Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Challenge!
By:  Donna Shubert

I am issuing a challenge to you, department directors, assistant department directors, cadre directors and anyone else who works for the SBBC who is not a school-based employee but has a secretary, administrative assistant, clerk or anyone else assisting them in their work. So please pass the challenge on.

The challenge is, for the remainder of the school year, all top administrative staff members shall not be able to have anyone, a secretary, administrative assistant, clerk or anyone else, help them. I want you all to see what it feels like to be a teacher. You see we have a very heavy workload with little or no help and yet administrators downtown keep piling on work.

Some of our responsibilities include: photocopying - filing - laminating - ordering and picking up on campus supplies - shopping for supplies off campus (and paying for them) - putting up bulletin boards - taking down bulletin boards - keeping current bulletin boards - grading papers - record grades - planning lessons - gathering resources for lessons - organizing our classrooms - writing letters to individual parents - answering emails - delivering papers to the office, watching mandatory videos, collecting papers, setting up computers, arranging rooms, assisting at dismissals, hallway duty, writing goals on boards, creating rubrics, sending update notes to parents, collecting money for pictures, trips, fundraising, -- picking up signing out and returning collections envelopes - planning trips and arranging trip locations, buses, lunches with cafeteria, -- writing RTIs - report cards - stuffing report cards in envelopes -- preparing homework -- checking homework -- hanging wall charts and decorating classroom - searching for forms - downloading forms - inputting information on Virtual Counselor and ESS (now renamed My Learning Plan) - preparing materials for data chats -- one of the newest suggestions creating data binders to record information readily available in other places about each student - researching materials - familiarizing self with materials, programs and all the new school board initiatives - learning new programs - writing interims - pulling and filing cumulative records - writing honor roll certificates - making lunch tags -- making bus tags - pulling math book pages (500+ page books that have to be broken down into manageable sections for kindergarten) - picking up test packets - picking up and and returning computers to carts - checking ESS - registering for workshops - preparing substitute work - securing substitutes - follow up work for workshops - read literature to be up to date with Common Core and Marzano - use teachers editions to prepare for lessons - use Common Core Standards to prepare for lessons - use focus calendar to prepare for lessons (or are focus calendars gone with the whim) - picking up and dropping off students in a.m., for lunch and specials - providing security - planning other work when copier breaks down - learning new reading, math, science and social studies materials - consulting with speech, ESE, occupational and physical therapy teachers, guidance counselors, school psychologist, school resource officer - filling out forms for speech, contact guidance, social worker and or psychologist - PGPs - keeping track of computer programs like iStation, Virtual Path, IR and others - differentiating instruction - familiarizing self with buzz words like rigor, fidelity, CARE, scaffolding, reflect, collaborate -- creating centers - filling out surveys - and in our spare time writing grants for all the materials we don't have. We have to conference with parents at least twice a year although we communicate with many parents much more often. Let's not forget the meetings: RTI, staff, team, committee, trainings, testing and on top of the recent addition of 18 hours of mandatory Collaborative Planning Meetings (CPMs). Last year the added meetings were called PLCs (Professional Learning Communities). PLCs are gone with the whim. Now we have CPMs, almost 18 hours of mandatory meetings. I cannot wait to see what they will be called next year or if they will even be around next year.

Keep in mind this is a partial list and would be fine if all that was our full-time job but it isn't. It has to be fit in, with so much more, when we aren't doing the main part of our job, the part not mentioned above -- TEACHING. We still agree I hope that the main part of a teacher's job is TEACHING, right? Because there is nothing set up in this system to say, "We know your work is important and the priority is teaching so we will honor that by giving you the supplies, support, resources and time you need to do it right". Nope, instead, it is "do this", "no do this", "now try this", "wait we aren't doing that any more", "call it this", "it was a PLC now its a CPM", "its ESS Professional Development no now its My Learning Plan" "you will get trained as soon as we can get it working", and don't forget to C-A-R-E. My favorite, however, is when people then have an administrator who questions why something isn't done, for example, "Why isn't your bulletin board current?"

Imagine what it will be when you do all you own planning, trips, copying, filing, arranging meeting, answering emails, answering phone calls, writing emails, making phone calls, scheduling, conference planning, getting your own mail and supplies, delivering papers to other areas, hanging things yourself in your offices, hooking up your own computers, setting up your own furniture, and lots of other tasks and then do your actual job. Oh, yes, and you have to do your own bookkeeping. Remember when bookkeepers were removed from the school to save money and teachers and school-based office staff had to pick up a lot of the workload. So just plan on adding another 4 or so unpaid hours on to your day and then don't make plans for Sundays, unofficially that's another workday. For some of you we will have to give you extra work because you are the administrator we decided to "stack" (give extra students above the class size law) or make the "support" class (add children with special needs but then cut the ESE staff). We will also make some of you the "split" administrator where you will have to do two job from two different departments just like the teachers who teach split classes like 3rd and 4th grade with two different testing focuses. And, good luck to those of you we name "team leaders" because your workload and responsibilities will increase vastly but don't worry you will be paid about an extra $3.00 per day. If you are the designated "speech administrator" your caseload (number of students) and paperwork load may increase but your hours are going to be cut. Did I mention all of you will be evaluated on all this too? I'll be in with my iPad regularly.

I could make this challenge a bit more difficult by saying you have to do all your own work without assistance, on a teacher's salary and then find two or three extra part-time jobs to survive financially plus you have to buy the supplies you need out of your own pocket but maybe we will save that challenge for next time.

So what will happen to your support staff for the remainder of the year-- they will go to schools to help overburdened teachers, overburdened ESPs and overburdened office staff. The end result, I hope, is that you will sufficiently staff schools, add support staff to help teachers, stop reducing staff and expecting teachers to pick up the workload in all your "cost-cutting" moves, and streamline teachers' workload. And, please stop with the alphabet soup and name games of relabeling something and after everyone is trained in it dumping it for the latest fad.

I can't even imagine what it would be like to have my whole workday focused on either teaching my students or preparing for them rather than having countless tasks to perform and then trying to focus on what I need to do for my students. That's what we did in the good old days in teaching.

By the way, the same challenge goes out to our unions, BTU, FEA, AFT and NEA because our unions are not addressing the workload as a serious issue.

Challenge on!! Game on!! See you at the copy machine!!

Donna Shubert

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