Friday, May 27, 2011

I'm Proud to be a Teacher in Saskatchewan

I was very hesitant to write this post and have been avoiding it for a few reasons. I had always planned on keeping this blog separate from my work for the most part with the exception of a few general comments.  Obviously, working full-time with a one year old and two year old is bound to have its challenges but I didn't think it would be the challenge I am faced with right now.

Because I feel that this is obviously an important part of my life and my goal for my blog has always been to present a real Mom's views on life, work, school (university), and everything else, I will write about this too.  I will be honest in saying that I am using my blog as a platform to express some things that I feel very strongly about with respect to the value of teachers in the province of Saskatchewan.  Moms of two young kids can and should be strong, active voices in their communities and for their professions, especially when it is education.  I am very interested in seeing education being valued in this province for my own children's futures.

I have written a couple letters to the Government of Saskatchewan about the current contract negotiations between the Saskatchewan Teacher's Federation and the Government's Bargaining Committee.  I would like to publicly acknowledge Mr. Ron Harper for being the only MLA that has sent a response thus far. I have posted a revised version as the original version became rather long.  I will also include some relevant websites, photos, and videos. 

To Premier Brad Wall and The Government of Saskatchewan,

I am writing with respect to the current efforts of teachers to achieve a fair and satisfactory agreement between Saskatchewan teachers, the Boards of Education and the Government of Saskatchewan.   As you know, the Saskatchewan Teacher’s Federation held a rally in front of the Saskatchewan Legislature Building earlier this month to express our dissatisfaction with the government’s offer of 5.5% over three years.  I was one of the teachers standing amongst my professional colleagues asking to be respected and valued by the government that day.  We stood together again yesterday and were joined by teachers from all over Saskatchewan who again asked to be respected and valued and compensated for the important work that we do with Saskatchewan’s most valuable natural resource, our children.

At this time, I would like to share my own personal teaching experiences as they are quite different than most teachers in Saskatchewan.  I began teaching English as a Foreign Language in Taiwan after I obtained my first degree in Human Kinetics from the University of British Columbia.  I had the travel bug and decided to travel, teach and experience life in another country.  I came to love Taiwan and, most importantly, I fell in love with teaching.   Consequently, I lived in Taiwan for four years where I spent my time teaching English and learning Mandarin Chinese.   Teachers in Chinese culture are well-respected and considered prominent members of society.  Their value and status in society are undisputed and the teaching profession is among the most admired in China. 

When I returned to Canada, my love for teaching led me to the University of Regina where I completed the Bachelor of Education (After Degree) program in 2005.  I spent my first two years teaching in rural Saskatchewan elementary schools where I first discovered that teaching is certainly not an 8:00-3:30 job.    I also quickly learned that teachers in Saskatchewan do not receive the same respect or status in our society as I had experienced in Taiwan.   As a result, it makes our jobs even more difficult.  I truly believe that the government can contribute to our perceived value in society by bringing appropriate resources to the bargaining table and showing that we are, in fact, worthy of the investment.  

I currently teach in the English as an Additional Language program in Regina and my students come from several different countries.  I recently returned to work after a maternity leave so I was just getting to know many of my students this month.  During my first week, I asked them to write a letter about themselves to help me get to know them better.  I provided them with some guiding questions, one of which was why their family had decided to move to Canada.  My students from South Africa, The Philippines, China, Germany, Thailand, and Somalia all wrote the same thing.  They wrote that they came to Canada for a better education.  Our education system is world renowned.  Students from all over the world are coming to Saskatchewan because their families believe we provide the best education.   They respect and value the teachers in our province.

Clearly, teachers are providing children and communities across Saskatchewan with valuable services but this is not being recognized by the government in these current negotiations.  This is not an issue of supply and demand.  This is an issue of respect and value.   I am disappointed that the government does not consider education a priority at a time when Saskatchewan is experiencing unprecedented wealth and prosperity.  I urge you to bring more resources to the bargaining table so that teachers may continue to do what we love the best - teach the students of this great province.  Perhaps we need to embrace the perception of my international students who truly believe that Saskatchewan’s teachers are providing the best education in the world.  And perhaps we also need to embrace the Chinese cultural values where teachers are well-respected and considered prominent, revered members of society.  So, I ask you, please Invest in Teachers…For our Students, For our Province, For our Future. 


Trudy Thorson
Regina, SK


Video: Saskatchewan Teacher's March - May 26th

Video: John McGettigan's Address at the SK Teacher's Rally - May 26th 

Video: Jim Gallagher's Address at the SK Teacher's Rally - May 26th 

Video: Pat Maze's Address at the SK Teacher's Rally - May 26th

Some photos from the rally yesterday:

Thousands of teachers and supporters at the steps of the Legislature in Regina, SK.

Thousands of teachers and supporters walking through Wascana Park on May 26, 2011.


  1. Great post! You have my support. :) My dad was a teacher in Saskatoon for many years, and my uncle got his Education degree in Regina before moving out to the Maritimes to teach.

    I think it's very important to invest in education and our teachers. Many of my teachers have helped me outside school hours with personal and education related problems. They gave up their own time/money to make sure we had sports and arts programs. They helped us prepare to enter the workforce.

    I think it is a real shame that teachers do not have the respect that they deserve. Does 5.5% over 3 years even cover the cost of living increases? I doubt it.


  2. So glad that you took the opportunity you have in this blog to write this post. I know way too many teachers (even in affluent communities here in the US) that purchase their own supplies because not enough is provided. These are teachers that are on the strictest of budgets because they are teachers. They care more about their children than getting ahead. It's time all teachers are rewarded. Aside from parents they make the biggest influence on the next generation. I commend you and hope you get more than you deserve. {{{HUGS}}} from Raleigh, NC, USA

  3. Thanks for the support, ladies!

    Christine, you are right. 5.5% would not even account for inflation. It's an insulting offer, hence why teachers here are so united in standing up for ourselves.

    Thanks that you are replying from the US! You are right..we do spend a lot of our own money on teaching supplies and I haven't even once thought of using that as an argument in why we should be paid more because it is such an inherent part of what we do. Maybe I should add that to the list of reasons. Thanks for truly is a HUGE part of our society and too often teachers are taken for granted.

  4. another reply from the US...teachers here used to be respected, but as soon as the economy fell apart it became too easy to ask teachers to make up the difference. I taught for 41 years and loved my job, but teachers are no longer respected even though they are expected to create and mold 'perfect''s so hard! I am a new follower, hope you will visit:

  5. Great post, I wish I had read it earlier. As a teacher, I think you stated things accurately. I have taught in rural Saskatchewan and also feel extremely undervalued. I have often questioned why I went in to teaching because I have felt so overwhelmed and burned out.

  6. Thanks Marni,

    Unfortunately, this post is probably even more relevant today than the day I wrote it. It seems like SK teachers are in this for the long run. This Thursday is the deadline for the mediator report so that will likely make some impact on where we go next with negotiations.

    At the very least, this whole process as brought SK teachers together and really made us reflect on what we do and how we are currently compensated for all our work, especially extra curricular.

    You are right though..teaching can be overwhelming and a lot of teachers do burn out as expectations are incredibly high and teachers are over achievers who don't want to disappoint. It's also extremely disheartening when you do not receive the support you need or the respect necessary to do your job. I just hope that the gov't will consider teachers on their own and throw out the concept of 5.5% over three years. It's not even close to acceptable.



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