@brynmw “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.”
— Patti Bacchus (@pattibacchus) June 3, 2014
British Columbia is going through a crisis in the public education system. I am not here to take sides, nor to discuss the various issues around negotiations between the BCTF and BCPSEA that have been so public. There are other people who can present the dispute in much better terms that I could. I would like, instead, look at the effect this is having on both students and teachers in schools across the province.
Throughout my career, I have been a staunch supporter of public education. It is the driving force in a democratic, diverse community to help improve the lives of its citizens. For me, students come first. They are the reason we, as educators, are in this profession. It can be argued that the role of the educator is to enhance the environment for optimal learning. This can take various forms from the classroom through to contract negotiations through to the courts. But for me, it is in the classroom that we, as educators, have the most effect on our students.
I am saddened by the change in tone that I have seen in schools. Proud teachers, who work hours of their own time preparing lessons to be engaging, are now being told that they cannot do that work at home, on their own time. The concept that a teacher can work from 8:00 am through to 4:00 pm and then leave is foreign to me. When I was a teacher, I would arrive at 7:00 am and leave after 5:00 pm on most days and still carry work home with me. I was not an anomaly. We did this because we cared.
Without knowing the language of Social Emotional Learning, Assessment for Learning, Individualised Education Plans, or Restorative Justice (I was pretty much a newbie in the 90’s), I worked hard to make sure that my students had every opportunity to learn, demonstrate their learning, and become empathetic citizens. I watched as my students formed socially-aware clubs: building wells in Africa, raising money to protect wildlife, cooking food for the homeless and cleaning up the environment. I was proud of their accomplishments and never once turned the spotlight on myself: it was their actions that made the difference, I just made sure they had the ability and opportunity to do what they wanted.
I don’t know where this is going, but all I see is the effects on both the students and teachers. I don’t know what the culture or community of the school will be when this is over. I only hope that we don’t lose the next generation of master teachers in the process.Advertisements