Teachers walk the picket line

Some thoughts and stories from the picket line:

My favorite part of the day is when I arrive, I try to meet everyone and say hello to each of my colleagues. It was quite wonderful to actually see everyone that worked in the same building at the same time. We’re normally so busy that we only get to do that for 2 days in a school year: The first staff meeting before school starts, and the end of year luncheon on the last day of school.

Time seems to go so slowly when you’re walking on the picket line. It goes to show how crazy a typical school day is. It’s not uncommon to hear these things in school:

  • “What? It’s 3:30 already? I forgot to eat my lunch! Again.”
  • *Bell rings* “Nooooooo! I’m not finished yet!” (You’d hear this in class or during prep)
  • “I haven’t peed since this morning, when I ran in from the parking lot.”

Adversity reveals character, and nowhere is one’s character more visible than on the picket line. There are rule followers, rule benders, and rule breakers amongst us. An overwhelming majority of our staff are wonderful, diligent in fighting the good fight. Others disappoint, but that’s because my standards are probably too high. Teachers, after all, are people too.

Although it’s not as bad as prison, picketing with no end in sight can get you down. I was walking alone a lot at the beginning, many told me to “cheer up!” as they walked by. Some colleagues started walking with me, and we would have nice chats as we walked the picket line. After consoling each other about the strike, I would then ask them a simple question: “How did you get into teaching?”, with a follow up of: “How did you get to Glenforest?”

The answers, as you can imagine, are fascinating (for another post).

The public? During the past 3 weeks, it’s been (mostly) positive. We’ve encountered the occasional “Get back to work!”, or “Lazy teachers! Greedy!”, and my favorite, one hand out the car window, pointing at the sky as they drive by. (I always look up and find nothing of interest. What are they pointing at?)

Of course, NOTHING beats a student visit on the picket line. I’m not ashamed to say that we have the best students at my school!

Have a look at all our visits!

Teachers are on strike

Heather summed up many teachers’ feelings on Friday.

And this is how we all felt late Sunday night/early Monday morning:

And here we are.

Starting today until the end of the strike, I will head to the picket line, reflecting on what I’m missing everyday…

  • I will miss holding the door for students as I enter the school
  • I will miss watching students hurry inside, to hold the next set of doors open for me
  • I will miss students saying “Hi”, or “Good morning!” and waving to me as I walk through the halls to the office
  • I will miss exchanging head nods in the hallway with the “cool kids”
  • I will miss seeing my mailbox empty in the morning (no “On Call” sheets)
  • I will miss trolling my students
  • I will miss smart pranks played on me by my students
  • I will miss figuring out the pranks
  • I will miss making up silly rules for my class
  • I will miss ranting off topic during lessons
  • I will miss looking for the ringing phone in the middle of a lesson
  • I will miss suppressing laughter when students say inappropriate things
  • I will miss the times when students stay in their seats even when the bell rings because they were concentrating on their work
  • I will miss when students start packing 15 minutes before the bell rings
  • I will miss making students unpack their stuff again until the bell rings
  • I will miss “Have a nice day, sir” as they walk out the classroom
  • I will miss the different time zones and climates in our (almost) 50 year old school
  • I will miss students pretending to put their phones/hats/food away in the hallway
  • I will miss pretending to not see them do it
  • I will miss learning from my students
  • Most of all, I will miss providing the best education possible for my students

But the proposed changes by the government and school boards threaten the working and learning conditions for myself, my colleagues, and my students. That is unacceptable.

And that’s why I’ll be on strike, focused on my goals amid the chaos around me.

Teachers are ….

I don’t know how to finish the title. Weird for a teacher to be speechless, isn’t it?

We (our board/district) are about to go on strike for the first time in over a decade (and the first time in my 11 year career). I have never been more stressed about work than I have in the past week. I can’t sleep. I have no energy. I’m always hunting for any sliver of good news on the internet, sometimes late at night, because I can’t sleep.

After being unfairly treated during the government’s legislation of Bill 115, I was angry. I continue to be angry about the way things unfolded. I thought striking was the only way to show our anger and displeasure. I was actually looking forward to go on strike to let people know how poorly and unfairly we’ve been treated. I was ready to picket & march on the sidewalk, whenever, wherever. Rally at Queen’s Park? No problem. I’ve been angry for so long. It’s time to fight back and go on strike until we get the respect we deserve.

I was wrong. So wrong.

My life isn’t at stake, but I feel like a soldier on the brink of my first battle. I’ve been psyching myself up for months, years even. Now I’m sitting in a truck, getting ready to start this battle and I’m thinking to myself: “No. This is bad. I can’t pull the trigger and shoot someone. None of this is good for anyone.”

I don’t want to go on strike. I want to go to work. I enjoy it, and (I think) I’m good at it. How often have I told students to find something they love to do and be good at it? All the time! Why did I ever think going on strike is a good thing?

Because I’m an idiot, that’s why.

I can only hope that the strike doesn’t happen. Because a fictional movie character once said: “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of good things, and no good thing ever dies.”

I will do whatever it takes so that I can continue to love what I do. If we have to strike, so be it. I will be out there. Whenever, wherever.