I’ve participated in two all-candidates meetings/debates so far with the TDSB Trustee election. I find it quite surprising that I often am the only one representing specific community needs & interests here in our Ward.
I do not talk broadly about initiatives I’d like to see in our schools. I do not only talk about educational research or provincial/board policies. I speak specific to addressing the needs of our students, families, and communities.
I am often asked if I live in the Ward and have been quite open the fact that I don’t live here. I am finishing my Master program at OISE/University of Toronto, so that has required me to live downtown for the past two years until April 2012.
Despite the fact that I do not live in the Ward, I have made it a key priority to learn about our schools, our families, and Ward 20 in all its diversity. These conversations started my campaign & will continue as your Trustee. Clearly I have not been able to knock on all doors. I want to continue to do so. I want to talk with you. Your stories, experiences, questions, concerns, and ideas are what I bring forward as your Trustee.
Even in the midst of pounding the pavement, I always try to answer your calls, emails, have extended conversations at your door, or meet you for coffee or tea. & for those who I’ve befriended already, we will continue the conversations after February 27 regardless of the outcome.
Vote for me, a true community-oriented and community-grounded voice focused on supporting our students and improving our schools.
If you are unaware that there have been two ongoing Toronto District School Board (TDSB) by-elections in this city, you could hardly be blamed. You aren’t the only one. The by-elections in TDSB Ward 17 (Don Valley East) and TDSB Ward 20 (Scarborough-Agincourt) have largely managed to fly under the radar in a city that has so recently faced three general elections, a federal by-election, and constant political strife at City Hall between the Mayor and his political adversaries.
The two seats became vacant when Liberals Michael Coteau and Soo Wong were elected during the previous October’s Ontario general election in Don Valley East and Scarborough-Agincourt, respectively. While both have become key members of Premier McGuinty’s Toronto team of MPPs, their old seats at the TDSB have become the focal points of two of the most hotly contested by-elections in the school board’s history. Boasting an impressive thirty-one candidates between the two wards; it would be needlessly complicated to break down the platform for each and every single candidate. That said; there are a few who have managed to break ahead of the pack.
Just a little southwest, Ward 20 has managed to mimic the formula put forth by Ward 17; that of a small number of candidates managing to stand up above the crowd. Chief among them is Monica Batac. Attracting far more media attention than any other candidate in either race, Batac is running on her experience as a teacher with the TDSB and a researcher with the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education. She has built her campaign around prioritizing English as a second language education. However, the most interesting piece of her platform may be her commitment to study the feasibility of opening a trilingual school in Toronto.
During municipal elections, the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) Trustee contests usually do not garner much attention from voters or media outlets, but that could change this year as two by-elections are being held in Ward 17 Don Valley East and Ward 20 Scarborough-Agincourt.
DigitalJournal.com spoke with Batac to find out what makes her qualified to become a school trustee, understand the importance of such a position, what the TDSB can do to improve education and public awareness of trustee elections.
Ontario educator and blogger Doug Peterson wrote this article on me, entitled “Yoga and Politics.” Some of the things he highlights: how we met, my experiences and perspectives, my social media and technology use, and what I bring to the table as Trustee for Scarborough-Agincourt.
The use of social media just at election time is disingenuous. I know that it’s a relatively new phenomenon to some but I think that I would really have a great deal of respect for someone who promises during her/his campaign to stay connected after the election to provide information directly to we taxpayers. In fact, anyone who promises to live-tweet or live-blog during debates on bills would be guaranteed to get me to look strongly at their candidancy.
Even more impressive would be someone who is a known user of social media to spur conversations, debate issues, take a stand, etc. BEFORE the election. For them to have a position already established and then to slide over to election mode would be the best possible scenario.
Voters in Scarborough-Agincourt have that opportunity in candidate for board of trustees, Monica Batac. Monica is a an established social media user. I first met her at the ISTE Conference in Philadelphia where she was just another Ontario Educator in the pack of us that learned and dined together. At the time, she was going to school to get her Master’s Degree in Teaching. We met up again at the ECOO Conference in Toronto. What I particularly like about these events and the Ontario Educators that went to these two events is that the conversation is certainly not an echo chamber. In our discussions, we talk and push each other to think about the WHYs that go with what we’re doing. That is so helpful.
It was with a smile that I read that Monica was planning to run in Scarborough-Agincourt. Monica has strong ideas and opinions about education and isn’t happy with the status quo. I think that she’s perfectly placed to take on the challenge of representing people in that huge school district.
Many who head into political office do so with a machine behind them. Monica’s working to build a social machine. Whether it’s through her Facebook fan page, Twitter account, orpersonal website, she’s doing her best to build community to help spread her message. Reading the content recently, she does have friends and followers, but not necessarily in Scarborough-Agincourt. Hopefully, that grows as she heads towards the February 27th election date. She did get a little bit of traditional media coverage which can be a challenge in a by-election.
So, how does a first time politician get money to run? There have been a lot of fund raisers that I’ve heard of before but how about attending a Yoga Class together? Is this a sign of new thinking to come? Her friend Colin Harris already has blogged about her thoughts of planning and expecting excellence. These are the sorts of things that we need driving education towards the future.
It would be terrific and a positive sign for the future that candidates who know and use the technology are taking the time to get elected and move the educational system forward. I just wish that I could vote for her.
If you want to see what a difference no incumbent makes, take a look at the growing list of trustee by-election candidates in Don Valley East’s Ward 17 and Scarborough-Agincourt’s Ward 20.
…There’s the heavy smell of opportunism in the air for both races, but there’s the whiff of idealism too. Political neophyte Monica Batac, 24, is finishing a master’s degreeinteaching this spring, but says the experience taught her education needs advocatesat the political table too. She plans a “grassroots” campaign in Scarborough- Agincourt, including how she fundraises. Next weekend she’s part of a “karma” Bikram yoga class where proceeds will go to support her trustee bid.
“I don’t have a campaign manager, I’m writing my own content,” says Batac, who has a special interest in how to use technology in education. “It’s not easy. I’m an underdog — but I have the best of intentions.”
On our first day of 2012, I would like to share an important message with you.
It is with the overwhelming support of my family and many colleagues, friends, and mentors that I will be running in the by-election for Toronto District School Board (TDSB) Trustee for Ward 20 – Scarborough-Agincourt. I am excited & encouraged for the next two months of campaigning. I hope you will come along for the ride.
Over the past few months, I have considered the range of career opportunities available after graduation. Anything and everything under the sun has been suggested- from oversea teaching gigs, employment with local boards, to tutoring. I’ve considered continuing my studies or entering the private sector. As some of you may know, I have not been 100% convinced that one opportunity was better suited for me than another.
I have spent the last two years navigating and switching between my identities as student, teacher, educator/mentor, researcher, community member, and advocate. Yes, I am a multi-purpose, multi-identity stakeholder in education. Becoming the Trustee for Ward 20 would allow me to continue this often messy, complex, yet invigorating work. This time though, it is beyond informal conversations with peers or teachers – it is with the stakeholders themselves and with some weight in decision-making.
My reflections, learning, and experiences have always brought me back to the big picture, the criticalimplications of our definitions, practices, and values of teaching, learning, and education. Would you agree there is dissonance in what is and what could be?
We all know we’ve got work to do. Let’s get the votes.
Earlier today, I vented about my confusion about my employment situation/strategy. After some great advice (public and private), I’ve realized that I’ve been so caught up with the 1st step… I just need to start some selective applying and the decision-making comes after. How simple, eh?
Also, side note… I just spent a few hours raving about my Ontario education mentors and friends. I feel that whether I stay in the Greater Toronto Area or go abroad, these connections are authentic & will continue and strengthen wherever I am.
I’m at the year and a half mark of my Master’s program. One more semester of seminars, one major research paper to write, one more practicum placement & I’m off into the world of employment.
This week, OISE is hosting an employment preparation conference. It’s Day 2 of 3, and I’ve realized that I have a strong grasp of my teaching philosophy and practice. I am aware of my strengths as an educator. While I sit in lectures about application tips and resumé formatting, I realize that I’m not daunted by the application and interview process. I’m actually more concerned with where I want to teach.
This brings me to my current dilemma.
I am torn between staying local (either a public or an IB/independent school) or going internationally.
I’ve developed such strong relationships with a small group of innovative, effective, and collaborative Ontario educators, and I cannot imagine starting my first year off without them (for face-to-face interactions). Many of them are consultants or teachers with whom I can seek formal mentorship if employed with their boards/schools. This would supplement our informal yet powerful ongoing collaborative learning.
[side note: Teaching opportunities aren’t abundant in Ontario, though I think I have a good shot at landing employment. I’m entering the profession with a Master’s, a range of technology integration and support experiences, a strong focus on inquiry and collaboration with colleagues and students, and have embedded equity and diversity education in all that I do.]
On the other hand, the possible adventures and “fresh start” that an international placement provides is something to consider. I have nothing to tie me down. Most of my closest teacher friends have recommended that I go abroad for a few years. They say (rightly so) that I am young, energetic, and can learn and teach in amazing environments. The past few weeks, I think I have been trying to conjure up reasons – *ahem, excuses – for staying local. But realistically, I can enter a school community that is collaborative, innovative, and forward thinking in instruction, especially if I choose to seek employment at an international IB/independent/private school.
Anyway, I write this blog post to avoid crisis mode. Please share your thoughts, friends.
After a summer hiatus from blogging, I want to return to writing by first reflecting on my use of blogging.
I’ve had a very eventful summer so far, professionally. I traveled to Philadelphia for TEDxPhiladelphiaEd, EduBloggerCon, and ISTE11 in June. I’ve been participating in the planning discussions for edcamptoronto. In the past 6 months, I’ve met so many great educators, teachers, consultants, administrators, and community members interested and invested in education. We’ve chatted over coffee, lunch, dinner & dessert, discussing a range of topics from practical and problematic implementation of educational technology, particular software and hardware, research ideas, job links, and so on.
I’ve been constantly asking myself – do I need to blog about these great interactions, conversations, and experiences?
I first thought, “YES!” – that it was essential to record and return what I had learned, discussed, and debated. Yet I found myself not having “enough” time to write a blog post. I started to think critically about my use of time and energy, realizing that I actually DO have enough time…. but I prefer and plan for face-to-face conversations.
I do see the merits in blogging – and I will continue to do so as I see fit. I do need to increase my frequency. But I stand by the belief that personal and physical interactions and friendships cannot be beat. Indeed, perhaps if I blog more, I’ll obtain more comments. But I’d rather use my time for banter over sushi and vegetarian cuisine – this is the “high” I crave (as my friend @KentManning described over one meal). My brain remains in overdrive as I reflect well after I’ve parted ways with one friend – and continues when I bring the topic to another. Whether or not a blog post comes from it – not my top priority just yet.
Perhaps I should be taking out my digital recorder and Flipcam more often for in-the-moment idea/conversation recording…
It’s Day 1 here at ISTE11 and I’m already finding it difficult to find time to blog. Do check my Twitter page @monicaannebatac for my backchannel tweets & comments. I need some time to unpack the learning from the past few days, so I am going to sit here til some of it down here on the blog. Here at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, ISTE has set up a blogger’s cafe. Not the best access to power outlets, so may need to move to another cafe or charge station.
Any ISTEers who have suggestions re: their preferred ways or tips on how to fit in blogging during the conference… please share!