Recently, I read a story about a teacher who was suspended for three days and had a reprimand placed in her file. What was her crime? Asking her parents for help to improve the 58-degree temperature in her classroom. Mary Logan provided her students with the contact information of the school board to give to their parents in hopes of improving the conditions in her class so her students could focus on their education.
I could definitely relate to this teacher’s plight. Last school year, I was a high school literacy coach and English teacher. I remember hearing on the school’s morning announcements that students should not be in class in a coat, and they should not be wrapped in a blanket. I agree that students should not have blankets or wear coats in class, but why were students wearing these items in the first place? It was because they were cold. I tweeted a photo of myself during class teaching in my coat. Not only was I wearing a coat, but I was also wearing a suit jacket and two shirts underneath that.
The educator who got suspended at her school was told she should have put in a work order. I can tell you from experience that you can put in a work order and be told nothing would be done. Before I tweeted the photo of myself, I put in a work order. A person from maintenance came to my room to inform me they would not be able to address the coldness of my room during the school year because there were other construction projects that were going to take place first and then they would look into my issue.
Of course, since I wore a coat, I didn’t stop students from wearing a coat either. It never should have come down to this. I’m admittedly a rule follower, so I did not want to get into trouble. I also didn’t want kids to skip my class because it was too cold or continue interrupting my lessons with complaints about how cold they were.
Teachers should never be put in a situation where they have to break a rule or fear a consequence to ensure their students can learn. All this does is create a culture of fear in the building. When schools don’t address issues that affect students’ ability to learn, they are not putting their students first.