March 28th, 2014

Back home term breaks have been two week periods for as long as I can remember. It probably helps when the school year is based on the calendar year with summer occurring over the festive season. In North America of course, Christmas/New Year occurs at the same time, but Summer happens from June-August. The school year therefore, starts in September and ends in June, not exactly calendar year, and with the longer summer break, the term intermissions have traditionally been shorter and less frequent.

Most school districts here in BC now adopt a two week spring break, along with two weeks over Christmas/New Year. It was common practice for these breaks to be just one week, but times have changed.

Enjoyable as it may be for the students and teachers alike, those TTOCs who don’t receive regular salary unless they are working, the two week break represent a hole in the pay cheques that are otherwise, at this time of year, fairly consistent.

Another piece of the Spring Break puzzle is the weather here in BC. For a lot of North America, Spring Break represents warm weather and an opportunity to get outside and start enjoying the sunshine. Here in BC, especially the Lower Mainland, the weather has improved with temperatures rising to double digits pretty consistently, however the Spring showers move in at the same time… It’s not all gloomy because at this time of year, PE is able to move outdoors as it warms up, and for me, that’s perfect.

Posted in Teaching |
February 25th, 2014

An interesting method of payment that some districts use, is called “Scale Pay”. When you have worked 4 days straight (half days included) then you are back paid for those days at your appropriate scale based on education etc. I am a Cat 5 from memory and right now I am at my 5th straight day, with my 6th booked for tomorrow. I bring up the topic because if you don’t work the days in succession then you are paid a standard rate, lower than your scale pay. I don’t understand why it is the way it is, however, it must have something to do with the last government bargaining agreement. It saves districts money when they don’t call a TOC in for successive days.

I don’t necessarily agree or disagree with the process, especially because now I am receiving scale pay and my workload has definitely increased lately which is great! Along with the requesting process where teachers can request a specific TOC, it seems as if the “Scale Pay” rewards good TOCs. At least that is the way I am going to look at it right now!

Like I mentioned above, the work has increased in SD42 which I am so grateful for. I love working in SD42 because all the schools I have worked at have been so welcoming and positive. I look forward to continuing to build my reputation in the secondary schools, especially the PE departments. I have taught in about half of the PE departments in the secondary schools and each time I have been asked to leave my card. I love working and especially teaching PE. Tomorrow I teach Science, it should be a nice change as I continue to enjoy the sporadic lifestyle TOCing presents.

Posted in Teaching |
February 6th, 2014

I can admit that work in SD42 has started to pick up, at least this week as I now have 3 days this week. It was two, Monday and Wednesday and this afternoon on my return home from a long day of hiking, I had my phone sitting on my passenger seat in case I got a call. I didn’t, however, expect a 5:00pm call because from 5:00-5:15 is when the request calls go out. These are the calls made specifically for TTOCs who have been requested by a teacher. Then from 5:15 the calls go out for the rest of the TTOCs and these calls are based on a list which is governed by the last time you worked. You work, you get bumped to the bottom and you work your way up when others are called.

So with my phone on the seat, I try to occasionally check it at the traffic lights etc and make sure the radio isn’t too loud at the same time. It may have been the heat on in the car mixed with the radio, but I did not hear my phone, instead, noticed I had missed two calls from SD42 at 5:02pm…!!! SO FRUSTRATED!!!! So after I hit the steering wheel with my fist out of annoyance, I had almost calmed down when my phone rang again! This time I heard it and managed to pull over and answer the call. The time was 5:15pm and I assumed that the first call was a request and I also happened to be at the top of the list and received the same call, luckily. This was my theory because the call was to work a half day at Westview Secondary for another PE teacher that I met yesterday when working at the school. All the PE staff were really friendly and I hope to return to the school as soon as possible! I say this, because I then received a third call as soon as I got home, only 5 minutes after getting my second call.

This call again, was from the dispatch office and it was a little confusing. The same sort of introduction occurred however it knew I had already accepted one assignment and told me there was another assignment available. I was able to share this with Lindsay as I walked into the house with my phone at my ear and the assignment available was a full day at MRSS. It wasn’t PE, but it was a full day… Now the conundrum. Do I take PE, but its a half day, or a full day of Art, I think it is. I had covered this Art teacher on Monday and the classes were well behaved, however, my passion is PE. I was leaning towards the half day, however Lindsay was leaning the other way. To be honest, I actually hit the wrong button and accepted the full day, even though I was thinking of just taking the half day. In hide sight, and after talking to Lindsay, the full day seems like the better option at this point. Its only my 3rd day of work this week, and even though I could get another call for an afternoon assignment, its never guaranteed. She also said that the teachers she has spoken to about this kind of thing is they understand taking a full day over a half day. I also think that both of these calls were requests, and being a TTOC in a district with a collection of Secondary Schools, its hard to put all eggs in one basket as such, especially since Ive only had less than 20 days as a TOC in the past few months. I most certainly hope I get requested again for Westview because I loved teaching there and the staff make a huge difference. Lindsay says if they requested me once, they will do it again so I hope she is right! I just wish I wasn’t requested for the very first time by two teachers on the same day!

I hope my full day tomorrow is worth this afternoons frustrations!

Posted in Teaching |
February 4th, 2014

The name of this post doesn’t fully cover what I want to talk about, but its a nice starting point based on the calendar. Now we are into February, the school year is in full swing and work has picked up for both Lindsay and I. We had both worked close to two weeks of full days over the past fortnight and today is coincidently a combined day off for both of us. Good for Lindsay as she is sick, and because its -3 outside and feels like -10, I am also enjoying being inside, away from work for one day. Last week I was back in the grade 4 classroom which I taught in three weeks ago for Greg Mills. The kids are a great group and my reward system with raffle tickets was a big hit, especially for the challenging students. I had no days booked this week, but I did receive a very late call yesterday to work in SD42 at MRSS and now I have worked at all the secondary schools in the district. I enjoy having this perspective, but now I want consistent work in just a few of those to get my name and reputation some exposure.

While we keep at it in the workplace, professional development opportunities are also upon us. Being February, all districts tend to use this time for major days involving all teachers and union members for pro-d days. I have now registered for both my school districts, district wide professional development days. SD78 is holding theirs on February 21 at AESS where I have registered for two behavioural type sessions, while SD42 is hosting theirs on February 28, where I have three different sessions. Two of these involve physical activity and learning, while the third relates to creating video lessons for classroom use. I should be able to apply to be paid for the SD42 pro-d day which I should get right too, because its first in best dressed for the TTOC Pro-D Fund.

Now back to my heading. It is Family Day on February 10 which means a long weekend as well as a short work week! If I had more money and there was more snow on the mountains, it would be a perfect opportunity to break in my new snowboard and gear. Alas, saving money is important with car insurance renewal coming up in March and I don’t mind waiting a bit longer for a thicker base of snow. Good thing it stays cold here until April with 100% chance of showers!!!

Posted in Teaching |
January 20th, 2014

I was lucky enough to visit home for 5 weeks over the Christmas and New Year break and enjoy the Australian Summer, along with, and more importantly, spend valuable time with my family and friends. I did a lot of things I set out to while I was home and thoroughly enjoyed my time at home. Now I am back in Canada and looking to work work work! I got back on a Thursday, didn’t work on Friday, however, this entire week just gone, I worked Monday – Friday which was a nice surprise. I worked one day in SD42 at Thomas Haney Secondary School and from Tuesday – Friday I was in SD78 and worked in the same classroom teaching grade 4. That was a test for me, because really, it was only my second time teaching in an Elementary School. I doubt anyone knew that apart from myself because I felt like each day was a success. Day one was the hardest, which I expected, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time teaching that class.

Coinciding with the work, I also applied for a PE/SPED job at Thomas Haney Secondary, and got a call for an interview for another position I applied for while at home in January. The interview was for a Foods position that was part time, and among 30 applicants, I got an interview which was a great feeling. Going into the interview, I knew I was the underdog and never expected I would get the position. Sure enough the position went to a teacher with Foods and Nutrition training, which I was satisfied with. The interview itself went really well and I felt as if I made the most of it. The Principal and Vice Principal felt as if I was a great teacher and want to see me in their school as much as possible. I actually worked there today for a half day, and I do enjoy working there.

Professional Development days are coming up in both of my districts and I have a SD42 Pro-D this Friday. It is TTOC specific so I am hoping to come out of it with a lot of new and exciting tips and tricks to use in the classroom. There are also two big Pro-D days coming up in each district. The first on the 21st of February, the second a week later. I have decided on which seminars I will want to attend at the SD78 Pro-D at AESS on the 21st of February. The SD42 day is still a work in progress, however, I know when it is and that it is being held at Thomas Haney Secondary School.

I now look forward to working as much as possible to save money to have an enjoyable Summer!

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