A small fish in a slightly bigger pond
At the seminar for members at international schools and – departments in the beginning of April gave a union representative with an international background a presentation about the members’ view on and use of the union representative. When the members were dissatisfied with something they would “go to the union” with the problem, but as she said: “You are the union”.
The members are Frie Skolers Lærerforening (FSL). If you work at a continuation school, a bigger private school, a small free school, a boarding school or an international school you are FSL. If you are a preschool teacher, a senior citizen, student teacher, unemployed or union representative you are FSL.
And FSL is the union for teachers at the independent schools. It can be said that shortly: we represent the members at all the independent schools in Denmark.
That being said the teachers at the independent schools are not a homogeneous mass – absolutely not. We are as different, unique and special as our schools. However, common to us all is that we make “the best school in the whole world” every single day, because we are dedicated to exactly our school, students and education philosophy.
When you work at an independent school there are many things to relate to. The values of the school, the pedagogy and loyalty are concepts you have to take into consideration when you are employed at an independent school. However, also the planning of work hours, the level of salary and the psychological working environment have an impact on your daily life. And finally, we as teachers at independent schools have the opportunity to participate in the democracy at the school in the form of staff meetings, works councils, board meetings and in FSL-club meetings.
The majority of us have grown up with the Danish school traditions because we have been pupils in the public school on an independent school. We have – directly or indirectly – been introduced to the Danish model where you discuss and negotiate until you reach a result. For us it is natural to seek information, participate in the discussions, share our opinion about this and that. But a portion of our members have only heard about this way of running a school. They come from other countries, they have actively applied for a job in Denmark at an international school or international department at an independent school.
The international teachers represent a special group in FSL. A special group that do not get the information about the many and special rules that apply for teachers at independent schools since the communication often is in Danish. The union representatives at independent schools with international teachers have particular responsibility to get them to join the political community in FSL.
They need to be taken by the hand and introduced to the Danish model, the Danish labour market and the independent schools. They need to know what kind of character FSL is and what we can do for the members. That you can call your union and get help and guidance, book a meeting with a consultant or ask us to come to the school and inform about FSL are some of the options you have as a member of FSL. And as a member – regardless of nationality and school – you have to experience that you are seen, understood and consulted.