You don't need to pay me strike pay because what I'm fighting for is important to me. It is more important than money. I will not stop advocating for my students and wanting the best for them! They deserve better than what the government is funding right now. I have tried to fill the gaps with money from my own pocket, but I can't buy more support for students in the forms of specialized teachers.
So I wanted to just write a post that allows me to reminisce and give more detail about why students are important to me. I have been sitting here doing that for the last few hours anyways and I have found myself in tears a few times!
First of all, I am thankful for having students that truly care. I went through cancer almost 5 years ago and I was an emotional mess. As a result I am not able to have children of my own, so my students have become my kids. I honestly don't think I would have made it through that difficult time, if it hadn't been for my students. A few students kept inviting me to their soccer and hockey games. At the time, all I wanted to do was feel sorry for myself, but I went anyways. I would have felt too bad turning down their offers. After a year of them inviting me to soccer and hockey every week, I started to feel ok. I still go to their games and sit with their mom. This is my strike pay.
These same kids came back on the year anniversary of my surgery date. They knew it would be a difficult day for me and they wanted to make sure I was ok. To have 20 some grade 8 students show up at the elementary school, to even remember, was probably the most touching moment of my career. Who said teenagers are selfish? They definitely put me first that day. This is my strike pay.
To have a student tell me years later that being in my class saved him because it was the first year he was able to sleep since his parents split up. All I did was make time to talk to him. This is my strike pay.
To have a parent come to me when their child, now in high school, was going through a difficult time and ask for help because she knew we were still in touch. To have this student completely turn things around. This is my strike pay.
To have the power to talk a student out of quitting school in grade 9. He felt he was so far behind that he couldn't catch up. But I helped to get him passing 2 of the courses and helped him sign up for summer school for another. This is my strike pay.
To have a former student tell me she is applying to be valedictorian and ask for advice on her speech. Then she showed me her speech before anyone. To then get to see her say her speech in front of her classmates, family, friends, and school staff. This is my strike pay.
To have a student be the first person there in the morning and the last one to leave every day. To have them ask every day, "You picked me for your class, right?" "You wanted me." While this broke my heart, at the same time it was so amazing to see what caring could do for someone's confidence. Eventually this student started to make positive changes that were noticeable to their classmates. This is my strike pay.
To receive so many kind words, letters, cards from students and families. This year, I have students that write me compliments every single day in their planner. "I love you Miss Ling. I love being in your class. Your smile is my sunshine." This is my strike pay.
To be able to develop relationships with families because I have taught so many sibling groups. To have those families tell me when things happen. I had one former student tell me his brother was in the hospital because "I know you will go". I went most days and took movies, books, played board games. To have this student tell me later how much that meant to him. To have other parents invite me for dinner or ask me to write a reference letter for them means a lot to me. This is my strike pay.
To have students share the important moments of their lives. I have had students ask me to be their reference for their first job, ask for advice when selecting universities, bring by their girlfriend/ boyfriend so they can see what I think. It is so special that they remember me and keep me in the loop that is their life. This is my strike pay.
To have a student with no English begin to understand me and try to make conversation. To have his eyes light up at every activity we do. To hear him laugh when he understands a joke and start to make his own. This is my strike pay.
To have former students come see me for math help because they say "I understand it when you teach it". Even when they are in high school. To have a colleague's daughter tell their parents that I am the reason why they passed a test and my help was the best they have ever gotten. This is my strike pay.
To seeing students be kind to each other and welcome new students so willingly like I have been trying to teach them all year long. This is my strike pay.
To have students come in the morning of a test so they can study and have me ask them questions. When they do well on their test, they are so proud of themselves. This is my strike pay.
To the students that gave me my first Mother's Day gift ever. I love that you think of me as important in your life. That is usually a really hard day for me and you guys made it special. This is my strike pay.
To the girl who found me crying in the classroom after receiving a bad phone call where they made it seem like my cancer was back, and then getting half our class to come back with her so they could hug me and cheer me up. This is my strike pay.
To the student who would overthrow the ball in baseball (but not obviously) so our autistic student could get on base. This is my strike pay.
I have so many special or funny moments that I can look back on when times are hard, like they are right now. I only have to think of my students to make me smile or laugh. There are so many memories that I can't possibly write them all. To the times they talked in weird alien voices, or flexed for pictures. I will always remember you. You are all special to me. You are why I do this job. This is my strike pay. Thank you! I want the Liberal government to see that teaching is about more than the day to day teaching of language arts and math; it is about forming relationships with the students in your class so you can come from a point of understanding. When students know you care, they will go out of their way to do their best for you. This is what I want from my students.