Before Christmas, I promised a teacher with whom I had exchanged that I would contact her again after the holidays. In December, I had a column in the works on the teachers who drop out, including Mélissa …
Yes, let’s call her Mélissa, which is obviously not her real name.
If I tell you her real name, the school service center where Mélissa works will sanction her for having dared to tell the truth to a journalist in the name of the “duty of loyalty”, a disciplinary club that is used on teachers who may have the bad idea to say how it goes in their classes.
Melissa, therefore, thinks of picking up. In fact, she is planning her dropout, her post-career as a teacher.
I relaunched it on Wednesday: so, Mélissa, are you still picking up?
“Nothing has changed,” she confirmed to me. What I wrote to you in my letter in December is still valid, I am thinking of my life after being a teacher… ”
Before Christmas, Mélissa sent me a letter in which she told me about her daily life as a primary school teacher, her 20 students, 13 of whom need support services of one form or another. Six students newly arrived in the country. This is his class: seven “regular” students who do not have any difficulty whatsoever.
The class is followed by a remedial teacher, yes. The needs are concentrated on French. For other subjects, it will be the week of the four Thursdays. Oh yes, the school service center has around thirty unfilled remedial teaching positions.
Speech therapy for struggling students? Mélissa’s school has had speech therapy for four months in the past three years.
The “heaviness of the task” that the teachers talk about is a little, a lot that: classes filled with pupils in difficulty who do not have the help of professionals to which they should have access. So the teachers of the “regular”, like Mélissa, do what they can, plug the holes, plumbers of schooling …
They do what they can in the 32-hour schedule, but of course they never work 32 hours. It’s still more than 32 hours. Corrections, preparation, communications with parents …
It’s never, never, never 32 hours.
“Parents have NO idea of the composition of my class,” Mélissa wrote to me. Nor the lack of resources. To speak publicly about it would be a breach of my duty of loyalty to my employer. I wonder why this duty is not towards the students …
– What are you going to do?
– I don’t know, but I’m watching. I have 13 years of experience. My colleagues tell me that it’s time to go… ”
Melissa doesn’t know what she’s going to do, but she knows she can’t do that anymore, teach. She is tired of perpetual, chronic fatigue. Feeling like you can never do enough.
When we chatted this week she asked me:
“Did you know about Mr. Jason?
– Sir who?
– Mr. Jason, a very active teacher on the internet. He has just announced his resignation… ”
I went to search the site of this Mr. Jason (1): young teacher, capsules on his profession on Facebook, creator of educational capsules, more than 7000 subscribers on Instagram, presence on the school site of Télé-Québec …
And this week, the young man announced his resignation on his website. At the end of the line. Title of his resignation ticket: “I left the class”.
I quote the beginning of his post: “I am leaving the class because I am tired of choosing which pupil in difficulty will be entitled to remedial teaching. I leave the class because I am tired of seeing the distress in the eyes of some children who have no services for lack of budgets or staff. I leave the class because I am fed up with seeing in the eyes of people outside the system the lack of consideration of my professional opinion… ”
And: “I leave the class because I like to teach, but not all the other related tasks …”
And: “I left the class because my mental health depended on it. ”
I had started writing this column when Mélissa sent me the screenshot of a message received from a friend and colleague teacher. It’s over, this teacher announced to her gang of girls: “I just quit… I feel sad, relaxed and happy at the same time. ”
Nothing that I tell you above is new. For several years now, I have been listening to teachers talk to me about their profession, through occasional columns on the importance of school in society. The grievances of Madame Mélissa and Monsieur Jason, I have heard – and relayed – in a hundred ways, in the form of exhausted sighs …
And the pandemic has only added to the heaviness of the challenges that exhaust so many teachers, exhaustion that creates a staggering dropout rate for them.
There is a debate these days over the possible cancellation of spring break this year. Canceling the spring break would make it possible to “catch up” on knowledge that could not be communicated in this year of upheavals in our classes.
I say it’s a very good idea to cancel the 2021 spring break… if we want to convince even more teachers to quit the profession.