Opening Statement



Monday, 25 January 2016

NTIP: New Teacher Trial By Fire!



This anonymous guest blog post comes from a new Ontario teacher who seems to have suffered a terrible injustice under the Ontario NTIP [New Teacher Induction Program]. It's being shared to begin a dialogue about how new teachers can be manipulated and terminated by abusive principals with the power of the entire school boards behind them.  Please share this story, and share your thoughts in the Comment section.

NTIP. The New Teacher Induction Program, an idea brought in by the Liberal government under Dalton McGuinty was intended to replace the OTQT (Ontario Teacher Qualifying Test) as a supportive stepping stone to help new teachers to gain valuable classroom experience and be evaluated in their first contract teaching assignments. The concept had merit, where supports were in place to help struggling teachers deal with the day to day grind of the classroom, planning, assessment and evaluation, as well as classroom management. The successful teacher would be required to successfully complete two teacher performance appraisals within a school year (two school years if there was an unsatisfactory or development needed rating).

The hitch comes in that NTIP hangs solely on not what you can do, but what one person, one administrator thinks that you as a teacher are capable of achieving. The OTQT was an open and shut case. Did you know the material for the test? Had you studied for it? NTIP is far more ambiguous. It hangs off of the 16 competencies that experienced teachers are assessed on every five years in their evaluation year. Eight of the 16 are assessed on the new teacher.



In Ontario there are very few “new” (as in fresh out of a college of education) teachers. In truth it now takes years in some cases for a teacher to be considered for a supply list. Once hired, you and you alone are responsible for making a name for yourself- marketing what you can do, seeking out as much professional development as possible, while simultaneously taking Additional Qualification courses to help bump up the pay categories in the hope that when you land your first LTO you will be in a better financial position. NTIP assumes you’re a new graduate- which after spending seven to 10 years on a supply list can feel insulting, but in education you have to check your hurt feelings at the door. It’s showtime, and this is the call you’ve been waiting for for years.

In my case I spent seven years on the supply list. I taught every grade from JK to grade 12. I wanted to ensure I’d be at the top pay grade so I took additional qualification courses. I decided to get my qualifications in subject areas that interested me such as music, technology, and French. After several successful ratings in my LTOs, and far too many interviews to remember my chance finally came.

Into the school I walked. I’d had four LTOs in which I was fairly successful. Of course I had things to learn, and continually reminded myself that the day when I had nothing to learn about education was the day to leave it behind. We had a new curriculum for the French as a Second Language, but no resources. The resources the school had did it fit the overall or specific expectations of the new curriculum. I even asked the administrator if it would be all right to use the AIM method plays (the gesture method). The reply I revived still boggles me to this day. “You can use whatever resources you want, so long as it doesn’t cost me any money.”
That there should have told me this was not going to be a walk in the park. Upon reflection, it tells me that my subject area wasn’t taken seriously. Regardless I went at it trying to plan and implement this new curriculum with no training. I wasn’t eligible for NTIP because I had completed it in an LTO. I offered to complete it in the hopes I could get a mentor and become a human sponge and be successful.



This year in September, I told myself I was going to war. I was going to be successful. I was going to have resources. I was going to have these epic plans. I was going to speak French. I had a mentor. I was repeating NTIP. I wasn’t going to be negative or petty about it. I wanted to learn. I had ideas. I had been to workshops. I implemented them. There were vast improvements in my practice.

Little did I know that the administrator wasn’t holding her end of the bargain. To be supportive. To help me improve. To see that I could be a good teacher. My administrator was on a fact finding mission to prove that I was a complete idiot and incompetent. My day plans grew from one page in length to three typewritten pages that contained the learning goals and curriculum expectations for every class. They were printed out at school and planned a week at a time in order to plan with the end in mind. I used interaction games and activities to have students talking to each other. The leaning goals were posted for each French class colour coded by teacher in three places. J’appreds- I am learning, Je fais- I can do this (but need some more practice), and Je sais- I know this now!



On the first day back after the Christmas break, I had a meeting to discuss my evaluation. I was cautiously optimistic. It was the ninth school day after the evaluation and I knew that I had been working hard. I received the shock of my life. I was being terminated, and I had an unsatisfactory rating.

Here’s where it really stings and still makes me incredibly angry. I was told if I was terminated I would have to disclose that on any job application in the future. To add insult to injury, there was a complaint going into the College of Teachers against me. If I was terminated, I would never teach again. Ever. Under duress I tendered my resignation. It was accepted. The agreement left me feeling empty, and completed depressed. I can’t go on board property. I can’t ever work for them again. I had to say I had time to consult a lawyer. I had 5 business days from the time this bomb landed in my lap until the school board voted to get rid of me.

Here is my take away from this. If you as a teacher think that once you’re on the board they can’t get rid of you, think again. If you’re a member of society who thinks teachers have great job security think again. I didn’t break the law. I didn’t break my collective agreement. One person decided my fate and sold people a negative bill of goods.



It is time for education reform. It is time to have an independent committee to hear both sides of the story and make a decision independent of the principal and the school board. It needs to be associated with the Ministry of Education. It is time for the teachers unions to sit up and take notice. People are being screwed over. New teachers the most vulnerable are being shown the door.

Bring back the OTQT and reform this. Appoint an independent committee. Don’t let someone with an agenda dictate your life. Tell your union. Tell your friends. Make it known. This is not the time to be quiet about an injustice such as this.

Most of all, don’t get comfortable. Remember me. I resigned so I can try to teach again.

OBSERVATIONS:

Granted, we don't know all the facts. What was said on the report? What were the charges being forwarded to the OCT? Regardless, the arbitrary manner in which an administrator can unilaterally dismiss a new teacher, in a difficult situation, with little mentoring or support, using bullying techniques to force an unchallenged resignation is cause for great concern. Our new teachers, after years of post grad courses, training, and LTO positions are very vulnerable to abuse of privilege especially considering the tight [to put it mildly] teacher job market these days. Certainly we can do better than this in our world class Ontario Education System!



YOUR COMMENTS:

2 comments:

Oectacat said...

I've seen this before where one principal on a power trip has ruined peoples lives. I saw two gone on the same year one before Christmas.

Anonymous said...

No way this is all of the information. No union representation at all?

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