Friday, March 11, 2011

Time for a New Normal

A friend of mine posted this as his Facebook status:
"A teacher somewhere in your neighborhood tonight is grading and preparing lessons to teach your children while you are watching television. In the minute it takes you to read this, teachers all over the world are using their "free time", and often investing their own money, for your child's literacy, prosperity, and future.
They are not 'bottom-feeders' or 'leeches.'"
Therein lies the problem: teachers using "free time" and money to help students succeed.
It has become normal for most teachers to work 50-55 hours a week. Beyond time spent in the classroom, there is preparation; there is grading--piles and piles and piles of grading, because the only way students learn is by practice and feedback on that practice.
We are paid on a 40-hour per week basis. Therefore, any work done beyond that is unpaid.
And I'm not doing it anymore.
This is not a strike. I will continue to prepare and teach my classes as always. I do this job because I love it. I love it and I do not want to give it up without a fight. The state of Wisconsin's Republicans have kicked teachers once too often. My only hope is that all teachers at all levels will come together and MAKE THE CUTS VISIBLE.
I pledge:
  • To give my utmost to my students 40 hours per week: in class, and during office hours
    To grade papers as always--carefully, thoughtfully, and with attention to finding ways to help students see what is good in their writing, and to learn from their mistakes--but I will no longer grade in the evenings or on the weekends.
    To be the best teacher I can possibly be--within the limits of a 40-hour week, because that is what I'm being paid for--no more, no less.
    Some of my colleagues have sarcastically wished me luck with this--and that just makes me even more determined. Now that this bill is about to be signed into law, and the budget will include cuts to my pay (again), I will make less than I did when I started on the tenure track after attaining tenure.  
    It is ridiculous to me that it is an expectation of the job that I WILL WORK UNPAID.
    No more. It's time for a new normal.

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