Treena Mielke

Family: With back to school season right around the corner, teachers deserve praise

The time to check off your summer bucket list has almost come to a close.

Whether we like it or not, it’s almost time for the changing landscape of time to visit us again.

Even as I look out my window at a sun drenched green and blue day, splashed with pastels of every shade and hue as my flower beds continue to dazzle pretty much anyone who is not colour blind, I can smell it in the air; the sharp, tantalizing edge of fall.

That being said, I was more than a little surprised when I noticed the shelves already filled with Halloween candy when I went to get groceries the other day.

Being a typical consumer, I momentarily stopped and weighed the pros and cons of buying said candy early.

“Great little snack,” I say to myself. “Too many calories,” I argue.

Regretfully, I move on.

I spent a few hours with three little hooligans, otherwise known as my three youngest grandsons the other day, enjoying a pre-back-to-school afternoon visit.

I arrived with gifts, namely, Dairy Queen Blizzards in hand, and they were impressed, so impressed, in fact, they put the movie, Pirates of the Caribbean on pause to chat with me in-between mouthfuls of the delicious ice cream concoction.

It was a delightful afternoon. They told me all the delightful tales about their summer, mostly how they had learned to water-ski and wakeboard and kneeboard behind their new boat. And as they talked, I felt like I could feel the surge of the boat as it pulled them up, see the churning crystal clear wake behind it and hear their exuberant laughter bounce over the waves.

And, in my mind, it seemed the fun and exciting summer of their childhood was contagious, and, just for a moment, I forgot I was, in fact, their grandma and felt excited right along with them.

Jacob, the youngest one, will head into Grade 2 this year. When he finished his Blizzard, he raced into his room and proudly donned his new back-to-school outfit for me to see. I’m sure he had no idea how incredibly adorable he looked. No doubt, he is also oblivious to the fact he has never attended school without the worry and threat of COVID hanging around like a dark, ominous cloud.

The teachers in my family are already mentally back in their classrooms, the black and white chalkboards in their minds already filled with possibilities for the new year.

The Grade 6 teacher explained how she is putting a ‘shout-out’ notifications up in her classroom, giving students positive recognition for acts of kindness.

I am impressed.

Even though I’m not, nor have never been a teacher, other than when I tagged teamed with my daughter to teach a creative writing course, I am a little shell shocked at the class sizes these girls are facing – one will teach a high school class of 35 students, and another will face 29 Grade 6 students on that first fateful day that school’s back in.

With class sizes like this I can see why summer has come to an abrupt, screaming halt for anyone who has chosen to make education their career of choice.

But, regardless of class size, the threat of a fourth wave of COVID and changes in government, rules and regulations, teachers are back in the classroom.

It can’t be easy, but then anything worthwhile rarely is.

I think the teachers all need a shoutout, a pat on the back and a word of encouragement.

They certainly deserve it.

And they have only just begun!

Treena Mielke is a central Alberta writer. She lives in Sylvan Lake with her family.