OK, so don’t get me wrong…I am not saying that the teacher job action currently being staged in British Columbia is a good thing. It’s not! Most people I talk to – parents, teachers, and administrators – are fed up and would like to see a resolution. But, some of the most important virtues of a school administrator, I believe, are positivity and forward thinking. So instead of focusing on the negatives, perhaps we can ask if there are any positives to be taken from this situation? Is there a silver lining in all of this?
We are into month six of job action and unfortunately, there is no end in sight. However, this unrest has provided a new lens with which to look at school issues and culture.
Home School Communication
Since teachers have not sent home formal reports, perhaps there can be a renewed focus on formative rather than summative assessment. Parents are being encouraged to meet with their child’s classroom teacher informally on a regular basis, rather than waiting to hear how their child is doing via report cards. We’ve known (and stressed) all along that frequent and on-going home-school communication is critical to student success at school. With parents yearning for information regarding their child’s progress in the absence of formal reporting, hopefully home-school communication will be enhanced.
Fewer meetings within schools and at the District level has left people feeling somewhat disconnected. Illuminated has been the importance of collaboration, sharing, and being part of a team. Everyone is feeling this. Since administrators are not calling meetings, it is wonderful to see staff members take on initiatives and ask others to join them. We know that schools that have a truly collaborative culture – where professionals yearn to meet and share, discuss and question – are places where teacher and student learning has moved forward, despite labour unrest.
District staff and management are being utilized to provide student supervision. This has made busy people a little more busy – no question. However, a recurring comment I have heard is that many who are now being called upon to provide supervision have felt a new and stronger connection to the most important people and places in the District – our students and the schools in which the learn and play. Even more dramatic an example of this clarity of moral purpose is the many teachers who have continued their excellent and extremely meaningful work outside the classroom through athletics and clubs. These people understand the impact of their contributions to a student’s life and schooling experience. This understanding guides these professionals to make the decision to continue with such activities when perhaps, in some places, there is pressure to not do so.
So is job action a good thing? Absolutely not. But I think much more can be gained by spending our time learning from the experience, rather than griping about it.