Trying to Focus on the Positive

There is a special kind of stress that happens at the end of the school year for teachers without permanent contracts and this year has been much worse than most because the government has announced they’re cutting over 300 teaching positions in the province, they’ve cut literacy leads and math leads down to a tiny fraction of what we’ve had before, they’re cutting positions at the department level and they’re getting rid of our $250 that we get to spend on supplies for our classrooms. All gone. It’s tense in the staff room. We’re all stressed about what’s going to happen next year; who’s going to be in which position, who’s not going to have a job.

I’m worried about my job.

I was very hopeful that taking this job at my school would be a great career move, not only because it’s a wonderful school, but also because it’s a position that no one was planning to return to so I felt I had some job security. Now, all bets are off. The fact that I teach Intensive French is helpful because it’s a bit of a specialized subject but that might not save me.

I started substitute teaching here in 2007. After three years of that I managed to get a contract teaching grade 5 and have since taught grade 5 in six classrooms in four different schools. Each year I’ve packed up my room at the end of the school year. Each year I’ve had a new principal. I’ve worked with seven different principals. I’m very lucky because I’ve taught grade 5 every year and I’ve always had a full time position for the whole year and only one year I didn’t know where I was going to be at the end of the school year and didn’t find out until late July. I’m cautiously hopeful that this year I’ll know where I am by the end of June but I know that it’s possible that I won’t.

It’s hard to focus on the positive right now. It’s hard to focus on my lesson plans, trying to come up with new ideas to keep my students engaged when the sun is shining and they would rather be out playing soccer than anything else in the world. It’s hard to sit and mark and input marks for the end of the year report cards when I would rather be gardening or running or doing something else to distract myself from the stress that is the big giant question mark hanging over my head about next year.

Logically, I know things will be fine. Logically I know that even if I don’t get to stay at my school (and I want so much to stay there), that I will get hired somewhere because there aren’t that many Intensive French teachers, especially not that many who have as many years of experience in it as I have. I know that even if I don’t get hired, we will figure something out, even if it means moving to the Netherlands or something. Emotionally though I’m just a mess. I’m stressed for myself, I’m stressed for my friends and I’m upset about students not getting the educations they deserve.

1. I’m excited about my flexible groups lesson plan for this week.
2. I got a lot of work done around the house this weekend.
3. We just celebrated our 5 year anniversary in St. Andrews.
4. I’m feeling better about running and am getting closer to my 5k goal by the end of the school year.
5. I’ve had a wonderful year with an amazing group of kids and fantastic co-workers.
6. Tomorrow is supposed to be a beautiful sunny day.
7. I had an awesome dinner with friends tonight.
8. I have friends coming to stay with us Wednesday night.
9. We have a read-through of the next musical that I’m stage managing on Friday.
10. I have a fun game we’re going to play tomorrow in French.


One thought on “Trying to Focus on the Positive

  1. Mme Samson says:

    Courage, Jeannie.

    The system is seriously broken in that they’ve left such a good teacher hanging year after year. And I know you aren’t the only one.

    Oops we’re being positive. The flexible groups sound very exciting and an efficient use of resources. And good luck on your 5k. I love seeing runners progress.

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