Oh wait

For all of the right reasons and in my own best interests I think it best to resolve some issues from what has been a terrible January. As such, I have taken to implementing a number of life changes in order to ensure I am my best me, living and giving my best.

Less caffeine – down to 4 cups of coffee per day from 6 – check
Drink more water – some is more than none right? – check
Sleep more – at home, not at school or while driving – check
Take time to be still – shhh I’m doing it right now – check
Exercise – I turned my Wii Fit on for the first time in 10 years and it still works – check
Read more – information is armour for the mind and soul – check
Show vulnerability – asking for help and support does not make me weak – check
Seek help – unisolating myself has been a necessary and positive experience – check
Look forward – know that good things are all around even when things look grim – check

Without all of the above, I might have really been physically and mentally weakened by an exasperating month.

Oh wait…there was something else on my mind

With nearly complete media proliferation from all ideological camps, it’s hard to have a moment of tranquility without being bombarded by [mis]information. A person in a compromised position may not have the intellectual immunity to resist the indefatigable onslaught of shady dealers wearing blue blazers and brown pants who persist in spewing surreptitious messages meant to shatter the successful education system we have worked so hard to construct and move forward to be among the best in the world. So it’s understandable that educators, students, and families would want to fight to protect it.

Come to think of it, despite months of patiently waiting for a contract, hearing about unions leaders bullying members from MPPs who seem confused on where to find beer, and from Twitter trolls who spout about how teachers are only after a pay raise to their shared 50 followers, it feels like it’s time to fully engage in this war that is being waged by the government and its partisan proxies on our profession.

Instead of a being an integral partner in education, our government has chosen to become our adversary. In addition to our exceptional daily work in the classrooms, ETFO educators are having to defend our hallowed halls from unprecedented and misleading attacks. Hearing the Minister of Education talk trash about our profession is offensive. It should never be part of an elected civil servant’s mandate.

This doesn’t even begin to address the passive aggressive and staged photo ops via social media or contrived press conferences. How can someone who appears in photo ops at a STEM daycare centre strike camp, in a school district that was not even on the line that day rather than at one of our thousands of incredible public schools, be taken seriously or trusted?

Speaking of trust

Maybe our MOE is the victim of bad advice? What if he is being setup for failure from inside his own party? MBAs (read through to the final footnote) and politicians are notoriously self serving entities. Think of the contracts to hand out to the highest bidding E-Learning providers and private sham credit mills if things go unchecked. There are lots of dollars to be made when you are unscrupulous enough to wallow in that trough, but is it worth your humanity?

What if the goal is to fleece the flock and retire to a cushy Conservative consultancy? After all, what out of touch political party doesn’t love recycling ineffective ideas? So this cut, gut, shame, and run approach will sound fresh again in 20 years since their good old days are an archaic product of a classist’s poor memory.

Perhaps in his limited time in the position and on the planet, the current Minister of Education has not been privy to grace, kindness, or truth? Wouldn’t it be swell if the lack of progress in our negotiations be weighing heavy on his conscience? With Valentine’s Day around the corner, maybe the warmth and solidarity we show as a union in standing up for education can melt his heart, and he will begin to see the impact of this current government’s flawed approach and policies. Until then we will walk and hold the line.

Walking the line

On a chilly Monday I proudly walked the picket line to fight against the legislative tyranny of our current government. 17000 steps in 3 freezing hours. 1 Day’s wages was a small price to pay in order to stand alongside my fellow ETFO members in solidarity. The honks of support, the visits from admin, superintendents, and school board systems level staff meant a lot to us all. Having families and other union members show their support was the encouragement we all needed to maintain our spirits.

Come to think of it, those 3 hours on the strike line have to rank as some of the best moments the month of January had to offer. I know there might be more days ahead, and I am dedicating my attitude and focus on everything that matters to my students, their families, my colleagues, and those who will occupy my classroom in the future. Together ETFO, and our partners in the OSSTF, will continue to make public education in Ontario a global beacon of progress and success through our work in the classrooms across the province. Together.

Thinking of you all, this week as we walk at the picket line shoulder to shoulder in solidarity and support to ensure a future for over 1.3 million students in Ontario’s public schools. Thank you.

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Updated: January 31, 2020 — 10:06 pm

The Author

Will Gourley

J/I lead learner and SERT at Adrienne Clarkson PS in the YRDSB. Focused on disruptive, and divergent modern learning. Member of the global TED-Ed(Club) movement, 1 of 110 TED Ed Innovative Educators, and Global Math Project Ambassador. Twitter @willgourley Proudly blogging here and at https://escheweducationalist.wordpress.com/

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