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Monday, August 4, 2014

Huron Skill Gap

On the July 18th my Director and I attended the Huron Skills Gap Working Committee meeting in Goderich. The Four County Labour Market Planning Board Report: 'The First Step: Understanding the Skills Gap In Huron County'.
As in most areas Huron County is experiencing a shortage of skill trades people. The committee is working on ways to help fill the gap in the solo trades or in manufacturing/technology sector. In a way I was coming into this part way through and had a bit of catching up on things as this was not the first meeting. At this meeting we worked on fine tuning the Terms of Reference and Priorities and Actions of the committee. I will share the revised ones when received. Much was discussed on assessment, skills and aptitudes of (potential) employees. There was discussion about schools and 'All Pathways' and if  guidance counselors know &/or do enough to promote skill trades. Also how OYAP, CO-OP, SHSM & Dual Credits open doors & placement. Is there alignment between My Blueprint with other assessments tools such as Ontario Skills Passport and TOWES? Do employers do enough to recruit the right employee and provide the training necessary for the advancement of the employee? Where & when should training or retraining occur? Centre for Employment & Learning
This is just a brief report on the meeting and is from the perspective of a trustee.  Sometimes what you think and transfer to writing do not correlate, therefore ones needs to examine & re-examine what is before you. I believe having a trustee/director/other sit on a non-board committee is an exception but as mentioned to me, it is good community relationship.
Not knowing a lot about My Blueprint and some of the other assessment tools and the emphasis that is maybe being placed on them especially in secondary school, could we maybe be directing students into areas that the assessment 'thinks' they are suited for, ignoring their inner desire. Is there cultural stigma between white collar and blue collar jobs? Are individuals and companies unwilling to do apprenticeships afraid that the employee will jump ship once done their apprenticeship? Government grants/initiatives/incentives verses apprenticeship wages and licensed wages and non licensed wages, all come into play. Will there always be a draw to 'greener pasture'? Governments can do the talk and the walk but it is ultimately up to the employer and employee what the talk and walk accomplish.
There is another issue rising to the surface, the need of teachers for skilled trades. Gone are the days of many schools offering the full range tech courses, let alone on a regular rotation. With the loss of the courses comes to the loss of the qualified teacher. Many of these teachers were probably teaching with only a licensed trade teaching certificate, therefore that is all they could teach. Do you see people going to university, teacher's college and getting their trade license to become a teacher? This issue does warrant attention. 

Below are a view links/articles that are relevant to the conversation.

By 2020, more than 75% of the jobs that exist will require STEM related skills & knowledge.
                       (STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering & Math)

In Andrew Campbell's post '13 Sacred Cows in School' he talks about Seth Godins 'Stop Stealing Dreams'; "He asserts that modern schools “…were invented at precisely the same time we were perfecting mass production and interchangeable parts and then mass marketing. ” Modern schools were designed to produce compliant workers and eager consumers for our emerging industrial  economy."

Schools As Factories

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Void

When I created this blog my intention was to regularly blog/post relevant information or my thoughts on things. As one can see I have been very lacks at that. Why?

I do find my time these days very full and stretched to the limits. But, they say if you want to do something you will find the time. Well I found the time to make excuses.

I do do a lot of posting/tweeting and sharing/retweeting on Facebook and  Twitter. Is that sufficient? It is sharing information.But does it show my thoughts on it or my understanding of it?

Maybe that is it? We have become a society of quick actions, short attention spans and glance reading. I see an article, read the first couple of paragraphs and say to myself "That is interesting". In some cases I don't even finish reading the article and save it Diigo or favour it or like it to go back to later. Do I? Did I fully understand what I just read? Did I take the time to dig deeper and if necessary to do further research? Is it that there is so much out there to take in that we just glimpse at what is offered?

Or maybe is it that I want my writings to be of substance with many links to accompanying articles to back up my writing. Are those my thoughts or just rewriting someone else?. Maybe I would be better off just writing a sentence or two or a paragraph.  Would you still read them? Is the point of my writing to get verification from others or just a means of relaying my thoughts?

This is getting to deep for me.

I hope to rejoin the blogging world. I guess we will just have to wait and see the results.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Board Reflection

This may sound more like a self evaluation, critique or a campaign speech rather than a reflection. 4 years ago did I know why I wanted to become a trustee? Did I know what I wanted to accomplish? All I knew was that I had a desire to try. I had developed a passion for education.
To grow one has to step out of their comfort zone. Becoming a trustee is a little different than sitting on an ARC or being a School Council Chair or PIC member. Could I do it? Did I know enough about the System? Was I about to rise to my level of incompetence?
As trustees we are responsible for Policy & Procedure and leave the operations to staff.  What aspects of operations do we need to know to evaluate the effectiveness of our Strategic Plan & Board Improvement Plan? The questions we ask, even the stupid ones, with their answers increase ones knowledge of the system. The questions challenge and the answers verify what the Board is doing.
Maybe going off on a little tangent here but we all too often hear the word accountability. Who is accountable for what and to whom? As more and more, depending how or if you want to say it, control or power is becoming centralize the bureaucracy may overshadow the goal, education. This raises the question frequently being asked “is the role & responsibilities of trustees and even of local boards pertinent?” The further the leadership is from the base, the school & all,  the further it is from the implementation and the observation, what works.  On the same note the more voices a voice goes through the more the voice will change.  What is said, heard, perceived, implemented and meant may not always align. We all played the game where the first person in a group is given a phrase or sentence and it is repeated through the group to the last person. Is the original message ever the same as the last message? There has to be common understanding of roles & authority for the system to work. Everyone is responsible/accountable to everyone.
I recently saw this title. ‘The Shift from Learning to Read to Reading to Learn’.  I thought to myself how appropriate this is and complex. Lets change it to’ Learning to Learn to Learning to Learn.’ When we begin something there is always apprehension but when that journey is successful there is happiness. The happiness continues as the desire continues. What happens when the desire wanes? Does the Happiness? Go back to the original statement,’ Learning to Read’. Most kids enjoy reading as they grow up. It is for enjoyment/pleasure. What happens when that reading is associated with something else? The same can apply to learning. We all remember those inquisitive & passionate but annoying WHYS of our kids while they were kids.  What happens when we go from the how & the want to learn to learning for learning? What do those WHYS sound like?
We have 5 words for that. Engage, Inspire, Innovate...Always Learning.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Coming of 1:1

Our/my school Board, AMDSB, just introduced a 1:1 pilot project for grade 7 & 8 students in a group of schools. I am in favour of the initiative and believe in its success but also see the obstacles to it possible failure. There is no problem searching the internet to find stories of success and failure of both 1:1 & BYOD projects.

We have all heard the saying “The medium is the message.” We don’t want to be developing a new saying “Technology is the message” but “Technology is the means to the message.” Navigating the Digital Self

The Board has taking the initiative to launch the project. They must believe in it. The Purpose of Technology in Education .They must support the teachers, the students and the parents. It cannot be “here it is, go for it”. The training and resources for the teachers is essential.

The teachers are welcome to and excited about the project.What they do with it could the make or break of it. Its Time for Change. As compared to BYOD, 1:1 gives conformity to the devices used and what can be used. Some same diversity is needed. Total equity is still an issue. Will it require additional training & time for the teachers?

“My own Ipad.” “Terrific.” Disruptions: Minecraft, an Obsession and an Educational Tool. With this comes responsibility for the student. One to One Computing Triumph

Conversation Before Transformation. Parents are the wildcard here. They cannot be left hanging on what this all looks like: for the students, within the classroom and at home. It is maybe more of a change for them then the student. Whether it is a teacher, school or board led, parents need to be shown/demonstrated how this works.

Like all good plans it is the planning and implementation that can make or break it. The Board, teachers, students and parents all need to be on the same page or in this case screen, for success. What If? Technology in the 21st Century Classroom

I may have shared more information here than me saying anything but that is me. We will see how this supports our 4 Cs & 1 P and where we go from here.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Who is the Teacher?

There is always discussion in educational circles about the role of parents in education and the role of homework in that education. The article Homework Hits Home as Schools Outsource Teaching to Parents throws another take on the discussion.

Two related statements in the article stand out to me: "...children learn much more from their parents than their teachers." & "...parents acknowledged as the first teachers." The interpretation(s) of these statements make for an interesting discussion(s).

Although the article does not state age or grade for this 'outsourcing' does in go against Ontario's Early Learning Program & FDK? If parents are the first teachers and children learn more from them than teachers why is there this rush to get them into school? Did Ontario remove Grade 13 so it could add JK? I don't think so but now we have children entering school that may not be ready and ones leaving school that aren't ready. Every child, family, school and situation is different and JK & SK are not mandatory, you are certainly looked upon poorly if you choose not to follow that route. Is this what JK/SK is for Fast Tracking to Kindergarten as a mentioned in a previous post Questions on Engaging/Involving . 

Parents and teachers all have a role in the education of children. Can lines be drawing who is to do what and where? As stated above 'every child, family, school and situation is different' but school has become the place to equalize the imbalances that there maybe. Right or wrong.  (Poor choice of words here) If the parent(s) are lacking or not providing the skills/etc, parenting, the child needs in the first place, how can mandated involvement help? Maybe I am shifting too much to parent being parent as opposed to parent being teacher. The article does state '...schools are being told to consider running training and development courses for parents and to invite then in as guest teachers.' Parents should want to come into the classroom and school. Parents should want to assist and help their children learn. Is it an open sincere invitation? The line of communication between child/parent with the teacher/school is so important. The involvement/engagement is built on trust, "...valuing parents as part of the education process." (I know others can weigh in on this better than me and probably will.) For past thoughts see posts Parent Involvement, Parent Involvement II, Parent Involvement III & Parent Involvement IV

Homework is its own topic by itself. I will reference a few links:  Alfie Kohn Rethinking Homework , Tim Slack The Role of Homework, Mike McNeff Challenging the Core Belief in Homework, Diane Milne 8 Strategies for Homework Success

One cannot put all their thoughts into one post/blog. One's thoughts maybe go in many directions. The directions are what lead to conversations.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Reflection of Thoughts II: The Links

I posted Reflections of Thoughts on the 28th putting some of my views/questions about the current Education sector labour issues in Ontario on paper. This post has links to various articles. Is this a battle of &/or for the past, the present & the future? I am maybe restating too much here.

Ontario's Education Act

When PTDs failed, Boards where left to negotiate contracts. Here is the Act that sets the parameters.
Putting Students First Act: Bill 115

The Act it contradicts? Labour Relations Act 1995

The OSSTF. The ETFO. The OECTA. The OPSBA. The OCSTA . The Ministry of Education . Yours to visit to decipher their views & stand.

The deal that is the framework. OECTA - Memorandum of Understanding Q & A

Some views of the deal. Is there a "Me Too' Clause? OCSTA: Bad Policies Do not Put Students First

There is no ETFO deal to compare. Stop Bill 115

I cannot find the link stating "EFTO will fine member $500/day who do not follow Union's job action". Does this say something?

Some Boards had deals with OSSTF. OCDSB & AMDSB One was ratified (?) UGDSB, 2 voted down & others not voted on. So nothing 'official' to compare. Comment "Fool Me Once" OSSTF District 18

 A little bit of labour history. The Peace Couldn't Last

 A look back and ahead. Cohn: School Strikes Aren't the Apocalypse....

 The contradiction of interpretation. Did Broten "Blatantly" Lie on 'The Agenda'? 

 What people think of Extra-curriculars.Education "Extras" are Really Essentials (Full Version)

What became of this report? Has anything changed? Report of the Minister's Advisory Group on the Provision of Co-instructional Activities 2001

Is it time? Implications? School Boards Group Try to Clarify the Role of Teachers

Trying to make sense of it all! People For Education: Ontario's Labour Dispute...

What some Boards did. UCDSB "Who Is In Charge of the Schoolhouse?"

Should Ontario be watching/concerned? Michigan: A Wake-up Call

The number of resources/articles out there are limitless.  Different messengers, different messages. Where are we heading?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Reflection of Thoughts

Sometimes it takes a little nudge to get moving, in this case writing another post to my blog. It Would Be Easy Not To Care by @sheilaspeaking was my nudge. I DO CARE.

Education & schooling requires the mutual efforts of children, parents, teachers, (unions), administration, trustees, ministry & community to succeed. Nothing new there but the recent labour issues here in Ontario have put a different perspective(s) on this.

I will be blunt here, the labour situation is a mess and there only is going to be losers. Some voices are not being heard , others are not being listened to. Mistakes are being made by all. There are many issues at stake. I will confess I don't know all the ins & outs and I don't have the knowledge to answer everything. I am not a labour negotiator or lawyer. These are my abbreviated views.

For years the education sector through bargaining made great gains for its members. Yes, there were a few bumps in the road and steps backwards but overall teachers have moved forward. Teaching is an important job and does have its increasing challenges. Have they reached the peak or a plateau?

Many of these gains were initially obtained through local bargaining. However, maybe for the better, local bargaining (except for local issues) gave way to provincial bargaining. The SAME for ALL across the province. I cannot say whether boards liked this arrangement or not but the province does control the purse strings and it took a lot of responsibility off the local boards. However, there was no legislation outlining the parameters, lengths or degrees this bargaining would or could take. It went well when things were good.

The Ministry (government) realized it was in a financial bind but it had been good to education (always could use/want more). It wanted constraints and savings but instead of saying "This is what we want" and asking "How we can achieve it?", they said "This is what is happening", Bill 115. This created two issues: financial implications & bargaining rights. Can the two be separated out from each other?

Provincial bargaining failed for the Public System but agreement was reached in the Catholic System. I cannot speak how those in the Catholic System see or feel about the process & the agreement, so I will leave it at that. There were no ground rules in place for failure but local boards were now to negotiate what the province could not. Who was now going to look like the bad guy?

Should have local boards spoke up sooner about Provincial bargaining? Was it an issue before? Things went okay in the past so why rock the boat? When things went south this time though, boards did oppose and ask for changes to what was to be negotiated and how. A bold move to maybe bite the hand that feeds you. Could local & provincial bargaining occur at the same time? Some Boards & Trustees took very vocal stands while others took various other degrees to show displeasure or concern.

What avenues were/are open for teachers and educational workers to show their opposition? What drastic steps can Boards take?

Bargaining, negotiations or discussions (what ever term you want to use) requires two or more sides. The sides or players in this bargaining changed at the end from provincial to local parties (boards & unions). What players should have been involved? What players were involved? What players were never asked to the table? What players walked from the table?  Can or should the two issues of financial & bargaining be separated out? The details would make for a long(er) post.

It is interesting to see the sides play out/ promote their positions. At times you think 'They are not talking about the same thing'. As trustees maybe we hear or follow staff & ministry too much. Can the interpretation of various things be so different? Is each messenger giving a different message? You may ask yourself "Who is correct?" Maybe each side should pitch they side to the other's members. Discrepancies have been there from the beginning. Could teachers strike? Can the Bill be challenged in court? Who is the employer?

Some Boards did come to what appeared to be settlements/agreements, then the floor fell in. What changed? The Province had to agree to the contracts.

No matter who you side with, there are 2 groups that are being affected by this unrest that have no direct say or course of action.  Parents & Students. They can voice their opinions & demand action. Should they be pawns or victims of things? There have been established cultures, traditions &/or expectations in schools. What is the role of the teacher? Should they be clearly defined or once defined leaves no room for change? Schooling/education is more than what is taught in the classroom, extra-curriculars have become part of the process. How did they evolve to what  & how they are today, considering they are not happening? This (these) is another issue even though it clearly cannot be separated from the current ones.

The moral of a school means so much. Are these short term or long term actions going to have long term or short term affects? We all say "We are there for the kids." I think everyone needs to step back and rethink the consequences of their actions. Is the short term gain &/or pain worth the long term ...?...? or is it the long term gain &/or pain worth the short term ...?...? . Should teachers be made toe the official line?

I have maybe tried to simplify a complicated situation too much. Is inaction leading to reaction instead of pro-action? Is this the accepting or un-accepting the better/worst of 2 evils/goods.

My Path of Learning has been very bumpy recently and educational but has created more undefined territory.

I posted this awhile ago at @yesknowno.  "If talks dn't lead 2 talks & actions dn't lead 2 actions or talks dn't lead 2 actions & actions dn't lead 2 talks, what is left? Start new?"