Recently, I had to drop into a local store. I had started to negotiate something with one sales person and so asked for her when I went in. If there was commission, it seemed only fair to let her have it rather than passing it on to someone else.
“She’s on break but will be back in a few minutes.”
So, I waited and wandered around a bit. Like all stores, there were limitations on occupancy. Only six people were allowed in the store at a time. Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait in line just to get in.
When my salesperson got back from her break, that brought the total number of breathing, masked bodies in the store to nine. We were allowed to move around, following the arrows, of course. There were signs everywhere indicating that we should not touch anything but should ask for help. My wife, who waited outside, would be beside herself. She likes to touch and read labels. I like brightly coloured packaging. She’s what grounds me.
I got what I wanted and went outside to share my experience with her. I remember specifically saying “you’d never be able to manage a classroom like that!
Recently also, we were out during the Premier’s daily conference and I found that the CBC station on satellite radio didn’t cover the event. So, I relied on my Twitter community to catch me up when I got home. They were on fire. It seemed to revolve around the word “flexibility”.
Teachers were particularly incensed with the notion of giving up preparation time.
So often, we hear about how business has opened so opening schools is the next logical step. I think of my store experience where the clerk got a break and had two colleagues take care of the mass of six of us in the store.
It hardly equates to one teacher in a classroom and goodness knows how many students. Teachers were quick to explain all the things that they do during their prep time; if you’ve ever taught, you know that it really isn’t a “break” although you can go to the washroom if you need to.
Talk to any teacher and they’ll give you the list of things that they do during preparation time. They’ll also let you know that the time allotted is nowhere near enough time and that the actual activities spill into their evenings or early mornings. Generally, it’s not complaining; teachers knew what they were getting in to when they made the career choice. Except maybe time for report cards. Or teaching during a pandemic.
What puts the ire over the edge for me is listening to the political statements coming from the Premier and the Minister of Education and claiming that federations are being political for looking out for their members. It’s all about the money that they’ve allocated (or spent twice), that their plan is the best in Canada, that they’ll stop at nothing for the good of the kids, how they got advice from the Health Desk, but consultation with Teacher Federations or Classroom teachers never enters the conversation.
In the meantime, 3-6 or 7 political figures do the Ford Shuffle to get to the microphone and back. That’s not going to happen in a classroom either.
I would argue that teachers in Ontario (and everywhere for that matter) have been incredibly flexible. They made school work in the spring given a scenario that only a few had the skills in hand to easily step into the emergency remote learning scenario. They’ve been worried and preparing all summer. Preparing not only for their class but for their personal skillset should they return to last spring’s scenario.
What does it look like?
That’s really hard to actually say. The ultimate decision was passed down to the school districts at the first of August. We’re now seeing plans come forward and infamously, the TDSB’s plan was rejected. So much for flexibility.
We’ve seen a hard stand that schools had to open and hit the ground running on the first of September. Planning starts. Then, we hear that there might be an entertainment of a staggered approach that first week. Planning adjusts. Now, we’re hearing that the staggering could take two weeks. After all, those HVAC systems have to be repaired. Planning adjusts again. With each plan and announcement, you know that those teachers are re-aiming their plans for September. Apparently, that’s not the flexibility that is being sought.
Normally, when I close a blog post, it’s with a call to action, a suggestion, a guess, an idea of what might happen, … Right now, I have no idea what will happen next.
The best I can come up with is that the flexibility exhibited so far isn’t enough and it isn’t a two way concept. And all of this might change again tomorrow.