Note that even the tissue boxes are gone. We don't even get tissue for our little ones. That's it. This one little binder. We used to have a mathematics resource, but we were told not to use it anymore. What's even more sad is that there is actually a second shelving unit beside this one, that is equally empty once I take out everything I have purchased.
The thing is, these are only a few areas of my classroom. There are my art areas, sensory areas, dramatic play areas that I am not showing - all almost exclusively funded by me alone. If you were to wander into the "cubby" area of my room, you'd see wall to wall shelves that look like this:
I know it isn't the prettiest thing to look at, but here are the materials for inquiries that I have purchased, collected and created. Inquiries that I am expected to run - and I do, but they are completely funded by me. I mean, it's kind of crazy, right? I wouldn't go to a fancy restaurant and see the tableware to be a bunch of mismatched dishes and cutlery that the culinary-school trained chefs had to bring in from home. Or another example, my son broke his elbow last week - could you imagine how horrified I would have been if the doctor had started to make him some kind of papier mache cast because he wasn't given proper supplies? But that's what teachers are expected to do, daily.
I'm not some kind of anomaly, most teachers, ECEs and EAs that I have encountered are doing this. We don't typically broadcast it, we just do it because we want our students to enjoy their time with us, we do it because our job is to TEACH - and we will find a way to do it.
What you see here doesn't include the snacks I keep in room for the students that never have enough food to eat, you don't see that clothes I've bought for students because they were coming to school in the same pair of pants everyday, you don't see the Christmas presents I've bought for students and quietly given to parents so that their child can come back from Christmas break and talk about what was waiting for them under the tree with their classmates. And like I said, I'm not some angel. I'm not alone in this. Teachers are doing these things in every school in Ontario, because we care. A LOT.
So when you hear that the teachers are so lucky because of our hours (I get to work at least an hour early each day to ensure that my room is ready for my students, and then I stay up countless hours at night working on resources and planning for my students once my own kids get to bed, not to mention the lunches I give up to coach a number of teams), please remember that's not what our fight is about.
When you hear we get 2 months paid vacation (we're only paid for 10 months and it is spread out over the course of 12... and many of us are in the building prepping for the next year throughout the summer or working at home on things for the coming year - but yes we get a nice break to enjoy our families and I'm fairly certain not one of us has ever complained about that), please remember that's not what our fight is about.
When you hear that its just about teachers wanting a raise (we are qualified professionals who went through at 5 to 6 years of post-secondary education followed by numerous additional courses to add to our qualifications, and I'm still unsure as to why us being compensated fairly as other professionals are is always such an issue), please remember that's not what our fight is about.
This fight is about funding - for the classrooms. For the many, many students we teach with varying needs and abilities. FOR THE KIDS. My classroom, like many others, would be sad and sparse if I didn't fund it. I know this is my take, but I know I'm not alone in how I as an educator feel. Classrooms are given so little, and even more is at stake. That is what my fight is about.