When we thought about our daughter going to Grade 7 this fall — at a new school in a new town — we had many concerns and hopes, but none were about the curriculum. The PC government’s attack on teachers and the threat to add a snitch line seems so petty. Teachers aren’t employed by the Province in the first place and the Ontario College of Teachers requires accountability and a professional level of standard — and boards are in place to monitor necessary levels of conduct.
Our concerns were typical parental concerns. Will she make friends? How will she adapt to having more than one teacher each day?
Our hopes were also typical and are mainly about her teachers.
Teachers matter more than anything, except for families, in the lives of their students. Ann Masten in her years of study on resilience situates education as a potential protective factor for students as the buffer between home/family life and larger social and political structures.
A challenging home life can be eased through strong teacher and school support. At the same time, a teacher is given a social and political curriculum to teach, but has freedom in the classroom to include topics that are relevant to his or her students. She explains that the school values, the teaching itself, and the expectations of teachers and their school all help to ensure a more resilient outcome.
How does this translate?
Schools and teachers that have values such as inclusion, equity, and standards that ensure the support of all students promote higher quality outcomes.
John Hattie found that teachers who have high expectations of success for all of their students equals an effect size of 1.44. This is huge. What this means is that teachers who believe their students can be successful — all of them — creates successful students.
Finally in a recent study from 2016 about the increasing stress and burnout of teachers, it concludes by stating that “although some students learn despite their teachers, most learn because of them—not just because of what or how they teach, but because of who they are as people.” *
We have come to realize that our daughter has great teachers here in Kawartha Lakes, a supportive school environment, and enjoys a space that is caring and inclusive with high standards — for her — and all students.
*Richards, K. A. R., Levesque-Bristol, C., Templin, T. J., & Graber, K. C. (2016). The impact of resilience on role stressors and burnout in elementary and secondary teachers. Social Psychology of Education, 19(3), 511-536.