This is a message from my wife, a BC teacher. Comments will be moderated and I will remove those deemed asinine…
Friends and Family,
If you have not already blocked me or “unfollowed me,” PLEASE READ this one last post before you do. It comes from MY heart.
I am a teacher. I LOVE teaching, LOVE my class, and LOVE my students (maybe not every moment of every day, but that wouldn’t be realistic). I even LOVE my school, my coworkers and my principal (yes, it is hard to believe, I know).
I worked hard to become a teacher. I was never satisfied with “just getting through,” but needed to be the best. Even now as a more veteran teacher, I work hard to do the best I can do and to be the best that I can be. I know that I can always do better. I want my lessons to be exciting. Actually, I want my lessons to be life altering. But no matter how hard I work at home and in the classroom, I will never be able to really do my job properly. Just typing this brings tears to my eyes. It KILLS me that I cannot be everything and do everything for my students. No matter what I do, I am not enough.
Let me talk about my Grade 1 classes. I have taught this grade at my school long enough to know that though students change, the composition of my class remains generally the same. I average around 22 students (some years more). I should consider myself lucky that I am not always filled to 24. As a Grade 1 teacher, I rarely have students that start the year with any special needs categories or designations. That means that I don’t qualify to have any extra support in my class. I alone need to meet everyone’s needs AND teach them all how to read, write, add and subtract.
In every class I have taught, there are always 2-4 students who will struggle academically. I try my best during every pencil to paper activity to sit at a back table with them (and anyone else who is having trouble with the concept being reviewed). These students will often do nothing unless I am there to guide them step by step through every worksheet, journal and project. They don’t do anything independently because they legitimately can’t. I do my best to meet their needs.
In the same class I will have 3-4 capable students who are unable to focus without someone constantly keeping them on task. These students also need me to sit with them in order to get any work done. If I don’t repeatedly refocus them, writing 4 sentences can take a full day. I also work hard to provide these students (along with my whole class) with a wide variety of physical breaks throughout the day. I do my best to meet their needs.
Still in the same class, I will have 1-2 students who are behavior challenges. They usually have trouble controlling their emotions. When they are upset or angry, they can sometimes hurt others. I even had a 6 year old who threw chairs. Usually, though, they just hit, kick or say mean things. These students are dying for my attention. They act out because their basic needs in life aren’t being met. Some are hungry, some are dealing with difficult issues at home, and some are lonely. There are so many reasons that they are hurting, but they need me to help them. I need to stay near these students so that I can intervene before they hurt someone or they disrupt their neighbours (or the whole class). These students get the most of my time and energy because they DEMAND it. I do my best to meet their needs.
This class also has 1-2 very quiet and insecure students. These students do their best to fade into the background. They want to avoid attention. They will say nothing even when they don’t understand what is being taught. They are hesitant to join me at the back table when I am providing small group help. They don’t want to “bother me.” I try my best to get to these students at their desk to see how they are doing. Sadly, I rarely make it there before it is time to move on to the next subject. But I do my best to meet their needs.
Every class also has 1-2 students who are “brilliant.” These are not always naturally gifted students, but are sometimes students who work very hard to be the best. These students are bored to tears as I review “C-A-T” or how to “add 1” in math. They need to be challenged. Realistically though, they are only 6 years old and still require that I spend time with them to go over any more challenging work and to be available to answer their questions that come up. They cannot be independent. I rarely have time to spend with these students because there are so many more in the class who need me. I do my best to meet their needs.
The rest of my students are the neglected group. They are capable students who can usually get their work done in the allotted time. They have better control over their emotions and have more refined social skills. It may sound like these students are doing fine without me, but they also need me. They need me to comfort them when their cat dies. They need me to acknowledge their successes, even the smallest triumphs. They need me to take an interest in their lives. They need attention. Sadly, I do not always have time to touch base with each of these students on a daily basis. I do my best to meet their needs.
BCTF is my union. The union is helping me fight for more. Yes, I really do think I deserve a raise. Prices for gas, power, food, everything is going up. I work hard and I have a stressful job. I provide an essential service.
But the union is helping me fight for more than that. We are fighting for an educational system that will actually help teachers meet the needs of students. I WANT to meet the needs of each one of my students. They all deserve to have their needs met. I need to have smaller classes. I need to have support for my distracted students, my struggling students, my quiet students, my behavior students, my “brilliant” students, and my average students. I need a librarian that can work with me to teach information literacy and the love of reading. I need a learning assistance teacher who has enough time to come into my classroom and help meet the needs of my most at risk students (so that I can try to meet everyone else’s needs). I need to know that support staff will be replaced when they are home sick.
But the union is helping me fight for even more than that. We are fighting to restore 2002 funding to our schools. Imagine how much cheaper everything was in 2002. Our school boards are being crippled by a government that requires it to make cuts to meet unrealistically low budgets. We live in a “have” province, yet our school districts are given $1000 LESS per student than the national average. I need to have a school budget that actually allows me to buy art supplies and materials for science experiments. I need to be given enough school supplies to last the entire year. I need a full-time custodian who can help us keep our class clean and safe. I need computers that are up-to-date enough to perform required tasks (my classroom computer is so old that it is unable to connect to the internet). I need to have textbooks and materials that reflect the current curriculum. I need to have a globe that includes Nunavut. I need to have hands-on materials and games needed to make learning fun and active. I need a hot lunch program to feed my students who are hungry. I need Kleenex and Band-Aids that stick.
So before you remove me from your FB wall, please take a moment to think about what you would want for your children, your grand-children, your nieces and nephews. Then, tell the government that it is time that teachers are given the working conditions needed to meet EVERY student’s needs.
I’m going to go off on a rant here for a bit…I’ll apologize now for my ramblings…
At what point and time in our recent history did the word teacher become a 4 letter word? It seems to me as of late that the public has some real odd theories on what a teacher is supposed to do with their kids. Teachers are there to teach, not raise your kids for you. If there was an issue with me in school back in the day my parents would get a phone call. Their answer to that call would be “Don’t worry; we will take care of this.” At which point I would get a very long lecture on respecting my teachers and listening to them and abiding by the rules. The next day with my mother or father standing at the door I would have to apologize to my teacher for my behavior. I would also get grounded and lose my TV privileges. If it happened again it was going to be a much louder lecture and longer time going without TV or going outside with my friends. That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore…
Now a day’s it seems the answer to the same phone call is: “And what have YOU done about it?” I’m sorry, when did it become a teachers JOB to raise your kids for you? They have been hired to provide instruction in the courses they teach. They are not Co-Parents; they are not required to teach your kid’s manners, respect, and responsibility or basically the old fashioned Golden Rules, that’s the PARENTS job. Why is it in the few short years that I have been around there has been such a drastic reduction in simple discipline of kids? Along with parents that really don’t give a damn what their kids do. When I’m driving home at 11:30 at night I should not see your pre-teens on the streets; not that teens on the street that late on a school night is any better. Along with that don’t care attitude has come this belief that it’s the teachers problem so they need to deal with it. They are YOUR kids, it is YOUR problem, you need to SUPPORT the teacher and help them get the kid on the right track. Teachers have very limited options when it comes to correcting kids in their class, most they can do is send the kid to the principal. Suspensions and expulsion from school seem to be used less and less now days due to the fact no one is home to watch the kid. If these kids have no respect for a person in authority such as a teacher they must have no respect for you the parent. I see more and more kids now a day treat their parents as mobile ATM’s. Drive me to the mall and give me money. Then I’ll call you on the iPhone you bought me, which you also pay the bill on when my friends and I are ready to go home.
But those damn teachers are going on strike for 3 DAYS! My kid’s education will be destroyed! How many days home sick has your kid been this year? What about that trip that requires little Dick or Jane to not be in school the week before or the week after spring break? Those extra 5 days don’t matter but these 3 days are the end of the world? Guess what; take a text book or two along that they can read on the beach. Back when I was in school the common practice was to read the ENTIRE Textbook soon after getting it; not waiting till you were assigned a chapter to read in class. This way when that chapter was given you were reviewing the information and not trying to cram it into your skull at the last minute before class.
Sure back in my school days I did not have access to all the information that kids have today via the internet. I also didn’t have all the distractions of texting, YouTube, Facecrack, etc… I grew up on a Commodore 64 with a 14.4 baud modem with an external 5 ¼ floppy drive chatting on a B.B.S.; seems today’s technology has only made us lazy when it comes to learning. I had to use the library and encyclopedias and other books to write my reports; now it’s all cut and paste. Speaking of lazy, how about this little fact from our local School District which is good until grade eight. Student’s assignments can be handed in at any time in the school year. So if you got an assignment in September you can work on it and hand it in to your teacher in June AND NOT FAIL! The teacher can dock marks for it being late but he/she cannot give you an F. And holy hell if you dare take marks off for a paper that is handed in months after it was DUE! Love to see that kid in his/her future job: “Where is the Henson report Dick/Jane?” “Oh, no worries boss I’ll get it to you soon enough…” Let’s see how long that kid has a job. There are reasons for due dates people, it teaches time management and responsibility. I have conversations with store managers shaking their heads at the youth of today who don’t care if they are late to work, who don’t even show up for work or call in sick. Hell, there are kids who don’t even show up for their FIRST day on the job. I don’t know what has spurred on this attitude of ignorance, lack of responsibility and self-entitlement.
I might not have had a ruler across the knuckles like my mom back in the day, but I had a few teachers that would slam a meter stick down on their desk to gain the classes attention. But one can’t do that sort of thing now a day, might traumatize the kids. I spent many years in martial arts, and I’m thinking my kids will be going in to something along those lines for the simple fact that it teaches Discipline & Respect. If I was late to the Dojo that was disrespecting my Sensei and his time; so I would not be allowed to take class that day. Why can kids wander into class late every day? Why can parents arrive late in picking up their kids? Do you not respect the teacher’s time?
I review a good number of the comments being made on the BC Teacher Strike on the news sites and other blogs. I see all the calls to “Fire them All!”, “Crush the Union!” and “Holding our children’s future hostage!” Guess what? You are holding my kids futures hostage as well as holding my wife’s job, income and workers’ rights hostage. The “hostage” term can be used both ways people. If Bill 22 passes and the BC government continues on this path of striping workers’ rights and bargaining rights what type of job market are my kids and your kids going to grow up in?
How about the fines that are being leveled in Bill 22? How many teachers are going to have to claim Bankruptcy or have to take out loans to cover costs if this is implemented? We might be able to balance the BC budget if we fine others in the general work force for not doing their jobs, or not showing up for work. This is strictly a scare tactic and a union busting device being used by the BC Government.
(1) An employee, the BCTF or an officer of the BCTF or of a local of the BCTF or a representative of the BCTF or of a local of the BCTF, who contravenes section 3 (1) (b), (c) or (e), as the case may be, commits an offence and is liable to the following:
(a) in the case of an employee, a fine amount of NOT MORE than $475 for each day on which the offence occurs;
(b) in the case of the BCTF, a fine amount of NOT LESS than $1.3 million for each day on which the offence occurs;
(c) in the case of an officer of the BCTF or of a local of the BCTF or a representative of the BCTF or of a local of the BCTF, a fine amount of NOT LESS than $2 500 for each day on which the offence occurs.
Notice something? Teachers can be fined UP to $475 per day. So that could be $0 – $475 a day? Union and Union representatives will be fined a MINIMUM of $2500 and $1.3Million a day which means they could actually be fined MORE than that per day? Hum, who here thinks that the Union is not a target in this Bill? If you work for any other Union in the province you might want to pay attention because I’m sure this will be going out to all of you in the future as your contracts come due. Hope your kids don’t plan on getting a union job in the future or following in your footsteps.
Well that’s enough of a rant for the moment…I’m sure as this progresses I will have more to say…
So enough for now…as some other sparkly has my attention…till next time…OH SO SHINY…
Another Great Blog about the BC Teacher Strike…from a Teacher.
Why I’m Rattled at the Liberals…a teacher’s perspective.
This was going to be a status update but I have a bit too much to say. I am sickened and disappointed by how some media outlets depict my union’s job action. Often, the only words I hear in the news reports are “wages” and “class size”. Too often the reporting is so narrowly focused and repetitive it is hard to fully appreciate the scope of the issues. Here’s what’s really going on and why teachers are so upset.
1) The abolishment of seniority rights. Even the Roman army had seniority rights. Why this government wants to do away with seniority rights befuddles and scares me. Doing away with seniority exposes teachers to being hired and fired due to a “who you know” scenario and/or a popularity contest. Elimination of seniority rights could also set more experienced/ educated teachers (who are at a higher pay scale) at a disadvantage, in favor of younger/less educated teachers (who are at a lower pay scale). Districts want to cut costs, correct?
2) Contract stripping. When two sides come to an agreement about an issue and sign a contract that contract should be upheld for the duration of that contract. This Liberal government ripped up our contract that we had with them in 2002. The part they ripped up eliminated provisions protecting class size, class composition, and services to students with special needs. The BCTF website states, “the 2002 legislation enabled the BC Liberals to cut $336 million annually from public education and so severely curtailed free collective bargaining rights that it could not sustain a challenge under the Charter of Rights. In April 2011, the BC Supreme Court found the bills to be unconstitutional and invalid”. Yet, despite the Supreme Court ruling it’s business as usual for George Abbott and the Liberals. It blows my mind how this can happen in a democratic society.
3) The One Strike and You’re Out Policy. In this case a teacher could be dismissed from their job due to a poor performance review or for other incidents. Of course creepy teachers should be shown the door…no one is going to argue that, but a few bad lessons or what is deemed to be an inappropriate comment shouldn’t be grounds for dismissal unless there is a fair process. All workers deserve the opportunity to learn from their experiences/ mistakes, with support and constructive feedback from their employers. A three strikes you’re out policy, implemented with partnership of administration, school board, and union seems more than fair, as it provides opportunity for employees to grow on a professional level in addition to maintaining accountability.
4) Bargaining in bad faith. How can the government come to a bargaining table with a net zero mandate from the get-go? How can the government only want to take away from our contract, yet add nothing?
5) Changing laws. Last week my union applied to the Labour Relations Board to conduct a strike. The LRB gave us the go-ahead to conduct a strike. Hours later, the Liberals drafted up a law to say that we are not allowed to go on strike. As a worker I feel my rights have been taken away from me. How is it that the students I teach have more rights than I do when they go to their jobs after school?
6) Bill 22—The Liberals will pass Bill 22 next week that imposes a new contract on teachers. Under this legislated contract there will be no class size or composition limits for grades 4-7. Whereby a teacher used to be consulted (that wasn’t even perfect), now a superintendent can have the final say and put however many students they would like in a class.
7) “Mediation“—This Fiberal government says that a contract will be mediated. Bogus. It is a mediator they appoint and that mediator has been told that any additional money towards education is unavailable. Class size and composition and wages will not be discussed by the mediator. How can we call this mediation when one side lays out what can and can’t be discussed beforehand? Instead of calling this a “cooling off period” how about calling it what it really is…a period of time in which the Liberals have taken away our right to strike, have imposed a contract, and have refused to engage in meaningful discussions about the core issues. Essentially the Liberals are saying, “Shut up, this is the contract WE have decided on and we’ll talk to you in two years. And oh, by the way, if you teachers want to strike you will be fined $475 per day and your union will be fined over a million dollars per day”. This is mediation? Really?
8) Money, money, money is all the media is covering. Yes, a fair and equitable wage is important to me. If your contract was up with your boss you would probably ask for a raise too. Considering other teachers earn more in other provinces and do the same or less amount of work it gets you thinking. Given these economic times, no one is expecting a bonanza but at the very least could we get a cost of living increase? Please?… No?…Ok, thought I’d ask.
To many of us, our wage could remain the same and life would go on happily for us. Quite frankly, as much as a wage increase would be nice, it is at the very bottom of my beef with the Liberals.
Teachers don’t want to have to walk off the job, but given that every other avenue has been exhausted, what other option do we have? What would it say about us and our level of concern for our rights and the rights of students if we simply turned the other cheek and accepted this vicious assault on the education system?
As a teacher who works with students every day I KNOW that at this moment the Liberal government is not serious about improving conditions for students or for teachers. Don’t believe their bogus interviews on tv about how they are worried that our job action will be detrimental to students. Abbott and the rest of the Liberals almost sound convincing in interviews. Their actions clearly demonstrate a complete disregard for students and teachers. So, if you see us on the streets next week please don’t think it is about the money. Know that our job action is about protecting the rights of teachers and students so that we can both come to school each day equipped with what we need to be successful.
Feel free to pass this along to anyone who might be interested!
Hope you don’t mind Nick, but I did pass it along…
So I have been making updates on the main blog post, which is making it longer and longer. So if you want to see the changes I am leaving a link back to the original post here, as it seems everyone is still using a direct link.
Petition to Stop Bill 22 – Sign it and pass it on to everyone you know:
So enough for now…as some other sparkly has my attention…till next time…OH SO SHINY…
Who wants to see what Bill 22 – 2012 EDUCATION IMPROVEMENT ACT is all about? The document can be found here: http://www.leg.bc.ca/39th4th/1st_read/gov22-1.htm I will post more after I get a chance to read this thing…
Geez, I get past the Definitions to run right into this Cluster F***:
Application of Labour Relations Code
2 (1) The Code and the regulations made under it apply in respect of a matter to which Division 2 or 3 applies, but if there is a conflict or an inconsistency between Division 2 or 3 and those enactments, Divisions 2 and 3 apply.
(2) The Labour Relations Board has exclusive jurisdiction to decide a question arising under Division 2 or 3, including any question of a conflict or an inconsistency referred to in subsection (1).
So basically what I am reading here is that; if anything within Division 2 or 3 is considered against the law under the Labour Relations Code the LRC laws are null & void.
What a way to start a contract, also wondering how they can back date a contract to July 2011, sure that was the end of the last contract but that means teachers pretty much loose a year. and in 2013 this starts all over again.
Hey look at that, Bill 22 gets to play with Class sizes…
(B) deleting Article D.2 entitled “K-3 Primary Class Size”, – Free Daycare for everyone! We can pack the little ones in like Sardines, I mean really how much can they learn in those classes, may as well just hire a babysitter and wait till they get to a real grade to teach them…oh wait, we have something on that as well in this Bill…
(2.1) Subject to subsection (2.4), a board must ensure that the class size of any class for any of grades 4 to 12 in any school in its school district does not exceed 30 students unless
(a) in the opinions of the superintendent of schools for the school district and the principal of the school, the organization of the class is appropriate for student learning, or
(b) the class is in a prescribed category of classes.
So what we got here is if there is a really good reason for the class to be bigger than 30 kids we can make it happen. In the mean time Grades 4-12 can be 30 kids per class. Maybe we should set 10 minutes per kid a day so that they can have some one on one time with the teacher, because I really see teachers having the time to deal with that many kids educational problems on a daily basis.
at this rate I might need to start a new post on this BS…
So enough for now…as some other sparkly has my attention…till next time…OH SO SHINY…