I return to work on Wednesday but teachers resumed their position on the picket line yesterday, a week before school is due to begin. We have been reminded not to go into our schools to prepare for the year, despite the government's political move of removing the lockout restrictions for a week so we can do so. I am angry, at our union and at the government. I am saddened that it has again come to this. I have decided to take a stand not only for students and teachers, but for myself. I met with another teacher and we 'talked shop.' There, I said it. I did not stand on the picket line as I am still on maternity leave for another week, but I did not cross the line either. What I did do was to take care of myself and I plan on doing that every day for this entire school year, job action or not. I am calling it pleasure research.
I cannot count the number of times I have participated in job action in my fourteen years teaching. I prefer not to, as that in itself frustrates me. This time is different. This time I feel like teachers have been pushed too far. Although I was home with my newborn, between keeping in touch with colleagues and my teaching family members (there are many of us), having conversations with the staff at my son's school and following the news, I am well aware of the tension and stress this round of 'bargaining' has created. I use the term bargaining loosely. The way I see it, I could return to work in two ways: angry and frustrated that I cannot teach in a system that supports it's students or teachers; or determined to find pleasure every step of the way. I am choosing the latter. I will not let someone else, in this case the government, determine who I am and how I act.
So this brings me back to my pleasure research. Due to lockout conditions and then the resulting full-scale strike, teachers left their classrooms without completing their year or preparing for the next year of students. Typically I spend the month of June, post report-card writing, as well as a few weeks in August getting organized and planning curriculum and methodology for the following year. Not knowing what is next for me at school and not being able to be organized and planned is, to put it lightly, stress-inducing. Being told I cannot spend time (my own unpaid time at that) preparing in a manner that will bring me peace does not work for me. Teachers, at least I, cannot turn off who they are. So although being on strike means we are not in our classrooms teaching students, we are still educators. So often my mind is creating and developing new ideas for my teaching. On holidays or when out with my children, I regularly see things I want to use in my classroom or find myself pondering how I can really harness students' strengths and interests to help them learn. Whoever said teaching is a lifestyle is true. It encompasses all areas of my life and it is impossible to turn off.
I love my job. Teaching is my calling. Yes, I believe we need to be on strike. Yes, I will stand on that picket line to fight for adequate funding of our education system. I will not, however, close off the part of me that loves my job. I will not shut down my planning mind or stop talking to my colleagues and friends about what excites or challenges me. I will not allow this fight to harden my heart, just my resolve. In the midst of this battle and beyond it, I am going to continue to be grateful that I have a job worth fighting for. A job that calls me to become my better self and allows me the opportunity to see my students find theirs. In the midst of the struggle for what I believe, I will be proud of what I am doing and remind my colleagues that they make a difference every day they walk through the door at work or refuse to walk through that same door. In the midst of frustration and anger, I will take dance breaks, write with my treasured stationery, and connect with those who bring me laughter. Every day I will research and practice pleasure in its smallest and greatest forms. Who wants to join me?
Every night I go to bed, I have thoughts swirling in my head. Things to do. Scrapbook pages I want to create. Gifts I want to make. Skills I want to learn. And, of course, daily happenings that I don't want to forget, but invariably will by tomorrow morning, only to pop up in a random thought weeks down the road. So, here I am. I may use this blog daily to empty my head and heart before cuddling up in my duvet, or as it may be, I may write in it once a month. Who knows. It is for me, but perhaps something I write or learn may spark a fire in someone else. Perhaps it may quiet a mind or make you feel like you are not alone out there. It is for me. But perhaps it is for you.