A horrific act of
terrorism on September 11 brought home to everyone the fragility of peace
and tolerance in our daily lives. When we watched the courageous and
generous people who risked their lives to try to find survivors in the
rubble of the World Trade Center, we were watching the spirit of service
that motivates so many in the public sector, a spirit that has been
consistently undervalued during recent years.
During the weeks since then, teachers have had what has been one of the most
challenging tasks of their lives — trying to explain the inexplicable to
their students about how and why this happened and what our response should
be, as individuals and as a community.
In the face of events that challenge the most knowledgeable and experienced
people in public office to make the right decisions, teachers can call on
their knowledge, skills and life experience to put these horrible events
into some sort of context for their students.
Teachers and the teaching profession have suffered from the tendency to
undervalue service to the community. Yet in the face of years of policies
and actions that at times seemed designed to demoralize, teachers have
continued to focus on providing quality learning experiences for Ontario
That, too, is the spirit of service to the community.
W O R L D T E A C H E R S ’ D A Y
It is fitting that on October 5,
communities around the world celebrated World Teachers’ Day, an annual
tribute established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The College added its voice to the many organizations that recognize that
without teachers, there can be "no sustained development, social
cohesion or peace."
As our own tribute to teachers in Ontario, on October 5, the College ran
prominent advertisements in major daily newspapers featuring outstanding
Canadians talking about their remarkable teachers.
Remarkable Canadians, like Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson and astronaut
Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian to walk in space, having reached the
pinnacle of their chosen field, look back on their school years and point to
a specific person — a teacher — whose influence was strong enough that
the memories remain vivid after years or even decades.
"It really is interesting how many of the people who achieve, who have
really accomplished something, relate it back to some crucial moment when
they were in Grade 4 or Grade 9 or Grade 12 when a teacher said something
and the penny dropped," says journalist Pamela Wallin.
D A Y I N T H E L I F E
In the midst of all of this, Professionally Speaking went forward with a
long-time plan to follow a number of our members through their workday on
September 20. We assigned writers to accompany College members in schools
across Ontario as they went about the many tasks and responsibilities that
present themselves not only every September but every day of the year.
Some of the teachers we followed are in their first job, while others have
many years of experience to draw on in adapting to the changes that every
new year brings. They were all recommended to us by education professionals
as graduates of teacher education programs or exemplary educators who
typified the best of their peer group, each doing remarkable things in
schools every day all across Ontario.
Every one of the writers who worked on this project had a similar reaction
— awe at the scope and difficulty of the work that is demanded of teachers
today and enormous respect for the enthusiasm and energy that they bring to
In the stories that chronicle A Day in the Life, you will I am sure
recognize all of the challenges and the rewards of your own job. I hope you
find our coverage worthy of the great contribution you make to your
students, to your own community and to the very fabric of our society.