It is easy to talk about what could be, what should be and what other people could do.  Instead, I would like to share what I have done, and what we are trying to do, as we engage in and embrace this learning evolution.

I began my career trying to emulate the teachers I remembered most, and through the stories I remembered from my school experiences.  The teacher was mixing content, stories and weaving a narrative. While hardly an actor, there was something about the performance of teaching I really did enjoy. I would organize the desks in a circle, and while this was great for students to engage with each other, it also gave me centre stage.  I was very focussed on the lesson plan and activities in the classroom.  I saw myself as the expert, and it was up to me and the textbook to help students understand the content. Now, here is a true confession — I loved being the ‘sage on the stage’. In my Social Studies and English classes I would often retell the stories my memorable teachers had told me.

As I became more comfortable, I tried to allow students more of an opportunity to tell their stories.  I worked to create situations where students could simulate the real world.  In History class this might have been a United Nations role-play lesson, or reviewing a series of case studies in Law class. Students loved the examples drawn from the “real world”.  In Law, we would study cases making headlines in the news, and other Social Studies’ classes leant themselves ideally to current events.  I loved the relevance that came from these lessons, as well as the engagement.  Combining my lectures with hands-on activities, like putting Louis Riel on trial, led to an even richer teaching and learning experience.

Read Chris Kennedy’s article here.

By Chris Kennedy, February 22, 2012 The cultureofyes Blog

The BC Teachers’ Federation executive committee elections this morning saw incumbent President Susan Lambert keep her position, beating out challenger Rick Guenther by 429 votes to 238.

Lambert, a teacher librarian who began her teaching career in Prince Rupert in the early 1970s, has been president of the teachers’ union since 2010. Lambert ran as a part of “The Coalition,” a slate that includes 1st Vice President Jim Iker, who also retained his seat, and 2nd Vice President Glen Hansman, whose seat is being challenged by Stephen Zlotnik, a teacher from Boundary.

Challenger Rick Guenther, an independent member of the BCTF executive, had hoped to unseat Lambert  telling The Vancouver Sun the Coalition had been in power for 10 years and it was time for a change. Guenther campaigned on the platform that the BCTF wasn’t engaging with the government or teacher-associated groups like the BC Coalition of Parent Advisory Councils, and that the teachers’ public image was in need of repair.

Teachers’ rejected that position, however, in favour of Lambert who has received strong support from both teachers and fellow public sector unions like the BC Federation of Labour, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, and several national and international teachers’ unions, during the BCTF’s fight against the Education Improvement Act, which legislates teachers to return to the bargaining table with their employers, and a government approved mediator, to reach a net zero contract agreement by the end of June.

Teachers are supposed to decide today or tomorrow the next steps in their fight against the legislation, which could include everything from withdrawing from extracurricular activities to a full-scale illegal walkout that could cost the union up to $20 million a day in fines.

By Katie Hyslop March 20, 2012 10:42 am – The Tyee Hook Blog

Katie Hyslop reports on education and youth issues for The Tyee and The Tyee Solutions Society.

© The Tyee News

By Vaughn Palmer, Vancouver Sun March 12, 2012

VICTORIA – As the legislature entered the sixth day of debate on Bill 22, the B.C. Liberals wielded their legislative majority to cut off debate on one of the most controversial aspects of the legislation, the form of mediation that will be used in the teachers’ contract dispute.

The measure at hand was an Opposition amendment favouring the appointment of “an independent mediator to resolve the dispute without legislation,” and with no strings attached in terms of what the mediator could and could not address.

It contrasted sharply with the Liberal approach of a mediator hand-picked by Education Minister George Abbott and acting on restrictive terms of reference.

Some of those terms were to be expected. Having secured more than 130 public sector contract settlements on the net-zero mandate — including 30 in the education sector — the Liberals weren’t about to make an exception for the teachers.

The mediator has the option of helping the teachers to explore the option that other unions have taken, which is negotiating trade-offs that can then be costed to pay for a wage increase.

Read THE VANCOUVER SUN full article here.

vpalmer@vancouversun.com

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

VANCOUVER SUN MARCH 13, 2012

The University of B.C. says it might use Grade 11 transcripts this year in assessing B.C. applicants who do not have a Grade 12 report card due to teacher job action.

But it’s reassuring students who didn’t do as well last year as this year that Grade 11 marks will not replace Grade 12 marks.

“No student will be disadvantaged by the use of Grade 11 grades,” Andrew Arida, director of undergraduate admissions, said in an interview. “If the substitution of Grade 11 grades works and gets you in, great. If it doesn’t we will not make a final decision on you until we see your full Grade 12 grades in May so there is no detrimental effect of this change in policy – if it’s approved.”

The UBC Senate is expected to decide Wednesday whether the university should accept students based on Grade 11 marks. A similar decision will be made for the UBC Okanagan campus.

As a result of job action, B.C. teachers have not written report cards this year. Their union, the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF), says students who need marks for post-secondary or scholarship applications need only ask for them.

Read The Vancouver Sun full article here.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Bill 22 would give some teachers in primary grades $2,500 per student

VANCOUVER — Public-school teachers are being promised financial compensation next year if they have extra-large classes.

A controversial bill now working its way through the legislature would give Grades 4-7 teachers an extra $2,500 a year for every student beyond 30 in their classrooms while secondary school teachers, who teach many courses per day, would receive $312 for every student beyond 30 in their courses, the B.C. Education Ministry told The Vancouver Sun.

Furthermore, the ministry is promising to amend school regulations to require principals to consult with teachers, and teachers to advise principals, on all matters related to classroom organization, including the placement of special-needs students. Those discussions will become “core duties” for principals and teachers, a ministry spokesman said.

Teachers in primary grades won’t be eligible for the compensation because their classes will continue to be capped at a maximum of 22 children in kindergarten and 24 students in Grades 1-3.

Teachers for courses such as band and drama, where large student numbers are sometimes desirable, are also not expected to qualify for additional pay.

The ministry says the extra money for teachers would not only compensate them for an added workload but would encourage school administrators to keep classes at 30 students or fewer in order to control costs.

The challenges of large classes with many special-needs students has been a long-standing concern of B.C. teachers, especially since 2002, when the Liberals stripped their union of its right to bargain class size and composition. Last April, the B.C. Supreme Court found the government had violated teachers’ rights and ordered it to remedy the situation within a year.

Read THE VANCOUVER SUN full article here.

By Janet Steffenhagen, Vancouver Sun March 9, 2012

jsteffenhagen@vancouversun.com

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Ebooks are driving momentous changes. In Vancouver, librarians are inviting the public to help reinvent their mission.

There are certain things, good and bad, that ebooks can’t offer. Old bookmarks, penciled annotations and chocolate smudges between the pages… the tactile human touches that make die-hard proponents of print swear they’ll never make the switch.

But those traditionalists are becoming the minority of library borrowers, as the relative convenience of ebooks — downloadable from the comfort of one’s home — appeals to more and more library users. According to recently-released stats from the Vancouver Public Library, the lending and borrowing of electronic content, and in particular ebooks, is exploding.

At VPL, ebook downloads have increased almost tenfold year-on-year, from 3,718 in 2010 to 35,671 in 2011. On top of that, the library estimates that if the current growth rate of ebook borrowing continues, it will take less than five years for ebooks to dominate circulation.

Of course, the explosion of ebooks isn’t news to the publishing industry, which is still adjusting to the digital shift. Scott McIntyre, the publisher and chairman of Vancouver-based D&M Publishing, recently shared his take with The Tyee that sooner rather than later, at least in the publishing world, ebooks “will conquer all.” And there’s significant evidence to support McIntyre’s prophecy. Mid 2010, Amazon.com reported that sales for its Kindle reader outstripped hardcover sales, and by January 2011, Kindle books surpassed paperback sales as well.

Yet while the story of publishers reeling over the digital surge has been told, how are libraries affected by the shift? As VPL’s director of planning and development Daphne Wood points out, there are a number of issues the library faces with the takeover. Issues like how ebooks are licensed to libraries, concerns about access to e-readers (and a potential new “digital divide”), and how to build modern collections that appease everyone, are top of mind for many librarians.

By Robyn Smith, 05March2012, TheTyee.ca

Read The Tyee full article here.

In British Columbia, the Day of Pink 2012 is celebrated on February 29. Check out this link from the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation for more information.

DayofPink is the International Day against Bullying, Discrimination, Homophobia and Transphobia in schools and communities. We invite everyone to celebrate diversity by wearing a pink shirt and by organizing activities in their workplaces, organizations, communities and schools.

It is a day where communities across the country, and across the world, can unite in celebrating diversity and raising awareness to stop homophobic, transphobic & all forms of bullying. 

The International Day of Pink (April 11) was started in Nova Scotia when 2 straight high school students saw a gay student wearing a pink shirt being bullied. The 2 students intervened, but wanted to do more to prevent homophobic & transphobic bulling. They decided to purchase pink shirts, and a few days later got everyone at school to arrive  wearing pink, standing in solidarity. The result was that an entire school stopped homophobic & transphobic bullying. 

The message was clear: anyone can bully, any can be victimized by bullying, but together we can stop it.

Why should you participate?

Have you ever seen a friend hurt because of discrimination? Have you been hurt yourself? Discrimination comes in many forms including racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, agism and anti-semitism just to name a few. These social diseases create barriers, bullying, harassment, hate and violence. No one should have to experience the negativity created by discrimination. DayofPink is more than just a symbol of a shared belief in celebrating diversity – it’s also a commitment to being open minded, accepting differences and learning to respect each other.

~from the Day of Pink.org Website

Day of Pink Guidebook 2012

CKNW’s Pink Shirt Day Website

Education Minister George Abbott has asked his staff to work through the weekend to prepare back-to-work legislation aimed at ending a labour dispute with B.C. teachers.

Abbott made the announcement Thursday after a senior official in the Labour Ministry concluded a negotiated deal was “very unlikely.”

“I am satisfied now that for the days, weeks and probably months ahead, a freely negotiated collective agreement is an impossibility,” he said. “I will be moving as quickly as we can on this.”

He said students are paying the price for the dispute and he can no longer “in good conscience” allow the job action to continue.

A back-to-work bill could be introduced in the B.C. legislature as early as next week.

Vancouver Sun full text article here.

By Lindsay Kines and Rob Shaw, Victoria Times Colonist February 24, 2012

lkines@timescolonist.com

rshaw@timescolonist.com

Click here to read more stories from The Victoria Times Colonist

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Silent Moments in Education: 

An Autoethnography of Learning, Teaching, and Learning to Teach

by Colette A. Granger

Colette A. Granger’s highly original book considers moments in several areas of education in which silence may serve as both a response to difficulty and a means of working through it. The author, a teacher educator, presents narratives and other textual artefacts from her own experiences of learning and instruction. She analyses them from multiple perspectives to reveal how the qualities of education’s silences can make them at once difficult to observe and challenging to think about.

Silent Moments in Education combines autoethnography with psychoanalytic theory and critical discourse analysis in a unique consideration of the relations teachers and learners forge with knowledge, with ideas, and with one another. This provocative and thoughtful work invites scholars and educators to consider the multiple silences of participants in education, and to respond to them with generosity and compassion.

~from University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2011

UBC Library Catalogue information here

We’ve heard before that Vancouver school district is considering year-round schooling, but still I was surprised by the lead paragraph in a story today in the Globe and Mail.

Vancouver students may soon have to say goodbye to their two-month summer vacation. Over the next five years, the Vancouver School Board’s superintendent of schools, Steve Cardwell, plans to move the district to a year-round calendar.”

Later, he’s quoted as saying he expects three to six schools will have a balanced calendar by September 2012 or 2013. That sounds doable. But a district-wide change in five years??

The story prompted a tweet Tuesday morning from board chairwoman Patti Bacchus asking: “OK people, what do you think?”

Good question.

District communications manager Kurt Heinrich said discussions about year-round schooling are community driven, with the greatest interest emerging at Thunderbird elementary school.

February 14, 2012. 11:57 am • Section: Report Card

By Janet Steffenhagen, Vancouver Sun 

jsteffenhagen@vancouversun.com

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

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