This week I started a learning assistance position at my third school in as many years. I thought I had put my school jumping days behind me when I returned home. Guess again!
I wasn’t sure what to expect – but I’m getting pretty good at being the new kid on the block. This week teachers in BC began phase one of job action, following the expiration of our collective agreement in June. I haven’t been involved in a teacher job action/strike since my second year of teaching way back in 2002. Strikes don’t usually happen in the overseas teaching arena – if teachers don’t like their working conditions, they have the option to find a new school when their contract expires. It’s a whole different game for public school teachers. FYI- I’m so proud to be a public school teacher. I love my job. It’s not an easy job, but I believe it’s the best job out there.
At the end of last year, I was one of the many laid-off teachers in BC. Despite my 12 years of experience I don’t have any seniority here. It’s not a great situation – but that’s just the way it is. As my buddy Anni in Malaysia says “life is just not fair – and the sooner you get used to that, the better.”
So this year, a week before school resumes my phone rings and it’s the HR office offering me my pick of three temporary positions. I’m doing cartwheels and decided to take the job that has the longest contract. Obviously.
By the time school started a week later, I was buzzing with excitement. I realized that this would be my first “first day of school” since returning home in 2009, and my first “first day of school” in Canada in 10 years. Yep, my last start of the school year at home was September 4th, 2001. Anyway, during that week between getting the job and starting the job, I kept thinking about my new school and the people who I would meet there.
Would things be tense because of the job action? Would people be happy to be back to work? Would this school be a good “fit” for me?
So far so good. The school is a big old beautiful brick building (something I considered after hearing about Friday’s earthquake – which I did not feel). More importantly the faculty, staff and admin are ultra-professional, super dedicated teachers who decided last year to begin this year doing a full-school “sport fit” program. The grade sevens are running it, and every time I have been involved I am so impressed by the kindness and respectfulness that these kiddies have for each other, their school and their teachers.
People talk so much about school climate. And as someone who is now on my seventh school in 12 years – I’ve been in great schools and I’ve been in not-so-great schools. I’m sure that as job action is almost certain to escalate – the kiddies and people in my new school will continue to be their respectful, kind selves.
Strike or no strike, my fingers are crossed that I get to stay awhile.