Sunday, September 25, 2011

On hiatus

Not that I've been terribly wordy on here lately, but the blog is going on hiatus until Oct. 6 as I travel to do some more volunteer work.
I did promise to do a platform-by-platform comparison, which I haven't done for here but I did do as part of our campaign coverage for the Expositor if you want to take a peek at it there.
I'll return with some thoughts on election day and thereafter.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Quick thought on GoogleAds

As longtime readers here would know, there's a GoogleAds sidebar on the right-hand side of this blog (scroll down a ways if this is currently the top post).
As those who know GoogleAds would know, the ad(s) displayed are generated by an algorithm based on the content that appears in this blog. During the election campaign in Ontario, the content of this blog may result in political ads being displayed in the GoogleAd space (I kept getting a PC Party one tonight).
Just like in a newspaper or broadcast, the appearance of these ads is in no way in and of itself an endorsement of any one particular political party or viewpoint. Should I choose to use this space to express my personal views during the Ontario election campaign (or at any other time), it will be stated from this space, not the one generated by the GoogleAds algorithm.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Clearing up my open browser tabs

Time is fleeting, but did want to share some of the non-election campaign ed-related stuff that I've clicked on and read over the past several weeks until this morning.
At some point this week (likely in and around the writ drop on Wednesday), I'll take a look at the parties' education platforms released to date and do some linkage and analysis. In the meantime, happy reading for those that click through on the links above.

Rose and thorn for CBC's teachers

Four days of the National last week included mini-docs on four teachers as part of a back-to-school package put on by the CBC. Called "The Real Lives of Canadian Teachers," the CBC has posted its four parts online through The National's website.
First a rose. Sending out producers and crews to follow these four teachers earlier this year deserves some applause. As someone who routinely strives to see more K-12 coverage across all media outside of the usual back-to-school coverage, this was an investment of resources by the CBC that should be complimented.
In a 55-minutes-minus-commercials newscast, each piece grabbed a good 15-20 minutes of air time. Also rare and also to be commended.
Now the thorny bits, though context helps understand them.
This title is above all misleading. This was "The Real Lives of GTA High School Teachers." Given its resources, it's unlikely crews could have been dispatched to other classrooms outside of the GTA or Ontario. But it would have been great to show individuals in other provinces.
It also only showed high school teachers. Which neglects a whole segment of teachers who face their own challenges and rewarding moments but teach K-8. Could access have been an issue, given the younger ages of the students? Maybe, but not an insurmountable one.
Overall I'd still put this series in my recommended viewing pile.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Double time in the instruction line

I took to twitter Wednesday morning as soon as I started reading tweets about the Ontario Liberal Party's announcement that if reelected it would extend teacher-training programs from the current minimum of one academic year (eight months in reality) to two. Here's the OLP release.
A lot of newsrooms got into this today-- here's The Star (which did two), The Globe and Mail, the CBC (which did a radio thing on the Toronto / southern Ontario drive-home show but has no podcast), CTV and even some of my colleagues within Sun Media / QMI Agency.
First and above all else, I like this plan. Eight months -- and it's not because you factor in holidays and it's less than eight months -- and 40 practicum days is too short. I've seen it in the experiences of new teachers and I've heard it, anecdotally, from many B.Ed. grads that aside the practicums there's little for many to learn in teachers' college that they didn't already have a foundation in before starting.
The Libs are correct in stating this province has one of the shortest degree-to-teachers'-college-to-job-market turnarounds. Looking at those countries we aim to match in the skills our students can display, teacher training isn't over and done with in eight months. Over the last three generations this has evolved from the point where becoming a teacher meant graduating high school and attending a few years of normal school to now needing an undergraduate degree before starting your teacher training.
Other nations require master's degrees and then a multi-year or multi-stage teacher education program.
The very proof of the relative inadequacy of initial teacher education in Ontario is a program this very government created when it killed off teacher testing: the New Teacher Induction Program. Every new teacher since the middle of the last decade must complete this mentoring / observation / evaluation program within the first two years on the job. Their certificates with the Ontario College of Teachers aren't given full status until the NTIP has been completed.
These are the reasons why this program should be extended an additional year regardless of who wins the election on Oct. 6.
One of the reasons mentioned by Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities John Milloy Wednesday is tricky. He cited how a two-year program would cut the number of graduates in half. Um, OK.Implied but not specifically stated in this is that instead of throwing 9,000 through per year, they'd throw half that number through and still only have 9,000 in total registered. It does little to address the four-plus years that universities and the college of teachers have been pumping out 9,000 grads a year into a highly oversaturated market-- but I do keep forgetting all those teacher-education grads are supposed to travel the world and feed teacher shortages in the places few Ontario teachers' college grads actually want to teach.
Some were also griping about the added cost of an additional year of teachers' college. Though I wholeheartedly agree the last reason anyone should get into teaching is money, this is a well-compensated profession in Ontario. If you can get full-time permanent work, you're set for life financially as long as you don't do silly things with your money.
Implementation is where this idea starts to get mired in the details. Aside from concurrent B.Ed programs, I'm only aware of a single two-year initial teacher education program in the province, which is the Masters of Teaching program I had the opportunity to shadow in Toronto. Universities will have a lot to say about whether they would accept a mandated two-year program for all.
The Ontario College of Teachers, which for all intents and purposes is the regulatory approval agency for teacher education in this province, would also need to approve -- or be told/regulated to approve.
These are not insurmountable odds and all parties should be signing on to this idea.