It is almost 10:30, and I am not ready to go to bed and concede that my weekend is over. I also haven't eaten dinner, and that is stupid for numerous reasons, actual physical hunger being one of them. (In a follow up to my last entry more than a month ago... I have been able, so far, to continue doing pretty well in tracking and being regular with diabetes stuff, despite school starting. I am especially doing well in eating well at school, and drinking tea there, and not wasting money and pancreatic health on the fast food franchises that infest all school neighborhoods in the US... I have a microwave, a plug in kettle, and a small fridge in my classroom, but until this year, I had not made the best, most consistent use of those things. I am also hella grateful for cheap frozen meals from Trader Joe's, and fruit, and cut up veggies from ditto...).
Anyway... as far as the title of this post... yeah, Sunday Night Blues, amplified by two things -- first, our union's tactics in contract negotiations with the district, see how they suck. The president has pretty much hinted (and it was no surprise given this union local's generally supine approach to the district, with whom they USED to be cozy as hell) that if we do go to impasse and then arbitration and then vote for a strike, it will be long and depressing because the district is headed by Scott Walker wannabes aiming to gut any union, and we'll lose. Great! So the only tactic the union leadership is pushing is a) electoral, as far as getting two new members of the local school board elected who might vote against the superintendent, and b) work to rule until that school board election, although not every site is participating. My middle school site is THE VANGUARD, ahead of any other school including the two high schools. Crazy.
So here's the deal. [This is mostly excerpted from a chat with a friend, to whom I was explaining what is going on]
Labor situation: our union, the [redacted] Education Association (so, NEA rather than AFT) has been in negotiations for the past eight or nine months, and we've been without a contract that long. The district is playing Scott Walker hard ball and has utter contempt for us. They offered a 1% raise while districts surrounding us were offering 8% or more. They've inched up to 2.5% or something derisory like that. They have tons of new money that is neither restricted nor one-time only income, but they refuse to spend it on either salaries or smaller class sizes in the lower grades, which was supposedly a California priority.
In reaction, we're "working to rule" at least at my site (I am very curious about at least one of the other middle schools, because they were supposed to vote on this last week) until mid-November, after the (stupid) school board elections. I don't think much of this electoral tactic — why the two board members supported by the union would make THAT much difference, and also, why they would necessarily get elected, despite a big push and precinct walking by the union. This is a pretty conservative community, small, mostly stable working class and lower middle class, with a lot of Christians and a lot of Mormons.
Working to rule means we can only do what is literally in our (expired) contract: we can't work early or late (which ALL of us do); we can't have our rooms open and supervise children during the morning break or over our lunch period (which sucks because I have a group of kids who like to eat there and who are hella nice, from last year and this year); strictly observed, we shouldn't even grade at home or send email to parents or students answering their email at home. I am very nervous about not grading, though generally I am hella up to date on that. Right now I have two weeks' worth of Reading Logs for my three English/Language Arts classes, and one article with "talking to the text" all over it to comment on in depth for those three classes, and one Review & Assess on a short story by Gary Soto, and coming tomorrow, one character trait/character/supporting quote assignment on the same story. The Social Studies grading mostly happens in class, so there's that, at least. There are two more weeks in the first quarter, and we've been told to do our "best guess estimation" on grades.
My friend asked how anyone could "catch me" grading at home, or sending emails at home. I told him that they (the union) cannot. But it undercuts solidarity with my fellow teachers if I grade and post grades for parents to see on Schoolloop when other teachers are not doing it; it divides us. I may decide to grade at home, but not post the grades publically, that is, update Schoolloop (the online grading/email program we use to communicate with students and parents). Literally, grading and planning and emailing students and parents is all unpaid overtime that teachers do at home and after school and before school ALL THE TIME.
But it sucks. It's painful, and it makes my job harder while I'm on the clock.
Here, have a couple of pretty pictures that show how my classroom has progressed since the first bare day.
Bookshelves with classroom library near front door
New bookshelf for my own teacher stuff, and more posters/decor
Past extra credit projects from first quarter's Medieval Europe unit