Last spring, my daughter asked me, “Mommy, why do you go to so many meetings? You are not at home with us!” It was a very difficult question to answer, and after a moment of consideration, I told them that being their mom is the best and most important thing that I have ever done. I also shared with them that the meetings that I go to are for the work I do as a teacher for my Association and my Society, and that it is important too.
I just returned from the MTS Summer Bargaining School. Our first seminar was given by the commissioners of the recently formed Women in Education Leadership Commission (WELCOM). Here the commissioners discussed the disparity between the population of female teachers as compared to the number of women in leadership roles in education. Commissioners shared stories of how they became involved in leadership work and asked us to consider those responses for ourselves. They asked participants to identify barriers that exist that may keep women from becoming involved in leadership activities. Judging by my experiences and my daughter’s question and observation, family obligations stand out as a barrier.
The work that we do for members does not come without a personal cost. A human cost. Time away from our families, energy, stressors, but it is important work. The work we do for teachers in Winnipeg and in Manitoba comes with sacrifices of time and energy, but we must do the work. Why do I do this work? I do it for myself and my colleagues so that we can do the job we have chosen and for which we have trained. I do it so that my own children, their classmates, and children around Manitoba have teachers that are healthy, supported, defended, and able to do the best job they can.
So to my children, I’m sorry that I am away. I do this for myself as a teacher, but also for your teachers so that they can do the best work possible for you. I do this for myself because I believe that the work is important for me and the teachers I work with, as well as all the teachers that will come after me. I hope that some day you will understand why I do it and will be proud of me.
I am grateful to my family and all the families that give up time with their loved ones so that we can be involved in this important job in any way we can. Teachers, committee members, council reps, local and provincial executive members; Thank you.
Michelle Wolfe, WTA Secretary