Trans-gender washrooms, open concepts and more...
These questions came to me tonight from a concerned citizen through email and here are my answers:
How do you feel about the open concept schools?
After speaking with several teachers, parents and even some students, I find myself to question the functionality of open concept schools. Please let me explain further:
After touring open concept schools, I found the sounds throughout the school to be somewhat of a distraction. I can’t imagine how this would be for a student that has sensitivities that leave them to be distracted from focusing on their school work.
There is a lot of unused space in the school. I would like to see schools using as much square footage as possible to benefit the experience attending the schools as students and also teaching there. In some spaces, there is not even room for a teacher’s desk and the teachers have to go elsewhere to do their work.
The teachers that I spoke to have mentioned that they can hear other teachers in their classrooms and find that to be a constant challenge, above all the other challenges they face on a daily basis in their classrooms. Though they were designed to be sound-proof, that isn’t always the case.
Many parents like the idea of the schools because they look shiny and new, but once their students enter the school and encounter some of the challenges with the openness, they see the value in traditional classroom based schools. If there are future builds of schools in our school division while I am a trustee on the board, I will bring all these concerns to the table and work to ensure that we aren’t here to build a shiny new school, but a facility where all of our students have the ability to learn without distraction and the teachers are provided a space to do their jobs well.
What is your position on communal or trans-gender washrooms in the schools?
In my opinion, I believe that when the opportunity arises in the individual schools, a transgender/accessible washroom should be incorporated to accommodate all student’s needs. This will provide a safe and comfortable environment for all students. At this time, I believe that the school division has many areas that need improvement and gender-neutral bathrooms is something that I will keep on the radar in the future and vote towards having in each school. I also believe that we should keep the existing bathrooms in the schools as they are. This would be being all-inclusive.
What is your opinion on the ‘student taught’ school curriculum, and also, about the Math Makes Sense curriculum?
This can be a complicated topic, so please let me try to communicate my thoughts on this clearly:
I believe that if we can teach our children to read, we basically are handing them a ticket to learn anything they want! Do I feel like we should let them just learn what they want and not teach them a solid curriculum? No, I believe that teachers need to lead the classes and teach the curriculum that students need to be successful in future years.
I support students being held back if it is necessary and isn’t in their best interest to move forward. Not only is it hard on the student to not be able to understand what is taking place in the classroom, it also adds additional stress on the teachers who are often without extra support staff. I understand that this can be detrimental to children's confidence levels, but helping them to be successful is very important in my opinion. I believe that a confident student will become more engaged in their studies and will become more independent as they grow. We all get knocked down in life, and it's a very important lesson to learn how to recover from those falls and get right back up! Olympic athletes don’t become medalists by never falling.
As for the Math Makes Sense curriculum, I have to be honest, it's something that really confuses me. I haven’t had a lot of time to look into it, but it is definitely something that I am going to look into in the future. My son’s teacher currently doesn’t use this method of teaching math, so I haven’t had first-hand experience with it. From what I hear, many parents are confused about this new method of teaching math and aren’t sure how to support their children at home. It’s clearly an area where there are a lot of unanswered questions and confusion, and I will work towards making it more understandable for parents.
It is concerned parents such as yourself that I want to work with to make our school division better.