A survey released by a group of former and current educators indicates Nova Scotia’s teachers feel overburdened and disrespected in the aftermath of the 2016-17 contract dispute that was resolved through a government-imposed wage settlement.
Report co-author Pamela Rogers of Educators for Social Justice-Nova Scotia said the responses show that teachers still feel they are chronically under-resourced in the classroom and that they are battling increased demands on their time.
Rogers, a former teacher, said the majority of teachers who responded also feel their relationship with the provincial government has been “poisoned” because they aren’t being listened to.
“Teachers are demoralized and many spoke of thinking about or actually leaving the profession,” Rogers said.
The Google Forms survey consisted of four open-ended questions which ran on social media between January and April of 2018.
The questions included: What do you think has worked well since the imposition of the new collective agreement? What still needs to change? What do you love about teaching? Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
The survey received 292 responses, with 93 per cent submitted anonymously by classroom teachers. The remainder came from retired teachers, substitutes and specialists.
Rogers said while the survey is not a statistically representative sample of the province’s 9,300 teachers, it serves as a “snapshot” of what teachers felt about the profession during the winter of 2018.
She said a follow-up study is needed to see what may have changed since the initial survey period.
On the question on what still needs to change in the education system, 42 per cent said more human resources are needed, while 17 per cent said more support is needed for inclusive education. Another 12 per cent called for more trust and respect, while 11 per cent said they needed more class preparation time.
Education Minister Zach Churchill said a lot has happened in the system since the survey was conducted.
“These are frustrations that we are aware of,” said Churchill. “What we’ve done is acted on those.”
He said the biggest concerns stemmed from behavioural challenges in the classroom, something his department has addressed by hiring nearly 200 support staff including teaching assistants, behavioural and autism experts, and child and youth care practitioners.
“We are not seeing the world change overnight, of course, but we are seeing demonstrable impacts,” the minister said.