So earlier this year, I attended my first school board meeting to speak out on the proposed initiative to cut the planning period. I was hoping I could get the board to understand how much we needed the teacher’s planning period. In my speech, I tried to convey how much work a teacher does outside of class every day, and how important that work is for students. I told the board that every teacher I know is already working as hard as they can. I asked for their help to maintain the integrity of what I do as a teacher.
When I finished, all the teachers present at the meeting gave me a standing ovation. Several teachers I had never met before hugged me. I had spoken up for what I believed in, and the message came through loud and clear.
The next day several teachers also spoke up publicly, wanting to know if the board would proceed with the changes. A board member responded that in the future, they would try to do a better job of communicating changes to teachers, so there would be more buy in.
In other words, the mandate would go forward as planned regardless of the number of teachers who felt the change would hurt teachers and students. Our objections simply didn’t seem to matter. And it’s hard not to feel that this was partly because we are teachers.
There is a certain stigma attached to being a teacher today. This may derive from the memories some people have of incompetent teachers who sat behind their desks and scolded them. But I think an even worse problem may be the fond memories some adults have of teachers who gave them free periods and sat at their desks and did nothing. Those teachers have given the rest of us a bad reputation because they have made many believe that our job is easy.
The thought of not having full planning periods puts a tightness in my chest.