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The power of one word

February 25, 2020


 As I have been travelling around to teachers’ conventions, I have been asking teachers in attendance what is one word they would use to describe public education in Alberta today. I’ve watched as audience members have pondered what word they should choose and then shared their responses with me, sometimes all at the same time (which I loved, as it reminded me of my students). 

I’ve appreciated the honesty in the words that teachers shared and, as words do, these told an interesting story. Uncertainty, frustrated, disrespected and anxious first rang out from the crowd. Sadly, these words did not surprise me, as we have heard considerable angst from teachers this school year, and rightfully so, with so much uncertainty around budget, curriculum and classroom diversity issues, to name a few. 

However, throughout the crowds, another set of words also emerged: hopeful, thankful, privileged to be a teacher, and that teaching is a joy. I was grateful to hear that despite the negativity we are seeing, the joy of teaching still burns brightly among my colleagues. I talked to many teachers who lit up as they told me about their students or the new things they learned at convention. 

I recall days as a district representative when things would be stressful with bargaining or with the government. It would seem at times that the situation might never improve. For me, the saving grace of those days was my students and my classroom. Working with students has always been a joy to me as a teacher, and I know we have all had those days when everything just “clicks.” It is those moments in the classroom that remind us why we are teachers. Those moments also remind us why it is important to stand up for public education. Thank you for the work you are doing in our public schools, and thank you for sharing your words about public education with me. ❚

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