Newsletter June 2011

Information

By: Dave Najduch, WTA President

  • The election of a new MTS Vice-President –  Norm Gould from the
    St. James- Assiniboia Teachers’ Association
  • The election of six new Provincial Executive members
  • The setting of the MTS fee for 2011-2012 ($882.00)
  • The passing of a whole range of resolutions which can best be found
    on the MTS Web page and in the Manitoba Teacher.

I would like to thank Kristin Insull and her WTA AGM Committee for their efforts related to the AGM. In the feedback I received, the work of the WTA delegation was very well received by many other local Associations. I would like to especially thank Kristin for moving and speaking to the WTA AGM resolutions on the floor of the meeting. She did an excellent job representing the WTA.

Report Cards:
It is our understanding that the Chief Superintendent has provided information to  schools through District Superintendents related to the completion of report cards
in June. If you are being asked to provide more than just a few sentences in the anecdotal section of the reports, please contact the WTA office as soon as possible.

Year End!
Hard to believe we are into the last month of another school year. Good luck completing all of the tasks that are required over the next few weeks. Once the year is over, remember to take time for yourself and family to relax and recharge.

HAVE A GREAT SUMMER!

Lessons Learned

By: Joan Fransen, WTA Vice-President

Joan PictureIt seems appropriate, somehow, that as I make the transition back to active teaching, I reflect on my time in the WTA office. In all that I’ve done, I have tried to represent WTA members in a variety of ways. Throughout the past three and a half years I believe I have learned many things.

First, our members work very hard. Whether it was
through school visits, discussions at the committee
level, or personal conversations and e-mails, I have
heard the stories of many of you—each unique, but
common in the ongoing effort needed to make a
difference in the lives of those around you. Some are stories of frustration, others are merely statements of fact. Teaching goes far beyond the instructional day, the walls of the places we work, and the students with whom we have contact.

Secondly, our members are passionate about what they do. They represent various capacities of service in education. Each, in their role, seeks to provide the piece that will help students to be successful. In the WTA office, our role is to protect the welfare of our members so that they can continue to be passionate about students.

Thirdly, our members are team players. We demonstrate on a daily basis, our ability to work with one another for the greater good. We support others—students, parents, and colleagues. Often at personal expense, we “take one for the team.”

I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to you, our members, for your support. I look forward to meeting you in the future as I re-engage in classroom work.  Specifically, I would like to thank the Executive and the Office Team  I have learned a great deal from you. The experience I have gained working with Glenda Shepherd, Henry Shyka, and Dave Najduch has been invaluable.

Finally, when it comes down to it, we each have the ability to participate in our destiny.  We can view the glass as half full or half empty. Our outlook helps to determine the outcome. As was the statement made at the end of each day’s morning announcements at one school in which I worked,

“And with that…Go ahead and make it a great day!”


By:
lesley Wallis, WTA Executive Member

Because I have had to deal with this issue at school
a number of times recently, I found that the session
on Cyber-defamation and bullying to be very timely.
The presenter, Grant Bowers, discussed cyber-bullying,
cyber-harassment, cyber-defamation and cyber-stalking. It is important to get the terms correct when reporting or discussing this topic. Being exact in the terminology will assist outside authorities (if called in) to determine the procedures necessary to deal with these acts.

For instance, cyber-bullying occurs when a child, pre-teen or teen is tormented, humiliated, threatened, etc., by another child, pre-teen, or teen.  Bullying necessitates the use of power:  the more powerful person bullies the less powerful. Usually this disparity in power arises from differences in size or perhaps social stature. The power doesn’t have to be real; perceived power can be just as threatening to the victim.  Cyber-bullying can remain virtually anonymous by using temporary e-mail accounts, pseudonyms in chat rooms, instant messaging programs, cell phone text messaging, etc., to disguise their identity; this allows them to act without the usual social checks that might affect their behaviour. And, in this case, size doesn’t matter.

In the school context at least, cyber-harassment occurs when the target is an adult
and the perpetrator is a child, pre-teen, or teen. There isn’t the same imbalance of power as bullying, because the target is, in this case, a teacher or administrator.
The hurt results from the use of the Internet to send the harmful message out, not
from the use of physical power.

Similar to cyber-harassment, cyber-defamation targets an adult, but in this case
injures a professional in the education system by damaging his or her reputation.
The Internet is used to spread malicious information to a potentially huge audience.

Cyber-stalking, like stalking, occurs when one follows or contacts someone known to them. However, because cyber-stalking uses the Internet, the possibility for damage
to the victim is greater. Like the cyber-bully, the cyber-stalker can remain anonymous.

In another session, Brenda Stokes-Verworn presented a session which discussed
the protection of privacy. In other words, who has the right to know what about whom.  Unfortunately, many of her examples and information concerned issues in Ontario,
so not all of the material was pertinent to teachers in Manitoba.

There was also an excellent presentation by Bobbi Ethier and Paul McKenna on social media and Facebook, another timely (for me) topic.

I attended the keynote address by Mr. Justice M. Harrington from the Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal, who spoke about law and education and a luncheon address by Edwina Wetzel, a Member of the Order of Canada, who discussed her experiences as a First Nations student, educator and administrator  I was fortunate enough to have had the chance to speak to Ms Wetzel later.

Altogether, the conference was an excellent learning opportunity. Unfortunately, many of the sessions were standing room only, which made it difficult to see and hear the presenters (especially when one was out in the hallway, as I was a few times).  Perhaps a method of signing up for sessions beforehand would have solved this issue.

I enjoyed my time at the CAPSLE conference, and I would like to thank The Winnipeg Teachers’ Association for their support and the opportunity to attend.

CAPSLE Report

By: jennie Matteis, WTA Treasurer

There were 40 sessions held over the course of the conference. These sessions covered topics such as:
Sex Education and Student Rights, Violent Threats and
the Rights of the School Community and Facebook and
other Social Media. This conference is very informative,
and always a learning experience.

I attended six of the sessions.  One session I attended was Facebook and other
Social Media.
This session was facilitated by Bobbi Ethier, MTS Staff Officer and
Paul McKenna from Myers Weinberg LLP.  This session addressed Facebook and other social media and the legal implications of what a teacher may say through this media. It included the issue of a teacher’s freedom of speech and expression and the ability of the employer to control and/or sanction such Internet communications and opinions.  The same analyses are also applied for students, including the issue of cyber-bullying.

Another session I attended was Perspectives of Northern Manitoba School Principals Regarding New Special Education Legislation. This session was facilitated by
MTS Staff Officer, Dr. Joan Zaresky. Dr. Jaresky used this paper as her doctoral dissertation.  In 2005, Manitoba proclaimed its first legislation regarding the
education of students with special needs, the Appropriate Educational Programming Amendments to The Public Schools Act.  It states that school principals were
legally designated as the educators responsible for ensuring the application of the legislation within their school settings. Dr. Zaretsky interviewed 15 principals in Northern Manitoba regarding their perspectives as to their abilities to comply with
the legislative mandate. The principals identified their supports and challenges.

I found both of these sessions very useful for me personally and for our members.
I welcome anyone that would like more information about the Conference of the individuals sessions to contact me at jmatteis@wta.mb.ca

Active Members…Going on a
trip this summer vacation?

It’s almost summer vacation and you have been looking forward to travelling. Make sure that you take your ManuAssist card with you. That card is the only document that identifies you as a member of the plan.

The card should be filled in to include the number of our WTA Extended Health Benefits Plan—98240. The card should also have your membership number in the plan on it.  For most, but not all teachers, your number is your WSD employee number. (That is
the plan member certificate number that you use when making a claim for prescription medications, physiotherapy and other treatments.)

On the back of the card are toll free number you should contact if you need medical attention while in other parts of Canada, the US or other countries. If you have further questions BEFORE you leave on your vacation, you can contact Manulife at their
toll free number:

1-800-268-6195

Having a first aid travel kit would enable you to deal with minor scrapes, cuts and
burns yourself.  Be sure you have sufficient supplies of any prescription medications you take.  It is advisable to keep these in their original labeled containers, and to
carry them with you in your ‘carry-on’ bags/backpacks.

Before leaving your working location at the end of June, make sure you have sufficient Manulife claim forms for the summer period.  You can download our EHB claim forms from the Manulife website by the following process:

  • Type www.manulife.ca/group benefits
  • Group Benefits Customers, in Step 1 select “Plan Member”; in Step 2, enter 98240 as your plan contract number; Click on “Go”
  •  “Quick access to the forms you need”, Click on “forms”
  •  Click on (Health Claim Forms) “Extended Health Care Claim”

You are now able to print an Extended Health Care Claim Form for your completion. 

(Please note, your dental coverage is provided by Great-West Life Assurance (GWL) therefore a GWL dental claim form would be needed for your dental claim
to be reimbursed.)

Have a safe and happy vacation!

2011/2012 WTA Executive
and Council Meeting Dates

The following are the dates for the 2011/2012
WTA Executive and Council Meetings:

Executive – All Wednesdays, 4:30 PM – WTA Office,
202-2639 Portage Avenue

September 7
October 5
November 2
December 7
January 11
February 1
March 7
April 4 – Note: 2012/2013 Budget Debate
May 9
June 6
June 18– Note: Monday – Changeover Meeting – Location and time TBA

 

Council – 5:45 PM – Arnett Auditorium, McMaster House, unless otherwise stated. Snack will be provided in the Lobby outside the Auditorium at 5:00 PM

September 12
October 11
November 9
December 5
January 17
February 8
March 5 – Note: Election Forum
April 12
May 15– Note: WTA AGM
June 12– Note: WTA DSA Reception

 WTA Retirement Reception – TBC

General Information

Electoral Units not represented at the May Council meeting:

Champlain, COTE, Churchill, College Churchill, David Livingstone, Dufferin, Earl Grey, Elmwood, Garden Grove, General Wolfe, Glenelm, Greenway, J. B. Mitchell,
King Edward, Luxton, Montrose, Mulvey, Niji Mahkwa, Norquay, Pinkham, R.B. Russell,
River Elm, Robertson, Shaughnessy Park, Strathcona, Substitutes, Support Services, Tyndall Park, Wellington, WAEC, WAEC—700 Elgin Avenue.

 

REMINDER…

The Winnipeg Teachers’ Association Retirement Reception
is being held on Tuesday, June 14th, 2011
at the Shaarey Zedek Synagogue
Doors Open at 6:45 PM

WTA President’s Report 2010/2011

By: Dave Najduch, WTA President

The following is taken from the WTA Annual Reports document which can be found on the Association web page.

This report represents the highlights of the work of the Association over the last school year.  As you read the other Annual Reports found in this document, you will see that the Association has been involved in a wide-range of activities and the provision of many services to our 3000 plus members.

The year began with the membership raising concerns over attendance at Professional Development (PD) activities outside of the city.  After some discussion with the Division; the Superintendents’ Department has now stated that individuals can indicate to school administration their desire to not attend the event and they will be scheduled
for some type of activity within the city.  The Superintendents’ Department has also made clear the fact that members are not required to provide a rationale or explanation for their non-participation.

There has been a great deal of change mandated by the Provincial Government over the last school year.  The WTA has been in ongoing discussions with the WSD related to the common administrative days, professional development days and Provincial report cards.  Each has the potential to impact the workload of members and the Association will continue to monitor these issues in the coming school year.

The Association has continued to share with the WSD specific membership concerns related to technological services provided by the Division.  Issues such as log-in times, lost data, system shut down periods and slow response times were discussed; along with the negative impact this has on teachers doing their jobs.  The Division has responded to the specific situations and engaged the Association in a broader discussion related to the changes that they will be undertaking in the future.

The single largest membership issue this school year was the implementation of the new Math CAP.  Once again the Division implemented a major change without first taking steps to ensure that the program would be successful with the classroom teachers who are responsible for making it work.  The Association heard from many members through phone calls, e-mails and the mini-feedback session hosted at a WTA Council meeting.  The concerns raised by the membership are directly linked to
a lack of understanding at the divisional level, related to the impact the new Math CAP implementation has had on classroom teachers and schools.

The WTA has spoken with the Superintendents’ Department and Trustees since the early fall expressing concerns.  The issue of new program implementation has also been discussed at the negotiations table.  As President, I wrote the Division outlining
a number of specific problems and making a series of recommendations.  It is my understanding that the response to this letter will be received in the near future and reported to Executive and Council by the time this document is published.

Only some of the work undertaken by the President is of a kind which can be easily reported on to Executive and Council.  Much of the day-to-day work is responding to individual member concerns as they are received through the office either by phone or e-mail.  The number of, and type of these concerns seems to be growing on a year-to-year basis.  The usual are linked to membership evaluation, assignments in schools, class-size and composition matters.  An area which is being reported more often over the past school year is linked to the issue of harassment of members in schools.  It is the job of the President to provide feedback and direction as these matters arise and help individuals work towards some type of satisfactory resolution.

The President is the public face of the organization, but much of the work of the WTA goes on through the Table Officers, Executive and Council.  To the membership involved in each of these, your efforts are very much appreciated and this Association could not function without your time and commitment.  I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the work of Fraser Oakes and thank him for his efforts as the WTA Nominating and Elections Chair.  He took on the responsibility half-way into the process after the elected chair had to resign.  I am sure the role was interesting and a challenge.  Through his efforts and those of the Committee, the Association has a full slate of Executive members and Table Officers for the 2011/2012 school year.

The WTA office team is another critical component to the operation of the Association.
I would like to thank the outgoing Vice-President (VP), Joan Fransen for her service
and efforts on behalf of the membership over these past few years.  I would like to welcome the incoming VP, Nathan Martindale, to the office team.  I look forward to working with Nathan and guarantee him the year will be interesting and educational.  To the Business Agent, Henry Shyka and our Administrative Assistant, Glenda Shepherd, I can only say thank you for your wise counsel this past year and I hope
it will continue into the future.

Respectfully submitted by,
Dave Najduch, President