One of the core beliefs that I have as it relates to the role that I am now filling as NLTA President is that in order to represent teachers I have to be speaking to teachers. This is the reason that I have tried to visit as many of you as possible since assuming the office of President and why I feel it is important to be available to the membership. Should there be meetings or other school events, SIC or branch functions that you would care to invite me to, I will do my best to attend. I was elected to represent you and your concerns. Only when I am informed can I act on your behalf so I encourage and invite you to contact me and make me aware of your concerns.
Let there be no mistake that there are significant issues and concerns in our schools. I have seen firsthand many of these. One incident in particular moved me greatly. I walked into a school staff room and sat down across from one of our members. Before this teacher had the chance to speak with me I was absolutely in shock. I was looking at a person who had a blackened eye, a busted lip and I found out later, a possible concussion. This teacher was for all intents and purposes, assaulted. Who did this? A young student. Every child has a right to an education, but every school should be equipped with the resources to provide for that education and the necessary supports for the student. As I have travelled around the province, I unfortunately cannot say that I haven’t seen and heard similar stories. Many other schools and classrooms share the concern of how to provide an education for all children and their classmates in a safe and orderly environment.
Our school administrators are similarly being pushed to extremes. One of the most important things that an administrator could be doing for their school is something that all too often they don’t get to do – that being the provision of instructional leadership. Due to the demands that are put forward by so many facets of the province’s education system, our school administrators are stretched, and for some, almost to the breaking point. The change in the administrator allocation formula resulting in less administrators and more tasks assigned has certainly expedited that stretching and added to the demands.
I could certainly expand on so many other concerns that I have heard from our schools and our members. None of them will be new. Our own Panel on the Status of Public Education as well as the Premier’s Task Force identified these very same issues. But to identify issues is only productive to the extent that they are being addressed. Knowing of an issue means little unless steps are taken to find remedy. In meetings that I have had and will continue to have, it will be stressed that if the goal is to improve educational outcomes then the path has to run through improved teaching conditions.
Every time the opportunity presents itself, I make the point that the most important people in schools are our students. Improving the quality of student learning is, and should be, the goal of everyone that is involved with the province’s education system. Because I am a parent I want my son to have the very best education that he can get. Improvements in the teaching conditions that our members have are the best pathway to ensure that my son and every other student receives that quality of education. They deserve no less.
In a few short weeks the Holiday Season will be upon us. I urge each and every one of you to take the time to cherish the time with your families. Use the season to remind yourselves of that which is truly important. Happy Holidays to all of you. May the Season be as relaxing as you want it to be.
Until next time…