Uncertainty seems like a great word to describe this “Back to School” season. While we try to keep it light, joyful and inspirational here on our blog, there are times when the harsh truth of reality peeks through and when that happens, we do our best to acknowledge it in an acceptable manner.
I’ve been going back to school for 22 years, granted the majority of those years have been in student-form. This will be my third back to school season as a teacher and I can honestly say…I am not excited.
I don’t know what’s wrong with me? Usually at the start of August I’m ready to start lesson planning again! I’ve been to WalMart in the past week and I saw all the aisles full of school supplies, excited families checking items off lists, and I want to be those people because I LOVE back to school shopping, but I just can’t get there this year. I think I am discouraged. In my young teaching career I’ve never experienced a strike like we are going through right now. In fact, in my entire career as a student in public education I’ve never experienced a strike like this. I must admit that back in late June/early July when the media was on fire with teacher strike news I chose what I viewed and read very carefully. I have a tendency to get anxious and worked up about these kinds of things and because I was just finishing one of the most challenging years of my life (thank you grade 8s, I love you!) I chose to take care of my self and not fully engage with the media reports. Call it self preservation, if you will.
And then the media went quiet and no one knew what the heck was going on all summer long. And now we’re exactly one week away from potentially getting back to school and we STILL have no idea what’s going on. To top all this off, I don’t have a job (yet). I wasn’t actually expecting a job going into September because I know there are many people ahead of me who have more seniority than I do, so I wasn’t expecting to walk in to my own classroom on September 2nd; however, I WAS expecting to walk into a classroom on September 2nd and help a school with a start up subbing gig for a few weeks.
I’m not even going to get into the financial piece because most people just don’t like reading about that. Just know this: it’s a good thing I saved the majority of my paycheques all year long. It’s also a blessing that my husband is not a teacher. Enough said.
My non-teacher family members (ie. all of them) keep asking what I think will happen with this strike and my honest answer is, “I don’t know!” I renewed my car insurance the other day and the car insurance lady asked me what I thought would happen. I don’t know. I ran into one of my dear students from this past year the other day, she’s so excited to go to high school, and she asked me what I thought would happen; I told her I didn’t know. What I do know is that this whole situation is messy and unfair.
Now, in this last week of what should be our summer holiday, teachers are back on the picket lines (voluntarily). Hmmm. I don’t even know how I feel about that!?
I don’t really much about anything these days; however, when this email from a student I taught this past year popped into my inbox the other day I smiled. It bothers me when people say this strike is NOT about the students, no matter what teachers say. In my opinion, the only reason why I do this job and love this job is BECAUSE of the students. I need to publicly thank my student for her impeccable timing and kind words – a reminder of why I chose this profession in the first place.