â€œWhy does Christy Clark hate kids, Mom?â€ my seven-year-old daughter asked me.
I didnâ€™t know how to reply. However, even before I could answer her with a simplified version of a complicated issue, my nine-year-old son interrupted and said, â€œI donâ€™t think she hates kids, she just doesnâ€™t even care about them, or the teachers.â€
Why is she having to worry about this when she should be running around the playground without a care in the world?
Iâ€™m feeling guilty because I come home from work as a teacher with stories of how difficult my day was. Each night as we sit around the dinner table, my family listens to my tales of extreme violent behaviour in the classroom and on the playground that I had to deal with that day, or the students in my class who are struggling in math, so much so that I canâ€™t teach them the Grade 4 curriculum.
How do I teach division concepts to those who canâ€™t add yet?
My class is your average Grade 4 class in Langley. There are several kids who often provide extreme behaviour challenges, some who have severe attention issues and struggle with organization, some who need a lot of academic support in math or reading or writing or all. Some kids are new to Canada and donâ€™t read or write English yet. Some have family issues and need emotional support or counselling.
My class also has some great kids who want to be there to learn. Those are the ones I feel sorry for. They are the ones who try their best at school: they wait patiently with their hands up for me to come around; they complete their homework. They want to listen to a lesson without being interrupted by students with behaviour issues.
The truth is, I am not the teacher I want to be right now. I canâ€™t get to all the kids with the learning challenges, and all the ones with â€œadaptedâ€ programs.
I canâ€™t teach and manage the disruptions caused by behaviours that have put other students at risk for injury. I might as well forget about challenging the bright ones.
Christy Clark has taken away my ability to do a job I love, despite all its challenges.
I love teaching, always have. I love helping students learn, I live for those â€œlight bulbâ€ moments.
I dress up. I bring in props. I design fun and interesting lessons for my students.
Now, we are locked out.
We are teachers. We did not get into this profession for the money or the summers off. We love working with children, helping them to become participating members of society.
We are dedicated, we volunteer countless hours, we sacrifice evenings and weekends, and we do it without complaint, because we love teaching and we love children.
We are deeply concerned that we canâ€™t do this job well anymore because there are too many kids in the class.
Although the actual number of students we are responsible for is a problem, it isnâ€™t what I am most concerned about. Iâ€™m worried about the students with designated special needs. I worry about the ever-increasing number of grey-area kids we are seeing slipping through the cracks â€“ the ones who struggle with attention deficit, have learning disabilities, have behaviour problems, or have social and emotional issues. There is not enough support for them, and not enough time for us as teachers to help them all. They get passed on from grade to grade, without meeting the expectations, falling further and further behind.
Iâ€™m also worried about the kids who are capable. Their learning suffers as they are forced to listen to tantrums and witness physical violence against others in the class. They canâ€™t be challenged because there are too many in the class who need more time and support to understand the concepts we are teaching.
There just isnâ€™t enough time.
For Christy Clark to say that class size has no bearing on education tells me she has never spent a day in any classroom in BC where there are kids literally packed in and the teacher is desperately trying to manage them all while meeting all of their learning needs. (She was Education Minister!?!)
We need smaller class sizes so we can give better support, more one-on-one support to children.
We need more support time from SEAâ€™s and Resource Teachers. We want childrenâ€™s social, emotional, and academic needs to be met. We want children to be the best they can be, to be successful, to feel pride in their accomplishments.
Composition means that teachers can teach effectively when there are less students with social, behavioural, or academic needs in the classroom. It would put a cap on the number of such students.
Class size and composition matters.
Nicola Gorseth, Langley