Different rules for different teachers?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by lcr, Apr 18, 2017.

  1. lcr

    lcr Companion

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    The music teacher at my elementary school refused to make up a missed music class due to a schedule conflict because she said she didn't have time. I looked at her schedule more closely and she sees our classes for 45 minutes once a week leaving her with almost 12 hours of prep time a week!! She also has an hour lunch and we only get 1/2 an hour. Classroom teachers get 3.5 hours a week, which is what all teachers should be getting according to our union negotiated agreement. I know this has skated by under everyone's noses this year, but how is it fair that she can't schedule in make-up classes with that amount of time?
     
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  3. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Ask your admin. There may be some other scheduling conflict that isn't on the master schedule. At one school, the music teacher pulled small reading groups when she wasn't teaching music.

    That may not be the case with your music teacher, but asking admin about it should either bring things to light or at least get an explanation for the refusal.
     
  4. lcr

    lcr Companion

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    There's no reading class. She has 12 hours without students (not counting lunch) in the work week and refuses to make up missed classes when there hasn't been a sub available. My students only get music every other year and she has missed 4 classes on my day, and 2-3 days for everyone else in the school. Especially on Mondays and Fridays.
    My administrator is older and ready to retire and I don't think she realized this. My principal went to speak to her, but after she did I received an email saying she couldn't do it. No one in the school realized she had that much time, until I calculated the prep time when she told me she had no time to make up this class.
    I hate being difficult, but I really think this isn't right for my students. I doubt she will make up my class because I have made this an issue, but I'm tired of being here early, leaving late and watching other people coast by with no accountability. Just needed to vent.
     
  5. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    In my old school, the music teacher also had chorus classes, breakfast/arrival duty, lunch duty and dismissal duty. Are you sure the music teacher has none of those?
     
  6. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I don't see the point in comparing different teachers' roles. Yes, truthfully, some teachers' jobs are "easier" than others. But all jobs have their own stresses and downsides. You aren't walking in her shoes and don't know the ins and outs of her job. Don't burden yourself with trying to investigate it. Just accept it for what it is and move on.

    I've never been in a school where specials are made up at alternate times. If they are missed, they are missed. You just deal with it.
     
  7. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    I tend to assume best intentions: our librarian has each class once a week, but she also hosts indoor recess at many of the recesses during the week, does tech support and training if we need it, culls books that could be helpful to integrate into each of our units, and much more. She also serves on all leadership teams, instead of just one. And, of course, she has to maintain the library! So, while she has about 2/3 of the load of other specialists, she's doing lots on top of that.

    I'd worry about yourself, unless it's affecting you (i.e. increasing your workload). For the missed class, check with your principal about that: they might be able to work with the teacher to make sure you get that time, or I'd imagine you would get compensated for the lost planning time (depending on your contract).
     
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  8. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I think you're walking a slippery slope digging into other people's business like that. First, schedules for specialists are often determined by admin. There's no way admin wasn't fully aware of this teacher's schedule, even if they're telling you otherwise. Second, specialists often do a lot of other things beyond what you might see. Finally, there may be other contractual issues at play that you're not aware of. Perhaps this teacher gets additional prep time during the day to compensate for recitals and performances throughout the year or something like that. My recommendation to you is that you stop looking for trouble, because sooner or later it might just find you.
     
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  9. lcr

    lcr Companion

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    I'm 100% positive she has no duties.
     
  10. lcr

    lcr Companion

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    She created her own schedule. She stated so at the beginning of the year and had it out for us to sign up. It didn't snap with me that she had so much extra time, because I was busy. I know what the our union contract is. Music teachers get 3.5 hours of prep time with 10-15 minutes between passing periods. She does no recitals or performances. I am not looking for trouble, I'm looking for make-up days.
     
  11. lcr

    lcr Companion

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    She won't give me the make-up times! The principal is doing nothing, and it does increase my workload when I have to hastily plan for a missed class. The only thing the principal has said is that she won't be coming back to our school.
     
  12. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    This is actually an admin problem. They allowed her to make her own schedule. They don't require her to provide make-up days.

    You can't force make-up days. It stinks, but it is what it is.
     
  13. lcr

    lcr Companion

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    I am not investigating anything. She sent us her schedule in an email, and it's simple math. She has 12 hours of prep time with no make-up slots. We have no recitals or performances at our school and my kids only get music every other year. They have missed a great deal of music and that's a shame.
     
  14. lcr

    lcr Companion

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    I know there's nothing I can do about it. I just don't get it.
     
  15. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    If you're not going to discuss it with admin, then don't expect anything from the situation - compensation or extra plan time. Again, you're not in their shoes, so you don't know the whole picture (as you said, you don't get it, and that's because you aren't them!)

    With the sub shortage we have, we have each had several days this year, some more, where we've lost a planning time due to them having to sub in a reg ed classroom, and we just have to put up with that (compensated by our per-diem rate for that time).
     
  16. lcr

    lcr Companion

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    We don't get compensated for missed music time, and that's not really the point. I come from a family of artists and it's said how little art and music the kids get. I try to do it in my classroom, but I'm not a trained professional.

    She's new this year and teachers in the past have made up missed classes because there is so much room in their schedules. If it is well known that as a teacher you are likely not going to get a sub, wouldn't you want to schedule in make-up days so that you can teach your program fully and the students aren't missing out?
     
  17. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    I think most would agree with this (though in many districts, they likely get as much as they used to - definitely not all though).

    Sometimes this isn't possible. Again, if you're not willing to find out the whole picture or go further with the issue, outside of simply sharing frustration here (which there's nothing wrong with), you're not going to get anywhere. If there aren't any set guidelines, then yes, different teachers may go about their jobs differently than others. We accept that, and do the best we can do - what's under our control.
     
  18. lcr

    lcr Companion

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    I get what you're saying, but it's out of my hands now. I went to the principal and she talked to the music teacher. The music teacher told me that she taught too many classes at the school and could not fit in a make-up time in her schedule. I'm not sure how to respond to this when the principal said she did not have anything else going on at those times except preparation. She's here all day. I'm not trying to investigate or attack this teacher, I just wish things had been handled differently this year and I hope that my speaking up will affect next year and maybe some guidelines will be put in place.
    The day I'm asking for wasn't a day where she was absent or anything. I switched classes with another class at the same grade level and left a note in her box an hour before school apologizing, but saying we had our state tests going on and I couldn't make it at that time--I've had to coordinate times with three teachers and I just made a mistake with times. I didn't hear from her, so I assumed it was fine, but after I sent them to her class, she marched my class up to my room and said that I didn't respect her program and she needed 24 hours notice for a switch (the day before was a Sunday and the scheduling didn't snap with me until that morning). I felt like we should all be flexible during state tests and it wasn't fair to the kids as it was my fault for not giving 24 hours notice and her fault for not checking her box. She has an hour before her first class two days later and I asked if I could squeeze my class in at that time and she said absolutely not, she needed time to prepare and she couldn't make it to school early enough to set up. I feel like this is more about my mistake and not about the actual class and students.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2017
  19. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Ah - see, that's a whole different story than the original post. Switching times should go through the specialist to be confirmed first and foremost. Just like you wouldn't want her to come to you and say that she was suddenly switching you to another day for that week, that same respect should be shown to specialists.

    With testing, that might even be something you discuss with admin to preset a unique schedule for those weeks in collaboration with the specialists. We're doing the same thing starting in a few weeks: specialist schedules will get a bit moved around so that intermediate has no specialists in the morning and instead in the afternoon, to allow for uninterrupted testing. This is done with admin/teachers/specialists all collaborating in the decision, however.

    So, if you're focused on making changes for the future - have that discussion with admin regarding the testing week(s)' specialist schedule. It'll benefit everyone in the end!
     
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  20. lcr

    lcr Companion

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    Apr 19, 2017

     
  21. lcr

    lcr Companion

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    I hate giving away so much detailed info in the post, which is why I wasn't more specific before.
    I know that I made a mistake, but it has been my experience that most people are more understanding and flexible during testing. When I had music cancelled with no notice and no make-ups four times previously, I didn't say anything to her.
    At this school we have to make all the special switches ourselves during testing and it gets confusing. I do respect her program, but I feel like my students shouldn't suffer for my mistake during a very stressful time for everyone. I've never done anything like this to her before, so this is unusual and it is only because of the testing. She has a lot of room in her schedule for a make-up, and this is a fact. The kids have missed a lot of music this year, and I feel like if there is room for make-ups, there should be.
    Ugh! I feel like I've said enough about this already. It was really just a vent.
     
  22. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    The way your school schedules things is strange to me. Every school I've worked in had a master schedule created by admin. Neither classroom teachers nor specialists had a say in creating the original schedule or in making changes. Changes were made during testing, but those changes were made by admin, not a conversation between teachers. Are you at a small school?
     
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  23. lcr

    lcr Companion

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    I know, it is really strange. A committee of teachers make up the schedule at our school (with the exception of the music teacher who makes her own schedule) and we're required to individually find times to switch during testing, which can be challenging if the testing schedule is changed and there are conflicts. This is why we have to stay flexible. We have a lot of freedom, but it leads to problems. It is relatively small--400 kids.

    The more I think about this, the more ridiculous it all seems. Of course this is the problem. Of course a teacher will schedule as much prep time as possible if she is making her own schedule, but since we all have so much input in the scheduling, I feel like we should have a say about this as well.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2017
  24. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    There may be more to her position than you know. She may be part time. She may share schools and you don't realize it. Just because a previous teacher did things differently doesn't mean she will. You even said last year's teacher had extra time in the schedule so it seems to me there is something that you just aren't privy to.
     
  25. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Don't be a bean counter.
     
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  26. 4815162342

    4815162342 Companion

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    Ditto.
    If anything, all the lack of admin doing admin things would make me find a new job. I couldn't handle the teachers making schedules.
     
  27. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I think the issue is that you expected her to drop everything and take your class without notice. It sounds like she was anticipating having that time to prep for her next lesson, which can sometimes take a lot longer than you might expect in a specials class with lots of different instruments, music sheets, whatever. If she drops everything for your class and doesn't have time to prepare for your kids, she may also end up not having time to prepare for any other classes that day, which hurts everyone.

    I am a specialist. I have no set schedule and work around the teachers' schedules. They reserve time with me as they need it and it usually works fine for everyone. One of the teachers I work with seems to think that I'm his personal beck-and-call specialist, though. He calls me ten minutes before class starts and wants to bring all of his classes to me all day. When I have to tell him no, I'm sorry, I've already got another class in here, he gets super snotty with me and implies that I'm being lazy for not accommodating his classes. I'm thinking, listen buddy, that's not how this works. You didn't schedule with me ahead of time, whereas Mrs. OnTime did. That's why she's got her classes booked in here today and you don't. When Mrs. OnTime schedules with me, I have a chance to prep for her classes, to set up my tech stuff, to have relevant materials out and available to them. I also make sure not to book one of the thousand other things I do during the time that Mrs. OnTime's classes are scheduled--no big deliveries of pallets of curriculum materials, no muralist in the room stinking the place up with paint fumes, no videography classes filming in my room, no admin meetings in my room, no loud projects for my student aides. Besides all that random stuff, I sometimes have to go off campus to meet with other specialists or to help them with their jobs. It might look like I have a two-hour chunk of non-student time where I sit on my butt doing nothing, but really I'm probably teleconferencing with the director, getting ready to drive across town, getting ready to watch or participate in a webinar, or even just reading new research in my field. I use that time to do my job, which encompasses more than just student contact (just like your job requires you do to things beyond working with students directly). It's all important to me, even if it doesn't look or seem important to others who don't do my job. I will always try my best to accommodate teachers, but sometimes it just isn't an option because I'm helping someone else or am on a time crunch.

    So all of that is just how I'm reading this situation from my own perspective. It's hard for me to feel bad for you when you didn't plan ahead. It wasn't the worst thing in the world, and your students will survive missing out on one music lesson. You can focus on letting this one be and making an effort to do better next time. I bet that if you talk with the music teacher ahead of the next big testing session she'd be willing to work with you, at least as long as you don't give her the impression that her work and time aren't as important as yours.
     
  28. lcr

    lcr Companion

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    I sincerely did not think her time was less valuable. It may have come off like that to her, but I didn't ask for her prep time. I switched with another fifth grade teacher on that same day. I was stressed about testing coming off of easter weekend with a scheduling error and I tried to give her notice. It was a mistake, and I now feel like a big jerk for doing that. My school has a problem in letting the teachers make their own schedules and it has caused many problems and feelings of unfairness. I am starting to realize how strange it all is.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2017
  29. lcr

    lcr Companion

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    i
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2017
  30. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    You have two choices, as I see it. You can worry about how her schedule plays out, with no real way to change things, or you can find a new job that seems more equitable across the board from your perspective. I'm with Czacza - whatever works between other staff and admin doesn't bother me, because there are always facts in every story that not known or shared.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2017

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