Seniority Matters

Seniority in teaching matters because there is much documented research showing that teachers must practice up to eight years before they develop efficacy in their practice. In the British VITAE study of 300 teachers in 100 schools, authors Day, Sammons, Stobart, Kingston, and Gu (2007) showed that teachers’ levels of confidence and self-efficacy continue to grow until around the 7 to 8 year mark. After 8 years, teachers reached a significant turning point in their professional development (Day et al., 2007).

The 7th year of teaching is significant as it marks about 10,000 hours of teaching practice. Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, states that in order to master any skill it takes “to a large extent, a matter of practicing … for a total of around 10,000 hours” (Gladwell, 2008). This make sense because teaching is a complex and challenging profession and as a result it takes over 7 years to develop high levels of professional efficacy. Further to this, as teachers’ professional knowledge grows, so does their professional judgement.

In the early years of teaching, there is a great deal of trial and error in developing practices that work with students. I content that this process, while occurring less often, is an ongoing part of teachers’ practices as teachers must meet the needs of many students. This results in developing a myriad of strategies implemented in tandem with many students’ needs.

I personally know that if I need collegial advice, I approach the most senior teachers in my school, as they have the depth of experience and knowledge to guide me. Further, teachers with extensive experience know that the work of teaching is complex, and it is naïve to believe that simple solutions will address complex challenges with students’ learning.

To imply that older teachers should not be teaching because of declining efficacy is to imply that other professionals such as older doctors, lawyers, and politicians should do the same.

I dedicate this blog to courageous teachers who strive to work with their colleagues and do the best for their students day after day.

I believe that when working collaboratively, teachers are better together.

Collaboratively Yours,

Deb Weston, PhD


Day, C., Sammons, P., Stobart, G., Kingston, A., & Gu, Q. (2007). Teachers matter: Connecting lives, work and effectiveness. Maidenhead, UK: Open University

Gladwell, M. (2008). Outliers: The story of success. Hachette UK.


Celebrating us

We did it.

We brought another amazing decade of learning to a succesful close with passion, creativity, and purpose. For ETFO it has been 21 impactful years in the service of public education, students, and educators.

It’s my 11th year as an ETFO member, and I am looking back at the past decade with some mixed feelings. Perhaps it is a function of the time of year when all of the best and worst lists are being shared in the media? Regardless, I am thankful to be an educator who works with wonderful students and amazing staff at a great school.

On the other hand, I am also intrepid about what is continuing to widening gap between student needs and the resources with which to support them. What will the future look like if government cuts and policies changes go unchallenged? This got me thinking about how instrumental the work of ETFO is to supporting us and I found myself browsing through pages of resources, messages, and initiatives via

Whether you are newer to the profession or a veteran educator, I thought it would be a good idea to look back at the positive impacts made by our union that have helped us get us here, and as we prepare to for 2020.

Let’s take a moment to break down some of the numbers from 21 years of ETFO:

  1. Membership ~ Let’s use 75 000 as the mean number of teachers from past to present.
  2. Days of Instruction ~ 21 years x 190 days = 3990 days
  3. Minutes (days x 300 minutes of instructional time x membership) ~ 8.9775 x 10 ^10 minutes

For the sake of my own brain, I am going to say a lot of learning has occured as a direct result of tens of thousands of past and present caring ETFO educators. Millions of moments curated that have culminated and contributed to millions of positive impacts in and out of classrooms. Millions of moments where struggles turned into opportunities and hard work paid off. Millions of students who have gone on to do amazing things. Millions of lessons learned with millions more still to come.

Without becoming too nostalgic, I think it’s a great time to take stock of all the amazing things that have happened that have ensured the voices of elementary educators will be heard. 21 years on the shoulders of giants who have stood tall in the face of adversity to prepare a way for future teachers to succeed. To all of those who have taught before and alongside me, I am grateful.

Grateful for:

21 years of lessons learned in and out of the classroom.
21 years of remaining on the cutting edge of technology and ongoing teacher training
21 years of inclusivity and equity
21 years of looking out for the safety, mental health, and wellbeing of our membership
21 years of dispelling myths with facts
21 years of commitment to something bigger than themselves
21 years of standing up for students, their families, and to make public education better/stronger 
21 years of fighting against the malicious mandates of socially and fiscally tyrannical governments
21 years of solidarity

Such success is something to celebrate. Especially, with a strike mandate of 98% in favour this past Fall. Our collective voices and our profoundly positive professional impact will not be dismissed or ignored.

While certain media factions seek to villify our profession, we know that we possess the power to light the way for public education well into the coming decades. When elected officials undermine our collective good in the short term, we remain focused on the future by standing together now. Side by side, ours are the shoulders to stand on.

As I shared earlier in this post, the numbers show that the possibilities grow everyday an ETFO educators enters a classroom. Bring on 2020!

Cheering you on everyday and looking forward to celebrating an even better future in education. Thank you for reading.

Shoulders of giants.

There is a wonderful quote from Sir Isaac Newton that goes, “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” To me, this is nothing less than a gigantic nod to everyone who “tried and paved the way” before him, and a reminder of his then obligation to do the same for the generations to follow-including you and me.

I think Newton was right to pay tribute to his predecessors, but he did so implying that he was focused on the future. He knew that the past played an important part in his understanding of all things Math and Physics(Natural Law), but he was also keanly aware that there was still much work to do during his life in order to prepare for something far beyond his time, work, failures, and accomplishments. This was Newton’s way to say to his successors, “My shoulders are ready for you to stand upon and see further”. Like all teachers, Newton created the conditions where his lessons would go far into the future to a time, space, and place where he himself would never visit.

And now to the classroom

Imagine this repeating itself around the world everyday where a class is in session? We see the future everyday as we prepare students to stand on our shoulders to see further. In some ways, teachers are like conduits of time that possess the ability to bridge the past and present in service of the future. In the process, we continually build and strengthen the foundations on which we all stand and seek to see further than before.

To me, this is one of the coolest places to be as an educator because we have the ability to see through multiple states of time. This is a gift from the past, and it is important for us all to take a moment to enjoy the 360 view atop the shoulders of giants on which we now stand.*

Think about the beauty of looking back at where we’ve been a.k.a hindsight. In education it’s better known as ongoing professional reflection. In itself, reflection will always be an important tool in our collective kit. However, if we’re not careful, we can dwell too much on the past, which could then mire us in the present, and ultimately cause us to lose focus on the future – our students. That’s why we need to keep our eyes looking forward and further as we stand together to protect education from fundamentalist firestarters trying to burn its foundations with fiscal forest fires in order to fleece the future.

Despite the acrimonious arson taking place, we stand firm and united in the fight against cuts to education. Our solidarity, current WTR focus on government, and willingness to wait at the negotiating table are clear indicators to families that ETFO members are rallying around our learners even as the government burns bridges to benefit a bogus budget dilemma. Our shoulders are squared and strong.

It’s time we douse the doubt and the doubters by continuing our amazing and impactful work in education which has placed Ontario among the best in the world. Imagine what heights our students will reach when each one has equitable access to learning at all phases of their educational evolution from JK to post-secondary? Imagine underserved and under-performing students who will never fall through the cracks because there are shoulders for them to stand on too?

Stand strong. Stand together.

*This is never more meaningful when I think about the educators who stood up for teachers in the past to fight for the benefits, pay, and working conditions we have now. There is no doubt that things are better for educators in some areas, but have deteriorated in other areas. It is now our turn to clear the way and make new roads for those to come in the future. I am so thankful for those who fought for me. Even though I may never meet them in person, I am here standing on their shoulders.

In loco contractus

It has taken a lot of restraint to ignore the volumes of micro-aggressive, passive aggressive, aggressive, and macro-aggressive comments flying around the Twitterverse about education since our most recent contract with the government expired this past August.

And then there is the elected official du jour with the education portfolio.

I have tried not to focus on the orchards of low hanging fruit being grown by our current Education Minister at the behest of his leader and his agenda. Elected or not, it is imperative of this incumbent and every other MPP to serve the public better. This means, any disinegenous attempts to villify our profession through weak one-liners and scripted media apperances as a scare tactic have to end. Saying you want a deal and then not bargaining will never be deemed as negotiating.

Despite not having a contract, all educators continue their tireless work on behalf of students to educate, encourage, and move forward even though our government managed to cut teachers and course offerings, and then wrote themselves a nearly 5 month absence note with a retro-active pay raise for good measure. This is not a sustainable situation. It is however, a recipe for a toxic and uncertain future.

What the province’s students need now is a government that sees, supports, and serves them and not the interests of corporate bullies or privateers bent on profiting from manufactured crises in public education. Instead they are blasted with a daily dose of misinformation without consideration of the present or the future. Our youth deserve a future and the truth.

This is what they are getting.

In between not negotiating, there have been absolutely zero authentic moments when this elected official sat at the table, conducted meaningful dialogue with teachers, or made an unscripted appearance at a public school without a camera crew. Maybe he should read my Undercover Boss post.

Instead it’s a steady stream of steamy slurry being served to the public via social media and scripted segments. #somethingsmells

Ontario education minister deletes tweet after social media backlash

“Lecce’s office told Global News on Thursday that the location of the photos was chosen due to timing and convenience, saying the decision was not made in an effort to avoid going to one of the province’s public schools but instead so as not to create a disruption.”

“My negotiating team stands ready for meaningful, good-faith bargaining 24/7, to reach the deals Ontario students and families deserve. There is a path to a deal, and it requires all parties to be reasonable and fair and put the needs of our children first.”

“Strikes hurt kids. Our Government has been clear, we want deals that keep students in class. For teacher unions to leave the table, to turn their back on our children, and to escalate to the point of compromising their education, is deeply troubling for parents and our Government.”

Cue Dr Carol Campbell from OISE and a litany of very committed educators who, to no surprise, have provided the corrections and descriptive feedback. Follow the thread all the way through. I especially like the part where the OntGov will never leave the table and be available 24/7. The OSSTF is also working hard at fact checking the M.O.Ed’s claims. #onceateacheralwaysateacher

There is nothing helpful about using the hashtag #strikeshurtkids that could ever be considered conscionable compared to the budget cuts being inflicted in our province. For so many people concerned about the public purse, a vision prescription update may be forthcoming to help them see the red ink that will stain the ledgers of future generations of Ontarians. When the people are denied adequate and equitable access to the world class education system that already exists in Ontario, the costs will make the current deficit look like an OLG winfall. The shortsightedness of this will end up costing us all. #antithetical #malfeasance or #unethical #incompetance

Think of overburdened social service systems, the disenfranchisement of students who have had their course options stolen, or of the marginalized/at-risk youth who deserve more interactions with opportunities and adults who are equipped to support them. Think about the danger to the economy of an underprepared/underserved workforce. This is why we need to keep up the struggle and fight against the visionless economic tyranny of the day. #cutshurtkids

Cuts Hurt Us All

Not to be overlooked, our collective rights as a union are being threatened by a pack of budget wolves that is blind to all but the bottom line. Few if any, have ever dared to step foot into the very institutions they wish to “save” and witness the magic and miracles being performed by teachers and support staff everyday without a press conference or a contract. Now that’s putting students first. #ETFOStrong

Undercover Boss

Have you ever watched a show called Undercover Boss?

An average episode of the hour long program shows a CEO or top tier exec going incognito to better understand the work flow, flaws, and family of an organization. The show makes sure that the top dog is put alongside some pre-selected employees(often outspoken) who, fearlessly or not, walk the “newbie” through a day in the life at their job.

In most episodes, there comes a moment when a budget-line-watching-number-crunching-corner-office-seat-occupier realizes how their top down edicts are negatively impacting the organization until they see it from the perspective(s) of the workers. At this point in the show, regardless of profit and loss statements, the executive works to make things right, realizing that if things were better for the workers, the bottom line would benefit too. A win win outcome right?

I love TV. It creates narratives to suit itself. Moreover, despite a proliferation of reality TV programs, the medium remains irreal. Much like any Disney offering, TV has conditioned us to expect a happy ending that is far away from everyday experiences. If all goes accordingly, good always triumphs over evil, a hero will emerge, and on the show Undercover Boss, at least, some lucky employees will help their bosses to miraculously see the light and improve the company. This is not the current case between the government and public education in Ontario.

I would love it if our elected officials had the courage and conviction to do this for longer than the time it takes to convene a photo opp or craft a sound bite. I wonder why this is rarely, if ever, true when it comes to government and education. Other than clichés about how much the students come first and the importance of educators, hollow words do not mirror the devastating actions that senseless cuts are having on public education.

As such, we have seen neither the current Premier nor the Minister of Ed spending any meanigful amount of time with the people on the frontlines like an undercover boss. Since they are making decisions that affect everyone working in education, we all deserve to see and know that they are completely aware and informed.

I have never heard genuine words of understanding from elected officials that qualify them to make the decisions they are making which will ultimately impact our society for generations to come. In its wallet.

With so much attention placed on the bottom lines of provincial budgets, it becomes an easy target for outsiders to look across a spreadsheet and proclaim cuts can be made and no one will ever feel it without duty of care or context. This is not unique to education either.

This past year has revealed many glaring differences about how information is being (mis)used, bent, and or weaponized to suit political agendas. As such this misuse of information seems like systemic micro and macro-aggressions towards our profession, the public education system, and our students.

Which leads me to this question. How can a system of the people for the people be so myopic in its duty and dilligence? Isn’t the idea of education for all to actually provide education and therefore opportunity for all? With all of the time that governments and bureaucrats spend poring over the books, they have conveniently missed the direct cost implications of intentional systematic underfunding.

Here are some things to consider.

  1. Loss of education opportunities limits the number of skilled and quality workers contributing to the economy. That means more spending and tax dollars from higher wage earners.
  2. Economic cuts reduce opportunities for many people already living on the margins of society. That means cuts to education is a form of systemic discrimination towards many communities.
  3. Cuts to course offerings hurt the wrong people when those who can afford it can simply shift to a private school.Even my elementary students are shaking their heads about how traditional courses that lead to Post Secondary Science and Engineering courses are being limited or disappearing from local high schools. (see what is happening in my board @ YRDSB)
  4. Cuts to OSAP hurt the wrong people too. Rich kids will still go to post-secondary school, while marginalized students will have their futures moved further out of reach.
  5. Refusing to fund education to the fullest is a recipe for social disaster.  If we cannot agree on this, then we are agreeing to leave the next generation worse off than the last. When private schools are advertising that they have the courses that have been eliminated from our public schools, there is a problem.

None of the above are acceptable.

Our parents did not struggle and sacrifice for this. My mom and dad did not work full and part time for this. Neither did yours. Students and their families do not make sacrifices for this. No one would ever vote to limit the future of opportunity of its youth. Neither would a sensible and caring society allow anyone to slip through the cracks. Unless they had an agenda to undermine Canada as a civil society. The actions of our elected officials appear specious at best when it comes to education.

Our work brings value far beyond any budget lines could ever define because it brings human possibilities forward everyday. Reducing and removing opportunities also removes relationships that empower students into the future. Restricting or taking away someone’s access to education is simply an affront to all humanity. We are difference makers, miracle workers, and advocates for all of our students. We are working hard to change the narratives that have become a distraction in public education.

We are fighting to be heard and respected, let alone seen and understood, by politicians who prefer to take cover behind short sighted populist agendas that seek to serve the bosses rather than the people who work for them. It’s time for their eyes and minds to be opened.

What if every school could welcome an undercover boss(politician)? Maybe then, these decision makers would truly see the commitment, struggle, and value of our fight for students, their families, and this noble profession. My door is always open. No photographers please. It’ll disrupt the learning.

Fight on. #CutsHurtKids #ETFOStrong

Further reading

York board says bigger class sizes forced cancellation of 123 high school courses. 

What Exactly Is Happening To Ontario’s Education System? What You Need To Know

Financial facts on Canadian prisons

What is the Rand Formula and why it matters to teachers?

The Rand Formula provides legislation that all members of trade unions must pay union dues regardless of the worker’s status.

The Rand Formula was established by Supreme Court of Canada Justice Ivan Rand which was introduced in 1946 as a result of the Ford Strike of 1945 in Windsor, Canada. The Rand Formula is also referred to automatic check-off or compulsory check-off meaning that in provinces where the Rand Formula is not mandatory, an automatic check-off of union dues may become part of the collective bargaining agreement if the employer and the trade union agree.

Union dues to be deducted

This means that collective agreements include  “a provision requiring the employer to deduct from the wages of each employee in the unit affected by the collective agreement, whether or not the employee is a member of the union” and that this amount will be forwarded to the union.

Religious objections

If an employee has objections to this due to “their religious conviction or beliefs, objects to joining a trade union or to paying regular union dues to a trade union”the employee and/or their Board can, directly or through a deduction from their wages, send the equivalent funds to a registered charity.

Purpose of the Rand Formula

The purpose of the Rand Formula is to establish the legality of automatically collecting dues from trade union members covered by collective agreements. This means that workers in a trade union cannot benefit from the activities and protections of their union if they choose not to pay mandatory union dues. Even when members choose not to participate in their union or are not a registered member of their collective bargaining workforce, the worker still must pay union dues.

Why do teachers pay union dues?

In Canada unions are formed when the majority of workers in a workplace vote to become unionized. Once a union is established, members gain the benefits and wages negotiated by their union through the collective bargaining process, their professional advocacy for working conditions, and with professional representation.

Unions have a legal duty to represent their members and be accountable on how these member dues are dispersed. Union dues are democratically set by the members of the union who, in turn, receive the benefits of belonging to this union. Union dues are used to fund the cost of collective bargaining, to fund the cost of enforcing the collective agreement, and to fund the cost of campaigns union members instruct their union to support. Union dues are also used to defend workers in a workplace grievance as investigations and/or arbitration can be very costly. Further, if a union strike or lockout were to occur, members receive strike pay.

Can workers dispute paying union dues?

Legal Challenge: Freedom of Association (Lavigne vs Ontario Public Service Employees Union)

In 1991, Francis Lavigne, an Ontario community college teacher, complained that the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) was not using their union’s dues for purposes in which he agreed. Lavigne was not a member of OPSEU but was required to pay dues as per the Rand Formula and stated it violated his rights of freedom of expression in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (section 2b).

The Supreme Court ruled that there was no violation of Lavigne’s Charter rights (Lavigne, 1991) as the use of the union dues did have an expressive content but the payments of these union dues did not imply any support of union causes and did not prevent union members from expressing their own personal views. So there was no violation of the freedom of expression under the Charter and union dues were to be continued to be paid under the Rand Formula.

Connecting the Rand Formula to Teachers’ Real Lives

Teaching is a very public profession. Even when teachers are not teaching, they are held to high ethical standards. At or away from school, teachers’ choices and behaviour can impact their employment. Regardless of how professional teachers conduct themselves, they are always at risk of adverse complaints. When belonging to a union, teacher members receive the union support and resources they need to defend themselves in the case of an adverse allegation. Due to their professional and public vulnerability in their roles, teachers need this support in order to do their jobs. When political parties put pressure on governments to abstain from the Rand Formula, this puts teachers at great risk by impacting their collective bargaining rights and privileges.

Imagine being in fear of being fired when a student complains to a parent about an assessment or an adverse statement supposedly made in class. It’s happened to me many times and my administration and my union were there to back me up. My board respects the role of all their member unions, not just those belonging to the teachers’ unions (ETFO & OSSTF). It is in following the collective agreements that boards of education and their teachers can make student success a reality.

In solidarity and collaboration,

Dr. Deb Weston, PhD

 Why Collective Bargaining Matters to Teachers

CUPE Fact Sheet: Union dues and the Rand Formula

 Additional Resources

Advance Cutting & Coring (2001): The Supreme Court upheld mandatory union membership in the Quebec construction industry. R. v. Advance Cutting & Coring Ltd., 2001 SCC 70, (2001) 3 S.C.R. 209

B.C. Health Services (2007): The Supreme Court recognized collective bargaining as a constitutional right under the freedom of association guarantees. Health Services and Support – Facilities Subsector Bargaining Assn. v. British Columbia, (2007) 2 S.C.R. 391, 2007 SCC 27

Lavigne (1991): The Supreme Court upheld mandatory dues. Lavigne v. Ontario Public Service Employees Union, (1991) 2 S.C.R. 211


Bursting bubbles

that sound?
Fear and loss,
dreams – on hold,
watching, without a
voice as opportunity
is cut and cancelled.
For the people, or
for their bank

Doubts – fill the staffroom.
Murmurs – echo down the halls.
Uncertainties – buzz through minds.

Bubbles – bursting before they are even formed.
Cuts like needles meant to pierce hearts and minds.

Are preparations being made for a classless class war?
Why has education been made the enemy in our province?

They say the bitter pills prescribed in government cuts must be taken or else there won’t be a future and that everyone must sacrifice because this mess is nobody’s and everybody’s fault. Yet, why aren’t elected officials in line for the same medicine that they’re prescribing? We hear tonnes of sound bites and sound bluffs. We see posturing on every stump, but where are the planters and peace makers after the forest that is public education has been razed?

We see fingers pointing in every direction because everyone is worried more about the colour of the ink on the spreadsheet than the lives that it will stain to change it.

What message is being sent to our youth by the adults, who cannot get along? The same adults making decisions about their futures? We ask our students to advocate, invest, and dedicate to their potential. We teach them to think critically, consider the facts, and make good choices. We expect students to buy into a better system, but it has already been sold out by the ones elected to take care of it.

Investing in our youth and their education should never come at a cost of denying them anything less than what their predecessors and parents had before them. Opportunity cost may be a term from an Economics textbook to understand the potential for a loss by doing something else. When we consider where things are heading in schools over the next few years, the money saved will never make up for the lost opportunity, innovation, and productivity, or the imminent financial and social costs.

Remember. Quality only hurts once. Our students are worth it. The work we provide prepares and protects them to possess a future. Our youth cannot be blamed for the mistakes of those who leveraged their futures before they were ever born. We cannot let another bubble burst and expect their children to pay for it.

Be Strong in the Face of Poor Government

FDK (too soon)

EQAO (to help real estate $)

Class sizes (to build resilience)

Drill and Kill Math (We’re Open for Worksheets)

Funding formulas (creative govt accounting to underfund boards)

Antiquated HPE curriculum (since no one needs to learn about consent)

Don’t let them fool you.

Despite what the government says to the contrary: public consultation involves asking many more people than a few plum political campaign contributors. The world is not flat, and Ontario has one of the best education systems in the world.

Be strong. We serve over 2 000 000 future voters, taxpayers, and consumers who will be impacted by the short sighted and overt actions of the current government to undermine our profession. Why would anyone want to risk losing 2 000 000 votes to curry favour with businesses who prefer to pad their bottom lines rather than pay their share of taxes. It’s time we start to boycott the companies that lobby our governments for an even slimmer share of their tax obligations while holding jobs over everyone’s heads. It’s time to unite.

Be strong. The work you do has meaning. Yours may be the only kind words and smiles that a child receives each day. That snack you pay for and provide means more to that child than you could ever know. The time you invested in coaching students(teams, academics, life) long before and after the day is done continues to impact their lives long beyond the years in school. You are equipping students to do great things in their own lives and the lives of others.

Be strong. The time you spend learning, creating, and collaborating with colleagues matters. None of us is a strong or as smart as all of us when we work and stand together. Stand together, support each other when times are tough and the government tries to undermine our confidence and that of the public in us with misinformation.

Be strong. You matter. Education matters. Our students matter. We matter. And because we do, it’s time to work, even more closely together, to support one another for the collective good, not the corporate coffer.

Be strong.

Let’s Talk About Shame

Author Brené Brown from her book “The Gifts of Imperfection” writes that there are three things that people need to understand about shame:

1.  We all have it.  Shame is universal and one of the most primitive human emotions that we experience.  The only people who don’t experience shame lack the capacity for empathy and human connection.

2.  We’re all afraid to talk about shame.

3.  The less we talk about shame, the more control it has over our lives.

While reading this it resonated with me as a teacher.  How many have you experienced Professional Learning Shame?  I’m a professional learning hoarder.  I consume professional learning whenever possible and yet, often I feel shame while experiencing professional learning.  I listen to another teacher who is courageous in sharing strategies and ideas that are meant to help me in my job and ultimately I end up thinking that I must be a poor teacher because I don’t do those things in my classroom. Often I come away feeling worse about myself.  I’ll think, “Well great, obviously everything that I’ve been doing has been ineffective and I need to add THIS onto everything else.” or “I haven’t been doing THAT in my classroom. Clearly I’m not working hard enough. What must my colleagues think of me?”

Shame makes us think that we are somehow not worthy.  I know that I’ve convinced myself of not feeling worthy when I compare my work to other teachers in my school, on Twitter or (cringe)…Pinterest.  I find it difficult to look at myself professionally through an asset lens.  The best way to stop feeling that shame is to talk about it.  Once shame is talked about it tends to lose power and it is easier to let it go.  So, I’m talking about it in a public forum so I can work on building up that resiliency.

I’ve felt shame as a teacher in social situations with people who aren’t educators.  I’ve felt judged, compared and found unworthy.  More than once I’ve heard, “Teachers are paid too much and have far too many holidays and benefits and they’re really just babysitters.”  Whenever a Provincial Government talks about making cuts to education, it sends a message that teachers aren’t worthy of maintaining the current working conditions and fuels the public perception held by some that teachers are unworthy of what we earn.

In our school, whenever EQAO results are returned and we have our fall meeting to talk about the school improvement plan for the year, we celebrate for a nano second the areas in which the student have succeeded and focus intently on the shortcomings.  As a school we know that we all share in the responsibility for the cumulative education of students and feel shame when we look at where we didn’t succeed, but some of my grade 3 and 6 colleagues have told me about how they feel solely responsible for EQAO scores and consequently, feel shame.

Well, this is a downer of a subject, get over it Fenn.  What can we do?  It’s the nature of our job right?  Nope.  There are some great pointers that Brené Brown shares about becoming shame resilient:

1.  Understand when you are feeling shame and recognize what messages and experiences trigger shame for you.

2.  Remember not to equate being imperfect with being inadequate.

3.  Share your stories with people you trust and own your stories.

4.  If you feel shame, name it.  Talk about how your feeling and ask for what you need.

Teachers are constantly in receipt of feedback about their job; from parents, students, administrators, colleagues, the public and themselves.  Staying open to criticism and feedback is what helps us improve education for our students.  We need to take risks to remain open so that we can experience improvement.  However, what we should also try to remember is that everyone is flawed and imperfect but that doesn’t mean that we are lacking.




The Basics of Understanding Copyright in Canada

Creative Works are Protected Under Canadian Law

When protecting creations such as writing, paintings, and even computer programs, regardless of value, Canadian law protects all creative works, under the Copyright Act. Creators of original work have rights that are protected.

“Simply put, the Act prohibits others from copying your work without your permission. Its purpose is to protect copyright owners while promoting creativity and the orderly exchange of ideas” (Government of Canada, 2018).

What is Copyright

Copyright is defined in the simplest terms, “copyright” means “the right to copy.” “In general, copyright means the sole right to produce or reproduce a work or a substantial part of it in any form. It includes the right to perform the work or any substantial part of it or, in the case of a lecture, to deliver it. If the work is unpublished, copyright includes the right to publish the work or any substantial part of it” (Government of Canada, 2018).

“People occasionally confuse copyrights with patents, trademarks, industrial designs and integrated circuit topographies. Like copyright, these others are rights granted for intellectual creativity and are forms of IP”(Government of Canada, 2018).

Important differences:

  • “Copyright provides protection for literary, artistic, dramatic or musical works (including computer programs) and other subject-matter known as performer’s performances, sound recordings and communication signals.
  • Patents cover new and useful inventions (product, composition, machine, process) or any new and useful improvement to an existing invention.
  • Trademarks may be one or a combination of words, sounds or designs used to distinguish the goods or services of one person or organization from those of others” (Government of Canada, 2018).

Copyright protects all original “literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works provided the conditions set out in the Copyright Act have been met. Each of these general categories covers a wide range of creations, including:

  • literary works such as books, pamphlets, computer programs and other works consisting of text
  • dramatic works such as motion picture films, plays, screenplays and scripts
  • musical works such as compositions with or without words
  • artistic works such as paintings, drawings, maps, photographs, sculptures and plans” (Government of Canada, 2018).

The Conditions for Copyright


“Copyright applies to every original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work where the author was at the date of the making of the work a citizen or subject of, or a person ordinarily resident in, Canada or some other treaty country. (A treaty country is defined as a Berne Convention country, a Universal Copyright Convention country or a World Trade Organization [WTO] member.)” (Government of Canada, 2018).

Benefits of registration

“The Copyright Act states that a certificate of registration of copyright is evidence that copyright exists and that the person registered is the owner of the copyright. However, the Copyright Office is not responsible for policing or checking on registered works and how people use them. It also cannot guarantee that the legitimacy of ownership or the originality of a work will never be questioned” (Government of Canada, 2018).

A lifetime of protection

“Generally, copyright lasts for the life of the author, the remainder of the calendar year in which the author dies, and for 50 years following the end of that calendar year. Therefore, protection will expire on December 31 of the 50th year after the author dies” (Government of Canada, 2018).

The difference between copyright infringement and plagiarism.

“Copyright infringement is simply any infringement up on the rights of a copyright holder. Copyright law gives a copyright holder (usually the creator of the work) a set of rights that they and they alone can exploit legally (save for exceptions such as fair use)” (Bailey, 2013). Those include:

  • The right to reproduce/copy a work.
  • The right to create version of a work based upon another work.
  • The right to distribute copies of a work to the public.
  • The right to publicly display or perform a work.

“This means a wide variety of activities can be copyright infringing including performing a copyrighted play without permission, writing an unauthorized sequel to a work or simply making copies of the work” (Bailey, 2013).

Basically, copyright infringement, under the law, covers many unlawful activities that violate the rights of copyright holders. Copyright infringement is constructed under law as plagiarism is constructed under ethics. Plagiarism is essentially taking someone else’s work and presenting it as your own.

“The definition of ‘work’ can include a variety of things including ideas, words, images, etc. Anything that is seen as an unethical and unattributed use of another’s original creation can be defined as plagiarism” (Bailey, 2013).

Teachers are held to higher standards as teaching is a public profession

As teachers, we are held to higher standards as “teaching is a public profession” and that Canada’s Supreme Court rules that “off duty conduct, even when not directly related to students” is relevant to their [the teachers’] ability to teach. The Education Act Section 264 states that teachers are to have morality “to inculcate by precept and example respect for religion and the principles of Judaeo-Christian morality and the highest regard for truth, justice, loyalty, love of country, humanity, benevolence, sobriety, industry, frugality, purity, temperance and all other virtues” (Education Act 264 (1) (c)).

 So think before you use another person’s work and cite the work when you use it.

Collaboratively Yours,

Deb Weston, PhD


Bailey, J. (October 7, 2013) The Difference Between Copyright Infringement and Plagiarism, Plagiarism Today, Downloaded from

Government of Canada. (1985). Copyright Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. C-42). Copyright Board of Canada

Government of Canada. (September 26, 2018). A Guide to Copyright. Copyright Board of Canada

Government of Ontario. (October 17, 2018). Education Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. E.2, Government of Ontario, Downloaded from