Teacher retention and recruitment, workload intensification, inclusion, classroom complexity and class size were all issues discussed with our colleagues from across Canada at the most recent Canadian Teachers’ Federation meeting at the end of November.
The CTF-FCE represents more than 360,000 teachers across Canada, and the one thing I noticed from our recent meeting is the commonality of these concerns from coast to coast to coast. Alberta teachers are not facing these issues alone. This last meeting focused quite heavily on the teacher retention and recruitment issue and how we are seeing it impact public education. For example, Quebec has uncertified teachers currently teaching courses, and several other areas such as the Northwest Territories cannot attract teachers to stay in the area.
We are also seeing the impact of retention and recruitment here in Alberta, from the use of classroom supervisors to cover classes, to continued substitute teacher shortages in some areas, and the fact that there are several schools in Alberta that are still unable to find teachers to fill vacant job postings. This is an issue that will only continue to grow.
Another common thread throughout all the issues we discussed at our last CTF-FCE meeting is funding. Several governments across Canada are not funding public education sufficiently as they fail to accommodate for growth and inflation. We see it daily in our classrooms as staff struggle to meet the needs of our students. The status of our classrooms affects retention and recruitment issues, and those issues, in turn, affect classroom conditions. They are not siloed issues, they are interwoven and rooted in a lack of funding.
The CTF-FCE is embarking on a strategy to address the retention and recruitment issues, and I was heartened to see that educational leaders across Canada are working together through CTF-FCE and individually in their own province and territories to address and find solutions to the many challenges facing public education. It’s easy to feel like you are alone or that our challenges are unique to just us. The sense of unity and comradery at CTF-FCE is a great reminder that we are not alone and that we have thousands of colleagues across the country who care about public education and students. ❚