Campbell urges teachers to band together to influence future of education

December 20, 2017

Presenter Carol Campbell urged teachers to look after themselves.

As if meant to dovetail the Pick a Premier campaign introduced by the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation, it was Carol Campbell’s turn to remind those attending the Saskatoon Teachers’ Association’s convention that they need to more fully embrace their influence.

“Think about how you use that influence, and remember that teachers really matter and together we can change things. It’s in our hands at this moment in terms of how do we keep the education system moving forward.

“We need to be intentional and strategic and draw on our experiences with the students in our classrooms. As teachers, use your voice and influence. Ask yourself how do you influence humanity, and how are we using that influence,” Campbell noted.

Campbell stressed that it’s not good for teachers to take this challenge on by themselves.

“We need to work with governments and the public to make the resources available that would enable us to be leaders. It’s not about flipping the system. It’s about how you share the message and then others will follow,” she stressed.

By way of introduction, Campbell is an Associate Professor of Leadership and Educational Change at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto and has worked closely with the Ontario Ministry of Education. 

In addition, she has considerable international experience working with policy-makers, including in her native Scotland.

During her presentation, Campbell had plenty of advice, and some that those in the audience were only too aware of but might sometimes not recognize.

“At the end of the day it all comes down to that relationship with the teacher and the student, but sometimes we can lose sight of that. It’s important though that we also have those relationships with parents and colleagues because that’s what is at the heart of democratic education,” Campbell stressed.

“Here in Saskatoon, you need to find out what’s worth fighting for in education in such a way that you keep education moving in a positive direction for those students in your classroom.”

She underscored the importance of keeping equity at the forefront, saying that it “needs to be at the heart, and so it’s how we do it. It’s for us to define equity and diversity.”

That equity, Campbell suggested, needs to be extended to the teaching profession itself as she pointed out the fact that women are not always equally represented even though they make up the vast majority of the profession.

“We need to work on that. It’s important that all voices are valued in our professional community, and we need to develop leadership and to develop our knowledge in working together. It’s no different than with the students when we think about how we support our diverse learners. We need to think broadly here, but not forget that your learning as a professional matters too.”

Campbell used this platform as a way to remind teachers of the importance in looking after themselves as if to corroborate the findings that in recent times teachers are experiencing greater stress levels than ever before.

“You need to remember to check on each other as well as your students. Rely on your professional network for support. Remember you can do anything – but not everything.”
Campbell reminded those in the audience that the profession they have chosen is not an easy one and requires considerable perseverance in the face of adversity.

“But we have to fight to support public education. We need to be vigilant when it comes to equity and citizenship for our students. We need to be in this for the long haul. It’s not an elevator to success; you have to take the stairs. There is no more time to sit back or someone will tell us how the future is going to be. Remember, you have each other to lean on,” she added.