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Workshop: Coming Out to Students

As a new teacher coming out to students and families has been part of my job. That’s because teachers are role models. Students look up to their teacher as a example of what’s “possible” and what’s expected from the adults in their community. As a teacher, I am a role to every student with whom I work – gay, lesbian, bi, straight, cis or trans.

I am fortunate to work for a school district that values and respects diversity, champions the rights of its students, respects families and views schools as a place for many points of view to be expressed. I am also fortunate to live and work in a community that also values diversity.

I have found many supportive administrators and mentors who have helped in learning how to navigate the role new teacher. As an out gay teacher, it’s been especially helpful to know that policies and curriculum exist for LGBTQ students wanting to know about their sexuality and gender. And it’s been helpful to know how to incorporate LGBTQ themes and topics throughout the curriculum.

Teachers and students rely on school policy that support LGBTQ people and that include LGBTQ history, topics, concerns, stories, characters, themes and information. The BCTF has a history of standing up for LGBTQ people and there are lots of existing resources to draw on. Knowing what’s out there and how we can continue to support each other helps students, teachers and families.

I’ll be leading a workshop at the BCTF’s New Teacher Conference next week. The workshop centres on resources available to all teachers on how to be a good role model to students, how to incorporate LGBTQ themes and topics into the curriculum and how to support each other as possibles.

For more info: Download Flier

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Curriculum, Content, and Teaching

Today was a professional development day at school, so I spent the day meeting with colleagues and hearing from experienced educator Bruce Beairsto, who gave a key note on the history of diversity in education in British Columbia’s public school system. I also got to hear about SET BC (which provides access to tools for students) and “RTI”. Beairsto’s talk was especially helpful, given his experience in the school system and the perspective he shared on the context and history of the system. He brought an historical perspective on the progress made in terms of providing adequate supports for all students in our schools. I especially appreciated his comments on the value of public schools, which served as an inspiring start to the day. [click to continue…]

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There’s only one reason why being part of a recognized and respected profession matters to me. And that’s because I want to teach students.

As a teacher, I am empowered by the public school system to influence the lives of my students. With this power comes a great responsibility. Without professional autonomy, I would no longer be a teacher and I would be unable to responsibly exercise the power granted me.

Without professional recognition and respect I would be inept, unable to perform my duties. I would be something other than a teacher, perhaps a child minder, an enforcer, or an entertainer. But not I would not be a teacher and I could not teach. [click to continue…]

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Why Teach Children about Cultural Genocide?

kertesThe only thing worse than being annihilated is being annihilated and then forgotten. While the Aboriginal peoples who live in Canada were certainly never annihilated, as evidenced by their never-ending resistance and constant resiliency, colonial Canada wished an end to the cultures and peoples indigenous to the country. Colonial Canada has done its best to bring an end to all Aboriginal nations, despite having failed in the attempt. [click to continue…]

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Given many of the lessons learned from the lead up to and the outcome of the recent public school strike in British Columbia, it’s time for public school teachers and other advocates of public education in B.C. to make some needed changes. We need to build on the outcomes of the strike in order to start doing a better job at responding to the BC Liberal agenda to devalue, defund, and dismantle the public education system as we know it. [click to continue…]

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On Friday I wrote a column in the Tyee on the lessons learned from the public school strike. Three lessons stand out:

  • Teacher unity and union solidarity made the difference
  • People will back unions and parties that stand up for progressive programs
  • Offence is often the best form of defence

In response to my column, Tara Ehrcke (activist, public school teacher, and author of Staffroom Confidential) wrote in a Facebook comment that she believed I was mistaken in a number of ways. Having followed her blog and commentary closely throughout the strike, I considered her comments carefully. On some points we seem to clearly disagree, but on others I think there’s not too much distance. Regardless, I appreciate her direct and open approach to reflecting on public education issues.

Writing that “this is a not a victory,” Ehrcke noted in her comment to me that the length of the agreement (six years) was too long, that the Education Fund is actually a vehicle for downloading costs onto school districts (a “bait and switch”), and that the outcome of the strike pointed out weaknesses of organized labour. [click to continue…]

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TYEE: Three Labour Lessons from the Teachers’ Strike

Read my column in today’s Tyee on lessons learned from the public school strike:

Out of the latest round of public school bargaining, three lessons stand out. First, teacher unity and union solidarity made the difference. Second, the community supports public education, and people will back unions and political parties that stand up for popular public programs. Third, the best defence is offence. It’s time to not just draw the line anymore, but to start moving the line forward. read more

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How the BCTF Challenges Clark’s American-Style Politics

I was born in the United States and am now a dual American-Canadian citizen. I immigrated to Canada with my husband seven years ago because the democratic system in the United States broke down.

I wanted to live in a country where democracy worked. And while we Canadians certainly have our own struggles, democracy still functions here. That’s a relief. It’s also something I won’t take for granted.

The BCTF’s struggle for public schools and collective bargaining illustrates how Premier Christy Clark and the BC Liberals adopt American-style politics at the expense of democracy here. It also demonstrates the value of teachers standing up for public education and their right to bargain collectively and democratically.

One of the great victories of the public school strike is how teachers galvanized citizens and residents to stand up for democracy at the workplace and for two institutions essential for democracy: Public education and labour unions. Thanks to teachers, our democracy is stronger. And that’s a victory for everyone. [click to continue…]

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TYEE: Why Teachers Fear the Worst of Clark Government

Read my column at TheTyee.ca on the value of public education and how BC Liberals may be threatening to take away our public school system:

If the BC Liberals want to take control over education in order to privatize schools, then breaking the teachers’ union will be its first priority, given that the union stands in the way of any privatization scheme the government may put forward. One way to break the union would be for the government to make a targeted essential services request to open schools for upper grade students in order to force teachers of students in Grade 10, 11 and 12 back to work. read more

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Read my column at TheTyee.ca on education as a gender equity issue and how Christy Clark is turning back the clock on BC’s women:

Public education is a great equalizer, and an economic engine that strengthens the economy for everyone. As part of our social infrastructure, public schools are as essential as roads, docks, train lines, and bridges in supporting economic strength and good jobs. Public school teachers are as essential to a strong economy as are workers in hard hats; there’s no reason to pit these workers against each other since both are equally essential to the economy. But somehow the BC Liberals miss this point, treating teachers as part of the “soft economy” and truck drivers as part of the “hard economy.” read more

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