Saturday, 22 September 2012

Nothing to Say

I'm a bit of a blabbermouth.  But every once and a while, I have nothing to say.  Is this common for bloggers?  I am usually willing to talk (and write) about everything and anything; but lately, I have been coming up with fewer and fewer things to share. 

Its not because I'm particularly busy.  Although I am busy, I've always made time to update my blog.  I guess its because everything that I've been doing as of late has had to do with school and work.  I don't usually like to blog about work, so I haven't had much to say about anything else.  As you've read, I am not in love with the conflict that is happening between my union and the government.  So because I am so disheartened by that, I've stopped talking about it with non-teachers altogether.  I know that's not fair, but I'm sick of defending myself and my profession.

I also have been getting some not so nice emails about my blog here.  I'm torn between publishing them here and writing and open response, or just ignoring them.  Really, these emails are turning me off blogging.  I'm not going to quit, but I'm not impressed with these responses.  Jerks.

Maybe this counts as a type of writer's block.  But, I can think of tons of things that I could write about and do, I just don't want to right now. I don't know.  Maybe its just a slump.

What you you do to get over the hump?

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

I'm a teacher, here is what I think.

Bill 115 passed in Ontario yesterday.  What is interesting about this bill, is that it limits that freedom of teachers to strike.  I'm a teacher.  Here is what I want to respond (but the website won't let me right now) to people (ahem.) who are commenting that:

"Teachers are the spoiled brats of the working class" - "Financegal" 


"Maybe so, but you also lose your dignity when you protest this bill by taking it out on the kids by cancelling extra curricular activities.  Far as I am concern, ever teach that does this proves to me they are not there for the kids and they should not be teachers.  No matter what issues there are between teachers, the union and the board, there is never a time you use the kids as a bargaining tool, that has to stop. That is what makes many teachers a disgrace."   - "Cael"

And my favourite:

"If we just gave the teachers what they want, they wouldn't throw a tantrum. That's NOT what we need to teach our children." - "RightofCenter"

I'm Stephanie Bass.  I teach French.  I'm new to teaching; this is my second career.  I don't get any of the "benefits" that teachers who are not new get.  I should.  Also, I don't know who said that the teacher's were not fighting about money.  Of course its about money.  It costs money to educate.  More money if you want children educated well.  

But I will concede.  I will stop being selfish and give up everything if I can negotiate my pay (instead of a faceless board determining my pay by my credentials alone) and be paid an hourly wage that takes into account my education and experience.  I have an M.A.  I was once a social worker, which is a handy skill-set working in an inner city school.  I have experience teaching at two top Canadian Universities (York and McMaster).  I speak English and French.  Also, I'm pretty charming so I feel comfortable asking and confident I could talk my way into the $20-30/ hour I would make in the private sector in a professional capacity.  I work from 7:30 in the morning until about 6:00 at night with my extra-curricular activities, marking and preparation.  Of course, this is a conservative estimate.  All of this means I should be getting a base salary of $60-70 000/year.

I pay for all my resources, office supplies and additional training, for which I would like to be reimbursed.  This year I have spent $3000 on training, and $2000 on office and school supplies for students who can't afford their own.  I would need to be reimbursed for the $300 I spent printing my own resources, as well as the $500 I spent on educator resources.  $67 300 for those of you playing along at home.

I also need to travel for meetings, conferences and training, for which I also pay.  That is another $1000 this year (but could be more).  $68 300.  Can I put in for mileage too?

What about the "extras" I pay for because I work in a poor area?  I buy birthday presents for kids that would get none.  I buy extra snacks for kids that don't get lunches.  I buy coats and clothing in the winter, shoes all year round, bathing suits, toiletries. Once, I had to buy a set of socket wrenches to help fix a students' bike.  Can I have an expense account for that?

Right now the total for me, without benefits, without sick days is almost $70 200/ year.  This is significantly more than I currently make as a teacher.  You wouldn't gripe about $30 000/year? 

But there is more: the government legislated that I can't strike?  Something that is written into the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?  I am not allowed to express my frustration about my employment, my pay, or benefits?  In response, we will take the one thing we have to work with and stop it- no volunteering at the school where we also work.  Seems reasonable.  This is 10-15 hours a week in free labour that I will stop performing.  Although my volunteering is not mandatory, it is important.  And hopefully, people will see its value and come back to the table to discuss this conflict.

I am frustrated that I am not running my extra-curricular activities; emotionally torn really, because in my school, its all many students get in terms of music lessons, and sports teams.  My students deserve it, and need it.  And I get to feel terrible about it.  I get to look my students in the eyes and tell them that Glee club and Rock band are cancelled until further notice. So I get the sleepless nights and guilt about stopping these things.  But, what else can I do?  I need people to listen to my concerns.  Discussion hasn't worked.

One lesson that I teach my students is to stand up for yourself, even when people don't understand or agree with you.  I'm just standing up for myself.  I deserve some credit and some answers.  There are many who don't understand "what the deal with teachers are." This is my deal, one in thousands of "deals."  I hope it sheds some light.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

25 Things Fat People Shouldn't Do: Make Art of Themselves

25 Things Fat People Shouldn't Do is the brainchild of Jes, The Militant Baker.  After finding an idiotic and ridiculous list on the internet that proclaimed 25 tasks that fat people "shouldn't" do; she metaphorically and literally said "screw that," and  decided to do all the tasks on the list.  In her words, this list "ranges from the absurd to the profoundly shameful," so "[she] will be disproving this offensive notion with style."  I thought it was a brilliant idea; so I joined in.

Out of all the rules that were listed on that ridiculous list, this is the stupidest.  Art is full of large, beautiful women; there is an artist that is famous for his love of painting voluptuous women!  It makes sense though, painting curves has always been associated with sensuality, and beauty.

So instead of me creating a piece of art based on me (which I will do another time) I wanted to share what is perhaps the biggest compliment I have ever received from a friend of mine who is a great artist.

My friend Shira had asked if she could paint a portrait of me.  I was beyond flattered.  This picture came about from a series of pictures she took of me for her photography class.  She like a close up photo she took of me so much she wanted to paint it.  And I love the outcome.  She even entered it into a pretty famous art show in Toronto.

So, not only was I a piece of art, but I was a piece of art on display for 1000s of people to see.  I was more than a little surprised when people stopped me on the street to tell me about the painting of my face they saw at the art show.

The portrait, of course, was not the real gift.  The real gift was that my friend was able to show me how she saw me- that I was a piece of art!   Its silly, but I had to see something for me to believe it.  And I never had the confidence in my painting abilities to produce something that that displayed how I felt on the inside.  I am thankful that Shira could make me see that.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Under the Weather

I'm so glad its raining out today.  Because I am sick.  I have (what I hope is) a really bad cold, and I've been sleeping on and off for most of the day.

So I've taken up residence on my couch, where I will watch hours of Community, and play video games.  Then I will have a nap.  This sounds like an awesome day, if it weren't for one fact:  I feel like garbage. 

In other news, you may have noticed that I haven't been posting as often here.  That's because last week I got great news:  I was offered a full-time permanent teaching position at a public school here in town.  This is a big deal, since it is very difficult to get an interview, let alone an actual job. 

Now I am a permanent French teacher!  I really love it.  I teach in an inner-city school, which is my preference. It's a tough environment sometimes, but I went to an inner city school as a kid, and I think that these schools totally deserve great teachers who understand the lives of their students; and can serve as an example of success!  I have great co-workers, and administrators; and even though the provincial government is being a bunch of political d-bags, I'm happy. 

So, I'm sorry if it seems to be a little sparse around here for a while, I have to set up my year (administratively) and focus on work for a little bit. 

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

25 Things Fat People Shouldn't Do: Wear a Mumu

25 Things Fat People Shouldn't Do is the brainchild of Jes, The Militant Baker.  After finding an idiotic and ridiculous list on the internet that proclaimed 25 tasks that fat people "shouldn't" do; she metaphorically and literally said "screw that," and  decided to do all the tasks on the list.  In her words, this list "ranges from the absurd to the profoundly shameful," so "[she] will be disproving this offensive notion with style."  I thought it was a brilliant idea; so I joined in.  

Howdy!  For this installment of responding to nobody's favorite list, we are wearing a mumu.

I will do you one better, here is a picture of me wearing a mumu on stage.  Better still: I'm wearing a mumu, in a play that people paid to see me in.  Even better:  I'm wearing a mumu, on stage, where people have paid to see me, and I'm in a skimpy black dress underneath it for the next scene.  Let get better:  I was a lead character, in a mumu, on stage, where people paid to see me, after which I pull it off to reveal a skimpy black number, in which I sing and dance next to a thin girl in short shorts.

Really, its all in how you accessorize the mumu.  I chose big, red, plastic jewelry, since the play is supposed to take place in the '60s.  I got a nickname because of that dress:  Mama Cass Bass.  And I loves me some Mama Cass.

I was not even self conscious.  I kind of like that mumu.  I'm kind of motherly in this scene, and then it cuts to a ballroom where I play a hostess/ ex-con hooker with a heart of gold.  I loved that part.

And I rocked that mumu.  If it wasn't so long, I would wear it out.  I still might find a way to do that.