I am a Master of Science in Education student after completing undergraduate studies in pure and applied mathematics. So I should have the skills to teach high school, right?
Despite my passion for mathematics and my related training in the field of teaching, I lack the right tools to manage a class of young people. The difficulty lies not in solving equations or the Pythagorean theorem, but rather in the heaviness of the task. Teaching primary and secondary education is much more complex than teaching concepts in your discipline.
This job also involves handling a multitude of related tasks: tracking students with teaching teams, serving on committees, attending meetings, planning lessons, and managing disruptive students who often don’t ask for help. It also involves adapting the teaching and assessment of these students pending a diagnosis of their learning difficulties. These are just a few examples of the many activities associated with a teacher’s job.
I have long wondered how young teachers manage to retrain for another profession after four years of dedication to a teaching degree. It’s clear that after only two months, despite my deep love for my colleagues, students and support staff, I understand them, even though I haven’t finished my Master’s degree.
I realize I won’t have the stamina for this job after a year. The statistic that the average dropout rate among teachers ranges from 25% to 30% after the first year makes perfect sense. Not to mention the statistics that reveal that several experienced teachers have already considered leaving their profession.
Looking at the announcement of Ms. Lebel trying to summarize the state of the negotiations, one might think that the unions are not acting in the interests of their members. One might think that the government and the public are victims of this strike. Let’s completely dilute the pressing issue: poor working conditions for teachers affect the quality of services offered to students. This issue is fundamental and also strongly influences the labor shortage.
The negotiations are not only a matter of money, but above all of recognition and promotion of this profession that influences the lives of thousands of young people. Just listen to teachers and support staff, or spend 15 minutes in a teachers room to understand the intensity and complexity of the everyday issues teachers face. This job is not just handing out homework, teaching a subject or “being an adult”.
Unions are often criticized for not making enough concessions. According to media comments, the government did everything in the interest of “our citizens”. If education was really a priority for the politician, he would not try to assign responsibility for the strike to anyone. The government would not try to create a narrative where teachers appear to favor a pay rise over the education of the next generation. I would understand that professional groups do not particularly feel the pleasure of walking down the street and depriving themselves of income to be heard,
When we negotiate doctors’ salaries, we never think it will change patient waiting times. So why do we blame teachers and all those on strike for the “significant impact” on parents? What if these demands allowed us to reorganize the work of teachers? What if we gave ourselves the means to offer full-time jobs to special educators to come and lend a hand in our classes? By taking care of the composition of the classes, the teachers could better cover the educational needs of the children, supervise them better and give them better support in their academic difficulties. It’s all a matter of priorities.
I felt a strong emotion as I left my third grade high school class this morning. I believe that improving the conditions of teachers would improve the learning conditions of our children. Children want to keep their teachers all year round. They are also tired of losing their teachers. Faced with the disdain associated with their profession, I can’t even imagine the exhaustion, anger and indignation that career teachers have been feeling for years.
Dear colleagues, Emmanuelle, Marjorie, Hélène, Samuel, as well as the entire team of teachers at the Des Navigateurs institute, thank you very much for your support. Thank you for allowing me to better understand the reality of teachers. Despite your busy schedules and the responsibilities inherent in your teaching roles, you always find the time to answer my questions and guide me in my teaching work with a smile and endless kindness.
Shophika Vaithyanathasarma, Non-legally qualified mathematics teacher and former political candidate