By Levi B Cavener
Like many teachers, I was in and out of my school during break to prepare for the spring term and end of semester exams that will hit me full-force starting tomorrow. When I signed in at my school’s out-of-hour log today, I took the time to look over who had been in and out during the break.
I can’t say I was astonished, but the collection of names gathered and hanging on the out-of-school-hours log since winter break began that I looked through today was extensive. These teachers decided to give up their own vacation, time with families, and other obligations to come into school over the break to make sure their students continue to receive a world-class education when they return tomorrow.
And the sign-in log doesn’t even come close to telling the whole story. Many teachers took assignments that needed grading home with them. Instructors likely were planning curriculum at their houses and vacation locales. Other faculty like myself were busy as Santa’s elves writing IEPs. None of these activities were recorded on the log.
So why did this happen. It can’t be because Idaho’s teachers top out in the nation in their salary and they feel like they are already compensated for these extra hours. It’s not because districts were willing to pay overtime to instructors who brought work home. Surely it’s not because we missed our deco faculty lounges with those exclusively private Starbucks baristas attending to our every craving.
I have a theory on this seemingly bizarre behavior. Could it be that regardless of politics, in the face of dwindling financial resources, and despite increasingly large classroom sizes that teachers across the state consider teaching to be more than a way to earn a buck? Could it be that teachers truly believe that their work is so important that they are willing to give up their personal time for unpaid work?
As another semester approaches, and as another session at the statehouse begins, let us remember the hours that don’t show up on a teacher’s timecard. Make sure your legislators understand that teaching professionals across the state deserve to be treated with respect, and be fairly compensated for their time, as a new session begins tomorrow.