New Brunswick

Teachers want download of responsibilities to stop

If the provincial government wants students to develop a sense of belonging in school, the best way to do that is to stop downloading extra responsibilities on to teachers, says the president of the New Brunswick Teachers' Association.

NBTA president says teachers can help students feel attached to school if given the time to do so

Premier Brian Gallant and Education Minister Brian Kenny released the province's 10-year education plan on Thursday in Fredericton. (CBC)

Now that the provincial government wants students to develop a sense of belonging in school, it has to stop downloading extra responsibilities on to teachers, says the president of the New Brunswick Teachers' Association.

The 10-year education plan revealed Thursday by the Gallant government contains many of the same platitudes found in similar reports over the past decades.

Something new in the plan, however, is the desire for students to "have a strong sense of belonging" in their school.

The report for the anglophone sector pointed to a recent survey that revealed that more than one-third of high school students in New Brunswick do not feel a positive sense of belonging in their school

"Sense of belonging is an important component of student engagement," states the plan.

"Learning is enhanced by respectful and responsive relationships."

Teachers need time

NBTA president Guy Arseneault says teachers feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities that are downloaded onto them that aren't tied to teaching. (CBC)
Guy Arseneault, the president of the New Brunswick Teachers' Association, said after the plan was revealed Thursday that to develop such relationships, teachers need time.

"There is a lot of work that has been downloaded on teachers," said Arseneault.

"They feel that it's taken away from their time from teaching students."

"We have to liberate time for teachers to be with students," he said.

We have to liberate time for teachers to be with students.- Guy Arseneault , NBTA president

"We are talking about a sense of belonging. Well, the teacher needs time to develop that," said Arseneault. "They have to be close to every student."

Arseneault said there aren't enough details in the new plan to tell if the concerns of teachers will be addressed as the new plan is implemented.

"There seems to be an indication that yes, they want to support children in the classrooms," said Arseneault.

"That's how you support children in the classroom, by allowing teachers a chance to work with those students either individually, [or in] small groups."

Unreasonable expectations

Green Party Leader David Coon says teachers have to "be able to use their chops" to help achieve what's laid out in the government's 10-year education plan. (CBC)
Green Party Leader David Coon noted the plan's lack of detail. He said some significant issues are missing.

"I'm disappointed the strategy doesn't recognize the fact that teachers and teacher assistants right now are stressed out and burning out and need new supports, new resources to do the job they were trained to do," said Coon.

Teachers have to be able to use their chops.- David Coon, Green party leader

​"This is setting new objectives and targets and putting the obligation on those teachers to meet those objectives and targets and with no mention of new resources and supports."

Coon said nobody disagrees with the plan's desire for students to achieve their full potential.

"Who can disagree with that?" he said.

"But to be able to do that, teachers have to be able to use their chops. They have to be able to teach."

In the current situation, the Green leader said that's not possible.

"It is unreasonable to put this expectation on teachers given the current situation without some significant changes," he said.

With files from Information Morning Moncton, CBC News at 6

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