100 hours on the line

100 hours on the line

We spent five weeks on the picket line–100 hours–during the longest strike in the 50 year history of Ontario community colleges.

Was it worth it? Absolutely.

I have wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. For many educators, the calling to teach is strong. It is rewarding to help students unlock a concept in a lesson and to play a role in them seeing the world a little differently.

When I first started teaching as an adjunct faculty member in the Ontario college system, most of the benefits that I derived from teaching were these magical and intangible rewards because, simply put, the job did not pay a living wage. As a family, we decided that we could make it work temporarily and adjusted our finances accordingly. I recognize our privilege. Had we not been able to do this, I may have not continued to accept teaching work or, like many adjunct faculty, would have worked multiple precarious jobs to make ends meet.

For two years, I continued to teach on a part-time basis. This meant expressing interest in teaching every four months as a new semester began, desperately hoping that the courses I wanted to teach would be offered to me. Sometimes it meant picking up a new course to teach, often at the very last minute, days before it was to start. It could also mean not teaching at all for a semester.

The precarious nature of the work became untenable to me. It was exhausting. The stresses of not knowing what or if I would be teaching semester to semester started to take away from the joys that I experienced in the classroom.

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