Friday, 2 March 2012

A Teacher AND a Parent

It is interesting to me the way the media portrays that there are 3 sides to the recent job action in BC: the teachers, the parents, and the government. As an elementary teacher and a mother, I don't understand how the they can be seen as two differing, even OPPOSING, sides! My oldest is not in the education system yet, but I have to admit that he is one if the reasons I feel so strongly about this current job action taken by teachers (including myself). I know I speak for many teachers when I say that, despite the fact that I do not make a large wage, I care less about the wage increases and more about the issues of class sizes and classroom support time. Everyone is trying to minimize the impact this job action has on the students, but most people don't realize that students were suffering to a certain degree before this.
I watched my special needs students suffer when they couldn't be integrated for long periods of time into my classroom because we didn't have enough TAs to go around. I watched my gifted students suffer because I couldn't always challenge them in the way they needed all day, every day. I watched my students with learning disabilities suffer, because I couldn't help them through every assignment they struggled in. I watched the students with behaviour difficulties suffer because I didn't always have enough time to deal with anything more than just the problem behaviour rather than getting to the root cause. I watched the student who is still learning the English language suffer because I couldn't always have the time to modify their assignments to better reflect their abilities and not just their proficiency at English. I watched the average student suffer when I couldn't spend the time with them that they deserved.
One might argue that perhaps I'm just not a very good teacher, or that I need to get better at time management. That might be the case. However, I don't know many teachers who feel that they are the best teachers they could possibly be and who have more than enough time on their hands. Perhaps I should let you know what my job entails and you can be the judge. My job is not just to teach, but to help students learn; to make learning fun and exciting; to help them understand that learning is a process, not a product. My job is to care for the students; to be a substitute parent and friend to the friendless; to dry tears, mediate problems, teach virtues, and be someone's enthusiastic partner when they don't get picked. My job is to advocate; to get support for those who need it -- at home, at school, in life. In other words, to try to meet every need all the time.
My job is not just to keep children safe, but to make them FEEL safe. I would, and have, stood in harm's way to protect my students. If it ever came to it, I would take a bullet for these children. I know most teachers feel the same way.

I guess, in a way, we have.