Friday Two Cents: Caring And Fairness – Aspirations To Live By


This past week I witnessed something disturbing that has been on the increase in the past few years; student violence against teachers.   I think everyone is aware that since schools were created, there have been some acts of violence when it comes to student upon student.  Bullying, fighting and other offences were commonplace in the schoolyard, even in today’s schools.  However in recent years the incidents of student violence against teachers is on the rise. 

According to a survey by the provincial union for the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association, they found that 60% of teachers (both elementary and secondary) have personally experienced violence on the job.  The survey was published in June 2017.  Some of the highlights of the survey are …

  • 60 per cent of teachers personally experienced violence.
  • 70 per cent of teachers witnessed violence.
  • 26 per cent of teachers took time off due to school violence affecting their mental health.
  • 15 per cent of violent acts involve weapons, 76 per cent of which using classroom objects.
  • Almost 25 per cent say school administration discouraged them from filing reports or going to the police.

Pan F.;  (2017, June 29) Violence against Catholic school teachers frequent, says survey.CBC News. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/kitchener-waterloo/waterloo-region-catholic-school-violence-against-teachers-oecta-1.4184015 

I know many people may be aware of violence against a teacher in the older grades but I have witnessed such violence in the students as young as Kindergarten.  On several occasions I has seen students be so violent that the teacher had to remove the other children from the class while the student ransacks the classroom. Does anyone stop them?  No.  They continue until they are done.  Some even continue their rampage into the hall destroying artwork, turning over furniture and hitting other people they see.  Then to make matters worst, they may go after the teacher or ECE in the room with an object as a weapon. 

Student on a Rampage

Unfortunately that is not the end of the behaviour.  I saw that once the student had finished their rampage they are not required to clean up the mess.  No, the teacher cleans it up.  I look at this and say, “What are we teaching the student? You can destroy public property, hit people and getaway with it?”  The last time I checked that is call vandalism and hitting another person with out their consent is called assault.  Both are offences in the Criminal Code of Canada but for some reason these students are not charged or their parents held accountable for their actions.  

I don’t want to say, “When I was a student …” but unfortunately something has changed.  The reality is not simply that I witnessed and was a recipient of student violence against teachers, but there is documented proof that there is an increase. The truly scary thing is that people I knew, family and former friends would not stand for any type of violence against them in their workplace, yet they don’t think this is an issue when it comes to teachers.  “If you don’t like it, get a real job.” some would say.  

I am not sure what is the answer to this issue, all I know is that there is an issue and colleagues of mine and myself are feeling the strain and physical violence and abuse of these students. Even parents are not concerned with their children being violent to adults and other children.  Every parent is out there to look after their child and make sure that they get an education almost and any cost.  Yet they forget one vital lesson that is more important than math, reading or writing, they need to learn caring and fairness for others. How is it fair for one student to disrupt the lives of 20 others and the teacher who is trying to help/teach them to be the best person they can be.  

Society needs to remember the words that Colin Powell once said …  

‘Children need to get a high-quality education, avoid violence and the criminal-justice system, and gain jobs. But they deserve more. We want them to learn not only reading and math but fairness, caring, self-respect, family commitment, and civic duty.’ Colin Powell

More than simple words but aspirations to live by.  

Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association;(June, 2017). Workplace Violence and Harassment Against Teachers: Results of a comprehensive members survey. http://www.catholicteachers.ca/OECTA/media/pdfs/News/2017/OECTA%20Survey%20on%20Violence%20in%20Schools/na_schoolViolence_v3_june27_2017_reduced.pdf

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Friday Two Cents: I Finally Did It


 twoCentsOldNew

 

It was a long time coming. There were some times I came close to doing it, but something always got in the way. Year after year there I was, watching and wishing I could do it and be apart of the experience, but always falling short. There were some instances where I tried negotiating to be part of it but I always fell short. But this year, YES, I finally did it and I am so excited that I did. I finally played on the teachers’ team in the staff versus the children floor hockey game.

 

Every year at the school the grade 4 and 5 children participate in a floor hockey house league. Every year the team that wins the tournament plays the teachers in a no holds barred floor hockey game, for bragging rights. The teachers have a lot of fun in the game and just about everyone participates. But the children playing the teachers see this as an opportunity to get back at the teachers for all that homework and assignments they have been given. No honestly, I have seen the previous years games and every team that plays the teachers, really try to beat the teachers.

Every year I watch the game or hear about it in the aftermath and I am full of longing to play. Year after year for eight years I have longed for that chance, but it was never because the teachers would not let me play. I had always had to work and look after the kindergartens during the lunch period, which is when the game is played. For eight years I have tried to negotiate so I can play, but it never worked out.

Yet the ninth year I was free of any duties or responsibilities so my chance had come and it was electric. Let me try to paint you a picture of the experience.

The children had just finished their lunch, as did the teachers. The gym teacher sold tickets for other children to watch, with the money going to a local charity. The children’s team was assembling in the gym ramping up the crowd. The teachers slowly make their way into the gym to the delight of the screaming crowd. The first three teachers walk in with screams and chats of their names.

Outside the gym a few children ask me, “Are you going to play?” I say yes and they run back into the gym and tell the crowd and the team. I hear them talking about the fact that I am playing and I look inside and I see a few yell out to me the same question. I respond with a nod of my head and a smile comes over their faces. More teachers arrive and I go in and I hear the crowd chant, “MR. PAUL! MR. PAUL!” I can tell you with no shame that I was a little embarrassed and overwhelmed by the attention. I grab a stick and play with it and talk a little smack to the children on the team about how they are going down and if you want to drop the gloves right now and they do the same to me. We have a little fun, talking smack to each other, but all in good fun.

The game starts but I am on the second line and I watch the children playing with such intensity as in previous years. The teachers are playing in response to the children and it is a very entertaining first shift. The whistle blows and the second shift comes on. Here I go, My moment has come and I hear the crowd yell in delight and in the mix of the noise I hear “GO! MR. PAUL!” Man what a rush of emotions came over me at that moment. I was nervous and excited at the same time. I took my position at centre and looked at the opposing team player and smiled.

The puck is dropped and I win the faceoff. I rush forward taking a position in front of the net waiting for and opportunity. I rush after their centre-man and make sure he can’t get a scoring chance or try to strip the puck from him. The shift is a heart pounding 2 minutes long but exhilarating. The whistle blows for the next shift and I go off. I didn’t score but man was I pumped.

The next shift they play as hard as the rest but the teachers’ score! Its 1 – 0 but the intensity does not diminish on either side. A few seconds later another teacher scores making it 2 – 0. High-5s are being shared by the teachers while the crowd yells its approval.

The next shift goes on with both sides throwing themselves at the puck. But no goals are scored. Then my turn comes again and I take my place at centre again. I win the faceoff and move forward. My left-winger plays hard to get the puck and then passes it into the corner. I rush in and control of the puck. I move towards the net and wrist it towards the goalie and I gets past him! GOAL!! The crowd tells and I raise my arms in triumph. I share High-5s with my teammates and move to the centre to take the faceoff. I win it again and we work the puck around with the other team really pressing against us. I find myself in front of the net again when the defenseman shots the puck up. The other team stops the puck but I steal it from them and move to the net. I shoot! I score! Two goals!! More High-5s. The whistle blows and the teachers are up 4 – 0.

I go off to rest up and see the great action continuing in the game. Neither team is letting up. The children are really trying to score, as are the teachers, but the students’ goalie is in tough and the teachers’ goalie is not letting anything through.

My shift comes up and it is the last shift of the game. I am at centre again but the principal comes up and takes my stick for the faceoff. After she came back to me and gives me the stick to finish the shift. I cover the other centre-man and in the process I make my way to their net again. Twice I try to get the hat trick, but both times I am denied by their goalie. The final whistle blows and that’s the game! The teachers win 4 – 0 and we all congratulate each other on a game well-played. But what was amazing was that the children watching came up to us and starting High-5ing us on a great game.

Both teams line up to shake hands and you can see in the eyes and faces of the kids’ team that they were a little upset that they lost. We all took it in stride because it was a well-played game and everyone, student and teacher should be proud of their efforts.

It took me nine years to finally play in that game and I had just done so and scored two goals! That was icing on the cake. The other teachers were all excited and happy about the game but I can tell you, I was so pumped that I felt like I had just won the Olympic gold medal game. It was something I wanted to experience for a very long time and I was not sure if it would live up to the hip that I gave it. I can tell you without any doubt. It was better.

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