There ain't no way in heck.
So apparently, the latest qualification to be considered an excellent teacher is to give kids and parents one's cell phone number so that they can reach you at any time.
TFA says we should do it. Michelle Rhee says we should do it.
Well, to subside into my Okie lingo, I ain't doin' it.
Here's the deal: I pay for my cell phone with my own money. It is not subsidized by the district. I got it when I had kids of my own so that I could be able to be in touch in case of an emergency. I do not give out my cell number to just anyone. Now, in a moment of weakness, I gave the thing to my principal, but so far the only thing that has happened is that she gave my number to a flunky at the district offices who needed to apologize to me (it's a loooong story). That, and I did exchange numbers with Good AP so I could tease him about football, and that's been fun.
But back to the point. Apparently, there is the educational equivalent of the "Madonna/whore" complex going on right now in the criticism of American teachers. Either you are a self-abnegating martyr who has no personal life nor has any right to expect one, or you are a tenured, lazy vampire sucking life from the government teat who has no concern about your students. It's like we're living in 1922 all over again. My grandma was a teacher in 1922. She had to live with a family in town so that she could be chaperoned. It was required that she be a member of the Baptist Church in the tiny Oklahoma town in which she was employed as well as a Sunday school teacher (2 for the price of 1!!!) and God help her if she didn't attend church every Sunday. Once she got married to grandpa, she had to quit. She had no privacy, she had no independence, she had no options.
Students and parents, I do not live in 1922. I will work my butt off for you during the school day and for an hour thereafter. I am available every day after school and I have a class website. But when I do leave school, I am now on family and personal time. You have no right to my cell phone number or to my personal email. You can already reach me during the work day. And that doesn't mean that I don't care deeply about my students. But I refuse to just go along with the current conundrum facing the American worker over productivity. I am extremely productive during the day. But I am just as certain that that productivity entitles me to some time on my own during the time I am not on the clock. This includes, weekends, evenings, and summer-- all of which is unremunerated free time. I get no paid vacation and two personal days. And I am fine with this-- until you decide it's your right to encroach upon that too. It's like that phrase from the labor unions of the 1880s: "Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, and eight hours for what I will."
The only reason why students or parent would need my personal cell number 24-7 is if the student themselves are either overscheduled or are putting off doing my assignments until late at night. And in either case, the solution is not in my hands. I also have a life. I also have a family. And they serve some consideration, too.
I tell you what: when the principals and administrators give me and the parents their cell phone numbers (on their taxpayer-supplied cell phones), I may reconsider. But I doubt it.
Labels: the teaching life