Fri 22 Dec 2006
Right now, I am enjoying the holidays for a bit longer than most because I am “off contract.” As I may have mentioned before, in my new job I work a flex schedule. I am required to work most of the summer, but since I’m still on a teacher contract, I take extra days off during the year to compensate. Right now, it’s great. We’ll see how much I love it once summer arrives.
Earlier this week I had to come in for a meeting, even though I was “off contract.” It wasn’t a big deal, but it did consume roughly 4 hours of my time. I didn’t mind because I felt that I really needed to be there, and there would not be another opportunity to speak to that group until February.
However, in the context of the meeting, one of the participants brought up the fact that they’ve had duties added to their jobs that require them to be available to work off contract during the summer. She flatly stated that she would not be doing so. These duties are directly related to my own position, and I don’t like it either. Unfortunately, I’m not really a power player and don’t have the authority to pay them for the work. In fact, I have NO BUDGET, whatsoever, with which to do my job. It sucks.
I tried to diplomatically address the issue, but it was a tough sell. And it brought me to one of those age-old internal conflicts. I’ve wrestled with this issue within myself so many times, and I never seem to come up with a win-win solution.
As teachers, we are constantly working “off contract.” Every weekend that we spend grading papers, every time we stay after to tutor a student, every evening we spend planning the next day’s lesson–all of that is “off contract.” It amazes me that in this profession, you truly make more money if you choose to do a poor job (I’m talking hourly rate here). So, if we’re not getting paid, why do we do it?
The answer, for me at least, is easy. For the kids. We go above and beyond so that we can live up to that ethic that led us to the profession in the first place. We feel a responsibility to provide the best educational experience we can for our students.
The same ethic drives me even now that I’ve left the classroom. I will work longer and harder than I’m being paid for because I want to help students. But, having left the classroom, I found that another element became a part of my ethic. I also want to help educators–teachers, counselors, administrators. I want to do whatever I can to make their jobs easier, so that they can focus on helping kids.
Unfortunately, I sometimes find myself caught between a rock and a hard place, as I was at this meeting. The state board of education requires that certain student requests be processed year-round, even during the summer when there is no one at the school to do it. I coordinate this process for our district. I understand that it is unfair to expect people to work for free. Truth is, we can’t. But I also think it is unfair to delay these student requests, when doing so will delay their admission to college. I don’t have an answer–just frustration at this point.
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