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September 1999

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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:

Re-certification Limiting
I am currently an inactive teacher living outside Ontario, so I read with interest in the June issue of Premier Harris’ proposal for re-certification of teachers.

I went to the college of education because of my love of teaching, but then felt the call to ordained ministry to be much stronger. I was fortunate to work as an occasional teacher while awaiting my first church. When I received my first church in Saskatchewan I made a conscious effort to join the College and keep up my membership.

Teaching has always been an option if I ever received a call to a small parish that could not afford me full time as a pastor. It is even an option for our church high schools. I am concerned that those of us who would like to keep the teaching option open will no longer have that option with mandatory re-certification. I also realize that upgrading would be very helpful if I were to return to teaching.

Michael Diegel
Rev. Michael Diegel is pastor of Archerwill Lutheran Parish, Archerwill, Saskatchewan.

Two Suggestions
The reviews section does not indicate the target grade or student age for the materials listed. In the review of How To Grade For Learning in the June issue, it was unclear if the material and strategies involved are suitable for primary, junior, intermediate or senior students. The same uncertainty would apply to the review of Keys to Literacy for Pupils at Risk. Why not have a recommended divisions coding for each review item as is usually done by publishers and all AV catalogues?

I would like to see regular articles describing teaching situations in other parts of Canada and the world. The article on teaching in Singapore was eye-opening!

Hymie Guttman
Hymie Guttman is a media and English teacher at Sutton District High School in York Region.


Change Rule if Supply Short
If Ontario is so short of qualified supply teachers, will pressure be applied to our pension board to change this archaic rule about only teaching 20 days?

Heather Houston
Heather Houston is retired and teaching at rural schools in Leeds-Grenville.

Little Known about Occasional Teachers
Suggesting that an occasional teacher has a "decreased amount of responsibility" ("With Teachers in Short Supply" – June) is certainly a narrow view of the role we play in the day-to-day functioning of the classroom. Being given the responsibility for a classroom of children you might never have seen before, and the job of absorbing instantly all of the nuances of the role of the teacher you are replacing, is indeed different than being a classroom teacher, yet in some ways more challenging. The one glaring reality that echoes continually throughout this article is how little is known or understood about the "grassroots" occasional teacher who is a fees-paying member of the College of Teachers and more recently a member of OTF.

Michael MacDonald
Michael MacDonald lives in Scarborough and has been an occasional teacher for 27 years.

Thanks for Listing Conferences
The March issue alerted me to the 6th International Conference on Teacher Research that was held in Magog, Quebec. What a wonderful opportunity to discover teachers speaking about their teaching practice and sharing their stories.

Close to 90 presenters made it difficult to select only five presentations a day. It was a great opportunity for anyone in education to feel rejuvenated and validated as a teacher after meeting, listening and talking to researchers who walk the talk of what it means to be a teacher.

One surprise, was that from a board of over 4,000 teachers, I alone represented my board. I was lucky to have seen it in Professionally Speaking. Please, continue to bring these events to our attention.

Ann Marie Slak
Ann Marie Slak teaches Grade 7/8 at Blessed Trinity School in Mississauga.

Quality Slipping
Your magazine has been generally excellent, but the editorial quality seems to be slipping in the June issue.

Malkin Dare’s article on phonics is a wonderful, unpaid ad for "Jolly Phonics" and "Open Court" as it is based on short-term studies in Scotland and Texas that are still much debated. To present this without a counter-opinion or editorial note is questionable.

Conversely, Kelly Smith’s article on the Supreme Court judgement is excellent. And Frank McIntyre’s statistical work is so good and so readable it should be in general circulation.

So use care, please. You’ve done well so far in a very difficult, highly-charged environment. Don’t slacken.

Paul Kropp
Paul Kropp of Toronto is an author and former high school teacher.

Ethical Standards Clarify Mission
I have been a teacher for 32 years. I have always worked at this profession with pride and conviction. I am very proud of the direction this profession is taking through the College.

The ethical standards clarify for all of us what the mission of teaching is about today. I could not be happier about addressing the relationship with students, integrity and values upon which we base everything that we do! I have always believed that being a professional has not only been about doing the right things right but loving those whom we serve – every child entrusted to our care.

Bernie Farwell
Bernie Farwell is principal of Our Lady of Fatima School in Cambridge.