You’ve probably heard that times are tough in education. This is certainly the case – and classroom conditions are deteriorating for both teachers and students.
I’ve been a teacher for many years now. One thing I always like to point out is that the working conditions of teachers are also the learning conditions of students. Students will learn best when teachers are able to focus on what they do best – teaching.
Over the past several years, the Ministry of Education, Saskatchewan School Boards Association and the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation have conducted a number of studies on the challenges that teachers and students are facing.
One particular study, the Final Report on Teacher Time and Workload Intensification, underlined the astronomical workload growth for teachers, much of it administrative and non-teaching related. It describes an environment in which teachers’ time has been shifted away from their students’ growth and learning, and onto growing administrative work, data-entry and other non-instructional activities. The report also identified the massive pressure on teachers to meet the ever-widening diversity of student needs, compounded by increased class sizes and decreasing resources available to meet those needs.
How then can the annual budget cuts to education be justified when looking at this information?
Will cutting staff, programs or other resources give our students the timely help they require to grow and learn? Will off-loading more duties and responsibilities on teachers allow the time or creativity that teachers need to prepare engaging lessons for students?
The 2015 report goes on to share what the professionals articulated as needs to support learning in the classroom. It identifies that more teachers or human resources in the classroom are needed. It also notes the importance of requiring more supports for teaching and learning and fewer ministry initiatives; along with greater resources to support curriculum.