The theme of CAPSLE conference this year was “A Bridge Over Troubled Waters”, to reference the challenges and positives in the Education world today. The various sessions I attended had this theme in mind, ranging from dealing with parents, search and seizure in schools, supporting transgender students, treaty education, and dealing with teacher transfers to name a few.
One of the stand out sessions dealt with parents and issues that may arise in conversations or actions. The Winnipeg School Division has recently placed respect signs in all its buildings to ensure all people in the building are treated in a respectful manner. However, there are occasions where parents can step outside the line and become confrontational and in severe cases, harass staff. Eric Roher’s main point in his presentation was “Give peace a chance” when dealing with this parent. Conversations are crucial, both to be proactive and communicate with the parent, but also to DOCUMENT details from the conversation. Also, when documenting, make sure you are writing down the facts, not opinions. If conversations break down and you reach the stage where “I can’t get no satisfaction”, the next step is to commence civil action using your documentation as evidence.
The panel on Truth and Reconciliation was informative and passionate. Jaime Battiste presented a positive reflection on the relationship between Mi’kmaq people, the education system, and the government and the next steps to continue truth and reconciliation. The Indigenous people of Nova Scotia have an 88% graduation rate. A large part of this is due to the involvement of the Mi’kmaq people in their own education. Battiste used a number of inspirational quotes in his presentation to create some thoughtful reflection. The one that resonated with me was “If there is to be reconciliation, first there must be truth.”.
Nancy Kerr gave an informative session on “Teacher transfer and reassignment: Making change a Win-Win”. Using prior examples and arbitration rulings, Nancy shared ideas on how to make teacher transfers as positive as possible. One of her main points was declaring how important the collective agreement is and the necessity of following the agreement when declaring teachers surplus and informing them of the upcoming change in their lives. Another important point is to have meaningful consultations before the declaration and to treat teachers respectfully and offering supports to make the change easier, and compassion for emotions the teachers may feel.
Overall, as a first-time attendee of the CAPSLE conference, I was greatly impressed with the number of informative sessions, speakers, and the overall theme. It was inspiring to meet and converse with other teachers, union leaders, and lawyers from across the country and become more informed on Education Law and what is happening in education from coast to coast.