Reflections on the end

Friday was a big day of reflection for me; for the first time in 13 years, I was not at a school, watching children head off into their summer break. I was at home, working on a university assignment, living a different dream. The last day of school was always a good day – students were excited or hesitant or teary or happy. They were all the things you see in students throughout the year, all compacted in to one day. One moment. The moment when the final bell rings.

The school year has drawn to an end, yet the fight for education continues.

The media and the government have turned down the spotlight wattage on education issues – the media is in search of the next big news item and the government is in search of their summer recess.

Educators are going to take time to reflect on their year, their students – both the successes and the areas that were struggles.

I would imagine that there will be educators who will reflect on something else – they will reflect on the state of education.  Some may be wondering what the hell they are doing in education.

I hope that those educators, those good people who make the difference in the lives of students, hold strong. I hope that they know that what they do every day does matter. It matters to that student who couldn’t read or pay attention or understand until you showed them how to learn. It matters to the parents who wondered how to help their child, and the answer came from the educator who observed the child and found the key to understanding.

It matters to the place that education holds in society – the foundation that children need. When you look around the world, or across the country, not everyone has the gift of education. It is something to be treasured and honoured and appreciated.

The people who deliver that education – whose life work it is to effect the future by teaching our children – they also deserve to be treasured and honoured and appreciated.

Thank you to all the educators who are providing the environment and the tools for students to learn, to change, to succeed.

In case you were wondering – in case the media has made it hard to remember – you are valuable and you are valued.

Rest, relax, reflect and know – your life’s work matters.

Is anybody out there listening?

shoes in the grass

After a year on leave, I spent the better part of this week in schools, supplying with students with special needs and behavioural designations. As the days wore on, I began to feel something not quite akin to despair, but deeply seeded concern. The government and the media are profoundly focused on contract negotiations and the ways in which unions have chosen – or been forced – to bring to light the issues at the bargaining tables both at the Provincial and local levels.

What I want to know though – is anybody out there listening to the cries of concern from educators? The concern over the state of education and more troubling, the train wreck that will be education if something does not change?

Classrooms are staffed by individuals with a passion for their work; you simply could not deliver education in the situations we are in if you were not passionate. The needs of mainstream students are higher than ever, their attention spans are shorter than ever and the amount of curriculum that needs to be delivered is substantial. The idea that the government thinks that increasing the number of students receiving that curriculum from one educator is mind-boggling. Considering lowering the support to students with behavioural and special needs at the same time makes absolutely no sense either.

There are those out in the public who say that teachers and other educators have it easy – we have summers off, two-week breaks at the end of December, a week in March. That is a perk, not created by or mandated by the educators themselves, that in no way justifies the expectations that are steadily increasing within schools. The rate of stress leave for educators is increasing. Again, people do not understand why someone would feel stressed, given those vacation breaks, given the shorter (on paper only) work hours of educators.

It’s pretty simple: people who care deeply about their students are being asked to make changes, take short cuts, short change students in order to meet financial criteria set by people who do not work within the system. There are no two students for whom that delivery of education looks the same – education is not a “one size fits all” proposition – it needs to be funded in ways that are as unique as the students within the system.

Is anybody out there listening? The future is in trouble – the future of education and our future: the children and youth in this province and all across Canada. Look beyond the headlines and see that the government has been and will continue to erode education in big and small ways while blaming it on those who want to help create the future by supporting students to be ready for that future.

Students matter = Education matters = Educators matter.

Something to ponder

Originally posted in January, 2015.

Reposted due to its continuing relevance.

writing in the (mom)ent

Although I am currently on leave from my job, I keep in touch with my peers through social media and otherwise. This step back has given me a different perspective and not always an upbeat one.

People in special education have an incredibly difficult job and oftentimes their/our work involves being injured by students. This is not to say that students purposefully hurt those who support them (although this does happen), but nevertheless, it happens.

Yesterday, I caught a bit of a radio program that was discussing the legalities of being injured on purpose. I do not know the entire back story, but apparently two young people had agreed to fight and one of them had been injured (I know, right? That’s a whole other story for a whole other day). It appears it had gone to court and the courts, not surprisingly, said that one cannot agree to be…

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