Mr. Watt’s comments (regarding occasional teachers) that appeared in last Wednesday’s Times, while clear and concise, were, regrettably, also misinformed.
Because everyone has attended school at one time or another, everyone feels they can meaningfully comment on the educational system.
But unless one actually has donned the robe of a teacher and faced a class of 25-30 students, and attempted to maintain discipline while ensuring that some type of learning is taking place, please fight the urge to defame our occasional teachers.
These teachers perform a valuable and necessary service for our board.
Yes, many occasional teachers are retired teachers. Many, however, are not. The “retired” occasional teacher brings with him/her a wealth of experience that has been accumulated over 30 or more years of teaching. These amazing individuals can walk into any classroom and create a safe learning environment for our students.
Over the course of their careers, they have encountered every conceivable situation. They are worth their weight in gold.
When a regular classroom teacher is absent, there are students who regard this as an opportunity to become unproductive and, occasionally, disruptive. Our experienced occasional teachers know this and can maximize the learning while minimizing the disruptions. They have the ability to take charge instantly.
The students, while being temporarily deprived of their regular classroom teachers, are not denied the opportunity to engage in a rich learning experience via the “substitute teacher.”
Over the course of their careers, teachers have paid into their retirement fund and deserve their compensation.
Teachers do not get paid a rate per student (as do babysitters). Teachers do not charge for every piece of paper that crosses their desks. Teachers do not charge for each phone call made to their residence after hours by concerned parents or anxious students.
Teachers give of themselves unconditionally to their students. Counselling sessions, extra tutoring: no charge.
If, for example, teachers adopted the practices of lawyers, they would be compensated at a rate of $28.50 per communication with their “clients.” If they dealt with only one issue/student at a time, stress levels and teacher burn-out rates would be considerably lessened.
Under these circumstances, teachers would be able to amass a small fortune over the course of their careers and be able to retire young enough and healthy enough to a small island in the Caribbean and never have to deal with disrespectful attitudes and unmotivated individuals again.
Thankfully, our retired occasional teachers still want to engage with our students. Thankfully, our occasional teachers are willing to share their vast understanding and wisdom with our students.
For that, we should all be grateful.
With greatest respect for our partners in education,
on behalf of
Fort Frances High School