Our rights as teachers

Discussion in 'General Education' started by LynnB, May 27, 2009.

  1. LynnB

    LynnB Rookie

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    Does anyone feel powerless in their choices as a teacher? I have been teaching for several years now and have been overlooked and ignored when I asked to teach other courses that came available. I feel like when I sign my contract it should have a big "SUCKER" stamped on it somewhere.
     
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  3. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Have you approached your P or dept head about why you haven't been given different courses?
     
  4. LynnB

    LynnB Rookie

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    Yes. I have spoken to the principal, board members, superintendent . . . to no avail. I'm not a member of a teacher organization. I also spoke to a lawyer/friend yesterday and she is getting back with me, but honestly, I don't want to get a lawyer involved. It all has to do with family connections and politics. I am a good teacher with educated students to prove it. What would you do?
     
  5. Rebel1

    Rebel1 Connoisseur

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    Join a teacher organization and see how they can shed the light on what you should do.
    Good luck,
    Rebel1
     
  6. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    What are the reasons they gave you? I do agree with Rebel about joining a teacher org and then seeing what they have to say. It could be because you've been successful in the classes you've taught that admin want to keep you there.
     
  7. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I might be confused here, but are you consulting a lawyer because you want to teach a particular course? Don't you think that might be a little extreme?

    Your admin is allowed to place you wherever your license permits. If you don't want to teach the courses you currently have, you'll need to remove those subjects/grades. Otherwise, you're sort of stuck.

    I guess I don't understand why this is a "rights" issue or an issue that requires the involvement of a lawyer.
     
  8. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    I have to agree with Cassie. I think lawyer involvment would be the worst way to get what you want from your school.
     
  9. cheeryteacher

    cheeryteacher Enthusiast

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    I agree with Cassie. Do you have a contract agreement you can consult? There might be something in there about seniority when being assigned classes, or the amount of different preps that you can have. But if not it is your principals perogative to assign you to the classes he wants you to teach.
     
  10. LynnB

    LynnB Rookie

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    My co-workers are the ones who suggested a lawyer and LIKE I SAID, I don't want to take matters that far, even though I feel trampled on by my school administrators.
     
  11. LynnB

    LynnB Rookie

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    And, no, my contract is vague and does not lay out any specific duties. Usually, we do not know what we will be teaching for the school year until two days before school starts. They are very secretive about who is teaching what, probably because they make a lot of people mad. One year, after school had started, they changed a teacher's schedule and had her driving between two schools and expected her to work duties at both schools! She had small children at the time. I really felt sorry for her because they would not let her out of her contract. She has since quit teaching.
     
  12. LynnB

    LynnB Rookie

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    BTW, for the last three years, I have had the highest student numbers of any teacher in the entire district. A large percentage of them require EXTRA interventions to succeed.
     
  13. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    May 28, 2009

    Have you given the lawyer/friend a copy of the contract?

    Incidentally, this sort of thing happens so regularly in the corporate world it's barely even noteworthy. Essentially, there is no defense to favoritism of this kind, unless you can allege discrimination of some type based on racial, religious, marital status, etc. lines. Personally, I would be opposed to doing this sort of thing for myself if it were not really justified, as I think it creates enemies if you make a bogus accusation even if it's to correct what you feel is an actual injustice.

    I also suspect the courts would be rather loathe to start interfering with a principal's selections for who should teach which classes. It would create an absolutely awful situation in which every principal would have an impossible task just assigning course assignments.
     
  14. CanadianTeacher

    CanadianTeacher Groupie

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    I get what you are saying here, and althought I've always been treated fairly, I've felt like you do on a number of occasions. Sometimes it's subtle, but some people clearly don't have to work as hard for their positions--either their actual positions or their positions within the hierarchy of teachers (which is very real and not always attributed to experience and qualifications). If I read correctly, your 'lawyer' is a friend and you were just discussing the matter to get her opinion. Sometimes it's good to get another perspective, because we can often feel a certain way, but because we are in the middle of it, our emotions get the better of us. Unfortunately family connections and politics are a very real part of the profession, and as someone with no close connections in my field and who insists on getting places solely based on my skills as a teacher and not through internal politics and rubbing elbows, I hear you. If you know you are a good teacher, your skills will eventually become undeniable. I would say, continue working hard for your students, be collaborative and kind with your colleagues, stay out of the politics, don't complain but do be assertive when necessary and keep plugging away.
     
  15. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    In my district - Principals make the schedule and assign teachers to classes they are certified to teach. We are never guaranteed classes however, our P really strives to put us in the best place for our students and our teaching strengths.

    Please don't take this the wrong way - but how were your AP scores? Three years ago I was given the APUSH from a teacher that had it for 10 years and had way more seniority then I had. Why? Because my APEuro students were much more successful on the AP exam than his were. AP scores are pretty important to both the school and the students. And please don't think I am suggesting you were in way not doing a good job - but just something to think about.
     
  16. LynnB

    LynnB Rookie

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    INTeacher you make a very valid point--no offense taken. I've done no worse (or better to be completely honest) than any other AP teacher in our district, but I was the first and only AP teacher in our district when I began and had to start the entire curriculum from the beginning with very little help.
     
  17. LynnB

    LynnB Rookie

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    Perhaps "favoritism" should be added as a type of discrimination:)
     
  18. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    How does one define favoritism?

    I was hired on at my current school last year because I was a "favorite" of the VP. I worked with her as a student teacher and she knew that I was a good teacher, so she pushed for me to get a job. Is this favoritism? Should she have picked someone who may look more highly qualified on paper rather than picking someone she KNOWS will do the good job?

    Teachers have many rights. The right to have whatever job they feel like they deserve is not one of those rights.
     
  19. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Here's one thing that might be really important to check to make your point - has this new AP teacher had her syllabus approved by the college board? As an AP teacher, you know that before you can attach the AP to a class, the syllabus must be submitted and approved by the college board. I would think it would be easy to find out if this new teacher has completed this process. I think maybe this could be an approach that would carry some weight. If this new AP teacher has not followed the process, then you could approach your P out of concern for the students and your AP program - "Mr/Mrs P, since Teacher X has not submitted and had an approved syllabus, we are putting our AP program at risk and students." Good luck
     
  20. LynnB

    LynnB Rookie

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    My "favoritism" comment was made in jest. My admins also KNOW that I do a good job AND I am qualified. I feel I have paid my dues with several years in the district as opposed to teachers with NO time in the district and NO experience in this area. And as a good teacher who has good rapport with students, parents, and coworkers, I feel I should not be overlooked when a reasonable request is made. I feel for any teacher who puts his/her heart and soul into the Ed job and gets little or no consideration. Hopefully, that will never happen to you.
     
  21. LynnB

    LynnB Rookie

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    That is definitely worth mentioning. Thanks!
     
  22. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    If you've requested to teach those classes and your admin has chosen someone else to do so, it's for a reason. Either your admin has some sort of agenda, your admin believes that you are not qualified, or your admin believes that this other teacher is more qualified. Whatever the reason, I don't think you'll be successful if you try to fight the issue. If you do decide to fight it, I think that you'll do a fantastic job shooting yourself in the foot and convincing your admin that you're not a team player.

    This is obviously just my opinion and based only on what I, personally, have witnessed.
     
  23. frogger

    frogger Devotee

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    She might be in a state that doesn't recognize those or they aren't very strong. I.E. North Carolina has a law that doesn't allow collective bargaining hence no teacher unions.
     
  24. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    To come from another point of view... because of my technical experience with our software, I've been working 1 on 1 with my principal to build our master schedule. Many teachers have been upset about things that are similar to what you mentioned. We have placed teachers all over the map, including courses they don't quite like. Here's why:

    Building a schedule is an epic pain in the butt. Trying to make sure each teacher has a full course load, while also trying to keep the same courses together (ie: all sections of Algebra I to the same teacher) is very difficult. And with changes in enrollment, numbers guide the entire process. Many of the teachers in my building are upset and think the changes in their courses are some personal attack on them... but that isn't the case at all. It's a numbers game.
     
  25. LynnB

    LynnB Rookie

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    I am aware of the difficulties of scheduling, but I am in a small school. Other teachers have been accommodated with their scheduling requests (and some of them far greater than my request). I have been waiting patiently and asking for three years now.

    I am tired . . .
     
  26. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    It's not a matter of rights and entitlements my friend. Your employer is not legally obligated to give you these things. If you're not getting what you want, your only option is to find another employer who will be more willing to give you the classes you want to teach.
     
  27. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Muttling exactly what I was going to say.

    This isn't a democracy, it's a job. Our employers have a job: teaching a particular subject or grade. If we choose not to take that job, fine. But we don't have a right to certain classes or grades.

    And, for what it's worth, I would much prefer to be teaching the Seniors I had before I took 6 years off. But that's not the job that's available at the present time. It may never be. Those are the breaks. For me, it's well worth the tradeoff of being in this particular school.
     
  28. LynnB

    LynnB Rookie

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    I suppose I am trying to use what I perceive to be the only solution to fix two problems: one set of problems in my present situation being high class numbers, low lexile levels and high achievers in the same classes, a serious lack of resources to meet the needs of students, and my desire to do a good job despite it all. I see the newly available AP classes as a way out of my present situation.
     
  29. LynnB

    LynnB Rookie

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    Yes. I have been getting my app out there.
     
  30. rachaelski

    rachaelski Habitué

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    LynnB, perhaps they have you teaching English I because they need a strong teaching working with the freshmen. Is it a testing year? Kids in AP classes are often self-motivated and can be successful, even with a weaker teacher. Whereas a traditional classroom setting has students all over the radar. In the end the P has to figure out what is going to best serve the students. I am sure many people here would love to teach a load of AP and honors courses. However, I find working with the kids in the "middle" to be the most honorable of work in education. It takes the most patience, skill, and love.
     
  31. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Muttling ... exactly ...
     
  32. LynnB

    LynnB Rookie

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    I am a feeder for a yearly testing subject and I work closely with the Eng II teacher (state testing area). Other teachers on campus have stated the same thing you have said. I am in major burnout though and have considered quitting the profession because of major overload. I am looking for a way to stay in the profession (and I am not looking for an easy job--just one I can ACTUALLY do without working 60 plus hours every week). My husband is very angry about my work load.
     
  33. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Lynn, I know what I am about to type is easier "typed" than done, but have you considered looking for another job at a different school? I think as teachers, we become so so so committed to what we are doing and get so attached to our school, our classroom, our colleagues, that we think we have to stay in that place until we retire ... that's not the case with many other professions.

    It would take a LOT to get me to leave my current school ... I am very attached and I have a die hard attitude about my job. Probably like many teachers. BUT, if I really felt like I had "had it" and my marriage was feeling the burden, I'd consider other teaching options.

    Getting those AP classes probably isn't going to happen ...
     
  34. LynnB

    LynnB Rookie

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    Yes. I have begun the app process for other districts in my area. I live in the community where I work and I love this place. I am good friends with many of my coworkers, so I don't want to leave. That's why I am so angry about my job. I can't do it anymore, and I feel I have no option but to leave if the load isn't lightened (AP classes or not). My husband frequently points out that with the hours I put in, I could make more money in another profession. But teaching is my forte, and I love working with students.

    I did talk to my superintendent yesterday (my principal passed the buck to him), and he informed me that I would get help with my overload, but I have experienced failed commitments from my principal and superintendent in the past. We came up with solutions to a few problems, so I do feel somewhat better . . . I think.
     
  35. mrsleapfrog

    mrsleapfrog Companion

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    I know exactly what you are going through. I taught 3rd grade at a school for five years and decided to leave for a "bigger and better" school district to teach 4th grade. I hated the new school I moved to and couldn't wait to go back to my old school. I called the principal where I taught 3rd grade and she told me that she would have a 2nd grade position open. I took the position and told her through many conversations that if a 3rd grade position came open I would like to move up. She has been leading me to believe that would happen. However, two third grade positions have came open since then and she has declined me both times. Like I said, I taught 3rd grade for five years and 4th grade this year. I told her I still have all of my 3rd grades files and I would like to use them. In her email to me she asked me if 2nd grade was going to be a problem. I am happy to be returning to my old school, but I really wanted to teach 3rd.
     
  36. Missy99

    Missy99 Connoisseur

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    I am a first-year teacher, and I successfully led my self-contained class through the reading, writing AND math TAKS tests. I also signed my contract to return to the same position next year.

    Being new does not mean you aren't any good.
     
  37. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    This is another reason for not having merit pay.

    I work across the hall from a teacher whose husband is a P in the district. She comes in 10 minutes late daily, is late for her duty, is on her cell phone half the day, screams at the kids, and never gets a reprimand.

    LynnB, you're probably too good at what you do, AP kids are generally a better group of kids and easier for a novice teacher to come in and be successful. It takes a skilled, master teacher to motivate and teach the other kids. I've seen it happen often, the teacher who can handle the rough kids gets stuck there, while the dentist's wife, who goes to church with half the school board, gets the AP job.

    When we sign our contract it states, "all other assigned duties required by the principal", that leaves a huge gap which is filled in by whomever.
     
  38. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    I agree with Hoot Owl. When I first started teaching, I had done my student teaching in an incredibly tough public housing school -- with over age students with behavior problems...and because I was "good at it" I almost got pegged there forever. I finally had to go to the director of personnel (who is in charge of which school you are assigned to) and say "I love this district and I want to stay, but just because I am good at working with extremely challenging children does not mean it is want I want to do forever. If the district can't find xyz for me, then I'll be very sad to have to move to another district." (You have to make sure you actually mean it if you are going to say something like this, and I did.)

    I was moved to a much better school and given a grade I desired. It doesn't always work out this way, but if they hadn't done that, I would have looked at other districts.
     
  39. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

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    I am sorry to hear that you are having so much difficulty Lynn. I agree that just because a school can ignore your requests doesn't mean its fair. Playing favourites drives me crazy too.
     
  40. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    I'm getting accolades as a 1st year teacher for the performance of my students. (They did extremely well.)


    That said, there's another 1st year teacher who's classes didn't match the performance of mine but she had 27+ students per class and some very difficult students. I couldn't have done what this woman pulled off.......Only 1 of her 80+ students failed the state Algebra test.

    What's more, she's a 23 year old math major with no formal training in education. This young lady has a true gift, she should be celebrated but she's only getting a hand shake. I've told her what I think of her, but it's not the same.
     

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