Striking – Fighting for the heart of the classroom

by Ashley on April 24, 2014

in Soap box, Uncategorized

photo1Bethany’s teacher from Kindergarten. (there will be new teacher photos soon!!)

Here in BC, we are facing the beginning stages of a strike by the BC Teachers’ Federation.  To get the full details of what & why the striking phases are being implemented check out the BC Teachers’ Federation website – it’s not something I know enough about to paraphrase.

To be honest, this is the first time I’ve ever really taken notice of a teachers’ strike.  Up until now it didn’t directly affect me and as selfish as this sounds, as it was – I honestly didn’t pay much attention to what was happening.  I knew enough to know it was throwing a wrench into the days of my friends who are teachers, or who had kids in school but that was about as much as I knew.  My opinion on the whole thing was nil because you shouldn’t have an opinion on something you know nothing about.  So I did.

Then it began to affect me, affect my children and I took notice.

As I read through all the information last night I began thinking about our kids, about their teachers, about their futures.  And then I got a little bit angry.   I still don’t know all the nitty gritty details of what’s being negotiated over but what I do know is that as parents we need to stand beside & behind our teachers.

Next to their families, teachers are the next most influential people in our children’s lives.  They spend the greater part of many days with our kids, guiding, educating, laughing, disciplining, influencing and loving them.  In their hands rests the future of our kids – will they see the adventure in a novel beyond the words on a page?  Will they discover the world that lives under the microscope?  Or learn to run, jump, swing, kick and soar their way into health & strength?   We may play the starring role in those outcomes but the teachers leading their days have a pretty big supporting role.

Long before the school day begins and hours after it ends for our kids, their teachers are there.  Reading, marking, planning and organizing.  Decorating the walls, cutting out the pictures, building the world where our children will learn.  Kissing each wall, desk and worksheet with their version of love, for education.  For our children.

These teachers need to be respected, encouraged, appreciated and supported.  As parents that is the very least we can do for the people who are walking along side us to raise our children.

Bethany  & Audrey have been so very blessed with the teachers God has placed into their lives.   They have embraced our shy, anxious daughters with a love that brings tears to my eyes.  They have not only taught them ABC’s and 123′s they’ve gently guided and coaxed them out of their little shells into flourishing, knowledge seeking little girls.

I see tiny glimpses of these people in our girls from time to time and it makes me smile.  I don’t know why these people chose to get into education but it’s apparent they are there for so much more than that.  They along with the schools & administration they work with are building UP our children.

These people deserve to be paid appropriately, to have class sizes that allow them to not only learn our children’s names but continue to discover their hearts as well.  They need to be given the support staff it takes to run things smoothly, not only for their classroom structure but the kids who might slip through a crack if they aren’t there.  They need to be shown they have value, because they do.

It’s something worth fighting for.

As this point I don’t know what we can do as parents to make an actual difference in the course of action in these teacher strikes but I do know what we can do in the day to day life of our teachers, our librarians (Bethany’s is phenomenal) and our administration – we can say “thank you”, “we are with you”, “we appreciate you”.  Then we can guide our children to do the same.

To all those who keep our schools running, our classrooms busy and our children learning – thank you, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

 

*I understand there will always be an exception to the rule when it comes to teachers, like everything in life this isn’t perfect either.  There will be some due to retire, others due for an attitude transplant and others still who are just plain grumpy shorts but they are the minority.  Please don’t let one or two bad experiences taint your view of all that is there.*

Brandee April 24, 2014 at 2:45 pm

So lovely to read! It is rare to get such support especially during a strike. I am a teacher in Ontario and it is rare that parents understand the difficulties teachers face. Very nicely written. I hope your daughters teachers are happily back to work soon!

Madame J. April 28, 2014 at 12:52 am

Thank you so much for your support, Ashley! It’s impossible to put into words how grateful we are to parents and students for standing by our side in this important struggle.

I remember my mom coming home one day, saddened by the news that her school couldn’t afford to replace the worn-out incubator she had always used to hatch chicks in her kindergarten room. She’s retired now, and – although she is proud of me for following in her footsteps and for embracing an often difficult career -, she worries for me. Here I am, in year three, looking at my future and feeling quite worried that – although retirement will be ok – I barely have enough to get by, so I won’t be able to live for a long time without always having a second job. When I get a contract I worry I’ll be worn out from marking, or that my students will be in class sizes so big that I won’t be able to give them the support they often require one-on-one. I was so happy last week to get to let the students use real wires and lightbulbs and battery cells and switches to build circuits, show awesome videos from YouTube and flip through French-English dictionaries – I’m so glad these tools exist for my students, but the gaps between schools are deep. It hurts to watch certain schools strain to cope under the pressures of what neighbourhoods in poverty require for success in school. PACs are so busy fundraising they don’t really have time to focus on community, integration of learning, communication between parents and schools… it’s wrong. Parents who have time to fundraise are often already well off… thus creating an even bigger gap between schools. It’s time for some serious dialogue with government.

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