Why I Strike.

    Zoe Branigan-Pipe – 2013
    Zoe Branigan and Sheri Selway (1980)
    I am an ETFO teacher in Ontario. I strike because I am committed to equity and social justice, not just in schools, but in life. I am proud to be part of the Ontario Teacher’s Federation (ETFO)  whose mandate is to ensure that all people have access to fair, safe and quality learning and working environments. As an educator (I can’t help it) I see this as a teachable moment for the thousands of citizens – children and adults alike – that we must never stay silent to injustices. As educators, it is our job to teach our citizens to work toward a world where all people have opportunities to learn, strive, be healthy and have joy in our professions, communities and family life. The Education sector must continue to move forward in silencing inequities, racism, gender bias,  and to voice our support for inclusivity of LGBTQ members and students and promote greater participation of First Nations, Métis and Inuit.
    “Canada’s labour movement has a long history of improving workers’ everyday lives. We fought for and won many of the rights enjoyed by all workers today – minimum wages, overtime pay, workplace safety standards, maternity and parental leave, vacation pay, and protection from discrimination and harassment” (https://canadianlabour.ca/uncategorized/why-unions-history-labour-canada/
    My first real memory of participating in a protest was when I was 12 years old. But of course, there were many before (and many after). It was 1984, a few weeks before Christmas. About 1,500 workers at the six Eatons stores across Ontario walked out, including Hamilton. Like many nights before, I remember staying up late, making signs, pamphlets, stickers, posters and of course hanging out with all the other kids my age while the parents organized, collaborated and discussed the events for the next day (or next initiative).   I remember how cold it was on that November day and yet it didn’t seem to deter the thousands of folks who showed up stormed inside Eaton’s to show support for the workers. We chanted “Boycott Eatons” and walked right into the department store in full solidarity with the workers (mostly women at the time).  According to union organizer Sue Grange, about 80 percent of the striking workers were women and faced a huge discrepancy in pay, poor work conditions and job insecurity. (source:https://www.tvo.org/article/when-strikers-stormed-eatons-flagship-department-store)
    My family was evicted twice during Urban Renewal initiatives. “City building” created roads and apartment buildings, but didn’t much care about low-income renters! This eventually carved the path for being advocates for safe and affordable communities.  I also remember the 1005 Local Stelco Strike. This is hard to forget as it was a 125-day walk-out with 12,500 striking workers at Stelco’s Hilton Works in Hamilton. And of course, I also spent a lot of time walking the picket line with my family.  My parents were (and still are)  strong activists which are how I remember my childhood – attending protests, marches, rallies and many many committee meetings (often held at our house).  I have never missed marching in the Labour Day Parade. From an early age I was exposed to “the Federation of Women Teachers Associations of Ontario” (FWTAO) which represented women teachers for over 75 years. It seemed like our house was filled with people working (volunteering) tirelessly to ameliorate one cause or another. Full ashtrays, good music playing in the background and close friends finding ways to make a difference. Throughout my years in Hamilton, I was exposed to central American Solidarity Human Rights groups, Tools for Peace (human hights, social justice) The Hamiton and Area Affirmative Action Coalition, HAAAC and worked with the O.F.L. (This group advocated for equal pay and non-traditional jobs).  My family was evicted twice during Urban Renewal initiatives. “City building” created roads and apartment buildings, but didn’t much care about low-income renters! This eventually carved the path for being advocates for safe and affordable communities.  When I was growing up in Hamilton, a student at HWDSB, men and women teachers were in separate unions, although I think they worked together. Eventually, they officially joined together to form ETFO.  Since my mother was part of the Union executive at that time, I know there were many meetings. My mom recalls, “ I remember that some women were uncertain of joining together and that men would “take over”, and not advocate for women’s issues or rights. Over the years teachers worked within the larger labour community for “No to Violence against Women”, better maternity benefits, affirmative action etc. Teachers advocated and fought for smaller class sizes, help for struggling students and fought continually against cutbacks to education.  Better working conditions are better learning conditions.   WHY PROTEST?:
    • My experience as a teacher of 42 Students http://pipedreams-education.ca/2015/09/23/why-we-protest-class-of-42-students-my-story/comment-page-1/
    • Looking beyond the Present http://pipedreams-education.ca/2013/01/08/why-do-i-protest-i-am-looking-beyond-the-present/
    Did you know?
    • 1872, when the Toronto Typographical Union demanded a nine-hour workday from the city’s publishers. Employers refused, and the printers walked off the job on March 25, 1872 (source:https://canadianlabour.ca/uncategorized/why-unions-history-labour-canada/
    • The first teachers’ labour union to be formed was the Federation of Women Teachers’ Associations of Ontario (FWTAO) in 1918  (source: Barbara Richter, It’s Elementary: A brief history of Ontario’s public elementary teachers and their federations, 2006, 4.)
    • May 15, 1919, workers in various trades wanted fair wages: much like workers today, they just wanted to earn enough to be able to support their families in the changing economy. They walked off the job and marched into the streets of Winnipeg, leading to one of the biggest labour actions Canada has ever seen. (source:https://canadianlabour.ca/uncategorized/why-unions-history-labour-canada/
    • 1944 was perhaps one of the most significant years for teachers’ unions in Ontario. It was the year that Ontario Premier George Drew created the Teaching Profession Act. (source: Barbara Richter, It’s Elementary: A brief history of Ontario’s public elementary teachers and their federations, 2006, 4.)
    • In 1951, when the Equal Pay Act was passed by the government, that men and women were paid the same salary for equal qualifications and responsibilities – This was five years after teachers had endorsed the concept, the Ontario government passed the Fair Remuneration for Female Employees Act, legislating equal pay. http://www.etfo.ca/AboutETFO/History/Documents/It’s%20Elementary%20-%202018%20Edition.pdf, pg 63)
    • 1971: Unions fought for the rights of women to have paid Maternity Benefits
    • Similar to the events of 1973, when Education Minister Tom Wells introduced Bills 274 and 275Bill 115 gives the Education Minister the exclusive authority to prevent or end any strike and legislate new teacher contracts, effectively putting an end to teachers’ unions’ rights to collective bargaining
    • Prior to 1975, teachers in Ontario did not have the right to legally strike
    • Bill 100, the School Boards’ and Teachers’ Collective Negotiations Act, became law in July 1975
    • Teachers Collective Negotiation Act, Bill 100, in 1975 was a turning point for the teaching profession in Ontario. 
    •  The first labour organization in Canada to do so was the Ontario Federation of Labour, which in 1983 designated seats specifically for women on its executive. http://www.etfo.ca/AboutETFO/History/Documents/It’s%20Elementary%20-%202018%20Edition.pdf 
    • In 1997, Bill 100 was repealed by the Harris government in favour of Bill 160. This bill would restrict teacher bargaining.
    • The government passed Bill 115 (The Putting Students First Act) on September 11, 2012, Premier McGuinty asked teachers to “hit the pause button” on salary increases. This bill also limits the legality of teachers’ unions and support staff going on strike. In April 2016, the law was found to be unconstitutional. (source:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Putting_Students_First_Act). 
    • 2015, OPSBA tabled a set of contract strips aimed at setting back the clock on years of hard-fought bargaining gains. The strips included: management control over teacher preparation time; increased teacher supervision time; teachers losing the ability to determine which student assessments to use; removal of the new, fair teacher hiring policy; erosion of occasional teacher working conditions; erosion of local bargaining rights; removal of class size protections in local agreements; and changing the role of DECEs in Kindergarten programs. Source:http://www.etfo.ca/AboutETFO/History/Documents/It’s%20Elementary%20-%202018%20Edition.pdf
    • 2015, ETFO reached a tentative agreement in early November that included a 2.5 percent salary increase enhancements to working conditions. Other gains included improvements to the teacher hiring regulation that benefited occasional teachers, and a half-day Professional Activity Day devoted to health and safety.
    •  April 2017, the Ontario NDP released its pre-election policy document that included a number of ETFO policies, including reduced Kindergarten class size; more resources for students with special needs; a move to random-sample EQAO testing; a commitment to creating healthy and safe schools; and a plan to increase access to high-quality child care. (Source: http://www.etfo.ca/AboutETFO/History/Documents/It’s%20Elementary%20-%202018%20Edition.pdf)
                       
    Print Friendly, PDF & Email

    When it is time to drop your lesson and talk about world events….

    What is your lens?

    Maureen Wilson, from Hamilton, Ontario shares her experiences at the Women’s March of Washington

    We had to be ready to change our pre-planned lesson…Students wanted to talk about what was happening in the world. The following posts describes why we altered our plan and shares the alternate lesson!

    Critical literacies involve people using language to exercise power, to enhance everyday life in schools and communities, and to question practices of privilege and injustice. (Comber, 2017)

    Flag at Dr. Davey school is half mast to pay respect to victims at Mosque shooting

    Huge events unfolded across the world over the past two weeks which prompted our teaching team to change a “pre-planned lesson” to focus on current issues of Social Activism – locally and globally.  On January 20th, Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration took place. The next day, January 21st, together, over 60 countries – men, women, and children, joined in solidarity to March for human rights – “The Women’s March on Washington” was declared the largest global protest – ever. Then, on January 28th a Mosque in Quebec, Canada was brutally attacked and many innocent people were killed. January 30th – Thousands join together to show support and to honour the victims of the Mosque shooting.

     


    Knowledge Circle at Enrichment Centre

    It is difficult for the most well-rounded, emotionally and socially strong of people to handle the immense mix of emotions resulting from these events. Regardless of your point of view of Trump (or the platform), or if you are a woman or Muslim – we are all impacted – not just by injustice, hate and fear – but also by the joy, and relief that comes with solidarity and community actions. We are affected by the conflicting and confusing media.

     

    Our young people are especially affected.

    People in positions of respect and power have made accusations about journalists not being truthful and Journalists have made accusations of people in power not being truthful to the people. The idea of “fake news” has been spread across the inter-webs like wildfire. Twitter, Instagram and Facebook feeds are overwhelmed with political posts and emotions are high.


    After watching the powerful poem by Royce Mann, we started our INQUIRY through a discussion of “Privilege and Power”. 


    The following lesson is an overview of how we approached these topics as an Inquiry:

    We started with the “Big Idea/Inquiry Question”:

    • How can global events impact local/community action and local/community events impact Global action?
    • What is my lens when approaching these issues?
    • How am I privileged?
    • What does it mean to be “in Solidarity?”

    We shared the “Culminating task” what  will students do by end of lesson?:

    • Complete a Blog post that focuses on an idea or concept that uses the Women’s March on Washington as a prompt. Write through an optimistic lens, utilize a variety of media and provide questions for further thinking/discussion
    • Create a short podcast that focuses on one aspect of Social Justice and  Solidarity and the impact of positive activism.
    • Create a video that uses a specific lens/perspective showcasing the positive aspects of humanity, people, and social activism.

    We used the Curriculum Standards as a guide:

    • Critical Literacy: Opportunities to relate knowledge and skills in language learning to wider contexts, both across the curriculum and in the world beyond the school, motivate students to learn and to become lifelong learners. (The Ontario Curriculum, Language, p. 12)
    • Students must be able to differentiate between fact and opinion; evaluate the credibility of sources; recognize bias; be attuned to discriminatory portrayals of individuals and groups, including women and minorities; and question depictions of violence and crime. (The Ontario Curriculum, Language, p.13)
    • Reading – Point of View identify the point of view presented in texts, including increasingly complex or difficult texts; give evidence of any biases they may contain; and suggest other possible perspectives (e.g., determine whether an author’s choice of voices to include seems justified and suggest how the meaning would change if different voices were chosen) (The Ontario Curriculum, Language, Grade Seven,  p.128)
    • Point of View – Demonstrate understanding that different media texts reflect different points of view
    • Making Inferences/ Interpreting Messages -Interpret increasingly complex or difficult media texts, using overt and implied messages as evidence for their interpretations

    We made connection to UN Sustainable Development Goals:

    • Goal 5 – Reduced Inequalities
    • Goal 10 – Gender Equality
    • Goal 16 – Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

    We made connections to ISTE Standards and 21st Century Learning: https://www.iste.org/standards/standards/for-students-2016

    • Knowledge Constructor: Students critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others.
    • Digital Citizen: Students recognize the rights, responsibilities and opportunities of living, learning and working in an interconnected digital world, and they act and model in ways that are safe, legal and ethical.
    • Creative Communicator: Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals.  

    We invited community members to join our class and share their experiences:

    Mary-Louise Pigott shares her experience attending the March on Washington


    For the lesson…. Read on!!   Continue reading When it is time to drop your lesson and talk about world events….

    Print Friendly, PDF & Email

    Design Thinking ~ Make Urban ReDevelopment a Reality in Minecraft

    The purpose of this lesson is to inspire and engage students to use creative and critical thinking skills to make decisions and designs that impact an urban area. This cross-curricular approach to Design Thinking, allows students the freedom to use and connect  their inquires to real examples. The activity is intended for group or collaborative learning and uses a combination of whole class and small group facilitation with access to a variety of tools. The final product is a Design and proposal of a chosen Urban Landscape in their own community. Minecraft (and lego) are ideal platforms for students to use resources and tools collaborative to display their concepts.  The example lesson (below)  was facilitated with a group of 7th and 8th Graders in the Gifted Program at HWDSB.

    Design Thinking – How are Urban Landscapes changing to meet the needs of people and communities of the present and future?

    Throughout their schooling, our students learn why cities are built along waterways. Most Social Studies  (History, Geography) curriculums emphasize the impact of Early Settlements and Explorers at the turn of the 19th Century. Students learn about industrialization and as they move along in grades and age, they begin to make connections between the age of industrialization, globalization, communities, Social Justice and Environment.  Our learners have and will make strong connections about how the age of industrialization has impacted them and the world around them. Eventually, they will use this knowledge to move forward and apply 21st Century technologies to make change and adaptations to the world around them.

    Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 5.20.37 PM

    The picture here is Hamilton, Ontario, situated on the Western part of Lake Ontario (across from Toronto, South of Niagara Falls). The area at the bottom of the picture display the industries and factories that gave Hamilton it’s nick name – Steel Town.  Over the last few years, many of these factories have downsized, been bought out, or have shut down.

    This is a REAL  example that IMPACTS my students. It is their community, their city, their economy. They need to feel compelled and INSPIRED to care, to understand why this single example connects to people and events around the world.

    Ask the Learners to think Big: How can  old technologies and industries be transformed to meet the needs of today..and the future? WHY does it matter?

    In most big cities, there are areas just like Hamilton where the industries that occupy the space are changing in scale and nature. Many are approaching the end of their time. This is an excellent opportunity to have students explore, investigate and make real world connections. Who knows, maybe one of their ideas and concepts will become a reality.

    Ask them  to think BIGGER.

    What makes a good city? Why?

    What is the difference between demolishing and restoring?

    How are cities changing or how should they change to meet the needs of a growing population?

    Invite students to make GLOBAL Connections – In this short and compelling talk Kent Larson gives many examples of how cities and industries are changing to meet the needs of the future.

    Kent Larson: Brilliant designs to fit more people in every city gives some examples that apply to the now and the future….

    Bring it back to a local example and invite students to share potential ideas, concerns and insights from those shared by Larson. Are the innovations realistic? Doable? Possible? How do the ideas and theories from other communities impact our community?

    Return to Barton and Tiffany (Hamilton’s Industry Land)

    http://www.raisethehammer.org/article/2029/return_to_barton-tiffany “The Carr/Curran “vision” was presented to planning committee councillors in the late summer of 2012 and was greeted politely if not enthusiastically.”

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    IMG_3915

     

    Invite students to explore examples from other local areas. Examples that are real and possible. Here is one from Hamilton’s Neighbour – Toronto.The Cherry Beach area, along the Toronto Waterfront that seems to only be used by locals. Paths, and parks boarder along industries and along the waterfront.

     

     

     

    IMG_3905

     

    Invite students to share the many examples of how land and space can be restored to attract people and improve communities. This picture is an example of bike and pedestrian paths that were added behind roads, beside roads, on the side of factories and even along old rail lines, eventually leading to the Beaches area of Toronto.

     

     

     

    IMG_0588

    The TASK:

    1) In pairs or groups, continue to investigate the history and examples of urban redevelopment both locally and globally.

    2)Draw, Sketch and Discuss alternatives to the land.

    IMG_0594

     

     

     

     

     

     

    3) Co-create and build the land in the Minecraft and/or LEGO Environment – Flat Land (collaborative server).

     

    IMG_0484

     

     

     

     

     

    Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 7.20.21 PM

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    4) Using a shared Document, presentation style, ADD a captured screen shot of the proposed concept/design.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1bMz0s5L1sdf6CHRAVBraqnURGGw3jW03S4GSGCVZga4/edit#slide=id.g2a828f7ba_00

    Print Friendly, PDF & Email

    MY TOP 10 LEARNING SPACES – A Universal Design, in a Gifted Classroom

    The learning environment is what will help create community. Before anything, students need to feel safe. Not just physically safe, but safe to learn how they learn, safe to think “outside the box”, safe to ask questions, safe to make mistakes, safe to be who they are.  I recently read a post by Jackie Gerstein, a friend and mentor who talks passionately about the importance of community in the classroom (It’s About Connections Not Content). Below, I talk about the learning spaces to honour all learners.  It is my intention to help these students find their passions, their gifts, and their understanding of themselves.

    The Circle

    Each day, we start off in a large circle. We might play a game, talk about a current event or gather our ideas for upcoming lessons. The circle gives brings the class together as one team, a group of co-learners and a support structure that they will need.

    Comfort and Escape

    A few years ago, I taught in a brand new school with small classrooms. A quiet “comfy” space was not an option and was strictly forbidden by fire regulations. I yearned to provide my students with an area to go when they needed to unpack and reflect. As we know, this 7 hour day, surrounded by an assortment of individuals can be overwhelming and draining. This classroom (an older school) allows for this space.  Students can use it to work collaboratively using the bulletin board or small table or even the floor as a workspace.  Of course,  reading a book, plugged into a good song is also pretty fantastic for any learner.

    It only took about one hour before a student crawled into this “getaway”.  A calming environment that is still in the same room is a true gift for any classroom.

     

    Exercise – Meditative, focus~refocus, transition

    I truly love to Hula-Hoop. Not only because it is great for the abdominal muscles, but the repetitive motion is soothing. After a long day, or a long think-session, there is nothing better then grabbing a hula-hoop,  with a little music (or quiet is good too) and finding a place to gather thoughts and re-fuel for the next “thing” to come. Another true gift that this classroom offers – enough space.

    Game

    There has been much debate about the use of Gaming in the classroom and its integration into core subjects like math, social studies and language. The Kinect offers an incredibly fun way for students to work together in solving problems, debating stories and characters, and thinking through puzzles and math games. Allowing students to move around, challenge one another and discuss the creation and process of the game itself is incredible insightful and meets them in their world. We will be integrating Minecraft in our classroom this year, as a way to plan, think, and discuss through creation and collaborative building.

    Apple TV, Reflection, Interaction.

    So often, we use the projector and whiteboard to deliver instruction and content. But with the Reflection App or Apple TV, students can broadcast their work and designs on a larger surface. To show the students a quick video, or demonstrate an iPad tool, I can stand anywhere in the room and broadcast quickly and safely. Even better, students can broadcast their work.  Only a few years ago, I found myself stumbling trying to improve my motor skills when using the Smart tablet.

    Group Think-Tank and iPad Center

    One of my students asked, “Too bad we can’t just write on this table!”. I wonder if “Idea Paint” would work here.  To move away from their desk workspace to a group workspace is valuable. It is also valuable to have an option to go back to ones own individual space. With the use of the HWDSB iPad program and the School iPad purchases, I have about 10 iPads in the classroom. We will start of with interview videos. A favourite app used today was WORLD OF SAND. I highly recommend it. Highly.

    Weekly Schedule, Handouts and TEA.

    Posting a daily overview is important, but to see it in context within the entire week is essential. Like adults learners, our younger students want to know what is next and why, and especially how it relates to their learning. There is a definite accountability attached to this practice, but it is so worth it. At the end of the week, I brew tea and together we work on the next weekly schedule. It empowers them and gives them voice.

    Choices and Voices

    This image keeps changing. As students become more comfortable with me – and more confident, they start adding more ideas and information here. It is fascinating to see how many students ask to get away from the brick and mortar. They want field trips, walks, and to learn outside.

     

    Online

    Blended learning is not only going to provide more solid communication and on-going information for students and parents, but also more access to content and learning. While it might be surprising to some (ha, ha!), I am not the bearer of all knowledge and information.  Neither is the Internet. A blended learning platform (where students can also learn online) such as EDMODO (something new I’m trying this year) will allow me to facilitate content that is rich and diverse to a group of students that vary greatly in learning needs.  As well, each student will be given a personal blog, and will have access to my daily plans through Google Docs and our classroom blog (another huge accountability risk that is worth the immense outcome).

     Community

    My favourite learning space – The real world.  This year, I’ve established a partnership with the Hamilton Farmers Market where students will get a chance to learn stories of the lives of real Hamiltonians. Students will learn to shop, cook and share resources.  Most importantly, they will have an opportunity to socialize and interact with citizens and with each other in authentic ways. With some structure and guidance, they will have a chance to apply what they have learned at school to something real.

     

    We have also arrange for several community walks. Our school location is surrounded by hundreds of acres of forests (Royal Botanical Gardens) and wooded trails. The colours, smells, sounds and wildlife are the inspiration I’ll need when teaching poetry and creative writing. Perfect for finding space and time to talk, share and develop a real sense of self.

     

     

    Print Friendly, PDF & Email

    Ultimate Learning Space

    Today, I had the wonderful experience of meeting Paul Takala (Diretor of Digital Technology), from the Hamilton Public Library. It is he, that prompted this post and the pencast interview that follows.

    The story starts last January when I walked into the Hamilton Public Library and wept. My two boys, were stunned. “Mom, don’t cry, they fixed it…”. But, I was so choked up because the new space was such a great example (in my opinion) of a rich, diverse, and connected learning space and with a variety of tools (a teachers dream come true). Standing in one spot, with the ceiling to floor window giving me natural light, I could see by boys playing on the touch screen computers in the child section, the fish tanks, the parents reading in the cozy corners with their children, the couches and round tables, the fireplace, the self checkouts, the GIANT window overlooking the Farmers Market (which is also amazing), the 50 computers, all being used, and I can’t forget the LONG table with power and internet plugs for people to bring their in own devices. My words do not give it justice, but these pictures do: Information and photos: http://www.loveitalot.com/2011/01/hpl.html

    I stood there, stared, (and stopped weeping) and thought – if I was teaching in a class right now (at the moment I’m seconded to Brock), I would want to bring my students here weekly. Maybe we could curate an exhibit? Maybe we could be leaders and teach adults how to use some learning tools? Maybe we could use the research tools and work on a variety of inquiry based and problem based lessons and be surrounded by resources and people that would help us?

    I’m glad to have met Paul and that he agreed to share a quick audio note with me about the Library:

    Print Friendly, PDF & Email