If life is getting to you…

I could happily be watching the sun rise over those mountains again.

Been feeling tired and a bit frustrated. The whole protest march coupled with the rapid approach of the mid term after a busy start to the school year had me worn down. So I’m posting this as a reminder to myself and to anyone reading this that they aren’t all bad days. Sometimes, like today, you have a nice moment – a compliment from a colleague or a message of thanks from a parent or student – and it can be all too easy to overlook or disregard those things when you’re tired and out of sorts.

So my advice to you is to take a moment and take stock of the good in your life. Start, as I did, with a happy memory. Then think about the wonderful little things in your day that you didn’t notice when they were happening. It might just be what you need to be able to let go of the other nonsense that’s been getting more of your time than it deserves.

It worked for me. Hope it works for you. 🙂

About tomorrow

Just a quick reminder for any of my fellow teachers living and working in the Pale that you should be out in force tomorrow in Dublin for the ‘Valuing Education’ march. Now is the time to send a clear message to our government that Ireland cannot afford to undervalue or underfund education. There is another way (see my last post for a link giving details of the NERI report on the subject) and we have to stand up for our students and, yes, for ourselves as well. Take time out from your busy week and stand with your colleagues. Remember, we as voters have a right and responsibility to use the voice that we have as citizens. Let’s do it.
And if you really can’t make the march for whatever reason remember that TDs have email addresses, postal addresses and face to face clinics – be there in spirit if not in person!

Stand up and speak out or sit down and shut up

I had a couple of ideas about what I was going to blog about next but find myself putting them aside for today for the simple reason that I went to my local INTO branch meeting yesterday. We had a talk on the situation regarding NQTs (Newly Qualified Teachers to the uninitiated) and the usual (but in this case not-so-usual) CEC report.

Here’s what I got from it: angry. Angry at myself, first and foremost, for not staying better informed and for not being more proactive about ongoing developments in education and in my own profession. Angry at a government who want a first class education system for bargain basement prices. Angry at a media who hide behind mastheads and and undisclosed salaries while persistently maligning the public service and teachers more specifically.

The meeting outlined the absolutely disgraceful changes made to NQTs’ pay and conditions, changes that render NQTs second class citizens in their own profession. As someone who has, to date, been sheltered from many of these changes, I find it disturbing to think that my younger colleagues in education are so little valued by this government. What this government forgets is that what made this country so successful during the so-called boom years was the ready availability of an educated workforce (obviously coupled with our access to the European market). Success in education means having top calibre teachers, something that this country will no longer have if NQTs pay and conditions continue to be eroded. We need the best and brightest teaching in our schools and I have to say that for all that I love my job I would hesitate before recommending teaching to others at this point in time. How disheartening it must be to young graduates to leave college with little or no work on offer, significantly less pay given for what work is there, extra work expected of you in comparison to that expected of your better paid colleagues and to top it all off, a media and government campaign to tell the country that your profession are lazy, overpaid and underworked.

To any NQTs out there I say that you are not alone. Despite the ongoing media spin, your fellow teachers did not hang you out to dry. When I voted on the PSA/Croke Park, it never occurred to me that younger teachers would suffer insult and injury by repeated cuts such as have since happened. Perhaps that was naive but it is the truth. With the Croke Park Agreement limping towards its inevitable demise, I suspect our situations may become much more equal (and I don’t mean that in a good way) very soon if something isn’t done to challenge the current trend.

Stand up and speak out.

There’s a march in Dublin next Wednesday to send the message that it’s time to start valuing education the way we as a country we should. I’m not sure we have always been an island of saints (the various tribunals and inquiries of recent history seem to suggest otherwise) but I do think that we should aspire to be an island of scholars where we strive to give the best start to every generation of children through their education. So get to Dublin and make your voice heard. At yesterday’s INTO meeting the very valid point was made that if we don’t show up in LARGE numbers, we will be implying that we will take whatever cuts come our way lying down. If you have no way of getting to Dublin, then get on your email and let every one of your elected representatives know how you feel.

I’m serious. The time for apathy or complacency is over. Get involved and protect this profession.

Otherwise? Sit down and shut up. The message will be clear: everything they say about us being underworked and overpaid is true and we will willingly accept whatever is thrown at us. I don’t believe that’s true. I have the height of respect for my colleagues in education. I think they work hard for their students and I think that deserves recognition.

Side note: Some of you may say we’ll be villified by the public and the media if we protest. But aren’t we already villified by those same people on a daily basis? Do we go in to work every day to be our students’ friends or their teachers? Since when are we in this job for popularity?

 

Some further reading on the subject of education and public sector cuts:

There are those advocating a different approach to economic recovery –

http://www.nerinstitute.net/research/alternative-fiscal-pathways/

The INTO provides information on a variety of issues that Wednesday’s march aims to highlight –

http://www.into.ie/ROI/NewsEvents/LatestNews/Title,24123,en.php

Details of how teachers have already been hit by cuts (via @levdavidovic on Twitter) –

http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/teachers-pay-among-the-worst-hit-by-cutbacks-210006.html

Evidence that austerity is not effective (via @levdavidovic on Twitter):

http://www.irishexaminer.com/opinion/columnists/colette-browne/imf-get-their-maths-wrong-so-we-suffer-far-more-than-was-predicted-210341.html#.UHctt0sCio0.twitter

My First Blog Post

I feel like one of my Junior Infants students completing their first school writing activities. Of course, in their case, they’re starting with pre writing and letter formation. In mine, I’m writing my first ever blog post. Both present very different challenges. For my class, it’s motor skills and pencil grip. For myself, it’s trying to decide what to write about.

So I’ll start here. With this blog I hope to gather and sift through the various ideas whirling around in my over active mind. A lot of these will probably be about teaching and education, since I seem to be finding myself at a starting point in a new phase of my teaching life. The combination of my first year teaching infants and my rediscovery of Twitter as a source of ideas and information on teaching and learning are changing my approach to my work and to how I use the internet.

I suppose I should tell anyone paying attention a little about myself. I’m a child of the 80s with a lifelong love of reading and a more recent love of rugby (Leinster fan, for those interested). A Dub originally and always, I studied teaching in St Patrick’s College Drumcondra and now find myself teaching Junior Infants in my adopted county of Kildare. I’m a doting big sister who owes a lot to two wonderful parents. I try to count my blessings often, although like most am finding all this recession talk a bit jading. I’m really excited about some of the changes happening in education at the moment, but I find myself trying to play catch up on what is a very steep learning curve.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by my blog. Hopefully I’ll have lots of interesting things to say here. In the meantime, you can find me on Twitter as @OLNicki