Monday, January 22, 2018

What LTO seems to stand for at my school

On the day before our report card writing day, I had two rewarding interactions with two of my colleagues. I had a great conversation about one of the Forest of Reading Silver Birch nominees with Ms. Clarke as she worked in the library during her prep time. I also had my first co-teaching class with the ESL self-contained class intermediate students and their teacher, Ms. Tse. You will not have encountered their names before on my blog. I've written about my fellow teachers before (such as Ms. Wadia, Ms. Daley, Ms. Hong, Mrs. Commisso, and Ms. Singh, not to mention our fabulous ECEs) but the reason you've never heard of the others prior to today is because they are new to our school - they are LTOs (long-term occasional teachers). They are so much more than LTOs. Let me highlight a few reasons why. (Thanks for the two of them for giving their consent to sharing photos of them on the blog - more about consent in an upcoming blog post!)

Ashley Clarke

Ms. Clarke showing learning buddies how to fold

Ms. Clarke is our Grade 4-5 teacher. Ashley is enthusiastic and effervescent - a bubbly personality. I loved how Ashley introduced herself to her class, demonstrating how open and respectful communication in her class could be fostered and grown. She knows her students well, despite only having been with them a relatively short time. I've never heard Ashley complain about a student; she loves even the most challenging ones. I want her positive attitude to be as contagious as the flu! She's a team player who embraced working with other teachers right away. She volunteered to help Mme Awara supervise and run the school STEAM Club after her first or second week at school and attended Tinkering Thursdays at RJ Lang P.S. to learn more.
Ashley usually works during her prep time in the library. I'm quite apologetic because often I will have a kindergarten class in the space, but she says she enjoys hearing the littlest ones doing all sorts of neat things and somehow she's still able to get things accomplished with the cacophony. She incorporates some important themes and topics in her lessons, from growth mindset to commercialism to coding. She also uses the school library well (take a look at her tweet featuring some of our print resources).

Rose Tse

Ms. Tse editing Pixton comics with kids in the lab

Ms. Tse is our ESL self-contained and prep delivery teacher. Rose is conscientious and thoughtful. Her level of organization absolutely astounds me. It is not easy to juggle the schedules of ELL students from five different grades and five different classes. Despite a less-than-ideal schedule and responsibilities for many other classes (kindie STEAM, primary dance and drama and ICT), she's got it all together. Rose is always thinking about what's best for her students and is willing to advocate for them to ensure that their needs take priority. When the students freaked out after seeing a mouse in their portable, she moved them out and found space for them to work until their fears subsided.  Rose is resourceful, always seeking out books or websites or techniques that will help her students learn a little bit better. She's willing to devote the time, which is why I caught her on film creating this huge grid for one of the prep classes she sees.
Rose is a reflective educator. She's always asking herself how she can stop negative behaviour patterns, how she can help her technology students finish work when their time is limited, which app is grade-appropriate for what class, and so on. She's super-observant; after our first history lesson together with the Grade 7-8s, she noticed so many things about the student comfort and participation level, the type of comments they made, and the differences in how the group operates in different environments. 

Both 2018 LTOs

Rose and Ashley have dedicated what little extra time they have to volunteering to be ball hockey coaches. This is a significant time commitment, with extra practices and games, but they are willing. I should mention that both Rose and Ashley rely on public transit to get to school. This may not be a big deal to some, but to me (who relies on my car tremendously despite living not far from school), I'm so impressed with their dedication. Rose and Ashley have worked together at other schools and both of them have wonderful things to say about the other. My only disappointment is that they do not have permanent contracts with our school board yet. We love the teachers that they replaced, but we also are so lucky and grateful to have them take their places.

So, what does LTO seem to stand for right now at my school? There are several choices when it comes to Ashley and Rose:
Loves Teaching Others
Lots To Offer

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for profiling the unsung heroes, Diana. I have been lucky to work with some remarkable LTOs along the way. I worry about them sometimes, and your piece reinforced this. LTOs have to hustle in a way that you can't understand unless you've done it. They have to be their best, all the time, because they're selling themselves, every class, every day. Many work retail, bartend or are restaurant servers over the summer to make ends meet, and the uncertainty of August as an LTO is hellish. All this to say, I wish there was a better climate for them.