Globe & Mail: Too many teachers can’t do math, let alone teach it

MARGARET WENTE | Columnist profile | E-mail 
Globe and Mail
Thursday, Sep. 29, 2011 2:00AM EDT

Is your kid struggling with math? Is she flustered by fractions and laid low by long division? Here’s a secret: Her teacher may be struggling, too.

An alarming number of elementary-school teachers are so uncomfortable with math, they can’t teach it properly. This means that more and more students are arriving at university without having grasped the basics.

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Connecting…Occasionally – Sept 15, 2011

Connecting Occasionally Banner.jpg

Begging your pardon…

The calendar books that members are receiving by mail this week contain two errors. Our printer apologizes for these production errors.

  • On the first page of the book, the office phone number is incorrect. It should be 519-571-0222 (not 519-571-0220).
  • They also left out the first two pages of school information for schools beginning with a number and schools beginning with ‘A’, ‘B’, and ‘C’ until Courtland P.S.

It is not reasonable for us to have the books reprinted and mailed out to all members. We are including the pages here with this eNewsletter so that you can print them and soon we will have replacement inserts available to distribute to members at meetings, workshops, etc.

Please accept our apology, and that of our printer.

Offence Declaration Available

It is a condition of employment that all Board employees complete an annual Offence Declaration. It is now posted on the ECNO site. Members must complete it by September 30, 2011. Failure to complete the declaration will mean that members need to go to a police station and obtain another criminal check at their own expense. In the interim, their name will be blocked from Subfinder and they will not be able to complete assignments.

Check out our Webpage!

Get in the habit of checking our Webpage at! We’ll be updating it regularly so use it to see last minute changes to events and to find many answers concerning questions about your rights and responsibilities as an Occasional Teacher.

Positively Positive!!

We’re lucky to be working for in Waterloo! Again this year, enrollment in our schools has risen. Many regions across the province continue to face declining enrollment, teacher redundancy and school closings.

Watch for the possibility of more contract and LTO positions in early October as the Board will likely have to reorganize some schools. Adjusting classes can be a challenging time in school communities, but it is a real opportunity for OTs!

Election Stickers

Members are encouraged to use the ‘I Am Voting’ stickers in the mailed package to remind ourselves and to encourage others to exercise our right to vote. Because they are non-partisan, you can wear them in the schools or stick them to books you might carry to a school etc. Contract teachers are being encouraged to use them in the week leading up to the election. It is our responsibility to be aware of the issues that affect us. The result of the election on Oct. 6 will have a considerable impact on Occasional Teachers. Here are some questions you may wish to ask candidates in your riding…

  1. Do you believe it’s time to review the province’s use of standardized tests? Do you support moving to random sampling for the provincial EQAO Grade 3 and 6 tests?
  2. Do you support reducing the funding differential for elementary and secondary students?
  3. Do you support reducing class size in grades 4 to 8 to support improved student engagement and achievement?
  4. Will you advocate for more specialist teachers in publically funded schools?
  5. What are your views regarding the role of school fundraising and parent fees?
  6. What actions do you believe should be taken to ensure the quality and success of the full day Kindergarten programme?
  7. What will you do at Queen’s Park to ensure that the needs of special education students are more adequately funded and that school boards aren’t forced to take funds from other programmes to support special education?
  8. Do you support extending public funding to private religious schools?

We have some information regarding these, and other important questions here in the OT office. Give us a call if you’d like to discuss these issues.

World Teachers’ Day

Mark October 5 on your calendar! Celebrate being part of the world’s greatest profession! Drop by the WROTL office at 130 Highland Rd. East, Kitchener between 3:00 and 6:30 p.m. to enjoy hot apple cider and munch on a fresh apple.

We will have lots of free stuff for this ‘grab and go’ event, and have a couple of door prizes. If you have any professional resource books you’d like to sell, bring them along! You’ll need to be there to sell your books, but we’ll provide space!

Just social Just fun! Just drop in!

Waterworks…Appropriate Use…

Further to the recent email regarding the use of Waterworks, we encourage members to read the Acceptable Use Procedure document that is available in by clicking on the ‘Introduction to Waterworks’ conference icon on your Waterworks desktop. Then click on the ‘waterworks Documents’ icon in the left column, then open the file called ‘Acceptable Use Guidelines.PDF’. We will also have that document posted on our FAQs section of our OT Conference and it will also be available through our webpage at

The last page of that document is of particular interest as it outlines unacceptable conduct for users of Waterworks. Number 2 on that page would include sending unsolicited emails to school conferences. It has been suggested that members use ‘professional judgment’ when using Waterworks.

  • If an administrator has asked you to post your availability on a school site, then do so.
  • If an administrator sends you an email, then respond.

That is different than sending an email to dozens of school conferences in schools in which you may have never, or rarely, taught, which can be read by all staff including custodians and office administrators. If in doubt, consider the impact your message may have should several hundred of your colleagues decide to do the same thing. If still in doubt, check it out!

Call the OT office, or the IT department if you prefer, to get another perspective.

Subfinder Update!!

I wish I had a definitive answer to the Subfinder woes…and they are considerable!! At a meeting attended by Tammy Gaudun, our Communications’ Officer, and me, this morning, we were assured that the Board is very aware of the issue and the difficulties that members are encountering with Subfinder.

The Board ‘intensively investigating’ the cause and possible solutions – both seem to be elusive at this time. The Board has upgraded its hardware and is in discussion with the provider to try and develop a plan. They are asking members to be patient during this process.

I am asking that members make me aware of issues with the system and resultant difficulties in being at the right place at the right time as a result of the inaccessibility of Subfinder. Human Resources has assured us that considerable leniency will be exercised if issues arise. It could be that a ‘hiatus’ from Subfinder – during which administrators would have to contact OTs directly to set up dates, may be recommended until the issue is resolved.

We will continue to keep members apprised with information as soon as we hear it – and have asked that we be informed on a very regular basis.


School Reorganization

Things can change quickly! The Board has started the reorganization of schools that I referred to in yesterday’s newsletter. Quite a few new classes have been added. Those positions are currently advertised internally – that means that only current contract teachers with the WRDSB may apply to these positions at this time. The postings close on Monday, interviews and a ‘reshuffling’ will follow. I would expect that the positions that will be available for OTs to apply to will be posted late next week. Not all of the positions offered will be contract positions as the Board may change some of them to LTO positions. Watch for the postings on Apply to Education. Good luck!

Re: Offence Declaration

Please take care of this at your earliest possible convenience!
The site for ECNO is https:\\ Personally, I just enter ‘wrdsb -ECNO as a google search, click on ‘applications’ and there it is! You do need your correct username and password. If you need to have your password reset, you will need to call ext. 5566 at the Board (519-570-0003). If you need to log a ticket, you must use a black admin computer in a school or at the Ed. Centre library. You cannot log a ticket from your home computer. Getting a reset can take a few days, so please see how far you can get as soon as possible, so you are not up against the deadline of September 30!

Tim Horton’s Meet & Greet

I didn’t include the location of the Tim Horton’s Meet and Greet in the e-newsletter, although it is in the hard copy newsletter you should have received in the mail this week. The Meet and Greet will be at the Tim Horton’s at Weber and Bridgeport in Waterloo on Wed. Sept. 21, from about 3:45 until 5:00.

Sept 15, 2011

In this Issue:

  • Begging your pardon
  • Offence Declaration
  • Check out our website
  • Positively Positive!
  • Election Stickers
  • World Teacher’s Day
  • WaterWorks… Acceptable Use
  • Subfinder Update
  • Addenda – Sept 16, 2011

Key Dates

  • Sept. 20 – Deadline for proposed interim amendments to the WROTL Constitution
  • Sept. 21 – Tim Horton’s Meet and Greet
  • Sept. 23 – P.D. Day
  • Sept. 29 ‘- OT Staffroom’ Discussion
  • Sept. 29 – Gym Workshop
  • Oct. 5 – World Teacher’s Day

To see a complete list of upcoming events, click here

Pay Days

The first pay date for LTOs and Daily OTs who worked from Sept 6-9 will be September 23, 2011.

  • Sept 23
  • Oct 7
  • Oct 21
  • Nov 4
  • Nov 18

For a complete list, click here:

2011/2012 Pay Days

ETFO Waterloo Regional Occasional Teachers130 Highland Road East, Unit 2, Kitchener ON, N2M 3V9 Telephone: 519-571-0222

ETFO Course: Building Communication and Teamwork in the Classroom®

Building Communication and Teamwork in the Classroom (formerly Project TEACH)(EDEX 140)(140-2011-10)

Instructor: Elke Baumgartner and Ali Stickland
Dates Offered: Saturday, November 19, 2011 – 8:00am – Sunday, December 4, 2011 – 5:00pm
SKU: 140-2011-10

(Formerly titled Project TEACH)
How can you reach a new level of positive communication with your students? Discover strategies to foster an emotionally-engaging classroom where students are connected to school, learning, and one another. You’ll learn about specific strategies in the following areas: teacher leadership, communication and listening, positive thinking and support, and team building.

  • Master effective communication skills.
  • Establish a positive learning community.
  • Avert teacher-student confrontations.

“The communication skills apply to so many different situations. I use them both at home and school.”

Please note that this course is a revision of the Project TEACH course. If you have taken Project TEACH for credit, you may not take this course.

If you have any questions regarding the content of this course, please contact the instructor directly at or

Please note if you have taken the former Project TEACH course, you cannot receive credit for Building Communication and Teamwork in the Classroom.

If you wish to sign up for this course, on-line registration is open until Nov. 13, 2011. After Nov. 13, contact Melanie McClelland at the ETFO Provincial Office at

ETFO Course: Behavioral, Academic & Social Interventions for the Classroom

From classroom management to advanced learning techniques, ETFO Credit Courses offer you a range of choices that will help you to upgrade your teaching skills, make a difference in the lives of your students and experience success in your own career.

Behavioral, Academic and Social Interventions for the Classroom (EDEX 247)(247-2011-11)

Instructor: Elke Baumgartner and Ali Stickland
Dates Offered: Saturday, September 24, 2011 – 8:00am – Sunday, October 2, 2011 – 5:00pm
SKU: 247-2011-11
LOCATION: Waterloo Teacher Local – 610 Wabanaki Dr., Kitchener

Implement the Solution Seeking Cycle and the Intervention Pyramid to design effective universal and targeted interventions for the classroom. Learn how to foster a climate of respect and responsibility that supports student resiliency with an emphasis on strengths-based learning, creating learning alliances, and designing REACH lessons. The strategies offered in this course will help you meet the expectations of a Response to Intervention (RTI) classroom. Each participant receives You Can Handle Them Allby R. L. DeBruyn and J. L. Larson, published by The Master Teacher.

“This class gave me an excellent foundation for developing, refining, implementing, and evaluating interventions in my classroom. “

If you have any questions regarding the content of this course, please contact the instructor directly at or

If you wish to sign up for this course, on-line registration is open until Sep. 18, 2011. After Sep. 18, contact Melanie McClelland at the ETFO Provincial Office at

Waterworks Reminder from HR


I have been asked by the Human Resources Department to remind all members that Waterworks is the property of the Waterloo Region District School Board. It is not appropriate for members to be sending emails to schools or to administrators through the Waterworks system or by using Waterworks email addresses, advertising their availability to do occasional teaching assignments in their schools. The continued use of this practice can result in disciplinary action.

Judy Cutts
WROTL President