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Advice for young teachers off limits

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That's a terrific-looking free conference that the Manitoba Teachers' Society has organized for young teachers Sept. 30 through Oct. 2.

The Fab 5 conference focuses on the first five years of a teaching career -- crucial years, years when we keep hearing that many young educators drop out of the profession.

There'll be oodles of workshops, topics such as managing a classroom, dealing with controversial issues, how to work with students of various multicultural groups and special needs students, how to deal with parents and with educational assistants (classroom aides), how to protect your own well-being physically and emotionally in a stressful job.

Neat stuff.

Alas, the union has decreed that it will not allow the media to attend to cover the conference.

Maybe MTS is afraid that a young teacher will ask about lap dancing and simulated oral sex at school spirit celebrations in the gym, or ubiquitous cell phone cameras and other electronic devices. Or maybe -- horror of horrors! -- some rookie teacher will bring up salaries or benefits or working conditions.

Anyway, we're not allowed in.

But if you're a teacher in your first five years on the job, here are some of the workshops that we're not allowed to attend and whose content must never appear in the mainstream media:


Social Networking -- Don't be Stupid! -- Andrew Peters

The use of social networking sites can be fraught with pitfalls for unwary teachers. This session will focus on real life experiences of teachers with various popular social networking sites and equip participants with the necessary skills and information to navigate safely and professionally within this technological realm.

Controversial Issues in the Classroom -- Scott Hill, et al

This workshop will offer strategies and ideas to assist teachers in helping students address controversial issues. Challenge your students to develop knowledge, skills and attitudes to consider arguments based on principles of social justice, equity and global citizenship.

Classroom Management -- Blake Stephens

One of the keys to avoiding problems in the classroom is to anticipate them and develop a system that treats students fairly. This session will help you develop management strategies that deal with student discipline problems before they escalate into a crisis.

Dealing with Homophobia -- Manny Calisto

Critically examine the attitudes, dispositions and beliefs that the school community holds about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The session will provide specific strategies and resources that teachers can use to address homophobia.

Beginning Teacher Wellness -- Primary Prevention Team

The first few years of teaching are very demanding both mentally and physically. How can you meet the challenges and still perform to the best of your ability? This session is an opportunity to evaluate your wellness and consider lifestyle choices.

Working with Parents -- Tammy Mitchell

Research shows that parental involvement increases students' chances for success. This session will provide specific information to help you develop effective working partnerships with parents.

Dealing with Cyberbullying -- Andy McKiel

Participants will gain a deeper understanding of bullying behaviour -- its causes and its consequences. The workshop will review strategies for responding to bullying in the classroom and school.

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About Nick Martin

Nick Martin is the old bearded guy at the back of the newsroom, the most experienced reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, having started his career in Ontario in 1971.

He’s been covering education for the Free Press since the spring of 1997, after decades primarily covering municipal politics, including a four-year stint at the Ontario legislature for the London Free Press.

Nick moved to Manitoba in 1988 with his Winnipeg-born wife, who is a professor at the University of Manitoba. They have two kids, both of whom graduated from Grant Park High School: son Chris and daughter Gillian.

Nick has won a national journalism award from the Canadian Association of University Teachers, two Manitoba Human Rights Journalism awards, and the Ontario Reporters Association investigative award.

Nick is a long-distance runner, having finished and survived 18 marathons and 15 half-marathons and 30-kilometre races, and having (barely) survived 10 years as an outdoor and indoor soccer coach.

Nick became a soccer referee in 2007, delighting in his 60s in outrunning 16-year-olds and keeping his distance from obstreperous coaches and parents.

Nick and his wife have discovered a mutual love for kayaking at their Whiteshell cottage, and are both regulars at the Reh-Fit Centre. They hold season tickets to both the Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Warehouse, and as empty nesters, have rediscovered the joys of an active winter vacation.

A native of Jarrow-on-Tyne, England, Nick is a member of the Toon Army as a Newcastle United supporter, and a proud citizen of Leafs Nation.

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