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September/October 2019

The 2019-20 school year is now in full swing and as your summer break becomes a distant memory I ask you to remember to be mindful of the importance of looking after yourself. Over the course of this school year there will be countless situations and incidents that will have a significant effect on the lives of students, your colleagues, family and friends. As the school year unfolds, remember how important your contributions are to those around you.

Very early in my career I had the pleasure of listening to an address by former educator Merle Vokey, a very learned man with a wonderful sense of humour and positive outlook on the teaching profession. There was a narrative that he used the first time I heard him speak that has resonated with me ever since. He relayed a question that he would ask when interviewing educators for new positions. He would ask the candidates to rank in order what their priorities should be among their job, their family and themselves. The indication was that very rarely, if ever, did he get the order response that he would have liked. Very often the one that Mr. Vokey thought should be first was listed as last. Many in the audience, myself included, were puzzled when he indicated that the order he would like to see was themselves first, then family, and then their job. His explanation of this was simplistic but completely and perfectly logical. “If you aren’t good to yourself, then you can’t be good to your family. If you aren’t good to your family, you can’t be good to the job”. We all want to do the best we can for our students. We know that students are the reason that schools and teachers exist. We also know that in order for students to get what they need it is imperative that teachers and schools have access to what they need. The ability of students to feel safe, to learn, to maintain and develop their social and emotional health can only be present if there are provisions to address the social and emotional health of educators.

Over the summer, in my capacity as CTF Vice President, I attended the Education International Congress in Bangkok. This conference brings together educators from across the globe to discuss and share solutions to issues that face education and educators throughout the world. Some of the sessions were inspiring, others alarming. One presentation that struck a chord with me was the importance of maintaining and renewing strong associations for educators. It is important for associations such as ours to continually seek out feedback from its members. It is more important to ensure that this feedback is taken into account when future directions are charted. It is with this in mind that over the course of this fall there will be a series of town hall meetings held throughout the province to do exactly that. The schedule for these meetings has been emailed to all members. I would encourage you all to attend the ones that are in your area.

These town halls, however, are but one way of providing the feedback that is needed to plot future directions. One of the key things that will be happening this fall is that the Collective Bargaining Committee will be seeking input from our membership as to what is needed as we frame the opening proposals for our next collective agreement. I encourage every member to take the time to communicate their concerns and/or suggestions to the Collective Bargaining Committee as this will inform the development of the opening package. Every NLTA member is strongly encouraged to become actively involved by providing the Committee with input and direction as we work on the task of developing a focused set of opening proposals that reflect the priorities of the membership.

I do hope that the summer was one that allowed you all to recharge and rejuvenate. For those of you who are starting your careers I do hope that this first year, which may at times be challenging, is successful and rewarding. Take into account the advice of those around you. Seek out assistance from colleagues. You aren’t in this alone. And if there is ever a time that you feel you need your Association for advice or guidance, we are only an email or phone call away. All the best for a successful year.

Until next time.