Check-In, Wednesday, February 26th

Good morning County!

First off, apologies for the late release date on this edition of the Check-In. There are several things going on right now that are causing concern for members, and I was waiting until I had some more information on a few key items. I can’t say that I was tremendously successful in that effort, but here goes 🙂

We met with the HRCE on Monday afternoon in one of our regularly scheduled Management/ Teacher meetings. There we were informed about the new “data wall” initiative, which some of you have already contacted me about.

At this point, we are looking for clarification around what the HRCE is expecting from teachers in regards to this. Once we have a clearer idea of the expectations, we will share that with you, and respond to any and all questions you may have.

Further, we also asked some very pointed questions about running records, and were once again re-assured that the HRCE is of the mind that if you are being told that you must provide data from running records, you should be given release time to administer the assessment.

Both sides understand that running records are “best practice” and that some teachers may choose to use them as a matter of course. However, neither the HRCE nor the local has the authority to change the decision that was arrived at, (quite amicably, I might add) last year. If teachers are being told they must provide running record data by their admin team, then the admin team is responsible for providing release time. 

Now, teachers can still be asked, (and, indeed are expected to) provide evidence of reading comprehension (ie: Meeting, approaching, developing, limited) and may be asked how they arrived at those conclusions. However, this is very different than having to fill out sheets that specifically refer to Fountas and Pinell indicators (ie. Accuracy, Self-Corrections, Fluency, Comprehension, Overall comprehension rating). 

It should be noted that we are working very closely with HRCE on this, and are trying to have the confusion around this sorted out sooner, rather than later. If you have any specific questions about what you are being asked to do, please let me know and I will get clarification.

We are also working closely with HRCE on the new school re-alignment issues that have been created by the addition of the pre-primary program at several of our sites. Again, I want to assure you all that we have done this before, and that we will be making every effort to get all your questions answered.  I am waiting to hear back from HRCE about which Human Resources manager will be handling this file, and once I do I will be looking at setting up meetings with the effected staff to explain the process.

Finally, on a note from JOHS. We have been trying to get some clarification around “refusal to work”. In most cases, if a worker exercises their rights under refusal to work, then the people who replace that worker must be made aware of the hazard. The question we are seeking clarification on is how this impacts teachers if there is a refusal to work because of a student. Should the duty to inform only include the replacement worker, or should that information be shared more widely among the staff with whom that student will come in direct contact? Again, once I have a clearer understanding, I will advise.

Now, onto some lighter items.

First a major shout out to all the individuals who attended our New Member Conference this past weekend. It was very well attended and by all accounts, the new members who attended were exceptionally please by the quality of information the received. Thank you to Crystal Isert and the communications committee for all their hard (volunteer) work in putting this together.

Speaking of new members, I sent out a small token of our appreciation to the substitute teachers who were nominated in our “Awesome Substitute” contest last week. By now, the cards should have arrived at the school site. If you nominated a sub, but did not yet get a card, touch base and I will confirm that one was mailed.

Finally, we are opening nominations today for the election of a Provincial Executive member. PE serve two year terms, and may only serve for a total of four years (in most cases.) One of our current members is at the end of their first two year term, so the seat is open to being contested. 

The Provincial Executive position is one of the most important in our organization. The Provincial Executive members are the upper chamber of decision making in the NSTU, and have a direct say in everything from NSTU structure to policy and governance. If you are interested in putting your name forward,  simply click on the link on the right hand side of this page.

That’s it County. With any luck I will have more clarity on some of these issues for next Monday.

Have a great week.






School re-alignment

Hello everyone,

By now, most of you have probably heard that there will be a fairly significant re-shuffling with schools here in County because of the government’s decision to institute the pre-primary program.

I was only made aware of this decision yesterday at 3:00 pm, so, unfortunately, as of this time, have very few details that I can share.

However, for those of you with questions, you should know that this is not my first experience in such a re-alignment, and that the previous instances have all gone relatively smoothly.

Over the next few days I hope to find out from HRCE which HR managers are in charge of this round of changes, and, if history is any indication, meetings will be set up shortly to discuss concerns and answer questions from the impacted staff.

The impacted schools are as follows: Read more

Check-In, Tuesday, February 18th

Good morning County! Happy Tuesday!

I hope you all had a restful long week end, and had an opportunity to perhaps attend some of the events for this year’s heritage day which commemorated Africville.

I heard from a number of you on Friday that you had been contacted by the health and abilities team under the new attendance support program (ASP) about your absences up to and including November 12th of 2019. 

Now, I want to make a few things completely clear. Read more

Check-In, Monday, February 10th

Good morning, County. Happy Monday.

I don’t know if it’s the time of year, but I have gotten several reports over the past few weeks of teachers being involved in some fairly nasty parental interactions.

Parents are, by their very nature, protective of their children, and are not necessarily at their most rational when it comes to their wee ones. As true as this may be, it is not unreasonable that they approach these concerns in a respectful way. In a perfect world, should a parent have a concern with a teacher, they would begin by approaching the teacher directly. Read more

Check-In, Monday, February 3rd

Well, we finally made it through January! (Was it just me, or did this one seem inordinately long?)

As high school teachers welcome students into their 2nd semester classes and everyone else is “In the groove” as it were, I am getting a few questions about PLCs, and about Running Records.

I have tried to be very clear about running records, to such a large extent that I am feeling a bit like a broken record myself. I will state again that there is no situation under which your admin team can insist you do running records with your students without providing you coverage. Yes, running records are best practice, but they are best practice when teachers can work with students individually without having to supervise other students. Again, this is not some “union thing”. The province agreed that this is how running records should be done. If you are hearing anything else, please let me know. Read more

Check- In, Monday, January 27th

Good morning County! Happy Monday!

Are you feeling a bit sluggish lately? Have you got a case of the mid-winter ‘blahs’? Are you looking for a bit of inspiration? Well, The Winter Wellness Challenge may be just what you are looking for! This challenge is designed to get you up and moving through these somewhat bleak winter months, and hopefully allow you to have some fun while doing so. With the onset of ‘flu season, health and wellness take a front row seat, so sign up today 🙂 Read more

Check-In, Tuesday, January 21

Good Morning, County! Happy Tuesday!

I want to start off this morning with a special note about substitutes.

Any teacher who has ever taken a sick day knows the value of a good substitute teacher. They make our lives so much easier, and quite simply provide us with peace of mind. When you find a substitute who is a good fit, you know your class is in good hands, which allows you to focus on you, regardless of why you happen to be out of the building. 

We do tend to build relationships over time with these people, and many subs start to feel like regular members of the staff. There are others, however, who come in as “one offs”; strangers in a strange land. Unfamiliar with the school, or the kids, or the routines, these individuals go through the day, sometimes with very little support. As the rest of us struggle to find our own way in the modern mayhem that is education today, we may not even register that a sub is in the building. Read more

Check-In, Monday, January 13th

We open on a very solemn note today, with a brief moment of remembrance for all those innocent lives that were lost when Ukraine Airlines Flight 752 was shot down last week.

It has been very difficult to not be impacted by this senseless tragedy. The images of those individuals who were killed were those of everyday, average people. I know that many of you will be called upon to navigate this situation with your students, as is so often the case. As you attempt to help young people make sense of the events of the past week, don’t forget to allow yourself a few moments of personal introspection. For those of you in the classroom, do not hesitate to ask for help. The same goes for those of you in guidance. Lean on each other and you will be in a much better personal place to help the kids.

Now, onto other items.

Read more

Check-In, Monday, January 6th

Good morning, County! Welcome to 2020! I hope today finds you rested and recharged after a well deserved holiday break.

As many of you may know, this marks my last year in the local President’s chair. That means that this seat will be coming up for competition in a few short months time. It is a full time release position, which does provide a nice break from the classroom, however, it also means a fair amount of after school time. If teachers need to reach out, that usually happens after the 3:00 bell. If any of you are considering a run for this position, I invite you to contact me for a bit of a “insiders view” of what the job entails. Read more