Scenes From The Monkey House: Not A Glamorous Gig.

Somewhere along the line, I decided to take a side gig in union leadership at my building.  This has mostly not been a fun time.  Especially when we are blessed with a pretty quality administration this year.  This bonus has the unfortunate side effect of making my job like a giant mirror to reflect the occasional blemish of my faculty right back at them. Consider the following example:  It is the policy of the union to tell teachers when they have been observed acting in ways that are in violation of the contract.  This is a precautionary principle, based firmly in a desire to keep problems "in shop," rather than the alternative (getting the administration involved).  Usually (read:  every time but once), these polite discussions are acknowledged with a "thank you" and a glimmer of recognition that the member is getting slightly sloppy in some aspect of the job.  Most recently it was not.

Teachers make mistakes.  No matter how good you are at the gig, you are never perfect, and as such there are areas of the profession where even the most seasoned educator could pick up his/her game.  Sometimes these things are difficult to analyze and repair:  classroom techniques or pedagogical preference.  Some times these things are quite easy to diagnose:  lateness to work or duty periods and such.

Fortunately for all of us, the contract does not dictate our teaching.  Rather, it outlines particular responsibilities of our work day.  The time we must arrive by and stay until.  The number of classes we teach.  How to do our duty period task (typically study hall, hall duty or the dreaded cafeteria duty).  The bottom line is that deficiencies in the rote practices and procedures outlined in our contract are what the union spends most of its time occupied with at the building level.

As previously stated, most educators are more than happy to take a cautionary visit from the union in stride, agreeing that they are in the wrong and quickly remedying the situation lest administration get wind of it.  In fact, I can say that this is how all situations to this point in the school year had been resolved.  Until today.  At which point, a senior (and quite excellent) teacher took extreme umbrage at the temerity of the union to deign to point out a chronic inability to be at hall duty on time.  Rather than focus on the actual issue, anger was directed at the union for even broaching the subject.

How dare we be concerned with the contractual well being of a great teacher.  We really have some nerve.  I guess we should just keep our concern to ourselves.

Such is the life of those of us involved in union leadership.  It's somewhat like herding cats who are too busy scratching your face to even think about moving to a better place.  It is not a job to be desired.