When the Denver Teacher’s Strike officially ended, he was already dressed and ready for a fourth day. It was Valentine’s Day. On my sign read: “Roses are red / Violets are blue / Pay your teachers, DPS / So we can go back to school”.
The strike was suspended at 6:15. I quickly changed and hurried to get to school.
Part of my decision was driven by my finances. Teachers had an option on Thursday: register at work or take an unpaid day with the guarantee that administrators would not have a day off. I planned a strike for three days (anything that any teacher can budget for) because I believed in it and wanted to show solidarity with my colleagues. A day not paid on Thursday would consolidate another lost day of income.
But my decision was also inspired by the events of the strike. The strike had more than 89 percent of my school, more than the district average of 75 percent. Many of my colleagues marched and clapped in front of the school at the same time, and the experience became the best teamwork of all the activities or meetings we have experienced throughout the year. The strike gave us the opportunity to get to know each other, to experience how things move in the stages and in the content areas, to empathize and empathize with the struggles of others inside and outside the classroom, and to be human
While there were some funny moments, the decision to attack was not an easy decision. We did not want to hit. We wanted to be with our students in our classrooms. We wanted to teach. And we were aware of the chaos in our school building a few hundred yards away.
The children sat at the gym tables, the cafeteria and the auditorium. They filled packages, played card games and FaceTimed friends whose parents had them at home. Some of the children expressed their disappointment when we returned because they would not get two more breaks a day and could not cuddle and sleep on the floor.
One of my eighth-grade students said it was a good thing for the strike to meet his classmates, especially the students he had not gone to before the strike. She made friends in trouble.
U.S. as well
I hoped that moving to work after an intense emotional and connecting week for teachers would mean a change in my school. But the reality was short.
This Thursday, many DPS schools celebrated the return of their teachers with songs, dances, information sessions, healing talks, and a unified entrance to the building. We have seen it in the news. There was a fantastic demonstration of the school spirit, a shared mission and a collective that supported teachers and administrators alike.
I wish I could say that my school was one of those schools.
We enter the gym and distribute the students to grade levels. They told us to set our own schedules for the day. It was essentially a “Solve It, We’re Out of Time” mentality of administrators. We had no lesson plans, no help (without a very generous special teacher who had agreed to spend time in my classroom during those hours) and no schedule.
I had 29-year-olds in my classroom for two and a half hours, followed by a second group of 28-year-olds for the next two and a half hours (with a 30-minute lunch break). No seventh-grade student should be in a classroom for two and a half hours. always
In my book and in the perspective of the students, this was Day 4 of Strike, based on the chaotic nature of the day. The only difference? There were a few more recognizable adults.
On Friday, most of the teachers were back in the classroom and the timetable returned to normal working hours. We went through the seven times of the day, something I never thought I would thank. I was able to see all of my students in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades, and I hunted elementary school students after school and to Jolly Ranchers, a Friday tradition in my room.
Last week, we continued working in the normal direction, but an unstable feeling persisted. There is no cure. There was no space for the conversations that should occur when returning to the work process. At a 10-minute meeting on Tuesday, February 19, our administrators said we should communicate with the Employee Assistance Program through Human Resources if we had any issues.
Our attempt to recruit the Unification staff was supported only by the striking teachers, and the weekly bulletin released last Friday highlighted the teachers and auxiliaries who stayed there.
The building of my school is not an example of what happened in all DPS. However, it is an example that I think needs to be shared as we all work to recover from the strike.
I teach my students to use their voices to argue for what they believe, and I would not be able to live my education if I did not do the same.
In my opinion, the teachers’ strike in Denver was more than compensation. It was an opportunity to raise awareness of how exhausted we are in body, mind and soul and how underrated our voices are. The teachers took part in the strike to defend their profession and said together, “We’re here, we’re important, and we’re sick of running around everywhere.”
Let’s not only pay teachers, but also how teachers are treated. Honor your experience and your knowledge. Allow them to train them to work for changes within their school buildings. Let’s give them a voice at the table, not just on strike but every day.