However, the fact stands that my blog is also a place for my reflection on my professional practice, and this is a situation in which I feel I cannot silently sit and merely internalize what is going on. I would actually define this post more as political impact on me as an individual than anything that would define my political views, though. So, here it goes:
This BC Teachers’ Strike defeated me. I say this as I look back on many months of consciously pulling away from social media, from blogging, from doing better work in my classroom. It has pulled me away from trying new lessons with engaging tools, from collaborating with other educators, and from personally feeling gratified with my choice of career. It has, in a phrase, temporarily deflated my passion toward teaching.
This job action experience, which has stretched back since early April of this year, began to highlight the ways in which our government devalued our profession. Now, don’t get me wrong, these were facts that I was already well aware of. So you don’t like teachers? Great, that’s your call... Moving right along.
But when those facts and opinions continue to get shoved in your face day in and day out, or it affects your job every day you start to feel pretty low. Oh, and the whole letting-down-kids, public ridicule, lock-out, not-getting-paid, piece? Yeah. Pretty low.
My biggest problems:
- I had no control over anything that was happening to my students, my colleagues, or myself.
- I was addicted to reading about it.
But I couldn’t look away.
The things I read silenced me. Mean things. Nasty things. Lumping teachers all into the same, greedy, only-6-hour-workdays, only-work-9-months-per-year, lazy category. The worst part is… I began to believe them.
Despite working on the professional development of others for much of the summer, I did very little to professionally develop myself. This was unusual for me. I started getting blocks in my thinking patterns every time I tried to imagine new lesson ideas in my head. My motivation for the program design work I had set up for myself at the end of last year began to evaporate, and quickly.
I started to quiet myself. Slow down. I did very little to add value to the online communities that I continue to hold in high regard. The social media outlets that I used to share prolifically to, I do no more. My blog archives became relatively empty when compared to the same time last year. I had nothing more to give, lest I be criticized. False hope pervaded every turn that we would be back again soon. I was hurt.
They defeated me. And I let them do it.
As we wait for the results for the potential ratification of an agreement, I can say I have begun to do just that. I know so many teachers in BC are hurting right now and that I am not alone.
If you are not yet feeling on the road to recovery, join this challenge with me: take note of that first moment this school year where you burst with absolute joy in your classroom, school, or district because of your job. Write down a gratitude list for those moments that remind you why you love your career. Even for just the first week.
I am using this strategy to heal the wounds; as deep as they have become, they shall heal. I look forward to sharing my list very soon to continue healing with BC educators… together.