Do­ing ‘a lit­tle ex­tra’ un­likely

Teach­ers deal­ing with af­ter­math of im­posed con­tract


Some Nova Sco­tia teach­ers work­ing un­der a gov­ern­mentim­posed con­tract say they will not re­sume old norms of mak­ing them­selves avail­able af­ter class and of­fer­ing to coach teams and clubs.

Art teacher Sally Cap­stick said she doesn’t see her­self re­turn­ing to vol­un­teer roles she’s held over the years, rang­ing from art gallery field trips to co-or­di­nat­ing lunch hour clubs at her ju­nior high school in Syd­ney.

“To leg­is­late a con­tract, it de­stroys that lit­tle part of you that wants to do a lit­tle bit of ex­tra,’’ she said in a tele­phone in­ter­view Thurs­day, two days af­ter the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment im­posed a four-year con­tract.

Cap­stick said she felt re­morse that teach­ers were re­fus­ing to pro­vide ad­di­tional help dur­ing the work-to-rule job ac­tion, but “now I feel my em­ployer doesn’t care.’’

Paul Wozney, a high school teacher in Hal­i­fax, said in an in­ter­view he’ll be ask­ing his stu­dents to for­mally sched­ule time for ex­tra help rather than ex­pect­ing he’ll be in class at noon for drop-in vis­its.

“This idea of on-de­mand, ex­tra help ... teach­ers are think­ing long and hard about whether that’s sus­tain­able or de­sir­able or some­thing they’re will­ing to do,’’ he said in an in­ter­view.

He also said the days may be over of teach­ers post­ing ma­te­rial such as tu­to­rial videos or class notes on web­sites for par­ents and stu­dents to view.

“We’re al­ready dread­ing the an­gry emails and ac­cusatory emails ... We never had to do it, and now I think teach­ers know they don’t (have to),’’ he said.

Af­ter years of vol­un­teer­ing to sched­ule the ju­nior var­sity bas­ket­ball league — work­ing out when and where 13 teams play 20 reg­u­lar sea­son games a year — Wozney said he will find other uses for his time.

“It’s hun­dreds of hours of phone calls and emails ... I did it be­cause no­body was step­ping for­ward,’’ he said.

“I’ve come to the re­al­iza­tion it’s time I can spend with my fam­ily, or mark­ing or com­mu­ni­cat­ing to par­ents. It’s not a vin­dic­tive, stick-it-to-the gov­ern­ment thing.’’

Robert Ber­ard, the di­rec­tor of grad­u­ate ed­u­ca­tion at Mount Saint Vin­cent Univer­sity, said the union’s mem­ber­ship has be­come mil­i­tant in re­cent years.

“The anger and pas­sion of teach­ers in this par­tic­u­lar dis­pute is the boil­ing-up of a lot of frus­tra­tion of cur­ric­u­lar re­forms tossed at them,’’ he said. “Added data gath­er­ing re­quire­ments and the post­ing of ma­te­rial on­line ev­ery sin­gle day ... has changed the na­ture of teach­ers’ work in re­cent years.’’

“I would say that at least for a while there’s go­ing to be a re­luc­tance for teach­ers to take on things that aren’t specif­i­cally out­lined in the Ed­u­ca­tion Act,’’ he said.

The prov­ince im­posed a con­tract on teach­ers on Tues­day, end­ing a 16-month con­tract dis­pute that saw the ma­jor­ity of the 9,300 mem­bers of the Nova Sco­tia Teach­ers Union vote down three ten­ta­tive agree­ments.

The im­posed con­tract con­tains a three per cent salary in­crease and in­cor­po­rates many el­e­ments in­cluded in the first two ten­ta­tive agree­ments re­jected by union mem­bers.

Last Thurs­day, dozens of teach­ers tes­ti­fied be­fore a leg­is­la­ture com­mit­tee about the ne­glect of chil­dren with spe­cial needs, ed­u­ca­tors be­ing at­tacked, and a lack of re­source teach­ers to help with be­havioural prob­lems.

Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Karen Casey has sug­gested many teach­ers want to get back to help­ing with ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties, but it will be up to them to de­cide whether to vol­un­teer their time.

“School boards are cur­rently work­ing with schools on the tran­si­tion from work to rule,’’ said an email pro­vided by a spokesman for the Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment on Thurs­day.

“This process will take some time, and the tran­si­tion may vary from school to school.’’

Li­ette Doucet, the pres­i­dent of the teach­ers union, said in an in­ter­view that in some in­stances teach­ers en­joy the ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties — such as coach­ing school teams — and may take them up again.

She added that un­der the Ed­u­ca­tion Act, teach­ers must re­sume as­sist­ing stu­dent teach­ers, par­tic­i­pate in pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment and re­turn to in­putting data into var­i­ous pro­grams de­signed to track stu­dent progress.

How­ever, Doucet said the short-term im­pact of the im­posed con­tract is that teach­ers re­main over­bur­dened with un­nec­es­sary tasks and con­tinue to lack time to pre­pare for lessons.

“Right now that is the im­pact. The im­pact is there is no change. It’s the way it was be­fore . ... Teach­ers are very dis­cour­aged,’’ she said.

The new con­tract in­cludes the cre­ation of a coun­cil that will be co-chaired by union and gov­ern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives and will rec­om­mend ways to spend $20 mil­lion to im­prove the class­room en­vi­ron­ment.

The prov­ince says it has al­ready re­ceived ap­pli­ca­tions from 300 teach­ers from across the prov­ince seek­ing to be­come one of nine teacher rep­re­sen­ta­tives on the coun­cil.

The depart­ment says a fa­cil­i­ta­tor will also work with the com­mit­tee and an ar­bi­tra­tor will be ap­pointed in the event the co-chairs can­not agree on a rec­om­men­da­tion.

Ini­tial rec­om­men­da­tions from the coun­cil are ex­pected by April 28.



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