Saturday, January 5, 2013

Dear Ontario Teachers

I'm a parent who lives in Toronto, my oldest attends a TDSB school, and I have two more ready to join the ranks. My final years of high school were spent in the Mike Harris years, so it brings back a lot of memories...mainly of a teenager happy to not go to school. I'm a pretty political person and I veer towards the left, but my post and feelings are not so much based on politics as it does my personal experience.

I want to say thank you. I'm not a teacher, but know many, and I know what goes on behind the scenes. I see the hundreds of dollars of your own money you put forth to enhance your classroom. I can clearly see all the extra hours you spend on creating activities for my kids, how anyone cannot is beyond me. Even without all the teacher friends, I can see this. I know you must have lives somewhere out there and how your families sacrifice their time with you so that you can build lesson plans, mark, submit reports etc. I know that those glorious summer vacations everyone harps about, are often cut short by training, and most teachers I know return to school a couple of weeks early to prepare. Consistently teachers are at school before the bell rings, and after as well.

My oldest was disappointed that he would not be getting some of the extra curricular activities, however he is still educated, the walls in his school are still decorated with wonderful projects and overall the kids are happy. I don't think anyone is enjoying the denial of extra curricular activies, teachers included. I know some of my teacher friends are quite frankly, bummed out because they look forward to those events, teams, clubs as much as the kids.

I recently got into a bit of a debate with another parent in the school yard. She went on and on about you're overpaid, she has no sympathy, you get oodles of time off. In the end, I had to agree to disagree because neither of us were letting go of any ground. I ended (because I like to have the last word) with telling them that I doubt they would be so willing to put in the hours you guys to your jobs. I doubt that many parents would, judging by how many are itching to send their two or three back to school after the Christmas break.

Detractors are all too ready to bring up the bad apples, and sure, there are some, there are bound to be, but it shouldn't take away from the work and good most of you do daily. In many cases, you provide that safe adult that child may not have. Even with my own kids, my oldest went into grade one shortly after his father moved out. Now while he was loved dearly at home and we did our best to make things as stable as possible, his home life was changing radically as he knew it, and his safe constant spot was his school. His teacher knew of the situation, and having been through it herself, accommodated that need. When assigning kids to classrooms for the next year, the school took care of that need as well, by placing him in the class of the teacher not going on parental leave to ensure that stability. I was about to ask, but it was taken care of before I did. I've worked with kids who have been abused, I'm training to work with a wider group of children, but many people do not see this role that you play. Many kids who don't have a male or female parent often get that need filled somewhat by a caring educator.

Their school is safe, it's approachable, I run into the staff constantly running my errands, they are a part of my community in addition to being responsible for not only the education, but the well being of my children for the bulk of their waking hours during the week.

I sometimes wonder how other people don't see this. Maybe they don't have teacher friends, or work in social services. Overall, it's easy to criticise looking from the outside in and that's not exclusive to this situation. I'm sure many of you have heard more than enough criticism. So I wanted to put it officially on the record, that I know your job is hard, I know how dedicated you are to it, and that I, as a parent, tax payer, member of your communities appreciate it and want to express my wholehearted gratitude.

And, for any English teachers reading this, I apologize for grammatical or punctuation errors, one thing that teachers have not instilled in me, was the willingness to proofread...yeah, I'm a rebel that way.

Many thanks!