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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In those early days of my son's autism diagnosis, I had completely lost my parental instinct in "getting" my son. And then I did find those wonderful therapists and first teachers at my son's adapted preschool. The school showed me the way to getting my son the help he needed. When he started at his adapted preschool, the first thing his teachers taught me was how to enjoy playing with my son, not to "make him" talk, but to "engage him," to bring him into the world where he could see how much fun we could both have when he played with me.
As necessary and significant as teachers know curriculum is to our work and calling: you must also realize that we will throw it all under the bus if it means assisting a child. We will put it all on the back burner if our students need us to teach them life lessons that will help them be better friends, better citizens, better people.
Too many Canadians overlook a critical aspect of their financial plan: life insurance. We know the number of households that own individual life insurance policies is falling, but the reality is that 33 per cent of families would be in immediate financial trouble if something were to happen to their primary breadwinner.
The current process has all the hallmarks of other industries that have been severely disrupted: centrally controlled by a head office, highly regulated, lacking transparency, subject to byzantine rules, and a lot of process friction from start to finish. There is nothing close to "online," "real time" or "customizable" about it.
Teachers: we have this year to write a part for ourselves in a child's life. To write a scene for ourselves in a student's life. To influence a young person, a teenager, a young adult in the writing of their life account. It might seem a small role. But we are crucial in that we are those who can make a difference.
Sometimes as teachers I feel we forget that we have priorities. There are some things more important than others. Curriculum is necessary, but if the house is on fire, that document is not coming with me. Outcomes are necessary but if the room is under threat, I will not give them a moment's notice. Lesson plans are useful, but if a child's life is at risk, that carefully laid-out plan for my day would be the last thing on my mind.
Okay, I was a bit of a keener, but I didn't think of teachers as being mere dispensers of marks. Because I was raised among teachers, I knew they were human beings too, and usually interesting ones. I did well in school partly because I worked my tail off, but also because acknowledging that my teachers were human allowed me to figure out what they expected, and how they worked.
New Power episodes are no longer playing on Starz, you can't turn on the TV or radio without some type of "bogo" sale going on and at least one person is having their final all white party. If this was Twitter, that sentence would have ended with #SummerIsOver #Back2SchoolSeasonIsHere #TeachersStopCrying.
Parents have a right to know what's really at stake, the issues that could cause a further decline in the teaching profession's reputation and resources as political leaders attempt to pay off their debts through cuts to education. These negotiations are about the fact that teachers matter, and the way they're treated matters too.