We are going to explore this work in more detail with Claudine Gagné, from Terrebonne, who has been an elementary school teacher for 7 years.
How did you choose your profession?
I wanted to be a teacher as soon as I entered preschool. I loved everything about school! Later, that desire faded, but it came back strong when it came time to enroll in college.
What does your typical day look like?
In the morning, I arrive before the students to prepare the material, make photocopies, prepare the computer and the interactive whiteboard. Then, I spend a large part of my day with my students. Between my teaching periods, I plan, correct, complete documents, follow up on intervention plans, meet my colleagues, organize activities in the school, etc. The task of teachers has grown heavier and more complex over the years. We do much more than teach! I usually leave an hour after classes end.
What excites you about your work?
Children! The relationship that we establish day by day is rich and above all rewarding. That’s what I love about primary. We are together 5 hours a day, 5 days a week for 10 months. Necessarily, we create links. We are all evolving together. I try to make them autonomous, empower them, make them proud of themselves and confident. I want them to like coming to school. Being their teacher fills me with joy!
I am very proud to be a teacher because I firmly believe that education is the foundation of a society. In a lecture, I heard Pierre Lavoie say: “Doctors save lives, but teachers save societies.” It moved me to tears. In some countries, teachers are the most valued people. I don’t ask for so much, but I would like to have more recognition. We often have to justify our decisions, our actions. Some people think that it is enough to have gone to school to be a pedagogue. I would like to be recognized as an education professional, which I am. Thanks to the teachers, you read, count, write! There is something to be proud of!
What don’t people know about your job and what would you like them to know?
We don’t get paid in the summer, contrary to popular belief. Our 10 month salary is simply spread over 12 months.
We really want to collaborate with the parents, we are not against them. We do not want all children to be medicated and we do not label children according to their difficulties either. I’ve heard this a few times and it saddens me to know that some parents think this way. We want to meet the needs of the child (and not his desires) and above all ensure his academic success. This is what concerns us. All our decisions are made in order to maintain an environment that promotes the academic success of the children entrusted to us.
What advice would you give to people who want to do this job?
Jump into the bath ASAP! Do some substitute teaching right after your university sessions to immerse yourself in all kinds of different practices. This will make it easier for you to define your professional identity, to trust yourself and to assume your authority.