78 Days in the Life of an Educator: Why I Advocate

I needed a job. I was going into the final year of my undergrad with the student debt from the last three years piling on. After months of searching I still wasn’t able to find a full-time position even though I already had my RECE qualifications. I received an email from an employer shortly after giving up offering me a full-time temporary position at a licensed child care centre. As a student with no money and four months off from school, I accepted it.

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Getting Ready for September; Tips and pointers to prepare for the first year of post-secondary

LONDON, Ont. (June 21, 2017)— The high school year is not quite done, and no doubt soon-to-be graduates are thinking more about their prom and graduation parties than they are their pending arrival in the post-secondary world.

But school choices are now in, and once summer vacation hits it will be time to start thinking about and preparing for their first year after high school.

“Post-secondary school is not like high school, and the workload, expectations and independence can catch some students off guard,” says Heather Cummings, Executive Director, Student Success, Fanshawe College. “Dedicating a little bit of time over the summer to get ready and familiarize yourself with your new school can make a huge difference once classes start after Labour Day.”

Fanshawe offers the following five tips to help recent graduates get ready for their first year:  

  1. Be social. Today’s youth are already active on social media. It is their top source of information. Seek out where your school is on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and perhaps even Snapchat, and follow them. They will be providing key information about upcoming events and resources available for incoming students. If you come across any online groups, join in the conversation. You may make some new friends before the school year even begins.
  2. Get to know the school and surrounding neighbourhood. Many schools offer times in the summer when you can visit and tour the campus, check out the facilities and amenities, check out the area around the campus, pick up your student card, engage with various student organizations and clubs, complete any post-admission requirements and meet other students who will be starting with you — and facing many of the same apprehensions and challenges.
  3. Find a place to live. Maybe you have applied for residence and hope to live on campus. But space is limited and these spots are often not guaranteed. It won’t hurt to browse some of the off-campus housing available. It is also wise to review your rights and responsibilities as a tenant, especially if this will be your first time living away from your parents’ home.
  4. Start a list. There are a lot of items you’ll want to have at school with you — from academic requirements to personal items. Start a list of those things you want to take, and post it on your bulletin board or the refrigerator so that you can easily update it if something new comes to mind. Build this list throughout the summer so that when it’s time to pack you will already know everything you are going to need.
  5. Save. There are costs associated with post-secondary school that you didn’t have to worry about in high school. Besides tuition, you will have to buy your books and any supplies specific to your program. There is rent to pay and food to buy. And that says nothing for the incidentals — after all, you will also want to maintain some sort of social life to balance with your studies. Make a budget and start saving. You can also seek out some financial help. Many students don’t realize how many bursaries, grants and scholarships are there, waiting to be tapped. A quick Google search will uncover several opportunities for financial help. It is never too late to apply. There are also many financial management seminars available at colleges and universities over the summer that offer the support of campus experts.

“Starting post-secondary school is a big transition,” says Cummings. “But it will always be a benefit to be prepared.”

About Fanshawe College:

Fanshawe is one of Ontario’s largest colleges, with campuses in London, Simcoe, St. Thomas and Woodstock serving close to half a million people with a promise to educate, engage, empower and excite. For 50 years, Fanshawe has been helping people to unlock their potential and achieve success. The College attracts students from 70 countries every year and opens up a world of possibilities through more than 200 degree, diploma and certificate programs, along with apprenticeship training. Fanshawe celebrates its 50thanniversary in 2017, an exciting opportunity to reflect on how much the College has grown since 1967 and how it will continue to have a meaningful impact on future students.

Visit Fanshawe College ECE Program here

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Sheridan College Students continue their advocacy campaign for Professional Pay & Decent Work


After recently learning about the AECEO's Professional Pay and Decent Work campaign, Sheridan ECE students have taken an active role in their community to support and promote the importance of Professional Pay & Decent Work for the Early Childhood Workforce.

The students have participated in fairs on campus, presented to other ECE classes, and have created a social media presence including with their Facebook page SheridanECEAdvocates.  

This dynamic group of ECE students were instrumental in assisting the AECEO in gathering signatures on our petition for Professional Pay.

17103491_1231379973647824_4881304087435669160_n.jpgWe are extremely proud of these students and hope that other colleges will initiate an advocacy plan to strengthen our collective voice of ECEs in Ontario.  

If you or your class would like to get involved with the AECEO's Professional Pay & Decent Work campaign, contact us at ldacosta@aeceo.ca


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Early Childhood Education students sound the alarm about cripplingly low wages

Ryerson students say they are walking away from the profession because they'll never make a living wage.
By:  Metro Published on  Wed Dec 14 2016
Twenty-two-year-old Michelle Jones is young, highly qualified, and ready to work.

But she’s not optimistic she’ll ever be able to earn a living at what she spent years training to do.

“I think that I have a lot to bring to the field in working with children in the classroom, but I just can’t afford to go back,” said Jones, a master’s student in early childhood studies at Ryerson.

Armed with a college diploma, Jones spent the last two summers working for around minimum wage at a daycare as she finished her bachelor’s degree. Convinced she’d never make it on what the job paid, she’s now back in school with hopes of one day becoming a teacher.

Read full article here



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Ontario Launches New Student Assistance Calculator

Tool Helps Students and Families See if They Could be Eligible for Free Tuition from Province
December 12, 2016

With applications now open for college and university programs, Ontario has launched a new online calculator to help students and their families find out quickly and easily whether they qualify for free tuition or other grants and supports from the province.

By entering basic information at Ontario.ca/osap, in just a few clicks students will learn whether they are eligible for free tuition and how much aid they could receive from the new Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP).

Starting in the 2017-18 school year, the new OSAP will:

  • Provide free average tuition to more than 150,000 students across Ontario whose parents earn less than $50,000 a year
  • Provide more generous grants to make college and university more affordable for students from middle income families
  • Provide greater access to grants for mature and married students
  • Reduce the provincial debt load for about 80 per cent of all OSAP recipients.

More information

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Sheridan College ECE students call for #ProfessionalPay

Recently a group of ECE students at Sheridan College had to complete an advocacy project. They were asked: what is advocacy, how can you do it and what impact does it have? They were eager to find out more about the AECEO's campaign for #professionalPay and #DecentWork and once they did, they knew that something needed to be done - as they put it - this was something that was about to greatly affect them and their peers and they were sitting in a gold mine of signatures waiting to happen with over 1000 students enrolled in the ECE program that will all be personally affected by this campaign. 

It did not take long for the students to go above and beyond the requirements of the assignment and they set a goal to reach as many ECE students as they could in the time they had left at the college.  They began by sharing the link to sign the petition to fellow students.  Soon they realized that they wanted to do more and they began going class to class to speak to students and let them know what the petition was about and the long term impact that professional pay and decent work would have on the sector.  Sheridan faculty were beyond supportive of their advocacy initiative and encouraged it the students in their work.  The students presented in 27 different ECE classes throughout and increased the signature count by over 400 in that week. The students set up an information booth at Sheridan's Trafalgar Campus and collected another 200 signatures in just 1 hour! 

This awesomely dedicated group of ECE student advocates at Sheridan College helped the AECEO's #ProfessionalPay petition reach it's 5000 signature mark.  WAY TO GO ECEs!! 

These soon to graduate ECE's are ready to be a part of the collective voice!!!! 


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Graduating and Looking for Your Passion? Just Be Patient

For all their grandeur and euphoria, graduation ceremonies can be harrowing. Until that momentous day, you’re a student whose job is to do what your teacher asks. Now you have to ask things of yourself — but what?

If you’re relying on a commencement speaker to set your compass, you may still be confused at day’s end. In my experience, it’s common to hear “Follow your passion” from the podium. This is great counsel if, in fact, you know what that passion is. But what if you don’t?

Read full article on New York Times

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Placement Experiences

Throughout our post secondary paths, whether we choose College or University, ECE students are typically given the opportunity to experience field placement. This enhances, extends and supports the concrete theoretical learning that takes place in the classroom. As a student, field placement gives us the opportunity to put knowledge and theory into practice.  We call it the hands on part of our education, where we “put it to work”.

As a current ECE student at Centennial College, I had the opportunity to partake in three different placement experiences – each bringing something beneficial to my career in the field. I had the chance to experience a placement with the YMCA, TDSB FDK classroom, and am currently placed at Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care (OCBCC). In regards to my previous two placements, I can truthfully say that they enhanced my learning and provided me with a deeper insight to my future career options. Each placement added to my learning and helped me understand the concepts discussed in class, which I was able to put into practice with my full potential. Through these placement experiences, I came to really understand what it takes to be an ECE.

As with any field placement experience, there are positive as well as negative aspects that shape our ideas and perspectives. Working in childcare is something wonderful because you play a major role in the early stages of children’s lives which can have a positive impact on the children and their families. Being passionate about the work and understanding the challenges and potential of the field can lead to an incredibly meaningful career. Sadly, ECEs and child care workers are historically underpaid and undervalued in society, which leads to burnout and challenges centres to retain well-trained, well-educated staff. It can be difficult for students experiencing a field placement with ECEs who are burnt out or fed-up and it is often a challenge to get through the experience while remaining positive. I like to think of it in the sense that even if it was not the experience you were hoping for, it’s still a learning experience that will benefit you in the long run if you engage in reflective practice. This can be turned into a positive learning experience because as a future ECEs we have the ability to affect positive change. Early childhood education is in our hands – we have the capability to adapt classrooms, or even a centre, by leading and motivating peers and colleagues.

Getting your foot in the door as early as possible and paying attention to how you build professional relationships will make for a positive learning experience. Early childhood education is a great field – which I realized early through my very first placement experience in high school. Accept all learning opportunities that come your way as each will benefit you differently.

Vesna is currently enrolled in the Early Childhood Education Program at Centennial College and is set to graduate in Spring 2016. Vesna has four years of experience working in the child care sector with a variety of age groups and centres. She is passionate about working with children and families and advocating for positive change and a better system of early learning and child care in the province of Ontario. 

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Making the Connection: Why Policy Should Matter to Students

In my work as an intern at the Association for Early Childhood Educators Ontario, I've discovered one thing; there seems to be a disconnection between students and policy. This disconnection, and apparent lack of interest between students and policy is noticeable to the professionals in the field. One professor I spoke to admitted that they can see how students don’t pay attention or put the effort in during class when it comes to topics involving politics and community responsibility, and how frustrating it is because the students don’t seem to realise how it all connects. Through speaking with my peers, and asking them about their opinions on this topic, many of them said the same thing: they don't care, and they don't see why they should. They're not going into government work.

Truthfully, I was in the same position when I was younger. I had no interest in the government, politics or policy. Policy always felt particularly tedious. Anytime one of my friends would start talking about an election or politics, I tuned them out. It wasn’t until I began to understand just how these things were affecting me that I really took notice as to what was happening. My interest started when the government run volunteer program Katimavik, that I had been a part of was shut down. I wanted to know why, so I researched and found that a government official thought it was unnecessary and it had been part of suggested, and then implemented, budgets cuts. It confused me because as a participant I could see how influential and necessary the program was. Facebook groups for Katimavik that I had previously joined were banding together to protest the decision and the idea of this community coming together to create change really impacted me. It was a small step but we were trying to change something that meant something to us. That’s what mattered.

But my interest in policy didn’t fully spark until I was in school for Early Childhood Studies. Reports on the deaths of children in unregulated childcare homes angered me, especially as I learned more about child development and how to deal with difficult situations that could arise when taking care of children. I knew that there are ways that we could avoid these incidents. By understanding politics, policy and regulations and the relationship they have to each other and to the field of ECE, I could see how things needed to change so that we can create environments that can not only support children and families but also the educators working there. It made me want to learn more and find out what I could do about it.

Policy and government can be intimidating and overwhelming. There are also many people out there that may tell you that taking action will not change anything. But if no one takes action, how will anything change? I’ve realized that policy has an impact on my life, that I need to pay attention to what decisions are being made at the policy level and that I have to work to understand it. But it leaves me with the question of what am I going to do about it? My first step to taking action is to learn more. Aside from my own research, I enrolled myself into classes that focus on policy and government. I chose an internship at the AECEO to build my knowledge about ECEs and policy and how they relate to each other. Knowing that I can impact change that will have positive influences on society and essentially help people’s lives makes me want to work towards a future that I know can be better.

The most important thing out of all of this is for you to research what matters to you. It’s hard to care about something when you don’t see how it will affect you. If you’re going into school, or continuing, consider taking a course in politics, just to give you a basic understanding about how the system works. Even if it seems irrelevant now, take the time and look up the issues that you care about. It may surprise you how much information is out there and what action, if any, is being taken. After all, if we don’t strive for change, who will?

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ECE Volunteering Opportunity - Forest School Programming

ECE_Forest_School_Volunteering_Opportunity_(1)_1_.jpgThe Kortright Centre for Conservation is excited to offer an 8 week immersive nature based Forest School program for ages 2 to 5 years old. Program facilitators are either Registered Early Childhood Educators with a Forest School Practitioner Certificate or are Ontario Certified Teachers with degrees in Outdoor and Experiential Education. 

We are looking for ECE student volunteers who would be able to commit to the full 8 week program and have experience working with children in outdoor nature based programming. 

When: Saturdays, April 9 to June 4, 2016 (excluding May 21) 

Time: 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. 

Where: Kortright Centre for Conservation – Vaughan 

Who: ECE students looking for experience working in a Forest School setting 

Volunteer Training Date: Sunday April 3, 2016 (10 a.m. to 12 p.m.) 

For more information or to apply for a volunteer position please contact 

Jasmine Green jgreen@trca.on.ca

(905) 832-2289 Ext. 239 

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