A spectrum from feeling vaguely annoyed to me being irresponsible to possible red-flags.

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Backroads, Jul 26, 2020.

  1. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Jul 26, 2020

    A update on my life:

    Had my baby about a month ago. She's super cute. I also accepted a new teaching position despite the debate of whether I should just take the year off and all that. On that subject, we went over finances and found it just wasn't going to work out. It sucks, but oh well.

    I accepted a job at a charter school. The salary was very competitive, the charter has an excellent reputation, and it's a new campus they're building. I confess I was excited to be part of a new campus. Because it's a new job, I don't get FMLA, so I'm using the rest of the summer as my "maternity leave".

    And yet... I'm feeling a lot of pressure to work. Yes, it's still summer, no, my contract technically hasn't yet started. I also get that with a brand-new campus, administration wants to get things going and looking good for the start of the year. I'm receiving "checking in" emails, asked about how my classroom set-up is going (it's not), and there's all this highly-suggested training to do on our own.

    I might be just annoyed because not only do I want to enjoy my baby my philosophy is to also avoid lots of schoolwork in the summer. Does this make me irresponsible in this scenario? Or is this a red flag of an overworking culture?
     
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  3. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    You are not being irresponsible. It may be a red flag for what the long term could look like, but it could also just be short term pressure, given that it's a new school.

    If it were me, I would like to think that I'd send a polite response expressing that you are using the summer as an unofficial maternity leave. In that email, I would tactfully state that you do not intend to being setting up your classroom, training, etc. until X date (explicitly state the date in your email). I'd politely request that they only reach out for urgent matters until that time. Make sure it's clear that you'll jump in full force on whatever date you specify (which could be your contract date, or it could even be a week or so earlier - whatever you think makes sense for you).

    If that doesn't go over well, then I would definitely see the poor response as a red flag.
     
  4. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    I get really annoyed by summer emails too!
     
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  5. whizkid

    whizkid Groupie

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    And texts and calls too.
     
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  6. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    You've gotten texts and calls?!
     
  7. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Your school term doesn't start for several more weeks. I'm guessing you didn't sign any contracts because charters rarely have them. You have no obligation to do a doggone thing until you set your alarm clock the night before school starts.
     
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  8. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    The charter where I worked had a contract. It clearly stated our state date and salary. It also stated that we were bound to all terms in the employee handbook (that we hadn’t been given yet), that our position/grade-level could be changed, and that our employment could be terminated at any time. My situation was much like the OP’s in that it was a brand new school and working for free over the summer before we opened was expected, despite the official start date on the contract.
     
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  9. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I did sign a contract. It spelled out the days I'm expected to work. The earliest date is indeed for for two more weeks.
     
  10. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Yup, that's the situation, though we do have our employee handbook (because we have been given everything...) and I still can't find anything about expected summer work (which wouldn't be shocking to sneak into such things).
     
  11. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Dear admin, Thank you for checking in. I will be in school the first day of my contract, xx-xx-xxxx to ....

    As for the training, I might spend time on some of it depending on what it is. If it would highly benefit me and make my life less hard when I started back, it might be worth some time now.
     
  12. whizkid

    whizkid Groupie

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    "Do you have the password to......?"
    "Would you happen to know where .........is?"
    "Should I go on and sign.........since you're not here?"

    I'm on break, leave......me......alone!
     
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  13. mathteachertobe

    mathteachertobe Cohort

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    Do you have a work-specific email address? If you did, you could just stop checking it. Since they are worried about classroom set-up, maybe you could let your boss know when you plan on doing that. Brand new sites often have a lot of extra work involving furniture that needs to be done. I wonder if there is support for that or if the teachers are expected to take care of it?
     
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  14. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    No, you should not feel guilty. I would explain the maternity leave thing and say that you are available on x date, and looking forward to setting up your new room. They may actually just be looking for reassurance that you're actually still planning to take/start the job. If everyone else is there setting up ahead of time, it may look odd that you aren't. Especially with the pandemic happening, they may be afraid you're not actually coming.

    No, other teachers shouldn't feel pressure to do that either, but it wouldn't surprise me. We moved into a new building a few years ago. Of course, construction was delayed. Teachers were losing their minds about not being able to get in early. No joke, one teacher was actually caught breaking in through an open window about a week before we were allowed in.

    As far as an "overworking culture," frankly that's what I'd expect from any charter. I know it's different everywhere so hopefully this doesn't end up being true in your case. Around here, one of the touted "benefits" of charters is not having to follow a union contract. I.e. they can ask more of their teachers for no additional pay, and teachers have to do it because they have no job protections. They even let people go in the middle of the school year with no notice, which is unheard of in a public school. At a district school probationary teachers can always get non-renewed, but they still get to finish out the current school year.
     
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  15. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    This was all true with my charter school too. Expectations to put in unpaid overtime and fund your own classrooms. It was a brand new school, so literally all that was provided to us were student desks, student chairs, a teacher desk, and published curriculum materials. A few weeks into the year, we were given a teacher chair, a kidney table, and a single storage cabinet. We were expected to have classroom libraries but weren’t given any books or shelving. We were expected to have walls decorated but weren’t provided any butcher paper or other bulletin board materials. We bought our own staplers, tape, pens, etc. I’m not even getting into the ridiculous lesson plan and schedule requirements. During the summer before the school opened, we were “asked” to participate in recruitment efforts, which meant walking neighborhoods and knocking on doors, plus following up with phone calls, all without compensation, unless you consider a a free tshirt to be compensation. Building renovations were so delayed that the start of the school year had to be pushed back by at least a whole week. By the time the first school year was over, no less than 50% of classroom teachers who had started the year had left during the year, some by choice and others by force. I was a brand new teacher and didn’t really know any better, so I never pushed back on any of the requirements. I finally left at the end of the first semester my second year there, and have never looked back. I know that all charters are not this way, but I’m always a bit skeptical after having had that experience. I hope yours is much better, Backroads!
     
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  16. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Does your school know you have a newborn? I remember you were debating telling them.
     
  17. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    Are ALL the teachers expected to do these things or just you because you're new? I feel like if it's the expectation for everyone then you need to do at least some of the things they are asking.
     
  18. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    They do. I went in to volunteer for the open house, clearly pregnant, and when asked about it during chit-chat explained I was literally due any second (had the baby three days later, in fact.) My principal a few weeks ago, before I explained the baby had been born already, asked how when I needed time off--which is when I tried to explain I was using summer (maybe I should have asked for a few more weeks, unpaid isn't a huge problem right now for us, but the idea of having a sub start the year was kind of horrifying). And much of the staff has actually seen my daughter when I went to drop off my paperwork.
     
  19. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    My impression is that it's everyone, and you're probably right, but I'm not exactly pleased with it. Physically I don't know if I can drag furniture around yet.
     
  20. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    I would contact them as soon as possible about getting some help with that. You don't want to wait until the last minute then say, "oh, I wasn't able to do it". If they have a heads up they are more likely to be able to find help for you.
     
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  21. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    It also might be useful to have furniture... I confess, the other reason I haven't set up my room is that I have nothing to actually work with. It seems a lot of the other teachers had collected stuff, like furniture. I have books and a few games. Right now, they're just sitting in the closet.
     
  22. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I'm hoping it works out. My last charter school was good until it wasn't, and I don't know if I'm ready to blame that on the school itself rather than a few individuals and a difficult year. I looked up the reviews from other teachers on the other campus before I accepted the job, so it seems the school itself has a pretty good system.
     
  23. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Your summer is yours and if you choose to do any work, it should be because you choose to do it. When I was classroom teaching I would spend about a week or more starting to plan my lessons and go in to my classroom for a few hours for 4-5 days. I couldn't stay there for 8 hours, it was too much for me, it was more productive to do it 2-3 hours / day.

    When we had training, it was always optional and paid. I've noticed that since Covid 19 hit us, they are sending us several emails about online training, all unpaid of course. We had quite a few during the summer. I'm not talking about 1-2 hours, the last one they emailed about was from 9-3. They expect us to spend a whole day without pay? Sorry, I don't want to sound lie a brat, but no thank you.

    They did send an email about 2 day training, and they didn't make it clear, so I specifically asked my principal if it's paid. He said yes, so I signed up :)
     
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  24. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    I think this is a good out. They know you had a baby. You could send a friendly email stating “Hi, just checking in, I’m still recovering/spending time with my newborn and wanted to let you know I’ll be fully ready to set up my space on (date) but will not be able to come in before hand (You could also leave out everything past Date there). I’m excited to join the staff at X and I am looking forward to getting my classroom set up and ready for my new scholars.”

    That way, you’re being pleasant enough but still letting them know you’re taking your job seriously and the work will get done.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2020
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