Check-In, Monday, December 10th

Good morning, County! Happy Monday.

Things are starting to settle down a bit here at the office after a crazy few weeks. Between the new “Unscheduled Instructional Time” (UIT) initiatives, the tripartite agreement (which would see non-NSTU individuals hired to work as substitutes), the ongoing issues of members safety during power outages and the Guarding Minds at Work Survey, December has been nothing if not busy.

Over the course of the past few weeks, I have attended a number of meetings which have been held between senior management of the HRCE and the three local presidents to discuss concerns, particularly around teacher wellness and the imposition of the new UIT initiative. We have expressed on multiple occasions that, as far as we are hearing, the new model for student support has not proven to be particularly effective. The teachers who have reached out to us have expressed confusion and frustration at the way the model has been implemented, and have expressed a wide gamut of concerns.

The local presidents have brought these concerns to the HRCE. One of the key messages that we are trying to get across to the employer is that teachers’ use of UIT should remain within the purview of their own professional judgement. It could be that a teacher may, indeed, have the capacity to go into another classroom and offer support during their UIT, but the effectiveness of that intervention will depend, to a great extent, upon how that particular teacher is feeling about their own classroom. It could very well be that a teacher using their UIT to focus on their own students, as opposed to someone else’s, would be in everyone’s best interest.

For the time being, the UIT model remains very much a work in progress, and the subject of ongoing conversations. Although we recognize that there may be an increased impetus for teachers to be accountable for the time for which they are being paid, we also feel there is a balance which must be achieved. Again, I go back to my airline analogy from last week. There is a very good reason why flight attendants advise putting on your own oxygen mask first.

As educators, we must first put ourselves in a situation where the needs of our own students are being met before we can offer help to others.

That’s it for this week, all. And for those of you who do celebrate the holiday, here’s hoping that the rapidly approaching season does not prove overly stressful.

Check-In, Monday, November 26th

Good morning, County! Happy Monday.

It’s rather hard to believe, but only 3 more Check-Ins until the Holiday. The year has rather flown by, for sure.

Last Monday evening, the HRRC met to discuss a variety of issues common across all three locals. Topics of note included the Tripartite agreement, Tier-two support, and the Guarding Minds at Work Survey results. There was a great deal of discussion (as you can well imagine) around how to best communicate to the HRCE the struggles that teachers are having with the “Tier-two” model as it exists, concerns around the tripartite agreement, and how to best now utilize the data received through the Guarding Minds at Work Survey. Read more

Check-In, Monday, November 19th.

Hello County.

I sit to pen this Monday Check-In with a very heavy heart.

Last Thursday, our local lost a tremendous champion, mentor and friend with the sudden passing of long time NSTU member Susan Noiles.

For those of you who did not know her, Susan was an amazing educator whose career spanned 3 decades. Most recently, she held a guidance position at Lockview High School where she had worked for 18 years. She was also a wife, a mother, sister and a very proud Nana. As an avid unionist, Susan held a number of positions, both locally and provincially, including serving on the Insurance Trustees, and on the Provincial Executive and had long been an active member for Halifax County.

For those of us who did know Susan, however, we understand that her involvement ran much deeper than the positions she held. She had a passion for fairness and a way of seeing issues through a very objective lens that made her someone to be reckoned with. You knew at the meetings that when Susan approached the microphone, you should probably pay attention. She was never anything but professional, and she exuded this calm sense of assurance, but when she wanted you to hear a message, I can tell from personal experience, you heard exactly what was on her mind.

She attended our local meeting last Wednesday night, the day before she died, and as always, was involved in the discussion and the debate. In her last act of Unionism, she remained well after the meeting had adjourned, wishing to bend the ear of her local President on an issue, as she did so often. In typical Susan style, she apologized for taking my time, but felt compelled to speak to how something that had come up that evening was so important to our members.

And that was what she was like; naturally wired to put others’ needs before her own.

To paraphrase a line from Julius Caesar, I owe Susan more words than you will see me write today. She was nothing short of an inspiration, and she will be deeply, deeply missed.

Have a good week, County, and reach out with any questions or concerns.

Check-In, Monday, November 5th

Hello County! Happy Monday!

I would like to start off today with a great big “Thanks” to all the reps who attended our annual training session at Oak Island this past weekend. We had some very engaged members give up their weekend to attend sessions on Saturday afternoon and again on Sunday morning, and many took the opportunity to network with reps from other sites. The sessions this year focused on everything from charter schools to a Q & A session with our Provincial Executive. Read more

Check- In, Monday, October 29th

Good morning County, Happy Monday.

Today marks a very important day. Today, in partnership with Dartmouth and Halifax City, we are officially launching the Guarding Minds at Work Survey.

Over the past few years, mental health practitioners have become increasingly aware of the impact of the work place environment on the workers. Stresses of the job, not enough time, managing demands all place a tremendous burden on people in the work-force. If left unchecked, this can lead to people having to take extended time off work. In fact, by some accounts, mental health problems are the fastest rising cause for both short and long term disabilities in our country. Read more

Check-In, Monday, October 22nd

Good morning County! Happy Monday!

I would like to start off with an official “Congratulations!” to Paul Boudreau for being elected as our Provincial Executive representative last Wednesday evening. As well, thanks to Drew Fournier for putting his name forward. Our organization thrives on democracy, and I am of the mind that having more than one candidate throwing their hat into the ring for a position speaks well of the overall engagement of our membership. Read more

Check-In, Monday, October 1st

Good morning, County! Happy October!

Last week was another busy one here at the office, as all three local Presidents struggled to understand the removal of excess marking and preparation time from teachers schedules, and the implementation of the tier 2 support for students.

It seems that there is a great deal of confusion around what this support is meant to be, and how it has rolled out across schools. We have recently received information from the HRCE that this is not meant to be “Tier 2” support, but rather “Tier 1” support. However, when looking at the inclusion report, what is actually happening in most schools fits under neither description. We have further been told that this is still very much a work in progress, and is an attempt to align HRCE practice with the Inclusion report, and, more specifically, the Multi-tiered System of Support (MTSS) for students. Read more