French edition – Des vertes et des pas mûres: Guide de réflexion sur les imprévus de la vie enseignante – is published by le Centre franco-ontarien de ressources pédagogiques.
Cases for Teacher Development includes stories by 13 Ontario teachers who have struggled with real dilemmas. Whether related to their own anxieties, their students' learning disabilities or their relationships with parents, the cases describe situations that most teachers will face at some point in their careers. The honesty of their reflections will prove invaluable in preparing students at faculties of education as well as in guiding the work of more experienced teachers.
“These are situations faced by educators inside and outside the classroom,” says Jennifer Pitt, Chair of the Standards of Practice and Education Committee.
The teachers who wrote their stories chose to remain anonymous. But in voicing experiences that mirror those of other teachers, they will inspire colleagues to reflect on their own practice.
Comments by experts follow each case. These are designed to prompt readers to reflect critically on what they have read. By imagining different strategies – before such problems appear in their own classrooms – teachers will be better equipped for the challenges that arise.
The book's editors, College staff Déirdre Smith and Patricia F. Goldblatt of the Standards of Practice and Education Unit, brought together these stories.
“The casebook came out of work with members who were increasing their knowledge of the standards of practice and the ethical standards,” says Déirdre Smith, who is Manager of the Standards of Practice and Education Unit. “Novice teachers, experienced teachers, principals and supervisory officers wrote stories to assist others in reflecting on the standards from a variety of perspectives.”
A teacher's guide supporting use of the casebook will be posted on the College web site this fall. This additional resource, the first of its kind in Canadian education, will facilitate deeper reflection on the cases by relating them to the standards of practice and ethical standards for the teaching profession.
Cases for Teacher Development: Preparing for the Classroom, Sage Publications, $38.95 from Login Brothers Canada, tel 1-800-665-1148.
A student picks a fight on the school grounds with another student and causes enough damage that his victim ends up in the emergency ward. The parent of the victim calls the police, who launch an investigation.
In these circumstances both the principal and the police are obliged to respond, but each are acting under different legislation with different approaches to punishment and rehabilitation for youthful offenders.
The Ontario Principals' Council has produced a paper, Intersection of the Safe Schools Act and the YCJA, which examines the options – in some cases very limited options – for schools and police authorities. Authors Sarah Colman and Allyston Otten, counsel for the OPC, argue convincingly that changes to the Safe Schools Act are needed.
The paper points out that the principal must act according to the provincial Safe Schools Act (SSA), which critics maintain is focused on punishment and provides the principal with little flexibility. The SSA delivers a zero-tolerance approach that may ultimately not be in the interests of the students involved, the school or the community.
The police, however, are governed by the federal Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) – also a relatively new piece of legislation – that takes a completely different approach. Under the provisions of the YCJA, the police and crown counsel must consider approaches other than criminal charges. The emphasis here is to encourage a meaningful response that is proportionate to the offence and to provide the offender with a way of making amends and being reintegrated into the community.
The two pieces of legislation also differ markedly in terms of their treatment of victims. The principal is not allowed to give out any information about the offender or the school's response, but under the YCJA, the victim may be able to influence punishment or at least have access to information about the offender. This puts the principal on the defensive with the victim and his family and may exacerbate tensions created by the incident in the school.
The paper makes a very good case for legislative change and will interest most educators. The full article is available in the Education and Law Journal, Vol 14, Part III.
Dentist C.G. Brodie-Brockwell's research on dental triggers for migraines suggests signs in children who may be suffering. For a list of children's symptoms, visit www.migraineexpert.com
College meets regularly with representatives of Ontario's education community – education faculties, employers, members and the public – to exchange information on a wide range of topics.
Recent consultation topics have included services and information available to employers, the Teacher Qualifications Review, accreditation updates, the appointment of French-Language Services Co-ordinator, online registration for graduates of Ontario Faculties, new College publications and web services, the Teach in Ontario program, the Ontario Teachers Qualifying Test and the transfer of Letters of Permission from the Ministry of Education to the College.
Visitors: UK, Jordan, Netherlands
Delegations visit the College to share and gather information on a range of education issues, including accreditation, qualifications and standards of practice.
Biography of the Year
Ontario students Michelle Cannon and Leah Mooney took first place in A&E's 5th Canadian Biography of the Year Essay Contest, winning $2,500 each.
Mooney, a Grade 12 student at Colonel By Secondary in Ottawa, profiled Captain Americo Rodrigues. Michelle Cannon, in Grade 8 at Herb Campbell Public School in Inglewood, wrote about Rob Ellis.
Grand prizes ($5,000) went to Matthew Yates of Mantague, PEI and Weston Wedan of Delta, BC, for their essays on the cow that unsettled Canada's agriculture industry and Canucks' Todd Bertuzzi respectively.
The Canada-wide contest challenges students to write a 250-word essay on who or what they think made the biggest impact on Canadian society in the past year.
Students' teachers and English departments were awarded $1,000 cash plus a television, DVD player and classic A&E DVDs for use in the classroom. Ontario's winning teachers were Rob Mitchell at Herb Campbell and Angela Evans at Colonel By.
For contest information or past winning essays, visit www.aetv.com/class/canadianclass/essay_contest.html.
Success for aboriginal learners
A national round table composed of representatives of governments, school boards and native organizations has recommended a series of actions to improve success rates for aboriginal students.
“After decades of inaction, jurisdictional disputes and unacceptable failure rates, a joint strategic plan to promote educational progress for native children is an important breakthrough,” says Helen Raham, executive director of the Society for the Advancement of Excellence in Education.
Among the strategies recommended are better monitoring of student performances, improved training, support and working conditions for teachers in aboriginal settings and the creation of centres of excellence in aboriginal education. These centres would conduct research, develop culturally relevant teaching and language materials and communicate best practices.
To view the full report, visit www.saee.ca/movingforward.
Canadian Atlas online!
The first fully bilingual interactive web-based atlas of Canada was launched on April 5 by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and Canadian Geographic magazine.
The Canadian Atlas Online targets the education sector and its students with free access to amazing maps and colourful presentations of Canada's unique geography, rich culture and diverse people. The curriculum-based lesson plans enable teachers to incorporate the benefits of the atlas into their school curriculums.
The site's interactive features encourage exploration of geographical details that would be lost or imperceptible in standard maps. Zoom and pan tools, along with the ability to add/remove overlays and interact with themed modules featuring video and animated graphics (on topics ranging from weather to flora and fauna), help inject fun into learning.
To access the online atlas, go to www.canadiangeographic.ca/atlas.
New French-language course
For the first time, Laurentian University in Sudbury is offering an Introduction to Economics in French. Teachers and others who would like to learn more about basic economic principles and systems such as microeconomics, macroeconomics, economic policy, international trade and globalization are welcome.
For information, please contact Laurentian University's Department of Economics at 705-675-1151, ext 4269 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two documentaries have been added to the PBS series Launching Young Readers – covering the latest research and featuring celebrity hosts and children's authors:
Empowering Parents, hosted by Al Roker, focuses on how parents can catch reading problems early and supply the right support.
Empowering Parents and Becoming Bilingual air on public television stations in the fall.View online at www.readingrockets.org/tv/2005.php or purchase (US$19.95 each) at 1-800-228-4630.
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