Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Assertive Versus Aggressive Behavior

We are constantly challenged by aggressive and intimidating individuals. ETFO Provincial recently released a PRS memo to reminds us that it is important to understand the behaviour of threatening people and learn how to respond.  If you normally respond passively to such individuals because you fear reprisal, or rejection you become the victim and the situation will worsen.  Don't give such people power over you! If you do nothing your stress level can lead to more serious issues for you and your students. Prolonged stress causes poor performance, moodiness, relationship issues, and physical illness.  You may not be able to change the "bully" but you certainly can and need to change the negative impact they are having on you!

Difference Between Assertive and Aggressive Behaviour
The Dictionary defines aggression as:
1) Any unprovoked attack.
2) An act of attitude of hostility, usually arising from feelings of inferiority or frustration.

Aggression makes some individuals feel better by forcing their point of view on others, hurting their feelings, and building resentment.  As teachers, we intervene in student bullying situations. Yet some of us allow ourselves to be emotionally devastated by a colleague treating us the same way.

The Dictionary defines assertion as:
1) A positive statement; declaration.
2) An insisting on one's right, a claim, etc.

To assert one's self means to put oneself forward; make oneself noticed, and insist on one's rights. An assertive person is able to stand up to others and deal with each issue at hand.  Assertiveness skills can be learned and will not only resolve many interpersonal problems but will build confidence, self-respect, and improved relationships with peers.

What not to do:  remain passive
Occasional and probationary teachers often state that they fear an unsatisfactory evaluation from an intimidating principal. Others do not want to be alienated on staff, or assume their peers know how they are feeling! To this, we say "beware of assumptions that have not been checked out". Contact your Federation to discuss the situation. Be careful not to confuse "keeping the peace" with remaining "passive".

What not to do:  fight aggression with aggression 
Think twice. How is this going to end up? Aggression is emotion out of control.
Your intent should be to move forward to a more positive working environment.

You will always encounter people who have to argue about everything and impose their views aggressively on others.  However, there is another kind of person who calmly and confidently asserts themselves without hurting others. Which do you want to be?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Social Media and Advice to Members

ETFO continues to support the responsible use of social media as an excellent teaching tool, provided it adheres to professional standards.  ETFO warns it members that anything they post can be: forwarded, taken out of context, copied, manipulated and becomes impossible to remove from cyberspace.

"Friending students; posting pictures of partying, or sending overly casual messages or texts to students, parents or others may lead to professional difficulties that you may not anticipate. While the use of technology has changed dramatically over time, the standards of professionalism have not changed. Interactions must be respectful, courteous, professional and boundaries must be maintained. Members are expected to be friendly, but not "friends" with their students.

ETFO has seen an increase in cyberbullying by electronic media in the education community. Members of ETFO can be target of this. Sometimes members initiate careless electronic communication which may have unintended, but grave professional consequences.

Some tips:
  1. Communication with parents, students and other members of the education community is best done verbally or face to face in a professional and structured manner;
  2. Casual, off hand, joking remarks or expressions of support via electronic media are easily misconstrued;
  3. Pictures of you, chat discussions you initiate or participate in, and email or text messages between you and others create a permanent record. Reflect on your electronic postings;
  4. Advise friends and family not to post pictures of you on social media sites without first asking your consent;
  5. Slow down. Don't press "send" until you evaluate whether or not your postings, texts, emails will be considered professional and appropriate in the education community;
  6. You are not your students' "friend". You are their teacher and must maintain a professionally appropriate relationship. In doubt, call to find out.
ETFO has previously distributed a variety of publications on the topic of the appropriate professional use of electronic communication - see PRS Matters Volumes 48, 46 and 25 and VOICE articles from December 2008 - Cyberbullying and October 2007 - Think Before you Click. These are available on the ETFO website.
Staff in Professional Relations (PRS) can be reached at  416-962-3836 or 1-888-838-3836
See also ETFO's website - Advice for Members

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Some Topics that will be of Interest to You....

About Time and Your Collective Agreement  

Negotiated Time
  • No duties prior to commencement of first morning if full day assignment or first afternoon of a PM assignment (Art. 18.03) Board encourages us to use this time to prepare; violating this entitlement makes it harder for the next OT  
  • Same timetable as the Teacher being replaced includes duties and prep times (Art. 18.02) Just as the permanent Teacher directs how they use prep time, so does the Occasional Teacher; you cannot be assigned duties during this time
  • Minimum 40 consecutive minutes of unassigned lunch time (Art. 18.04)
  • AM half day assignment ends no later than 20 minutes after instruction (Art. 18.06)
  • Ten days notice or pay in lieu of notice if LTO terminated by early return of Teacher (Art. 5.07 b)
Home Instructors
If you are considering being a TVDSB Home Instructor, you should know that your membership in ETFO and the benefits of that membership apply only to work done in the elementary system as an Occasional Teacher.  Should you choose to do home instruction you are not covered under the protection of ETFO.

Accidents and Near Misses on the Job
It is your obligation under the law to fill out an Employee Accident Incident Report for injuries requiring first aid or time off work; hazardous situations or near-misses and incidents of physical/verbal aggressive behaviour. Forms are located at the office and must be completed for WSIB coverage.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Vote Because Education Matters!

Your vote tomorrow will have a powerful impact on all public services and the future of our province. The party that governs us has a profound impact on our public education system, our students’ learning conditions, and our working conditions. Teachers need to exercise their right to vote and to help elect representatives who will continue the progress made in public education over the past eight years.   Ontario deserves a government that will continue to invest in education. We have a responsibility to protect our students and their future.

September and October can be slow months for teaching positions, so we urge you to take this opportunity to build your professional portfolio by attending and participating in as much Professional Development as you can.  There are several venues you can check to see what is available to you.  They are: 
  • The Board's Employee Portal - provided there is space available, without pay.
  • The Thames Valley Occasional Teachers' Local Professional Development - our first opportunity will be the SMART Board workshops at Wilfrid Jury P.S. in mid-November.  Check our website in a few weeks for further details.  N.B. You are not eligible for PD offered by the Permanent Teachers' Local because their events are funded by their members.
  • Take the time to review the Ministry of Education's document: "Growing for Success" and try to incorporate that philosophy into your teaching.  
  • You can take advantage of on-line training offered by the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO)as well as the Ontario Teachers' Federation (OTF).  Go to or for further information.     
Lastly, if you are a Newly Graduated Teacher, the Local wants to support you as you begin this challenging career.  If you are in your first 5 years of occasional teaching and wish to have input into forums, workshops and bargaining initiatives specific to your needs, please join us for a meeting on October 11, 2011 at the OT Offices, 5PM.  Space is limited to 15 members and we will provide a light meal.
Register by email by October 7th if you are interested in participating.