Does your staff think like this?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by DrivingPigeon, May 1, 2013.

  1. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    We had another very stressful staff meeting today. I posted a while back about a meeting that occurred earlier in the year, too...

    Most of the arguments revolve around teacher expectations. Whenever something new is put on us, people freak out. I get it. I'm stressed and overwhelmed. I think almost every teacher in the United States probably is.

    However, I feel like this is the profession I chose, and it is my job to do it well. Many of my co-workers argue that other professions are not like teaching, because they work 9-5 and they're done. I try to help my co-workers to realize that this is not the case for most people in the business world. My fiance is an engineer, and he works 50-60 hours per week (he is salary). They can call him at any time if a machine goes down. Does he have to go in and fix it? No, but he wants to do his job well.

    It seems like so many of the teachers I work with are all about "fair" and not working beyond their hours, and having less meetings and more prep time. I understand what they're saying, but I'm willing to do a little extra to do my job well. Why are teachers so stuck on the "I only get paid to work 40 hours per week" mentality? Most people in the business world don't think like that.

    Are teachers like this at your school?
     
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  3. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    Not our whole school, just a select few. But they are very vocal about it. If a staff meeting goes over by a few minutes (not kidding), they are telling the principal that she needs to "wrap it up".

    I understand people have obligations outside of school, and many of these teachers at my school are older...so the threat of having rights taken away is more "fresh" for them. But I, like you, want to do a good job. I'll do what it takes. If something important needs to be done and I don't get it done in "contracted time", I'll stay until it is done. I think that's just what is expected nowadays, especially in a competitive job market like teaching. If you're not willing to go above and beyond, there are plenty of other people who are.
     
  4. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    This happens at my site, too. I always cringe and think, "Yikes! I'd NEVER have the guts to say that to my principal!" :eek:
     
  5. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    I dare anyone to tell our principal that she needs to wrap it up...she would lay you out.
     
  6. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Interesting....I'm only in my 5th year teaching, yet of an age that many teachers retire. From my perspective, the "groaners" at my school tend to be either the youngest or the oldest. I have a co-worker who is 20 years my junior, yet moans and whines all the time about how tired she is, how she's having to work so hard, etc. Alternately, we have a couple of "old school" teachers who gripe any time anything changes. Guess every teacher population group is different!

    As for myself - I'm a workaholic. If I'm not at school (get there at 6:30 am), I'm at home, working - grading papers, planning on my computer, reading PD books, you name it!
     
  7. Croissant

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    I totally get what you're saying. At the same time, however, I often feel those people are justified. I think good teachers naturally have that kind of work ethic and drive. It's part of why we're teachers. I have to admit, I sometimes feel like administration takes advantage of that. They know they can keep asking more of us because we'll find a way to do it. And so it continues to pile on.
     
  8. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    I know what you mean, croissant. I already spend tons of $$ on my classroom & such, and a state DOE conference powerpoint actually states (in reference to Common Core student reading materials) "teachers can purchase the books..." Of course, they also had the suggestions that we can hit up our local library and our school library - they didn't bother mentioning that (1) our library doesn't have the funding for the books, either, or (2) the BESE board is trying to get rid of elementary librarians! And I seriously doubt that our local library, although wonderful, would be able to accommodate the demands of all of the teachers in our district!
     
  9. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Our principal wouldn't go past contract time. He respects us as professionals and understands that it's neither fair nor in line with our contractual agreement to hold us late without compensation.

    There are always teachers who complain about what happens at school. In my experience, some of these are just general sticks in the mud, and others are people who need to get their feelings out before they can accept the situation and move forward. In either case, it isn't really anything that someone else can fix. Don't take their complaining to heart, don't try to justify anything to them (you'll just make yourself crazy), and focus on doing the best job you can.

    Keep in mind that in many places, employees are abused, mistreated, and expected to work without appropriate and adequate compensation. Many people view those "little things" that administration does (extending meetings past contract time, taking away prep time, adding extra duties, etc.) in the same way as the whole "give a mouse a cookie" thing. If you don't stand up for your rights as an employee and hold everyone accountable to the terms of the negotiated agreement/contract, then there will very likely be abuse. These complainers, although they are irritating to work with, help keep admin in check.
     
  10. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    I definitely understand that point, too, I respect those who stand up for teachers.

    Most of the things that come up, though, are within contracted hours. The new meeting time that was brought up tonight is during our contracted time, but it takes away from time that we have to prep before school. However, I find that I usually have meetings almost every morning anyway, so I rarely get that morning prep time as it is!

    It's just hard watching my principal get "beat up" verbally to the point of tears. It makes me feel really uncomfortable and sorry for her. :(
     
  11. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Maybe she could use some management training. She shouldn't take it so personally that she's tearing up or crying during meetings.
     
  12. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Not at our school. Our teachers put in a lot of extra hours. They do value their time though with their families as well.


     
  13. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    Luckily there are only a few teachers who are as strongly opinionated as they ones you're talking about. We have some who are a little more balanced and lots of easy going teachers who go with the flow.
     
  14. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Most teachers at my school are like that....
     
  15. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I think teachers need to be careful about how much they accept beyond initial or contracted obligations. Do something once and it suddenly becomes expected. And there are limits....there just are. There are only so many meetings one can attend, committees to serve on, and so forth.

    In general I'm pretty easy going, but I don't like being taken advantage of, especially when someone plays the "Do what's best for the students" card. What's best for the students might mean I should be at school right this moment, well past midnight...
     
  16. TeacherNY

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    We do not have to stay past contract time unless we have a meeting, which can be scheduled until 3:30. That happens rarely and we know a week ahead of time. That said, we don't get much prep time if any and eat with our students at lunch so I don't feel bad about leaving at contract time. I do see some teachers stay late and come in early but that is their choice.
     
  17. Jerseygirlteach

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    No! If fact, I had a teacher who made me feel guilty for the first few months because I would always try to leave by 4:30, almost an hour and a half past our contracted time. Many teachers do leave asap, but I'm sure they bring work home. We have meetings once a month and they can go until 5pm - almost 2 hours past our contracted time. No one complains - no one would dare!
     
  18. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    I definitely feel that some boundaries are healthy, and I do think there are such things as "reasonable expectations," but I do think some of the recent educational trends have encouraged the mentality of "contract expectations and nothing more." This seems to have started out as protective, but I think has come to symbolize standing up for teachers' rights, whether or not it actually translates into that. This is sad, of course, because there are better ways to stand up for teachers' rights than fighting to not put in a bit of extra (self-chosen) work to help kids.
     
  19. dizzykates

    dizzykates Habitué

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    I would never tell a principal to wrap it up, but our principal honors our contract hours. If we need to stay for a meeting, he keeps it within the times of our contract. I do other things outside of those hours in order to do my job well, but I figure that is my responsibility as a salaried worker. If I can manage to get it done in my contract hours, fantastic, but if not I should make the time. It's the ones who think they should be able to do everything in their contract time and therefore we shouldn't have meetings that drive me crazy.
     
  20. Rabbitt

    Rabbitt Connoisseur

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    As a business owner, I would never ask my employees (hourly or salary employees) to work beyond hours without paying them extra...nor do I think I could.


    So yes, I do have an issue with working obligated hours past contract times. However, I do not complain to anyone except my spouse about it. I do not have an issue of working past hours when it's my choice (grading, cleaning, planning, etc). At times we do have employees who stay beyond their paid time by thier choice.

    My most difficult obligation with teaching is not the unapid hours but the dollars I spend out of pocket. I'm Ok with treats or gifts out of kindness as I would do that for family or friends too. On Sunday for my classroom I bought glue sticks, dry erase markers, and replaced a chapter book. My own sons were with me and I said no to them buying baseball cards. SIGH It's just wrong.
     
  21. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    I think the point about salaried employees is a good one - salaried employees (in many settings) don't have set hours as much as set responsibilities.
     
  22. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    The problem (that might be too strong a word) with this line of thinking is that for teachers the set responsibilities are virtually endless. There is always planning, always prepping, always innovating, always writing new lessons, always writing new assessments, always reviewing data, plus an awful lot of grading and paperwork to boot (although that is certainly limited to less-than-infinite, even if it seems infinite). Without the constraints of set contract hours, teachers could work 24 hours per day and still not get it all done.

    My district has set my contract hours at 7 hours and 11 minutes per day. This means, to me, that they want me to fit my job into that timeframe. I do that. I often do extra stuff, but the extra stuff is MY choice and is for things that will benefit ME directly--not for things like mindless meetings, Department of Redundancy Department type paperwork, or some other brainless activity. I am happy to go above and beyond, but it needs to be my choice, not mandated without compensation.
     
  23. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    There is a big difference between working 10 hour days to accomplish what needs to be done for your classroom, and a 10 hour day because the admins kept you in meetings all afternoon.

    In no way do I consider my job done when my contractual hours end. I'm here from 7:30 to 5:00 most days. But that time is for me to prepare to my primary job which is to teach my class.

    But if the administration at my school wants me to sit in a meeting any longer than what is allowed by the contract, I will pitch a fit.
     
  24. Rabbitt

    Rabbitt Connoisseur

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    May 2, 2013

     
  25. FourSquare

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    One has to draw the line somewhere, but I think it can be done respectfully. Ex: I was kept after school for an evaluation because my principal was "so busy" and could not find time to do it during the day. I wouldn't have minded 30 minutes or so as a favor to her. However, she was late and I ended up staying TWO HOURS after contracted time. I politely asked to receive compensation and I did. It wasn't a big deal.

    We still have teachers grumbling about 4 minutes of prep each day that we're not getting. Technically the contract says 64 minute preps. We have 1 hour in the schedule. I choose not to make a huge stink about it. My principal makes it up to us in other ways, like early dismissal from PD.

    This job is a ton of work and it requires flexibility. I feel like if you're that strict and negative about contracted time then it might not be a good fit. Nobody likes the negative nancys at my school. And there are too many. :(
     
  26. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    I think some of it may have to do with job perception, too. My co-workers sometimes tell me that I need to "find a balance" or "make sure I have me time" if I stay at school late one night, or come in on the weekend. I guess I view teaching as a profession and a hobby, in a way. Planning lessons and setting up my classroom is a lot of fun. I really enjoy doing it. I love looking on Pinterest, teacher forums, TPT, blogs, etc. I pay for my own membership to various teaching organizations, and take in-services and workshops in my own time and on my own dime.

    It's not that teachers who don't do these things aren't great teachers, or don't love what they do. I think that some teachers may view their profession as more of a job, whereas, I view it as a job/hobby that I do for fun. That probably sounds weird! I guess that's what I am. ;)
     
  27. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    There is definitely grey area. When you say you only work 7 hours and 11 minutes, though, that seems to be more of an hourly employee arrangement where you punch in and out. So, yes - I agree that there are healthy boundaries - working 24 hours in one day is probably over the limit, but I would probably guess that 7 hours and 11 minutes - for most teachers in most schools I've experienced - would be under the healthy limit. But hey, if you get the job done!
     
  28. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I would argue that most teacher contracts outline work hours. Whether it's a strange number like mine (with those 11 minutes, which have a historical significance) or something more like "from 8 AM until 3 PM", it shouldn't make any difference.
     
  29. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Sure - didn't mean to pick on the 11 minutes :). My main point was that a teacher working close to 7 or 8 hours and nothing else - not doing lesson plans, not prepping materials, not reflecting on the day, etc. are either teachers who have been doing it a while and have their system down cold, or aren't doing enough.
     
  30. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    Very well said- I feel the same way!
     
  31. jen12

    jen12 Devotee

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    I come from a business background, so I may have a different perspective on this than someone who has been teaching from a younger age.

    A few thoughts....

    It is often the attendees at meetings who cause the time to go over. They show up late or do exactly what we get annoyed at the kids for by talking amongst themselves instead of listening, and then the speaker has to repeat him or herself. There are also people who want to jump in with their 2cents and derail the meeting. The worst meetings are the ones that become vent-fests.

    The above can be avoided if the person running the meeting has the skills to control the situation. Presenting an outline, STICKING to that outline and starting and ending on time are important. Sometimes it takes the ability to tactfully tell others to shut up.

    As far as work hours...I once had an office job where my boss told me (AFTER I was hired) that she expected ten hour days and for me not to leave at lunch, but to eat and work at my desk. When you are on salary, the expectation is that you work until the job is done, instead of to the clock. Some companies abuse this and want you there for long hours strictly for appearance sake, which is ridiculous. Teaching is a bit different because of contracts and unions, but I understand the expectation that you do what you need to do, even if you go past contracted hours. It isn't fun, and it should be manageable, but sometimes it's unavoidable.

    Sorry for the long winded response. The grass isn't greener. People in all professions work hard these days. Everyone is expected to do more with less.

    I will say, though, that when I worked in an office, I could go to the bathroom when I had to...it's a bit different teaching. :whistle:
     
  32. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Very well-said! This is what I try to tell my colleagues. I understand the business world a bit more, based on my fiance's job. He is an engineer and works 10-hour days on a 40-hour salary. He woke up at 5:00 this morning (on a Saturday) to work 7 hours for a machine shut-down. No, he is not being paid "overtime." He is doing what he has to do to do his job well.
     
  33. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    I get the frustrations. All staff meetings take place outside of contract time. All parent conferences/IEPs/504s take place either during planning or after contract hours. I only get 45 minutes four times a week for planning. I lose that at least twice a week. I have 126 students to grade and plan for.

    But what really set people off was a district email from a head honcho that basically said, We don't care what the times on your contract are. Here's the loophole in your contract and we can make you work whenever we feel like it.

    (Yes, that's in arbitration right now.)

    What makes most people angry is the idea that we should expect to do all of our planning and grading and data analysis and creating outside of school hours, because we have to be continuously trained and fill out lots of bits of paper. A lot of professions certainly do work more than 9-5... but it isn't an expectation that they will do a huge portion of their work on their own time.
     
  34. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    I'm lucky to work in a strong union where I feel like I'm pretty well protected (staff meetings never run over time, IEP meetings are never during my prep) so I don't mind giving a little bit here and there and not making a huge deal over it.

    I just got paid per session for all the time I spent writing IEPs in the past year and a half because the union is putting up a big stink about the fact that IEPs have this new online system and it was hard to use in school buildings at first because of the bandwith and blah, blah, blah teachers had to do their IEPs at home. I honestly never thought much of the fact that I was writing IEPs at home on my own time. But it was nice to get some unexpected compensation.

    But now they're telling teachers NOT to do IEPs out of their prep time unless they have it in writing that they'll be compensated and if your prep time isn't enough you have to speak to an administrator about it. That's just not me. I don't want to write them during my prep. I like to do things in the classroom that I can't do at home during my prep. I'm also not going to go complaining to my principal either and acting like it's too much work.
     
  35. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Very true...I don't think it should be expected. I just hate when people whine and make a big stink about staying 15 minutes late for a meeting. :(
     
  36. wonderingwhat2d

    wonderingwhat2d Rookie

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    I think teachers should have a life. Meetings all the time off hours are an abuse.

    Here and there going over is fine.

    I've worked most of the year planning lessons on Saturdays and Sundays. I have no life.

    One more year of teaching and I'm finding another career.
     
  37. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Like others have said, I think it can become a slippery slope and it really depends on your administration. I think people in higher-up positions do use "it's for the kids" as an excuse far to often...especially when it's some new paperwork or documentation which everyone knows has nothing to do with the kids. Once you allow your admin to break the contract in one way, even if that way doesn't seem like a big deal to you, what's to stop them from doing it again?

    In my last school we did have meetings after hours sometimes. However, my admin was also flexible with us and our contract hours. My first year our students were only in school for a little under 7 hours (instructional time was increased the next year) but our "contract hours" were just over 8 hours with time tacked on to the beginning and end of the school day. My P always said that as long as we were getting our work done she didn't care if we preferred to work at home on the couch instead of staying at school for "contract time." I think we didn't mind meetings as much because of that- there was a mutual respect there. However, if an admin is standing by the door making sure people don't show up a minute late or leave a minute early, they can't really complain that the staff expects the same of them (not going a minute over their contract time).
     

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