Hey, teacher, don’t leave those voters alone!
I hope you have been hearing a great deal of conversation about class size the past while, as it is an important issue for us as the teachers of Alberta. Both our Member Needs Survey and our bargaining survey identified the issue as being top of mind across the membership.
Ask the candidates questions, and if you need a little help, go to Vote4Kids.ca and look for talking points under our election banner.
I feel a little strange promoting small class sizes because, throughout my career, I worked actively to increase the size of my classes. Imagine being thrilled with a Grade 8 class of 52 or celebrating that both my children were once in separate high school classes of 95. What needs to be known here, of course, is that I am a band teacher and these classes reflected very healthy programs. Most of my band colleagues across the province would agree with my thinking, I believe. That being said, we all also know the many benefits of smaller class sizes almost everywhere else.
Research shows us that smaller class sizes allow for higher levels of student achievement, increased time with the curriculum and more opportunities for us to focus on the individual needs and interests of our students. We also know that the payoff from class size reduction is greater for students from low socio-economic status homes, as well as from minority and other vulnerable populations.
The biggest gain in my mind, however, is the ability to build teacher–student relationships more quickly and more deeply. We all know the relational nature of teaching, and how teaching and learning happen more readily when these relationships exist.
Currently, only five of our 61 boards are meeting the targets for K–3, and class sizes have been rising steadily since 2009 after six years of decline. It would take about 2,100 additional teachers to return us to the 2009 levels.
As the provincial election rolls out, the focus of the Alberta Teachers’ Association will be on the issue of class size, and I’m hoping you will see the value in this. Please take part in the activities your local organizes and in election forums as well. Ask the candidates questions, and if you need a little help, go to Vote4Kids.ca and look for talking points under our election banner.
Hang in there. Spring break is just around the corner. Come back ready to inform Alberta voters about the value of reducing class sizes in our province. Let’s show Albertans that teachers want what students need. ❚