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March/April 2021

“Teachers are superheroes. It is far from easy but easy isn’t why they chose the profession.” ~ Author Unknown

I am very confident in saying that all of our collective wisdom would not have predicted in September of 2019 how the province’s education system would change and be forced to adapt from March 2021 onward. Since that time every educator, every student and every family with school-aged children has faced challenges that no one anticipated. Despite all of these challenges, it is the work of our province’s educators that have maintained student learning. I see and hear constantly of the efforts and labors of teachers who are going above and beyond, often at great personal cost to them and their family’s well-being to keep this “ship afloat.”

Many of you have experienced more periods of anxiety about your work dynamic than ever before. Undoubtedly this has rolled into your personal lives as well. It is okay to feel anxious. It is okay to feel that you aren’t as on top of things in your classroom as you would like to be. We are all learning to navigate this together. We are all trying to balance being the best we can be for so many and trying to balance all of our responsibilities within the realities of a COVID world.

Recently a friend of mine told me I needed to stop doing so much “complaining.” After I listened to her for a while I asked her a simple question: “Do you care about your family?” She said yes of course. I asked her if she cared about her colleagues at work. She works in healthcare. Naturally, the response was affirmative. I then asked if she thought that the dynamics of her workplace compromised the health and safety of her family or her colleagues, would she speak up? Then she paused. When the Association raises concerns it is because the province’s teachers care very deeply, not only about their own families, but also about the integrity and safety of the learning environment for students. We raise concerns about things that we care most about. Teachers DO care! The workplaces that teachers have are the same environment that our students learn in. They are not and will never be separate entities.

Since I wrote my last “Up Front” article much has changed. I am writing this now looking out my office window watching a city employee clear out the road that passes by my office window. In between listening to the roar of the equipment, I am struggling as I consider what many of you are dealing with as you get ready for students re-entering schools. The advocacy for making our schools safer for all has been ongoing since last March. It will never stop. Progress has been made, but is the glass half full? Is it half empty? People will look at things differently. But maybe the focus needs to be not on being full or empty, but rather on how do we get the water to fill that glass?

I have to believe that COVID-19 will pass. I have to believe that in the coming months our province’s teachers will receive the vaccines that will change our trajectory in a return to a new normal. In the interim, the outbreak of a new variant in our province has provided an opportunity for a reset. We have seen some adjustments and while there are others that are needed, it is a start. To quote Albert Einstein, “Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity.”

That opportunity is there. If the right thing to do is worth doing, it’s worth doing it right.

Be proud of what you have done and never let the importance of taking time for you and your own health and well-being be forgotten.

Until next time.