Friday Two Cents: A Matter Of Perspective


I found myself reflecting on a lot of topics these past two weeks. The provincial election, international politics, sports, colleague integrations and a host of other subjects have been on my mind a great deal. Yet one subject matter has dominated my time like no other.

I am an occasional (supply) teacher in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and as you may guess I have been rather busy these past few months supplying in many classrooms. Where ever I go the staff have been welcoming and friendly. The students are their usual selves, trying to take advantage of a supply teacher as I use to do when I was a student. I have found going into different schools a great education in how other teachers instruct their students and I have learned a few technics and picked up a lot of ideas along the way. Yet one situation found me trying to be sympathetic, but I could not be.
At this time of year many teachers receive their assignments for the following school year to help them prepare for the grade they will teach. This allows them to prepare resources at the end of the year for the new group of students they will see in September. Most of my colleagues are happy with this time and are making every effort to prepare while finishing up the year. However I have met a few who are frankly upset with the assignment they received and in some instances openly cry and are physically upset with what they have. I understand that if you did not get what you were hoping for that you might be upset, but this reaction was not what I expected.
In truth I look at these people with permanent full-time jobs, complaining about their assignments as losing perspective. In fact they should be grateful that they even have a permanent position. You see I have not had a permanent job since the year 2000. That’s 18 years of working part-time jobs, getting my degrees and working contract positions always wondering when and where my next pay cheque will come from. It wasn’t for a lack of trying to find a job but I had to work hard to get even those positions. At one point I even took on 3 part-time jobs to simply make ends meet. Therefore when I see these people look at the negative side of having a job simply because they do not like what they got, I truly have no sympathy for them.
From my perspective, if I were in their shoes, yes I would be upset that I did not get what I wanted, however I would try to look to the positives. The first one being the most important, I have a job in a field I enjoy. I have colleagues I can rely on and ask for help if the need arises. Change is not always a bad thing; it gives you a fresh new way of looking at things. Just as Dan Brown once said …


‘Sometimes a change of perspective is all it takes to see the light.’ Dan Brown


Perhaps those people should look from my perspective and the perspective of others who are in similar situations. I wonder how they would react then?



Friday Two Cents: What’s In A Name


‘What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.’ William Shakespeare

Something interesting this school year has been happening to me. It involves how the students address me. In the majority of schools I have worked in, they call me Mr. Gauchi or Mr. G, yet in one school they have been calling me Mr. Paul and this year I have asked the students and teachers to please call me by my last name. You see at this school I was working in the after school program where they call teachers by their first names, however when I started working for the board at other schools as a supply ECE they called me by my last name. This past year I was finally placed on the occasional teacher list so I can supply teach, therefore I made the decision that I would like to be addressed by my last name. I find it to be more professional and whenever the staff and students have asked me why I tell them this.   The staff and students have accepted this yet there are a few adults who looked at me with a disapproving look.

It is not as if I get upset with people if they address me by my first name I simply remind them to call me by my last name, usually with a smile. Yet these adults give me a look that says “Oh you think you are so big now because you are a teacher and not an ECE.”   This usually does not bother me, but this has not been the only instance from these people where they resist something I have said. I have been getting this type of behaviour when I make suggestions or tell them something else in the school. It’s as if by calling me by my last name that I am a different person and from whom they know.
Mind you I do feel different ever since I started working as a teacher instead of an ECE. There is more responsibility and I have become the central person in the classroom. The students look to me for guidance and support, the Captain of a ship, as I once stated. Perhaps it is just me, but I have always trusted my instincts and they usually end up being correct.
I am not sure why this would be an issue for some people. We all have the right to be addressed the way we wish to be addressed. In the end I am still the same person I was those years when everyone called me Mr. Paul. Perhaps this has something to do with change. Most people do not like change and yet everyday is different from the last. I think Lao Tzu said it best …

‘Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.’ Lao Tzu

I have embraced a lot of change in the past 5 to 10 years, both personally and professionally. It has not been easy but looking back I can honestly say they have been for the better. Change naturally occurs and the more easily we embrace the change, the less sorrow we may endure.


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