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From The Chair

Elevate Your “Why”

Run for College Council: Share, encourage and inspire – because you already do.

By Liz Papadopoulos, OCT
Photo: Matthew Plexman; Kids: iStock

Photo of College Chair Liz Papadopoulos.

Why do you choose to teach? I suspect many of you have the same reasons I do: to share your love of learning, encourage young people to think critically, and inspire students to think big and dream bigger. To be honest, my list of reasons is much longer than that. But the overarching reason I became a teacher is because I care deeply about the future of the next generation.

This is also why I ran for Council. More importantly, this is why I encourage you to run for Council.

Why serve on Council

Serving on Council gives you the opportunity to influence both the next generation of students and Ontario’s current and future teachers. Like teaching, it will also be one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of your life.

Working alongside other passionate and dedicated professionals, you will help shape Ontario’s education policies to serve the public interest. You will also work closely with regional and global education thought leaders.

Simply put: You will grow professionally, strengthen the education system and help keep students safe. Oh, and you get to meet really interesting people.

Why it’s the best of both worlds

The best part about being on Council is that you shape education policy and implement it at the same time. That’s right — being a Council member doesn’t mean you give up your classroom. Many Council members can — and do — teach full time.

Teachers in Ontario are unique. Did you know the Ontario College of Teachers is Canada’s only self-regulating body for teachers in Canada? This means we, as a profession, determine what it takes to teach, the high standards we want to meet and what being a teacher actually means in Ontario.

Each of us has ideas on what being a teacher means. Being a Council member enables you to bring those ideas to life on a much larger scale.

Why I will miss Council

I have held the position of Chair since 2009. I can’t run again because legislation does not permit any Council member to hold a position for more than seven consecutive years. While I will miss working alongside so many dedicated people, it is time for me to move over and make room for new ideas and new leadership.

Why you should run for Council

This is a watershed moment for Ontario’s educators. Council just set its strategic priorities that will need to be monitored and reviewed over the next few years. Governance and oversight of our regulatory body is critical to its proper functioning.

Run for council because you are needed to share, encourage and inspire our education system. Because Ontario’s teachers need you to continue shaping the future of the education system. And most importantly, because your students need you to help them grow even stronger.

PS: If you ran for Council in 2012 and didn’t succeed, I encourage you to try again. After all, we teachers are a resilient bunch.

When Your Student’s Family Portrait Has More Than Two Parents

A photo of four young students.

The holidays we recognize are examples of the values and trends society feels are important. Traditional days like Valentine’s Day and Thanksgiving celebrate love, friendship and appreciation while offbeat ones like International Tongue Twister Day and World Zombie Day celebrate poetry and remind us about the importance of emergency preparedness.

The creation of National Stepfamily Day (September 16) several years ago highlights how family units have changed — and how important it is to celebrate this.

Canada’s last national census — the first time stepfamilies were formally recognized — reported nearly 13 per cent of families with children are stepfamilies.

As teachers, we are constantly trying to provide the best learning environment possible for students. Working with parents is vital to this process. I would argue that working closely with step-parents — and non-traditional guardians such as foster parents and grandparents — is also critical. Every one of these adults has an important role to play in a student’s education and we, as teachers, need to engage and involve them to ensure student success.

In terms of our daily practice, this could mean any number of things, including juggling parent-teacher meetings, sending multiple volunteer notices or adjusting the way we reach out to families. It all comes down to recognizing the family dynamic.

At times, this can get a bit tricky, but I speak from personal experience — both as a teacher and as a stepmother — when I say only good things will be achieved when we, as teachers, take into account a student’s entire family portrait.

After all, the most important person in the portrait is the student.

Liz Papadopoulos's handwritten signature.