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Saskatchewan Bulletin, December 2011

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Page 2 of the STF Saskatchewan Bulletin contains an article about my recent receipt of the Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence, Certificate of Excellence.

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Saskatchewan Bulletin, December 2011

  1. 1. Volume 78 • Number 4 • December 14, 2011 Sanders Bobiash honoured – Page 2 • SSBA General Assembly – Page 3 • Project Overseas – Page 5McDowell Foundation set to embark on new future As plans are well underway Herron was in total agree- colleagues see the tangible community, to create some Karpa concurred that theto forge a different path going ment regarding the vital benefits to be realized at the momentum and we’ve current status quo isn’t suffi-forward for the Dr. Stirling importance of the McDowell classroom level by sharing. achieved a lot. We have to cient, adding that she is opti-McDowell Foundation for Foundation dating back to its She noted that in her view make sure there is a much mistic that with the requiredResearch Into Teaching, the formative years. the biggest step is for teach- higher profile for the McDow- time and energy from the new20th anniversary celebration “From a professional per- ers to not just think of them- ell Foundation in the future,” board, the Foundation canalso presented a timely spective (teaching) there can selves as teachers, but as Herron added. enjoy a future rejuvenation. Ireminder to contemplate the be nothing more important researchers. Happy HolidaysFoundation’s origins. than for us to examine our “This is important to pub- During its 20 years the own practices and to put them licly funded education over-Foundation has awarded into effective use in promoting all, not just as professionalmore than $1 million in the cause of education in the development for the teacherresearch funds to more than classroom. The McDowell but for the uniqueness of200 projects, but in recent Foundation has had a huge in- education in Saskatchewanyears there has been some fluence on me personally, and and the way it can meetconcern expressed about the I feel so proud when I think unique needs of students.”continuing challenge of back to its establishment. Herron said if there hasfundraising while also pon- “It comes back to the vision been a loss of momentum indering how to heighten its of education, and it’s what recent years, it’s due, in partgeneral profile among both moves our profession forward at least, to the loss of influ-the overall teaching profes- and what has come to influ- ence of the teaching profes-sion and the general public. ence teaching and learning in sion in terms of the education Saskatchewan Teachers’ the classroom.” decision-making process atFederation Executive Assis- Lauding its holistic the provincial level.tant Tish Karpa has been approach to professional He stressed the need to getintegrally involved in making development, Karpa said the back to basics and analyzesure the relevance of the action research projects car- the considerable benefits thatFoundation is not diminished ried out by teachers during come from what he said haswhile at the same time look- the Foundation’s history is always been an exemplarying to developing capacity to an inherent part of reflective vision based on good teachinggrow with what is seen to be practice. She added that the and learning practices.a diverse new board of direc- projects teachers have taken “There always has to be ators that will spearhead what on are particularly relevant place for initiatives like this,Karpa calls “a new frontier.” because they have been and it’s as relevant as ever, This, she explained, came teacher led and there needs maybe moreso. It’s aboutabout in large part as a re- to be more rather than less. teachers wanting to be bettersult of an extensive organiza- “It is so unique in Canada, teachers for their studentstion review of the Foundation and it elevates the status of by engaging in practicalcarried out in 2009. the teaching profession, and research into teaching and Fred Herron, who was it is so important, especially learning, and who can beGeneral Secretary of the STF now in this era.” better equipped than teach- Grade 2 students from St. Volodymyr School in Saskatoon,when the Foundation was While conceding that its ers themselves to do that. accompanied by their teacher Randeen Durette andlaunched, remains a staunch existence is not widely known “It wasn’t ever easy to get parents, were on hand at the Saskatchewan Teachers’supporter, but he candidly among all teachers, Karpa this going and it didn’t just Federation building in Saskatoon to enjoy the annual deco-acknowledges there needs to suggested that the most happen but there were rating of the Christmas tree. Lending his hand to thebe some “bold action” taken effective way of spreading the enough people who believed proceedings was STF President Steven Allen.going forward. “There needs to word is invariably when in it, in the learningbe some real passion and thereneeds to be some resources tosupport the researchers.” McDowell research involvement has profound effect According to Karpa the em- As a group of past and pre- research project, “moved you invigorating. There’s an in- me the confidence to explorephasis on increased fundrais- sent research participants in beyond wonder and empow- jection of pride when you and understand complex is-ing activity is required “to the Dr. Stirling McDowell ered me to find the answers. work on something that is sues. The experience reinvent-take us to the next level. We Foundation for Research Into The McDowell Foundation bigger than yourself.” ed me when I really needed itcan’t leave it alone for the Teaching gathered, the mem- believes in teachers and Sheena Koops recalled how as a teacher and it gave me asake of the teaching profes- ories invariably came flood- that’s what professional com- she too was profoundly affect- pattern I’ve often returned to.”sion and the education of chil- ing back at the roundtable munities should be. You get ed by the passion and energy, Baergen said “it has cer-dren, which I think is pretty discussion during the Learn- out of it, what you put into it. which she said “was conta- tainly raised my own expec-noble,” she said, in speculat- ing From Practice conference. I found other teachers who gious and it was what attract- tations and it raised the baring on whether corporations, “It’s like reliving the whole were starving to talk to other ed me at first, and it had a when you step back and dofor example, will be enticed experience with the others in professionals and you built major impact on my teaching some analysis. I know for ourto support the planned the room,” Marg Epp noted, that strong connection.” career as lifelong learning.” staff it had a ripple effect onfundraising campaign. adding that “this is just Heather Baergen said, for Michelle Prytula, who won everyone in terms of adopting another example on how you her the involvement in such a the McDowell Foundation a more inquiry-based ap- find yourself reflecting on project “reminded me how Award the previous year and proach which can be a pretty teaching and learning, and much I just love to learn. The is now an assistant professor difficult shift. PMA # 40064493 your own in particular.” McDowell Foundation inject- at the University of Sask- “The whole idea of being Terry Johanson, who said ed that feeling back for me atchewan, said “it is not only part of a team was invigorat- that being involved in such a and it was inspiring and the best professional develop- ing and I learned so much ment I ever had, but it’s real and I remember there just and applicable professional being this sense of no doors development. It’s something being closed.” you can use right away to Epp said that as much as help find solutions so it cer- she found the process ener- tainly benefitted me greatly. gizing, there was a reflective I’ve more than 100 per cent moment when she wondered bought into the McDowell if this was “real” research. Foundation for sure.” She concluded that yes it was There was a unanimous real because of the ability to sense of empowerment that readily apply the findings in came from being part of a the classroom. group of fellow researchers. Johanson said that even As Norine Tourangeau said, if sometimes she might not “being involved in a McDowell always have had a high level project really caused me to re- of comfort in the research, “it flect on the collaboration I ex- didn’t stop me from wanting perienced with colleagues and to know more and when you Maxine Stinka (left) of the Superannuated Teachers of it was very much a learning see things through that Saskatchewan provincial executive accepts the McDowell process for me, and it was professional community lens, Foundation Award from Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation General somewhat of an eye opener.” there’s nothing you can’t Secretary Gwen Dueck. Koops, said “McDowell gave learn or do.” I
  2. 2. Page 2 • Saskatchewan Bulletin • December 14, 2011Sanders Bobiash keeps passion for technology in perspective REGINA–Fittingly perhaps next level was honoured with Yet it’s never been a casefor one whose duties include a Prime Minister’s Award for of wanting to be the first onthat of teacher-librarian at Teaching Excellence earlier the block, but rather the realWilfrid Walker School, this year. catalyst has been how tothere’s an undeniable logic in By her own admission she integrate it into the class-how Joanna Sanders Bobiash had little more than a pass- room and thereby engage thegoes about things. ing interest in computers and students in a more meaning- Yet that’s only a glimpse technology not that long ago, ful way.into the approach of this but once her curiosity was If that means being all in,impassioned educator, whose piqued by a colleague she that sums up Bobiash.seemingly never-ending approached it with character- According to Bobiash, deal-quest to take things to the istic zeal. ing with students from Grades 6 to 8 (her specialties are French immersion, sci- Resource ence and social studies) means that it’s never been a Connections matter of teaching technology since it’s second nature to them. Rather it’s been a mat- ter of working collaboratively to enhance the overall educa- Education for democratic citizenship tional experience. Part Two Bobiash said that by Joan Elliott, Librarian/Manager integrating technology into Stewart Resources Centre the classes “it’s given the “Democracy is a precious, powerful and precarious ex- students an opportunity to Joanna Sanders Bobiash is equally comfortable with the latest periment in government of, by and for the people. But really shine” by making the technological advances as well as still retaining a love for traditional democracy is not something we have, it is something we learning that much more library materials. Her innovative approach was recognized with a do from the inside out using the power of an open, gener- personalized in scope. Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence. ous, informed and determined heart to work creatively “It’s not even like they all need to be working on the contemplating how it can the technology world, “I to deal with the tensions of the public realm.” These are same device; there are so benefit students who she still very much value the the words of Parker Palmer, a renowned educator, many different ways and you says “all have different traditional methods.” activist and author, in a recent webcast entitled Doing have to be more flexible as learning styles and individ- However, as much as she Democracy from the Inside Out. a teacher. ual strengths.” still counts reading an old- Speaking from an American perspective, Palmer “I’ve found it makes you The experience in Seattle fashioned book to be among contends that the infrastructure necessary for a strong examine more in-depth about also intrigued her sense of her chief passions, she’s also democracy is neglected and in disrepair. He describes how students learn, and as exploration by delving into appreciative of the fact that five “habits of the heart” that citizens can cultivate to the teacher you want to be the concept of “flip teaching,” now if travelling there isn’t reclaim their democracy including: understanding that sure students are making whereby the teacher-student the same need to bring along we are all in this together, appreciating the value of oth- good choices. We spend a lot rule has basically been trans- an extra suitcase for often ers, having the ability to hold political tensions in life- of time reflecting on the posed with students watching bulky books since there’s giving ways, having a sense of personal voice and agency learning and as a result a teacher-prepared video in the much more lightweight and having the capacity to create community. The one- I find the students under- advance of the actual class. Kindle for example. hour webcast can be accessed at the Center for Courage stand the material better and One of the areas where this “Now, no matter where you and Renewal website at couragerenewal/democracy-webcast/. retain it because, when we’re collaborative culture has are, you can download books. Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to able to discuss issues togeth- brought some of the most Honestly I could never have Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit, Palmer’s er, they relate to the material tangible results is in the Her- believed this just a few years most recent book, is a deeply reflective work about the better. itage Fair projects in which ago but it’s a fabulous oppor- meaning of democracy and politics. The author uses the “Before students could only Bobiash and her students tunity,” she rejoiced. image of public “brokenheartedness” to describe civic express themselves in writ- explore Canadian heritage, Reflecting on the recogni- society and explains how the habits of the heart can be ten form, but now there are having garnered numerous tion of the Prime Minister’s used to overcome cynicism and replace it with creativity so many different ways.” awards along the way for Award and having the chance and courage. The students quite natural- their efforts. to rub shoulders with not only Two Canadian books on democracy and education are ly follow their teacher’s insa- There was also, fittingly Prime Minister Stephen well worth reading. The Erosion of Democracy in Educa- tiable curiosity and so enough, a video project about Harper but also a host of tion: From Critique to Possibilities, edited by John P. whether it’s by blogging, envisioning the future and inspirational teaching col- Portelli and R. Patrick Solomon, is a collection of articles skypeing or web questing this impact of technology, which leagues from across the coun- on democratic education, standardization, marketization becomes an ideal way to wound up winning a Best Buy try, Bobiash said, “I couldn’t and the struggle for social justice in teacher education. create the sense of digital award that resulted in believe I was really there; Alternative visions of education and examples of citizenry that Bobiash is so $20,000 worth of iPod Touches, it was such a fabulous oppor- programming for children living in poverty are also intent on bringing to the notebook computers and tunity, and I think what really described. forefront. recording equipment for the struck me was how everyone Teaching About Hegemony: Race, Class and Democra- “These young people are school. While the Winter had such a passion for learn- cy in the 21st Century, by Paul Orlowski, a professor going to be taking over the Olympics were on in Vancou- ing and engaging kids.” at the University of Saskatchewan, outlines various world one day and so it’s ver the class became involved As a result of her various political ideologies, describes the impact of neoliberalism important to encourage them in an Adopt-an-Athlete pro- travels, and presenting at nu- on the public education system, and outlines critical to be better citizens and act gram that raised another merous conferences, Bobiash pedagogical approaches teachers can use to raise in a caring and compassion- $2,000 for a former student. has managed to develop and political consciousness in students, thereby strengthen- ate way,” she reasoned. Surrounded by shelves of maintain a strong network of ing democracy. Bobiash, who travelled to books in the resource room, teachers via blogging or infor- Facing Accountability in Education: Democracy and Seattle’s Google Teacher Bobiash deliberately under- mal discussions on Twitter. Equity at Risk , a collection edited by Christine Academy this summer, never scores the fact that, while According to Bobiash, it E. Sleeter, explores aspects of the current accountability goes to any of these sorts of intrigued by the ever evolv- wasn’t so much the recognition movement such as what is driving it, who wins or who events without invariably ing possibilities that exist in of the Prime Minister’s Award loses because of it, performance standards and school that she will always treasure, reform, as well as the pressures it places on classroom teachers. Learner-centred teaching and learning Prime Minister’s Awards but rather the 20-page docu- ment contributed by a parent practices that enhance student achievement, equity and democracy are also presented as a counterbalance to the nomination deadline of one of her students. “I wish all of my colleagues accountability agenda. The Prime Minister’s For most of us, at least could have a similar docu- A volume that focuses on educating for democratic Awards for Teaching Excel- one teacher stands out in ment written about their citizenship in a multicultural society is Teaching lence program is Canada’s our memories–someone who work and it’s something I will Democracy: Unity and Diversity in Public Life by way of recognizing our best encouraged, enabled and always treasure,” she said, Walter C. Parker. Misconceptions around both unity and teachers, promote what they inspired us to do our very acknowledging that it’s a diversity are explained and numerous strategies that have achieved and share b e s t . Teachers play a memorable keepsake she has teachers can use with their students to foster racial their innovative and success- tremendous role, not only in at home. equity and cultural pluralism are presented. Delibera- ful teaching practices. the academic achievement of Some might see her expo- tive talk, seminars, and discussions are some of the These awards honour students, but in the attitudes sure on the national stage, approaches he states are effective in teaching toward outstanding and innovative and abilities they carry with and particularly in the poten- enlightened political engagement and in promoting a them beyond the classroom. tially lucrative world of the elementary and secondary just society. Nominate an outstanding web, as an ideal platform to school teachers in all disci- A Reason to Teach: Creating Classrooms of Dignity educator from your community. reap financial rewards in the plines who instill in their private sector. and Hope by James A. Beane is a practical volume Guidelines and nomination students a love of learning forms for the 2011-2012 However according to the packed with suggestions for embedding democratic and who utilize information practices in classrooms. Ideas for creating a collaborative Prime Minister’s Awards for seventh-year teacher, “it and communications technol- Teaching Excellence and Ex- would have to be something community, adding significant personal and social issues ogy to better equip their to course content, and involving students in planning cellence in Early Childhood pretty fantastic–I love teach- students with the skills need- Education are now available, ing, and the kids are my and assessing their own work are clearly outlined. ed to excel in a 21st century with nominations accepted reward,” she said, adding Teachers play a central role as stewards of democracy society and economy. until January 9, 2012. somewhat ruefully that by helping to build informed and engaged citizens who will ensure that our democracy will not only To date, over 1,300 out- For further information she wishes that, in general survive, but thrive. standing teachers have been and nomination packages, terms, the teaching profes- To borrow any of these books, please email recognized with considerable visit, call sion was afforded more benefits to their schools, their 613-946-0651 or email of a sense of value for its students and themselves. I contributions. I
  3. 3. Saskatchewan Bulletin • December 14, 2011 • Page 3Urban-Hall outlines vital role school boards play in education Perhaps fuelled by the report that advocates changes job done, and will enable “School boards are theadrenaline rush of the drum to The Education Act, 1995 to staff to engage in profession- employers of teachers. Thatline from Marion Graham ensure there is sufficient acad- al conversations in their is true regardless of howCollegiate in Saskatoon, emic instructional time school divisions.” education is funded. And, asit didn’t take long for Sask- provided for students in order She added that while the employers, we have the rightatchewan School Boards for them to be able to achieve government has agreed to and the responsibility to playAssociation President Sandi their learning outcomes. engage in a consultation an active role in the collectiveUrban-Hall to cut to the chase While citing the Alberta process with all of the educa- bargaining process.”in her address to the SSBA example of a minimum tion stakeholders in looking at Urban-Hall said that while2011 Fall General Assembly. standard of instruction time of possible changes to the Act, the provincial government Hall, who was later 1,000 hours per year, the she also insisted that “there might be the ones allottingreturned as president by recommendation from the are many changes that need to the funding, trustees areacclamation, adopted a two- report is to ensure a minimum be made to The Education Act the elected and accountablepronged approach in her standard of 950 hours of [1995] in order to best serve stewards of the public purse.address to trustees by under- instructional time for Sask- Saskatchewan students.” She went on to express Sandi Urban-Hallscoring the importance of atchewan students, which she Referring to the recently SSBA concerns about theleadership and change while said would mean an additional concluded provincial bargain- local bargaining process, an in the yet to be unveiled edu-at the same time exerting 25 to 50 hours of instruction ing process, Urban-Hall told area where she said there cation funding distributionwhat she sees as an impor- for each subject. trustees that this past round are issues that must be model, Urban-Hall acknowl-tant role for school boards in Urban-Hall suggested the was about leadership, pro- addressed, particularly in edged there will be changes.the overall public education proposed changes “will give claiming that the voice of terms of the variance. “There will be changes. It islandscape in the province. teachers the instructional trustees had been heard and Contemplating for a mo- inevitable. Change is our Her first rebuke was hours they need to get the had significant impact. ment what might be entailed work,” she said. Ireserved for the provincial gov-ernment as she decried theannouncement by Premier Harpauer reaffirms script on education prioritiesBrad Wall that the school year Education Minister Donna While allowing that the lat- Nations and Métis students,would begin after Labour Day. Harpauer wasted precious er start to the school year adding that “we are develop- Urban-Hall assured those little time in her speech to suggested by Premier Wall ing strategies so our actions inlistening that the SSBA the Saskatchewan School would place more rigidity on this regard are measurable.provincial executive was not Boards Association Fall Gen- the school year, “we need to “We realize this is not justhappy with this unilateral eral Assembly in addressing have further discussions and the job of one person to ensuredecision adding that, since what she referred to as “the flush out different ideas with our students are not fallingvoicing their concern with the two elephants in the room.” our partners.” through the cracks; this isgovernment, a meeting had The yet-to-be unveiled new Harpauer stressed that the everyone’s job and we need totaken place with the Minister funding formula, as well as recently re-elected Sask- work with our partners.”of Education. the recent election promise atchewan Party remains com- In further sticking with Yet, more than delving into made by Premier Brad Wall mitted to improving overall their pre-election blueprint,the proposed change to the regarding changing the school student achievement as its top Harpauer indicated there willschool year, Urban-Hall was year, were both topics she priority, noting that there be a continued priority placedmore interested in stressing wanted to discuss, although in remains work to be done in on the early learning sector,the importance of the vote of truth at this point the conver- Donna Harpauer order for results to improve. suggesting that, for example,government and boards in im- sation was short on specifics. According to the Minister, changes to the school year, school-based child care inproving student achievement. Harpauer did, however, she hinted at good news in Harpauer noted that she will integrated facilities makes According to Urban-Hall, pledge that the funding for- terms of a slowdown of mula, which is billed as bring- be meeting with all public ed- curriculum renewal, adding a stronger connection. Re-students in Saskatchewan ing greater equity to school ucation stakeholders to un- that “we’ve heard, loud and sponding to a question fromare lamentably not achievingas well as their counterparts board funding in the province, dergo a thorough review in an clear, that this is proving the audience after, the Minis-in Alberta and Manitoba. will be unveiled in the effort to find the best way to extremely hard for some ter noted that, although “This cannot continue– 2012-13 budget in March make it work. She acknowl- school divisions and teachers, there have not as yet beensomething has got to change. 2012. She suggested that, in edged that as politicians re- so we’ll be looking at what is formal discussions on theThe status quo is simply not order to help the boards make turn to the legislature for the the optimal balance.” possibility of establishingworking,” she said. the transition, the changes brief fall session, there are a Harpauer also stressed that full-day kindergarten, she With that in mind, Urban- could be adopted over number of changes that could “we cannot ever lose sight” of welcomes further discussion,Hall forwarded the SSBA/ perhaps a three-year period. be incorporated in The Educa- the need to improve the educa- adding that she is notLEADS instructional time Regarding the proposed tion Act, 1995. tional outcomes for First opposed to the notion. IAllen stresses importance of partnership After having listened to the single most important facet all children and to that end Counsellors’heartfelt thoughts expressedby the members of the Student of any society and it must be a commonly shared goal. we all have a vital stake in shaping that future. CornerPanel at the Saskatchewan Furthermore, Allen “I can assure you teachersSchool Boards Association Fall stressed the importance that are fully committed to that fu-General Assembly, it was left (publicly funded) education ture of publicly funded educa- Christmas is comingto Saskatchewan Teachers’ must be available to all with- tion in our province and we will Many would say that the Christmas holiday means aFederation President, Steven in society rather than a select continue to work with our part- significant increase in our stress levels. But what isAllen, to share with those in few. “It must be accessible for ners in reaching those goals.” I stress anyway? Stress can be defined as bodily reactionsthe audience regarding the we have in various environments. These reactions arepoignant realization of whatpublicly funded education is Saskatoon Public receives unconscious and involuntary. Heart rate will increase, breathing will shift, digestive system will slow down,all about–it’s the students. Allen reminded trustees of fourth Premier’s Award energy will be mobilized, and muscles will contract. All of this has one purpose–getting our body ready forthe importance of both organi- Saskatoon Public Schools in the past decade that action such as going down a difficult ski run; meeting azations, along with fellow pub- Board of Education was Saskatoon Public has re- loved one at the airport; dealing with a difficult familylic education stakeholders in selected as the recipient of ceived this prestigious award. situation; driving on an icy road.the province, to work together the Premier’s Innovation and “We truly believe collegiate Fight or flight are instinctual responses associatedto best serve the needs of those Excellence Award at the renewal is transforming what with stress. In fight or flight, our bodily resources arestudents in our classrooms. Saskatchewan School Boards is happening in our high mobilized to achieve one simple task: regulate space. It “For us to have true collabo- Association Fall General schools, said Board Chair Ray is easy to see how fight or flight can help regulate theration, we have to understand Assembly in Saskatoon. Morrison. “In this, our fifth physical space between us and other people (or objects).and listen to each other,” he The Saskatoon Public year of this strategic learning Physical boundaries are not the only type of spaces thesesaid, while stressing the need Board of Education’s submis- priority, we have witnessed reactions seek to regulate. When our emotional, intellec-to remember that “in practice, sion, “Collegiate Renewal: students–especially those who tual, sexual and even spiritual boundaries are threat-public education involves a Engaging All Learners,” have historically struggled ened, the same stress responses are triggered as anvery complex process that demonstrates a strong board and disengaged from learn- attempt to regulate the space between us and the sourcerequires a great deal of time commitment to realizing a ing–become authentically of danger (or conflict).and hard work, and it is a positive and enduring vision of engaged in their learning. We Our sense of safety mostly comes from our confidenceresponsibility that must student success. The project want our students to want to in having within ourselves what we need to regulatecontinue to be shared.” features the involvement of come to school, to want to stay those boundaries. We can become overwhelmed and dis- Again alluding to the com- division staff and parents as in school, and to graduate tressed when we fail to regulate the space that we need.ments of the various students well as the important inclu- from school and to contribute It is like our body gets ready for an action that becomesin context of the assembly sion of the voices of students. to society,” he added. incomplete. We may then feel unsafe. We may have diffi-theme of “teach our children The initiative, which “The Saskatchewan School culty to re-settle and recover even after the stressfulwell,” Allen said “the process features four dimensions of Boards Association congratu- events are passed.that occurs between teachers belonging, potency, relevancy lates the Saskatoon Public At times you want to welcome and enjoy what youand students is about nurtur- and competency, has as its Board of Education on this encounter, other times you will stand your ground anding a caring, understanding goal that all students will be outstanding initiative,” said feel closed, or simply disengage and walk away. Duringand positive relationship.” engaged in their learning so SSBA President Sandi the Christmas season, we have a lot of space to negoti- He said that is paramount in they will graduate as active Urban-Hall. ate, a lot of decisions about what we will let in or notensuring that children are feel- (e.g., do I really need that second piece of pie?). Your participants in lifelong learn- The Award comes with aing supported within a safe, body always has something to say. Hope you can find ing and as responsible, caring $3,000 prize from sponsor some time to listen to it.healthy school environment. citizens in the community, Xerox, with the intent to According to Allen, publicly nation and world. support or extend the innova- STF Counselling Servicesfunded education is the This marks the fourth time tion or project. I
  4. 4. Page 4 • Saskatchewan Bulletin • December 14, 2011 Pushor underscores need to Editorial welcome parents into schools Armed with a rich, varied parent in terms of your expe- that the sense of welcome at background in education, it rience when you are in the a school should also incorpo- would be justifiable to school with your children,” rate the feeling that parents Isolation is never the answer assume that Debbie Pushor she said, encouraging teach- and family members are As is common practice at this particular time while we pretty much knew all that ers to step back and contem- welcome to linger in a space prepare to turn the calendar to another year, there is was involved in terms of the plate what she says can be that might be created specifi- often a quiet moment for reflection and perhaps analysis. life of a school. viewed as inadvertently cally for them to interact On the surface at least, it would be difficult to remem- In her opening remarks dur- being a climate of authority with not only teachers, but ber a year in recent memory when the public education ing her keynote at the Early at the local school as opposed also with each other. landscape was more turbulent than 2011, as the provin- Childhood Education Council to a genuine feeling of She cited her research at cial collective bargaining process became a tortuous, conference, the University of welcome for family members. Princess Alexandra School in seemingly endless process whereby the provincial Saskatchewan associate With the aid of quite sim- Saskatoon where with par- government seemed intent from the outset to wear down professor suggested that as ple, albeit subtle, images as ents’ input they had created a the province’s teachers into submission. one who had been a teacher examples, Pushor encouraged smudging room, which she That’s a rather sad, but unavoidable, summation of and principal prior to her cur- teachers to contemplate the said proved to be a wonderful the many twists and turns that eventually led to a rent role, she too thought she welcome that would be ex- catalyst for forming those provincial collective agreement that both sides decided knew a lot about the subject. tended to someone visiting sorts of relationships among they could live with, and thereby a somewhat uneasy However, she candidly your home and then compare parents and family members. calm again prevailed even though there are doubtlessly acknowledged that all that to what is frequently the Another thought-provoking challenges, and possibly repercussions, that lie ahead. changed when she found her- case at school. As was evi- observation she had garnered The fact that philosophically there are going to be some self in a reversal of roles as a denced by nodding heads in as a parent was when her areas where there just isn’t likely to be unanimous agree- parent of young twins enter- the audience, the differences children brought home a back- ment is perhaps to be expected, but the lingering issue that ing the school system. In fact, were substantial, if not overt. pack courtesy of a well- arguably jeopardizes the long-term future is when there is the ambivalence she came to “In our homes we establish intentioned teacher. However, an apparent lack of genuine interest in consultation. experience as a parent led her a climate of invitation; a ges- she noted that the activities, Working in isolation doesn’t broker the kind of trust to rethink her position in ture of welcoming. How do we while perhaps appealing to that has historically served this province so well in terms of how genuinely schools create that same climate of her as an educator, were less terms of public education policy. It also has the potential were welcoming parents into invitation at our schools–how so as a parent and “we need to to undermine very important landmark decisions that the process regardless of what do we do more,” she said, pos- let parents be parents in help- loom on the horizon. their espoused commitment ing it as a rhetorical question ing their children.” Let’s forget, for the moment, the whole nonsense of the might have suggested. that welcomed introspection. According to Pushor, tradi- bargaining process because the naked truth here isn’t “Picture what you see as a Pushor went on to note tionally teachers (and schools) that the government didn’t have the resources; it was “think we need to be in charge just that they weren’t going to be doling it out to teach- of everything, but how do we ers, or any other public service sector employees for that take a different disposition so matter. That’s certainly regrettable and short sighted, that it’s one of an authentic but in terms of the big picture it’s not the underlying relationship as opposed to one concern. This was a case of the government sticking of authority. We have to move doggedly to its mantra, and judging by the results of the to a new place, and not just do recent provincial election, the electorate was just fine things the same old way. It’s with how that unfolded. a different mindset, and The real damage, though, can occur when there is this it’s about relationships,” she myopic view that due to its electoral success, the folks in emphasized. Regina take on the role of would-be experts in all areas. In outlining the keys to I’m going to suggest that everyone is well aware of establishing a climate of who currently is calling the shots, but that should not invitation, Pushor referred to preclude the benefits of inclusion. Teachers aren’t asking relationships and trust as to be consulted when it comes to potash royalties, but cornerstones along with the rather on issues that they justifiably know something aforementioned establishment about and so, if we’re supposed to believe the rhetoric Popcorn means money of a welcoming sense of The popcorn sale arranged by Grades 2 and 3 students at hospitality at the school. that the bottom line for all is the welfare of the students Caswell School in Saskatoon paved the way for a unique While making it clear that of the province, the best possible verification of that fundraising opportunity through World Vision. After having this would involve teachers would be to embrace the expertise of those who are studied lambs and sheep in class, the decision was made to entrusted with them on a daily basis. and administrators letting go raise $150 to buy a sheep for a needy family overseas. to a degree, Pushor suggested that currently there is a hier-The meaning of education can’t be overlooked archical, task-oriented culture that tends to confirm the climate of authority. Engage-By Ken Mushka that encompass attitudes and ment, however, reflects aPrincipal, Ituna School behaviours appropriate to climate of invitation and As a longtime classroomteacher but a new adminis- Viewpoints full participation in civic and political life in society. I do not believe in impartiality involves shared decision- making with parents that cantrator, I find myself at a be not only mutually benefi-crossroads in my career. The when it comes to teaching cial, but moreover givestransition from the front students about controversial parents a voice in the process.lines of education to the day- taking on the challenge of issues regarding human Incorporating this stronger clearly the motivation behindto-day realities of managing a administration has been to rights and civic responsibili- sense of authentic teamwork the careers of most teachersschool has given me pause to make a positive impact upon ties in a democracy. There is certainly doesn’t occur with- is an honest and altruisticreflect upon the core values the learning environment a difference between right out considerable work. commitment to help prepareand beliefs that I hold as a and culture of my school in a and wrong, and there are Pushor outlined the need youth for their roles as pro-teacher. That transition has way that affects all of the truths about what those to create opportunities to ductive and contributingtaken me away from the reg- stakeholders, students, staff, differences mean regarding establish and maintain trust members of society.ular and intimate contact parents and the community human relationships and with the parents by main- We work to instil valueswith many students on a dai- at large. This has been offset responsibilities. We owe our taining frequent contact via and belief systems that alignly basis, which always has to some degree by the reality students the understanding phone calls, emails or notes with the principles of democ-been the greatest motivator of the loss of influence and that freedoms and rights are as well as home visits, ratic membership in a societyand reward for me in the impact I can now hope to always linked to responsibili- the latter which she said that respects diversity, indi-field. In fact, over the past have on individual students ties and consequences, and “provides us with one of the vidual fulfilment, and antwo months, I have found and their learning on a day- that they are always limited most powerful tools we have.” egalitarian sense of responsi-that the face-to-face teaching to-day classroom basis. and framed by contexts. And Again drawing on her own bility for the well-being of all personal experiences as shetime that I enjoy on a daily Time and experience will most important of all, espe- citizens. Though lofty and did frequently, Pushor main-basis, though limited to only tell me where I can make the cially in this era of political noble, as well as apparently tained the need to differenti-a class a day, has become a most important difference apathy and frustration with self-evident, these goals are ate between education andmost important part of my in the lives of students, who economic realities, we must also challenging. We live in a school. “Education is every-daily work, when I get to ex- are the reason and inspira- teach, and yes even indoctri- world of mass and social me- thing that happens in aperience the true meaning of tion for teachers. nate our students, to pay at- dia, and pop culture that of- child’s life; as teachers ourbeing an educator. My goal in Why do we teach? To me, tention to and participate in ten promotes selfish ideals role is to look after the formal democracy. Our freedoms and and personal success as the part, which is a very little privileges are tenuous at most important aspirations part of time. Publications Mail Agreement No. 40064493 best, so clearly revealed to young people should have in “A parent is a child’s edu- Return Undeliverable Canadian Addresses To: anyone who watches the Editorial Office life. In fact, as teachers in cator forever and I believe we 2317 Arlington Avenue nightly news. What better public schools, we really have should walk alongside fami- Saskatoon SK S7J 2H8 reason could we have to Tel: 306-373-1660/1-800-667-7762 to compete with very power- lies and, when they are in the The Saskatchewan Bulletin is published teach, than to hopefully 10 times during the school year by the Fax: 306-374-1122 ful and seductive forces that school, it is important for us Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation. Email: prepare and inspire the next Contributions to the Bulletin are wel- affect the lives of students for to engage them in a respect- generation of citizens to come and will be used when possible. ©2011. For permission to reprint, please many more hours every day ful way so they feel like they All material is subject to editing. contact the editorial office. Indexed in the preserve and enhance our than we see them in school. Requests for coverage by Bulletin staff should be received at least three Canadian Education Index ISSN 0036-4886 Member of the Canadian Educational Press way of life into the future? I have something to offer, and weeks before the event. Association and the Educational Press To me, it seems a no- we want them leaving our Editor: Jens Nielsen Association of America brainer that we must strive Reprinted with permission schools feeling enriched Return postage guaranteed. Advertising: Georgette Ehr to teach students values and from– Ituna News, Notes on where there is a sense of fundamental belief systems Education (October 27, 2011). authentic engagement.” I
  5. 5. Saskatchewan Bulletin • December 14, 2011 • Page 5St. Vincent experience proved well worth the wait countries to deliver profes- was not the lack of furnitureBy Jillian Andrychuk gaining travel experience in heading to St. Vincent and the hopes of strengthening the Grenadines. sional development courses to or technology, but the street From the time I saw the ad my application. Two years Project Overseas has a long over 60,000 teachers. Part of noise and sounds comingin the Saskatchewan Bulletin ago, I submitted my applica- and successful history of edu- your monthly STF fees from the other the beginning of my teach- support Project Overseas. No one else but me seemed to tion, was invited to the inter- cational support and partner-ing career, I have wanted to On July 1, my Project find it distracting–they all view, and was accepted by ships in Asia, Africa, Southbe a part of Project Overseas. the STF. Sadly, when the America, and the Caribbean. Overseas adventure began. said the schools they work inIt didn’t matter how eager I Canadian Teachers’ Federa- Project Overseas is a joint en- I travelled to Ottawa to meet had the same level of back-was to participate, I had to be tion was making up the deavour of the Canadian the other team members ground noise and they didn’tpatient–Project Overseas teams, there wasn’t a good Teachers’ Federation, partici- for the first time. Our team even notice it.requires a minimum of five match for my skills so I had pating member organizations consisted of five members It wasn’t all work and noyears of teaching experience. to wait another year. I finally of CTF, and many of CTF’s from Saskatchewan, Alberta, play while we were in St.I used the five-year wait got my chance in January of overseas partner organiza- Ontario, the Northwest Terri- Vincent. The SVGTU (teach-honing my teaching skills, 2011 when I was told I would tions. Since 1962, over 2,000 tories, and Nunavut. ers’ union) was an excellentgetting involved in my local be part of Project Overseas’ Canadian teachers have In Ottawa, we participated host. In the short time thatteachers’ association, and 50th year as part of the team worked with co-tutors in host in team-building activities we were there they showed and learned how to live and us almost everything. We work in other cultures. After swam in the salt ponds, got orientation, we were headed massaged by a waterfall, saw to Kingstown, St. Vincent some filming sites from the to work with local co- Pirates of the Caribbean , tutors leading sessions on climbed a spectacularly beau- math, leadership, technology tiful volcano, and soaked up integration, differentiated the sun on white sand beach- instruction and reading. es. Along with the personal- I went to St. Vincent plan- ized tours of the island, we ning on leading a two-week got many chances to sample workshop about teaching the local fruit.Whether it’s St. Vincent, Mongolia or Grenada, this year’s trio reading to middle years stu- Everyone seemed happyof Saskatchewan-based participants in Project Overseas dents without the guidance that we were visiting duringcame back with lifelong memories as well as a greater lovefor the teaching profession, both here and abroad. and support of a local co- “fruits season” and not a day tutor. On the first day in St. went by when we didn’t re- Vincent, I was caught by sur- ceive fresh mangos, papayas, prise when I was introduced plumroses, sugar apples, or to my co-tutor, Kay Martin- soursops from the teachers. Jack. On the first day of the Although I was there to workshop, I found out that teach, I also learned many there were far more than things. I learned that middle years teachers in our “Caribbean time” is very dif- group–every level from Pre-K ferent from “North American” to Form 5 (Grade 12) was time. Very few people showed represented. I quickly up on time in the morning learned that when in the and were not bothered to be Caribbean, it’s best to expect late. However, there is anoth- the unexpected. er aspect of Caribbean time Together with Kay, I that most people don’t know co-taught a two-week work- about: the idea that things shop on best practices in take as long as they take reading instruction. Working and there is rarely a need toMongolia project affirms opportunities with a co-tutor (especially one as knowledgeable as Kay) rush something if you can do it properly.By Devona Putland enthusiasm, professionalism, training, the vast improve- was invaluable in ensuring Once the teachers arrived, I went to Mongolia with and gratitude. They shared ments they experienced in that the content in the work- they were focused and readythe assigned task of teaching their expertise through model their English abilities, their shop met the needs of the to do whatever it took to getEnglish and ESL methodolo- lessons, and eagerly absorbed love for the Canadian teach- participants and that the the most learning out of thegy to Mongolian teachers in anything the Canadian team ers, and their gratitude for techniques and strategies workshop, including stayingthe city of Ulaanbaatar. could give them. Participants all that has been done for presented would actually late to finish a discussion orUlaanbaatar is the capital in could not get their fill of fun them. As a Project Overseas work in schools that are very project. I’ve yet to see largethe north central region of learning opportunities. participant, I too had the different from Canadian numbers of SaskatchewanMongolia. Until 1990, Mongo- They wanted to know more experience of a lifetime, schools. Most schools (includ- teachers willing to staylia was ruled by communism. learning games, more songs, something I won’t ever forget. ing the one that we taught an hour late at a professionalWith the end of communism, more idioms, and more every- I am proud of the dedica- in) have very basic class- development session.Mongolia changed its official thing. Each day had five tion of my Mongolian col- rooms–a chalkboard and The Vincentian teacherslanguages from Mongolian hours of instruction where we leagues, grateful for the STF enough desks and chairs for also taught the Canadianand Russian to Mongolian optimized English language and CTF commitment in the 30 to 40 students. Some team many lessons onand English. As English has use and introduced as many project, and wish to encour- schools have computer labs patience, faith, the impor-only recently become the sec- methods as possible. age all teachers to share their with a SMART Board but tance of laughter, supportingond official language, many My group of participants talents. As I was leaving the technology support is limited colleagues, and what itteachers are faced with the wrote out all activities with CTF building in Ottawa, I and Internet often does not means to be a great teachertask of teaching English with detailed instructions so they noticed a quote on a poster work (it didn’t work the in challenging conditions.very limited knowledge of the would remember everything. that said, “Do not let what whole time we were there A fantastic co-tutor andEnglish language. At first it They loved singing, and the you cannot do influence what making technology integra- dedicated and enthusiasticreminded me of teaching sillier the songs, the better. you can do.” Project Overseas tion sessions somewhat chal- teachers made my ProjectFrench in small town Saska- Something we shared was a has made me realize how lenging). I found the biggest Overseas experience worthtchewan when the only common sense of humour. much more we all can do. I challenge of teaching there the six-year wait. IFrench training I had was Every day was filled with funmy own Grade 12 equivalen- and laughter, teaching andcy. Then I realized that agood number of our partici- learning, and I know I learned far more than I could Grenada renews passion for teachingpants weren’t even taught ever teach. By Owen Fortosky and facilities, that we in with an international cricketEnglish within their own Our project was not all As part of the 50th an- Saskatchewan take for grant- match on the school groundspublic schooling. They were work. On weekends we left niversary of Project Overseas ed, are either lacking or outside the classroom win-learning English solely as the city to see the country- through the Canadian Teach- non-existent. dow, the teachers and admin-adult learners. side. From Naadam Festival, ers’ Federation, I was blessed Through the support and istrators were always en- To complicate the lack of to Terelj National Park, the with the opportunity to work innovative actions of the gaged in discussions to notbasic language skills, Mongo- Chingis Khaan Monument, to with, learn from and share Grenada Union of Teachers, only better themselves, but tolian teachers are faced with the Hustai National Park experiences with teachers on teachers are planning, orga- also empower the childrenworking in a system that has Wild Horse Preserve, Mongo- the tiny island of Carriacou nizing, and leading in the of Carriacou to take on thelimited resources. Teachers lia is truly the land of blue in the country of Grenada. development and actualiza- challenges of the future.have textbooks to use as a skies. We learned about the Undeniably one of the tion of school improvement. My time in Carriacou, al-base for lessons, but most culture, slept overnight in most beautiful places on the Melissa Gogolinski, a princi- though extremely short, gaveteachers do not even have a traditional gers, ate whatever planet, Carriacou is still re- pal from southern Alberta, me not only a better under-curriculum guide available, was served, and even rode cuperating from category 5 and I collaborated with local standing of the struggles andnor a repertoire of methods to camels in the Mongol Sand hurricane Ivan in 2004. teachers in the creation and hardships that many teach-assist them in the delivery of Dunes. Our hosts wanted us Ivan caused unbelievable presentation of workshops on ers around the world face onlessons. They are also faced to see it all, so we were kept damage and, just when the best classroom practices, a daily basis, but also awith large classroom popula- busy. Planning lessons was re-building was underway, administration, and technolo- remarkable view of true gra-tions, something not con- reserved for evenings after hurricane Emily hit in 2005. gy. Workshops on gender ciousness and humility.ducive to learning a second we returned from the cash- Carriacou has slowly recu- equity and HIV Aids were Without question, the teach-language. This could seem mere outlet shops, Black perated from the devastation also part of the program. ers and administrators oflike a dismal situation to be Market, or cultural shows. and much of the credit can go Despite sweltering heat Carriacou have helped mein if not for our participants. This was the last scheduled to the resilience and dedica- and tight quarters, the 70 not only to appreciate what I Our Mongolian colleagues Project Overseas participa- tion of the island’s teachers. teachers that took time out of have in Saskatchewan but Icame to the summer in- tion in Mongolia. The Mongo- Teachers have managed to be their summers to participate have also gained a renewedservice program during their lian teachers reiterated the creative and resourceful in in the program were actively spirit of passion for whatsummer vacations, filled with importance of the summer situations where resources involved in all aspects. Even teaching is really about. I