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. Address letters to: The Editor, Professionally Speaking at or 121 Bloor Street East, Toronto, ON M4W 3M5.

Friends, colleagues and hearings

Responsible friends

I was pleased to read Can We Be Friends? by Stuart Foxman (June 2009). E-communication issues are among the most pressing and misunderstood for our profession.

The technology can be simultaneously a blessing – time saving, immediate and expeditious – and a curse – dangerous and permanent. As the program leader for guidance and career education, I have responsibility for counselling students (and sometimes staff) on appropriate use of social networking sites and the real ramifications of cyberbullying. I believe strongly that the Internet can be a valuable teaching tool and that social networking sites can provide opportunities for connection and a sense of community.

I have created a Facebook group for our incoming Grade 9 students this year. We introduced the idea at the school and community level prior to its launch so that any concerns could be addressed. I and another teacher moderate the group, and two members of our parent council are included. My own profile connected to the group is a professional one. To anyone looking at it, it would appear that I have no friends!

Our labour organizations and school boards outline boundaries and provide guidelines, but these are as varied as they are complex.

I applaud Professionally Speaking for addressing the topic in a positive manner. It speaks to progressive, dynamic thinking to discuss the benefits and pitfalls of these technological adventures.

Jodie Schnurr, OCT, is a program leader in guidance and career education at Burlington Central HS in the Halton DSB.

Links and boundaries

The article Can We Be Friends? (June 2009) made excellent supplementary reading for the Integration of Information and Computer Technology in Instruction Specialist course that I give at Brock University.

Young, inexperienced teachers are pushing the use of Web 2.0 features further and further. Thank you for taking a fair and unbiased look at this situation.

Having said that, I feel that the panels of the Discipline Committee and your editorial staff have crossed the acceptability line in the Hearings section of the same edition. You reached a new low with a case that included the name of a child pornography web site and even the particular page the member viewed. This is beyond repugnant.

George Thorpe, OCT, is a retired teacher who taught in St. Catharines for the Niagara DSB. He now teaches at Brock University’s faculty of education.

Transparent and accountable

A letter (June 2009) about the accounts of Hearings asked, “Why so many unnecessary sleazy details?”

In my view, one very important word sums it up: transparency. The standards of the teaching profession have not been around forever. It is essential that we draw attention to them and ensure their enforcement. And not just transparency; we need to be accountable for our choice of teaching methods or discipline and for the resulting consequences.

Hearings reports show us the other side of the teaching coin – realities that exist in our profession, actual situations that have a very real impact on the students and teachers concerned.

There is no embarrassment in admitting we are not perfect. The published cases give food for thought and so much the better. This may have a preventive effect, I hope they make us think and lead to discussion.

Linda Desaulniers, OCT, teaches Grade 2 at école St-Joseph in the Conseil scolaire catholique du Nouvel-Ontario in Sudbury.


I enjoyed reading about other Teacher Learning and Leadership (TLLP) projects (Learning and Leading, March 2009). TLLP is a gem of an opportunity for teachers, so it is great that you are helping to get the word out.

During my third year of teaching I received an assignment in the area of my trade skill, cosmetology. I noticed a marked difference in my teaching style – I was relying on stories from my days as a hairdresser to teach – and an increase in student attention when these stories were being told.

I began questioning other technical teachers and confirmed that indeed they too were using trade stories to teach. When I had looked for formal research on the topic, an academic literature review revealed nothing.

Under the TLLP, I was able to interview 11 technical teachers about how and why they used storytelling in their classrooms and collected at least one oft-used story from each participant. The majority of teachers confirmed great benefits for students, including building rapport and improved attention and recall, as well as benefits related to literacy and character development.

I hope that future teacher preparation and PD will help to enhance the storytelling skills of technical teachers for the benefit of our students.

For more information, e-mail

Kathleen Y. Sharman, OCT, teaches history and family studies at Century SS in Windsor.

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To be considered for publication, letters must provide the writer’s daytime phone number.


The Accreditation report headline on page 76 of the June 2009 edition should have read Addition to OISE/UT’s MT, rather than MEd.

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