Saturday, 24 March 2012

Technology in the Classroom - what's next?

Students have fully embraced technology - I don't know a student in high school that doesn't bring their smart phone and other devices to school!

So how are we moving forward with assisting them to use technology in the classroom?

It's frustrating as we aren't tapping into the resources in the classroom.

We still are using OLD and OUTDATED models which needs to be blown up and re-thought. Why are we still buying devices and trying to roll them out in an equitable way?

Why are we not looking at NEW and INNOVATIVE models. Why don't we see what students are bringing to school anyway and see how we can incorporate it.

How do we make the transition to College and Universities where students are expected to bring their own laptops?

Do we have the classroom teacher prepared to work in a technological way? Are we letting students lead? Collaborate? Try new ways of working/participating?

What skills have we given them to be prepared for the workforce or more education?

Thursday, 22 March 2012

So Are the Proposed Cuts a Bloodbath?

Whenever budget arises there are some truths that I now accept as "norms".

First, cuts of any kind are not fun - someone is affected either directly - through job loss or indirectly through learning to do more with less resources.

Second, unions need to represent their members so they won't like job cuts or changes or re-alignments.

Third, parents don't get involved until they see how it affects them and in most cases this is post-implementation and so TOO late.

Fourth, somehow it's never been enough and the next year there is more cuts!

Fifth, how do we measure impact on students to know what the right decisions are?

Sixth, it was hard when we controlled our own budget and tax increases and IMPOSSIBLE when we control neither!

Seven, how can one work within a pre-set formula when our students are NOT widgets. How do we advocate for more flexibility?

Eight, why is this the most stressful thing I do? and yet I barely get more than a few parents to attend sessions about budget or potential cuts. How do I get good feedback?

Nine, why is the sky always falling? Somehow we are doing better with less! I think this is a testament that we hire better and better and the people in the schools are making significant contributions without any more recognition.

So we over spend on a LOT of budget lines - my view points on the proposed cuts will be in future comments.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Expulsions and Lessons Learned - Part 2

So FINALLY we are looking at the expulsion process at the TDSB. I'm glad to see that we are evaluating it as I see it as TOO expensive for a board that is in dire financial straights and it doesn't benefit our students in the current format.
(NB you will hear a lot more of what I'm prepared to cut based on how I think students benefit).

Most families do not attend these sessions with a lawyer so I really question why the Trustees have a lawyer (I've done enough of these along with several of my colleagues that we don't need that support - and the 1 time I wasn't sure - a quick phone call would have resolved the issue anyway).

Secondly the Principal has a lawyer - and really it's just a re-bundling of their information. So again another unnecessary expense.

I look forward to the review and get the perspective of staff to see what they think they need.

No other board brings all the lawyers to the table like we do and so it's time to make change.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Budget Update March 2012

So it almost seems like deja vu - here we have a different government (Liberals) but it's as if we are back in the Tory land in 1997 - so how did that happen?

Well we TDSB - have never balanced our books - when the Tory's put us under a supervisor - he couldn't balance our books.

Do we overspend? Sure but a lot of things we overspend on is because we are trying to help kids - not because we're trying to line someone's pocket!

We overspend on paraprofessionals so what does that mean? Almost every week I talk to parents who are frustrated that our process for Special Needs identification is LONG and onerous - and yet we are already overspending. The longer these students are not identified and dealt with the less chance they have for success. So this is a hard line not to over spend on this line for me.

There are other lines like Principals and Vice Principals that we overspend on - according to the government BUT in an urban and low income setting this is hard not to have as well as the issues are different than rural and middle and high income earners.

We still have MANY kids come to school hungry and we feed almost half of our student population which is telling of the local struggles which does not fit into a static out of date funding model.

When will a government learn and listen that a one size fits all funding model does not work?

We need real dialogue - it's been too long living in a false economy and now that we are facing an $85 million pitfall what do we do?