Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Know Your Contract

Not unlike many an average fifth grader, I've often shied away from complex informational text. The text density, content specific vocabulary, and dryness of these documents are not inviting. Yet when one shies away from or avoids a document such as a contract that outlines the policies, protocols, and opportunity inherent in the profession, there's the risk that you won't benefit from the potential that contract holds.

With this in mind and also the fact that our local union will soon renegotiate our contract, I created an easy-to-edit copy that colleagues can copy and "play with" as they think about language they want to keep and language they want to change in the upcoming year. I posted the document on our local union website for easy access.

As you read through your contract and "play with" the language, I suggest using the following perspectives:
  • How does the contract help you to do your job well? What language supports good teaching and learning?
  • How can the contract better support what you can do to teach well? What supports would better the contract, salary, and working conditions that allow you to invest good time and energy into your professional work?
  • How does the contract represent the new knowledge age of education we live and work in rather than old time factory models? Will language changes help us to update and improve the teaching/learning environment leading to greater success and satisfaction for all?
  • What opportunity lies within the contract process and how can language change maximize that opportunity?
I am a member of my system' salary and working conditions committee. I am not a member of the negotiations committee. My role is to look carefully at the contract and think about how I will work with my colleagues and the Negotiations' chair to make the contract accessible, process inclusive, and support the good work possible so that our contract represents the top-notch system that we currently are and the terrific teaching and learning that's possible. 

Summer days are great days to think deeply about teaching and learning. Summer days allow us the luxury to think about the big picture related to our everyday work and teaching/learning communities. Hence I recommend taking a few hours to make a copy of your current contract and look over the language. If it's time for renegotiation, you may want to make a copy and mark up the text with ideas for betterment. If it's not renegotiation time, you may want to simply think about how the contract serves you and what opportunities lie within the contract language to support your good work.

How do you get to know your contract well? What process do you use to analyze and come up with new ideas when contracts are renegotiated? How does this process maximize what's possible in your teaching/learning organization? What opportunity awaits?