Letters to the editor
School leaders need more support
I am a teacher, a person who works closely with others because I care deeply and passionately about making schools great for all. From my viewpoint, learning and education are active, messy, complicated words, full of the richness of relationships and interactions, full of the complexities of human beings in public education. As a 37-year public school ATA member, I can attest to the increasing class sizes, learning and socio-emotional needs as well as the unending demands and increasingly unrealistic expectations placed upon teachers and public schools.
Yet I often feel as if I do not belong and am not recognized by my association, my employer and sometimes not by my colleagues. I have been an ATA member for almost all of my adult life, a high school principal for 16 years, and my role has changed in exponential ways. I too am impacted by the complexities of learners and the reduction in the numbers of staff, both certificated and support. Along with the staff, I agonize over how best to support our students and each other given the unexpected reduction in resources.
I respect and understand a focused campaign using postcards and making it about the realities of the classroom, yet I believe if my ATA provincial colleagues and local elected officials look over communication from the Association this school year and previous years, they would see that explicit references to administrators as members and recognition of “our” concerns are scant. And there are issues that impact us directly and indirectly, including the long-standing overcontribution of administrators to our ATA pension plan. Simply stated, this is unfair and a fight the ATA should continue until a subset of the membership is treated fairly and appropriately. The supports for school-based leaders are not numerous nor well established.
I am requesting the ATA embed into all communications forthwith the inclusion of all members – administrators, teachers, central office teachers and substitute teachers – and take seriously the issues and concerns of school-based administrators in all Association undertakings. ❚
Matt Christison, principal, Robert Thirsk High School, Calgary
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