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un peu capoté…

my life in pictures

Category Archives: thoughts?

Our marvelous librarian at our school creates a “Kindness Tree” around Valentine’s Day. It’s her second year at our school, so it’s our second time seeing it come around. Students pick a name of a fellow student out of a bag. My students wrote up their hearts to add to the tree today, and their comments were too funny not to share.

Such as? Well, here goes…

“Oh hey. Um. This is going to be cheesy. Sorry. Well, you’re one of those people who stay late after school. I know you’re really good at basketball. And um, you’re funny and I like your green hoodie. ‘Cause, you know. It’s green.”

“I like how you are always calm and never get into big fights with people in the class. You always seem so relaxed and carefree. You are also very nice and you never insult anybody.”

Side note: I’m impressed at this – both at the acknowledgment and the act. Mostly the act of never saying anything mean. It’s rare, for both adults and children!

“You are funny and nice. I think that you are funny and I like your afro.”

“You are a good friend. Your bear hat is very cool. It’s very unique.”

“You are so…………….. awesome and stuff. I also think you are a nice person, just like [name of another student]. U r also a good person.”

“I love how we have our daily after school vampire diaries/Buffy the vampire slayer discussion. Plus you’re a very interesting and weird person but in a good way.”

“You are so quiet and thoughtful. You give really great advice, You are an awesome friend! You comfort me when I start hyperventilating.”

"Sincere Apologies"

-I think that you are intelligent and good at school. It seems as though you are a thesaurus and wikipedia. You use complicated synonyms and know a lot about most things.

– Letting various people borrow your stationary is a really nice welcome. You were the first person to let me borrow index cards An open attitude is always received with much gratitude.

“Thank you for lending me all those school supplies and letting me smell your jellybean scented highlighter. You are nice.

This is better than his original note, which I made him erase: I love you very, very, very much and I have all these years. When I see you my heart sets on fire and my tunnel of vision is set only on you.

And finally…

"I like your smartness"

Ah, from the mouth of babes, huh?


(P.S. Formatting this thing was a pain. I gave up.)


Normally, I use this blog to post pictures – pictures of dogs make people smile, right? I decided that I would take one day to just share some information about Bill 22, negotiations (or lack thereof) and teachers’ perspectives. I feel like the general public is not getting the whole picture. The first thing that the media says we’re asking for is wages – but there is so much more than that. Instead of trying to explain just how bad things are, here are some links and words from people clearer than I can be right now.

Here is a link to a leaflet, Why Bill 22 is Bad for BC. I think that it is important for students, parents, teachers and all union members to understand just how scary this situation is. If the government can create a law that takes away teachers right to strike, even after we were granted that right from the LRB, what does that say about the power they have over other union negotiations?

Here is a link to an article from the Vancouver Sun, Constitutional and International Law at Risk under Bill 22.

Here is a video created by an extremely eloquent speaker, explaining what teachers are fighting for.

The memo above was created by the Prince George District Teachers’ Association and explains just what Bill 22 means for students and teachers. Nikita Pendergrass, a teacher that I do not know personally, explains the repercussions in more detail below. The reasoning here is so clear, I had to share.

Why I’m Rattled at the Liberals…a teacher’s perspective.

by Nikita Pendergrass on Wednesday, February 29, 2012 at 6:09pm

This was going to be a status update but I have a bit too much to say. I am sickened and disappointed by how some media outlets depict my union’s job action. Usually, the only words I hear in the news reports are “wages” and “class size”. Too often the reporting is so narrowly focused and repetitive it is hard to fully appreciate the scope of the issues.  Here’s what’s really going on and why teachers are so upset.

1) The abolishment of seniority rights. Even the Roman army had seniority rights. Why this government wants to do away with seniority rights befuddles and scares me. Doing away with seniority exposes teachers to being hired and fired due to a “who you know” scenario and/or a popularity contest. Elimination of seniority rights could also set more experienced/ educated teachers (who are at a higher pay scale) at a disadvantage, in favor of younger/less educated teachers (who are at a lower pay scale). Districts want to cut costs, correct?

2) Contract stripping. When two sides come to an agreement about an issue and sign a contract that contract should be upheld for the duration of that contract. This  BC Liberal government ripped up our contract that we had with them in 2002. The part they ripped up eliminated provisions protecting class size, class composition, and services to students with special needs. The BCTF website states, “the 2002 legislation enabled the BC Liberals to cut $336 million annually from public education and so severely curtailed free collective bargaining rights that it could not sustain a challenge under the Charter of Rights. In April 2011, the BC Supreme Court found the bills to be unconstitutional and invalid”. Yet, despite the Supreme Court ruling it’s business as usual for George Abbott and the BC Liberals. It blows my mind how this can happen in a democratic society.

3) The One Strike and You’re Out Policy. In this case a teacher could be dismissed from their job due to a poor performance review or for other incidents. Of course creepy teachers should be shown the door…no one is going to argue that, but a few bad lessons or what is deemed to be an inappropriate comment shouldn’t be grounds for dismissal unless there is a fair process. All workers deserve the opportunity to learn from their experiences/ mistakes, with support and constructive feedback from their employers. A three strikes you’re out policy, implemented with partnership of administration, school board, and union seems more than fair, as it provides opportunity for employees to grow on a professional level in addition to maintaining accountability.

4) Bargaining in bad faith. How can the government come to a bargaining table with a net zero mandate from the get-go? How can the government only want to take away from our contract, yet add nothing? Iglika Ivanova, of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (Google them), has written a very interesting piece  ( that suggests BC’s cupboards might not be as bare as they are made out to be. While having the lowest personal income tax and corporate tax rates in the country sounds great anyone who has had to wait in an overcrowded emergency room or classroom for help has the right to feel frustrated. Ms. Ivanova states in her article that, “Practically speaking, it’s not real fiscal constraints that stand in our way but a lack of political will”.

5) Changing laws. Last week my union applied to the Labour Relations Board to conduct a strike. The LRB gave us the go-ahead to conduct a strike. Hours later, the BC Liberals drafted up a law to say that we are not allowed to go on strike. As a worker I feel my rights have been taken away from me. How is it that some of the students I teach have more rights than I do when they go to their jobs after school?

6) Bill 22—The BC Liberals will pass Bill 22 next week that imposes a new contract on teachers. Under this legislated contract there will be no class size or composition limits for grades 4 and up. Whereby a teacher used to be consulted (that wasn’t even perfect), now a superintendent can have the final say and put however many students they would like in a class. This bill prohibits teachers from bargaining class size, average class size, staffing levels, ratios or caseloads for another two years. Mr. Abbott of the BC Liberals has this to say about students a few days ago:  “There is no reason to assume, on the face of it, that a child with a designation is going to be any different or any less manageable in a classroom situation than a child without a designation.” Wow. This quote is extremely scary, sad, and frustrating all in one.

7) “Mediation“—The government says that a contract will be mediated. Bogus. It is a mediator they appoint and that mediator has been told that any additional money towards education is unavailable. Class size and composition and wages will not be discussed by the mediator. How can we call this mediation when one side lays out what can and can’t be discussed beforehand? Instead of calling this a “cooling off period” how about calling it what it really is…a period of time in which the BC Liberals have taken away our right to strike, have imposed a contract, and have refused to engage in meaningful discussions about the core issues. Essentially the BC Liberals are saying, “Shut up, this is the contract WE have decided on and we’ll talk to you in two years. And oh, by the way, if you teachers want to strike you will be fined $475 per day and your union will be fined over a million dollars per day”. This is mediation? Really?

8) Money, money, money is all the media is covering. Yes, a fair and equitable wage is important to me. If your contract was up with your boss you would probably ask for a raise too. Considering other teachers earn more in other provinces and do the same or less amount of work it gets you thinking. Given these economic times, no one is expecting a bonanza but at the very least could we get a cost of living increase? Please?… No?…Ok, thought I’d ask.

To many of us, our wage could remain the same and life would go on happily for us. Quite frankly, as much as a wage increase would be nice, it is at the very bottom of my beef with the BC Liberals.

Teachers don’t want to have to walk off the job, but given that every other avenue has been exhausted, what other option do we have? What would it say about us and our level of concern for our rights and the rights of students if we simply turned the other cheek and accepted this vicious assault on the education system?

As a teacher who works with students every day I KNOW that at this moment the BC Liberal government is not serious about improving conditions for students or for teachers. Don’t believe their bogus interviews on tv about how they are worried that our job action will be detrimental to students. Abbott and the rest of the BC Liberals almost sound convincing in interviews. Their actions clearly demonstrate a complete disregard for students and teachers. So, if you see us on the streets next week please don’t think it is about the money. Know that our job action is about protecting the rights of teachers and students so that we can both come to school each day equipped with what we need to be successful.

Feel free to pass this along to anyone who might be interested!

I had my Convocation from SFU last Friday. I defended my thesis in December, so I felt “done” for a very long time. I didn’t even think to invite anyone other than my parents (because I’ve know that they’ve wanted to attend for a very, very long time) and Jeff! Luckily for me, Jeff’s mom and sister and my brother all made it out too. It was so nice having them there! I didn’t really see Convocation as a big deal – maybe that’s why I didn’t think to invite people – but it sure was great to have people there for me. They cheered so loud that one of the people shaking my hand commented on the number of friends I seemed to have supporting me. Thanks guys!

Convocation was a little scary, because they grouped us by categories. First was the PhDs, then the MAs, then the MEds, then the undergrads. I was the very first MA. At first, I thought that it wasn’t a big deal… but then I realized that the PhDs got to sit on the stage after their name was called. I was the very first person to have to make the trek through the audience back to my seat. I kept worrying about which was I was supposed to go, and whether or not I would fall. The girl two back from me kept making comments about how she was so glad she wasn’t going first (followed by “Sorry” and a wry look at me). Hmph.

Well, I worried for naught, since they had so many ushers in black gowns that there was no WAY I could go the wrong way. They also had arrows on the grounds. I should have known that they’ve put on so many convocations that they have to have this down pat!

Since I spent all the time researching and writing a thesis and practicing my defense (and posing for pictures)… you have to look at a sampling of the many pictures taken that day. Ha HA!

What does this thing say, anyway?

Jeff wants me to say “Master!” after everything I say now.

Trying to find my parents.

We sniped a pretty wicked spot for pictures after. There was a statue, so we used the stand to set up our tripod. The only downside? People kept getting in our shots to get their own – you can see their stuff beside my dad.

My dad, my mom, Eugene, Jeff and me

Lindsay, Jeff, Barb and me

I went home from work yesterday feeling awful. It was either allergies or the beginnings of an end-of-the-school year cold, but it wasn’t nice. I curled up on my bed with some knitting, some peanut-butter chocolate chip cookie dough and turned the TV onto the game.

I ended up leaving my hidey-hole, because I realized that my (itty-bitty) TV was behind the other (much larger and HD) TV that Jeff and his friends were watching… i.e. I knew that Boston was going to score, because of Jeff’s loud and anguished “NO!” Besides, Rob and Sharon came by. I did, as I usually do, go into the other room where I could surf the ‘net and listen to the game. I have trouble sitting and just watching a game, especially when I know that nothing short of a miracle would lead us to the win.

I came out to watch Chara hold up the Stanley Cup, and to listen to the Vancouver fans cheer on Boston for their efforts. I watched as the fans acknowledged the Canucks’ effort with a “Go Canucks Go!” chant.

And then I saw the car on fire. WTF? Maybe I was overly optimistic, but I thought that we were past all that. I couldn’t get over the senselessness of it all – as many people have said, it was disgusting.

This morning, I checked both my Facebook and my teacher Facebook page, and was happy to see that many people felt the same way – students and adults alike. I had a chat with my class, and was glad to learn that they also felt that it was an embarrassment to true Vancouverites. I hope that my students would be like the many who showed up to clean up the mess left behind by the few. I’m also glad that they could separate the game from the events that followed, and that they understood that the game was just that, a game.

Here’s Friday, pre-hair cut, supporting the ‘Nucks, no matter what the outcome:
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