It’s very depressing to hear the thoughts about the teaching profession from some of my friends these days. From a low of an imposed contract, it’s like rubbing salt into the wound to think that there is now talk about legislating extra-curricular activities. You have to wonder just where this will all stop.
Being involved in extra-curricular activities has always been something exciting for teachers. It’s another way to connect with students, parents, and community. I know that I was involved with a computer programming team, senior football, school representative for collective bargaining, as well as a number of provincial activities. I did these things because of interest and a chance to do things that just enhanced the daily teaching routine. Never mind the never ending stream of fund raising activities!
Having said that, it was a huge imposition on my time and on my family. Time in that two hours of practice or three hours of coaching would force marking, report card creation, and lesson preparation way late into the evening. There would be some days when time with the kids was cut way back to a minimum when you return home after their bedtime. My spouse worked shiftwork which put a further strain on things when you’re looking for childcare during the overlap of parenting time. When my oldest daughter was older, fortunately she was taken under the wing of the cheerleading squad and she became a young one “in training” while dad was coaching.
Don’t lose sight of the fact that childcare isn’t free. So, in addition to the time taken away, there was a personal financial cost to make this happen as well. Why? It’s just the right thing to do to help build the community within a secondary school.
And, you’d think that everyone was pulling in the same direction. Sadly not. Every staff has a bean counter or two who makes sure that everyone is involved by keeping score! Then, there’s the comparison factor. You’ll have a comparison between time and effort between coaching basketball and directing the school play.
Extra-curricular involvement isn’t just doing something past dismissal time. There is huge commitment – family, financial, inter-personal, personal. And yet, we do it. You might wonder why … after all, it’s not part of the job. But those involved know that these contributions make the experience whole.
It’s not something that’s forced upon people; it’s a real value add.
What makes it happen? I firmly believe that teachers enjoy it, students enjoy it, and the community benefits. It’s also the only part of the whole day that’s not included as the duties as covered by a collective agreement.
But now there’s rumblings about legislating extra-curricular activities as part of a teacher’s duties. To that end, I would love to have someone explain how it’s going to work:
- can you legislate more hours to a working day? If extra-curricular activities are important, what about marking, research, lesson preparation?
- will teachers be compensated for childcare? care for aging parents? heck, even letting the dog out after being in the house all day?
- how will you weigh time spent on fundraising activities against time spent coaching wrestling against time working with the school band? Do we use the same language for hours of community service for students? Does this make extra-curricular just another job to punch in and out of?
- who will do the bookkeeping to make sure that everyone meets the requirements?
- what’s the penalty for non-compliance?
There are far more questions than the simple answer – legislate them.
The real solution lies in recognizing the donation of time doing extra-curricular activities as what it is – good will and a desire to do the best by teachers. All that is will take in return is good will and a return to productive collective bargaining.
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- Extra-curricular activities reinstated at Ontario high schools (cbc.ca)
- Ontario teachers’ union says not all will resume extra-curriculars (cbc.ca)
- EDITORIAL – Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario stamps its tiny feet, again (sunnewsnetwork.ca)
- ‘Anger’ among Ontario teachers over resuming extra-curriculars (cbc.ca)
- Teachers earn every penny (lfpress.com)
- Ontario high school teachers vote to resume extracurricular activities (news.nationalpost.com)
- Union leaders urge public highschool teachers to resume extracurricular activities (blogs.windsorstar.com)