Anxious, overwhelmed, empowered, unsure, and nervous…. Those are just a few of the emotions that I felt as my teachers union embarked on a strike last week. Locked out of my building, no pay, no health insurance and no indication of how long I would be out of the classroom. One would think that my mind would be most occupied with thoughts of worry over my livelihood and stability. But to my surprise I began to question certain things about my district and wonder about things that I never gave much thought to before. Why do we teach? What value do we place on teachers? What do we deserve? What does this strike really mean? Generally speaking when you set out to teach you are well aware that you probably won’t get rich and there is a chance that you won’t feel completely supported by your school district either. Nonetheless you chose to pursue what you love; education, students, and or your area of expertise.
Why do we teach?
We teach because we were called to inspire and evoke something in children that only a teacher could pull out. We teach to help mold students into functioning members of society. We teach because we love the complexity of learning and helping students connect the dots each and everyday. We teach because we thrive on those connections that could only be made in a classroom. We teach because we truly love the profession and don’t mind the scarifies we make on a daily basis to help students learn and succeed.
What value can you place on a teacher?
As I walk the picket lines day after day, read the different articles, talk to other teachers. One thing remains constant among all. Teachers want and deserve RESPECT! We want to be respected as the professionals we are. We no longer want to be referred to as “just a teacher”. A teacher is a powerful position and we should be treated as such, in the classroom, in the media, and within our contract. We take it very seriously and it’s evident in the commitment we make each and everyday to our students. Such as sacrificing our money, personal time outside of school hours, our hearts, and our sanity. Value us by respecting our time instead of setting unrealistic goals. Value us by respecting our space and not forcing so many bodies in one space that it is impossible to learn or give adequate attention to each child. Value us by providing us with acceptable resources and not fragments of curriculum that isn’t accessible to students. Value us as professionals by respecting our abilities and understanding one size does not fit all. If you ever find yourself in this situation don’t be afraid to stand. Being united is imperative. You will find that your strength to stand grows from the support of knowing you are not alone.
A union may decide to strike for many different reasons like wages, teaching conditions, or simply a fair contract. It’s usually is a last resort and its effects are felt by everyone. Whether you agree with the decision or not, you must support your fellow teachers. I can tell you first hand that without the constant support and presence of everyone this would be much harder to bear. This is your opportunity to stand with the community and teachers everywhere to inspire a keen equality.
As we rally together there has been a tremendous amount of support from the community. From parents to politicians, the amount of support we teachers are getting has been overwhelming. This strike has been more that just a action to get a reaction. It has become the glue that is bonding the schools and community. It has become an opportunity for teachers to show their presence and power to the world. It has provided an opportunity to gain respect for our profession our students and the community.
As a veteran teacher just granted tenure status, I find myself faced with a new awareness about my profession. My perspective has changed. I am no longer just a teacher; I am a proud Educator! I am a highly respected educator that inspires, creates, cultivates, and encourages students to be the best they can be no matter the circumstance.
Your “teach away” is simple make sure you are respected as an educator. Thank you so much for reading and please feel free to comment below and subscribe to this blog to receive updates on more posts to come.