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Archive for Sunday, November 26, 2006

Effort under way to give teachers more time to plan

November 26, 2006

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Time is precious for elementary school teachers.

As soon as their students leave the classroom to attend "specials" - either art, music or physical education - the clock starts ticking.

The teacher has 40 minutes to check e-mails, make phone calls, respond to a parent, go to the restroom and make plans for five to six subject areas for the next day.

Those 40 minutes a day - 30 minutes on Wednesdays - are not enough to get lessons ready for reading, writing, math, spelling, social studies and science, teachers say.

"It's impossible," says Adela Solis, a Cordley School teacher and president of the Lawrence Education Association.

"I've been teaching for 20 years and I end up going up on the weekends and doing my planning for the following week," Solis said.

For that reason, an effort is under way to increase planning time for elementary teachers to between 60 and 65 minutes a day.

But that increase will come at a cost.

The Lawrence School Board and LEA have formed a 10-member Elementary Plan Time Committee to study the issue.

"Right now, teachers receive planning time through specials, which are art, music and P.E.," said Tom Christie, executive director of educational programming and curriculum for the Lawrence School District.

Christie, a member of the committee, said the goal is to give elementary teachers the same amount of time as junior high teachers, who get between 60 and 65 minutes a day.

During the last meeting of the Elementary Plan Time Committee, the panel brainstormed a few ideas, he said. The committee meets again Wednesday.

"We'll probably look at each of those for the impact on cost and learning and other areas that would affect achievement," Christie said.

Christie said the goal is to have a report back to the negotiating teams for the LEA and the school district by Feb.1.

Dan Karasek, Prairie Park Elementary School fifth-grade teacher, discusses the effort to get more planning time for elementary teachers in Lawrence.

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Solis said the problem stems from the nature of elementary teachers' jobs.

"In secondary, you have class periods. So it's easier to free someone up for a period or two," Solis said. "Whereas in elementary, the kids are with me all day long."

Another Elementary Plan Time Committee member, Dan Karasek, a fifth-grade teacher at Prairie Park School, said it was unclear how much it would cost the district.

"If I'm going to have more time, that means my students will be somewhere else in the building with an adult," Karasek said. "And we don't now have adults sitting around doing nothing, so it would require a cost to have a few more staff people. Which way it goes, as to what those people would be teaching and what they would be doing, is what our committee has to discuss."

Prairie Park School art teacher Darin Fischer directs class Tuesday as second-grade students Tristan Rethman, left, and James Taylor work on painting. School officials are exploring the possibility of allocating more time each week for planning.

Prairie Park School art teacher Darin Fischer directs class Tuesday as second-grade students Tristan Rethman, left, and James Taylor work on painting. School officials are exploring the possibility of allocating more time each week for planning.

Karasek said committee members have several ideas.

"Certainly, there's a movement on toward wellness and health and more physical activity for kids," he said.

However, there's a flip side to giving teachers more planning time. It would mean less time for teachers to have with students, Karasek said.

Adults who take over for teachers might need to teach some of the content areas, such as science or social studies, he said.

The committee will have to weigh each idea carefully, he said.

But the goal would be to lessen teachers' homework.

"I'm not sure if we would get rid of all of that, but it would help," Karasek said.

Comments

bandito 7 years, 4 months ago

The USD 497 board has promised to every teacher that they will pay a single rate insurance policy. When the rates go up, the school board pays them. This is figured into the overall raise. Which should not be called a raise. This should be called a cost of living adjustment. Do I think all teachers should get them...sure. Teachers get evaluated at least twice a year and if the district decides they want to renew their contract, why shouldn't they. Every year Teachers have the ability to go somewhere else and if USD 497 does not offer a competitive salary with outlying districts, then getting the best teachers for our kids will become even more difficult.

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offtotheright 7 years, 4 months ago

bandito, I never once suggested that teaching is a great job.

I know (like all the teachers know before going into teaching), teaching doesn't pay squat, the raises suck, and you have to deal with annoying parents!

Like I said, not everyone in the working community gets a raise every year, and rarely over 3-4%, and EVERYONES insurance has skyrocketed.

Do you think raises should be across the board? They aren't that way at most companies and most people don't get a pay raise because their insurance goes up!

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EvaTrujillo 7 years, 4 months ago

So many children left behind; at home EVERY Wednesday: Another 20 minutes for planning is probably needed but no, nope, I will forever remain distrustful.

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bandito 7 years, 4 months ago

Offtotheright...

Last time I checked this thread we weren't talking about you and your job! I don't know what you do and I could care less. Listen... if you think it's so great to be in teaching...go get certified and become a teacher!

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offtotheright 7 years, 4 months ago

Posted by bandito (anonymous) on November 26, 2006 at 10:52 p.m.

Have you not read the papers the last few years? Teachers received minimal pay raises for the past 10+ years. They report that they got 3%-4% tops, some years....nothing. Inflation has gone up at least 5% every year so teachers actually lost money (at least 1%) each year. In addition, medical insurance has skyrocketed and that accounted for a big chunk of that increase.

Ya so? Do you think the above hasn't happened to the rest of the world? I don't know where you get your information that the rest of us get a raise every year, or that it is more than 3-4% if any. Do you not think that my insurance hasn't skyrocketed?

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prioress 7 years, 4 months ago

How much classroom time is spent on discipline? In Japan I doubt they have near the discipline problems that we do here in the US.

Read Shogun's Ghost. It's a bit long in the tooth, but things are not much better now. Japan has an interesting system, but not one we should emulate. Amazon has it: Shogun's Ghost: The Dark Side of Japanese Education (Hardcover) by Ken Schoolland "The death of sixteen-year-old Toshinao Takahashi first attracted my attention to the secret horrors of taibatsu (corporal punishment)..." (more) Key Phrases: juku teachers, kanri kyoiku, filial violence, Japan Times, Asahi Evening News, Ministry of Education (more...)

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plumberscrack 7 years, 4 months ago

Monkeyspunk-

You're right, "christ almighty, all these elmentary teachers are asking for is 20 more damned minutes to give them as much time as Junior High and High School counterparts"

And next, they'll want 35 more minutes, then 60 minutes and so on and so, all the while our kids test scores are going down and our kids suffer for it!

As for those who say "There are always those excuses saying, teachers only have to work 9 months of the year," etc., but a lot of people don't realize that in the summer they're not just sitting around. They have to take classes to remain certified" well guess what, the state of Kansas requires trades people (Plumbers, electricians, Mechanical)to take continued education. The city of Lawrence ALSO requires this, in order to keep our license. So, the same thing applies to the rest of us! The difference is WE have to work the entire 12 months and teachers only 9 months for their pay!

"This isn't about "underpaid" or "lazy" teachers, its about a portion of our teachers that would appreciate 20 more minutes to get their get their stuff in order, a luxury their counterparts in the higher grade levels have already."

Sure it is, work 20 minutes less for same pay, right? Can't manage their time so they need "20 minutes".

In my day, they would call this being lazy. Manage your time better if you're not prepaired to do your job!

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monkeyspunk 7 years, 4 months ago

Christ Almighty people, all these Elementary teachers are asking for is 20 more damned minutes to give them as much time as their Junior High and High School counterparts.

This isn't about "underpaid" or "lazy" teachers, its about a portion of our teachers that would appreciate 20 more minutes to get their get their stuff in order, a luxury their counterparts in the higher grade levels have already.

Pfffstt

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Harry_Manback 7 years, 4 months ago

I really doubt most teachers are lazy. My mother is a teacher (in another district), and although she gets about 1.5 hours of "plan time" a day, she still routinely brings work home. Maybe those lots are empty at 3:30 cause the teacher's union REQUIRES teachers to be out of the building by a certain time cause they're striking (not sure if that applies everywhere, but it does in my mom's district). Cause of this she HAS to bring everything home, or else she'd be at school still.

Sure there are lazy teachers, but most of them are planning on their own time, revising plans so students don't get bored, etc. There are always those excuses saying, "teachers only have to work 9 months of the year," etc., but a lot of people don't realize that in the summer they're not just sitting around. They have to take classes to remain certified, and many have to work odd jobs (at pools, clothing stores, teaching summer school) just to make ends meet. It's a shame that later this year when I graduate from KU, I'll be making more money at my entry-level job than my mom will after working for 15+ years as a teacher. No wonder there's a shortage in teachers.

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bandito 7 years, 4 months ago

Listen Godot...Get informed BEFORE you babel on about something you have no idea about. Why do you think the Journal World goes on about it???...it's newsworthy! Your logic befuddles me! (because the JW reports it that makes it legal?)

Have you not read the papers the last few years? Teachers received minimal pay raises for the past 10+ years. They report that they got 3%-4% tops, some years....nothing. Inflation has gone up at least 5% every year so teachers actually lost money (at least 1%) each year. In addition, medical insurance has skyrocketed and that accounted for a big chunk of that increase.

The issue of performance has already been addressed. You can't compare apples to oranges. What if a teacher was to get stuck with low performing students? Why should that teacher not get a raise because they happen to teach at a school where they don't have the advantages another school does? Clearly you know very little about any of this, as do most of the people who have posted before you. I gotta idea! Why don't you go to school for 5 years+, get certified, become a teacher, continue to go to school for the next 20+ years, get your masters and then your doctorate. Then you might be informed enough to actually post something worth reading here.

That last paragraph is totally ridiculous. No! what I'm saying is that IT IS AGAINST THE LAW FOR TEACHERS TO STRIKE. COMPRENDES? Figure this one out, oh ye of brightness. If teachers can't strike...what recourse do they have? Hmmmmm. I'm waiting......figured it out yet? Nothing! Bing Bing you when the big prize! That's right they and their ever so "powerful" union can't do anything!!!!! Hey big shock huh? The only recourse they have is for the teacher to go to another school district like Blue Valley where they respect teacher's work, pay them and don't bitch and complain. Hey guess what? That's what's been happening! That's why the teacher's in Lawrence got a big (8% but ya gotta figure in insurance....so it's really not that high) raise. And Lawrence is still behind BV in salary!!!!!

Ya'll just keep on bitching and complaining about that little bit of extra money that you have to pay to educate all of society. Just remember, it's a lot cheaper to educate them and have them as a productive member of society than it is to support them as adults or put them behind bars ($40,000 per year to incarcerate vs. $2,000 to educate)!

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Godot 7 years, 4 months ago

Bandito,if teachers cannot strike, then why does the Journal World make such a big story of the inevitable annual impass between the board and the teachers with regard to salary and benefits? That has been the issue several times in the last few years.

Is this just melodrama?

Is it just a given that whatever the teachers demand, they will get?

What would happen if the school board actually refused to cave in? What would happen if the school board actually demanded accountability and the meeting of a minimum of performance standards prior to giving a raise? And what is it with giving a blanket raise for everyone, regardless of performance?

What you are saying, then, is that the problem is not with the teachers' union-they should push for all they can get - the problem is with the school board members who fail to do their oversight, who rubber-stamp whatever the KNEA representatives tell them to do.

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Katara 7 years, 4 months ago

"Planning doesn't need to be a daily chore. If one can't plan out a week's assignment then something's wrong, I say. I did childcare in my home for over 9 years and I knew one week to the next and sometimes the month in advance on what meals and activities we would be doing. This was done once or twice a week while the kids napped." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ So did your daycare kids meet the state assessment requirements on tests, Lawrence66046? What about all the NCLB requirements?

You know, you'll lose your accreditation and possibly some of your federal funding if you don't meet those standards.

'Cause in-home daycare standards are exactly the same as a public school district.

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lrN51EXCXydF 7 years, 4 months ago

This whole system is completely broken beyond repair. If we really have teachers making LESSON PLANS for basic math and reading in the elementary schools, everyone from THEM to the top should be fired. And the buildings leveled.

More time? Work at Kwik Trip, folks. They have even less time to smoke, and just as much to gossip. Get away from our kids.

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windex 7 years, 4 months ago

posted by commuter: Teachers work summer jobs to meet expenses. To me this is really stupid. People need to learn to live within their means, Teachers start out at least 28,000. Not bad for starting out. I know a lot of professions that do not start out with that high of salary for workinh 9 months.

Well, commuter, I'm sure you'll persist in your delusion that, since students only go to school for 9 months out of the year, teachers only work 9 months per year. This isn't the case, but I doubt facts would persuade you to acknowledge reality. That aside, could you please give some examples of professions which require 5 years of undergraduate education, state certification and FBI background checks, which pay less than $30,000 per year to start?

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EvaTrujillo 7 years, 4 months ago

The worthless Wednesdays have been a nightmare for parents that work outside the home. For teachers working eight hours a day, sounds normal and logical to me, and every other Friday afternoon for collaboration is more accomodating than the worthless Wednesdays (did I mention EVERY Wednesday). But LIFE is different now than when I was a youngster - case in point - when I worked a winter party about seven years ago, I helped a little girl making a marshmellow snowman and it took almost three minutes. There were five children whose hands were raised that needed assistance during that time. Those children all took about 30 seconds tops to accomplish what the little girl completed in about three minutes. I'm not exaggerating. The girl was severely disabled and had been mainstreamed. She wore diapers (third grade). And then I knew how much things had changed in the classroom. So maybe teachers today have to do more than lessons and lesson plannng.

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commuter 7 years, 4 months ago

Bastet- Teachers work summer jobs to meet expenses. To me this is really stupid. People need to learn to live within their means, Teachers start out at least 28,000. Not bad for starting out. I know a lot of professions that do not start out with that high of salary for workinh 9 months.

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bandito 7 years, 4 months ago

Godot,

It is illegal for teachers to strike in the state of Kansas. Take Abe Lincoln's advice... "It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."

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macon47 7 years, 4 months ago

GOD BLESS YOU WINDEX you are what keeps the school running. thanks for helping our kids, we do appreciate you

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windex 7 years, 4 months ago

Posted by cms (anonymous) on November 26, 2006 at 4:49 p.m. (Suggest removal)

My children are grown so I do not have knowledge about the hours of school. What are the expected working hours for teachers in the district? How many hours are expected each day in the classroom; how many hours in front of students each day; how many hours of planning are built into the school day; and how many extra curricular activites is a teacher to participate in the school?

Although someone posted a 7:15am - 3:15pm workday schedule, my questions have gone unanswered....

I will attempt to answer your questions, cms. The "duty day" for teachers is 8 hours long. Of that time, for elementary teachers, 25 minutes is for lunch, 40 minutes is for planning time, and there's 30 minutes before the kids get there and 30 minutes after they leave.

The 30 minutes before the kids arrive are frequently, but not always, taken up by meetings. Sometimes you can do some planning during that time. The 30 minutes at the end of the day are typically taken up with bus/safety duty and/or more meetings.

So any given elementary classroom teacher is typically interacting with and teaching their students for about 6 hours of their 8 hour work day. For an 40 additional minutes, those students are with another teacher (art, music, PE.)

As you can probably guess, I'm a teacher. I'm a good teacher and very dedicated. I work about 55 hours per week, and I will tell you that, while rewarding, the intensity and sheer amount of the work (not to mention its importance) far exceeds any experience I had while working in the corporate world. My husband still works in the business world and maintains that teachers are saps for letting themselves be taken advantage of to the degree that they do.

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Godot 7 years, 4 months ago

USAschools, you are guilty of generalizing. "real working people." Where did that come from? I did not say it. You must feel guilty about your work. And, extortion it is. The teachers will go on strike if they do not get what they want. And your contempt for the "real working people" shows when you assume that, if the parents are not wealthy, or are not university professors, that the children are underfed, uncared for, and that the parents are not involved in their education. USAschools, you are the problem, not the solution.

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macon47 7 years, 4 months ago

god bless the good teachers we have. the rest are just losers, like everyone has at thier own work place. taking up space and drawing a check.

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bandito 7 years, 4 months ago

Godot,

Every time you post, you show that you are truly ignorant of the educational process and that you know not of what you speak. So do yourself a favor and stop posting.

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Mkh 7 years, 4 months ago

Here we go again! The teachers need to be in the class with the students during school hours, not "planning" their lessons. As we've seen in the jr. highs and high schools the teachers frival away this extra time we gave them and rarely use it to do any planning.

Yes the teachers are expected to plan their lessons outside the classroom, whether that means staying an hour or two after school or taking their work home, this is their job! They are on salary!

My mother was a teacher for decades and my sister is currently an elementry school teacher in KC. They both agree that they need their time during the day to be With the Students, not doing office work.

I'm all in favor of raising teacher's salaries across the board, but I will never be in favor of limiting their time in contact with the students during the school day.

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usaschools 7 years, 4 months ago

Godot, I'm not a union leader. Lighten up, you're reading way too much into a tongue-in-cheek response to an off-the-cuff post by offtotheright that was shallow, cliche, and stupid. You can't tell ANYTHING about my "utter contempt" because I harbor no such feelings for thosed "forced" to pay their taxes for fairly negotiated contracts. You are the one with a very obvious bias; wrongly stating that unions "extort" salaries and benefits, when no such thing has ever happened here in Lawrence. Far from it, the district has held most of the power in negotiations here for years. The LEA does not hire any "high powered negotiator" to "hold our children's education hostage," the teachers do their own negotiating. You are misinformed and just repeating tired, incorrect talking points. So spare me the weak lecture on what "real" working people do; because teachers are real working people too. We pay taxes, we get additional education "on our own time and our own dime to advance" In the much-heralded private sector, pay is often NOT merit based, but a matter of your gender and who you know; the same with opportunity. Since each class has its own challenges and one teacher may teach the children of university professors and wealthy stay-at-home parents who are very invested in their child's education while another teacher may have a class of students who have lacked basic nutrition, clothing and shelter and have lived in poverty all of their lives, I am skeptical of the efficacy of your proposal. It does illuminate the depth of your lack of understanding of the complexity of educating our children. To Review: 1) Sarcasm, get over it 2) Did you make those sophisms up? No. But they are still wrong 3) You persist in repeating untrue statements 4) Strong anti-education bias and anti-union bias = pretty much impossible to have a discussion about education with you.

Bye, back into lurk mode

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cms 7 years, 4 months ago

Posted by cms (anonymous) on November 26, 2006 at 8:31 a.m. (Suggest removal)

My children are grown so I do not have knowledge about the hours of school. What are the expected working hours for teachers in the district? How many hours are expected each day in the classroom; how many hours in front of students each day; how many hours of planning are built into the school day; and how many extra curricular activites is a teacher to participate in the school?

Although someone posted a 7:15am - 3:15pm workday schedule, my questions have gone unanswered.....

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Godot 7 years, 4 months ago

USAschools, you sound like a union leader. I can tell by the utter contempt you have for the opinions of the taxpayers who are forced to pay the salaries and benefits extorted by teachers' unions.

We taxpayers can do nothing to stop you. We can do nothing to put a halt to the double digit increases in our property taxes. You do not care that property taxes for many homeowners are higher than their income tax obligation, as long as your teachers get paid more for doing less, year after year.

Those of us in the private sector work our 40 hours, plus many more, if we want a raise in wage or an increase in income. We get additional education on our own time, and on our own dime, if we want to advance.

All teachers have to do to get more money and more benefits is to pay dues to a union that hires a high powered negotiator who can hold our children's education hostage for more money.

If teachers' salary was based on outcome, as salary is determined in the private sector, many would be paid far more than they are paid now....and many would be paid far less. That is the way it should be.

I vote for paying teachers by the hour. Clock 'em in, and clock 'em out. Of course, then they would have to be supervised, and they would have to perform all their work at the worksite. And they would be judged on their performance. Sound fair to you?

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Lawrence66046 7 years, 4 months ago

Allow more time for planning assignments?! Give me a break!! Did you all know that it's NOT in the teacher's contract to go out with students during recess? So between that time and the students being out of the classroom for specials, AND the teachers having all afternoon on Wed. I don't see the need to allow MORE time. What about the teachers taking "homework" home. That being to plan assignments. Planning doesn't need to be a daily chore. If one can't plan out a week's assignment then something's wrong, I say. I did childcare in my home for over 9 years and I knew one week to the next and sometimes the month in advance on what meals and activities we would be doing. This was done once or twice a week while the kids napped.

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usaschools 7 years, 4 months ago

You are right offtotheright, workers should know their place! When something is wrong and has been for a long time, they should never try to remedy the situation. No worker should ever try to improve their working conditions, they should just be thankful they have a job. Heaven forbid that they should ask to be paid for work above and beyond their contract; I mean, contacts were made to be broken, right? Teachers should just "get over it" instead of trying to improve the situation. Teachers always want whiny stuff and their benefits are so much greater than the rest of "the working community" that people are just lined up to take their jobs away; I mean there's never a teacher shortage right? Gosh, the nerve of these people to try so hard to improve their working conditions. The nerve, the sheer audacity. Just like people working at minimum wage and still living in poverty (40 hrs per week at $5.10 per hour = less than 11,000 a year) should just get another career, right? It's always just that simple! They should give every minimum wage worker a medal for being a true American hero who doesn't try to fight to improve wages, benefits, and working conditions. Back to the good old days, right! Things were just SO great back in then when everyone knew their place; right offtotheextremewackoright?

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solsken66 7 years, 4 months ago

My father was on a school board a few years back. This school board had to get on to some teachers who thought teacher in service days meant a day off for them as well. Also, the total hours required by state for schools to be in session also includes those hours that are solely for teachers' collaboration time. Some probably don't realize that the total hours required by schools is not just the hours children are in school. Godot is correct in that a large portion of property taxes goes to the school system. Teachers are paid adequate wages which can be paid out over the school term or over twelve months. If a teacher does not like the wages in this state, they can always apply for a job elsewhere. Freedom of Choice.

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offtotheright 7 years, 4 months ago

Whine whine whine!

Whiney @ss teachers chose their career, and then fight tooth and nail to receive bigger and better benefits than anyone else in the working community!

How many teachers knew before chosing that career that they would be expected to put in extra hours for planning, etc....? How many knew they would only receive 30 minutes for a lunch break? (just like the rest of the world).

Geez...get over it! If you don't like being a teacher and all of the extra crap that goes along with it.......CHANGE CAREERS!

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macon47 7 years, 4 months ago

A lot of us feel it is nearly OBSCENE the amount of money The school system fritters away each year.
Education has always been a "Sacred Cow" Money is no object when it comes to running the school business. The school districts hold your children hostage for more "ransom" every year. They traditionally beg for teachers salaries, but the bulk Of it ends up in administration. For those of you in the know, You will agree the career path for a "loser' teacher that cannot adequately teach Is to be taken under wing, and placed in the palace called the McDonald building. (but only if they are a favorite of the administrators) just check our the top 10 administrators that were teachers if you don't believe me (more than half of them are lamers no one in town would hire) We are losing too many good ones to early Retirement that are just tired of the politics and being placed In limbo each contract year until their number is called. This leaves us with the recent recruits that have more interest in Having the summers off, and building their resume that educating the kids. It is a sad case , but not a lot different than other large districts that have developed in to giant inefficient organizational quagmires. Hey, boys, that's were our money goes

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Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 7 years, 4 months ago

Oh for the good old days when teachers were allowed to teach, and not have to jump through bureaucratic hoops that politicians keep throwing up to us. NCLB requires that all students perform 80% on assessments, even those who spent the night listening to their drugged or drunk parents or were in the womb when they were drugged or drunk. The students with such severe learning disabilities are expected to perform as well as a healthy well-fed, well-rested children. We aren't even allowed to read the test to them anymore. Next they will tell us that we can't give blind students the assessment in Braille. As for teaching the same thing every year, the worst teachers I've ever had or worked with were those whose plans were laminated. A truly good teacher is always working to adjust their plans to their student's needs and interests. It becomes easier as the years go by, but it's still work.

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Godot 7 years, 4 months ago

I received my property tax bill this week. It was a real eye opener. It went up over 10% from last year. The school district, alone, accounts for nearly as much as the city and county combined.

It occurs to me that most property owners who have a mortgage do not receive the actual tax bill every year. The property taxes are included in the mortgage payment, then the mortgage company receives, and pays, the actual tax bill. Homeowners see their mortgage payments creep up every year, but they do not see the statement from the county detailing why.

Property owners should receive copies of those itemized bills, just so they are reminded of the financial stake they have in the public school system.

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kugrad 7 years, 4 months ago

Godot, It varies from building to building. Each building sets the time of specials and then grade-level schedules go from there. In my experience, teachers at the same school and grade level share schedules (so if there are two sections of 2nd grade, they teach reading at the same time a lot of the time).

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ladyjhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

Thanks KUgrad for your insight.

I believe you have presented a very viable option in implimenting an additional payment incentive for an extended planning time. It seems fair and equitable, without making a major impact on student instruction.

I hope those on the study committee will present it for discussion during their next meeting.

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Godot 7 years, 4 months ago

Stupid question, here. Do all teachers in the district teach the same thing at the same level during the same time period? For instance, are all first grade teachers teaching the same thing each week, or does each teacher have his or her own schedule?

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Godot 7 years, 4 months ago

Thanks, KUgrad.

The school district should not give out teachers' email addresses; it only encourages impersonal contact between parents and teachers.

From what you are saying, it appears that time that should be spent planning for the students is spent planning for the organization. Cut down on collaboration and committees before adding staff, and see if that helps. If they add staff to cover for planning time, they will have to add planning time to determine the responsibilities of the added staff.

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kugrad 7 years, 4 months ago

I understand where Ladyjhawk is coming from. However, although the teachers' pay scale is called a salary scale, teachers differ somewhat from other salaried employees. Teachers have a negotiated contract that specifies the number of hours per week and per day that are agreed upon. This is not true of the typical salaried employee. I do agree that less instructional time with children is not a good solution to the planning day issue. Personally, I favor extending the duty day slightly to provide more PAID planning time, then adjusting the salary to compensate. As a teacher who just recieved 2 very overdue pay increases in two years, I would be willing to put monies that might go to increase salary into establishing paid planning time to resolve this problem. This would effect only elementary teachers, so I'm not sure how other teachers would view this, but I think elementary teachers deserve to have more plan time and get paid for it like other grade levels already are. If given a choice between NO extra plan time and keeping my instructional time, I personally would choose the instructional time with kids. That is more important to me than 20 minutes a day or something. I feel like I don't have enough instructional time as it is and I don't want ANY taken away. I'm sorry to say that there is no efficiency improvement that is going to result in more plan and the same instructional time - it is impossible - there are only so many hours in a day and not all schools have the same number of classes per grade level and so on. So there is no wiggle room there. It would be better to offer pay for an hour and a half a week or something for plan time. I'd take just the extra duty pay for the planning time, not even a salary-based pay [I mean planning is planning]. That would make it cheaper to implement. I think this is an area where teachers should give a little to get a little, but that is my personal opinion as a teacher. I don't want less time with my kids. I'd like to have another 15-20 minutes more, not less.

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kugrad 7 years, 4 months ago

Godot, Legit question on email. The district now communicates primarily via email instead of the old inter-school mail. Buildings and grade levels also communicate via email. This is a good thing as information travels quickly, but there are a LOT of things that now are done electronically and it truly is hard to keep up with it all. For example, at my grade level I need to check each day my personal email (by which I mean colleagues who write to set up meeting times for IEP's, discuss plans for collaborative projects, set other meeting times, administrators wanting data, parents, and etc. The only personal email I ever get is from my wife), there is a building icon for notices of information needed by staff, there is a reading icon and a math icon with information on training, testing, curriculum, resources, [including science and social studies which are lumped in here], questions, etc.; then the district daily bulletin. This is the bare minimum and I do find that some days it is a 3 minute task and others a 30 minute task. So, we are not talking surfing the net and chatting with friends, we are talking routine work-related tasks like any office would have.

Hope that clears it up a little.

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ladyjhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

Periodic salary ( 9 months or 12 months) is by definition the amount paid regardless of the hours worked.

The 8-5 standard does not apply to salaried workers. It is implied that hours above and beyond a 40 hour week are expected and included in the periodic salary.

As I have stated before, we have some of the best teachers in the country, who are under paid.

I however, do not want to see less face-face time with students, in favor of addtional planning time during the school day.

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kugrad 7 years, 4 months ago

At early schools the duty day starts at 7:15 and ends at 3:15, lunch is 1/2 hour, so if the parking lot actually empties at 3:30, it means that the teachers worked their full day. It is impossible for the parking lot to empty at 3:30 at late schools, because the kids don't dismiss until 3:45. Kansasdaughter, I'm glad that you and your sister both had robust reading skills that allowed you to learn to read easily. However, this is not the case for many, many children. It is not a matter of needing a "new" method of teaching reading, but of using the best methods with all children and making sure every child is taught appropriately. Reading is truly a very complicated area of teaching; there is no simplistic method that will work for everyone. I have dedicated much of the last 10 years to improving my reading instruction. I assure you that this has not been wasted effort and that planning is essential. Teachers have skills that one cannot understand without direct experience teaching reading and training. Just as I would make a poor carpenter without training and experience even though I understand the basic concept, so teachers have skills that may not be apparent to the untrained observer. I don't mean this in a condescending way at all, I am just pointing out that you can't generalize from your own learning experiences - they don't give you knowledge of instructional practice.

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bastet 7 years, 4 months ago

"Yes I am expectected to work overtime for "free". That's why it's called salary. I however do not have 2 months each year when I'm not in the office and still collecting my pay check."


Ladyjhawk: You are incorrect. Most teachers are NOT paid for the summer months. They are on a 9-month salary, that can be paid out over the twelve months or taken in a lump at the end. If they teach a summer class, that is a separate contract.

Most teachers I know have extra jobs during and out of the school year in order to meet expenses. They DO spend hours and hours in planning, grading and preparing lessons--hours that are not related to anything close to an 8 to 5 workday.

So many of these comments above reveal the misunderstandings that many people have about the teaching profession. I am also surprised at the ire that is generated here. Teachers are not trying to explain the complexities of their workday in order to gain "victimhood" status. They are trying to help us understand what it is they actually do. Most of you only experienced the "teacher" from the perspective of student or parent. Let them explain their process and the many facets of their jobs; you will be surprised at how much your children and you owe them.

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aeroscout17 7 years, 4 months ago

Sorry, I'm not a painter. Just pointing out a fact that many don't know. I completely agree with you; I got very tired of being the only discipline that some of the kids had. Funny part is, once the kids knew what I expected and allowed, we had no problems. Too bad the parents didn't try that.

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macon47 7 years, 4 months ago

Sorry folks, gone are the days of Miss Brown your spinster English teacher who taught school for pennies and worked at the church on weekends. A lot of todays educators are just in it to get summers off, and make everyone get off their backs about getting a job. They think they can play around For a little longer before hitting the bricks and getting a job where they have to Perform and actually do something rather than play school Sure we have some dedicated ones.but the lamers are the most vocal about their "bennies" and more time away from The kids. Of course their other goal is to become a co-coordinator or administrator Where they really have nothing to do but act busy. Education has unfortunately become big business. It is not educating the kids that cost so much, it is running the business. We have school administration buildings that rival corporate offices and the bureaucracy to match.

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kansasdaughter 7 years, 4 months ago

That is MY wish, not hers. The discipline I refer to is kids who misbehave constantly, not kids with certifiable problems. Don't paint me with that brush.

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aeroscout17 7 years, 4 months ago

kansasdaughter wrote:

"I just hope she can find a position in a private school, where discipline is handled at home instead of school."

Oh, and where they can throw out any child who is retarded, disabled, has mental problems, needs extra help due to whatever reason, etc. Public schools don't have that luxury.

Good luck to your daughter, however. I hope she finds a good school and enjoys her career. I did, but it became too much under-appreciated, underpaid work for me (and many others I know).

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Kelly Powell 7 years, 4 months ago

aeroscout: Totally onboard with you on the extra pe....

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aeroscout17 7 years, 4 months ago

Godot, emails have only a little to do with planning. That is how many parents keep in touich with their teachers now. It used to be with conferences and phone calls but many parents are too busy to be bothered to come to the conferences or have personal contact with their children's teachers.

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kansasdaughter 7 years, 4 months ago

kugrad, I was taught to read by the phonics method, my sis-in-law by the sight/memorization method. Guess what...she cannot read or figure out what new words mean...do we really need a new method to teach kids to read? I don't think so, but keep on figuring out ways to waste time and our kids' short time in the k-6 system.

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Godot 7 years, 4 months ago

"The teacher has 40 minutes to check e-mails, make phone calls, respond to a parent, go to the restroom and make plans for five to six subject areas for the next day."

Emails? Why? What does that have to do with planning?

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Jackie Jackasserson 7 years, 4 months ago

teachers work hard - but quit victimizing them. other professionals do their planning above and beyond the 40 hour work week. we don't ever get to hear about them, but i am guessing some of them actually take it in stride - and some of them are doctors. i do see why some folks are worked up with the half day on wednesday not being used for some of its initial purpose. one of the other purposes was professional development - which helps teacher planning. how is that going? are there good professional development opportunities on wednesdays or is everyone getting together and re-hashing the same stuff? but enough about wednesday afternoon. i really like the idea of more time spent in specials - it kinda reminds me of the block planning in highschool - what other subjects can be done in blocks and don't need the daily repetition and instruction for student learning? p.e. is an everyother day event in some schools - or even weekly event... art is weekly in some schools.. it's an idea that might work without costing the district more money. that way the district can keep some of that newly legislated money slotted for all day kindergarten and prevention.

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aeroscout17 7 years, 4 months ago

Spareme, please spare me the lecture. I taught for 8 years; I know that most of those committees are a huge joke and waste of time. All I was saying is if the Weds. half days were for the teachers to use to plan, then let them use it for that purpose.

To everyone else that is still trying to play the "teachers get two months off and still get paid" card get over it. Guess what I was doing during those two months? Still working in my classroom, reorgainizing files, planning new lessons, activities and labs, taking care of the school animals, and lots of other little mundane tasks that I did not get paid extra for.

And to you plumberscrack, I don't know what you do for a living, but I challenge you to work with a teacher for at least a week (not just at school). They (well, most of them) are not lazy and work very hard for their pay. I can tell you that I work half as hard now and am paid about twice as much.

Empty parking lots? What the hell kind of argument is that? You bet I left the building as soon as I could; my classroom was too small to work in comfortably. I brought papers and work home so I grade them for 2-4 hours instead of the 6 it would have taken in my cramped workspace. Oh i forgot to mention that during my planning time I had no place to work because there was another teacher/class in "my" classroom and all the "lounges" and conference rooms were now used for special needs classrooms and there was no money or space to increase the size of the building. That building was designed for 700 kids and at that time held 1200 (and this was a town of 35,000 in KS, not some inner-city school).

Sorry this is probably full of typos and rambling but I am sick and tired of people saying teachers have it easy, and few things p*** me off more. They don't; that is why I left the profession and am much happier now.

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kansasdaughter 7 years, 4 months ago

How much classroom time is spent on discipline? In Japan I doubt they have near the discipline problems that we do here in the US. Any day of the week the parking lots are empty way before 5pm. I have a child who plans on being a teacher, with my support. She knows that it is an underpaid, overworked occupation but it is her passion and I am proud that she wants to teach. I have had teachers ask me WHY would she want to teach when there is all the BS involved in the NCLB Act. She (my child) has had some very good teachers and it is her goal to be like them. I just hope she can find a position in a private school, where discipline is handled at home instead of school.

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plumberscrack 7 years, 4 months ago

Posted by kansasdaughter (anonymous) on November 26, 2006 at 8:06 a.m. (Suggest removal)

This is ridiculous. When my child ws a student at Broken Arrow and South Jr High, the parking lot was empty by 3:30. Why are they going home early if there is so much to do? Why do teachers have to PLAN the SAME lessons that they've been teaching for YEARS? I'd really like to know. How much of the curriculum changes year in and year out? Not much if you ask me.

You're exactly right kansasdaughter! I tried calling a teacher on Wednesday to talk to my childs teacher about problems we were having and guess what? The teacher had already gone for the day, even though I left a call note in her box by 1 PM. That call note was still there, in her box by 4 PM but the teacher had "checked out" for the day.

"Wednesday collaboration" is just another name for RECESS FOR TEACHERS!

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plumberscrack 7 years, 4 months ago

Posted by llmccorkill (anonymous) on November 26, 2006 at 7:37 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"I remember the old days when teachers brought work home,planned things on their time.....but this is a different generation."

Are you expected to work overtime for free at your job? Do you exoect your employees to work for free? I agree that the Wednesday collaborative time may be better used, but please don't expect teachers to do things (like work for free) that you aren't prepared to do yourself.

Yes, we do work overtime for free...it's called being prepared for the next days work. I have to get myself (Tools, materials) together on my OWN time! WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?

Point blank, teachers today are lazy and don't want to work for their pay. Wednesday collaboration time, early dismissal IS A JOKE! I lost all respect for you teachers when you pulled that stunt!!!

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ladyjhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

llmccorkill, Yes I am expectected to work overtime for "free". That's why it's called salary. I however do not have 2 months each year when I'm not in the office and still collecting my pay check.

Yes, I know that teachers are required to update their education and often do it during this time period. I too am expected to turn in CEU's each year to my governing body, but I don't get inservice days and summer break to work on mine.
Now before you get the idea that my salary is far greater than that of a teacher and that I am in someway financially compensated for my time, my salary is equivallent to most teachers in the 497 district, and I do not have a union who is able to get me a 7-8% cost of living increase each year.

Our teacher's are indeed some of the best in the country, and under paid, however, instead of trying to find even less time for them to spend with our students, we should be developing a more efficient use of the time they currently have alotted without an added cost to parents and tax payers

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kugrad 7 years, 4 months ago

In the much heralded schools of Japan, teachers have more plan time per day than instructional time! Yep, they plan more hours than they teach so that they can plan exceptional lessons. Some of the logic of posters above is ridiculous. If your child attends an early start school, then teachers may be leaving when the duty day is over, but, DUH, that doesn't mean they aren't working at home or on the weekend! I do a lot at home on weekends and email plans to myself at work! As for collaboration time on Wed; that is NOT planning time. I repeat: WEDNESDAY IS NOT PLANNING TIME. That time is spent dealing with the myriad of other tasks that are required of teachers. To give a full list would exceed the length limit of posts to this forum. Ask yourself this: Do you want your children to attend school in a district that provides your children with effective instruction by knowledgable teachers, or do you want your child to be taught by a warm body collecting a paycheck? In Lawrence you will not have the latter, so move if that is what you want. Teachers have more to do than you can ever imagine if you have not personally held the job. When we are observed by parents, KU or Haskell students, or volunteers, they always remark, "You are SO busy! How do you get it all done?" Kansasdaughter, the answer is, "Yes, the reading plans are so different from year to year as to require daily lesson planning." While you may be "aware" of NCLB, you may not be fully aware of how it impacts instruction, especially in "reading first" schools. Plus, every student is taught at his/her level, which can mean teaching a broad range of ability levels in one class. Addressing individual needs requires individual planning, particularly in reading. This empty-parking lot concept is frankly just stupid. First of all, it is purely anecdotal and not based on facts. Second, do you check the time teachers arrive? I am at school at least an hour before school starts each day. Third, you base this on one anecdotal report on one day from one school. Drive around and look at other schools, early and late start, before and after school. Many teachers arrive early and work late day in and day out. Finally, remember that teachers have children too. We have to drop them off when day care is open and pick them up before it closes. We may need to finish our work at home after they are in bed. We are people too! Most of the above posts are either misinformed or based on conjecture and limited information. Personally, I can get by under the present system, but it would be nice to have enough time to finish most of my work at work!

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kansasdaughter 7 years, 4 months ago

Spareme, you don't need to condescend. I am aware of the NCLB, and yes I do want my children to learn new information. I am fully aware that I am preparing my girls to function in the world, not just here in Kansas or even the US...but are lesson plans really that different year in and year out for, say reading, that require daily lesson planning? I work 8 hour days and expect those being paid for eight hours to work eight hours. Why the empty parking lots at 3:30?

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cms 7 years, 4 months ago

My children are grown so I do not have knowledge about the hours of school. What are the expected working hours for teachers in the district? How many hours are expected each day in the classroom; how many hours in front of students each day; how many hours of planning are built into the school day; and how many extra curricular activites is a teacher to participate in the school?

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Spareme 7 years, 4 months ago

In response to Kansas Daughter's question about why lesson plans have to change. There's a little law called No Child Left Behind where all students including special education and english learners have to be 100% proficient by 2014.

I for one don't want the same lesson plan taught 20 years ago to be taught today. Do you not want you child taught the scientific discoveries of the last 20 years?

Students today are not just competing for jobs with Lawrencians, Kansans, or Americans; they need to be prepared to compete with graduates worldwide.

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kansasdaughter 7 years, 4 months ago

This is ridiculous. When my child ws a student at Broken Arrow and South Jr High, the parking lot was empty by 3:30. Why are they going home early if there is so much to do? Why do teachers have to PLAN the SAME lessons that they've been teaching for YEARS? I'd really like to know. How much of the curriculum changes year in and year out? Not much if you ask me.

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Spareme 7 years, 4 months ago

I can't believe how little respect some of those posting have for teachers. What do teachers do in their spare time? They grade numerous papers and tests, they attend after school functions (many of which are held in the evening) and they attend classes to keep abreast of the newest teaching methods. Most times those classes are at their own expense and are during their vacation time.

Why do they require a lounge? Because they don't have enough time to leave the building for lunch. How many employees do you know that get 30 minutes at best for lunch and then have to be back on the job?

These silly committees as many of the posters called them are called collaborative meetings in the business world and they serve a valuable purpose.

There needs to be more teamwork in our schools just like there is in the business world, because it allows them to better serve the client (in this case our children.)

There is a teacher shortage looming in this country, and it's no wonder. What young person wants to be treated with so little respect from the community it serves and all for pennies.

Sad, that so many of you place so little value on the individuals we charge with our most precious assets, our children......our future.

And NO I'm not a teacher or a school district employee - I'm a parent!

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aeroscout17 7 years, 4 months ago

Kill two birds with one stone; increase the length of the specials, especially PE. More plan time for the teachers and fewer overweight kids! ;)

Seriously...Redbird, read the article again. That is what the teachers are doing, planning on their own time. How many professionals can you name that can be expected to do that without reimbursement? Your doctor? Your attorney?

LawSW, read onrywmn's comment about what happened with those 1/2 days on Weds. If that was for the teachers to plan, then it needs to be used for that, not a bunch of BS committees that never accomplish anything.

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llmccorkill 7 years, 4 months ago

"I remember the old days when teachers brought work home,planned things on their time.....but this is a different generation."

Are you expected to work overtime for free at your job? Do you exoect your employees to work for free? I agree that the Wednesday collaborative time may be better used, but please don't expect teachers to do things (like work for free) that you aren't prepared to do yourself.

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LawSW 7 years, 4 months ago

They already pulled that "We need 1/2 of Wednesday off" bit and won and foisted it upon the families of this community and now it's not enough! Meanwhile we poor parents/saps had to scramble to find daycare at places that didn't normally contract for half-days--let alone half-days once per week and deal with the nightmare of transporting them all over the city for that "little" change. Give me a break! Gosh, maybe they'll need to cut back on coffee & baked goods time, maliciously gossiping about kids and passing judgment on their families and ya know, get off the teacher's lounge couch and get back to work (I say this as a former employee of two other districts). How many of us are able to say we even have a lounge at our places of employment?!?!?

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onrywmn 7 years, 4 months ago

The whole purpose of letting the kids out early on Wednesdays was to give the teachers more planning time. Instead, they took that time and divided the staff up into committees: i.e. writing, reading, etc. which was a waste of time. I know because I was a para at a junior high school in 2001 & 2002 and I hated Wednesday afternoons because it was just time lost to me. I don't know if they do that now or not, but I think they need to get back to the original reason the kids were to be let out early - more planning time for the teachers. That would help the problem out immensely.

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redbird 7 years, 4 months ago

I remember the old days when teachers brought work home,planned things on their time.....but this is a different generation.

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