Why a teacher??? #thisismystrikepay #BCTF

Today on the picket lines, my colleagues and I were approached by a woman with two adorable dogs. I asked permission to take a picture of her sweet basset hound to use on social media in support of the strike.

She immediately agreed and was delightfully supportive of us teachers and what we are trying to achieve.

As we chatted, focused on getting the dog and one of our picket signs to align in the photo, she suddenly looked up at me… and then simultaneously hugged me as she queried, “OMG – Ms. Kelley?!?” 

She recognized me…

I taught her son, Ty, when he was in Grade 2…

I immediately remembered him…

I somehow even pulled his last name out of my teacher hat…

She reminded me of the Circus Show movie I made with that class (as I did with many of my classes) and how we made it look like her boy was shot out of a cannon.  We subtly <sarcasm> created a stunt double with a plasticine figure on a piece of wire for the part where he was blasting across the room. It was very high-tech…

If I recall correctly, Ty may also have been the Ring Master in our film.

These films were a hoot. I had an old, very heavy VHS camera, upon which I had to edit the film as we were recording. And though our special effects may have been a little sketchy, my primary classes and I recorded circus shows and fairy tales and such, where every child in my class had a role and was a star. I suppose I was director, producer, camera person, crowd-control, and pied piper, but the kids were stars and we worked together make the sets and the costumes and plan the shows. Sometimes the camera was shaking because I was laughing so hard, and Ty’s mom told me that I can be heard laughing on the recording of that year’s movie project.

After we were done we would invite the students’ families to our Premier, and then I painstakingly copied a video for every student. And truth be told, today is not the first time I have heard that one of these videos is still a treasured relic from a primary school past.

I am so grateful that Ty’s mom shared with me the impact I had on her son and how the experience of being accepted shaped his feelings about himself. This kid was a live-wire and needed time and assurance, and I spent many-a-day at the end of class talking with this parent and working out strategies with her to positively support the development of her child.

That is what we do as teachers.

We change lives…

Sometimes with little things…

Or in ways we may never see…

I needed this reminder.

I am a facilitator, conflict management negotiator, counselor, confidant, cheer leader, researcher, social worker, shoe tier, lunch maker, firm reliable guide, band-aid provider, crossing guard, co-learner, reader, curriculum organizer and creator, equipment demonstrator, actress, singer, poet, comedian, furniture mover, artist, dream giver, hot lunch distributor, role model, political and human rights activist, cartoonist, tear wiper, scientist, sociologist, puppeteer, group dynamics expert, leader, writer, eraser provider, story-teller, advocate, opportunity creator, inclusionist, supporter of diversity, bridge builder, pied piper…

… I am a teacher!

What a treat it was to meet this parent from so many years ago…

And to hear about this little blonde boy, Ty, who is 26 now…

He is getting married this summer… and they are showing the movie at the reception!

This is my strike pay!

Hound.jpg* A final note: It is of critical importance to understand that 18 years ago, when I taught the class that Ty was in, my class size was usually between 18-20 students, and I had the time to pay attention to each child, and take on projects that stretched all of us to our creative limits. This was prior to 2002, when the language for class size and composition was still in our contract. I am so appreciative of the lovely interaction today with Ty’s mom, that has me thinking back on all the amazing child-centred learning and projects that I was able to undertake with my students. I am renewed in my conviction that we need to continue to fight return class size and composition language to our contracts, and to take a stand to protect public education.


30 Days of Autism is a project designed to fight stigma, promote civil rights, and increase understanding and acceptance for those who process and experience the world differently.

© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism (2014)

About Leah Kelley, Ed.D.

Leah Kelley, M.Ed, Ed.D., Writer, Consultant, Activist, Speaker, and Educator, working with Teacher Candidates at UBC. Authors blog: 30 Days of Autism. Projects support social understanding, Neurodiversity paradigm, Disability Justice, and connecting Disability Studies in Education(DSE)to Educational Practice. Twitter: @leah_kelley Facebook: 30 Days of Autism: Leah Kelley
This entry was posted in Autism, BC Teachers Federation, BCTF, Educator, social justice and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Why a teacher??? #thisismystrikepay #BCTF

  1. Love this story, Leah. Thank you so much for sharing the magic of your classroom. It certainly can be a small and wonderful world…


  2. Nancy arnold says:

    Leah, I used to have time to do that too! The last few years have been so chaotic that it was a vague memory! I tried to act out Mortimer with my K class last year when I only had 3 students that were challenging. With 22 K’s and the extreme behaviours, it was impossible. I really miss those times. Thank you for another reminder of why I am holding the line!


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