Community Magazine


By Specialneedmom2 @specialneedmom2

My five year old came home the other day and announced, “Michael D is a crybaby!”

I was shocked and horrified.  For all the swearing in our home, we do not tolerate putdowns or words used to hurt someone else.  I tried to explain that everyone cries, and that crying is not a bad thing.  I knew poor Michael D as a small-sized kindergartener who wore thick glasses.  He was quiet and assuming and loved playing cars.  I’ve seen Michael D sitting quietly on the sidelines of birthday parties, playing with cars alone while other boys chased each other like a pack of hyenas.

I felt terrible that my son was bullying him, for as the story unfolded there seemed to be a few boys involved in calling Michael D a crybaby.

I asked my son why he called Michael D a crybaby.

My five year old’s logic came through, “Because he cried.”

I asked why poor Michael D was crying.

My five year old refused to answer the question and started to play with his Lego instead.  I lectured.  I reminded him that he cried.  Often, and at the drop of a hat, if truth be told.

Fast forward to another kindergarten birthday party where Michael D and a pack of kindergarteners had commandeered some poor unsuspecting parent’s house for a few hours.  Michael D sat on the living room floor playing cars.  His mother hovered nearby.  My five year old actually was playing cars with Michael D, while the mob of kindergarteners swarmed the rest of the house and back yard.

I chatted with some of the other mothers and Michael D’s mother.  As parents of children who attend the same school, our conversation soon fell on issues related to the school – namely staffing.  As a teacher myself, I know that staffing allocations can be a contentious issues for parents and teachers alike.  These allocations – who teaches grade one, grade two, etc… are more complicated than most people are aware of.  Staffing decisions are made by a committee, and strict union and employer protocols must be followed.

For all Michael D’s quiet demeanor, his mother held firm and vocal opinions on the staffing decisions made by the school.  Namely, that they were wrong.

Mrs. D raged about a perceived slight against her older daughter a few years ago.  “… And the teacher they brought in was so strict!! She should have been teaching grade four, not kindergarten!!”

I tried to explain some of the legalities surrounding the decision.  I tried to explain that I was once in the same position as the teacher in question, and my rights as an employee.  I tried to explain the obligations of an employer, and some of our province’s laws as well as union regulations that lead to this decision.  Mrs. D did not want to hear it.  She continued to rage, “…the principal should have…”

I stopped listening.  She never even heard me.

I sometimes find that as a teacher, parents and the media feel they ‘own you’ in some weird way.  I think the belief is that as a professional you are public property, and a glorified babysitter.  Decisions that are essentially none of the public’s business (what my current job assignment is) become the stuff of neighbourhood gossip.

I spoke recently with a teacher who taught in France for many years.  She said that in Europe, teachers are more likely to be considered professionals akin to doctors or university professors.  She spoke about professional conversations with colleagues, her constant search for professional materials and new teaching methodology, her love of a ‘French Lunch’ and the need for a sabbatical.  She spoke about how university professors are expected to publish research papers, and public school teachers need to contribute to academic life.  She aligned herself and her practice more with university professors than the image of a weary kindergarten teacher surrounded by 30 hyperactive kindergarteners supervising an indoor recess.

Right now teachers in the Ontario are protesting against Bill 115, a piece of legislation affecting public school teacher’s rights to collectively bargain with their employers.  Media is portraying teachers as a bunch of whining lazy bums who spend their days hanging out with kids (and therefore doing nothing!) with summers off.  As teachers with professional knowledge about learning and child development, we need to insist that we are professionals, worthy of the same regard as university professors or medical professionals.

Not babysitters.  And certainly not a bunch of crybabies.

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog