Check-In, Monday, December 10th

Good morning, County! Happy Monday.

Things are starting to settle down a bit here at the office after a crazy few weeks. Between the new “Unscheduled Instructional Time” (UIT) initiatives, the tripartite agreement (which would see non-NSTU individuals hired to work as substitutes), the ongoing issues of members safety during power outages and the Guarding Minds at Work Survey, December has been nothing if not busy.

Over the course of the past few weeks, I have attended a number of meetings which have been held between senior management of the HRCE and the three local presidents to discuss concerns, particularly around teacher wellness and the imposition of the new UIT initiative. We have expressed on multiple occasions that, as far as we are hearing, the new model for student support has not proven to be particularly effective. The teachers who have reached out to us have expressed confusion and frustration at the way the model has been implemented, and have expressed a wide gamut of concerns.

The local presidents have brought these concerns to the HRCE. One of the key messages that we are trying to get across to the employer is that teachers’ use of UIT should remain within the purview of their own professional judgement. It could be that a teacher may, indeed, have the capacity to go into another classroom and offer support during their UIT, but the effectiveness of that intervention will depend, to a great extent, upon how that particular teacher is feeling about their own classroom. It could very well be that a teacher using their UIT to focus on their own students, as opposed to someone else’s, would be in everyone’s best interest.

For the time being, the UIT model remains very much a work in progress, and the subject of ongoing conversations. Although we recognize that there may be an increased impetus for teachers to be accountable for the time for which they are being paid, we also feel there is a balance which must be achieved. Again, I go back to my airline analogy from last week. There is a very good reason why flight attendants advise putting on your own oxygen mask first.

As educators, we must first put ourselves in a situation where the needs of our own students are being met before we can offer help to others.

That’s it for this week, all. And for those of you who do celebrate the holiday, here’s hoping that the rapidly approaching season does not prove overly stressful.

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