Striking Out

I usually blog about books and TV shows, films and climate change. Today, however, I wanted to write about something a little bit more personal. My wish to take Strike Action tomorrow.

I cannot remember the last time we were driven to consider striking but this year many unions have decided to take this action due to lots of factors, including workload and pay conditions.

Why Am I Striking?

I know that in education we have seen our workload triple over the past decade. We drown in lots of unnecessary paperwork and admin. We all know that red tape has grown and bogged us down. Our work day is roughly 8:00 till 17:00 but when we come home we switch on our laptops and do another 2-3 hours of admin work every evening.

I hear people saying that teachers are lazy and have lots of holidays but the daily stress and responsibility is enormous. Many people go home from work and forget about it pretty much but we have so many things to plan, coordinate, remember and generally stress about each night and throughout the weekend.

So Why Strike?

Yes it is disruptive and no I would not normally get involved but there is plenty of evidence to show that salaries have plummeted as inflation has risen. We are literally struggling to pay our bills. I now believe strike action is required.

Source: ONS and the Times via @danielkebedeneu

We Need To Stick Together!

I was recently convinced to join the NEU strike because my own bills are increasing rapidly. Yet our pay has not risen in line with this. To add to this, we were made to work in 41 degree temperatures last summer. This was incredibly stifling without air conditioning. A difficult teaching environment.

These two facts led to me signing YES on the NEU ballot.

I feel that our profession is not respected like it used to be and our work is piling up. Teachers are leaving in droves and we are forever having to plan and cover for others as long term sickness and vacancies make us unbearably short staffed.

In A Nutshell

To me it feels like schools are driving talented people away. Other European countries pay more competitive wages and have better work-life balances. Sorry for the political rant but I just wanted to say why it is so important to me. I feel we need to take strike action to provoke change.

For a previous article about climate change, have a read of this. Please also consider following my blog for lifestyle content and book/ TV/ film reviews.

Sorting the climate -step by step.

Where do we start? We want to help with climate change? We have all been made aware of the real threat that it poses. Now it is time to consider ways that each of us can contribute to change.

Pushing for political movement is a start. It is vital, indeed. But we need to look at other ways that everyday members of the public may do our bit to help slow climate change a bit. Lots of raising awareness has happened with protests and the wonderful influence of activists such as Emma Thompson and David Attenborough. We are all very much aware! Let’s act now by making changes to our routines, our choices and especially the way in which we travel.

Small change 1: Getting around

One small thing we can do is think very carefully with regard to our daily travel. On a small scale, something that might help is changing our routine with regard to visits to the local shops and dropping off kids at school. Sometime we get ourselves into such a rush that we feel we must use the car to make these tiny journeys.

Traffic would be so much lighter in urban areas were we all to be a bit more pragmatic. Most journeys to school are less than a mile and a half and so we could be encouraging our kids to walk or cycle to school, preventing a lot of standing vehicles churning out copious amounts of pollutants. Few cars on the local roads would make them safer. Plus, having more people walking gives a greater sense of security. Empty paths feel awkward. Busy paths feel safe.

A few schools have begun preventing cars coming near to their sites before and after school. This is refreshing to see. The gases produced on ignition and whilst vehicles are in slow traffic, is damaging to airways as well as contributing massively to environmental damage. We can do something about this, simple by adapting our timings and making the effort to walk, cycle or scoot.

Studies have suggested that some kids get into the car, switch on mobile devices and arrive at school, unaware of the journey they have taken. It is as if they go from island to island with no interaction with their surroundings. Walking to school wakes up their bodies and minds. The journey can be a social one if they walk with friends. It develops independent thinking skills and promotes geographical alertness. Children become aware of their communities, how to cross roads safely and have time to think about their lives, consider their day ahead and take in the world around them. I have fond memories of walking and cycling to school and loved picking up my friends en route as well as the exercise. It made me feel wide awake and ready to learn when I arrived for registration.

Let me know your thoughts.

What Inspires Me

Part One – Written Texts

When I was young, I learned to read easily. Entering school at age 4 I could pretty much recognise all of the phonemes and read steadily. I loved stories and my mum read them to me every night, after a while enabling me to take over and read back. Teachers were pleased at my love of stories and I soon began to enjoy finding out about things too with children’s encyclopaedias and instructional books. I didn’t really need to practise my spellings and was soon able to spell quite challenging words. When I think about my own learning process I remember enthusiasm being a big part of it. Largely, though, the learning to read and write was independent after that initial introduction to the mechanisms behind sounding and blending.

Recalling a teacher reading the BFG with brilliant regional accents and another reading George’s Marvellous Medicine, I was soon hooked on Roald’s stories. Dahl was a regular feature in my education and a year five teacher really brought to life the Grand High Witch with a super German accent. Roald Dahl remains a huge influence and I am pleased to see his work being changed into theatre productions and movies.

But at secondary school English was taught in a more boring way and often became a bit devalued. I lost my love for books as some of the choices forced upon us just did not sit well at all. Some of the texts were dragged out over weeks and months. For example, we spent a whole year looking in minute detail at, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ but it was not worth such careful scrutiny. Not to say it wasn’t good. But it was my year eleven English teacher who reawakened my love of books. She liked and recognised my short, concise approach and I ended up choosing to do an A-Level in English with her and really pick apart the language of humour, narrative and the media. I owe a lot to her – Mrs Senior.

She introduced me to Shakespeare with MacBeth and made me see that Jane Austin was clever and insightful. Mrs S told me I would make a good journalist and could probably write a damn good book. Thanks to her I have now taken writing into my life and now who knows where that may bring me.

Roald Dahl started me reading. Who inspired you?