Thank you for the gracious pat on the back, BBC, but let's look at more data before policy makers and universities believe their "achievements."
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A high-quality education's effectiveness is determined by the quality of its teachers - teacher education, skills and training.
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For numbers of year now, there has been a movement that seeks to "indigenize" education in Canada. This means that our institutions will have to create an appropriate curriculum for non-indigenous and indigenous educators alike to deliver to a very diverse student body. Can this be done? If so, who will get to say what is appropriate and what is appropriation?
When corruption and callous disregard for the marginalized can be so richly rewarded, what incentive do my students have for being good? When cheating does not preclude you from occupying the highest office in the province, why should they listen to my warnings about plagiarism?
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Eighty years ago, the Spanish Civil War resulted in a vast displacement and large number of unaccompanied child refugees. It was from the ashes of that crisis that Plan International was created. I am sure John Langdon-Davies, the founder of Plan International, would be heartbroken to know how urgently, in so many parts of the world, our work is still needed.
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Later on this week or month, you will perhaps receive and then open an envelope containing your child's tri-annual report card, an account informing you of their academic progress in school so far this year. But you might find that not everything your child has learned will be part of that running commentary.
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Recently, with rising Islamophobia, a Muslim child was threatened on school grounds by someone wearing a mask. Though schools may see themselves as "neutral," the sense of safety and well-being of many children continues to be hijacked with the ongoing rhetoric of political leaders and increasing hate incidents and crimes.
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In teachers' college, I had an excellent professor who talked about removing oneself from a situation before it became critically difficult to deal with. I'll call it the 60 per cent rule, although he may have given a different number. Don't wait until you are at 99 per cent of what you can handle, when you are dealing with other people.
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Currently, the public education system in Ontario seems more focused on looking good to the public than actually being the best it can be for the children. Ontario should look to Finland. They are now doing something right, but they weren't always #1 in education. In the 1970s they made a conscious systemic decision to focus on learning rather than performance.
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I know from my years spent in public school classrooms and the schoolyard...that tough love can be done in kindness. I learned that consequences can be carried out with kindness. Gentle critique can be conducted with a cushion of kindness. All of this and more. All can be cradled in kindness and compassion and gentleness and love.
GMOs have the potential to irreversibly alter the genetic core of the food supply. It is very worrying that Health Canada seems more concerned about jumping on the industry bandwagon by trying to convince the unwilling public about the perceived benefits of GMOs than actually carrying out its own safety studies.
Among the groups that I saw at the Toronto march was a contingent of elementary school teachers. As most people know, the great majority of elementary school teachers everywhere are women. As women, they have experienced more than their fair share of discrimination, pay inequity, and even violence in the workplace. But should teachers have the right to protest and then to bring their views and opinions into their classrooms? It might depend on the views and how they are expressed.
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As a Canadian, it's hard to believe it's possible for teachers to successfully educate 104 children of different grades in a single classroom. Where children sit on a dirt floor, have an empty stomach, don't have sufficient school supplies for their needs. Children excited to be in school, no matter how far they had to walk under a blazing sun.
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Having a positive classroom environment and solid relationships with both students and parents can make any teaching professional's life so much easier. But a happy classroom, comfortable students, and supportive parents don't simply happen by themselves. Instead, they're the result of hard work and preparation.
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There's a new trend happening around town and it's one that may be catching on. Consider this my civic duty to spread the word and stop the idiocy of being legislated. That's right -- schools are now trying to tell me what I can and can't put in my kid's lunchbox.
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For the first time in 15 years, I was able to stop fearing what people thought of me. More importantly, I don't feel self-conscious at all, mostly thanks to the fact you wouldn't be able to tell I am living with psoriasis unless you looked closely to see the blemishes left on my skin.
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Some teachers in an area near Toronto are taking kids' snacks away or not allowing kids to eat them if they're "unhealthy." Parents are furious, and they've got every right to be. When a teacher makes the decision to disallow certain foods in their classroom, the result can be very unsettling.
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What I have realized time and time again is something so profound, it is actually simple. There is really nothing kids want more than to be liked, to be accepted for who they are. It is the greatest way we can care for children, for youth: we must show them they matter.
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As I have written previously, I am the spouse of a teacher and spend a lot of time with teachers. I'd like to start the new school year by reminding you of some truths about teachers. So if your child comes home and complains about something that happened at school give the teacher the benefit of the doubt.
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The first day of school was a biggie for us. We all had the back-to-school jitters, so my ex and I brought our boys to school together on their first day last year. It was awkward, and I felt like a phoney showing up to school looking like a family, but I got over it quickly. My kids were happy to have both their parents at school to wave to them and support them as they walked through the school doors.
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And it can get pretty costly.
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If I were a teacher starting my career, or even in a well-established position, I would be very concerned that any publicly unpopular view I might hold could affect my employment. Even if I never chose to let my students know my views, my public political participation would be deeply chilled.
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Our son, Casey, has autism, a neuro-developmental disorder that is often characterized by rigid and repetitive behaviours, difficulty with social communication and uneven intellectual development, among many other challenges. Regular participation in an integrated public school has not always been easy for him.
It is end-of-June: one would think summer and holidays would be on this teacher's mind. Instead, I have been reflecting and writing about my teaching practice, in anticipation for another school year this coming fall, mulling over my personal philosophy about care and how it underlies everything I do in the classroom.
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The gift you choose this week could make all the difference in how your child's teacher feels about the last 10 months. It could help them understand how they've helped your entire family to grow. You know your child's teacher best, but here are some tips shared with me by my boys' homeroom teachers over the years.
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I may have never taught you, but I want you to hear this: I feel I know you. I taught you, kid. Or versions of you. Taught you in kindergarten, in Grade 3, again in Grade 5 and in Grade 7. You moved quickly through the years. And now you are finally here, at the pinnacle of your secondary schooling career. You've reached the top, kid. This is it.
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If someone gave you $80.5 million dollars, you'd probably feel pretty good about them. You may want to shout it from the rooftops that you think they're great -- and you may even be willing to pay a million dollars or two to shout it, especially if it meant the money would keep rolling in. In essence, that's what auditor general Bonnie Lysyk found was happening in Ontario with the Wynne government's secret payments to teachers' unions. The total amounts paid by the government to teachers union organizations is astounding: since 2000, $80.5 million in taxpayer money has been funneled to teachers' organizations.
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I know that the August "me" and the May "me" are just two totally different people. Autumn was made for teachers. Ahh, yes. There is no time quite like fall and the beginning of the school year for assessing prime teacher performance. Fall is just our best time. We're at our peak. On our game.
World Vision video
This may come as a shock to some readers: Teachers are human beings -- nearly all of them. This means that, like the rest of us, they make mistakes, behave badly, and sometimes just lose it. It also means that, like the rest of us, most teachers are basically good and honest people who work hard to do a very difficult job. But some are not. And the ones who are not should not be teaching.
This week, World Vision released a video showing what it might be like to have your classroom torn apart by war. In about two minutes, Life As a Classroom shows the destruction of once-friendly schoolroom over Syria's five-year conflict. As the video opens we see the teacher energetically teaching from the front. The walls are covered with colourful posters and a map of the world. All is peaceful. All is as it should be. Suddenly we hear the chanting of political protests in the street outside. Teacher and students move to the windows to look out. That's when things begin to change.
We are doing a huge disservice to our kids. We are raising a generation of children who are going to be incapable of succeeding in the modern era. They are being taught to be egocentric and to give up, often before even trying.
So what's a parent to do when they realize that their child, for whatever reason, is having difficulty making or maintaining friendships? No parent wants to feel that their child is missing out or... being shunned for one reason or another... Yet, this is the reality for too many children who face rejection on a daily basis.