On the first day of classes every year, I put my class “rule” on the board. It looks like this:
We then go through what the word actually means.
For students, this means pay attention in class so you can understand and do your best. It means complete classwork, homework, assignments, etc. to the best of your ability. It means come to class every day on time with your materials and your mind ready to learn. It means be prepared to find some ideas challenging, but be willing to try. It means be proud when you accomplish things that you thought you couldn’t accomplish.
For students, this means listen to others in the classroom; the teacher, your classmates and their opinions, administration and the rules of the building. Be open to listening and learning with others. Be willing to work with other people, even if they aren’t your best friends and if they hold differing opinions, because even if you don’t really want to work with some of your classmates you may learn more than you thought you would.
Respect the ENVIRONMENT
For students, this means take care of your work, the area in which you work, etc.
RESPECT is straightforward and non-negotiable. Today, with the state of teaching in Nova Scotia, it now seems I must listen to my own words with respect to my profession. (NB: The word profession is deliberate… this is not just my job).
I respect myself enough to expect a cost of living increase in wages.
I respect myself enough to expect to keep my service award that was included in my contract when I started teaching.
I respect myself enough to constantly write “technology tickets” explaining how the latest software (Gradebook) will not load on my computer. Or to explain how I tried using all three browsers to open a website and yet none will load due to problems with the school WiFi. I have written technology tickets after spending five minutes waiting for my computer to start so that I can simply log in, knowing that the computer that is “new” to my school is actually a recycled computer from somewhere else (with hardly enough memory to use any of the equipment for which my department head fought).
I respect myself enough to tell the government that Nova Scotia’s ACTION PLAN for Education is not working. Yes, some changes have happened. But the government does not always take into account how these changes affect teachers or students. For example, the math curriculum has changed. Sadly, they did not look into how this would affect science courses in high school (which remain unchanged). Math 11 will now be a full year, meaning that other courses, such as technology, arts, etc., will not have as many students registering for them. Math 10 and 11 (academic only) will have a class cap (which sounds awesome, right?). But this means that the other classes will have more students than ever before, because the government will not be increasing the number of teachers hired.
I respect myself enough to make sure that when a friend or a stranger talks about those “greedy teachers,”, I have a response ready that is factual yet friendly.
I respect myself enough to not take what Premier McNeil says to heart every time he states things which I know to be untrue. I get it; I don’t fully understand his job, either – which is why I am not making the same types of inaccurate assumptions he is making in relation to my profession.
2. Respect OTHERS
I respect my colleagues enough to know that if they are saying that students in elementary are not getting anything from the provincial assessments, I believe them.
I respect my colleagues enough to help them when they need someone to walk a student to the office, to stay after school to supervise a part in a concert, or to allow a student who was absent to write an assessment in a quiet space.
I respect my students enough to know that being pushed onto the next grade is doing nothing but causing them anxiety in the classroom.
I respect my students enough to know that having the type of miscellaneous classrooms that we currently have in Nova Scotia are causing all students to lose out. Some students are not being challenged. Some students cannot read enough to keep up. Some students are not being given the proper supports they need educationally, physically and/or mentally. Some students do not have the behaviour skills to manage in a typical classroom. No matter what my colleagues and I do, it is impossible to teach these students given the current classroom dynamics.
I respect my students enough to stay inside at lunch to provide extra help.
3. Respect the ENVIRONMENT
I respect the school environment enough to clean up my classroom after students leave garbage on the floor and in the desks.
I respect the environment enough to remind students to compost or recycle.
I respect the environment enough to keep a smile on my face day after day, even though a strike has been looming for months and no one seems to be listening to anything teachers are saying.
All I ask is that the government shows some of this respect in return. That is all teachers are asking. And again, RESPECT is straightforward and non-negotiable.