I’m in charge of the display case in the foyer of our school. It’s a central location where we showcase art, themes, important school events and messages for the student body. I love doing it, even though it usually takes me three hours to build a display, usually on a Saturday, and I often end up kneeling on a staple or cutting myself with an exacto knife… and there was one particularly fraught day when I shattered an entire panel of glass…
This week, I felt it was important to show the kids how much we love them, support them and are worried about their experience of the current job action undertaken by the NSTU in the face of the remarkable bullying, lying, hyperbolizing, out-of-context rhetoric of the current government. A government which is hell-bent on painting teachers as greedy, brainless drones. A government who is so out of touch with the realities of …
But I digress…
I approached our staff, asking them to provide quotes reflecting what they love about teaching, what lead them to this career, and why they enjoy working with young people. I also asked them to list their credentials, so the kids could see that we are professionals who didn’t arrive at this place by accident, or as an easy option in a world of career possibilities. Many of our teachers have more than eight years of university education in our back pockets…
I digress… again…
I titled the display “I know I came into this room for a reason…”
As I compiled their words, I was struck over and over again by the depth of dedication and nurturing our teachers deliver daily to over 300 kids in our building.
On Monday we are embarking on a work-to-rule action which cuts deeply into the flesh of our teacher souls… clubs, sports, concerts, plays, field trips, special events, assemblies… what do you remember about school? Sure, you probably remember the academics, a certain class, maybe even a certain lecture. (I remember that bio teacher Mr. Porter had incredible biceps, and folk dancing in gym class was absolutely mortifying. Tantramar Regional High School, class of ’84)
But it’s the extras that stick in my memory. Choir. Football. Student Council. Winter Carnival.
As we prepare to face Work To Rule what strikes me the most is the incredibly long list of services we are withdrawing in service to a bigger picture.
I have spoken with teachers in tears this week, mine and theirs.
I have spoken to angry teachers.
I have spoken to teachers questioning “but what about…?” and “can’t we still…?” and “oh my god, my kids are going to be so disappointed…”
I didn’t even realize that so much of what we do is outside of our contract, and I’ve been teaching for a dozen years. Because to me, and to the thousands of teachers in this province, the extra is the norm. Not one teacher in my building has shown relief, or ambivalence, or benign acceptance over what we are facing this December.
We are in crisis.
We are grieving.
But… we are desperately concerned about our ability to continue to deliver quality programming and attention and care of ALL of our children without the equally dedicated support of our government. And at this point, we don’t seem to have it.
Yes… we refer to them as OUR children.
Because… yeah… we love them. We care. We nurture. We fret about their present and their future.
Because that is what this is all about.
“My favourite thing about teaching is the students. Plain and simple. I deeply care about their well-being socially, emotionally, mentally and academically. I want to see them succeed and to support their growth into adulthood. I try to build positive relationships and strive to bring out the best in each and every person. To teach independence, facilitate learning, guide, listen, laugh, cry… I love it all because in the end, the kids of the now, are the kids of the future. I want to be part of that.”
I don’t have the answers. I don’t consider myself a political person. My agenda restricts itself to my kids, my classroom, my school.
I am a teacher.
I want to teach.
Myself, and over 9,000 other teachers in the province… because your kids, are our kids. Our current job action reflects our determination to meet their needs, dedication to a profession that is both rewarding and extremely challenging, and a line in the sand which states that the government must do better in their support of education.
I sure hope they’re listening.
Please click on the link below for more information on the current situation with education in Nova Scotia: