teacherAs a parent of a middle-school student, I have a pretty good idea of what goes on in the classroom. I volunteer for school field trips, I stop in to the school and deliver snacks to my child’s classroom, and I invite my kids’ classmates over for pizza, pop and chip parties.

I’d like to know, Mr. Ford, have you had 28 grade 6 students at your home? Have you organized a “schools out for summer party” and invited your child’s entire class? I have. I did. And, guess what? I asked for help. I asked for other parents to help me chaperone from 5-9pm. For 4 hours. Did I have to discipline kids? Yes! Did I have to raise my voice to command their attention? Yep! Did they respect me? They sure did. But, I had help to keep the evening going smoothly. I had parents setting out food, cleaning up empty plates and cups, makings sure the students all ate and were safe.

I would also like to know Mr. Ford, have you ever volunteered on a field trip? Have you accompanied students out of the classroom to a new, exciting place outside of the school? I have. It’s exhausting. I really appreciate the quiet of my office after a day of constant student chatter and supervision. Kids are exhausting.

Mr. Ford, imagine being confined to 4 walls, with a small window that doesn’t really open and 24 kids chatting, dropping binders, moving chairs, tapping feet, shuffling papers, and asking questions. Now, add 10 more kids. Are you claustrophobic yet? Are you overwhelmed by the thought? I am. Any normal human being would be. But you expect our teachers to successfully manage 30 kids in one classroom. 30 different personalities, with different learning styles and abilities. Of course teachers have gone through specialized training to accommodate different students needs, but then we add to the equation... we add violent and abusive students. Teachers are not equipped with a strap or a ruler anymore, and they definitely can’t retaliate against these little monsters. So how do you expect them to manage this part of the equation? 30 students, 15 are functioning and attentive, 15 have special accommodations to be met.

Basic math here:

Children are in school from 8:50-3:10
Subtract two 20 minute nutrition breaks
Subtract two 20 minute recesses
380 minutes - 40 min - 40 min

That leaves 300 minutes of instructional time.
In a class size of 24, my child should get 12.5 minutes of 1:1 time with his teachers per day.
In a class size of 30, that drops to 10 minutes per day.

Mr. Ford, can you explain Pythagorean’s theorem to a Grade 8 student in 10 minutes? A student that is struggling with mental health issues and has limited ability to focus... can you do that?
I strongly doubt it. And I doubt anyone on your “team” of negotiators can either.

The teachers need help to manage behaviour. The teachers need help to keep other children safe. Teachers need support to teach integrated students with different abilities. I know it’s probably been a while since you’ve been a student in a classroom, so maybe you need to go back and see what school looks like today. You might learn a few things.

Alissa Angel
Parent of a Grade 8 Student at Hillcrest Elementary School in Owen Sound