Teachers today have to meet a diverse set of student needs. Teaching Assistants are being used in some, but not all classrooms to help teachers support student learning.

Nicole K. said on January 12, 2012:

“I also think that it is important for each class to have the option of an EA for support. Many early education classrooms (preschool, head start program) have multiple adults in the class. This allows for added support, as well as team teaching, and flexibility.”

and

Kelsey said on January 7, 2012:

“If a teacher is lucky there may be one EA there throughout the day or for an hour or so. This is my experience in the classroom… teachers will do what they can with the time and resources available but it is challenging… I believe that most teachers in BC want to teach to individual needs but just cannot manage with the help at the moment.”

How could teaching assistants and other supports be used so teachers can spend more time focused on teaching?

Summary to date:

Here’s a summary of what you’ve said so far. Click on the links beside each theme to read supporting examples.

  1. Teaching assistants play an important role (1, 2)
  2. Provide more full time dedicated teaching assistants (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  3. Provide more training for teaching assistants (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  4. Provide more planning time for teachers and teaching assistants (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  5. Hire more teachers, particularly specialists (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  6. Reduce class sizes and special needs limits (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  7. Re-evaluate the integration of special needs students (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  8. Provide more funding (1, 2, 3)
  9. Help the kids who are falling through the cracks (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  10. Reduce assessment waiting times (1, 2, 3, 4)

Please leave a comment below if you’d like to contribute to this topic.

650 Responses to “ Question 10: Teaching assistants and other supports ”

  1. Dave in Courtenay says:

    I am always disappointed at the absence of articulation of a vision for our education system from either government or people active in public education. Of course, contract negotiation times easily bring up the old “drain the swamp” anecdote.
    - I believe almost all children are eager to learn; many resent being taught. The design of our school system should reflect those realities.
    - I support having more trained people relative to the number of pupils.
    - I believe instruction should further evolve to include both teachers and some definition of tutors/coaches/learning assistants so that addressing problems in small groups (e.g. 5-6?) can work towards a goal of individualized learning. I do not think this is synonymous with “more teachers”.
    - Reversing my long-held belief, I think that emphasis on staged or quiz evaluations should supplant most end-of- term exams, where it is too late for remediation. Never-the-less I am a firm believer in “you cannot manage what you don’t measure”.
    - I think the school day should be extended to provide for the “tutoring” time, whether used for remediation or enrichment.
    On the other hand, I revert to my “redneck” characterization on the following:
    - Education is like a relay. One weak teacher burdens subsequent teachers and may permanently disadvantage children
    - Evolution to the “teaching/tutor team” concept should impart flexibility in current rigid class size rules.
    - Hospitals are assessed to receive accreditation. Why not schools?

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    • Peter Mare says:

      Let’s be VERY careful here! WHO is a good teacher? The ones who give A’s! In my experience, the kids who got good or better marks than usual “claim” that you are a great teacher! If you are good-looking, it is even easier! Many will deny it! I don’t care! Of course, the choice of activities and the delivery will play, but I believe like anything … superficial judgment is done which is not surprising since the whole society is about good-looks, hip clothes,… Some use reward tokens to coax the students to cooperate and at the end there is a pizza lunch or an extra PE class outside,… which is fine, but does that make you a great teacher? Let US be VERY careful in assessing teachers based on what kids tell you. Is the hard-marker a bad teacher? Often, he or she is! And, let’s not forget the intangibles! Since so many women get custody of kids, male teachers usually are the bad dad for those kids! Male teachers might have that to contend with as well! No! I am not saying all kids (parents, administrators,..) are going to make superficial judgments on teachers, but to deny it does not happen, is living in … lala land or LA LA land, take your pick!

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      • Dave in Courtenay says:

        Should schools undergo certification, just like hospitals? Hospitals don’t get to choose their patients, just as schools don’t get to choose their students. It was recently published that UBC adds two percentage points to students from Alberta when comparing entry qualifications. A study by the University of Saskatchewan confirmed that marking standards in Alberta are more stringent than in B.C.

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  2. Richard Ajabu says:

    Looking for other comments regarding this question?

    Just click the “« Older Comments” link near the top left corner of the first comment on each webpage, or in this case you can simply click here.

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    • Moderator Mike Moderator Mike says:

      Just curious: Has anyone been having trouble finding the old comments?

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      • Richard Ajabu says:

        I did, especially after the page number links on each webpage disappeared and after the search function stopped working properly. So I thought it would be helpful to others to point out the “« Older Comments” link just above the first comment on each page.

        I hope it helps :-)

        There are related threads here, here and here.

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      • Judy B says:

        In as much as it is very generous of you Richard it does take away some of the objectivity of the site if new participants can only find previous discussions through your links. Please understand, I am in no way even hinting that you are trying to sway support one way or another its just that it should be easy enough for anyone to find. It seems like you’ve been here pretty much since the beginning and I have used your links just in the interest of equal access a issue/subject search needs to be accessible to all. I’ve talked to several people this week who have seen that ads but didn’t realize this discussion was going on. When I first looked at it and watched the video, I almost left at that point. When these people signed on they couldn’t figure out what this was about, what system there was if any. This is a perfect example, I am responding to Moderator Mike and you but my comment will appear ahead of what I am referring to. It doesn’t follow logically. I’ve read some comments and then had to search for what they may have been attached to for them to make any sense.

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  3. Alex says:

    Since thid Government also supports Private Schools with one third of their funding, the Private schools should get one third of the special need children. Private scools should be exactly that, not funded with public funds and then these funds should be put where they belong into the public schools. This would make it easier to fund all the special needs programs and support staff. The province say there $165,000.00 is such a great boost, but how can they when one third will go to fund private schools. The private schools don’t even have to lobby the government, because they just automatically get one third of the funding.

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  4. Mama Sam says:

    I strongly believe the schools need to reconsider integration of students with “designations”. I may be over simplifying but there are roughly four groups of designated kids. I hope that each of these groups can be given due attention in the new education plan. I can remember so many occurrences when integration was an abysmal failure in my high school classes — it was simply too disruptive. Full integration fails all the students as no ones needs are met.

    1) ESL — lets put kids in intensive multi-age classrooms and create bridging programs to mainstream classes in elective programs such as PE, Art, Music, etc. This is a huge problem in urban areas. In some schools, fluent English speakers are a minority in their classrooms. The teacher is forced to be more remedial in order to communicate. ESL needs to be more intense and longer in duration.

    2) Learning disabilities: these kids need someone to help them figure out how they best learn and support them in creating tools that allow them to learn. Essentially all kids need these skills. They can likely integrate once they sort out their learning style.

    3) Developmental Disabilities: allow to participate until the child is no longer able to follow the classroom curriculum. Then life skills programs should be made available.

    4) Emotional – Social disorders: again these kids need coaching and tools so that they can cope in school and then in the “real world”. If their disorder prohibits learning, then they need time to develop the skills they need to be able to participate in the regular classroom. If the child had a physical medical condition — they would have to seek treatment and support ahead of pursuing their education. Why should mental health be treated any differently?

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    • Peter Mare says:

      I like your esl idea and I have posted comments supporting this idea.

      The LD kids: LD kids need different strategies, but often the language is the issue, not the kids. SO, either we change the language (English spelling) or we provide these kids with a computer (it does not need to be big: in fact one of those 7″ tablets might be all that they need) that has on-board speech recognition and text-to-speech + headphones. Teachers should have a computer themselves with on-board classroom management of those computers (to allow them to go on line or not), as this is a problem sometimes (for research).

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  5. Allan says:

    Here’s a thought, don’t allocate a significant chunk of public school funding to pay for private schools.

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  6. Mama Sam says:

    If collaboration is the way of the future then lets try creating collaborative learning environments where we have an experienced educator working with TAs or Junior teachers. Allowing more kids in the classroom and more opportunities for breakouts, movement breaks, etc. The senior teacher could set out the learning activities and then the classroom could work in stations, groups based on learning styles, etc.

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  7. Brian W says:

    My idea is that the government quit playing games using tactics such as half truths and tax payer sponsored propaganda and address the growing discontent among professionals who contribute to society. I am tired of the wet noodle politicians who have voted for wages/ benefit/ pension increases for themselves posturing about how others can do without. How about George Abbott is responsible for volunteering as a substitute teacher so he doesn’t sound like such a fool when he talks about “bargaining” as long as there is a net zero mandate. Bargain down government pensions to decrease class sizes….. I like the sound of that;)

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  8. Steve Frankel says:

    Look this isn’t “Rocket Science”, it is common sense, but common sense that that requires and believes in the strong support to Public Education. In other words, unless the government(s) of the day are willing to pour money into our MOST important resource, the kids and their education, this whole conversation is a moot point; a been there and done that scenario.
    Question: Will governements ever be willing to take the “Politics” out of education? Will governments, politicians ever realize that an educated population is the greatest finacial,social ingredient needed forhealth well being of society?

    Will BCTF be willing to rethink and revaluate what and who they are as professional organization, responsible (along with parents and government) for the development, well being and educating of our children. They need to move away from the “self-serving” reputation and re-direct their energies into doing “business” differently…same goes for our governemnt, NO matter who happens to be the players of the day.

    So, plow money into to FREE public education Pre-school through Post Secondary and including vocational training. The pay back will be ten-fold

    Include the training of REAL teacher assistance, those who can be qulified, trained, not unlike LPNs in the Health Field. Weed out teachers and or potential teachers who are not the VERY best in the field, or do not show grear demonstrate great promise in the classroom. This can be accomplished during their practicums. On the other hand, give lots of support to those who will make a difference in the classroom.

    Establish a “Teacher Corp” training in University. Get politics and corprate influence out of education and come to realize that public education is a NOT for profit institution.

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  9. Nina says:

    While adding more Teaching Assistants would be a great benefit to students, it is not enough. The plan states that $165 million dollars will be used for added classroom support. Spread out over 3 years, throughout the district, this amount become increasingly unimpressive. After the money is divided, we will be lucky to see 1 or 2 staff added to each district. Students deserve more than impressive looking facts.

    Teaching assistants are a great asset to classroom management. Teachers are able to pull aside a small group of struggling learners while the teaching assistant supports the rest of the class. Or the teaching assistant is able to support the students who need extra time while the teacher continues to instruct.

    There are many ways teaching assistants are beneficial to student success, but more needs to be done. Teacher need more training in Special Education to handle the growing population of children with behaviour and learning challenges. Until the government steps inside a few classrooms and sees first hand whats going on, they will just keep trying band-aid solutions to appease us.

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  10. Tracey Clayton says:

    After reading everything on your website, I am still very concerned, and here’s why:

    Currently, in my classroom in Langley, BC, there are 29 students, 12 of them being highly ESL and 6 of them having ministry-designated special needs. Out of these 6 students, 5 of them are working in completely modified programs. This means that they need a resource teacher who helps me create their programs, which are completely different from the rest of the class. They need enough SEA time to implement these programs in class.

    It’s not working!! Having 6 special needs students in my class has created an inefficient learning environment for ALL 29 students. Many many times, my students hear me say, “I’m sorry, I can’t help you with that right now.” There is the equivalent of almost ONE full-time SEA during the week. During my work day, on Mondays (I’m in a job share), there are times during the day when my one SEA and I have absolutely no way of helping everyone in class who needs it. There are other times during the day when there is no SEA there at all.

    My heart is breaking for each and every student in my class, because my teaching partner and I have done everything we can to let our school board know that this is an unacceptable learning environment for our students. And so far, not one person has been able to fix this problem, since day one in September. Now it’s March!

    I have a very hard time believing in our government’s so-called good intentions for students in BC when I look at this situation currently happening at my school. I honestly believe that my employer and my government does not care about my students, at all. When I see this website, I lose more and more faith in our government.

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  11. Michael Franklin says:

    I agree TA’s can be very helpful if trained properly – my 25 years of experience in BC schools suggests that many (50%) add no real educational value to a classroom – this happens for various reasons – seemingly continual change in personal due to unstable budgets and union contracts – most postings are part-time positions, tough to attract talented individuals – lack of training at the school and district level…

    Talented TA’s are worth their weight in gold – too bad they are few and far between…

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  12. Laura says:

    With the wide variety of student needs, learning abilities and the diversity of backgrounds kids come from, the Gov’t needs to support both Teachers & Students by including MORE Teaching Assistants in the classroom. With class sizes and behavioural issues in abundance, it is not possible for one Teacher to properly address each individual student’s needs alone.

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  13. lds says:

    I am a parent of a child who has a support worker. I believe that it is up to me, the parent, to seek and access resources that help my child OUTSIDE THE SCHOOL SYSTEM. Why? I think much of these “special needs” first show up in the childs behavior (frustration, anger, tantrums, defiance etc) and it’s these behaviors that need to be addressed just as much as the learning disabilites. I need the school to deal with learning aspects, and I (the parent)need to address the behavior. There IS help within the medical community as well as the Ministry of Children and Families. Many parents are not aware of this help and rely on the schools to deal with it. Although a delicate subject, maybe teachers could enlighten some parents of other options available that could benefit their child and have HUGE carryover effects to his/her school experience?

    Myself, I am fairly relentless, and was able to figure this out on my own. I think that my drive to find help for my child was/is valuable, for it provided proper PROFESSIONAL DIAGNOSIS and eliminated a teacher’s speculation of what was “going on”. I fear some kids are inacurrately labeled by well-intending teachers and LAT’s. Furthermore, I believe these diagnosis can be attained concurrently or in advance of the child entering school. Less time lost waiting for assessments within the busy school system.

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  14. Peter Mare says:

    What about the “flipping the classroom” concept: using computer programs to teach and teachers as coaches or mentors or trainers?

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  15. Peter Mare says:

    It is a well-know fact that in growing districts not many “struggling” kids (learning disabled) coming from other districts are diagnosed (mainly because, before they get to be tested after 6 to 9 months or more, they already have moved to another district). Every time, the process has to start over again as school district don’t have a comprehensive procedure and there are too few school psychologists to give those tests. When kids are not designated, schools/districts don’t get money and support. Kids, parents, and teachers lose out. There is no support for those kids. Learning assistant teachers can take on one more kids from time to time, but the school is not getting the right kind of funding (and so is the district) and not enough learning assistance hours. More school psychologists need to be trained and/or hired!

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  16. Judy B says:

    It’s not just kids that learn better moving and interacting,just walk through any office and have a look at the cubicles. The “real world” is what school should be preparing these kids for, not a utopia where they run free and do as they please. The more we depend on computers, the more one has to sit at the desk all day. The child who can’t sit at the kitchen table for a whole day without a “few” 15 minute breaks is going to “die” in a cubicle. A federal system is a wonderful idea, the “have” provinces will have to supplement the “have not” provinces (can’t begin to imagine what would happen to Quebec).

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  17. Daragh says:

    I don’t like how this question is worded….Teaching Assistants and “other supports” are supposed to make sure teachers (I’m assuming this means classroom teachers, like me) can spend more time focussed on teaching. A classroom teacher with support!!! like a teaching assistant, needs to be responsible for implenting IEPs and giving direction the T.A.

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  18. Bill Thompson says:

    Admin would need to be involved.
    First of all what are the strenghts of the teacher. Is the teacher actually getting through to the kids? would one on one time with the teacher benefit the children or are the assistans able to connect better than the teacher? not all teachers are the same and lumping them in the same mold is every bit as bad as lumping the students together as well.
    once the strengths of the teachers and the support have been assessed then an action plan could be put in place. Perhaps the assistant delivers the rote lesson while the teacher takes one or two students or perhaps a group and engages them. perhaps the teacher delivers the lesson while the asstiant engages. Groups could be rotated, with different needs being dealt with at different times.
    children that are advanced in some areas can be even more needy that children with ieps so they could be identified and directed or incorporated into the teaching environment wih in class buddy systems.
    I think we often confuse teaching and delivering curriculum as the same thing and they most definatly are not. once we break the teacher out of the box and actually utilize them as more than just the person who stands at the front we should see progress. keep in mind, the assistant may be the better teacher..
    and that is where admin comes in.

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    • Peter Mare says:

      TAs and teachers need other supports so they can actually teach the content of the course! Maybe the teachers and TAs have an impossible task at hand with a language that has 88 spelling rules (most of them having more exceptions than elements that fits the rule) and 400 ways to spell 42 phonemes (sounds) using 26 letters. Sure, eventually one learns English, but at what cost? How many years does it take to master reading and writing with it. Maybe, more TAs or more teachers, or fewer students are not the answer. The other support needed is a reform of the English language! That is what is needed! For more info, go to http://reforming-english.blogspot.com/

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      • Judy B says:

        Omg RU kidN? Wen DdU lst C ne1 undR 30 wrt a cmplt sentenC ? (I had to look that up on an online translator.) I have had to call my nieces and ask them if they were OK because I couldn`t tell if they were sad, glad or mad from what they had sent me and this language in the workplace every day now.
        In as much as I appreciate your passion for the Olde English language, there’s no need to involve the Commonwealth, we need an immediate plan right here in BC where students are being taught Canadian English and all of its eccentricities. My teachers managed to teach me to read, write and speak English, French and Ukrainian in the public school system .That added another 33 letters and pronunciations for Ukrainian (Cyrillic alphabet) and the inflections for the French use of the English alphabet and I didn’t just survive, I flourished.
        Every year a new Oxford English dictionary is published with new words and fewer rules. Words that used to be “slang” are now in the dictionary, albeit not the `Canadian’ dictionary.
        New words for 2012 – “OMG,” “LOL” and the symbol for “heart” have all been added to the Oxford English Dictionary.
        I would be very concerned about a teacher who would be affected by the “challenges” you have presented and I don`t believe they would be an insurmountable deterrent to students ability to learn the language. The English language an organic mutable entity and its more important that students are taught how to research and problem solve issues such as those you raised. I appreciate your comment in that it expressed what I believe is a major hurdle in this process. If parents are dropping their kids off at public school, K to 12, and expecting them to come home a linguistics expert or biomedical engineer, they will be rightfully disappointed. We’re talking about a general education to give our students an introduction to and a working knowledge of core skills so that they can make a meaningful career choice and successfully navigate their way through life. I would rather see a teacher relate to their students in today’s Canadian English rather that to dwell on antiquated rules that have long since or are about to expire. I believe that a core issue in this discussion is deciding what to teach that is relevant in the amount of classroom time we have so that we can better allocate teaching resources. Is the war of 1812 necessary with what is/has gone on in Iran, Greece, and Japan or just in the world today? (Have you ever noticed how long a globe is accurate? They should be sold with a Sharpie so that you can correct the borderlines after each conflict.)
        I didn’t quite understand the relevance of your comment about multiple spellings but I really can`t see anyone getting hung up on that in 2012 with spell check on every computer. I have noticed that “accurate“ spelling seems to cover a very broad spectrum of acceptability with spell check “correcting“ Canadian English to American English. The more ethnic diversity we have here in Canada, the more our English is changing irrespective of the thoughts and blessing of the Commonwealth.
        We are living in the information age and we need to teach our children how to navigate and trouble shoot so that they can better handle and adapt to the changes and challenges the future holds for them. It`s a moot consideration that I want emails sent to me in complete words and sentences with punctuation; that ship has sailed. What is being taught has to be relevant for students today and provide them with a groundwork for tomorrow despite what any of us wants or thinks they `need to know`.

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        • Peter Mare says:

          Thanks for your ! To be sure, “Omg RU kidN? Wen DdU lst C ne1 undR 30 wrt a cmplt sentenC ?” is not what we, linguists, would be advocating as great spelling.The major problem with texting is that it is a version of English that is made for literate (or semi-literate) people who can make an educated guess as to what the missing vowels or consonants can be, using the context, and rely on using and decoding some high-frequency words that have been shorten as in U and R,… As far as I know, the system is not particularly logical or reliable, elements that linguists would insist upon.

          I don’t think I was very clear in exposing my opinion on literacy. In view of the abundance of evidence that shows that English has an uncanny irregular, illogical, and unreliable spelling system, it is my view and the view of many linguists such as Dr. Yule, from Australia, Dr. Betts (and Noam Chomsky, to a limited degree), from the US, along with others such as G. B. Shaw, Webster, Carnegie, Dewey, Twain, and many others that this system represents a significant challenge for most kids in terms of READING, a challenge that other kids who are trying to learn another language, say Finnish, do not have. We believe (and remember we are linguists and educators with decades of experience) that the best and most pragmatic way to improve literacy is to change the spelling system so that it is more regular, more logical, more reliable. Reforms in many languages are not rare (http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_reform), but there hasn’t been one for English for nearly 400 years. We feel that teaching English is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, or a hole that is completely irregular. We feel that incredible resources, money, and time must be expanded to achieve a modicum of literacy using the existing spelling system. Illiteracy rates (http://blog.readspeaker.com/2012/03/09/illiteracy-is-a-tragedy) have remained high in many Commonwealth countries and are significantly higher than in other countries that have more regular spelling systems. We feel that instead of addressing the instruction side of the problem, leaders and ministers should address the underlying cause to all of these problems. Incidentally, in now way are we advocating that the present code be discontinued for present users. In other words, only children of a future generation will be taught this new spelling code and the 2 codes will be living side by side for a generation or two (very doable with tablets and digital devices nowadays). My blog (http://reforming-english.blogspot.com/) makes a humble attempt at proving all of above as true. I invite you to go through and welcome your input or questions. I hope I was clearer this time! :)

          While I know that this is a dramatic new way of looking at the issue and that some might have a visceral reaction to it, thinking outside of the box is sometimes the best solution to a problem that cannot be resolved!

          As far as learning other languages after learning English, Latin and Germanic (Anglo-Saxon) languages made modern English –or vice versa– so it is not that hard to learn them, considering all of these languages are related. Vous comprenez? Do you comprehend? The door is open or Die Tür ist offen. However, a Chinese or Indian speaker will find it hard to master English spelling and its pronunciation, just like the native speaker struggled to learn to spell and read it, but even more so, because these languages are not related at all.

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  19. Melanie says:

    I think some EAs are very good but they still can’t replace a fully qualified teacher. Often teachers have to ‘teach’ the EA (ie take time from the rest of the class to get the EA up to speed on the curriculum objectives and how to support students with needs). This can be frustrating if it takes 5-10 min. to get the EA up to speed and they are only in the classroom for 30 min. EAs need direction and guidance and this adds to a teachers workload. Sometimes it may seem hardly worth the effort. Maybe the EAs need more training…? Or maybe smaller class sizes and a limit on special needs students is best. Of course this is more expensive.

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  20. Peter Mare says:

    There are several degrees of support needed. Reading and writing disabled kids need support as well. Most districts could buy computers and use special kinds of software (speech recognition or text-to-speech software) to help those kids who otherwise would probably write quite well. However, extra support might be needed in the use of this software. Learning disabilities are usually addressed by special teachers. Not sure of the name is the same in all districts, but they were called learning assistance teachers (LAT) before. Other students that could use the help of TAs are students learning English as a foreign language. TAs could help the teachers in identifying the grammatical or vocabulary issues and, if any, help them select lessons that would target the issues as groups. Honestly, all this would be extremely costly. There is a simpler way! If all Commonwealth leaders would lead in modernizing the English language, which has not been reformed in 400 years, which is recognized by linguists as the most difficult Western language to learn because of its irregular spelling system (400 ways to spell 42 sounds with 26 letters). Everything has improved in 400 years, why hasn’t English? Many languages have had reforms! Illiteracy rates in Commonwealth countries are much higher in English-speaking countries and so is the cost of education! Are students learning disabled or is the language disabling? http://reforming-english.blogspot.com/

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  21. Cowichan Valley Parent says:

    Lets increase the training of teaching assistants. They all should be certified. Secondary education assistants could be subject trained as well. Expand their role in education. Teacher expert – leading EA’s- helping students

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    • Judy B says:

      I can sure see the value in that as long as there is no expectation that the taxpayers foot the bill for their education and certification. I am frustrated listening to the whining about paying their own way for school. An electrician, gas fitter, power engineer, etc all pay their own way and apprentice under a qualified individual. Before anyone slags trades people or apprenticeships, remember, these are the people that build our homes, schools, hospitals, etc. They are highly skilled and educated individuals and public safety depends on them. Apprenticing is learning temperance in a work situation and it is a maturing process that bridges the book learning with the tangible everyday challenges. From what I’ve been reading, it sound like a little “maturity” could go a long way in this dispute.

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      • Peter Mare says:

        WOW! Hold on here! Teachers pay their 5 years of university! The net loss compare to someone working straight out of high school amounts to 300,000 to 400,000 dollars! It takes about 20 years to make that up! But, you know, no matter, check how much some bureaucrats make and receive as raise: http://northerninsights.blogspot.com/2012/03/adventures-in-not-net-zero-land.html

        Are not some apprenticeships paid or partly paid?

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        • Judy B says:

          I was speaking in response to several comments on this forum that have called for public funding for individuals who have to upgrade to achieve certification levels. If they decide that certification is required 2 options are grandfathering those who can pass the certification process or giving current staff a grace period to get their certification.Most, if not all of us who go on to post secondary start off with a huge debt, not just teachers.I am frustrated by a lot of the commentary regarding money, several have said that “they” (we the taxpayers) “have to” pay these people to upgrade. I see a very consistent belief that teachers should be an elite class of public sector employees and that is unrealistic. It’s obvious and disappointing that the majority of contributions are clearly from those in the teaching capacity, more stakeholder participation would be great but sadly I think a lot of people are just too overwhelmed in their lives and are relying on Bill 22 to sort this out. You’re absolutely right, it’s very hypocritical that about our politicians and each and every time they give themselves a raise or pension hike we all grumble a bit and move on; we let that happen and that’s just wrong.It’s absurd that they get to vote themselves a raise. Of course, one must acknowledge the $18.00 per hour the Starbucks baristas get to make coffee,I can’t comprehend that, nor can I comprehend paying $4 for a cup of coffee .Of course, I want to see someone involved with our children be paid at least the same, and that will require privatization.

          PS Apprentices are responsible for the mandatory pre-apprenticeship theory of 1 to 2 years and the annual 2 month theory section that goes with each year of filed experience. They do get paid while they are working in the field.

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  22. Rita Spearman says:

    I have been teachig in B.C.since 1965(46 years).
    We need to hire more special needs teachers and provide the basics in classrooms with small numbers of children. The students can share music, art, P.E. etc. with others. Provide these small classes with EA’s trained to help them. This would allow teachers the freedom to spend more time and teach the regular students to a higher standard. Now they are missing out! It is also not making the regular students more tolerantof those with special needs. Go visit the classrooms and see.

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  23. W. J. Ross says:

    We must remember the most important person in all this is the classroom teacher.
    Lets set up a learning situation where conditions are such that this well-trained and qualified individual can do the job they were trained to do.
    You do that, and students will flourish.

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    • Bill Thompson says:

      The most important person in that room is the child. the teacher is a tool that has been trained with one goal in mind, get through to that child.
      A school is like a tool chest, some tools are sharper than others

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      • Rob Slanina says:

        What is the basis for this belief that the child is more important than the teacher?

        Naturally, an apprentice is less valuable than a journeyman. Naturally, a wise person is more important than a fool. Naturally, an experienced person is more worthy of respect than an inexperienced person.

        Obviously the goal is to teach the children so that they may eventually be as valuable to society as someone like a teacher or an engineer or a carpenter or an inventor, etc., etc.

        Is it any wonder that children actually did better back when teachers were viewed with and treated with dignity and respect? back when behaviour problems were the fault of the person who was engaged in those problem behaviours?

        An inflated sense of importance is not an advantage to people aimed at contributing to society. Humility is the virtue, not self-importance. Careful which ideologies you subscribe to. Some of them sound nice…but then you realize that they end up breeding a society that feels entitled to a living…a society that has a distorted sense of its own worth.

        Knowledge is the virtual currency in education…and the important people are those who are able to share it.

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        • Rob Slanina says:

          As of the time of writing this post, there have been 7 thumbs up, and 3 thumbs down on my above comment. I would like to hear an explanation from anyone who disagrees with my assessment of the situation.

          What is the basis of the belief that children are the most important?

          I imagine that it is an issue of ‘potential’ vs. ‘actual’ achievement, and the weighting of ‘potential’ as the most significant factor in all this.

          In any case, I’d love if someone could spell it out for me…explain how my view is wrong to you.

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          • Dave in Courtenay says:

            Any time we view the supplier as more important than the customer, we lose sight of what the product or service was for. The closer the supplier is to having a monoply, the lower the incentive to be competitive with the best product value, regardless of the merit or goodness of the supply personnel.

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            • Rob Slanina says:

              So you’d say that Van Gogh’s customers were more significant in history than he was? Or Rembrandt?

              Surely you don’t see Socrates as a merchant trying to peddle his goods on the streets of Athens…
              …at least I would hope not!

              Also, if you know what the product/service is for in education, then you don’t need to be educated…

              Imagine an arrogant little kid going up to Socrates and telling him what he would teach him, and how he would teach it…as though he already knew what was best for him without having been first educated about what is actually valuable!

              In trades I’ve seen it happen over and over…a client asks for/insists on something being done a particular way…and the Carpenter/Electrician/Plumber suggests a better way(they are the experts after all), but the client refuses…only to learn through the process of doing it the wrong way that the other way was in fact better. Of course the service is client-oriented…and that should be even more obvious in education…
              …how can teachers lose sight of their purpose? I mean, it’s obviously to educate…however, if you have the uneducated dictating what the goals and methods of teaching should be, then it’s much easier for teachers to lose sight of their purpose, because it doesn’t come from themselves…they need their autonomy.

              …as for competition with regard to market value…it’s totally absurd to use such an analogy with education. In the time of Socrates and Plato, there were many speakers out there competing and trying to sell their wisdom…and it was totally crooked.

              …how many waves of self-help crazes have there been? It’s really competitive…trying to educate people…or rather, trying to indoctrinate people.

              When there is competitive incentives in education/information, integrity is lost, because information is ONLY valuable for its own sake. Any ‘value-added’ content is really just an effort to manipulate and indoctrinate.

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              • Dave in Courtenay says:

                Right. Van Gogh’s patrons were his customers, and it would be reasonable to presume that if he slacked off and produced crappy work, his financial support would soon dry up.
                Perhaps the arrogant little kid would be appropriately addressed by civilized elders. And for those countless customers that have been bamboozled by less-than competant or trustworthy tradesman, there is a buyer-beware philosophy. I have been the customer of the products of our education system for many years, and have developed many adult education and training programs for technically demanding jobs,including finishing or correcting what these otherwise intelligent people were credited for having learned in school. Aa fraction, albeit small,of our teachers have good reason to be a bit more humble. In my experience, the less effective an individual teacher is in teaching, the more likely to find that individual in the more militant arm of their organization. It is a natural defense mechanism to hide their inadequacies.

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              • Dave in Courtenay says:

                The customer must be defined before debating if that customer is being adequately served. I view the parent or guardian of each child to be the customer. That custodian delivers the empty vessel to the teacher to become filled (that is, to learn, as distinguished from being taught).
                Teachers are the means to make available and deliver a menu of knowledge determined by others. Teachers do not get to choose what to teach, in the same way that police don’t make the laws they are to enforce. Lawyers and even judges interpret laws made by others.

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              • Rob Slanina says:

                Dave,
                Van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime.

                Also, Socrates was sentenced with ‘corrupting the youth’ and put to death…he did not have satisfied ‘customers’ despite his integrity and wisdom (though there were plenty of people out there treating knowledge as a commodity…treating it as a product to sell).

                Your idea that the ‘consumers’ are entitled to ‘learning’ rather than to ‘teaching’ is completely misguided because of your consumerist view of the system.

                The fact of the matter is, that no matter how much you pay the world’s best coach, you cannot buy skills. Sidney Crosby is not the product of his coaches.
                Education is not a commodity. Learning is not authentic unless the student is accountable for it.
                Between the student and the teacher comes learning. Learning cannot be handed out on a silver platter.

                Be weary of what you are demanding, because when you surrender accountability for your learning, you open yourself up to indoctrination/brainwashing/manipulation.

                To make the teachers accountable for providing ‘learning’ undermines the requirements of the students as the key experiencers in this whole dynamic. Learning cannot be passive.

                You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.

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              • Dave in Courtenay says:

                When narrow interest of the producer triumphs over the broader interest of the consumer, be it for oil, food, medicine or for the present topic, education, society loses.

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              • Rob Slanina says:

                I agree. However, I haven’t heard a convincing argument to suggest that the interests of educators are in any way narrow(except when you impose a consumerist view, ironically). It’s hardly a self-serving profession. It would only be possible for educators to have a narrow view if they stood to profit from the success or failure of the students. If you could drop the consumerist projection you’d see that a true educator is more a socialist than a capitalist…sharing rather than selling. As a society, we recognize the importance of that, so we subsidize them.

                I urge you to research history’s greatest educators…they were not salespeople, and they were actually opponents of such an approach. They treated their students with more dignity than mere consumers. Socrates believed that the knowledge was actually IN the student, and could merely be coaxed out by a good ‘midwife’ and a student that was willing.

                The consumerist model says, “here is my money, make your sales pitch”…and that’s about the furthest thing from a formula for education that you can get.

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              • Dave in Courtenay says:

                I believe the work found on http://edlabs.harvard.edu is relevant. Faculty Director Roland G. Fryer, Jr. makes compelling points.
                I only wish the majority of our teachers were of the stature of Socrates and Van Gogh. Sadly, they are humans of the full dimension. In spite of good intentions, work ethic, equal certification and seniority, they are not equal in effectiveness. I would like to see recognition for excellence find a way into their paycheck. The narrow interest of the BCTF insists that if any pay is increased for merit, everyone must get that increase. No-way-Jose! By they way, you have many excellent observations elsewhere on this website.

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              • Rob Slanina says:

                Currently I work in Trades…and there are good Journeyman carpenters and lousy ones…but in the union, they both get paid the same…and really, that’s a good thing. The thing is, that the guy who is lousy at building scaffolding on this job might be excellent at cabinet making on the next. You can’t go adjusting pay without micro-investigating skill sets.

                What if you had the world’s foremost painter in your art class…and he had no real teaching skills to speak of, and yet, simply by watching him paint, the students could learn and improve their own craft…?
                Is it really possible to issue a relative dollar amount with such a person against that of a teacher with a standard set of teaching skills and techniques that are also effective?

                …and of course students are responsible as well…so you can’t pay teachers according to how well their students succeed….because we have too many students being pushed ahead as it is without satisfying the requirements of success…

                Merit based pay sounds good, but it actually creates conflict, non-integrous competition, it creates unfairness, and it requires some level of genius that can measure the value of a mad genius against that of a technical perfectionist…

                In any case, the consumerist model applied to the teaching world doesn’t work.

                …also, thanks for noting my other comments. I appreciate many of your other contributions here as well.

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              • Dave in Courtenay says:

                Sadly, I have to admit you are right. As the saying goes, “a teacher is a teacher is a teacher”. We have no accepted way of measuring merit, and for our kids, it is the luck of the draw. Magically, our kids know merit. I remember in the local high school, everyone wanted to get into Mr. Macaully’s math class, because by reputation, kids learned and got better marks from his ministrations. Actually the better teachers do get a non-monetary benefit in that they tend have more choice in getting jobs in districts and schools in tune with their desires. Industrial tradesmen are assigned to jobs according to the match-up of perceived skills, criticized by union ranks as brown-nosing. Self-employed carpenters and small contractors get evaluated by checking for satisfaction of previous customers, and during work, by savvy owners and Building Inspectors. And TV review by Mike Holmes. Teachers are probably the only professionals exempt from such selection and review.

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              • Rob Slanina says:

                The benefits of excellence are far more valuable than dollars…and like you said, excellence lends itself to making opportunities.

                My father is an excellent carpenter, and though he gets paid the same as the other journeyman carpenters that he works with, he is able to stay employed year-round much of the time, because employers don’t want him to go back on the call-list and end up on another job when work picks up again. Integrity and excellence bear their own rewards and do not need to be reflected in merit based pay. Merits are best rewarded with opportunity. To do otherwise will only breed contention.
                …and really, the lousy carpenter works harder a lot of the time…

                …many of the lousy teachers have to put in way more effort too, just to do as well as they do…

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    • Judy B says:

      I see the problem….. The student is the most important person in the classroom! Let’s start working form that prospective and maybe we fix this deplorable situation.

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      • Peter Mare says:

        Or maybe we can fix the language which underpins underpins all learning tasks and which has beset all Commonwealth countries more than other Western societies with a spelling system that is ill-suited for the job. Are students disabled or the language disabling with 88 spelling rules (of which there are more exceptions than there are elements that follow the rules) and 400 ways to spell 42 phonemes with 26 letters? For more info, go to http://reforming-english.blogspot.com/

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        • Peter Mare says:

          I wish [people would state why they are opposed to the idea of reforming the spelling system. Is it perfect?

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          • Judy B says:

            I’m not opposed to reforming the spelling system, but I am frustrated with your repeated references to it in this forum. It is hard enough to get people to dialogue and as this is an imminent problem, right here in BC schools, that is where I want to see our energy focused. I personally am avoiding your comments because the spelling tangent is not relevant to the discussion. Your issues with spelling are just that. I admire your conviction but the “problem” as you see it is outside the scope of this discussion. Hope that helps.

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            • Peter Mare says:

              Thanks for answering the question! You have no idea how difficult it is to see the struggle of the system to cope (and the kids) and see that no one is doing anything about it.

              In any case, my posts try to be relevant although you are right the issue is BC education! We do speak English in BC. No? In any case, I think there is the perception out there that teaching English is a piece of cake. My posts are relevant in that regard, giving perspective. Furthermore, some posts dealt with the success of the Finnish system, neglecting to state that its language is much easier to learn. Very relevant! But, you are right, it is about BC. I do not just post about this topic to be fair. I guess I am hoping that the minister will eventually address the situation at a national level and that things will move to an international level. But, that is a very long-shot! On the other hand, we are slowly trying to organize at that level by forming an organization.

              I am sorry for the re-posts, but feedback negative or positive is much clearer than no feedback at all! I cannot read minds!

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              • Judy B says:

                …. and there you go again : ). I really don’t see anybody challenging you on the difficulty of teaching English, but English is just one of many subjects. Please don’t reply with how it is the foundation of all else. The discussion you want to have would best be held over coffee with your cronies, maybe even in Finland? The discussion here is more meat and potatoes. We have students who are trying to get into UBC with last years grades. The focus has to be right, right now, with what we have. I think you could contribute a lot but the discussion is not about your personal feelings about the English language. It’s not about you or me. I’m done!

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            • Peter Mare says:

              Thanks for clarifying! Oh! I see … you see something very narrow and short-term! Oh! Okay!

              BTW, my feelings about the English are not personal at all. This is a universally accepted notion. Roosevelt, G. B. Shaw, Carnegie, Dewey, Twain, Webster, … in the past and today, Chomsky and many other linguists with PhDs hold the view that English needs to be reformed! G. B. Shaw even gave some money towards that initiative when he died. I am not from Finland BTW. :) But, you see this issue as a long-term issue that cannot be resolved here. You are probably right, but one has to spread the word if one wants to be heard! I am done! :)

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  24. lynn says:

    BC’s Education Plan speaks to the diversity of children’s needs in a changing multiethnic and socioeconomic world; where is the discussion about increasing the number of counsellors in our school?

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  25. Northern Citizen says:

    It doesn’t sound like many people are buying this program. It sounds like a desperate attempt to smoke screen something else of which we can only speculate.

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  26. Holly says:

    When I looked into becoming a teachers assistant (about 8 years ago), where I lived, at that time, a TA started out at 8 dollars an hour!! I can only assume they don’t make a ton more now.
    I would rather see changes implemented for class sizes. We keep putting more and more children into smaller and smaller rat cages, I mean classrooms ;) (We all know what happens when too many rats are in a cage.) We can’t expect that hiring crowd controllers is going to implement learning advantages. Children learn best doing and moving and interacting; you try at home to get your child to learn sitting at the kitchen table all day with a few 15 minute breaks. I believe it is easier and more natural to teach doing and moving and interacting as well. I feel that having class sizes Federally legislated would once and for all stop all this provincial ups and downs and disparities. Canada needs to be like other successful countries with a Federal Education system. We can’t even move between one province and another and have our education or journeyman tickets count most of the time.

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    • Bill Thompson says:

      I would like to see the actual numbers on class sizes over the last thirty years. Have they actually gotten bigger? I know that when I was in school the classes were big. I recall a 4/5/6 split in one room with a couple of special needs tossed in for good measure. When I look at the class phot there was 26 of us in the pic.

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      • Moderator Virginia says:

        Hi Bill, we will pull that information together (class sizes over the last thirty years or so) and post here when we have it available. By the way, please remember to be sensitive when talking about children – we don’t toss anyone anywhere for good measure. Thanks!

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        • Heather says:

          Virgina, pardon my ignorance; but, isn’t it your job as a moderator to review our comments (as submitted), and where appropriate (i.e., where you feel our wording is insensitive or offensive) ask us to revise our comment before you post it? I would hope that you would alert me if I were to (inadvertently of course …) submit a comment that might hurt someone’s feelings, so that I could revise my wording.

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      • Moderator Heather Moderator Heather says:

        Hi Bill and others,
        At long last, we have compiled class size information going back to 1975. Click here: http://www.bcedplan.ca/did_you_know/infographics.php

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    • Judy B says:

      It’s not just kids that learn better moving and interacting,just walk through any office and have a look at the cubicles. The “real world” is what school should be preparing these kids for, not a utopia where they run free and do as they please. The more we depend on computers, the more one has to sit at the desk all day. The child who can’t sit at the kitchen table for a whole day without a “few” 15 minute breaks is going to “die” in a cubicle. A federal system is a wonderful idea, the “have” provinces will have to supplement the “have not” provinces (can’t begin to imagine what would happen to Quebec). (Just an FYI: a Red Seal Journeyman can work anywhere in Canada, it requires a minimum 70% on the Journeyman exam but is becoming the minimum standard across the country. It doesn’t really make sense that you can be less than adequate in your home province, but you have to buck up to cross the provincial border.)

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  27. Helena says:

    An educational assistant van be a very valuable asset to the classroom, BUT, there must be given time for the EA and the teacher to meet to discuss the needs of the children and plan suitable activities for the children. At the moment the only time to do this is after school or before school. Unfortunately most EAs are not paid during this time. At lunch time most EAs are working with the designated special needs kids or other children that need support. Having a designated time when a teacher and an EA can sit down together on a weekly or biweekly basis to plan together will ensure that both the EA and the teacher can meet the needs of all the students in the class.
    One other important fact to remember is that not al EAs have the same training. You can not expect a teacher to train an EA and teach a class at the same time. There must be time for the teacher and EA to talk without children around. I am not sure about middle and high schools, but I know that in elementary schools, finding time during the day for a proper discussion is very difficult. I would suggest release time be given to both the teacher and the EA, on a regular basis, so that all the needs of the children can be addressed thoughtfully and adequately.

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  28. mcubed says:

    Has anyone thought about the logistics of larger class sizes? I teach a class of 29 wonderful students in grades six and seven. With the desks grouped in pods of 6 and one pod of 5 there is barely enough room to navigate around each group. (there is even less room if I put students into rows.) Add an SEA or two and explain to me how that is going to work. The noise level of that many people, no matter how quietly they try to talk, is loud. How is that meeting the needs of children who are very distractable let alone the children who have social, emotional and behavioural issues? I think many people assume that children’s learning needs are easily met with exta adult assistance. There is so much more to consider.

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  29. Elizabeth says:

    I have found that at the middle school level many Education Assistants are not trained to provide the directed teaching support that struggling learners need. Often I am having to “teach” the assistants the math concepts to help these learners. It is ironic that the students who need the most support are receiving help from the least trained. I would much prefer less time with a trained teacher in my daughters’ class than more “wasted” learning time with several education assistants. Let’s not forget the word “assistants”. To think that hiring a handful of EA’s per school district can replace highly trained Integration Support Teachers fall very short of a good “Education Plan”

    Please contact me to discuss this further.

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    • Charlene says:

      It is educationally unsound to have EAs involved in teaching. This is particularly true of students who have identified special learning needs. Specialist teachers, i.e. Special Education Teachers, have one or more years of university training beyond their generalist teacher training programs. Only they are able to provide quality service to children with special needs. Using EAs in a teaching capacity may save money, but at what cost? They may be involved in listening to students read, or paperwork tasks such as photocopying, but not in giving direct instruction. Let’s not replace trained teachers with other employees, degrading the quality of education and the teaching profession, not to mention harming the progress of those most needy.

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      • Bill Thompson says:

        People keep talking about trained educators and professional teachers. Thing is, just because they are getting paid doesn’t mean that they are good at what they do, just that they make money for it. Ditto for the professional. The only way you could validate a teacher as being good is if there were penatlies for being not good and there is not. Unless we have a method to identify those who are actually good at teaching all we can do is lump them to gether and call them teachers.
        I have found at times that the assistant is a better teacher than the teacher is. This of course is where admin should play a role, identify the unique needs of the classroom, prop up the teachers that are just collecting a paycheck and reward the ones that thriving.

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  30. Emily says:

    I was recently a student, I graduated in 2011. I am a student with learning disabilities and so I experienced working with teachers assistants firsthand. My disability is that I have a writing disability and require more time on tests and exams to allow more time to write, I also struggle in math. Even though I have a learning disability I still have a high IQ and am able to understand Math concepts and Science such as Biology 11. With extra help from my teacher I am able to be successful in these classes. In my school there was a learning center where students go for help in a specific block if they require extra help. I think it is great that this resource is available to students. The main thing I experienced in my learning center class was that resource teachers in the learning center had no knowledge of the math or science I was learning in my classes. So they were completely unable to help me. The three people working in the learning center were fantastic at helping with English and social studies but could not help me at all in the math and science department where I needed it the most. Two particular Learning center teachers told me they couldn’t help me in my Biology and told me to take “science and tech” and communications 12 -(the classes for the students who have no brains or drive to succeed at all, but just want to graduate) instead. I refused of course, choosing my own courses and determining my own success. Overall the main way to help teachers spend more time focused on teaching is to hire educated learning center staff in schools – Learning Center teachers that have a variety of skills in subjects at the grade 12 level. So that, students who need it most, who are really trying hard to do well can have access to extra help and support in Math and Sciences at the grade 11 and 12 level.

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    • Judy B says:

      Emily, good insight except the comment “(the classes for the students who have no brains or drive to succeed at all, but just want to graduate)” . That is a very unkind statement and I hope you realize that as a “student with learning disabilities” many people would put you in that category too. Let’s please not speak to how much “brains” other people do or don’t have or the “drive” or lack there of. The people you have condemned may very well have issues that are not visible to you or of a nature or magnitude you don’t understand but that you don’t understand and they do not deserve the insult anymore than you do for your disabilities.

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      • Peter Mare says:

        I was wondering if we could impute some of the learning disabilities (reading and writing, at a minimum) to one major reason, namely the complexity of the very language that underpins all learning tasks, and which has beset all Commonwealth countries more than other Western societies? English has the most complex spelling system of all Western languages and it seems that there is a direct correlation between that well-known linguistic fact and illiteracy rates (discounting all countervailing measures a state can take to mitigate the problem by increasing educational budgets, for instance)! Perhaps the time is ripe for the leaders of the Commonwealth to face the facts and reform the English language like other languages have done! 400 years is a long time to wait for an improved version of the previous version! 88 spelling rules are crippling teachers and students unnecessarily! 400 ways to spell 42 phonemes with 26 letters is not working! ARE THE STUDENTS DISABLED OR IS THE LANGUAGE DISABLING? For more info, go to http://reforming-english.blogspot.com/

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        Rating: -2 (from 4 votes)
  31. C.J.V says:

    Teach the basics and human curiosity and creativity will move students in the directions they should go and not into directions that teachers think they should go! the past 30 years of teaching have been a disaster and students 20 plus age will attest to that.They have no life ,coping and common sense skills as our Stanley cup riot showed us clearly! We have to band together and give a handfull of out of touch with reality teachers their whining way again.Dont like the job? Quit and see what reality is! you wouldn’t survive!

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    Rating: -13 (from 19 votes)
    • Mom says:

      CJV,
      regarding your comment about the the Stanley Cup riot, I don’t think this has anything to do with teachers. What these young people did at the riot is not the fault of teachers. What are PARENTS for?

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      Rating: +9 (from 11 votes)
      • Parent says:

        I agree with “Mom”. Teachers are not responsible for the behaviour of kids outside of the school system. That’s the job of the parents.

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        Rating: +4 (from 6 votes)
      • Judy B says:

        I strongly agree. I am seeing a lot of advise about what the teachers should be doing above and beyond to mold these citizens of tomorrow, but yes, where are the parents? Seems to me all the participants at the riot were there after school hours and I highly doubt the teachers bought them tickets or alcohol. Out of the 168 hours we have every week only 35 of those are school hours leaving 133 hours each week for parents to teach their kids manners and life skills. Daycare ends when kindergarten stops. I do think that CJV had a valid comment though becasue it really clarifies why so many teachers are over whelmed.

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        Rating: +3 (from 5 votes)
        • Joy says:

          Judy,
          So if teachers doing the same thing as daycare workers, why we should pay teachers more than daycare workers?
          Education is babysitting? are you joking??

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          Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
          • Judy B says:

            Joy,
            That was supposed to say ” daycare ends when kindergarten starts”, my bad. Quite the opposite. Daycare is primary socializing. Education is NOT babysitting. When students start kindergarten they have work to do.It’s not a teacher’s place or responsibility to instill core moral values, teach manners, respect for self and others or how to be a good citizen. Teachers have 35 hours a week with the students and course material to cover. Parents have 133 to teach life skills, manners, respect and to socialize their children. My point is that teachers don’t have time to babysit or to socialize you child. A teacher’s job is to send a report card that there are behavior problems, that responsibility goes on mom and dad’s “to-do” list.I was responding to CJV’s comment that the behavior witnessed at the riots were the teachers fault. I shudder at the use of the term “common sense” in today’s multicultural world. What is “common sense” to me, might be totally disrespectful and offensive to you. As a teacher I have no obligation or right to teach your child my values other than in the capacity as needed to effectively and safely teach the classes. What I am seeing in these discussion is a lot of extra curricular responsibility being expected of teachers; they cannot be everything to all students. Some parents really need to step up and stop delegating the raising of their children to teachers and taxpayers and blaming everyone else for their children’s issues. Those 35 hours a week where students can’t text or talk shouldn’t be the only socializing they get. Thanks for challenging that Joy.

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      • Joy says:

        So what are TEACHERS for? babysitting?
        I’m really worry about our kid’s future and BC’s future if our professional public education system just doing babysitting…
        Do you guys know what’s the percentage of high skilled professionals working in BC’s high-tech companies are graduated from BC secondary schools?

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    • Melanie says:

      Teachers are amazing multi-taskers, problem solvers, planners, motivators, and caregivers. They work with complex students who have many unique individual qualities, some special needs with learning, many with anxieties, and some with behavioural problems. I dare anyone who thinks it is an easy job to do it for a day. That would be a reality check.

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    • Adrien says:

      CJV… have you been in a class teaching… try teaching a grade 8 class with 5 ADHD students, one with tourettes, 2 with clinical depression, one with serious OCD, one with complex medical issues, two with fetal alcohol. Yes this exists. This is the reality!! You need to get in there yourself to find out what the reality is. Teachers are dedicated to their profession. We want quality education for students!! We work long hours because we want to. Yes we go in on weekends to prepare lessons that are stimulating and relevant. I have been working long intense hours for 25 years because I choose to as do my colleagues. We cannot do a good job otherwise. How many adults come to you to tell you that you made a difference in their lives when they were in school and they don’t know how they would have made it without you? sometimes teaching is a small part of what we do.

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    • D. M. says:

      Actually, it is most interesting that you are implying teachers are responsible for kids behaviour. As a parent and a teacher, I believe there are too many parents abdicating any parental responsibility. Our society values money and stuff more than it does time with our children. “It takes a village to raise a child.” It also takes parents who take time to support and teach their children.A parent is always the child’s first teacher and arguably their most important one. There are some amazing parents out there but I have also run into many cases where the parents say they are too busy to deal with their children (what does that say to your children).

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  32. Susan says:

    It is apparent that there is at least an interim need for T.A’s while a realistic revamping of the system is done. The teachers and government need to get the parents imput as well. Teachers are to teach and not take the place of the parent in either decision making or the ultimate responsibility and accountability for their children’s future. There needs to be frank open discussions and all will need to make consession and show that the children come first.

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  33. Parent says:

    I’ve read several comments here regarding “special needs” students and how they seem to be a “burden” on the Education system and the teachers. One writer said “Why put special needs students toga[e]ther with other students?” and I have to ask, “where should they go if they don’t belong in a regular classroom?”

    My son was diagnosed several years ago with a “learning disability” that is similar to Dyslexia. His scores in intellect, and his ability to understand, and process what he learns is at par or above. He simply has a problem with written output, and it was recommended that he be provided with alternatives for writing assignments and tests. Unfortunately, that IEP sat in “draft form” for over 2 years, and was not updated in any way to satisfy his needs once he reached high school. Furthermore, that neglect in updating his IEP led to NO support, and one teacher accusing him of “being lazy and making up excuses” because he said he had a learning disability (that the teacher wasn’t even aware of).

    I don’t believe my son should be “segregated” from other students, and I’m really sorry that he doesn’t fit into a “cookie cutter” notion of what teachers feel the “ideal student” should be in the classroom. I’m also sorry that some other parents may feel their child is lacking attention, due to the “special needs” some children require.

    Let me assure you that my son no longer attends regular classes in the classroom. The stress he suffered, along with teasing and ridicule by other students led him to becoming severely depressed, and required hospitalization. It has been a long and difficult journey to recover from this, and he is resentful and hurt by the system that failed him, and he is not the only one to have “fallen through the cracks”.

    If you still feel that segregating students is the answer, then I encourage you to criticize all those who write poorly, and make spelling mistakes that comments here. Perhaps we can segregate all those that lack basic writing skills to another area of this forum since their inabilities are a burden on those of us who have a strong command of the English Language. Then once they have been moved (including the writer I noted above), perhaps they can share their views on how it feels to be ostracized.

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    • Heather says:

      What I have an issue with (and I may be wrong and showing of ignorance in my assessment – please correct me if I am) is that some of the low-incidence, special needs children seem to be getting ‘cadillac’ service (e.g., we have some severely autistic children at my son and daughter’s school who are shadowed all day, every day, by their own personal EA), while other children (the high-incidence children) seem to get little or no support at all (I guess this would be the category your son fell into, and it is the category my daughter falls into – she has a moderate speech impairment and has received no help at all this year from a speech pathologist).

      Now, I don’t mean to sound mechanical in my thinking; however, why (aside from safety reasons I suppose) are we investing so much money and support into children whose potential for change and positive outcomes is so very low, rather than investing in the children (like your son) for whom even a small amount of support could yield hugely positive outcomes for both the child and for society in general? Gee, should I hazard a guess that it has something to do with money (what doesn’t – and rightly so to some degree), and with the influence and sophistication of certain advocacy groups in this Province.

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      • Parent says:

        Thank you Heather, for your comments. I agree (at least from the outside looking in), there appears to be an imbalance with support provided to some students over others. In our case, my son didn’t want or need that kind of one-on-one attention, nor did he like the idea of being removed from the classroom, as he felt embarrassed by being singled out. What he needed was provisions for written assignments, tests and in taking in-class notes. According to the evaluation report, he was suppose to be given notes on a daily basis, but even that rarely happened. I would imagine in your family’s situation, there were recommendations for therapy that didn’t come to fruition.

        I can appreciate that teachers and EA’s are asked to do a lot, but money alone isn’t going to solve these problems. If we compare public schools around the world, countries like Finland spend significantly less per student, but rank higher; and the starting salary for teachers there is also much less. That alone tells me that we have a lot to learn and we should be finding ways to improve our system and address the inadequacies before making the determination that more funding and smaller class sizes are the problem.

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  34. Bob says:

    By having teaching assistants classroom sizes could become even larger while at the same time providing more individual attention for each child. While class size is an ever continual growth, that’s a fact we have to understand, funding for a new school is enormous and the space required for new schools is harder to find, so if we added EAs to the classroom the cost would be substancially lower while there would be even more help to each classs in general, more attention can be iven to each student’s individual needs.

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  35. Parent says:

    I find it VERY IRONIC, and a little CONTRADICTORY, that teachers are complaining about a lack of money, yet are spending it on COMMERCIAL ADVERTISEMENTS at an enormous, wasteful cost at the expense of children.

    I have been waiting MONTHS, for teachers to submit grades for report cards. I DO NOT buy into the idea, that I should know what my son’s grades are, especially when he is a Surrey Connect ONLINE student. Without any marks, or grades, we have NO IDEA what his status is.

    This is ENTIRELY UNACCEPTABLE! I would have MORE support for teachers, if they would stand their ground and NOT HIDE behind the premise that class sizes are too large. In our case “class sizes” are NOT APPLICABLE!!! So, please SOMEONE tell me and my son, why we should be punished with NO INFORMATION from the school for which he attends classes ONLINE!

    FRUSTRATED & FEDUP ALREADY.

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    Rating: -17 (from 29 votes)
    • Anonymous says:

      Surrey Connect classes are still managed by a teacher.

      Class sizes are very much applicable to online courses. A teacher is still required to mark the assignments, create the assignments, give assistance with the assignments when a student is unsure, confused, on the wrong track, or not demonstrating the necessary knowledge. This teacher also gives tutorial sessions, in person, for those who need or want the face-to-face time. Perhaps if your child’s teacher had fewer students in his/her online class, then that teacher may have time to phone or e-mail each parent individually to talk about individual student progress, strengths and weaknesses.

      You are frustrated now because you don’t know how the course is going for your son. That is a valid frustration. Have you tried taking the time to contact the teacher to specifically ask how your son is doing? A personal e-mai? Dropped in during office hours at Surrey Connect? The job action is stopping formal report cards, not communication to parents. There is no reason for you to not be able to find out how your son is doing.

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      • Parent says:

        Thank you for taking the time to reply to my comments. I know that my statements have been unpopular, but my intent was not to lay any specific blame on any one group. I am frustrated, and as a single, working mother I have little time to afford each day to get information that I believe should be provided without request. To answer your question, I have called, I have emailed and I have gone there in person. I don’t know what more I can do. If the workload is such that teachers have no time to contact parents, then I have more concerns with our Education System than I did before.

        Regardless, I cannot accept the illogical spending of any taxpayer dollars to debate this matter through commercial advertisements, especially when there is adequate media coverage and information available here. That money could have been better spent to have had a direct benefit on students.

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        • Melanie says:

          The adds are paid by the teacher’s union. The union funds are deducted from teacher’s paychecks. The represent a huge deduction from pay – but it goes towards supporting new teachers; helping teachers with professional development costs and opportunities; and standing up for students when the government wants to remove restrictions on class size and composition which would have even more harmful effects on students.

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        • cynmacmor says:

          This is the 2nd or so time I’ve heard this comment about commercial advertisements. I heartily agree. The government should not be spending the money–they say they don’t have–on commercial advertisements! I recall seeing one during the Grey Cup! I know the Grey Cup isn’t the Super Bowl, but it still cost a pretty penny.

          The ads from the BCTF are paid for by the BCTF. The BCTF is paid for by individual teachers. Neither the BCTF nor individual teachers are responsible for paying for public education (except as they are tax payers like the rest of us).

          The BCTF ads are not paid for by tax payer money.

          I am taking this point up with my MLA and the education minister. I don’t think they should be using my tax dollars for t.v. ads — especially when the money could be going to the system.

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  36. Cheryl says:

    I feel that a teaching assistant is a necessity in our Kindergarten and Grade One classrooms, especially now that Kindergarten is full time. These 4 and 5 year olds are coming into classrooms with up to 21 peers and need someone available to them all the time to feel safe and secure and therefore ready to learn. Having another caring, trained adult available to listen to and support emotional, social, academic and physical growth will enable many children to move from an “at-risk” category to meeting expectations over the course of their first two years of schooling.

    I have experienced this in the current school year. I have some children in my K/1 class that have needed extra emotional support and have grown in confidence and ability with the daily thoughtful interactions by the part-time teacher assistant. I also have some children that have some unidentified needs, as we know that not all children come identified to school and it is a challenge to get and give them the support that they need. Having a teacher assistant is helping them to receive additional support throughout the day while we are working through the identification process. Having another adult in the classroom allows me to continue on teaching the large group even when a young child needs help doing up their zipper after visiting the bathroom, feels sad missing their family, has a problem that needs to be talked out with a friend, etc. So many of these issues come up through the day and all the children’s needs can be meet when you have support in the classroom.

    I read a comment suggesting that we needed more teacher assistants and fewer Learning Support teachers and I would say that we are in need of both. The Learning Support teacher at my school is my go-to person for making a plan on how to support my at-risk children. She meets with the child’s parents, along with me, to come up with a plan for the child. Her experience and knowledge in supporting these children is invaluable for the the child, parents and for me as the classroom teacher. She supports me in the process, the paper work and the red tape. We also work together to support the at-risk children, sometimes she will teach the larger group while I take the smaller at-risk group to work on specific skills. We are flexible in how we work together to best meet the needs of the students in my class.

    Investing in teaching or educational assistants supports all of our children and enables our teachers to focus on teaching.

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  37. Peter Mare says:

    Many school district buy Apple computers, which are very expensive compare to normal PCs. HOWEVER, ALL of those machines could be operating LINUX a FREE operating system! WHY, when apparently money is short, Surrey SD spends money on very expensive computers, where cheaper solutions exist and could help deploy more computers in classrooms and schools?

    PS: LINUX is what Apple use in their computer. Apple tweaked it and re-branded Linux. It is very stable since it is similar.

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    • Moderator Will says:

      Thanks for your comment Peter. Do you have any thoughts on how this connects to the question?

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      • Peter Mare says:

        “How could teaching assistants and other supports be used so teachers can spend more time focused on teaching?” “How could other supports be used so teachers …?” Computers using a different OS like Linux responds to that question! Right?

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  38. Sheri says:

    I feel education assistants are a very important position within the school system. We are front line workers who really know the kids we are working with. We have gone to school to be educated and learn the skills which are necessary to work with the behaviors and special needs that a lot of students have in the classrooms. The problem is, we are not being recognized in the school districts, and our hours and positions are getting cut every year. They are hiring teachers to replace us with special education funding, and we are far cheaper to hire than them!!! Some of the students that are generating funding are not getting the time they deserve and should have, because the money is not being used where it should be!!

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  39. Heather says:

    The real problem, as I see it, is that we have allowed an ever-growing collection of private, independent, and french-immersion schools, to, in effect, create an over-concentration of the Province’s most needy and ‘difficult to teach’ students in english-based, public school classrooms. For example, how many special needs children will you find in french-immersion classrooms? How many children with fetal alcohol syndrome will you find in private school classrooms? Mathematically speaking, the simple omission of these children from private and french-immersion classrooms results in an over-concentration of these children (as valued as they are), in english-instruction, public-school classrooms, with resulting negative consequences to the affected teachers and students, and their learning environment.

    When my husband and I were exploring potential schools for our son, so many parents told us to send our son to the local french-immersion school. When we responded that we didn’t want our son to be instructed in french, almost every parent said to us: “You don’t send him there to learn french, you send him there because it is ‘poor man’s private school’ and is full of smart kids from good families.” (We understood this to mean – no special needs kids, no kids with FASD from poor, dysfunctional families, etc.). We felt that this ‘tactic’, as being used by so many families in our area, was both under-handed, and a mockery of our education system and society’s values. As such, we followed our moral instincts and opted to send our son to the english-instruction public school in our neighbourhood (a school which has a high number of special needs children within the school).

    Anyhow, time passes (son now in Grade 4), and the teacher’s dispute occurs. I join ‘The Conversation’, only to hear, repeatedly, by both parents and teachers alike, that public school classrooms are literally ‘bulging at the seams’ with both diagnosed and undiagnosed special needs children who are not being adequately supported – end result – ALL children in these public school classrooms are suffering – including our son. So, inadvertently, my family is paying the price for being morally responsible, and for believing-in, and supporting public education in this Province (i.e., choosing not to segregate our son, even though my husband’s wealthy parents offered to ‘pick-up the tab’ if we wanted to send our son to private school).

    One of the most disturbing things of all occurred last Saturday evening when one of our couple friends (one of whom is a public school teacher) told us that they had come to the conclusion, after much deliberation, to send their own son to private school. They just felt that the public-school system (in particular, the classroom learning environment) had reached such a critical point of disarray, that they did not feel it would be fair to their son to send him into such a poor learning environment. Fortunately for them, they have the financial means to send their son to private school – most parents do not.

    This government’s message about creating an INCLUSIVE society is starting to ring shallow to me, when the definition of ‘inclusive society’ seems limited to placing special needs children in english-instruction, public school classrooms. As long as this government allows, and even encourages, the existence of private, independent and french-immersion classrooms (i.e., segregation of children based on intellect, socio-economic status, etc.), we are making a mockery of this Province’s value of ‘inclusive society’.

    Now, assuming that the clock cannot be turned back (i.e., we cannot rid ourselves of private and independent schools), then my proposal is simply this …. make it a rule that in order for private, independent and french-immersion schools to be allowed to continue operating, they must accommodate a fair and equal share of special needs children in their classrooms (and, where necessary, provide the families of these children with free/subsidized educational services – shouldn’t be a problem considering that private schools in this Province will no doubt see a spike in their revenues, by the time this public-school teachers’ dispute is over). I believe that this strategy would provide many benefits, including:

    1) Would reduce the over-concentration of special needs children in english-instruction, public school classrooms (alleviating some of the stress and strain on public school teachers and classrooms, allowing a healthier and more equalized learning environment for all children, regardless of what school they attend);

    2) Would further shift the responsibility for funding education and support for special needs students (I believe that the government’s financial position is truly dire at the moment, and isn’t going to get better as health-care costs continue to spiral) onto the private sector … why shouldn’t private schools and their attending students and families have to play an equal part in this Province’s move towards ‘INCLUSION’ and support for society’s most vulnerable children – should they simply be allowed to ‘buy their way out’?

    3) Would provide the students who attend private, french-immersion and independent schools the opportunity to learn about tolerance and the concept of ‘inclusive society’ – to deny this opportunity to so many bright and privileged students would be just plain wrong …

    4) Might allow us to alleviate the boredom of some of these ‘academically-brightest of students’ (i.e., those in private schools) by allowing them to assist in the learning of their learning-disabled/special needs peers, providing them a chance to add a whole new dimension to their own learning experience;

    5) Other – I’ll leave this to the rest of you –

    Am I on the right track people, or am I sitting seriously misinformed on my own little planet?

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    • Tereza Brezinski says:

      Heather, my niece is in french immersion (grade eight) and her classes have lots of special needs students, most notably (and visible to her) students with autism and hearing impairment. Less visible to her, but she guesses from the special treatment they get, students with various learning disabilities. You are right to point out the potential inequality between french immersion and english classes but it appears this is no longer the case.

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      • Heather says:

        Thanks Tereza. This information about your niece’s french-immersion classes comes as a surprise to me, and leaves me wondering if my understanding of the situation, as it relates to french-immersion schools, is flawed (note that my current understanding is based solely on what I have heard from other parents/families – not always the best source of information).

        Anyhow, the great thing about this online conversation is that it allows people to voice their opinion, based on their current understanding of an issue, and then learn something based on the replies received from other members of the community (members who are often more qualified to speak on the subject matter). I know that I have learned alot this way …

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  40. Joy says:

    Many thanks to our BC government’s hard working to keep our province from bankruptcy.
    You guys are heroes of BC!
    Please keep balance budget, BC’s future depends on you guys.
    Thanks!

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    • Heather says:

      Joy makes a point – especially considering what’s happening in Greece, and the fact that there will be children (perhaps your grandchildren) in 20 years time who will also need services. We simply cannot ‘cheat the future, to pay for the present’ – to do so would be morally wrong.

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  41. vincent gorman says:

    personally i feel that an SEA in each class might be more effective than having learning assistance teachers. it would also be cheaper and that is all the current gov cares about. i could not believe the opening to this sight that “BC Teachers are the best in the world” but paid near the bottom of the list. give me a break!

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    • Diana Gerszke says:

      We do not need more CEAs in the classroom. We need more teachers. It makes no sense hiring the most under-qualified to “teach” our most needy. Don’t get me wrong, CEAs are needed for what they are trained fo do and that is assisting the education specialist (the teacher) but there is nothing that can take the place of a highly qualified teacher. I’m talking about Learning Assistance to Reading Recovery Teachers to Special needs Specialists … All of whom are TEACHERS.

      Consider this: in other countries, such as Sweden I believe, teachers and other government employees are among the highest paid in their respective country. The reasoning behind this is that if you give these employees purchasing power, you will have a strong economy.

      We will not prosper in the long or short term by holding back those who educate our children.

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      • Jacqueline says:

        Diana,

        I find your comments offensive and extremely unprofessionl for a TEACHER!! EAs have more skills, knowledge and abilities with special needs children then the majority of teachers out there. I highly doubt any of you would survive the day if the EA wasn’t there to deal with the kids you don’t want to deal with or know how to deal with. The unfortunate part is that ESs have to follow direction from teachers who don’t have the slightest clue what to do with these children then have the audacity of undermining what EAs accomplish because they feel incompetent.

        You demand respect from everyone yet don’t accord it to anyone else. Maybe you don’t understand that respect is earned not demanded.

        The derrogatory comments being made by some teachers on this site towards EAs is nothing short of disgusting, disrespectful and completely unprofessional. You should be thoroughly ashamed of yourselves!!

        You want the public to respect what you do? Try acting like the professionals you claim to be, start TEACHING instead of complaining and be thankful you earn the salary that you do.

        This site is nothing more than a forum for disgruntled teachers to self promote. What a waste of time, resources and tax dollars!

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        • cynmacmor says:

          Jacqueline,

          I find your comments very disrespectful and unprofessional.

          I didn’t come to this site to read teacher bashing — but when it comes from one of the public school staff members, it is very distressing.

          When it comes to my child, I want a qualified teacher at the helm. I want a qualified and experienced special needs teacher or support teacher or learning assistance teacher (what ever we call them) helping my child’s teacher. And, I would like, although it is not always possible, to have a positive and caring special education assistant to assist the teacher in order to help my child. If it is not possible, then I will help my child at home with a qualified tutor.

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  42. Peter Mare says:

    Some students with spelling and punctuation issues could use speech recognition software in tablets or laptops. In my district, it has taken 4 years to have these programs put into the system! Similarly, text-to-speech software would be useful for students who have difficulty decoding, but again the IT department in my district was notorious for not loading these kinds of software into computers. Funding for those items and headphones would be nice as well.

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  43. Peter Mare says:

    By having more support (T. A., LST teachers, computers,…) because in growing districts where there are a lot of kids moving into districts, students don’t get tested right away because there are not enough school psychologists, it seems ( although I have never seen my district advertise for them). Some of those kids seem to move away before being tested. Growing districts and their teachers are always playing catch up, it seems, and are always underfunded, it seems, (although some problematic students do move out too during the year too). Usually it takes 6 to 10 months before a child can bet tested. If a child comes in September and leaves in March, he will probably not be tested, but during all that time, this students will not be accounted for. In many cases, the LST teachers try to accommodate teachers, but, once the funding is determined on the basis of the number of needs (end of September), a school and teachers are vulnerable to receive more students than are counted! The minister would be wise to recruit existing school psychologits to train LST teachers during the summer, so that they can do the testing, but more money AND support AND time would be needed to do this testing (because LST teachers are stretched as it is). Courses should be free, unless the ministry is prepared to pay LST teachers more. Speech therapists are in short numbers too, so something similar could be done too. More counselors are needed in schools too.

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    • Jan S. says:

      Hi Peter,
      It is very true that there are not enough specialists such as pyschologists, speech and language pathologists, occupational therapists, etc. There is such a dearth of SLP’s in my district that direct therapy is generally nonexistent. The educational psychologists are spread thin, however, usually manage to assess and report on approx. 5 pupils in my school per year. I am not sure how many schools each psychologist must service. Your suggestion that LST teachers administer tests may not work. Psychologists are specifically trained to administer level C cognitive assessments such as the Weschler Intelligence Test. Psychologist must attain a Masters degree in Educational Psychology. Even level B tests, such as the Peabody Vocab Test require that the assessor have certification in specific assessment courses.

      I am glad, that, in Canada, we still have safeguards to ensure that educators administering assessments have proper and thorough training. The gov’t has said that it wants to ensure that the “right” teachers are matched to the appropriate positions. This is ironic because I have certainly seen the tendency to download responsiblilities to less qualified personnel. Learning support teachers, in my district, do not necessarily need the prerequisite course work. They are considered “qualified” if they work for nine months in the capacity of a learning support teacher.

      If our public system does not have adequate numbers of trained personnel to assist students having special learning needs, we should be honest with the public about this. We should absolutely resist going in the direction of the United States, where people who do not possess teaching certificates, are allowed to teach in the general classroom.

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      • Peter Mare says:

        To be honest, the level of expertise needed to administer those tests or assessments is COMPLETELY ARTIFICIAL and MINIMAL! I would think that LST teachers could be trained in no time to administer those. There is nothing so hard that one needs a master’s degree in anything to do this. What I think is happening is some people with certain degrees are trying to keep their position and their jobs. There is nothing sacred here. I learned on my own many of these tests. In the meantime, we have kids waiting to be tested just because someone says that no one else but them can give these tests! ANYONE with a degree and a modicum of training could administer these tests. I disagree and disagree completely.

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  44. shelley boychuk says:

    I am an EA in the Vancouver District for past 20 years. I work with students directly in the classroom and see how difficult it is for the teacher to deal with the student’s that I support, never mind the other 5, 6 or 7 kids that are not even ministry designated, but definitely need support in terms of either behaviour, learning needs or both. They DO NOT have the time to modify the material to meet the specific needs of the students, and I am not given any time outside of the class to prepare resources either. I can tell you first hand that the gov’t is not hiring extra EA’s for these students, nor offering any extra resources. We work on the front line with these kids and not only have we had our hours cutback but also haven’t had a pay raise in 6 years. The gov’t needs to put the money where its mouth is cause i don’t see any evidence of their rant “that they are putting money into training, hiring etc..Really?

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  45. mike says:

    it has been my experience that when there r teaching assistance. teachers r extremly lazy and pass the buck to a less qualified individual. and when that doesnt work they have a team of fat lazy experts that do little more than make themselves look good statisticly and try to extend there contracts.aparently every child convieniently has adhd and medication is required and not harder work on the teachers part.
    the system has so far failed our child and our family and we have lost sleep over it.my childs teacher starteg her day with a one hour break and i was told that she got 2 of those a day.
    in my opinion and experience teachers deserve a pay cut and more supervisors not princepals

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    • Brad Wilson says:

      OMG

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    • Heather says:

      Thanks for joining the conversation Mike. Every comment and opinion, whether it proves popular or not, provides value to the conversation.

      The thing that irks me most is when some of my colleagues (always the same ones) sit at our office meetings and say absolutely nothing – I consider them to be a waste of meeting room space.

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  46. Natasha Rasmussen says:

    teaching assistants should not just be available to those who are struggling in class. While this is important, it is also important to engage those students who are learning at a faster rate than their peers. The top of the class should not have to go out in the hallway to do harder work. Computer teachers should be embrased (khan accedemy as an example)with assistant helping as needed. Every child should have access to computers, and teaching assistants who may be remotely accessed through the computer.

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  47. Terry says:

    My understanding of our current teachers contract is that they are entitled to 1 personal day per month. If they feel like going shopping or skiing, they can simply call in to advise that they are taking a personal day. At one per month, that’s 10 per school year. In their absence, we are required to pay for a substitute teacher at a cost of $400.00 to $500.00 per day! If a teacher took all 10 “personal” days each year, that would mean that we are paying $4,000.00 to $5,000.00 per teacher per year for substitute teachers. Multiply that by the number of teachers in the province and it’s easy to see that we are wasting tens of millions of dollars paying teachers for their personal days and paying substitute teachers to fill in for them. It’s time to abolish these personal days and spend the savings on more textbooks or learning assistants, instead of substitute teachers who are in most cases nothing more than baby sitters (at $400.00 to $500.00 per day!!).

    We also pay teachers substantially more if they obtain their Master’s Degree. It this degree isn’t a requirement of the job and if it can’t be demonstrated to be an actual benefit to the students, why are we paying these teachers up to $20,000.00 per year? Unless the Master’s is a requirement of the job and only if it can be seen to be a benefit, then we need to abolish this practice and direct the salary savings to more textbooks and more learning assistants! In no way, should obtaining a Master’s Degree automatically result in a huge salary gain!

    These savings are unlikely to happen because the average teacher, in spite of the rhetoric from the BCTF is more concerned about the “money” than they are about anything else. They are just like anybody else, they will take more money if they can get it.

    How did we, the taxpayer, allow the system to develop to this point? We are reaching the breaking point with respect to our ability to pay for our over-compensated public servants!

    Many of us in the private sector have suffered substantial financial losses during these tough recessionary times. We have suffered wage loss and job loss. We haven’t had a raise and most of us don’t have any benefits. It’s time that we took a serious look at what is happening in our province and I commend the government for doing what it can to keep costs under control.

    The teachers and all of the rest of our public servants want a raise. When I get one, then come talk to me about a raise. Until then, suck it up just like the rest of us. If teachers want more money, they can fire the BCTF and keep their union dues in their own pocket!! The BCTF is a confrontational dinasaur that needs to go extinct!!

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    • Brad Wilson says:

      Hi Terry,

      Happy to let you know that teachers do not have, nor have had in my 20 years as a teacher, a personal day to go skiing, shopping whatever. Not one day a month, not one day a year. No such thing as a personal day. But thanks for trying to start an uban myth.

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    • Jan S. says:

      Hi Terry,
      Please correct your misinformation. Teachers do not get “personal” days for shopping, skiing, etc. In most districts, they accrue sick days at approx. 1.5 days per month. The expectations is that sick days are used if and when the teacher is sick. Most teachers that I know do not abuse this benefit. Many teachers have accumulated well over 100 sick days. In teachers’ contracts, there may be a specific number of personal days available – usually 7 days per year. These are UNPAID days. If a teacher wishes to give up a paid day to attend their child’s event, go on a holiday, etc. the contract allows for the teacher to request an unpaid leave of absence from their district employer. Substitute teachers are paid a daily TOC rate of $250 per day in my district.

      Many teachers do upgrade their educational credentials. An increase in salary is one incentive. However, teachers upgrade to increase their skills and knowledge also. I had a Post Baccalaureate and obtained a Masters degree recently. The difference between a PB and a Masters is $1500. annually. Therefore, I certainly did not benefit monetarily from upgrading my educational qualifications. (It cost me $14,000 to obtain my Masters degree.) Masters degrees are particularly valuable training as they train teachers to be discriminating practioners who examine current educational research for best practices.

      Incidentally, I am a general classroom teacher. I would argue that having the most qualified teacher available in classrooms is important as that is where the important student learning occurs. A system which outranks Canada in academic performance, is the Finnish educational system. Most Finnish classroom teachers have Masters degrees and they enjoy a high level of professional autonomy. (Something that this current gov’t seeks to take away from teachers.)

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    • Diana G says:

      And you think teachers need a personal day why? To go SHOPPING?! NO. These people are overworked and may just need a day to catch up on the overwhelming paperwork or reports or marking that they would usually take home and do on their own time instead of spending time with their own family. They DESERVE it! Even if it is just to spend time with their little one instead of someone else’s.
      I value my childrens’ teachers and it is time that the government does too.
      PS. Masters degrees mean student loans. Gov’t cash cow.. Not a windfall for the teacher. Adding a masters degree adds up to a total of $0.35 per day in salary.

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    • Profe says:

      I’m sorry, but I have to interject with regard to the misinformation in Terry’s submission.

      A caveat: I and my wife are both teachers. We both are relatively satisfied and with our salaries in spite of the $39,000 a year that we would collectively receive as additional salary were we to move to Alberta. To us, what is of much greater importance are class size and composition and the respect for teachers as professionals who are more aware than anyone of the learning conditions in our classes and how to best serve the needs of the students that we teach.

      I am confounded by Terry’s claim that teachers receive 10 personal days per year to do “whatever we would like”. That is manifestly false! Personally, I receive 3 discretionary days per YEAR where I lose my salary for the day should I choose to use them. I only have 4 professional development days per year, not dozens as many seem to believe.

      My sick days accumulate at a rate of 1.5 days per month, or 15 per year, which over the course of 195 instructional days per year, calculates as 1 sick day for every 13 days worked, or a little less than 8% days. Over 12 years in my present school district I had accumulated over 100 days banked in sick leave, which means that I have used about 80 days, or approximately 7 per year, or 2 days every 3 months. That does not seem excessive to me, but perhaps you would disagree.

      My point is, there are many sides to this debate, but to attempt to win over public opinion through disinformation is not only dishonest, but it is disrespectful to a group of perople, the educators of your children who, believe it or not, have the best interests of the students in our care at heart, Some will be speculative of that comment, but my children are part of the public school system in BC and yes, I believe in that system, and I believe in my children and want the best for them.

      If you have read these comments, you have already made the first step to being better informed. Please take the time to research all sides of the issues and make your decisions based on that insight. That is what we attempt to teach our students, and we as adults should do nothing less when the future of our children is at stake.

      ¡Pura vida!

      BTW, EAs are an essential aspect to the functioning of schools and I welcome them in my class. Improving class size and composition needs to be done in tandem with additional EA support, because, as has been my experience, EAs can aid with certain aspects of organization and understanding, but instruction and evaluation must still lie with the teacher, and therefore smaller classes with fewer designated students will always, at least for me, trump the proposed changes and the additional monies involved with the LIF.

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      • Judy B says:

        To Profe. Thank you for sharing that info I agree that we are going on a lot of speculation and misinformation in this process and I think that a lot of the emotion is dividing us even further. Personally I think 1 sick day every 13 days is too much. I would not feel very much confidence in counting on an employee that needs a day off every 2 and a half weeks. I am not saying that teachers actually do this, its the perception that is hard to justify becasue it is something that a teacher could do and that’s where I believe a lot the public anger is coming from. I recently saw the old list of demands re-circulated that included 26 weeks paid leave every year to take care of anybody, 10 days for anybody’s funeral, $2200 a month for teacher just to be on call, sick benefits on call (?!?), full benefits no matter how many hours a teacher works, etc. These demands were off the wall and have left a very bad feeling for many taxpayers. I don’t have a problem with teachers shopping or skiing on any day off, its a day off; but when I see comments that they are all taking the days off to catch up, they loose my support entirely. Teachers are just people. Full stop. Some will be skiing, some will be shopping, some will be sick. We are all over worked and take work home be it physically, mentally and/or emotionally. No other group in the work force gets the 2 month summer break every knowing that it will be an end and there will be a new beginning in September. For many of us we just get further and further behind with no break ever. It would go a long way to get away from the emotions of martyr image and dialogue as adults and peers. As for degrees, these are all personal choices. I paid for my education and that education is why I get the wages I get, that’s how it works and that is fair. If you don’t want to further your career, don’t. I’m not a fan of the Liberal gov but I am seeing all this complaining about qualifications, and its confusing. There is an educational requirement to teach, if you want to teach, get yourself qualified, if you don’t want to teach, don’t. It’s that simple.If you don’t think the investment in yourself and your future are worth, that is yours to live with. There is too much energy being spent on this stuff, the teachers, the teachers, the teachers….what about the kids? what about the structure of the school system? what about corporate sponsorship? what about centralized administration? what about reducing redundancy with a multitude of school boards? Why do some students get Apple computers and others have clipboards and Sharpies? These are the real issues. Penny Lambert is killing public support every time she calls the government a”bully”. What is she showing the kids? If you don’t get you way, name calling is the solution! Let’s get out of the emotions and in to the facts.Please!

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    • Julie says:

      With respect, your “understanding” is far from accurate. Please consult a reliable source before sharing your “understandings” in such a public forum. By the way, teachers with Masters degrees have specialized in a particular facet of teaching. They are math specialists, special needs specialists, behavior specialists etc and they are a tremendous support to their schools, districts, and province wide teams. They are as critical to students as oncologists, gynecologists, pediatricians etc are to their patients.

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    • Struggling TOC says:

      WHERE does a substitute get paid $400 or $500 a day? I’ve been subbing for 4 years and we are definitely NOT getting paid that.

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    • Charlene says:

      I don’t know what district gives one personal day a month. Never heard of such a thing. My district does not ever give personal days to teachers.

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    • cynmacmor says:

      For a moment, I thought I had inadvertently hit the back button. What does the above comment have to do with educational assistants and other supports?

      I came on this site because I thought the discussion would be constructive. I am beginning to regret the time I’ve spent here. Is there not a moderator present?

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      • Moderator Joanne says:

        Hello,
        Yes, there is, and thank you for your comment. As you may have noticed throughout this site we welcome a diversity of opinions and ideas and have no desire to stifle conversation – and, yes, in instances there are conversation threads that do tend to get off topic. If the comment adheres to our Moderation Policy http://engage.bcedplan.ca/moderation-policy/ it goes up.

        We also recognize it is a challenge to separate the labour dispute from the education transformation conversation we’re trying to have on the BC Education Plan site. It is important to continue to discuss the future of our education system beyond the current circumstances and we encourage you to continue to contribute your ideas in the public discussion on the online forum.

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        • cynmacmor says:

          This topic is education assistants/ resources. The comments in this thread (with the exception of Profe’s when she or he mentions EAs (education assistants?) at the end), are not on topic. At all. I read your policy and I believe that #7 “are far off topic” applies here.

          I came to this site because it was recommended in one of our school’s newsletters. Generally, I’ve gained some idea of the value of education assistants. That is a good thing :)

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  48. Jane says:

    Providing an assistant to help teachers with their photocopying and administrative tasks would give them more opportunities to design more engaging and individualized lessons to help students with varying needs.
    The best way to offer more individualized help for students would be to give them more one-on-one time with their teacher by limiting class size.

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    • Judy B says:

      Maybe you can enlighten me here; isn’t there an administration/clerical staff in each school that can photocopy for all the teachers? If not, can we hire a couple of those and leave the class rooms to the teachers and the assistants? I remember in grade 3 if we were good we were allowed to hand crank some mimeographs for glass, maybe my teacher was way ahead of her time back in 66′but delegation sure worked for her. There seems like a lot of overlap with a multitude of school districts and it sounds like they all have their own administration teams. Being that it’s 2012 and the only tool a lot of people need is a computer and internet. I would be interested to know how many “payroll and benefits” offices there are, how many HR departments, etc .

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      • jana says:

        The clerical staff, though often wonderful, does not photocopy for teachers. Teachers do their own photocopying, and a lot of it. These days the materials that are ready for teachers to use, and there are not too many of those that are appropriate and effective, come in a blackline master format which the teachers need to copy for each student. Workbooks exist in some cases but are often too expensive. Teachers create a lot of their own material (little known fact perhaps), or if they are lucky, borrow it from other teachers. The administrative tasks have also increased over the years. These include collecting money, filling out forms for field trips and presentations, collecting forms for the office and the PAC (which we do happily in echange for all their support) among other things. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, but when asked how could support staff help teachers do their jobs more effectively, that is one suggestion. Imagine if the teachers could use this time to plan more effective and more differentiated lessons, or perhaps update their technology skills…how much “greater” we could be…

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        • Holly says:

          I have worked at a school board. It’s the teachers union that doesn’t want to pay for the clerical support to photocopy etc. It’s by teachers for teachers only policy from their union. This may have changed.

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      • Richard Ajabu says:

        You may be interested in related comments and links here.

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  49. Wendy says:

    I believe that EAs are desperately needed in many classrooms to cope with the wide variety of needs that individual students have, and with large class sizes that make it very difficult for teachers to cover all the curriculum adequately for all students.

    While EAs are clearly needed for kids with special needs, my experience is that kids who are gifted need extra support to in order to maintain their knowledge and interest in learning. My experience with a child who was doing fractions at age 2 or 3 and who enjoyed “playing math” until she entered elementary school, has been frankly sad. At grade 4, she is now being introduced to these concepts formally – and she has learned essentially nothing in between. She is also no longer interested in math games or in learning more. I wish that there was some way for her to have been able to maintain her interest and engagement, and to continue learning at a pace that worked for her.

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  50. Dgee says:

    Given in a class of 20+ children, it’s difficult to spend more time on teaching if we are moving to a self-paced learning environment.
    I’m not a teacher, but if we wanted to make sure that our teachers can teach more rather than babysit, we need to ensure that the child to teacher ratio is smaller than it is now. If there is one teacher per 20 students (and that changes as the children get older), the there is very little time to teach because one person cannot meet the needs of 20 people.
    If we want to use teaching assistants more effectively, the there would have to be at least 4 adults in a room at any given time.

    I wish the BC gov’t was more transparent to what the exact plans are for our children. I can’t sift through all this marketing stuff to find the plan exactly stated in a language I understand.

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    • Jana says:

      I would also love to know what the exact plans are. And how much is the government spending on the marketing of this great plan??? If this plan is “all about the kids” and “we all have a part to play”, then why is the government not working with the teachers to improve learning conditions, and instead is working against us?

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      • Moderator Mike Moderator Mike says:

        BC’s Education Plan is a framework for change not a prescriptive document. While it outlines what we and others (educators, administrators, educational experts, etc) think needs to change in our education system, the details around how we do it are for all of us to decide. That is the purpose of this site and that is the purpose of our other public engagement channels (e.g. face-to-face conversations around the province).

        But collecting these ideas is obviously not enough. We’re also analyzing them and reporting to both ministry staff and the public what you are telling us. See our infographic for details on how we do this. This information is helping inform what specific steps we may need to take to make the Plan a reality. Please check our Actions page to see what we are doing. We are in the process of gathering more information to share with you on what steps we’re taking right now.

        As for the costs, this project is being run with existing ministry staff and resources. Our moderation team, for example, is made up of staff who work on other things but contribute their time here as well because they believe in the Plan and want to contribute to its success. The videos? I’m not sure about the cost. What I can say is they were created to help ensure more people know about the Plan and have a chance to help shape it. The more we market the Plan and invite people to contribute to it, the better the end result.

        As for your last point, we recognize it is a challenge to separate the labour dispute from the education transformation conversation we’re trying to have here. We’re trying our best here to do that.

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        • Judy B says:

          To Moderator Mike: Since the strike and Bill 22 are in the forefront of the news I am curious if some of the questions in this forum that are “closed” could be reopened. I think it would be beneficial at this time. In as much as education is very important many of us have just been going about our own lives and I was not aware of this site until last week. There seems to b a lot of meaningful dialogue and some very important issues are no longer available.

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          • Moderator Mike Moderator Mike says:

            Judy, the specific questions are closed to make the site easier to moderate but the Questions 1-6 and Questions 7-9 Snapshots are available to allow people to continue commenting on the questions in one place. We will also be changing our questions soon to focus more deeply on flexibility and choice. Perhaps your ideas would fit in there? The questions are usually general enough that you can make your comment fit, regardless of your exact topic (provided it’s education-related of course).

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        • Hobbs says:

          Hi Mike, two points:

          1) calling something a “Plan” indicates there’s a detailed proposal for achieving something; “Framework” indicates a basic structure underlying a concept. Those are two different things, so I have to join the previous comments with a bit of frustration about what this site is about.

          2) your last point about separating the labour dispute from the conversation here: the current crop of BC Ed Plan ads contradict this statement (your ads tell us that you will make sure teachers are using their Pro-D days appropriately, and alluding they want more money in their pockets over their classrooms). These ads not only show a partisanship, but lead us to believe there is a plan written down to scrutinize, whether we agree with or not.

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          • Moderator Mike Moderator Mike says:

            Perhaps we can agree, unofficially, to call it a vision instead? The important point here is that we believe there are some fundamental things about our education that need to change and we need your input on it. The planning is now.

            To your second point, I’ll reiterate the statement we posted the other day at the top of our Get Engaged page. The BC’s Education Plan team is trying to have a conversation with you about education transformation, not the labour issues. We know this is difficult in the current climate, but we’re trying our best. If you have comments on the bargaining process and/or the Bill 22 legislation please refer to the options outlined on the Engage page.

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            • Peter Mare says:

              Right! Everything needs to change! EVERYTHING, BUT … the most awful spelling system ever designed and that has NOT changed in 400 years! I don’t know what our leaders are thinking, but are they … thinking? We have a spelling system that has 88 rules (most of which have more exceptions than the ones that conform to the rules), 400 ways to spell 42 phonemes with 26 letters and THAT does NOT need to change! What a perfectly efficient system! Mmm! I wonder why our system is so expensive! I wonder why we need so many reading programs! I wonder why Finnish kids are more successful! Could it be the language? Finnish has 1 spelling rule! English, 88! Mmm! I wonder which student is going to have an easier time to learn to read? COGNITIVE DISSONANCE or what! It is plain obvious what needs to be fixed! For those people who purport to be experts, maybe it’s time to listen to experts like Chomsky, Shaw, Twain, Dewey, Webster, and many present linguistic professors! Do you one thing that hasn’t changed in 400 years? English has! But, THAT doesn’t need to be touched! Oh! Okay! That makes sense! http://reforming-english.blogspot.com/ !

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