Have you read the resignation letter by the North Carolina teacher yet? If you haven’t, you can find it on Diane Ravitch’s blog here:
A few things resonated with me when I read this posting (and the comments are fascinating too, btw). First, the exhaustion of this educator. Teaching is a profession that can become quite mentally and physically draining, and as teachers in Manitoba we are being told to take care of our wellbeing and maintain balance (by both the Department and our Union). Could be tempting to say “great, another thing on my to-do list”. I would challenge division leaders to hire more female leaders, as this caring for students and staff is what we do well. Unfortunately, in a highly male-focused leader base, caring can sometimes be seen as a weakness.
Second, the ever-increasing paperwork and (not so) well-meaning requests of the government. Manitoba Education has shifted its focus in the past few years. Legislation requiring students to stay in school til 18, required numbers of credits and types of courses, have added increased requirements for divisions to become creative with programming to keep kids in school. Educators are also being asked, required, to administer standards tests, to administer student surveys for the government, to implement specific behavioural programs supported by the government. All with almost no pause to discuss whether this is what is best for student learning, or discuss ethics and possible political agenda.
We in Manitoba are nowhere near the data driven, high stakes environment in the U.S. We do have educators who are just as exhausted as the North Carolina teacher who wrote the resignation letter that made waves online.
I got into education because I wanted to improve student learning and help young people get excited about math and science. I got into education leadership because I wanted to help educators do what they do best…help improve student learning. I felt/feel like my job as a leader was/is to provide resources, remove obstacles, and offer as many development opportunities as possible to support the professionals and the students in my building.
I intend to continue to support education professionals in their jobs. If removing obstacles means challenging current status quo in government, I will do so. If providing resources means spending my evenings analyzing the details of the Manitoba Finance and Reporting document, I will do so (click to view Manitoba FRAME report for 2012). If what’s best for student learning, if supporting professional educators in increasing student learning, means speaking up and speaking out for change, I will do so.