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LWolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-06-10 08:34 AM
Original message
Another extra duty.
One of the things the general public never talks about is the amount of time and energy teachers spend outside their classrooms in committee work. It's a catch-22. If we want a voice at the table, we participate. If we participate, it's more time in addition to the long hours we're already putting into our primary responsibility: our classroom.

So, at my school, in addition to my classroom teaching responsibilities and the time I'm assigned to playground supervision, I coordinate the services for gifted students at my school, which requires being pulled out of my classroom once a month for district level coordinator meetings. It also requires extra hours spent at school doing paperwork and meeting with teachers to support their efforts to serve their students.

I also sit on the School Site Council, which requires attending a meeting in the evening once a month.

I'm also part of a regional cohort of American History teachers working on a curriculum project, requiring me to be pulled out of the classroom 4 times this year, and to spend weekend time as well.

I am also a member of our site's PBS team. (Positive Behavior Support.)

My responsibilities as a classroom teacher already include attendance at staff meetings, SSTs, and IEPs, as well as new "data team" mandated meetings and assignments.

At yesterday's staff meeting, our principal asked for a volunteer to sit on a district committee looking to remodel our teacher evaluation process. It requires whole days out of the classroom, and more sub plans to write. We have a small staff. Everyone has a lot on their plate. This one is crucial, though, so I told my principal that if he would replace me on the SSC (I've served 2 years beyond my assigned term already,) I'd do it. He jumped on that. So I'll be part of that committee.

My team partner stepped up and took the OTHER extra duty on the table; one of us needed to be the coordinator for our "data team," which includes meetings, sub plans, and producing a notebook of documentation of what we are doing with our data to improve instruction for our district.

He is also our site union rep. He grinned when I volunteered, and assured everyone in the room that we could have nobody better watching our back when it came to evaluation policies. He knows I will adamantly, and loudly, oppose any efforts to introduce student test scores into the process.

I don't think the general population has any idea how much we are responsible for IN ADDITION TO teaching our students, or how much time it takes to fulfill all of our duties.

And that's before our Community Learning Center after school programming, staffed by teachers, starts up next week. I'll be adding an extra 5 hours of after school teaching time each week to my schedule. I earn a small stipend for those 5 hours; about 1/3 of what my hourly rate would be if you divided my paid day by the 8 hours required in my contract. It will be most welcome, helping to mitigate a little of the large pay cuts we've taken. (My first paycheck of the year, last Friday, was $450 less than last year's checks.)

No wonder I can't seem to get everything done within my contractual day. It takes a minimum of 10, and sometimes 12 hours a day, plus some weekend time, to keep up with everything. When too many meetings are happening in one week, time invested in lesson planning suffers. I can get away with that if I have to; I've got the experience to fly by the seat of my pants and still provide rich learning opportunities for my students. I don't like to, though, so that's why so much of my unpaid summer is spent planning for the coming year.

I am not unique in my profession. In 27 years, 2 states, large and small schools, large and small districts, I've never met a teacher that doesn't have extra duties, some imposed and some by choice. Does the nation really, truly understand what we do to earn our salaries, or the unpaid time we invest? Do they really understand the full scope of our professional duties?

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ejpoeta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-06-10 08:57 AM
Response to Original message
1. we went to the middle school open house the other day....
All of my daughter's teachers were there. They took the time to talk to every parent. They knew my daughter and how well she was doing even though this is her first year in middle/high school and she has only been there for a month. She has ADHD and has troubles with other students and they assured me she is doing fine and they haven't had any problems with her.

The last place we visited was the music area. she is in chorus a musc class and is learning flute. She didn't get the opportunity to start in 4th grade, but Mr. Bolton, the band teacher/director let her join and is giving her extra help to catch up. Teachers are amazing. They have 20 kids or more in each class all with different levels and abilities. They handle kids like Emily who are above average in academics but may have other issues as well as kids who struggle to keep up in the same classes. They manage to keep the kids working and paying attention. I don't understand what the controversy is. Teachers bust their butts. And we were remarking on teachers who bob had when he was younger who have been there 30 or 40 years. They are not there because they need to be. They are there because they WANT to be.

Monday I met a lot of young, energetic teachers who seemed to have a passion for teaching. That is what we need. I honestly don't know how anyone would want to go into teaching with the way teachers are being treated right now. People pay at least $5000 a semester for their kids to go to college but complain about paying taxes for their elementary and high school education. We pay about $1500 a year for our school taxes. Maybe it is $2000. even if it is, we have two kids in the school system right now. We are paying $2000 for a year of their education. WTF! I paid $60 a month for my oldest to go to preschool 2 days a week for 2 hours... I think we are getting off cheap!
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LWolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-06-10 09:01 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. We had back to school night last week, too.
It was overwhelmingly positive, and we WANT the opportunity to build relationships with parents in person.

The parents who show up at school events, at conferences, who maintain regular lines of communication, are very supportive.
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YvonneCa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-06-10 09:53 AM
Response to Original message
3. Thank you for this. I agree the general population has no...
...idea what the job entails. You described the committee responsibility very well. :) I hope you put this in GD...every post helps educate. ;)
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LWolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-07-10 06:57 AM
Response to Reply #3
7. You're welcome, of course.
GD? I'll think about it. Maybe on a weekend when I have more time to monitor it for a wider audience.

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DirkGently Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-06-10 11:44 AM
Response to Original message
4. I've known teachers to come in of a summer and paint the restrooms, because otherwise
it wouldn't be done. I'm glad there are those like you still so engaged, in the midst of a seeming campaign to debase and devalue perhaps the most important "profession" in the world.
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Reader Rabbit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-06-10 02:02 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. I came in this summer to move and paint my new classroom.
I could have put in a work order for the district to do it, but that wouldn't have happened until after Christmas. My students would have had to spend the first term reading all the profanity previous students wrote on the walls.
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DirkGently Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-06-10 02:04 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. Proud to have helped a teacher paint her classroom.
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LWolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-07-10 06:59 AM
Response to Reply #6
8. I had a parent and a pack of students come in this summer
to help me move, unpack, and set up the classroom. I put my back into spasm moving all of the boxes of books (about 100,) and wouldn't have been able to finish without them.
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DirkGently Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-07-10 08:46 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. Good to hear. I think there's a bigger theme there. I've always been taken with the notion
I've heard about wherein Japanese students stay after to sweep and clean the school. Every day. Schools must be a cooperative, community exercise, and it seems to be the entire enterprise has been allowed to devolve into an ugly consumer exchange (thanks again, Capitalists) wherein (some) students and parents begrudgingly give their minimum good faith and cooperation in exchange for grades and graduation. It can't work that way.
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LWolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-07-10 09:29 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. When the school is a community of people working for the common good,
good things happen. When the school is a consumer exchange, it can get ugly. You nailed that one.

The even bigger part of the people who came in to help me? None of them attend our school any more. They are alumni, but they still consider the school part of the community, and themselves a part of our school community.
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LWolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-08-10 12:31 PM
Response to Original message
11. An update:
My district, in its infinite wisdom, has assigned me (and every other Language Arts teacher) to do ten days of mandated literacy training throughout the year. I found out on Wednesday. The first 2 days are next week. I'm already committed to a regional History Teacher project; the days conflict. What really conflicts, though, are all the meetings next week.

To begin with, we usually have a non-student "teacher work day" to prepare for parent-teacher conferences, which begin next Wednesday after school and continue through Thursday and Friday.

That was cut from the budget. So... no time to prepare for conferences, but they begin on Wednesday.

Next? An IEP scheduled for Monday after school. A serious IEP, with an advocate there threatening lawsuits, and our district administrator in charge of special ed running the show. Mandatory attendance for every staff member who serves that student. A student who is making excellent progress.

Next? A staff meeting Tuesday morning, and Tuesday after school begins our after school programming for this year, which has me booked until 6pm.

Also... A Wednesday morning SST meeting, before school starts. Remember, we begin parent conferences immediately after school.

Also...a district TAG coordinator meeting half-day Tuesday afternoon.

So....I'm supposed to be gone all day Monday and Tuesday and still make the IEP after school Monday and the CLC programming after school Tuesday. I have to write sub plans for 2 days. I'm not at school for the 2 days before conferences start, except for the already scheduled after-school activities. I can probably get out of Tuesday morning's staff meeting, since I'm supposed to be at literacy training.

Of course, for the last half of the day on Tuesday, I'm supposed to be concurrently in literacy training and the TAG coordinators meeting, two different places, same time. I'm also supposed to make it back to school by the end of the day to pick up my after school classes there.

Then a meeting before school on Wednesday, and start conferences immediately after school Wednesday.

I was at school until 6:45 last night, which made a full 12 hours and 15 minutes that day, simply correcting papers so that I have the grade book current to be able to create progress reports. When I'm supposed to do that is another story. Oh, and I got an email asking me for a list of documented data (about 12 things) for the student who has the SST Wednesday morning, so I'm supposed to find time to gather all of that stuff.

What, exactly, am I going to have to show parents, or to say to parents, Wednesday after school when scheduled conferences begin?

I have to say that the literacy training, the TAG meeting, and the Monday after school IEP were all scheduled by the same person at the district level. That person knew it was conference week, too.

What am I going to do?

First, I'm not going to the mandated 2 days of literacy training; I've got my principal's support in that. He's doing the heavy lifting on that one. Second, I won't be attending any of the other 8 days if they conflict with other meetings, etc. I'm already responsible for. The boss has my back on that one, too. That leaves a half-day of sub plans to write, and a day spent making trips back and forth to town. Our district office is in town, my school is rural, on the very edge of the county and district boundaries.

I'll cut off the gradebook on Tuesday. I'd do it earlier, but my team partner wants tests he's giving early in the week to be included. I'll show up at 6:00 AM on Wednesday and try to have all the progress reports printed before the SST begins that morning. I'll show a video during the school day so that the progress reports can be collated, stapled, and filed, ready for our meetings after school. That enrages me, because we're actually trying to learn things and get things done during class time, if you can believe it. We can't really afford delays.

I'll survive this next week. But someone, please tell me, how I'm supposed to plan interesting, effective units of study, evaluate the lessons we're doing, make adjustments accordingly, differentiate for all my diverse students, and the rest of my professional responsibilities to my students with a schedule like that?

None of this even includes the new committee I was just assigned to.
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chervilant Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-08-10 12:53 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. OMG!!!
I genuflect to you in heart-felt gratitude for your commitment to your students! I can only hope that I am as on-target as are you when my district starts piling on the ludicrous overload of CE conferences, committee meetings and other administrative duties that usurp the precious time we teachers sorely need to complete the myriad tasks requisite for exceptional teaching.
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Reader Rabbit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-08-10 07:24 PM
Response to Reply #11
13. Our school district did this to Humanities teachers last year.
We had to have 40 hours (five full school days) of mandated meetings to do something (we were never sure what) with proficiency and learning targets. Teachers had the option of five district-funded sub days or 40 hours on top of the regular work week for the hourly wage. Our union had to get involved and the district backed off, but most of us still did the meetings and took the hourly wage.

To this day, I'm still not sure what, exactly, our district wanted from us. All our school's teams gathered to present the projects we had created, but before the 8th grade team had gotten two minutes into their presentation, some district office muckety-muck started lecturing on how we weren't to have focused on the presentation, we were to have focused on the learning targets. The rest of our day was spent with this woman explaining our jobs to us. None of the teams got to present the projects they worked so hard to create.
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LWolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-09-10 02:58 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. Sometimes those projects planned by district admins,
that take up valuable time and resources, can be worthwhile. Other times you wonder what they were thinking; if there was any rhyme or reason at all, or if they just needed some documentation of some kind of professional development, whether it's helpful to our professional practice or not.

Other times, a project is begun by one dept. or admin and finished by another, losing any meaning it may have had along the way.

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Reader Rabbit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-09-10 05:59 PM
Response to Reply #14
15. Many of us suspect we were fodder for the district TOSA's thesis.
She's working on her doctorate, and we believe all this baloney is planned by her so that she can document it and put it in her paper.
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LWolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-09-10 06:35 PM
Response to Reply #15
16. A misuse of time and resources, to be sure.
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