As teacher strikes continue across the province, Ontario teachers have put some of their creative energies into eye-catching signs on the picket lines.
With talks continuing to struggle between the teachers’ unions and the provincial government, thousands of teachers have walked those picket lines in the last couple of months. Sarah Zubair, a Diagnostic Kindergarten Teacher with the Toronto District School Board, has been one of those teachers, and has been documenting her experience on the picket line through her Instagram account, which features some of her professional photography work as well.
“We work to highlight student voices in our schools,” Zubair told Yahoo Canada. “During the rally I saw the creative ways educators came together to advocate for their students on the streets of Toronto. Every ounce of their energy, creativity and dedication can be witnessed in the posters and costumes. I felt I could amplify all the voices using my strengths in photography.”
Zubair says she joined the picket line with thousands of other teachers, staff, parents and students because she, like much of the community, feels passionate about providing students with a supportive educational experience for students.
“When [Premier Doug] Ford or [Minister of Education Stephen] Lecce speak, they ensure they leave bits and pieces of information that majority of the public may not know to question,” says Zubair. “By now, everyone is probably aware that we have lost at least 3 per cent of our pay. The lowest class sizes in the country are only for grade 1-3, grades 4+ see class sizes for up to 30-38 on average, which is classroom management, not teaching.
“I believe what frustrates educators the most is that Ford and Lecce not only escape truths, but lack any experience in public education which cause many misconceptions.”
In legislature on Monday, Lecce said the government was looking for an end to the strike, and was negotiating in good faith with the Catholic teachers’ union. He also said that the government was seeking to protect full-day kindergarten, and keep class sizes low.
Ontario’s elementary school teachers say they are suspending strikes for the next two weeks, but will resume at that time if an agreement cannot be reached. The teachers’ union also says they aren’t ruling out the possibility of a full strike.