There is an old story about a frog being boiled alive because he is put into a pot of cold water and the heat is slowly turned up. If the same frog had been put into the boiling water, it would have had the sense to jump out.
Teachers are the frog and the education system is the pot of water.
What the education system expects of teachers has increased significantly over the last number of years. These expectations have become normalized because teachers care about their students and try to maintain a level of instruction and support no matter what is thrown at them. There are significant deficiencies in our education system, but teachers did not cause them. In fact, if teachers hadn’t been so good at their jobs, they would have come to light much sooner. The efforts of teachers are keeping the education system afloat.
Work-to-rule has helped to highlight what has become the norm in schools. Many teachers rarely sit down during the day. Any extra time they have is spent providing extra help, running leadership or other extracurricular groups, doing paperwork, or just helping out in one way or another. In addition, they spend their evenings coaching and planning to meet the needs of students working at a range of grade levels. Many teachers take time away from their own children to ensure a positive learning experience for the children of others. Work-to-rule is a good reminder of how deep teachers’ investment in children’s education, health, and well-being actually runs. Even teachers benefit from seeing what an integral part of the system they are.
As a teacher and a parent, I have an interesting perspective. I think that there are many things which need an overhaul in our education system because even conscientious, hard-working teachers can only do so much within the bureaucracy of education. As hard as they might try to meet everyone’s needs in the classroom, many teachers feel that they cannot fully meet anyone’s needs. It is simply impossible to be everything to everyone in today’s society. It has become normal to have many students on individual programs, students with behaviour challenges, students with anxiety, multi-age students, students living in poverty, and students with learning disabilities all in one classroom. And teachers support them all to achieve.
The current education system does not fit with today’s society. The only reason it still functions at all is because teachers have been working harder and harder to make it fit. The job action by teachers has caused many people to realize that change must occur in order to best meet the needs of today’s children. Fortunately for my children and yours, teachers are increasingly aware of these growing needs and unlike the frog in the pot are ready to do something. Teachers are trying to push for changes which will benefit everyone’s children. As a parent, think about what you want this change to look like for your child because as a parent and teacher I certainly think about what I want for the education of my own children and the children I teach.