Having just spent the last five weeks criss-crossing the province for all nine teachers’ conventions and other meetings, I have learned that, essentially, as teachers we all want the same things. We want classes that are well-supported and manageable so we can build relationships with our students to help them grow. We also want respect as individual teachers and as a profession overall for the work we do, something we are not seeing from the policies our current government is passing. This makes the advocacy work we do highly important as well as highly frustrating.
One of the things I have enjoyed the most about being president is meeting colleagues around the province and learning from them. In the last several weeks, I have learned from my colleagues that we are all over the spectrum on issues. We have teachers who are liberal and conservative (and in between), teachers who are mad as hell about everything and some who are happy with things the way they are. Some are thankful for the work the ATA has done, and for some, no matter what we (or I as president) do, it will never be enough. But, at the heart of all this, we all want the same thing.
I am concerned about the divisiveness we see in our province, especially with the government creating a narrative that aims to drive a wedge between the private and public sectors. It serves none of us well to allow this to happen or to feed into it. Our opponents will always want to drive a wedge to separate us — it’s a tool to keep us distracted. We cannot let that happen, and we need to oppose those tactics when they occur. As I tell my students, we spend too much time tearing each other down. Instead, let’s start to build each other up.
I have learned a lot in the last five weeks (really, over the last seven months). I know I am not perfect, and there is still lots for me to learn and do. I am confident, however, that no matter our differences, our desire to see improvements to education and our province will continue to unite us. ❚
I welcome your comments — contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.