The Teacher's Creed:
I am a teacher.
I accept the challenge to be sagacious and tenacious in teaching every student because I believe that every child can learn. I accept the responsibility to create a learning environment conducive to optimum achievement academically, socially, and emotionally. I actively pursue excellence for myself and for my students. I provide a model of decorum and respect that guides my students as well as honours them. I affirm superlative expectations for my students and myself. I cherish every child. I am a teacher. I change the world
one student at a time.
It's my birthday today.
It's my birthday today and I ought to be writing about all the love and warm fuzzies I have received on this my special day. It truly has been a wonderful day. As one of my Facebook friends put it, I am blessed among women. I know I am.
I am blessed because I am surrounded by friends and family who love and appreciate me and want to make me feel special on this, my birthday.
But I am blessed also because I am a teacher in New Zealand. Moreover, I am blessed because my children have the privilege of being educated in New Zealand.
And that means that I am valued. Because so far at least, teachers in New Zealand are valued and treasured and respected. Which means that the children we teach are also valued and treasured and respected. Yes, we've had our pay disputes and contract collisions with government but in my time anyway, they have never gone too far. In my time they have been resolved fairly and adequately. And a couple of years ago, when the education minister Hekia Parata mooted a policy about increasing class sizes etc etc, THE WHOLE COUNTRY WENT TO THE FRONTLINES. I wasn't the only one who wrote letters. The letters came from EVERYWHERE and she very quickly (and graciously) backed down. An entire nation could see and made sure she knew they saw, that it did not make sense. We weren't about to have the wool pulled over our eyes.
And while I should continue to write about all the ways I am blessed as a teacher in New Zealand, I am actually writing because my heart hurts.
I am not a New Zealander by birth.
I am Canadian by birth, and lived most of my Canadian life in British Columbia.
My heart hurts because my colleagues, friends and family in the education sector of B.C. are fighting a battle which should not have to be fought. They are fighting illogical government mandates such as lockouts at lunch and pay deductions based on these enforced lockouts. And let's face it: since they are fighting a government which defies the B. C. supreme court, they are fighting corruption at the highest level.
So now the teachers federation is fighting fire with fire and will strike. They are going to the very front of the front-lines and I support them in their strike.
But my heart hurts because it shouldn't have come to this.
The government of B.C. would stop immediately if there were enough public pressure. The government would back track and lick their wounds and come to an agreeable resolution if the public said they should.
But the public is not saying that they should. Yet.
It seems to me, over here across the ditch, that either the public of B.C. has had the wool pulled over their eyes, or they simply do not support the teachers in B. C. From my perspective it looks as if the public thinks the teachers are greedy, are asking too much, and that the government should continue to hold out.
Who will ultimately lose in this battle?
I'll tell you will lose: your children. And your children's children. Generations of children who are getting a raw deal now because their classes are too large, their teachers are over-stretched with high needs and so the gap between rich and poor gets bigger.
Is that really the price you want to pay, residents of B.C.? Because what you are actually saying by your inertia, your apathy, or worse, your gregarious condemnation of supposedly greedy teachers is this: "children, teenagers, next generation, we don't care about you; learn to sink or swim but work it out for yourselves."
Really? If that's not what you think, then you should be writing letters and sending emails. Now. No matter your age or stage, you should be standing up and joining the picket lines. You should be visibly and actively supporting teachers in B.C. Now.
Because if you don't, what you're saying to me and my husband and my family--two well educated and talented teachers with four bright and beautiful and promising children is this: we don't want you.
So my heart hurts.
Because suddenly I have one less option. I no longer have a choice to return home and invest in the country and province which once invested in me.
I cannot in good conscience choose to raise my children in the province of B.C., let alone teach in it.
And that's just not right.