Letters to the Editor

For teachers, job extends outside of classroom

I read (with interest) Brian Sutch’s response to my so-called tirade on teachers. For the record, I am not and have not been a devotee of any Liberal government or many of their policies in the past, nor will I be in the future. At present, there isn’t an official political party that I could clearly align myself with.

I would ask Brian this question: “Have you ever physically walked in the shoes of a teacher through training to become one and then go on to employment as one?” I suspect not. As a consequence, he only has his son and others to base his comments on. His reference to me being on a high-horse is rather humorous. The use of a euphemism to try to make a point in this regard is somewhat humorous as well.

Back to the teaching issues that Brian alluded to. It is all well and good what his son did prior to becoming a teacher and after becoming a teacher. However, the fact of the matter is, even if he had not done any of these activities prior to becoming a teacher, it very likely would not have affected the calibre or effectiveness of his teaching. As I said, teachers do work hard: no question of that. However, so do many other professionals.

If you ask a retired teacher what they remember about the interview for their first teaching job, many will share this: they’ll tell you that the principal or administrator who hired them asked what they could offer the school in terms of extracurricular activities. Could they coach a team, direct a play or run one of the school’s many clubs? If you weren’t interested in helping, you probably wouldn’t get the job.

It wasn’t many years ago that working with kids outside the classroom was considered part of a teacher’s job, as many public schoolteachers quietly or silently still believe, and almost all educators at independent schools.

It’s a real shame that at some point the teachers’ union redefined that work with kids as “volunteer,” yet amazingly ordered its members to stop volunteering. As many teachers will say, it’s during after-class activities that many kids derive a lot of benefit, especially students who may not be high-achievers in class. It’s while on teams, in plays or on clubs that many kids receive relaxed mentoring from caring adults, obtain new skills or develop confidence by finding something they’re good at or enjoy.

Teachers who want to be considered professional need to understand that working with kids outside of class time should be an important part of their careers that shouldn’t be sacrificed during a contract dispute. I ask you one more time, Brian, physically walk a mile in someone’s shoes before waxing eloquently as to your apparent plight of the poor teacher. I’ve been there and done that and the height or elevation of my “so-called horse” had little or nothing to do with it.

Ron Barillaro

Penticton

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