Shine the Light
November is Women Abuse Prevention Month. Provincially, OSSTF is supporting this initiative by lighting their front entrance and foyer with purple floodlights. Niagara Falls will be lit purple on November 1st. On the 2nd, the CN Tower will be lit purple. Purple is the symbol of courage, survival and honour and I challenge you, the members of District 17, to wear purple throughout the month to symbolize your support of the fight to end violence against women. We will also be distributing pins to all members to wear from December 1-5 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre. December 6th is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. You will be receiving a poster for your worksite and are invited to set up a public display to remind others that violence against women must end. Thank you for sharing your purple!!
play nicely in the sandbox
I was looking at the websites of other districts and I came across this from D20, Halton. Hoping they don't mind me sharing it.
Something to consider.....
DUTIES OF MEMBERS TO OTHER MEMBERS
A member shall:
Seems so formal and picky but sometimes we are formal and picky. We need to respect the rights of others in the workplace and policies like this help us to achieve that.
Facebook, friend or foe???
Facebook is a wonderful way to keep in contact with family. It's great for planning a party or event. You may enjoy the endless barrage of videos from Mashable and Buzzfeed and Upworthy. Perhaps you have reconnected with friends from the past, like I did recently with someone I hadn't heard from since grade 2! Whatever the reason for using it, please use it (and all forms of social media) with caution. 'Your post could be used against you in a court of law'. Well, not really but it could be used against you by your employer. The general sentiment may be that no employer has time to monitor your account, or that you have your privacy settings set high enough to keep everything hidden. It's not always YOU that's the problem though. Maybe the settings of your friends tagging you in photos isn't as high. Or maybe your late night post is being seen by more people than you had anticipated. As for your employer, they are monitoring posts on social media, whether in a random fashion or in a more targeted manner. I think a good rule for all would be to not be posting during the time you are paid to be at work. I always give the advice that if you don't want it on a billboard or if it isn't something you'd tell you grandma then it shouldn't be posted on social media, anywhere, no matter what your settings. Once you hit 'post', there's no way to get it back.
Have you voted??
The municipal election is almost here. No matter where you live in Ontario, you have probably seen some indication of an election. The newspapers are running their bios and some are giving endorsements. There are ads on tv and radio. A lot of hard work goes into an election, and with good reason. Those who are successful will have a 4 year term, taking care of our most essential services. Winter is coming and I want to know the roads will get plowed. I like to turn on my tap and get clear, safe water to fill my coffee maker. One of the few places you can still borrow dvd movies is at a library, not to mention all of the amazing reading material found there. I appreciate the hard work that school board trustees do, contributing to our world class PUBLIC education system. Most of us have to make 3 choices in this election, a trustee, some type of councillor and a mayor or reeve. Some can vote for a deputy mayor. There is so much to research, so much rests on this decision. Ask questions, talk about it, call the candidates. Please don't pick the prettiest sign on that merit alone. Please don't vote for the first name on the ballot on that basis alone. Most of all, please don't forget to vote. Put it in your calendar. Set an alarm. Make it a social outing. Do your part and VOTE and be a part of your community.
October 27th, big election day. Can you get involved without putting your job on the line? Of course you can. Now you can't run for trustee as a board employee but there's so much more you can do. No, you can't openly endorse candidates in your classroom but you can talk about election dates and polling locations in municipalities. Class discussions about elections in general are appropriate. Schools may even host all candidate debates. Staff are cautioned though that any endorsement of a candidate outside of their class should be seen as an individual action and not as a representative of the board. You are also allowed to friend candidates on social media accounts and share that information. While political signs are not permitted on board property, staff members are in no way restricted from displaying these signs on their own property. They are cautioned though to not use any board logos or letterhead if they are campaigning for a particular candidate.
A municipal election is a great time to get involved in your community. It's great to see more than one candidate running and it takes a lot to run a successful campaign. Make sure you vote, but if you can, try and do just a little bit more as well.
Off and awayi
Are you a teacher? Do cell phones drive you crazy? Are they an important tool in your class? Well the teachers in OSSTF District 17 wanted to know so they passed a motion at the AGM in May that compelled the executive to poll the members with the following question:
Do you believe that the negative impact of cell phones on safety, privacy and learning outweigh the positive impact relating to student engagement and digital apps?
The electronic survey ran for almost a month and the results are in. There were 146 responses from our over 1100 members and the answer was YES. 116 people agreed with the statement while 30 replied NO. There were also some interesting comments.
On the NO side we heard comments such as:
‘mobile devices are the future of learning’
‘Use it as a tool in your classroom, and set clear parameters for use...then it won't be abused. We need to be current with the times and integrate our new technologies! How else will we prepare our students for this digital world??’
‘I'm finding my students in high school are learning better when and how to use their smart phones in class. I find them to be less of a distraction then they use to be a few years back.’
‘This survey is biased because it contains a loaded question.’
On the YES side we heard:
‘Kids are addicted to their cell phones and no longer listen to lessons.’
‘Cell phones are a huge distraction’
‘students get too distracted on their phones and are unable to monitor themselves’
‘Yes, cell phones do not encourage focused learning and detract from productivity in the classroom’
‘but I think we need to teach them, with parental support, when it's ok to use them, since they are a part of the modern world.’
‘can not get them off social sites’
‘Generally yes, however, it depends on the student. The students who truly use their device as a tool manage it well. Those who do not manage it well are much more challenging to get on board with educational apps or reasonable personal management. They don't want to be in class, and the cell takes them farther out of it.’
‘It seems that with the introduction of iPads in our board the digital apps will be available. Unfortunately sometimes it is only the phones that are functional.’
‘I allow students to use phones for research but only a few do. The majority are distracted by them and I do worry about privacy and safety issues given the attitudes of the kids and the boards and administrators towards phones in class.’
‘I tried using the cell phones with the students for research at the beginning of the semester when the Windows 8.1 upgrade was interrupting network service at the beginning of the semester. Upon review with the students, their opinion was that the screens are too small to view information. Although when given a choice between computers on very slow network versus small screen on their cell phones, most will choose "faster"! They just need to ensure the network is working and tuned!’
‘It is an infringement on safety and privacy of individuals in class, and no need as in the working "real" world, cellphone use not permitted on a lot of jobs. If it was solely independent learning without an instructor, maybe it would be a different scenario.’
‘most play games and are disengaged in learning’
'90% don't use them for academic reasons.’
‘I have a strong belief that cell phone use in class is more harmful than good.’
So what’s the answer? Teachers want to teach, not constantly police the classroom and cell phones to ensure students are able to focus. Is there a happy medium? Can we teach students how to use their phones, basically mini laptops, and still get their work done? By the same token, can we teach the adults in our lives to focus on dinner or a conversation or an outing without constant cell phone distractions? Maybe the best place to start is to model appropriate behaviour. Or maybe we need a policy against having cell phones in the class. Maybe we need to continue to teach our students how to balance life and work. There comes a time when (most) individuals finally come to the realization that putting off work doesn’t make it go away, you still have to do it. Choosing to use class time to surf social media sites doesn’t make you assignments complete themselves.
The only thing I know for sure on this topic is that there is no easy answer to cell phones and the classroom.
The view from my desk, as Teacher Bargaining Unit President for D17 Simcoe