April 29, 2014 by readlisaread
“Oh, hello again The Past. Not really great to see you, actually, but since you keep showing up, I’m just going to keep on reacting to you in exactly the same manner, and it doesn’t matter how many years go by, how much things change around us, you and I are going to stay locked into this battle that is also the definition of insanity. Sweet, bro.”
This is how I feel about the yet-again dispute between my union, the BCTF, and the Provincial government. I’ve been at this gig for over 20 years, and as I look back over the 2 decades that have led me to this place of jaded malaise, I am interested to notice how I shifted in my support of the union from “young, eager, rah-rah-rah” to “well, I may not agree with everything, but you dance with the one that brung ya” to “I want to write “Decertify” on my strike ballot” (yes, I really did stand up in a meeting and say that– amazing I didn’t get sanctioned then and there) to today, which finds me annoyed, exhausted and disgusted.
A young, fresh-faced, start of his career teacher asked me why I was so…negative… in my response to job action, and I started to, well, whine and complain about how useless and wasteful these repetitive actions were, I tried to express my thoughts in the manner I think the union should be conducting itself. That is to say, rather than reacting to the negativity, why aren’t we putting out our own positive spin? Instead of spending millions of dollars on TV ads that point accusing fingers at the government, why aren’t we creating spots and events that high-five our members for the good things we do? And so in that vein, I offered my friend the following commentary, and I’m re-sharing it here, in the vain hope it sets some positive energy in motion….
OK, let me see if I can also role-model what I wish would be standard operating procedure. My job is not only an important job, I love doing it. I have a variety of duties that expand well outside of the 9 to 3 hours, and I am happy to do them. I don’t love the current student information system we have, but there are things about report cards I enjoy doing–particularly, sharing “my kids'” successes. I am often crafting things, writing exams, creating units of study in the evenings and weekend. You will NEVER hear me say “I spent all my free time this weekend doing reports!” It’s not my free time, it’s time I have been salaried to provide to “my kids”. And I’m happy to do it. I get paid a decent wage, but I’ve worked bloody hard to achieve that. 20+ years and 2 post-sec degrees and hours and hours and hours of Pro-d perfecting my craft. And I still love going to conferences. And I still think about doing more post-grad study. And I still love my job. I want parents and politicians to peek into my room and see me make 30 surly grade 8’s giggle. I want to broadcast to the world my group of hardened grade 9’s listening to me read aloud “Invictus” and tearing up, every time, and neither them or me being embarrassed…. I want parents and administration to understand I am NOT the enemy. And I do not need to be policed, but I have an open door….in fact I love it when people pop in. I abhor incompetence, and relish the idea of dedication being rewarded– not with money or time off or shiny gold pins, but with trust. Professional Autonomy. Faith in me, “my kids”, and a system that is flawed and underfunded and woefully overstretched… but it’s our system. Let’s highlight all the outstanding things we do, DESPITE the crippling blows the government deals us, and market our talents and successes and outstandingness, until the public and the media (bless them) realize that I am not the only teacher who wants the best for “our kids”.
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