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Archive for Monday, June 23, 2008

Elementary teacher planning time a topic of school negotiations this year

June 23, 2008

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On the street

How much lesson planning time do you think elementary teachers should have per week?

They should have at least five hours per week so they have an hour each day. But really they should have more. I get 90 minutes a day, and I only have to cover one subject.

More responses

It's a discussion several years old about how to find more planning time for Lawrence public school teachers.

Elementary teachers have long said their current time of 190 minutes per week for planning is inadequate. In comparison, high school teachers get 325 minutes for planning per week.

"If you want to do the extra things that develop the new lessons with the details and planning that it takes, there's just not enough time," said Ginny Turvey, a fourth-grade teacher at Broken Arrow School, who has taught there more than 30 years.

She said the 40 minutes per day, includes requiring teacher to drop off students at specials - like art, music or physical education classes. A bathroom break can also cut it down to 30 minutes. But teachers have to do much more than plan lessons; they have to answer messages or notes from parents and check in with administrators, among other duties.

"For me, I do it after school. I do it on my own time," Turvey said.

Elementary teachers get 30 minutes to plan on Wednesday because schools are required to participate in collaboration time, a chance to give classroom teachers time to meet with special education and English as a Second Language teachers, for example.

"We are coming up with things we need to do to better serve children," said Lawrence Education Association President Adela Solis, a Cordley School ESL teacher.

School district leaders have recognized the disparity between planning time for secondary and elementary teachers. It has been a topic in contract negotiations, and a committee of teachers and administrators have studied the issue.

During this year's negotiations, both sides have indicated they want to get something done for next year, but two things have kept them apart on an agreement: the cost and how much extra time is available

"It just comes back to how many dollars get put into that, which comes back to how many days are available," said administrator Frank Harwood, the school board's chief negotiator.

Administrators say giving more planning time would require schools to hire more staff to take the students during new planning time.

During the most recent talks, board negotiators offered two extra days planning time for elementary teachers, spread out through the year, estimated to cost $324,000. LEA negotiators said they could accept a two-year pact for two extra days next year if planning time is increased five days for 2009-2010.

Board negotiators said they couldn't commit that much funding for 2009-2010 at this point.

Overall, a mediator will likely be brought in to negotiating sessions later this summer because the two sides are more than $1 million apart on salary increase offers for next year.

But planning time has been a major issue in talks.

Comments

toe 5 years, 10 months ago

The real chumps are the taxpayers. As reliable as sunshine, each tax increase is approved. The schools have no reason to be more efficient or make better choices. The taxpayer will bail them out with more money. For 30 years, more money is the only thing you ever heard from the schools. Entrenched and entitled is the motto of educators today.

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KaraGourley 5 years, 10 months ago

Having a daughter just wrap up her 6th grade year, I've watched over the years the teachers and their planning time and what they do after school and many do not use the time in the way that they are intended. My daughter would come home telling me stories about her teachers prank phone calling each other and how they had a crush on this celebrity or that celebrity and to a 6th grader that was pretty cool to her and she didn't think anything about sharing that information with me. I on the other hand wonder what really goes on during the school day if teachers are doing stuff like that. They don't act as their superiors they act more as their friends, when I was in school teachers dressed up and looked like teachers, you go in today and you aren't sure if its a student there observing or a parent in the classroom.When I see that the teachers are truely using their time to benefit the children then I may agree to it but until then I don't think anymore time should be granted to the teachers for planning. Wednesdays are a joke as it is!

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commuter 5 years, 10 months ago

More time for planning and more money. What more doe the LEA want? Maybe a bonus if you show up for work?We should give the teachers more time to plan but we should also add a few more days in the school year.

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WHY 5 years, 10 months ago

I worked at a school and many teachers do nothing during planning time. I mean seriously how much planning could it posibly take to teach the next chapter of algerbra. These teachers teach the same thing year after year. It is not difficult material since they have a college degree (granted the easiest degree, education) and the subject matter is sixth grade and younger.

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Multidisciplinary 5 years, 10 months ago

Maria, I'm with you on all of it.I just wanted to share some other things I noticed while sitting in the parking lot everyday.I feel that one teacher I talked about clearly abused the times issue. Of course, she may have been hired with the understanding that she lived out of town and had to pick up her children from the daycare on time, at the expense of her student's needs.

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Take_a_letter_Maria 5 years, 10 months ago

I'm not discounting any of what you say multi. My post is for those people that I know to be teachers abusing the system, and perhaps abusing is the wrong word. I have family that are teachers and they certainly put in plenty of time, but so do I and many people that I know. Someone on the other post said something about the regular person and their 9-5 job. Sign me up cause I've yet to find that one. It's more like in at 7 out at 6 if I'm lucky, but as I pointed out my employer allows me some flexibility too. I have taken a couple of hours a week to teach some advanced math to my son and some of his friends in 4-6th grades (damn those IEPs and their requirements). I can leave early every now and again to watch them play tennis or basketball. I do plenty of company business on my own time, just as teachers do plenty of school business on their time.As for that "staff" you see leaving, it's not office staff because my wife is one of those people and she is required to be there for an hour and 1/2 after the final bell as part of her contract. That's after arriving 45 minutes before the first bell.I don't want anyone to get the wrong impression. I truly do appreciate teachers. My gripe is the whining that seems to be going along with them any time negotiations come along. Grading papers at night, I can throw back working no budgets or financial statements until midnight or later. 30 minutes for lunch, eating at my desk. 40 minute a day planning period, 15 minute drive across town to organize my thoughts. I am not asking them to do anything that I myself am not already doing in some way shape or form. I'm sorry if their idealized notion of a profession didn't pan out to be what they thought it would be (dream sequence - ahhhhh the school day only runs from 8-3, and the year is late August to the end of May. That leaves me early evenings and all summer to do all those things the working class people can't take advantage of. What a wise choice I've made. Too bad not everyone is this smart) only to be hit by the cold reality that teaching is really a job too.

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Multidisciplinary 5 years, 10 months ago

Also remember, some of those "staff" that you see leaving when the bell rings are auxillary staff.Classroom helpers, KU students that do special work say in the hearing impaired room, etc.(Often they leave a little before the bell rings to free up the traffic zone)PT's OT's speech, phys ed specialists, technology experts, go to several schools to work at different times. (often eating their lunch in the car to keep up with the school budget needs..fewer people, but in mulitple schools)These people are then also booked for after school IEP meetings, group meetings that need to be held at 3:30 etc, to have the teachers, parents and therapists all available. Since they work with children all day, they can't hold IEPs other than before and after school.Did you know how often they are called to these meetings before school?And usually, they have more than one IEP scheduled on the same day, they often have to rush their comments and reports, then drive across town to do the same for another child. Or pick up equipment from one school to use for another child at another school. Back and forth.

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vegetablegirl 5 years, 10 months ago

Thanks TALMaria. You hit it on the nose. As for whether or not I have "seen" the teachers leave, of course I have! Just open your eyes, you will see it too.

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deskboy04 5 years, 10 months ago

It seems like the teachers do a pretty good job right now.

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Take_a_letter_Maria 5 years, 10 months ago

First mindspeaking, that would be complaints not complains. And I have been in schools and witnessed teachers doing nothing. Not all day, but that is another area where you didn't specify.I am well aware of the different learning levels of kids and the requirements teachers have to try and either challenge or meet needs. I am lucky enough to have two kids with accelerated needs. Of course when the teachers were unable to meet their challange and they tried to "dumb down" my kids IEPs I had to take time to come and assist in the classroom in order to make sure my kids and those like them got the challenge they required in order to keep them engaged. I guess they, and others in their position, were lucky that they had me advocating for them and that I had the ability and an employer that allowed me to come in and work with them.You see, you are guilty of the very same thing you point out. You know nothing about me or my background. You know nothing about my experiences and observations. I've observed teachers leaving early on Wednesday to go to another job, or to the doctor, or to watch their kids participate in an athletic competition instead of going to collaboration time. That in and of itself doesn't bother me, but when the argument is made that they need more time for planning on top of this time when they aren't properly utilizing the time they are given I am bothered. Is this every teacher? No, and probably far from it, but it only takes one to abuse a policy to ruin the process for everyone. I put in plenty of additional time with my employer for no extra pay because I am exempt. That's my choice because I have the freedom to go work in my kids classrooms, or to watch them compete (and see their teachers there). Of course if I told them I needed additional planning time, they would expect me to give up some of these other freedoms. I don't see the teachers as willing to do that.I've mentioned before, I come from a family of educators. I have a secondary ed degree of my own that I've never used, though I have considered bringing it up to date and using it in order to free up time to spend with my kids.

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lelly 5 years, 10 months ago

LJ World... A question. I was wondering how much of the bond that was passed recently is being offered to teachers for salaries during this negotiation time? As I recall, voters were told this bond money was slated to go to teachers. Is the school district using this money as it said it would?

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5 years, 10 months ago

For those who don't know, we now have inclusion as a law. Inclusion means we include all students ready for the classroom in the general education classroom. That means the teacher needs to teach to ALL DIFFERENT LEVELS....i.e. differentiated instruction. We have ELL learners who need pictures and symbols, we have low learners who need pictures and some verbal teaching, we have middle learners who need some of everything and we have high learners who need extension beyond the regular curriculum. Is this feasible for one teacher? NO! We collaborate and work together and use other ideas and share with each other. We need more plan time now more than ever with the range of learners we are accommodating in the general classroom. Now do you understand?

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5 years, 10 months ago

To all three previous posters: I'll listen to your mindless complains as soon as you spend a day in a school and actually witness teachers doing nothing. You'll never find it.....never. You and many others underestimate the importance and value of today's teacher. I feel sorry for you since you are not happy with your career choice.

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Nikki May 5 years, 10 months ago

How do you know what they are leaving for (don't get me wrong, I honestly think that some of them don't stay), but some have inservice at other schools, or they may be running an errand FOR their class. You ultimately don't know where they are going unless you ask

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vegetablegirl 5 years, 10 months ago

Totally agree Take_a_letter_Maria! If anyone doubts this, drive by any school on Wed afternoons. Teachers don't stay to "collaborate and plan". They head out to do their own things.

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Take_a_letter_Maria 5 years, 10 months ago

Maybe if the all of the teachers actually used the collaboration time for what it was intended they wouldn't need to work in yet more planning time.At both the grade school my kids attended and the jr. high that one of them still attends, it was almost a joke to see the number of teachers leaving the parking lot before my kids actually reach my car. There is little/no accountability at many of the schools when it comes to collaboration time.One other thing that would help save on the total budget if you get rid of early dismissal on Wednesday is the completion of the school year earlier. Less energy used, less $$ for support staff, teachers make same amount of money for less days worked effectively giving them a raise at a per day rate, etc.

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storm 5 years, 10 months ago

"Administrators say giving more planning time would require schools to hire more staff to take the students during new planning time."Since students aren't learning much on Wednesdays because they're there only half-day, how about no school on Wednesday? Call it Collaboration / Planning Wednesday. Saves having additional school staff. The only issues I can think of is that our community might need more police out there and we might have more teen pregnancies...cause idle minds are the devil's work so-to-speak.

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