During my 20 years as an Elgin High English teacher, my friends stopped calling me on Sundays. They knew just about any invitation would be turned down and conversations would be short. Responding to student writing was the main activity; 150 students, with at least 3 minutes per essay is a pretty simple math calculation. When I started teaching, there was some time during the week to do this work, but the work of the educator in schools today is different than when I started teaching.
Currently I am serving as the President of the Elgin Teachers Association. Representing such a diverse and talented group of teaching professionals has been a tremendous honor as well as a challenging learning experience. The creativity and skill that is seen as a daily part of our classrooms is only a small part of the educators’ work. Even I do not always understand some of the complexities of my colleagues work and need to spend time with them to help move through some of the issues they face.
The members of the ETA wanted to try to find a way to share more about how our profession and the current work has grown and changed. The idea of a “Grade-in,” is one way to make a physical representation of the variety of activities that are done outside the classroom in order to make the best learning environment for students every day. Members will be doing their work prior to the Board of Education meeting March 5th from 6:00-7:00. By a representation of the actual work by some members from all grades and types of sites, we hope to invite conversation and understanding.
We need honest and open discourse in order for real reform and change to occur. As professionals, we feel an obligation to share in any forum we can what we believe are important issues that need to be addressed. We hope that the experiences a few of our members, Mike Basich, Maryellyn Friel, and Shawn Leaver, will inform and help direct the decisions that will ultimate impact our students.