Tuesday, February 12, 2013

My Profession Strikes Back

Back in June 2012 I wrote a blog explaining why I was striking. In February 2013 we are back out again, having also stopped work in September and November. The government has had our log of claims since December 2010. Two freaking years.

Sadly we are still 'negotiating'. The DEECD (pronounced Dik'd) has taken us to court in a futile attempt to stop our protected and perfectly legal action. Of course it's legal - under the Fair Work Act you can only take action when negotiations break down. The gov still hasn't worked out the give and take of negotiations. Meanwhile we've reduced our claim to "being the best paid teachers in Australia" to being paid as well as our colleagues in South Australia and New South Wales.

I'm tired. Today I arrived at work at 7.55am to be ready for my 8.15am class. The rest of the day proceeded as normal but I had to work through lunch to get a few extras bits done. I'm not a full time classroom teacher because I have a leadership role (large faculty, 30 teachers, 1400+ students). So my time is spent working on mechanisms to make sure my classroom teachers can support our students. In the last week this has meant:

- spending a night drafting an email on how to work a 38 hour week (in line with the work we are actually paid to do) so that staff feel comfortable working to rule. Obviously this occurred outside MY 38 hour week.

- consoled a colleague who had been abused by a truly horrible student. This student must stay at school for another two years despite his utter dissatisfaction with learning as a concept and his aggressive behaviour towards staff. Sadly, since TAFE places have been cut, he will probably be stuck doing something he dislikes during his formative years. But for now my colleague still has to put up with his abuse.

- completed around four hours of professional reading so that I can advise staff on more effective methods of giving students feedback (yes, it is part of my role to teach teachers - the government isn't interested in doing that anymore since they sacked the regional experts who supported schools).

- a full diary of meetings that means I'm only halfway through my 46 year 12 practice sacs sitting on my desk that might get done before Friday afternoon. There's 23 year 9 diagnostic persuasive essays under that pile.

In my inbox right now are emails from colleagues, parents and book sellers (you would not believe how many) all waiting for me to enrich their lives.

Plus, none of us are on PEDs - we enhance our performance by working freaking hard because we love this profession, not because you'll give us one percent extra to meet an abstract productivity target. Invest in us and we will give you everything we have. (And quit with the 'we haven't been performing' - our results are better than most other states, all of whom are paid better).

So I'm tired. And Ted doesn't care. He has no understanding of what it takes to work with children and adults day after day. Some good friends have left this industry since December 2010, some brilliant, passionate teachers.

And then a colleague sent me the image below (apologies for the swearing).

At least someone appreciates what we do.

So out we go again. I'm tired but my resolve will not waiver. Neither should yours. We are very, very good at what we do and the government's propaganda, misguided press releases, phone legal threats, and incompetent, immature negotiating tactics will not daunt us.

Teaching is not a job. It is a profession of men and women who will not stand for attacks on our good name. We will never hurt your children (even when your children hurt us). We will always support each other (even when others won't). We will not be divided by performance pay or restrictions that pits teacher against teacher for bread crumbs. But we are proud and won't tolerate blatant disrespect.

To my colleagues, we are not done yet. Keep your head held high.

To my employer, treat us like we matter. Treat us with an offer that recognises that we are worthy to guide your children through childhood, adolescence and into adulthood.

Treat us like professionals.