Diane Vogel Ferri is a teacher, poet and writer. Her essays have been published in Scene Magazine, Cleveland Christmas Memories, Raven’s Perch, and by Cleveland State University among others. Her poems can be found in numerous journals. Her chapbook, Liquid Rubies, was published by Pudding House. The Volume of Our Incongruity was published by Finishing Line Press. Diane’s essay, “I Will Sing for You” was featured at the Cleveland Humanities Fest in 2018. Her novel, The Desire Path can be found on Amazon. She is a graduate of Kent State University and holds an M.Ed from Cleveland State University.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Public School Teachers

There is a teacher's strike going on in the greater Cleveland area. Strikes are terribly damaging to both sides and personally I do not think I would ever vote to strike. I have seen both sides. I do know that it always a last resort and I understand the union's need to retain their power lest working conditions deteriorate and effect student learning. I also understand the need to work with a contract and not be taken advantage of.

Thinking about this made me want to share what it was like in the elementary school building that I teach in this week.

This week grades and report cards were due. Report cards can take hours and hours for a classroom teacher with 25 students. We have one 45 minute planning time each day but at least once a week it is reserved for a grade level meeting. This week teachers started to give up two lunch or planning periods a week to tutor students in math for the all-important Ohio Achievement Assessment.  This will continue until the end of April.  It is voluntary but everyone volunteers because it is good for kids. Just like the entire district agreed to a longer instructional day without one dissent - because we care about the kids.

This week some teachers were required to be at school in the evening for a concert, many are at an all weekend IB training on the west side. These do not all apply to me but I did have extra special ed duties this week that took up several class periods.  This Wednesday we will all work a 13 hour day to accommodate conferences.

Most days I open my email in the morning with trepidation because I know there will 2-3 more things I am required to do that day or that week that I previously knew nothing about.

We are required to go to multiple trainings each year. Yes, they are part of the work day, but anyone who is a teacher knows how much extra effort it requires to prepare for substitutes (and then usually you have to teach it again anyway).

Am I complaining? No! No one I know complains. It's our job. It's also our job to deal with children who come to school hungry, angry, filthy, unmedicated and out-of-control, and deal with parents like the one this week - when told his children weren't doing their homework - yelled at the teacher that it is her job to teach them, not his.

There are days I come home exhausted, discouraged and sometimes defeated because it is not an easy job.  You can't stop caring because they are children.

Oh, and we also lost an hour this week  .......I'm just saying.