The Reality Check All Educators Should Ponder


APPLEWith all of the controversy swirling around Bill 115 and the issues in education we all need to take a pause and ask ourselves,”Why do we do what we do?”

For me, I became a teacher because I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to work with kids a provide them not only with a decent education but, as well, an atmosphere and environment that stimulated their interest and made each student intrinsically motivated to learn on their own. I wanted to inject interest and enthusiasm into my classroom because, in my personal experience, classroom learning was rote, stifled and boring. It was damned hard work but the payoffs were remarkable.

I coached and ran extra-curriculars and intramurals because I knew, not that it was part of the job, but that it was rewarding to the kids, to me and the school community. Those out of classroom relationships paid dividends on the playground, in the corridors and set the course for discipline and responsibility. Parents knew you, related to you outside the classroom setting and respected you for that extra effort and time you gave to their kids. The greatest compliment I ever received was from a scalliwag who said this about me, “Mr’ J treats you like real people!”

So. when you feel angry about the politics, the Bill 115 restrictions and the public outcry and, if your motivation to teach was sincere, then you should be focusing on your students and TEACH, COACH, VOLUNTEER AND MENTOR. It is their needs that you need to meet. It IS your calling. Students look to you for so much more than politicians and the public realize.

This has been my argument against unionism all along. Your greatest resource and your greatest ally is your students. Because, if they are happy and engaged, settled and confident and feel protected and cared for under your watch, parents will get the message in spades. A groundswell of grassroots support can defeat any policy, any legislation and any political created crisis. The power of the VOTE is an asset Federations need to build upon. Why do the Federations keep burning the bridge of “GOOD WILL“?

Pissing off parents and burning bridges, along with hurting students through direct action – DOES NO GOOD! Hasn’t this strategy gone the way of the dodo bird?

Like a bolt from the blue, the Good Wife read the following in one of the Journal entries by a Grade Two in her class. This puts everything we do in perspective, don’t you think?

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If each and every student felt this way – no government could impose anything on you because supportive parents would vote their asses out of office in a New York minute.

Here is a is a 7 year old that gets it. A teacher’s job IS tough and what is even more profound our seven year old admits, “It’s not easy being a kid either!”

Our job is to make it easier for kids and to give them a positive experience that  they take home to parents with a strong positive voice.

“Mommy, daddy, I love school!”

“Hey, dad, you coming to the game today? Our school team rocks!”

“Mom, you should see what we did in class today! It was AWESOME!”

So, ask yourself, “Why do I teach? Why did I want to be a teacher in the first place?” Then, put your anger aside and teach/coach/mentor you ass off. The rewards may far bigger than you expect. As Dick Morris said, “Spontaneous combustion of grassroots politics is the future.”

Why not stoke the fire of that kind of support in Ontario? Put fire into your teaching and your coaching then reap the rewards! I think you can overturn some of your losses in future negotiations with a spontaneous combustion of grassroots politics. Isn’t that what governments rely upon when they want to attack eduction: a stirred pot of negative public reaction and views?

I truly believe it can work in an opposite way for you! That’s why I keep advocating that the Federations TAKE A PAUSE (stop fighting a battle on two fronts), REWIND (retool, rejig and come up with new strategies more suitable for the changing context facing teacher unions in Canada) and then when the time is right –GO FAST FORWARD (negotiate with power because of overwhelming grassroots support)!

And maybe, just maybe, we should get a group of seven year olds to figure this out for us. Because, when push comes to shove THEY’RE THE ONES THAT GET IT!

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