sabotabby: (teacher lady)
 Almost right on schedule, my first back-to-school anxiety nightmare of August. It was not as bad as most, probably because I've been in school-anxiety-mode for a year now and my brain hasn't had a stretch of not being stressed out and anxious. Anyway, it was almost interesting so I'll share it.

First day of class. My classes, as per usual nightmares, were huge, and the kids kept drifting in and out and coming in late and wouldn't stay still or give me their names. One girl had recently lost her brother in a shooting, another had lost her mother three weeks earlier. Her mother's grave was located right beside the classroom, and she had brought several large bouquets of purple lilies that clashed with the red and white flowers on the grave. She kept getting up to shift the flowers around, or curling up in a fetal position to cry.

The principal had decided that class would begin with a personal address from her, and so I was supposed to wait until she arrived to start. But she was late, and the kids were already complaining that they were bored, so I did an icebreaker activity. It was called Millennials Are Killing X and you had to go around a circle and say a thing Millennials are killing and why. For example, "Millennials are killing the housing market because they spend on their money on smashed avocado toast and lattes. I thought it was hilarious but the kids didn't get it, and then I remembered that the Millennials had been years ago and the kids didn't know what they were.
sabotabby: (books!)
As promised/threatened, I spent my weekend in part reading YA fiction for work and writing down my recommendations as to which books I felt would work well for senior-level English classes. Because I basically have no life, I ended up writing a bunch of mini book reports about them.

Important note: I think I kind of hate YA fiction. There are some very obvious exceptions, but I find a lot of the tropes insufferable. I wasn't interested in reading YA when I was a YA, and I don't think that books written at a low reading level, regardless of how mature their content might be, are necessarily the best way to engage students in the study of literature. If I never read another story about a teenage girl who doesn't fit in at school, it will be too soon. (So here are three such books.)

I've also included a recommendation for something that does the thing that each book does better. Only one of these could remotely be called YA fiction.

Also, here be unmarked spoilers.

3 reviews )
sabotabby: (doom doom doom)
I'm finished work at 8:05 pm! That's only an 11-hour day—a record for me lately, and gives me a whole hour or so with which to SURF THE WEB and all its wonders. And I have internet at home, which is exciting.

Because he clearly hates me, [personal profile] frandroid  asked for my opinion on two recent Twitter hashtags—#lacgate and #hothick. You folks know that I hate Twitter, right? As far as I can tell, the only useful thing it's ever done has been providing me with a torrent of #piggate jokes when the story broke, but whether this balances out the way it's helped to mangle the English language by sticking number signs in the middle of otherwise reasonable sentences, reduce everyone's collective intelligence by limiting thoughts to 140 characters, make otherwise reasonable writers break their blog posts into un-parseable gibberish, and turn the internet into a hate-filled cesspool remains to be seen. 

But okay, there's been some good stuff on it lately. So here goes.

#lacgate

While everyone in the US wakes up like this each morning:

picard - damage report

wondering what new horrors Cheeto Benito has wrought, you'll be pleased to know that Canada too is in the throes of political scandal. #lacgate has gripped the national imagination and is currently haunting my fucking nightmares.

The story is as follows: A decade ago, at a party of the political elite, Globe and Mail journalist Leah McLaren attempted to breastfeed the infant child of one MP Michael Chong, the Last of the Red Tories and the current best hope we have of stemming the global wave of fascism.* McLaren was not at this time lactating—she just wanted to know what it was like. Chong walked in on her and put a stop to it. He's subsequently confirmed that yes, this totally happened.

The entire country proceeded to lose its shit.

I did a really good job of avoiding reading about this for about two days. Look, I think birth and parenting and breastfeeding are all wonderful things, but I have a massive squick around the details thereof. The whole thing horrifies me. I totally support the right of parents to whip out a boob and feed the kid wherever, and post it to Facebook without censure, etc., but it's okay if I avert my eyes, isn't it? Because if I think about it too much my own boobs hurt. Why anyone would want to stick their nipple in a baby's mouth that did not belong to them is gross and awkward and weird and TMI. And also I think a violation of—something.

The Globe and Mail has, in response, suspended McLaren for a week. This, of course, is a complete overreaction but also hilarious. Isn't print media dying? They must have gotten a million clicks from people sharing the article, and then frantically searching for it when the story got spiked the same day. This is good for business, which is why someone must have approved it in the first place.

I also really wonder why shit like this even gets published. I know so many starving writers who are better than the journalists who get paid to write incoherent drivel, like Rosie DiManno, or hateful screeds like Christie Blatchford, or blatantly plagiarized hateful screeds like Margaret Wente. And yet, as the industry gets downsized to nothing—and as the world teeters on the brink, and First Nations communities don't have running water, and migrants lose fingers to frostbite trying to flee the US, and climate change threatens to sink us into the ocean—people are getting paid to reflect on how they once tried to breastfeed a stranger's baby at some bougie party ten years ago.

Vice has a funny article about it, of course.


#hothick

I didn't even know what this was. Ho Thick? Hoth Ick? No, apparently it's Hot Hick, which is a thing. That is a thing apparently I am when I go country line dancing. Anyway, it's a hashtag too.

I checked it out, and it includes people confessing to finding the guy in Duck Dynasty hot. I am typically a "live and let live" type person (except when it comes to breastfeeding strangers' babies), but I actually think that this is a kink that is not okay. I am not okay with people finding the guy in Duck Dynasty hot. Sorry. In fairness, it's mainly because he's a racist.


#osslt

I'm going to add one of my own, because today was the day of the standardized literacy test here, and apparently there's a hashtag for that, too. It's pretty funny, and probably far more educational than the test itself, which is a pointless waste of students' time, teachers' time, and taxpayers' money.

Anyway, this year the braintrusts at the EQAO (that's the company we pay to put our tenth graders through hell) thought that a good question to ask 15-year-olds on a test they need to take to graduate high school was: "If you could meet any historical figure, which one would you choose, and why?"

This is a question meant for old people. Obviously teenagers are going to blank, and reportedly, many of them did.

If you know any 15-year-olds, you will know that 90% of them can name only one historical figure.

Yes, that one.

So have fun marking that.



* I'll explain. Chong is the most moderate of the candidates for the Tory leadership, which is still more right-wing than I'd prefer, but basically he's the only one who's not a Nazi. In a federal election, he'd have practically no chance of winning. Which is why a bunch of non-Tories have recently joined the Conservatives in an attempt to vote him in as leader. I think it's not a bad strategy, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. He does seem like a good egg, though.
sabotabby: (teacher lady)
DeVos is the actual worst. It's as though everything I hate in the world took a massive shit and then someone made a shit golem out of it and appointed it Secretary of Education.

Still, I ought to point out that both sides of the Billionaire Party had a hand in this one. It's not like Arne Duncan didn't thoroughly gut public education, and the Democrats love their charter schools, standardized testing, and industry disruptors as much as the Republicans.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (candle salad)
I'm sure this story shouldn't make me as happy as it's making me right now.

heres-a-picture-of-ontario-premier-kathleen-wynne-smiling-near-a-pink-dick-volcano-1456847850-crop_mobile_400
"Hey kids, allow me to demonstrate what I did to the teachers' unions!"

Note that this "free tuition" thing isn't so free and to be honest makes little sense when our K-12 schools are literally crumbling and the economy is such that an undergrad degree is useless in the job market anyway. The Libs have just jacked up the cost of prescription meds for seniors. Oh, and Bill 115, the completely illegal contract they forced on us a few years back, is still before the courts.

So while this is an occasion for me to remark on what's the greatest photo op since David Cameron visited that farm, I should also take this moment to mention to my American friends the dangers of supporting a slightly lesser evil because you believe they're more electable.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (candle salad)
It's a rare day—and especially in the middle of some acrimonious contract negotiations with my union—that I'll say something nice about the Ontario Liberal government. But here it is: They updated the antediluvian Grade 1-8 sex ed curriculum and it's pretty good. It needed to be done and the changes are thoughtful and vital, including information about LGBTQ sexuality and affirmative consent. So, yay government on this one particular specific issue! You done good! You are terrible and corrupt when it comes to mostly everything else, but I can rest assured that you are sensible when it comes to the health education of young children, and I genuinely do appreciate that.

If you are interested and have enough time on your hands that you want to read really dull Ministry curriculum documents, you can read it here. It's not very interesting unless you're a teacher or a parent but there you go—it's totally public information and you can read it for free.

You know who didn't read it, though? Most people with an opinion about it.

Naturally, when I Googled "ontario sex education curriculum," the curriculum itself was not the first search result. Or the second, or the third. It's at least halfway down the page. The top hits are about protests—very sympathetically covered by the media, in contrast to how left-wing protests are covered—and misinformation by the likes of extremist anti-abortion and right-wing hate groups. This thing has been incredibly controversial, with said hate groups appearing on mainstream media with absurd claims that the new curriculum teaches seven-year-olds how to buttsex. (Spoiler: No it doesn't.)

One thing that would probably seem weird to an outsider is the support that the Tories (and make no mistake—these are not grassroots concern groups coming out of nowhere with no political agenda out of concern for THE CHILDRENS) have amongst marginalized and immigrant communities. I mean, you would think that a party of almost exclusively rich white men who hate people of colour, restrict immigration, have actual ties to white supremacist groups in some cases, and starve poor communities would not be well-liked by the people they make a living disparaging. But they do! And this is by design.

I'm reading Kill the Messengers: Stephen Harper's assault on your right to know, by Mark Bourrie, and there is a fascinating chapter as to why this is the case. Harper has a famous mistrust of journalists and believes that the mainstream media is a Liberal conspiracy that's out to get him, and one of the things he's been able to do in his tenure is to craft his message mainly towards the ethnic language media. So he will say one thing to Tamil language media, and another thing to Chinese language media, and so on, depending on whose votes he wants to win, and these are all tiny publications and stations that are basically just excited to get exclusive interviews with major politicians, so they softball interviews and don't have the budget to fact-check. It's completely brilliant and lets the Tories pander to various communities while actually enacting policies that directly harm them.

So when I see stories about how Ontario parents are staging a "strike" over the new sex-ed curriculum, I don't think I'm particularly conspiracy-minded to suspect a greater manipulation at work. I mean, let's be honest; it's pretty impressive if parents of young children can organize a bake sale to raise a few hundred dollars for their child's school, let alone a province-wide movement. Someone is out there, spreading lies and misinformation and playing the fears of parents to score electoral points. And it's working, because our mainstream media is not, in fact, a well-oiled Liberal machine and is actually an uncritical, bare-bones, defunded dinosaur gasping for its last breath as the meteors strike.

Who loses in this? Ontario, because this is all in service of eventually electing a Tory government that will be even worse than the abominable Liberal government. And most of all, the very children that these poor dupes want to protect. Every study ever done points to poor sex education as a major factor in teen pregnancy and the spread of STDs. And even more dramatically, I think this curriculum, properly implemented, is a crucial step in building a culture of positive consent that will pay off when these kids are teenagers and experimenting with sex for the first time. Teaching young kids that "yes means yes" means a future where not as many boys will think they're entitled to girls' bodies, and not as many girls will think it's their fault because he bought them dinner. Not as many queer and trans kids will grow up thinking that they're abnormal. This is a net gain for everyone, except for the backwards reactionaries.

Which is maybe why we need to reframe the debate. Instead of "concerned parents," let's focus on the manipulators behind the scenes and their pro-rape, homophobic, transphobic agenda. While sex ed is always a controversial thing, the butthurt of a few uptight pearl-clutchers has never made quite so many headlines in modern Canada, so follow the money. Who is really holding the kids hostage to make a political point?
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (eat flaming death)
If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you know I have serious issues with Free the Children and its corporate wing, Me to We. I have issues with them because they take jobs away from the very communities they claim to help, because they appropriate the language and form of activism to guide impressionable children through meaningless activities designed to make them feel like they're "raising awareness" rather than self-organizing, because they are a for-profit company allowed to set up franchises in publicly funded schools, and because the smug faces of the Kielburger brothers are the very reason why the Germans coined the term backpfeifengesicht.

But you know me, I'm an extremist of the loony left, so of course I'd have issues with liberals. However, this organization is so perfidious even liberals should have problems with it. Case in point: They are litigious bastards who quash every critical media piece published about them. Seriously, try Googling "free the children + controversy" and see what happens. No supposed charity is free from controversy—except this one. Reason being that they are very good at getting criticism of themselves scrubbed, up to and including pulping a Toronto Life exposé about their corruption.

Now they've managed to get a CBC documentary about voluntourism, Volunteers Unleashed, yanked. The very excellent Canadaland has the scoop, including the two clips that the Kielburgers don't want you to see.

Just a little reminder that censorship doesn't need to look like jackboots and burning books to effectively silence dissent. Go watch them before Canadaland gets sued too!

:)

Jan. 12th, 2015 02:55 pm
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (socialism with a human face)
Today has not been utter shit! This is gr8 because I expected utter shit.

Most important is that things are looking up for our hospitalized kid. He is stable and they were going to try to get him off life support today. So, fingers crossed.

It remains a tragic situation. The family is cash-strapped; we are taking up a collection for them. Both parents work and the mother isn't even getting any time off. I can't even imagine.

In less life-or-death news, my film class continued to be pants. Tomorrow is their last chance to demonstrate to me that they can actually use a fucking camera, so hopefully they'll get their shit together.

On the plus side, a good many of the kids in other classes are in proper panic mode and actually getting work done. So. Yay?

I did nothing all weekend except solder a thing. I fuckered my legs and spine running up and down the stairs, and fuckered my brain worrying about my kids. Bah. At least I'm in proper panic mode and finally getting things done.

I just really hope I don't need to flunk more than half of my film kids.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (teachthecontroversy)
It's almost New Year's! I don't do resolutions or year-in-review posts anymore; I guess I just don't see much of a point. I always end up roughly the same person, if drastically more hungover, on the 1st as I was on the 31st. Case in point: I'm up, drinking my morning coffee with a cat on my wrist, and arguing about conspiracy theories at The Other Place.

This is mostly a post about Monsanto, if you are going to be upset by my opinions about Monsanto and/or GMOs. A lot of people tend to be.

A fellow educator posted a link, with his added commentary, "Very disturbing."

unsourced facebooksharing

The original post linked to an article from Health Impact News (no, I'm not going to give them the hits), a site which boasts that it brings you, quote, "News that Impacts Your Health that Other Media Sources May Censor!" Sounds legit, right? The headline, "MIT Researcher: Glyphosate Herbicide will Cause Half of All Children To Have Autism by 2025" sounds even more so.

Wake up, sheeple!

The cool thing is that I don't even need to read the article to know it's bullshit. I can just look at the headline. I read it anyway, but it was exactly what you'd expect. I posted a quick response last night, "On the plus side, it's almost certainly not true!"* and left it at that.

The fellow responded, Eeyore-like, "I hope you're right."

I replied that I was, because it was pseudoscience. The thing with the conspiracy inclined mind, though, is once they get a bone, they don't wanna let go of it.

Gets a bit long. )

So, eh, don't know if it'll get through. But maybe I planted a little seed of critical thinking, there?

And since that seed is a GMO, science and skeptism will almost certainly triumph!

Happy New Year, sheeple!

* I'd take out the "almost certainly" if I hadn't been hungover at  the time.

Pens

Nov. 21st, 2014 07:28 pm
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (cat teacher)
Normally, the Ontario Teachers' group is dull as shit, depressing, and/or rage-inducing, but I'm trying to take my mind off of furnaces and so I was perusing it.

Some teacher, in all earnestness, posted that he kept losing his red marking pen, i.e., the kids keep stealing it. Which is a thing. You need to nail down all your stationary supplies or they go missing, though tbh the supply teachers are far worse than the kids. Pens and pencils in classrooms are like cigarettes in prison. It's a thing.

After some equally earnest helpful advice, the thread immediately devolved into, let's just say, really bizarre advice, followed by protestations of everyone involved being Serious Teachers Who Do Serious Teaching, and increasingly strange ways in which teachers protect their writing utensils from light-fingered children.

I may have won the thread with the suggestion that he buy this and ensure that no one will steal it because they are too terrified.



...so how bad is it that a) I kind of want one, and b) was stupid enough to go to ThinkGeek and see what their pens look like?*

(I mean, I barely ever use pens anymore. I need a pencil for marking down attendance on the scan sheets, but all of my feedback is online, which has resulted in 99% less angrily crumpled assignments stuffed into desks and behind computers.)

ETA: It's now the morning after and the pen discussion is still going on and has descended into Dada pranksterism, with helpful advice involving Scottie attack dogs, sticky tack, and keeping a tampon in with your pens. Teachers, man.

WAH! Want! Don't need!

Simplexity

Nov. 16th, 2014 04:44 pm
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (teachthecontroversy)

Poetic Devices X, my current favourite blogger, made a new post, which in itself is cause for celebration. (Best line: "school culture is important and that there are various types of teachers, the most dangerous of all which are “reprobates” and “resisters”, which had I discovered this phrase earlier in my career would’ve been a great title for this blog. I would get it put on my business cards, but the board told me I’m not important enough to have any.")

In it, he mentions the newfangled term "simplexity," but admits that like most edu-jargon, no one has any idea what it means.

So I looked it up, and there is indeed a Wikipedia page for it, but I'm 99% sure whoever wrote it is taking the piss. Choice quotes:




"Jeffrey Kluger wrote a book about this phenomenon that describes how house plants can be more complicated than industrial plants, how a truck driver's job can be as difficult as a CEO's and why 90% of the money donated to help cure diseases are given only to the research of 10% of them (and vice versa).

The term has been adopted in advertising, marketing and the manufacture of left-handed screwdrivers."

...

"Like most terms, it has been shaped through dialogues and discussions, in much the same way that a camel is a horse designed by committee. "



The line between educational fads and outright parody is very blurry these days. 

o_O

Nov. 13th, 2014 07:50 am
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fuck patriarchy)
There's a long discussion thread on one of the teacher groups I follow about a soon-to-be married woman who's wondering if she should change her name at work. (Keep in mind that changing your address when you're a teacher can be a nightmare of bureaucracy, so one generally doesn't do anything that can affect either staffing or professional certification if one can avoid it.)

And it occurs to me that this is one of those instances where I am so radically at odds with most of society, because I didn't know that women still frequently changed their names to their husbands upon marriage. Yes, some of my co-workers did, but they were very traditional and religious types. I didn't think most women did. But apparently the majority do.

I'm not going to comment because it's not my business (besides, my kids call me by my first name and I have no intention of ever getting married), but it seems very strange to me.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (cat teacher)
I was arguing with a Stupid Person On the InternetTM on a friend's post about John Tory, which led to a digression. Basically, John Tory, who likes to promote himself as a reasonable centrist* believes that creationism should be taught in schools and wanted to funnel public funds into religious education. Another person on the thread brought up that, as potential mayor of Toronto**, he would have nothing to do with education.

Very well, I (and several others) replied, but it's indicative of a stupid way of thinking. And I pointed out that, if he was willing to fritter away my tax dollars—I really do sound like an arch-conservative sometimes—on religious education on a provincial level, who knew what he might get up to at a municipal level. At any rate, he couldn't be trusted with the budget.

Somewhere during the course of this discussion, I found myself arguing against the Catholic school system and Tory's proposed publicly funded religious schools on the grounds that this was an inefficient use of public resources. This is true, and it is, but it's not the primary reason why I don't support tax dollars going to religious schools, and Stupid Person On the Internet immediately jumped in with, "well, it's not like our public schools are models of efficiency now."

Which is true (though they are more efficient than a multitude of little Bible camps and Branch Davidian compounds and yeshivas and madrassas would be), it occured to me that I needed to amend my initial statement. Schools should not be models of efficiency. Education and health care are the two big areas that I can think of that can never, and should never, be efficient.

Is it, for example, a practical use of money to extend the life of an aging cancer patient by five years? It is not. But if that aging cancer patient is your loved one, you understand that while not practical, it's a correct use of money. Likewise, it is expensive and inefficient to ensure that special needs kids have EAs, adaptive equipment, and a lower student-to-teacher ratio. We pour a lot of money into kids who won't necessarily put back into the economy what they give in. From a purely financial perspective, it is not cost-effective to educate them. But we should, we absolutely should, because the intangible social good of an educated and socialized populace transcends numbers. And because it's morally right. The alternative is barbarism.

Efficiency is the worst lie of late-stage capitalism. The economy has never been leaner or more efficient or more productive. And yet we work longer hours and the gap between rich and poor continues to widen. We buy into it because on an individual level we're told that it's good to be productive, and most people can't think past the individual level. On a macro level, inefficiency and redundancy are actually beneficial. We already have enough stuff.

There's, of course, a world of difference between pouring in resources that we won't get back (which is necessary) and deliberately taking money out of the system to duplicate services that don't need to be duplicated, and have a bunch of mini-systems that do a shittier job than one big one would do. Bureaucratic and lumbering though public education may be, it is the best of a series of worse alternatives.

* My least favourite political position, incidentally; well below Westboro Baptist Church and the RCP, who at least can be arsed to take a stand on things.
** And dear readers, you have no idea how much it pains me to even write that sentence; Ford More Years would actually be better than fucking Tory.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fuck patriarchy)
So if you've been out of school for awhile (or maybe it doesn't happen in other countries like it does in North America), you may not know that dress codes are a big thing. As soon as the weather turns, the harassment starts. Girls (and while the odd boy gets coded over a pot leaf graphic or baggy pants, it's girls 90% of the time) get sent up to the office, get phone calls home, get sent home in some cases, over what they're wearing. Teachers are ordered to scrutinize every item covering each teenage body to determine if skirts and tops are long enough, if necklines are too low, if bra straps are too prominent. For teachers like me, who have zero interest in looking at teenage bodies and were raised to be polite and look at people's faces and not their asses, it's a situation that can range from awkward to my feminist principles are in conflict with my job.

By the way, the heteronormative, cisnormative, misogynist, victim-blaming thing where administrators tell young girls that their clothing is distracting the boys happens in pretty much every school as far as I know. I don't know if they teach that in principal school or what, but it's not an aberration. You'd think, because we are supposed to teach responsibility, the emphasis would be on the boys (or, hey, maybe girls are attracted to other girls, or not everyone identifies as one or the other, and by the way to teenagers everything is distracting and it doesn't actually matter what you wear) to keep their eyes in their own heads, but it's always the slut-shaming. Always.

(If you're wondering, I don't enforce a dress code. I do tell the boys to take off their hats, because it is an obviously visible thing if an admin walks in, and also because baseball caps are fugly. And if I can see a kid's entire ass, I will tell him to pull up his pants. But I do not feel comfortable telling a girl that her bra strap shouldn't show, because I feel like my bra strap shows a lot of the time and it's no biggie.)

There have been a bunch of good articles lately about dress codes in schools, but this is my favourite thus far:

It really bothers me how schools insist that girls wear bras (this starts at, like, age 8-14 when girls start budding. Many girls and/or their moms have embarrassing stories of female teachers quietly pulling them aside, and delicately suggesting that she get a training bra), but then simultaneously decree that bra straps are inappropriate. This is like insisting all boys must wear socks, but the tops of socks sticking out of the shoes are inappropriate.  It’s just… so arbitrary.
...

It’s yet another reminder, and reinforcement, that a girl’s appearance is more important, and demands more attention, than her other, non-visible qualities. You know, qualities like intelligence, perseverance, athletic ability, tenacity, creativity, a hard work ethic… attention to those attributes seem fade away rather quickly once an inch of skin is exposed.

Instead, it teaches her to view herself in a sexualized gaze, from an outsider’s point of view. At an increasingly young age, getting dressed in the morning turns from “does teal clash with yellow?” to “is this too much shoulder? Can someone see down this shirt? Would someone be able to look up this skirt on the stairs? What happens when I sit or bend over? I should test that.”

Anyway, the whole thing is worth a read, as is the link to Impression, which is an excellent photo essay about the impressions that clothes leave on women's bodies. I'm sort of tired of the argument where I work. Weirdly, Colleague Who Shall Not Be Named, not known for his progressive views in general, actually said some of the things I was thinking at the last staff meeting, which is that the adult obsession with teenage bodies is fucking creepy.

This is our culture, though. This is how we're raising young people to think—that girls are objects to be viewed, scrutinized, judged, that boys are the ones doing the watching, and if one doesn't see the connection to more violent forms of misogyny, one isn't paying enough attention.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (cat teacher)
I taught my kids about the Tab key and how to quickly format documents in Word using styles.

It was an interesting experience. I did a poll. Most of them considered themselves proficient in Word. Exactly zero of them had ever had a single lesson about how to use Word. They were just sort of expected to pick it up.

In my day, we had keyboarding classes, not that I ever took any of them. Anyway, it's probably one of the more useful things I've taught lately.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (cat teacher)
Never attempt to draw an LED on the chalkboard in front of a class of 14-year-old boys.

If you find yourself having done so, do not under any circumstances add rays coming out of the top to show that it's lit up, or, God forbid, shading.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (yay)
Last day of school today, which is actually going to involve a lot of work for me and possibly a sugar high.

Then it's off to Pennsylvania first thing tomorrow to kill zombies and spread Communism.

I think a "YAY!" is in order.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (bat country)
I'm going out of order here, because the next Blogcember prompt was about pizza preferences (which I do want to write about!), and it felt a bit weird to have a serious post about Nelson Mandela that's getting linked to all over the place, followed by a post about pizza.

Anyway, [livejournal.com profile] maeve66 asked: "What you're going to do in Morocco! Also, what is a VLPA or some gathering of similar initials?"

So! The background to this is that I've wanted to go to Morocco since I was a little kid. This is as a result of knowing someone who went and came back with photos of the architecture, and also reading way too much William S. Burroughs at far too early an age. MY CHILDHOOD TRAVEL DREAM AND I'M DOING IT, you guys.

I'm going on a tour, because that's the only reasonable way to see all the places I want to see in a short period of time and my command of French leaves much to be desired. (My command of Arabic is non-existent.) I'll be in North Morocco: Casablanca, Rabat, Fez, Chefchaouen, and Marrakech. What I'm doing? Seeing stuff. As much stuff as possible. Particularly architecture.

VLAP is the thing that makes the whole thing possible. See, when you're a teacher, you get crazy amounts of vacation (and need it). But it's only at Christmas Break (when it's expensive to fly and most people have some sort of obligation), March Break (a week long), and summer. You can't take vacation any other time. I'm not complaining, and I'm totally willing to pay more because the perks of my job are awesome, but the thing with Morocco is that the temperatures average around 90-100°F in summer. I am actually willing to endure that for the sake of my childhood dream, but the friend I'm going with is much more sensible than I am.

Now! Rewind back to the shitty contract we got enforced on us last year. As shitty as it was, like most neoliberal economic ideas, it was short-sighted and actually didn't save anyone that much money. (When we had 20 bankable sick days a year, the average teacher took 7—and I took way less than that until I got Maggie. Now we get 11 non-bankable sick days, and there is zero motivation to not take all 11, since we lose them otherwise. A supply teacher costs $250 a day. Your homework, boys, girls, and genderqueers, is to do the math.)

In another effort to save money, the Board started offering a Voluntary Leave of Absence Program (VLAP), where you can take up to five days of unpaid leave. That amounts to a substantial pay cut, but I saw that and went, "fuck it, I can attach it to my March Break and go to Morocco! Hells yeah!"

And that's what I'm doing. Because childhood dream.
sabotabby: (teacher lady)
So remember back when the Ontario Liberals took away our collective bargaining rights with Bill 115? And I said at the time that I thought my union's strategy in fighting it was haphazard, disorganized, and ultimately doomed to failure?

Well, it turns out there was a reason: OSSTF's now ex-president's future career as a Liberal MPP. That's right: After the Liberals completely (and predictably) screwed us over in the name of austerity*, the union leadership swooned right back into its arms, and Coran jumped ship entirely.

On the plus side, his campaign isn't going well, seeing as he's a lying liar who lies and isn't even skilled about it.

Here's a memo from Coran back in September, advising teachers to withdraw financial support and membership from the Liberal Party in response to Bill 115:

memo from coran photo 969503_10152966848860640_223295993_n_zps45b0b9e5.jpg

And look, now he's chumming it up with his best buddy, Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne:

kathleen and ken otp photo 1006149_10152987070970534_173544190_n_zps03baec37.jpg

I don't even feel betrayed because some of us saw this coming from a mile away, and I expect our leadership to be horrible and corrupt at this point. Ain't labour relations grand?

* Not that it actually saved money; austerity seldom does. Instead, it led to an increase in sick days, which cost money, because if you can't bank your sick days, there's no motivation not to max them out.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (sleep of reason/goya/wouldprefernot2)
I was assigned to teach Grade 12 Applied English. I had 50 students in my class. The assigned novel study for the year was Atlas Shrugged.

I was dismayed at first, then realized that I could make the curriculum subversive by deconstructing the text. But then I remembered that the book was a million pages long, and you had to pretty much read novels aloud to get Applied kids to read them, and the kids would never sit still long enough to participate in a critical analysis.

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