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 and registration number. Address letters to: The Editor, Professionally Speaking at firstname.lastname@example.org or 101 Bloor St. W., Toronto, ON M5S 0A1.
I was quite surprised at the choice of image on the magazine’s last cover: all boys, excessively white (“Growing Education,” March 2014). Inside, there’s a picture of diversity in the program — smaller and tucked away from the main focus.
For an organization that prides itself on diversity and inclusion and that trumpets inclusive education and eliminating barriers to success, you’ve managed to perpetuate white male privilege on your front cover — reinforced on the article pages themselves. I am truly disappointed and saddened.
—Sarah Margles is a policy and program adviser in the Diversity Office with Ontario Public Service in Toronto.
In my family there is a tradition of farming. Within that tradition there are women who have been breaking barriers in what was believed to be a man’s world. It appears the College supports the belief that women cannot be farmers. Why else would they plaster the cover with young males who are involved in a horticulture program and not include a single young woman in the picture?
—Justin Kritikos, OCT, teaches history and geography at Leamington District SS in the Greater Essex County DSB.
While I agree that all students should go through the Specialist High Skills Major program — little more than the co-op education program I taught before retiring 12 years ago — the worst case is not, “that you learn something that can actually get you a job.” This is an obvious benefit.
Less obvious is the benefit of learning that your chosen career is wrong for you. Sometimes, this discovery is critical to identifying what is right for you. Students are ultimately better off for not being stuck in unsatisfying professional fields — they can still change their career paths before getting lost.
—Salvatore Amenta is a retired teacher, who is now living in Stouffville.
In “Transition to Teaching” (March 2014) I could hear the interviewed teachers’ frustration and discouragement in their searches for teaching jobs. I would like to offer some encouragement.
Think of your transferable skills and consider that many companies have training departments. Also, your local museum, library or community centre might need your skills. Visiting such places and volunteering could lead to employment or further contacts. Meet with others in job clubs or with employment counsellors for support and job leads.
As TV’s Red Green used to say, “We’re all in this together!” The search can be gruelling, but don’t give up!
—Marilyn Heuchan, OCT, has worked for the Grey County Board of Education in the past and has been a team leader and trainer, and occasional teacher.
I would like to send a huge thank you to writer Kevin Philipupillai for his recent article about “Ontario’s Last Segregated School” (March 2014). The article demonstrates a great deal of research and is certainly very instructive for readers.
—Serge Dignard, OCT, is a retired teacher who lives in North Bay.
I have written to the College for many years in an attempt to discover the reasoning behind charging occasional teachers the same fee as full-time contract teachers. My income from teaching last year was just over $3,000. Please consider setting fees for occasional teachers that reflect their earnings.
—Sue Watson, OCT, is an occasional teacher with the Lakehead DSB.
I was thrilled to finally see some light shed on people who use their OCT credential in alternative teaching careers, in “Unearthing Opportunities” (March 2014). I choose to teach at the Royal Botanical Gardens in their outdoor education department and love every minute I spend in my outdoor classroom. You highlighted individuals who have found satisfaction using their talents in ways that people often forget.
—Nicole England, OCT, is an outdoor educator at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington.
Correction: In “Brainstorm” (December 2013), we incorrectly noted that University of Western Ontario’s faculty of education course on mental health literacy for prospective teachers was the only one in the province. The faculty of education at OISE/UT has also run a mental health elective course for the past four years, and it recently became a compulsory course within the two-year B.Ed. program. We regret the error.
In a true profession, what matters is expertise and ability. Over a professional career, a person will continuously develop their skills, become more differentiated and thus more valuable.
In a unionized workplace, however, all workers are assumed to be equal except for seniority. Differentiating oneself is discouraged. As entry to the teaching profession is now determined by interviews that pay no attention to one’s distinctive personal and professional characteristics, it would appear that increasingly we too are simply undifferentiated workers, no more and no less, and therefore unfit to be considered professionals.
—Bryce McBride, OCT, will be teaching international baccalaureate economics and mathematics at Raha International School in Abu Dhabi in 2014–15.
The article “Brainstorm” (December 2013) fell short in achieving its promise of offering “fresh thinking” on supporting students with mental health issues in the classroom. How can teachers support a child unable to control his or her anger, experiencing a panic attack, or the myriad of other behavioural manifestations of psychological issues? How do we balance these demands when trying to respond to the many other diverse learning and behavioural needs of the students in our classrooms?
As teachers, we do the best that we can. But, many of us still feel overwhelmed, frustrated and desperate. Those feelings are only going to increase until more support is provided to the front line. Something more can be done and needs to be done.
—Kim Gordon, OCT, is a Grade 1 teacher with the Upper Grand DSB.
Donald Naylor, OCT, a principal with the Thames Valley DSB, is the lucky winner of a $150 Cineplex gift package. Naylor was chosen at random, after participating in our online poll about homework (see March 2014: “Hit the Books,” p.15)
Christine St-Martin, OCT, a substitute teacher in Orléans, has won tickets to a live taping of CTV’s The Social — plus two gift bags worth $100 each — for sending us a tweet about who she would like us to feature in our Final Exam section (see March 2014: “Final Exam,” p. 64).
In “Brainstorm” (December 2013), we incorrectly noted that University of Western Ontario’s faculty of education course on mental health literacy for prospective teachers was the only one in the province. The faculty of education at OISE/UT has also run a mental health elective course for the past four years, and it recently became a compulsory course within the two-year B.Ed. program. We regret the error.