I think teachers in Ontario need to lighten up a little, so I’m doing what every millennial does and I’m starting a blog about it. I’ll admit right now that I don’t really know how to blog and I actually find the word blog kind of annoying, but I have this intense need to share my experiences with other teachers. After another long contract negotiation battle in which the government played public opinion like a finely tuned fiddle, educators around the province are feeling a little disillusioned about just how much anyone even values this job anymore. Teachers used to be heralded as mentors and role models, encouraging youth to reach for the stars and become the best they can be and blah blah blah aspire. Welp, it seems that those days are dying. The sad truth is that the students don’t know how to value us (not enough perspective), the public doesn’t want to value us (not as gratifying as resenting us), and the government doesn’t care to value us (not enough return).
So we need to start rediscovering the value ourselves. And I think that a lot of the value comes from those tiny, day-to-day moments that we witness in the adult isolation of our classrooms; those moments that my current principal files under: “Yep – that just happened.” Those moments in which we witness children discovering that real lessons are actually learned in a way that is backwards to how we lesson plan : first the experience, and then the (often painful) understanding. There are no practice questions before someone asks you if you can swallow a battery. Usually these lessons are pretty hilarious – but only in hindsight.
It’s easy for us teachers to feel alone and disconnected from the larger picture of education as we sweat out poorly conceived math lessons for an audience of ambivalent tweens. Spending extended periods of time with children and teenagers causes us to lose our sense of what reasonable behaviour even looks like. When a student is acting out or being just plain – for truly a lack of a better word – ridonkulous, I find myself immediately turning the blame inward, wondering how I failed to predict and deter the situation that is inspiring such an outrageous level of ridonk. I feel a deep, overwhelming sense of responsibility for every single event that transpires in the four walls of my classroom, and that, fellow teachers, is just as ridonkulous as the twelve-year-old kid who decides to try swallowing a battery.
Combine the isolated but intense nature of our job with relentless public criticism and you have a recipe for weary educators. So join me as I reflect on this career, and help me find value in it by sharing in my foibles and misadventures in the classroom. And hopefully, by reading my posts, you’ll feel a little less alone and a little more okay about your job.