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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 and registration number. Address letters to: The Editor, Professionally Speaking at or 101 Bloor St. W., Toronto, ON M5S 0A1.

Inclusivity a Combined Effort

Photo of the cover from "Professionally Speaking" December 2016.

I was overjoyed to see the December cover story, Promoting Inclusivity, which had a strong emphasis on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) inclusion. Featuring a Catholic school board and Villanova Catholic High School’s gay-straight alliance is a huge boost to what Catholic schools, as well as other publicly funded boards, have been able to achieve since the inception of the Safe Schools Act.

While reading this article I was expecting an acknowledgement of the work our teacher unions have done for students across Ontario, its own members and for the College. For example, it was a partnership between Egale Canada and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) that has provided professional development to hundreds of teachers, administrators, students, parents and the College itself about how to create safer and accepting environments for LGBTQ students in Catholic schools. Through Egale, this outreach to Catholic schools continues.

As the Ontario teaching profession continues to make schools fully accepting of and safer for LGBTQ students and colleagues, it is important to note the many organizational threads that contribute in a robust way to this positive and proud work.

Kevin Welbes, OCT, is a retired teacher and former special project co-ordinator, Equity and Inclusion, for OECTA at Egale Canada Human Rights Trust.

More Diversity Training Needed

All teachers need more training to support diversity and inclusion in schools. In “Creating Inclusive Schools,” Jennifer Lewington does a wonderful job of informing the readers of what our universities are doing to train future teachers to meet the needs of our diverse student population. But more must be done to educate current teachers. We need our provincial government, school boards and unions to work together to provide them with professional development that will meet the needs of Aboriginal students, LGBTQ students and those identified as having learning challenges. We have the scheduled professional development (PD) days — now we need money and effort to put in effective training to meet these students’ needs. The public will see this as PD days well-used. What makes the Ontario education system great is that it strives to educate and care for all students.

Alan Wayne McFarlane, OCT, teaches LLS classes at Cobourg Collegiate Institute, Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board, in Cobourg.

Paying Tribute

Photo of the "Class Act" article from "Professionally Speaking" December 2016.

I was delighted to read Dan Levy’s comments about his former teacher, Anne Carrier, OCT, in “Class Act,” in the December issue. Years ago, I worked with Anne in the English department at Northern Secondary School in Toronto. She also taught my three children.

Dan Levy’s words echo those of so many of the students who passed through Anne’s welcoming door. She was the most professional teacher I have ever met — in her research, delivery, care, attention, insight, and interest in her students and colleagues. Anne, as a teacher knowing what teachers need to know, contributed to the development of both the College’s standards and AQ guidelines. On behalf of all of the lives Anne transformed, I wish to thank her for making school a wonderful place to foster deep relationships and learn about life from literature.

Patricia Goldblatt, is a retired teacher in Toronto and a former program officer at the Ontario College of Teachers.

Mind Your Geography

Photo of the "Taking Tech to the Next Level" article from "Professionally Speaking" December 2016.

I was excited to read “Taking Tech to the Next Level” in the December issue, however, I was disappointed by the scope of the article. The notion that this article showcases work from “across Ontario” is misleading. Ironically, the challenges of interviewing teachers from north of Sudbury, or even Thunder Bay, which may have once existed, have been removed by the very technology the article speaks of. A testament to this fact is that a secondary teacher in this province may be teaching students from Red Lake, Sudbury and Manitowaning in a digital classroom on any given day using innovative practices and tools. Perhaps it is our remote location that brings forth a desire for both educators and students to think innovatively. In order to teach in a manner that is both pedagogically sound and engaging, educators need to recognize that cutting-edge education is not about the existence or use of technology, but rather the ways that we are meeting student needs with and through the technology — preparing them for 21st-century thinking. Professionally Speaking would do a great service to its members to report on the vast amount of innovation occurring in the least likely of places to showcase not only the accessibility of these practices, but also the necessity of them.

Taryn Vachon, OCT, is an Intermediate/Senior English teacher and language arts area leader at Red Lake District High School, Keewatin Patricia District School Board, in Red Lake, Ont.

Editor’s response: We couldn’t agree more! Please check out this edition’s Tech Class, which profiles how a teacher in Waskaganish First Nation is using social media and other technologies to connect with students and parents in this remote northern community.

#just one word

What a surprise to see my name in the Chair’s column in the December issue. The kind words from Angela De Palma, OCT, were humbling and much appreciated. It is so heartwarming to hear that something you did during your teaching career benefited a student in such a positive way. I had 35 wonderful years of teaching, and if the truth be known, I learned much more than I ever taught. I’d like to thank Angela and the many other students for the opportunity to be part of their lives.

Harold Nobes is a retired teacher who formerly taught Grades 4 to 8 at St. Jerome Catholic Elementary School and Grades 9 to 12 physical education at St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School, Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, in Hamilton.