Writerly Rant #4
The Politics of Teaching
No matter what profession you find yourself in, there are hidden agendas and political interweavings that will make your head spin. When I graduated from teachers college in 2003 I was told that 90% of graduates get jobs. That 10% you hope never to be apart of was supposed to encompass people with highly-specialized and unique teachables that are not often hired for.
Then, out in field doing supply work and LTOs (other teachers parental leaves), I learn that I’m considered “on probation” for about a year and then I can apply for full-time positions. However, the advice I’m given is to go for part-time opportunities first and they will transition into full-time jobs. So I tried that for 3 years. Wondering if maybe my qualifications were holding me back because English was my minor (second teachable), I invested in upgrades.
What did I learn while I was back at school? On average, it takes 7-9 years to get full-time employment with any given school board. I didn’t believe them. And yet, here I am, 10 years later with multiple upgrades for both of my main teachables and a third teachable to boot (with a ton of experience I might add) and still no full-time job.
Well, don’t you know? The job market is flooded – you can’t seriously expect to get a full-time job when classrooms are shrinking and department staff are being encouraged to retire early just to make room for those teachers already working full-time?
No. I fully expected to have a full-time job by now and not be lumped in with the over-flow crowd.
So where did I go wrong? Well, I could blame myself for not majoring in English to begin with or brown-nosing the principal at the various schools I worked at. But no, I blame the politics I believed myself immune to. I know – how naive was I?
It wasn’t until my 7th year teaching, and my 7th interview of the year for a full-time English position, that my principal finally said to me, “You’re a great teacher, but I need to continually look to the future when I build my staff. Yes, I have a full-time English position available right now but three years from now so-and-so from Science will be retiring and I’ll need someone with Environmental Science to take over his specialized classes. That’s why I hired so-and-so, even though you’ve been teaching here for 4 years and she’s just moved into the province.”
In other words, my principal saw English as a holding-zone for potential future openings in other departments. It was not because I only had a minor in English, it was that my first teachable was Drama and my new teachable was Dance and those departments were fully staffed with no foreseeable retirees. It didn’t matter that I put my time in at that school, spent countless hours with afterschool programs, or made myself available to my students during my lunch and break period to tutor them. The fact that a great English teacher was needed was apparently not the issue and I needed to wrap my head around that fact.
It took me until this year to finally see how my hands are tied. I don’t like being bound.
So I cut the cord; I quit and went into business for myself.
I am an amazing teacher, and if I’ve learned anything over the years it’s that there’s more than one way to get what you want – as long as you’re willing to take the risk.
Teachers Rule – Politics Drool