In stressful times of the year, and in stressful years, people seem more prone to reporting incidents that could be so easily explained or justified in a few words or sentences. There have been several incidents recently in which reports have been made regarding Occasional Teachers touching students. June is frequently a time when these reports occur/increase. Please do not touch children even in a seemingly innocuous or supportive way. There are ‘many eyes’ everywhere. Visitors to schools, parents, students, other education workers can make reports to administrators, perhaps days later, that the Principal feels they need to report. These accounts can come from people observing incidents in playgrounds, classrooms, gymnasiums etc. by people who were not necessarily in the space and have no context for what has taken place. These investigations are never easy and often result in feelings of hurt, wrongful accusation, embarrassment, etc. We need to be aware that we are seen as ‘strangers’ to students and other adults in the buildings. Please do not touch the children. If you are contacted by an administrator regarding such an incident, it is always worth remembering that you should say ‘I am willing to co-operate, but need to call my Federation representative first.” I know this is not easy, when you really think a brief explanation will ‘sort this out’, but you may need more support, or appreciate an explanation of the possible ‘next steps’ or the process that will be followed. Don’t hesitate to call…
Follow the Day Book
Similarly, please try to follow the day book plans to your best ability. If you do vary from the lessons planned by the teacher, please leave a note that explains why a change was made. I would recommend that OTs always make a photocopy of the daybook page and any notes you leave.
Keep your promises!
Do not cancel one job in order to take another on short notice. Although members want to maximize income, or appear loyal to a particular school, it leaves schools in a very difficult position if they thought they had an OT booked and then the OT cancels on short notice and it results in a Fail-to-Fill. Everyone understands emergencies. However, if a Principal checks the system and finds that a member who has cancelled a job is then working in another location, don’t expect to be called back to that first school – or several others – word gets around! If you have a pre-booked assignment and then get asked to do a multi-day assignment, let the Principal call the other school and request that you be able to cancel the position. Most Principals have no problem with this, as they may make a similar request at some point. But do check with the administrator first!
Ten times is a charm!
Article 8.06 of our Collective Agreement states that members must have completed 10 occurrences of Occasional Teaching byJune 15 in order to have their name retained on the OT roster for the next school year. Members are reminded to check their ECNO/EPIP site to determine how many occurrences they have completed. Failure to complete 10, before June 15, will result in the members receiving a letter from the Board informing the member that they have been terminated from the roster. Although there is an appeal process, the reason must be quite compelling in order to be successfully appealed. We need to protect our ‘capped list’, and to make sure that members are prepared to accept jobs that are available. No one likes ‘Fail-to-fill’ positions and the Board’s first response is that we need to increase the cap, so that there are enough teachers available to complete the days offered. We understand that it is more complicated than that, but having neglected to apply for a Leave of Absence, or having taken LTOs in other Boards are not seen as reasons to justify not having completed the 10 occurrences. Please keep in mind that an occurrence is a job number, so half days count for ‘one’ and full days also count as ‘one’.
Those members who are on ‘the list’ must be aware that they are expected to complete the 10 occurrences required in order to stay on the roster, and that you must be on the roster in order to be on ‘the list’. For example, a member may be on ‘the lists’ of two Boards and may decide to accept a full year LTO or a contract at one Board. They cannot expect to stay on ‘the list’ of the other Board unless they do complete the minimum number of occurrences required. This can become especially significant if a person accepts a part year LTO in another Board that then gets extended to a full year. The number – currently ours is 10, but it varies from Board to Board – may change following Local negotiations.
Take a Number, please!
If you have a job number for an assignment, you will be paid for that assignment unless you have received 2 hours’ cancellation notice. You need to check SF regularly for cancellation notices. If you do not get that notice, and arrive for an assignment for which you have a job number, you need to stay at the school for the allotted time. You can also be redeployed elsewhere by the HR department. If you expect to be paid, do not go home and do not agree to exchange the current day for another at a later date. Sometimes schools do double-book or book an OT by error, but if you have a job number they need to honour that. If you are not needed for the teacher you thought you were replacing, a school can call the HR department and ask if there is somewhere else within a reasonable distance for you to go, or the school can assign you to cover/assist in other classes for the time allotted.
Don’t throw anything out!! Not to encourage ‘pack ratting’, but I do encourage members to keep a file of anything from the Board – offer letters for joining the roster, confirmation of Leave of Absence requests, letters informing members that they are successful/unsuccessful in being placed on ‘the list’, Leeters of discipline or direction, job numbers and dates/places of assignments, etc. all should be kept in a file! Every year there are a few situations in which members wish they had kept such information, or in which having that information has made a problem much easier to solve…
Baby on Board?
If you are going to be taking a maternity leave,apply for a Board approved Leave of Absence. Even if you don’t qualify for EI, do not ‘just book yourself unavailable’ and not teach. If you are unsure of when you want to return, ask for a shorter term than the one year allowed. It can be extended to the maximum of one year if you wish.