Support Workers Strike in Ontario

support workers strike

At the risk of offending all the teachers and educational support workers I know, I am wondering why they think they are so special. Although the current strike on the front page of the news here in Ontario is organized by support workers and not the teachers they assist, teachers are directly affected. Ontario schools were forced to close their doors for two days when CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees) workers walked off the job last Friday in response to the province’s decision to remove their right to challenge their contract or to strike.

What About Other Unions?

Everyone wants more money, especially with the cost of living rising and the economy tanking. The problem is just that, teachers and support staff are not unique. Other unions, such as those that healthcare, carpentry, and construction workers belong to, have been limited to minor increases in their recent requests for more money. Each of these unions represents essential workers. If you weren’t aware of their importance to society prior to the pandemic, hopefully you learned something since then. None of them could work from home. In fact, many worked extra hours and shifts to compensate for the extra stress in their respective workplaces.

CUPE was asking for 11.7%!! Tell that to the other unions. The government (last) offered 6%, unheard of these days.

It’s All About the Kids, Isn’t it?

Throughout the pandemic, most teachers and parents agreed that their children’s mental health was of utmost importance. Why, now that things have (somewhat) returned to normal and kids are back to in-person school, do these professionals think the time is right to strike? Do they think the students (especially the younger ones) know why their mental health is not being considered?

Teachers’ propensity to strike every few years can not help but affect their support workers. Perhaps both groups (teachers and support workers) should be included in the list of “essential services” and not permitted (or fined if they do) to strike.

Do Canadian Teachers Make More Money than Other Countries?

In Canada, education is governed by provincial politicians. That is why there is a variation between provinces in curriculum and salaries. For example, within provinces considered to be more affluent, salaries will be greater.

Canadian teachers in general are listed as number 4 in the world for their salaries. Compared to their American counterparts though, Canadian teachers and support workers pay more taxes, and most experience a more expensive cost of living.

Are Support Workers Underpaid?

Just because teachers in Ontario are paid well doesn’t mean their support workers are. Although often behind the scenes, they provide important services. In fact, without them schools often (as is the case here) find it necessary to shut down.

The Latest on Support Workers’ Strike

The latest news has Doug Ford, Ontario’s premier, promising to rescind the legislation, known as Bill 28, and the “notwithstanding clause” if the workers return to the job. What does that mean? Back to the negotiating table to find a compromise.

For the kids’ sake, let’s hope they do!

Acronyms: How Well do you Know Them?

funny acronym mistakes

How well versed are you on the acronyms that are so popular today in conversations via text, private message, or social media?   If you have teenagers in your house, you are probably very knowledgeable about these. 

If not, here is a quick lesson, LOL.  That stands for Laugh out Loud by the way. Not Lots of Love as some (of us older) people think.

  • OMG is pretty obvious. I just put it on the list to ensure everyone knows at least one.
  • WTF too, although I did see a joke on Facebook that implied many people my age do not know what it stands for. In case you are one of them, it’s What The F**k.
  • BRB stands for Be Right Back, just in case you get interrupted in the middle of a text or PM (private message).  That’s like asking “Can you hold on a minute?” in the old days when you were talking on the (landline) phone and the doorbell rang, or your oven timer went off or…NVM (never mind) you get the picture.
  • MYOB means Mind Your Own Business.  Some people use an F before the B; you can probably guess what that stands for.  I guess that is added when you are really annoyed at someone.
  • LMFAO means Laughing My F***ing Ass Off. (a fancier version of LOL)  Again, you can add the F or remove it as you please, or as your vocabulary dictates.  There is also ROFLMAO which is Rolling On the Floor Laughing My Ass Off.
  • AFAIKB3 means As Far As I Know Blah Blah Blah.  In other words, I don’t care. Which also gets abbreviated to IDC, which should never be confused with IDK, which BTW (by the way) means I Don’t Know.
  • GTG means Got to Go and TTYL means Talk to You Later. I guess these depend on whether you have time to type 3 letters or 4.
  • IMO stands for In My Opinion and TBH is To be Honest.
  • TNTL means you’re Trying Not to Laugh and CSL means Cannot Stop Laughing.
  • SMH is Shaking my Head while YNK is You Never Know.
  • Nosy or suspicious parent ones include PAW (Parent Watching), PITR (Parent in the Room), POMS (Parent Over my Shoulder), or PAH (Parent at Home).
  • You might see HIFW (How I Feel When) on FB (Facebook) jokes/memes/ as well as other acronyms associated with feelings like MRW (My Reaction When), IFYP (I Feel Your Pain), MFW (My Face When).
  • and if someone slides into your DMs it only means they “direct messaged” you. Phew!

Tell the truth, how many of these acronyms did you know already?  I admit I learned a few more today and tested my eyes at the same time.  LOL.

 

photo credit

Covid and Kids, What are the Long-Term Effects?

I worry about the short and long term effects of this covid pandemic on our children. Social distancing does not come naturally to them. It is difficult enough for us adults, but we (most of us) can see and understand the reason behind the rules. We also do our best to explain these rules to our kids and grandkids.

When we were not allowed to hug or touch each other I would tell my grandkids that “grandma is sick and doesn’t want to make you sick.” This little white lie worked, but I could see the confusion on their sweet little faces.

The primary (pun intended) lesson learned in sending our kids to school at four years old is supposed to be the development and practice of social skills. You know, stuff like sharing, trading, empathy, taking turns and more. How can they do this if social distancing is their new norm?

What lessons are they going to learn instead? Don’t touch, don’t get too close, don’t care, and god forbid, don’t share. Will they learn anything beneficial? At what point are we doing them more harm than good?

Parents are facing a dilemma. Most families need two incomes to stay afloat financially, and cannot afford to have one parent stay home to look after young children. Single parents have even less choice. Daycares offer the same risk and discourage social skills as schools are doing.

So, what is the answer? Perhaps a Covid related, government issued benefit for a parent to stay home to care for, nurture and educate their young children. If we can pay any previously employed adults to stay home even though they could/should have returned to work, why can’t we pay parents to stay home? Of course, like a maternity/paternity leave, it would have to guarantee a job upon their return to work.

Teacher AKA Grandma, that’s me!

teacher

With Covid restrictions and precautions gripping our world for several months now, with no end in sight, online learning or e-school has become popular. It was a tough call, but my son and his partner (both essential service providers) decided to keep their eldest child home from school to reduce her (and the rest of our bubble’s) chances of contacting the dreaded virus.

Me a Teacher?

In high school, (waaaaay back when) one of my career goals was to be a teacher. That goal was stymied by lack of money in the family to support a university education. As I was fifth of sixth children applying for government assistance, the pickings were slim. I worked several jobs each summer and through the school years to scrape barely enough money together to attend college. Community college and medical laboratory technology was my reality.

That might explain why this always-wanted-to-be-a-teacher Grandma is embracing my new role as online supervisor to my seven year old granddaughter on the days her mom works or has an appointment. The teacher is online with the kids too, so I am just backup in case assistance or guidance is required, close enough for me.

Offline Lessons

In addition to the online learning I am helping my granddaughter with, I am creating lessons of my own to teach her during her breaks from the online stuff. Fun (to me) things like botany, geography and piano. She has shown an interest in my gardening business, so for her recent birthday, I gifted her with a mini greenhouse kit and some tulip bulbs.

The greenhouse kit came with all necessary components as well as instructions on how to grow plants from seeds. The seeds however were not included, so we collected some from my gardens…

When the seeds were all planted and peat pots were labelled, we decided to keep the greenhouse on top of our fridge as warmth and distance from little brothers is recommended for the success of this lesson.

Seeds planted and labelled

Much to my delight, she has also shown an interest in learning how to play the piano. My eldest son (not her father) attended piano lessons at Music For Young Children years ago when he was just a toddler. I was the adult attending with him, so learned basic piano too. Fast forward almost thirty years to where I am sharing what I learned with all of my grandchildren, but as the oldest this particular granddaughter is able to grasp the concepts and has already mastered Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. Music is indeed the universal language!

Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Learning

Back to e-school and the online lessons we are both learning. I must admit I am impressed with the online program (OCDSB) my granddaughter has access to. Her teachers are cheerful and as organized as they can be, considering they are teaching six and seven year olds. At the beginning we encountered a few issues, like login failures, link errors and inability to get our French accents to work. That’s where my learning came in; having never used a Chromebook, I was not familiar with the language options on it. I may be an old dog, but I can learn new tricks.

Three weeks in things are going much smoother, in fact more and more children are joining the classes every day as the number of Covid cases continues to rise. Of course there are disadvantages to online learning, the main one being lack of physical contact with their friends. Although during the breaks they can be amusingly chatty, some kids more than others.

The main advantage is the computer familiarity for the kids. They have learned to log in, navigate between tabs, create their own favourites list, copy and paste links, alter the size of fonts, as well as the keyboard layout and the function of different keys, etc.

Their “jamboards” are cool, an interactive screen created by Google, where they can play around with ideas, much like a white board in a meeting, except it’s online.

They do get breaks often so their eyes and brains don’t get too fatigued, including 5 minute dancing sessions. A favourite dance tune is The Gummy Bear Song, although I bet their teacher is sorry she introduced them to that one…

The Gummy Bear Song

Next Lessons

Tulips will be next for my offline lessons, planted outside with banana peels to deter the squirrels from digging up the bulbs. We have both been saving banana peels in our freezer in anticipation of planting. I usually wait until just before the ground freezes to plant to reduce the temptation for the squirrels. As my dad used to say “squirrels have to eat too”, just not my bulbs!

I also want to teach my granddaughter basic geography with the help of an atlas and a large wall map my son used to be fascinated with, if I can find it. We used to have a globe around here, but think it is long gone. This idea came to me yesterday when she thought Florida was in Canada.

Any other ideas for offline, supplemental learning would be greatly appreciated!

Photography Lessons, It’s Never Too Early to Learn

photography lessons

As most of you know, I thoroughly enjoy the time I get to spend with my grandchildren, especially the one on one time. Each grandchild has their own unique personality and interests which are becoming quite evident in the oldest three. The two youngest are still babies; their turn will come.

Recently my two and a half year old granddaughter has shown an interest in photography. Since she has been the subject of the oh so many pictures her parents and grandparents have taken on our cell phones since her birth, it is no small wonder she wants to try it herself. She is very independent, and getting more so every day.

I thought I would let her “show me how” to take a picture on my cell phone, and I was amazed at how proficient she is at it. Sometimes. Eventually. When she remembers to keep her fingers off the lens. It is amusing and fascinating (and so cute) to hear her talk herself through the steps.

  • Find the red “camera” button
  • Hold up the phone
  • Look for Grandma (I was her subject)
  • Move my (her) fingers
  • Push the white button

These were her first few attempts at getting the fingers out of the way…

Practice makes perfect; she did get better as she kept trying…

She is definitely a quick learner…as well as very determined and perseverant, all wonderful personality traits.

Union Bosses out of Control

Unions came into existence years ago to protect employees from unfair and unsafe work environments and practices. Over the years unions have become stronger, louder and ultra wealthy, at the expense of taxpayers, including the employees they are supposed to protect. Today union bosses control everything including wages, working conditions and even how their employees vote in elections.

How is it that unions are permitted to dictate how their employees vote in a democratic society where freedom of thought is cherished? Have you noticed how unions spend lots of money on advertisements during election campaigns? They have taken the “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” practice to a whole new (unacceptable) level. Blatantly throwing money behind the parties that will in turn give them more (of taxpayers’) money when elected is disturbing. I heard from a reliable source that workers under the umbrella of one of these (too) strong unions are strongly encouraged (AKA bullied) to vote for whomever the union is promoting.

I believe in any profession some workers are better than others. The best ones should rise to the top so the not so good ones learn that their efforts and work ethic (and not the union) drive their success. In most worlds, success means a greater wage, making higher salaries fair compensation for harder workers.

Greedy union bosses prevent this practice of fairness since unions thrive on their stance that all workers are treated equally, good and bad. Their demand for more money only increases their coffers, making these unions stronger and the union bosses wealthier.

This cycle of corruption applies to most unions, including the teachers unions currently embroiled in a battle with the Ontario government. Taxpayers, parents, students and even the teachers themselves, are being held hostage because union demands for more money are not being met.

Teachers everywhere deserve respect for the job they do. Teaching children is a daunting responsibility and many (not all) teachers take this responsibility to heart, doing a wonderful job. However, the unions and the union bosses most teachers contribute to are out of control. They certainly do not appear to have the best interest of the children in mind.

Years ago, when my youngest son was perusing university degrees, thinking about his future, I thought he would make an excellent primary school teacher. I was discussing this idea with my sister that lives in the USA; she could not believe I would suggest a career in teaching. She went on to explain how overworked and underpaid the teachers are in the USA.

I am not saying that teachers here in Ontario, Canada are not hardworking, but I do believe they are well paid and respected. I also wonder how many of the dedicated teachers feel bullied into supporting their unions. I have three sons that are now past their school years and onto careers. Within their years of school I met many wonderful teachers and some not so wonderful. My eldest grandchild is currently in grade one with her siblings and cousins to follow within the next few years. I hope they are fortunate enough to be taught by men and women passionate about and committed to teaching without getting punished by the vicious cycle the unions create.

Although lots of money should never be considered to be the most important feature of success, in the competitive world we live in more money is, unfortunately, the ultimate goal. Unreasonable demands for more, at the expense of vulnerable children and their parents is just wrong.

A Real Job, What is Yours?

What does a real job mean to you?  I read this powerful message on Facebook the other day…

The other day, someone very dear to me said, “Charlotte, promise me this. Promise me you won’t go back to waiting tables, frothing coffees or tending bars. When you graduate uni, you’ll get a real job, won’t you?”
Hmmm. ‘Real’. What does ‘real’ look like? Does it wear a suit? Boast a briefcase? Does it drive a ute? Fly a plane? Is its hands dirty, or clean? Does it save lives, or suck the life right out? Does it do your dry cleaning? Keep our streets clean? Your coffee cravings at bay?
So many people chase ‘real’, the ‘real’ that seems to be etched into our skin by society’s blade, and find that they don’t belong to their own life.
The way we have been conditioned is a travesty. The pressure I am under, as a 25-year-old, to make decisions that will supposedly ‘make or break me’ is crushing. The truth is, there are no rules here. Success is highly subjective. It’s traumatising to measure your success against someone else’s, yet we do it to ourselves every day.
The person who said the above said it out of love, and I love them for that. I get it. They want to see me succeed, but under whose guidelines? They want me to move up in the world, but who sets the bar?
Whether you’re a barista or a barrister, university graduate or world traveller, business owner or garbage collector. It doesn’t matter! What matters is that you make the rules. It’s your life.
Take it back!

A Real Job can be Whatever you Want it to be

Charlotte May McLeod (@lottiemaymcleod) posted these words of wisdom in Australia in frustration for the situation she is in.  Well said Charlotte, good for you for recognizing that a real job can be anything we want it to be.  Students and parents alike today (over) focus on the pursuit of the perfect education in preparation for the equally perfect job upon graduation.  The problem is that a job deemed perfect for one person is often not even close to perfect for another.

Education is Important

Education is important, that will never change, but keep in mind that there are all kinds of education available to prepare you for your very own real job.  Remember that every job you take on is an education of sorts, even those that are not considered real jobs.  Many of these so-called, not real jobs open doors for exciting and lucrative opportunities.  By lucrative, I mean both financially and emotionally rewarding. Sometimes you just have to be in the right place at the right time.

As Charlotte so eloquently stated, a real job can be anything you like these days, don’t settle for something that will please or impress anyone except yourself.

Allow the Wonder Wall to Captivate you!

Wonder Wall

Recently I attended a book launch to support a friend who has co-created a masterful piece of work named the Wonder Wall.  With my gardening business in full swing, I don’t usually get much reading done in the summer months, but I am so impressed with this book that I am making an exception this week.

The Wonder Wall is aimed at formal and informal educators of all kinds.  Teachers from kindergarten to university, scientists, managers, team leaders, administrators, parents, and volunteers alike can learn from this.  After all, we humans are all educators of some sort.  Whether you want to motivate and encourage children or adults within a school, start-up business,  major corporation, office, hospital, police force, daycare, or community association, the concepts within the Wonder Wall are easily applicable.

As much as I tried to put the ideas from this book into my own words to share with you, I found that my efforts could simply not do justice to the witty, inspirational way this masterpiece is written.   So, I am cheating; these (just a few of many) excerpts are literally straight from the book…

CONDITIONS THAT FOSTER CREATIVITY

three imperatives:

  • recognize there is a seed of brilliance in everyone
  • adopt a strength based approach
  • create cultures of belonging

four conditions:

  • storytelling and listening
  • moving beyond diversity to inclusivity
  • making it personal
  • celebrating

IDEAL LEADERSHIP CHARACTERISTICS:

  • good listener, approachable, personable
  • understanding, empathetic, respectful, caring
  • motivational, inspirational, visionary
  • honest, trustworthy, dependable, consistent
  • knowledgeable, informed, displaying expertise
  • good communicator
  • positive, enthusiastic, energetic

IDEAL LEADER BEHAVIOUR:

  • leads by example
  • provides support, encouragement, motivation
  • seeks input
  • inclusive/fair
  • approachable/friendly
  • professional/responsible
  • positive/energetic
  • respectful
  • sympathetic/understanding
  • team player/builds relationships

To learn the details of these compelling points, plus many more insightful strategies and how they can apply to your life, you will have to read the book yourself!

Get inspired!  Purchase the Wonder Wall at your local bookstore or online (click on the picture below) through Amazon.  I promise you will be captivated, both amused and motivated as you read and reread through the pages.

Dr. Shelly Wismath Receives Prestigious 3M National Teaching Fellowship

This article is about Dr Shelly Wismath, AKA my big sister, the eldest of six siblings in our family, and my first teacher. Mom and Dad would be very proud of you!

University of Lethbridge professor Dr. Shelly Wismath can count herself among the best university teachers in Canada. She is one of 10 university teachers to receive the 3M National Teaching Fellowship, an award that recognizes exceptional teachers in post-secondary education.

Dr. Jan Newberry, Wismath’s nominator and U of L anthropology professor, describes her as a “teaching ninja” who possesses a subtle and diplomatic style.

“Shelly has served as mentor and inspiration to me and to many other colleagues and students,” Newberry wrote in her letter of nomination. “She represents the best of what teaching can be as a career, a vocation, and a model for life and learning.”

Wismath spent many years as a mathematics professor and researcher in abstract algebra. In 2009, she moved to the Liberal Education program and began focusing her research on the scholarship of teaching and learning. She played a key leadership role in building and sustaining the U of L Teaching Centre and became the inaugural Board of Governors Teaching Chair in 2007. Wismath is currently spearheading the revitalization of Liberal Education. In addition, Wismath initiated and secured funding for the long-standing Women Scholars Speaker Series.

Dr Shelly Wismath

“My reaction was stunned silence on the phone. I couldn’t believe it,” says Wismath. “It’s a huge honour to be in that group. I love teaching; it’s always been a part of what I do. It’s amazing to have that kind of recognition.”

Wismath’s philosophy of teaching arises from her experience in both mathematics and liberal education. She combines the logical reasoning and search for pattern that characterizes mathematics and the critical thinking and problem solving that mark liberal education into a philosophy that hones in on how people think, learn, and reason.

“My goal is to share with my students the interactive process of asking questions and formulating and testing out answers, and engaging in vibrant discussion to learn more about ourselves and the world around us,” she says.

Wismath works hard to build relationships with her students so they feel comfortable in the learning environment and the approach works. One student wrote “I recall the many thought-provoking articles she assigned with the hopes that we, as students, would question the content of. She did not want us to merely read and accept blindly what the authors had argued, but to come to our own conclusions and situate the information within our own understandings of the world.”

“The great thing about teaching is that we learn as much from our students as they learn from us and that’s been really true for me in the last few years with a problem-solving course I designed,” she says. “That course has been the capstone of my teaching career. I’ve learned that you don’t teach people problem-solving. You facilitate their learning. It was a steep learning curve for me but the students were just tremendous. They taught me a lot and were very generous with their reflections, their attention, and their thoughtfulness about their learning.”

Wismath also credits the U of L for providing her with the flexibility to continue her education and to pursue topics she’s passionate about.

“The U of L has been a great place to nurture teaching as well as research,” she says. “I’ve been very lucky to have had the flexibility that I’ve had to spend time on teaching instead of research at certain points in my career or to combine them or to take on projects.”

The 3M National Teaching Fellowship brings several opportunities. In addition to becoming a life member of the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and the Council of 3M Teaching Fellows, Wismath will be invited to attend the annual conference in Halifax and a teaching and learning retreat. This is the second time a U of L professor has been awarded a 3M National Teaching Fellowship. Dr. Patricia Chuchryk, a sociology professor, received the award in 1999.

Source: Dr. Shelly Wismath receives prestigious 3M National Teaching Fellowship | UNews

Another Scam

money

Right after I posted about SCAMS I received this email.  I just saw it today because it was filtered into my JUNK file where it belongs…

This is to inform you that after the evaluation and conclusion of our meeting with the board of directors and special representatives from BANK PLC BURKINA FASO on how to disburse and remit your funds to you.
 
BANK PLC and WESTERN UNION have collaborated in other to remit your total fund of $2.5M us dollar, via western union by transferring $8,500 usd to you everyday via western union until we conclude the remittance of your funds.
 
So please confirm your interest by providing the below details to enable us begin the payment of your funds and start to transfer your funds via western union.
 
1 . Your full names
2. Your contact address
3. Your country
4. Your occupation
5. Your contact lines
6. A copy of your id documentary or international passport
7. Personal email address
 
Upon receiving this details, we shall start the transfer of your funds via western union as stated transferring your funds to you in badges of $8,500 usd per day.

Please kindly contact our representative MR GABBERT PARKER with the details for your transfer of your fund.

Sincerely,
Yours Faithfully.
Manager(Operations) MR GABBERT PARKER
Chief Operating Officer, Financing & Portfolio
Money Transfer | International Money Transfer | Western Union
www.westernunion.com

 

Lucky me!

photo credit