For those of you reading this in "real time" you may know that as a result of the Ontario Provincial Liberal Government's Bill 115 (supported by the Conservative Party) all teachers in Ontario have lost the right to bargain contracts or go on strike. My response to my MPP about Bill 115 is posted on this blog. This left "withdrawal of voluntary services", not doing activities or events that are not in our contract or the Education Act, as the only method of protest for teachers. The union has only recommended that teachers not participate in voluntary activities as the union is not allowed to order such job action without a strike vote. As a side note, the strike votes are happening pretty much as I type. However, for the moment the decision to withdraw voluntary services is being made teacher-by-teacher or sometimes school-by-school. This means that some schools in the Ottawa public board (Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, OCDSB) are offering all sports and clubs, some schools are offering none and some schools are offering a partial selection.
This has made students unhappy as some of them have been more affected than others and many are annoyed about being "pawns" in a teacher-government dispute. However, teachers are also unhappy. First of course, we are unhappy about losing bargaining rights. But many teachers are unhappy about how losing extracurricular activities means losing opportunities to connect positively with students and opportunities to help students who may be having difficulties at school or at home.
As I was thinking about this problem, an idea came to me. It will not work for every teacher but if it works for any, it is better than nothing. The idea is this: take some of the time and energy that would ordinarily be devoted to extracurricular activities and devote it to helping a student or students in a different way. Maybe find some more time to offer extra help. Maybe find a way to offer extra, extra help for someone who really needs it. Maybe make an extra phone call to a parent every day just to stay in touch and keep lines of communication open. Maybe help a colleague with their prep or their marking so that they have more energy for their students. Anything you can do with that "extracurricular" time will be some small improvement in someone's life. And if you are anything like me as a teacher, then that is why you are in the profession.