Sunday, March 20, 2011

Reflections from a (Non-Union) Teacher

I am not in a union because I work at a private school.

I have a class size of 64.
I had a class size of 98 last year.  Yes, all in one room at one time.
I am really good at my job, so I feel as secure about my job as anyone can feel in this climate of slashed budgets.
I have a really good colleague who is nervous about her continued employment if she has a bad day.
I don't think she should be nervous.
I have had colleagues who were not asked back, even though they had more seniority than I had.
I do not pretend to be in a position to judge if these teachers were good or not.
I can be told I have to stay late or come in early with very little notice.
I can get raises based on my (not my student's) performance, but there is no guarantee I will get raises.
I could get a pay cut based on budgetary needs (but this has not happened).
I can have additional duties added to my day, but this has never happened without compensation.
I have a weekend and there are additional days off during the month.
I usually work from home on these days, not because I am told to, but because my student's need me to.
I have a very flexible administration that can give me a yes or no answer very quickly if I have a question.
I have a lot more questions because there are fewer guidelines and policies.
I got to create the outline of the school's social studies curriculum.
I got to decide what my literature and math curricula would look like.
I got to decide what textbooks I wanted my students to have.
I did not get to order enough textbooks so that every student could have their own copy.
I can modify my curriculum at a moment's notice to meet the needs of my students.
I do not have to teach U.S. History in chronological order. (I teach it thematically)
I do not have health insurance.
I do not have benefits.
I have a husband whose career allows me to not require these things.
I have no idea if I would get any paid time off if I got pregnant or how much time I could take off without pay.
I just found out we have four-ish paid sick days a year.
I have gone into work when I was sick because I knew my students needed me, not a substitute.
I was able to take several days off at a moment's notice earlier this year when my father had a heart attack and required a quintuple bypass surgery.
I debated about, but eventually did not, Skype into my classroom while at the hospital to teach a lesson.
I had to attend meetings throughout the summer.
I had to miss work at my summer job to attend those meetings.
I work on modifying units, lessons, and try to learn new things over the summer whether I am at a meeting or not.
I have to work 70 hours some weeks (obviously some of this is from home), others I work 40.
I understand that while I don't get comp time for my 70-hour weeks, it is why I have the summer off.
I have worked 60-hour weeks in the summer and I have worked 0-hour weeks in the summer.
I don't know if people count reading PD books as work, but if they do, then I take back my previous statement about working 0-hour weeks in the summer.
I don't know where the line is between what I have to do and what I do because I want to be better.
I have to make a lot of 'I' statements because 'we' is very different without a union.

We really care about our students and want to do what is best for them.
We work well together as a very small team.

Some of these factors may be due to the fact that I am not in a union.  Some of these factors may be due to the fact that I am at a fairly young school.  Some of these factors may be due to the fact that I am young, don't have children, and am a certified work-a-holic.  I know many of these things were true when I was in a Union as well.

This list isn't a list of brags or complaints.  It's just what my life looks like.

1 comment:

  1. Union or non-union? I've taught in both environments and I taught the same way in both places. When you get down to the basics, teachers who love doing what they do day in and day out go that extra distance no matter what. I've never worried about job security because I know that at the end of the day, I've put my students first. Kudos to you for doing this with a class of 64 students! You are an inspiration and I'm so happy to know you!