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. Address letters to: The Editor, Professionally Speaking at ps@oct.ca or 101 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON M5S 0A1.
Success, opportunity and sympathy

Advisory thanks

I just wanted to express my sincere appreciation for the Professional Advisory on the Use of Electronic Communication and Social Media. It is definitely needed, as staff and students regularly use e-mail, web sites and Facebook to communicate, and many newer teachers don’t hesitate to post comments and photos on the Internet that they would never dream of bringing into the classroom to share.

My mantra is: “If you wouldn’t want your mother, your boss or your students to see it, don’t post it.” It is important that our College and federations make a concerted effort to educate members about their responsibilities in the digital world.

Thanks for a wonderful resource.

Kimiko Shibata, OCT, is an ESL/ELD itinerant resource teacher for the Waterloo Region DSB and secretary, ETFO, Waterloo Region.

Educator opportunities

Thank you for such an inspirational magazine that allows me to stay current on the innovation and leadership from Ontario teachers. I would, however, like to read more about College members’ great work in the informal education sector.

Many opportunities for career-related experience await new graduates. Government agencies, businesses and non-profit organizations can and do benefit from the skills, experience and professionalism of College members.

I became a proud member of the Ontario College of Teachers when I graduated from the Laurentian University Concurrent School of Education in 2009. Through university, I discovered that I loved teaching.

After graduation, I pursued a career in the informal education field. I further developed my skills by enrolling in Science Communication (a joint program of Laurentian and Science North in Sudbury).

I have worked as an education program developer intern with Wild at Heart, a local wildlife centre, where I developed education programs, delivered school presentations and worked with local teachers and students. Since then, I joined the Wild at Heart board of directors as education chair and worked at Science North in Sudbury as a species-at-risk intern, developing fun curriculum-related lessons and activity tool kits that will be used by teachers across northern Ontario. I also worked at the Canadian Ecology Centre in Mattawa and was able to deliver outdoor and environmental education programs to students of all ages from across the province.

There are thousands more opportunities out there for new graduates. I encourage those who want to teach – and those who wish to encourage them – to consider the non-formal education sector. The opportunities are endless and so are the rewards.

Sarah Wendorf, OCT, is a recent graduate who lives and works in the Sudbury area.

Blue ribbon, blue collar

As I read the March edition, I was both thrilled to be able to integrate a few articles into solutions and frustrated as the level of integration reinforced a status conflict – an ism supported by education!?

Of the US blue-ribbon report (PS News, page 17), I thought the link between mentorship in medicine and education an important one. As a veteran plumbing contractor and mentor, who was formally recognized as an educator in 2010, I think this sort of apprenticeship is key to well-being and lifelong learning.

In the same issue, Marco Magazzeni (Exemplary OCT) – embodies a journeyman’s balance of cognitive, affective and tangible intelligence. His active-service teaching style reflects the positive academic challenges that the apprenticed trades/crafts offer in combatting an obesity epidemic, the expected rise in depression mortality (World Health Report 2006) and the disengagement of active intellects, often those of boys.

These wonderful examples of blue-ribbon and blue-collar mentorship stand in stark contrast to photographs in the Camp or School feature. While that program does highlight learning as a human practice (addressing student/teacher ratios), look at the students’ eyes and the body language. These students are not unlike many I met during my recent practicum experiences, who affirmed my need to teach regardless of the possible five-year transition (Transition to Teaching). All of this leads me to a few simple questions:

Considering that a majority of Ontario students do not achieve the current definition of higher learning success (Statistics Canada 2006), don’t you think Mr. Magazzeni would make a good/challenging/accredited math (or other general studies) teacher?

Wouldn’t such teachers with blue ribbon/collar apprenticeship education be an asset to many general studies programs? Is there a (proverbial) glass wall at the end of the tech wing?

Is it a lack of integrative thinking, mindfulness, political will, shyness, fear? Why is higher-learning status bestowed on the lecture hall but not mentorship?

Jeff Ruigrok, OCT, is a qualified technological education teacher living in Cambridge.

The view from here

I sincerely sympathize with newer teachers and know many enthusiastic and capable young people who are bravely persevering despite years of frustration. Yet I was saddened to see two of the four letters to the editor (June 2011) blame retired teachers who work as occasional teachers for these problems.

When I retired at age 56 after less than 20 years of teaching, a major consideration was my concern about the current situation for newer teachers. My retirement meant that a full-time contract opened up. Isn’t it better that a newer teacher has my full-time permanent position while I supply teach a few days a year?

I supply teach occasionally. I have no intention of applying for an LTO. I am on a retired teachers’ supply list, which means each job is offered to occasional teachers on the main list before the teachers on the retired list.

Valerie Bell, OCT, is a retired occasional teacher in Huronia.

My ample pension

While I am in great sympathy with any teacher trying to get a permanent position or sufficient occasional work, I do take umbrage at being blamed for the problem (Elephant in the Room, Letters, June 2011) by collecting my “ample” pension while continuing to supply teach.

For many of us, pensions are substantially less than some often assume.

In my own case, I never earned the high salaries that most teachers enjoy today. It wasn’t until the last two years of my career that I enjoyed slightly higher pay levels.

I retired without reaching my full pension because of my husband’s health, and my pension is far from ample. Do I regret retiring? No. But supply teaching has allowed me to supplement a pension, and knowing that I would be allowed to teach, when able, was a part of my decision to take early retirement.

Although the news of a declining job market on the education front has been plain for a long time, many will continue to choose this path. Please don’t now demand that I be shoved aside, and do remember not all of our pensions are ample.

Brenda Wessely, OCT, is a retired teacher who teaches occasionally in the Durham Catholic DSB.