In Manitoba as teachers we stand for Inclusion. A place where not only children can be safe, valued and accepted, but everyone. As a teacher that is what we are supposed to stand for when we are at school. We have an obligation as teachers to work towards creating learning environments where every child can be successful. With the diverse needs in our classrooms, in our schools that is certainly a daunting task and standard to be held accountable to. It is however one of the standards a successful school is held to.
Do we stand for the same things 24/7?
Are we role models inside and outside of our classrooms?
Manitoba Teacher’s Society President was quoted recently as saying “Teachers are Teachers 24 Hours a Day.” He went on to talk about how as professionals we are held up to a higher standard when it comes to what we do and say at school as well as after school. Manitoba Teacher’s Society President went on to say that ‘Teaching is not what I do, but who I am.
If we are teachers 24/7 what does that require our societal role to be outside of our classrooms?
I agree with our MTS President that we are teachers 24/7. This means as ‘Teachers’ as well as an effective Manitoba Teacher’s Society we then have an obligation to advocate for the rights of children whose voices are either not heard or ignored. Every day we as teachers work closely with children, families and communities and get to witness first hand their struggles as poverty amongst children and families continues to grow. Child Poverty is having a devastating effect that is impacting children in and outside our classrooms. We also witness first hand children and youth and the negative effects of many aspects of social media from cyber-bullying to the exploitation of children through child pornography. We also recognize that even though the policy of ‘Corporal Punishment’ was banned in Manitoba in 2004; in practice uncommon long before that; we still have a society where too many people believe it is okay, it is their right to use physical means to punish children. This despite all the evidence to the contrary and that it harms rather than helps.
We as teachers need to have a voice that supports children and families 24/7. We as teachers need to promote a society where every person is safe, valued and accepted. We need to advocate for the human rights of all people. We need to help create societies that strive to be inclusive of every individual not only in school, but in our communities.
We shouldn’t be afraid to have our voices heard but rather make sure our words and actions support our belief of building inclusive classrooms, schools and communities. We need to advocate for a society built on human rights as the cornerstone for all government policies. It is one of the reasons I am proud of the fact as teachers as the Manitoba Teacher’s Society we so actively supported the building of the Canadian Human Rights Museum as it put our words into action.
Being a teacher 24/7 can at times seem like a tremendous responsibility and it is. However, there never has been a time in my career as an educator where children and families needed our voices more.