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Friday, 26 September 2014

(Finally) Back to School!

 

 

After 3 months of striking, we finally returned to school this week!  Our start date was pushed back by 3 weeks to September 22!

Before the students arrived on Monday, I put numbered cards on the desks.  As the kids came in the door, I gave them a numbered popsicle stick and asked them to sit at the matching numbered desk.


In our district, elementary teachers keep their classes from the previous year for the first few days, so I decided to have the outgoing Grade 5's write a book of advice for the new Grade 4's. I grouped them based on the colours of their cards to create lists of things that Grade 4 students needed to know.  When we had a list of about 18 ideas, the students broke up into pairs to make pages for our advice book. 
 

 


Be a participant.

Do your best!

Your work will get harder, but you can always ask your teacher for help.

Math is a bit harder but you can do it!

You are a leader, the younger kids will look up to you. 
I'm so happy to be back in the classroom doing what I love to do!  I want to thank everyone who supported me (and all the BC teachers) during the strike - your support and love means everything! 

2 comments:

  1. Striking.....you all are allowed to strike? Teachers in Kansas aren't allowed to do that... What was the reason behind the strike....just curious!?!?

    Katie
    Mind Sparks

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    Replies
    1. All public school teachers in BC belong to the same union, the BC Teacher's Federation. In 2002, the Minister of Education, Christy Clark, stripped our contract of class size and composition language. We used to have caps on the number of special needs students that could be in one classroom and this eliminated that, as well as increasing the overall numbers of students in classes. The BCTF took the government to the supreme court and in 2012 we won. The BC Supreme Court found the contract stripping illegal and ordered them to remedy it. They didn't remedy it, so we took them back to court and won a second time. Now, unfortunately, Clark is our premier (Canadian equivalent to Governor) and she is unwilling to fund public education properly. Since 2002, she has cut about 300 million per year from public education, while increasing funding to private schools. Our collective agreement also expired in June of 2013, so we'd been working without a contract and bargaining a new contract for a year when job action began. We went on strike in the middle of June when it was clear that government would not negotiate in good faith with teachers. Government let the schools remain closed for five weeks (2 in June, and 3 in September), as they would not come to the negotiating table with a reasonable deal. They have taken the court case to the Court of Appeals (which will be heard next week) and all throughout the summer, their contract proposal included a clause that stated that if they didn't like the outcome of the appeal, they could terminate our new collective agreement and we'd have to start the bargaining process all over again (because they know that they will lose again, as they already have lost twice now). Teachers were obviously not going to sign a contract that gave away our constitutional rights as granted (twice) by the Supreme Court that we have fought over 12 years for. So we went on strike. The deal we eventually reached is not nearly what we deserved or needed, but we had to take it because most of us were becoming destitute. There were food banks set up specifically for teachers. I know that I lost almost $8000 in wages over the strike, and I had to borrow from my parents to pay rent. It was the hope of the government to bleed us dry and break apart our union, but if anything, I think it made the union stronger. We had huge public and parent support, especially when the government decided to pay parents $40 per day per child during the strike. That money (about $12 million per day) could have gone back into the education system and provided the necessary resources that are lacking, and parents saw through it. Some parents set up a website where parents could donate their $40 per day to a fund for teachers, and they raised over $20,000. I'm really grateful it's over, and especially grateful that the holes in our public education system are now visible to the public. There have been many rallies and facebook groups and websites that are now taking action to fix the system.

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