Our Specials "break" taken away

Discussion in 'General Education' started by princessbloom, Aug 27, 2013.

  1. princessbloom

    princessbloom Comrade

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    Aug 27, 2013

    Our technical planning time is in the morning before the kids come into class, 8-8:45. Of course, we also use our time to grade papers, answer emails, etc while the kids are at Specials.
    Our principal has taken away this "break" time this year and we now have meetings 5 days a week during Specials with all the different school coaches for the entire duration. (Monday-reading coach, Tuesday-science lab teacher, Wednesday-math coach, etc). School day is over at 3, and we are allowed to leave at 3:25, but who can do that? Between grading papers, answering emails, graphing, setting up for afternoon labs, creating lesson plans (which have to be VERY detailed), who can leave then, ESPECIALLY now that our time has been taken away. I'm overwhelmed. The morale is low at our school and it's only the 7th day. I almost broke down into tears today.

    Has this happened to anyone else at your school? I have friends who are teachers at other schools and they still have their Specials to do as they please.

    I feel like I'm on the verge of a breakdown...it's just too much.
     
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  3. dmbfan36

    dmbfan36 Rookie

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    Do you have a contract outlining prep time and what it can be used for?

    I'm sorry this is happening. :sorry:
     
  4. princessbloom

    princessbloom Comrade

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    We don't currently have a cta rep at our school, as the one we had left this year. As far as I KNOW they are free to take this time because it's not our planning time. :(
    They took away our morning duty so they could contractually take our Specials.
     
  5. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    So you're still getting time from 8-8:45 every day or that's going away too? I teach HS and we get one 44 minute prep period per day. We are expected to plan, grade, contact parents, etc... We also have one 30 minute lunch.
     
  6. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    What does your contract say about planning time and use of specials time?
     
  7. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Aug 27, 2013

    So do you still get a planning period and this Specials was just extra time? Or are you working from 8:45 to 3 pm with no break?

    Contact your Union. Personally, I do not know how teachers survive in districts with weak/no Union representative. Good luck to you!
     
  8. princessbloom

    princessbloom Comrade

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    We have 23 minutes for lunch, and still have our 8-8:45 time but are required to have team meetings and attend IEP/504/EP (etc) meetings during that time too, which means we're being pulled away from that too.

    I'm thinking of saying no to those meetings from now on.
     
  9. princessbloom

    princessbloom Comrade

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    We have no breaks from 8:45-3:25, except lunch, if you want to call it that.

    cza, I've been trying to find out the contract information. Unfortunately, it's my understanding they can take it if they want. Some people in my school are looking into it.
     
  10. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Tbh, it sounds like most high schools I know. We are expected to attend meetings, plan, grade, contact parents, etc... during our prep time. If my prep time was first period (which some teachers do have), I'd go from 8:44-11:35 with no break and then from 12:05-3 with no break. I have an IEP meeting on Friday actually that I will miss part of a class and part of my prep for. Our P is VERY great at trying not to take our prep time with meetings but sometimes it has to be done.
     
  11. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    Aug 27, 2013

    I once worked at a school where we had meetings during every planning and specials time, so we had zero time to do grades, emails, etc. They called the meetings with the specialists "planning," and put them in that block, and the specials block was for plc's, professional development, data analysis, etc.
     
  12. princessbloom

    princessbloom Comrade

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    agdamity, that sounds about where we're at!

    dgp, I don't see how anyone does it. I'm drowning!
     
  13. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    We have a 50 minute lunch as it stands for the last 8 years. However, contractually, 20 or 30 minutes of that time is planning. At times teachers at my school start getting uppity about after school duties going over contracted time, I always tell them to think it through carefully, we could all lose that 20-30 planning time as part of our lunch at the drop of a dime.
     
  14. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Honestly, I've never known anything different! I come in between 7-7:15 (class starts at 8) and rarely do anything after school. I rarely take work home. I make use of spare time, like when kids are doing the warm-up, I check homework.
     
  15. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Honestly, it sounds like you had a pretty sweet deal so I'm not surprised it's being taken away. You had two plannings, basically. I know you said your actual morning planning is sometimes taken up with IEP meetings and such, but that's how our planning has always been.
     
  16. Curiouscat

    Curiouscat Comrade

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    I feel your pain. Our two special times are used for meeting as a grade level, analyzing data, and writing five step improvement plans. They call this planning, but we are not really planning for the entire week. We are only planning intervention and enrichment which entails only one tiny part of our day.

    We used to have twenty minutes in the morning before the students were released into the classrooms. That time is now gone. We have students trickling in for 30 minutes before school officially starts.

    Our afternoon planning time is now eaten up by meetings as well.

    I wish I had some advice, but I don't! I am sending you hugs:hugs:
     
  17. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    Aug 27, 2013

    I think it's ridiculous that your planning time is before the kids show up. I've always felt like planning should come in the middle of the day for a break from the kids. Do other people have that time as their planning too?

    I'm in high school and I sometimes have meetings during my planning period, but I can spend most of my time working on grading, creating assignments, lesson planning, emailing parents, etc. I also have a study hall period, which is kind of like another planning for me, so I don't mind my planning being taken up by meetings if necessary...but only occasionally. But your situation is obviously different...
     
  18. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    Aug 27, 2013

    Our planning time is before the students come in and after they leave although we can leave earlier if we want (if we finish early or want to do things at home, etc.). I *MIGHT* get planning time during 1 special a week if I'm super lucky. I eat lunch with my students also so no time there. I am pretty used to it by now (after 2 years) so I can usually get things done efficiently when I have time. I rarely bring home work.
     
  19. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Aug 27, 2013

    Wow, I can see why you are in tears. I haven't had this happen to me, and if I did I would not be happy about it at all.

    Somehow you have to have someone in your school have a talk with your P. My experience with P's is that most appreciate a one on one talk, and get very defensive if a group of teachers talks with them. You may have to convince her that while having coaches can be good, too much of it takes away the needed planning time to create effective lessons. Let her know that you want to make sure you have time to prepare effective lessons to improve student proficiency, student growth, and student test scores.

    The right person has to talk with the P. Whether you are that person or if it should be someone else, is up to you to decide. I am so sorry you are going through this. It really is confusing. :confused:
     
  20. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    It sounds like you had been given a perk for a long time and it finally got taken away. It stinks, yes, but....I don't think you have it worse than most teachers. I can definitely understand that you're upset. I would be too.

    If I were in your position, I'd just start coming into school a little earlier than I normally did. You can get that time back pretty quickly.
     
  21. RadiantBerg

    RadiantBerg Cohort

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    Aug 27, 2013

    Do you still have a duty free lunch?

    If so, then I don't feel bad at all. Lots of teachers at my school have 1st period prep so that's a similar situation to you.

    If you don't have a duty free lunch, then I feel bad for you.
     
  22. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    I guess I don't really consider planning time before the students arrive to be a perk.
     
  23. RadiantBerg

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    No one said that was a perk. That's the standard prep time. The perk was the extra planning time during specials.
     
  24. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    The perk was having an extra "break" in the middle of the day, not mandated by the contract.

    It really shouldn't matter when planning time is scheduled. At the high school level, lots of teachers have first period planning, which means that they have to do their stuff before they see students. How is that any worse than last period planning? It's the same amount of time and it should be used for exactly the same purpose.
     
  25. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    If it was planning at 6:30 or so in the morning I could see where it wouldn't be considered a perk...but having two plannings, one in the morning from 8:00 to 8:45 (which is far later than schools start around here) and one during specials...seems like a great situation.

    I'd still be frustrated that the second planning was taken, but I think her situation now is more typical in my experience.
     
  26. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    I think it's because most people are in school, with the kids, for 7 hours a day (right?), so if they don't get a planning while the kids are there, they're working longer than teachers who get a planning during the day.

    I think first period planning is a different situation. Students are still in school, so it's part of the 7 hours a day. Unless the OP's school day is shorter, I just think it's an easy way for admin to give teachers a prep period without really having to do so. I'm not sure, but I feel like the OP's school ends later than most since it starts so early.

    I could see this happen at the high school level. High schools normally start earlier, but would you be ok with schools giving teachers their prep from 2:30-3:30 after school and cutting their prep during the day to add another class or have a meeting? It's still a reasonable time, but I don't think it's acceptable.
     
  27. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    It happens all the time. Sometimes "worse" things happen, too. My school took away all the extra padding before and after school, so our teacher contract time is almost identical to the student school day, plus about 5 minutes on either side. We get a planning period during the day, but we are regularly expected to attend professional development trainings during that time. It's not ideal, and I don't love it, but it's part of my job. When it happens is irrelevant. Planning time isn't meant to be a "break". It's meant to be used for planning, grading, and professional development. Those things should be able to be done at any time during the day.

    Although I can understand being upset about the change (I would be too, at least for a little while), I'm not seeing anything egregious or abusive or anything like that here. Maybe I'm missing something.
     
  28. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    Wait, I just read that the OP's school day is over at 3. I think it's fine then because it seems like a shorter school day than most.
     
  29. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    I do understand occasional meetings during planning time, but I don't think it's ok for schools to take up most prep periods with meetings. I don't think planning is time for a break, but I do think it's time for teachers to grade and plan lessons. I don't think having to attend professional development trainings during planning is abusive, but I don't think it's acceptable if it happens often. But I do understand what you're saying. :)

    At the high school level, I think it's hard to schedule meetings during prep periods just because a lot of teachers that need to be at the meeting are teaching then.
     
  30. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    We get 30 minutes of planning time per day. That's if we can get our kids to specials on time and none of them get sent back because of behavior. Meetings are either scheduled during that half hour or outside of contract time.
     
  31. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    To be honest, planning time at the elementary level is very rare where I am, so this sounds pretty normal to me. In both of my student teaching placements (two different districts), my CTs had no planning time - literally none - because there were no specials. They also had duties (recess, parking lot, before school, etc). In one district, they had duty 7 out of every 8 weeks.

    I am at a charter and I get far more than my CTs got. I have two 30 minute blocks where I can plan but must remain in the room (music and art). We also have PE twice a week for 50 minutes, but at least one and sometimes both of those are used for grade level meetings, etc. I've been thrilled to have at least an hour a week, even with the kids in the room. That's more than I ever had during student teaching.

    This is southern CA, by the way.

    I'm not trying to sound calloused, just to share that your experience isn't THAT abnormal. It would be hard to have that taken away though; I can definitely understand that. :(
     
  32. FarFromHome

    FarFromHome Connoisseur

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    Our planning is after the students have gone home. When I was in the regular classroom I was able to plan during specials, but our specials are on a rotation schedule and don't happen every day (not even every week). When I was in Idaho our specials time was our planning period, but we would still sometimes have to go to IEP meetings or do other things during that time.

    It can definitely be hard to adjust if that time gets taken away from you!
     
  33. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Our school runs 8-3. It sounds like the OP is there for a normal length of time.
     
  34. princessbloom

    princessbloom Comrade

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    It seems this is a little more typical than I thought. Sad.

    Kids are in school from 8:45 to 3:00. Our workday is from 8 to 3:25. I don't count the last 25 minutes of the day as any productive time for me because by the time we get done with afternoon duties it's about 3:20. Not that I ever leave at that time....

    I get to work ever day at 7am just to try to get things done and in order.
    I dislike the fact that all the extra time we spend is an expectation. I've been teaching for a few years and have always done this, but it's made me more cognizant of it now that we have Specials taken away. What do they want from us?

    I do all the extra for the kids, because they are the ones who would suffer and this isn't their fault. They deserve my time of planning to help them be successful. Really though, it's too much!

    I'm also 7 months pregnant and trying to figure out how I'm going to do all of this with a newborn, so that is partly where this is coming from. :)
     
  35. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    I do realize that long without a break is difficult on anyone--even with a good class. Specials are nice to just catch your breath. I do agree it is good for the children.

    8:45-3:00? Wow, that is a short day. We are more than an hour a day longer than that, and even the schools who have shorter days, are still at least 30 minutes longer than that.

    While I know that many teachers have it tougher than you, I still feel for your situation. Your school could give teachers planning time, and it chooses not to do it. That is different to me than a school that simply can't afford to get PE, music, and art teachers. I hope that somehow some of those "coaching" days will turn into planning times for you. I think it would be a positive thing.
     
  36. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    It seems like you might be teaching in a public school in California because you said CTA. If you are in California the state labor law requires 30 minutes duty free lunch. It also requires 10 minute breaks every four hours. If you are not receiving that you have a fight available.

    You say you have no rep this year and for years have had the prep time. My guess is your admin is breaking contract right and left since he/she figures you all won't do anything about it (making hay while the sun shines). I would advise if you want it to be solved either become or convince someone else to be union rep-if that won't happen then you could actually read your contract and go speak with the CTA executive or union president for your association.
     
  37. kellzy

    kellzy Comrade

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    Are you unionized? If you are, get in touch with your union. They'll have a meltdown...something similar happened in a few of our schools last year. The union found out very quickly and those policies lasted all of a week before they were gone.
    Good luck to you.
     
  38. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    My planning time is 2:10-2:45. I go from 7:40 to 2:10 with no break. It stinks, but that's the way the schedule fell. At least twice a week we have meetings during that time. I just take it as part of the job. Personally I like that its that late because I don't have a breaking instructional time. We rotate, so it was easier not to have to adjust our rotation schedule.
     
  39. princessbloom

    princessbloom Comrade

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    I'm in Florida.
    I'm not a member of CTA but have heard I can call them for advice. Surely, someone at my school has called them but I've asked around and can't find anyone who has. Everyone is really upset so it surprises me. Maybe I'm just not hearing of anyone.

    We're all so behind on our paperwork...and I'm exhausted.

    I have a meeting tomorrow morning (my technical "planning" time) so I guess I wont' get ANY kind of break/planning until the kids leave at 3. (Or my 23 minute lunch...) The meeting is my fault, and something I requested, because I really need to get some information about an autistic kid I have. I've been trying to talk with someone about him for 2 weeks but we can't coordinate schedules with the way things are now, so morning is the only time I have. :(
     
  40. MsMar

    MsMar Fanatic

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    Last year we had our during the day prep time taken away, when the students went to specials we went with them. Our prep time was the half hour before students arrive. And yes, it stunk. And yes, this went against our contract. We grieved it and it's still waiting to be heard on, a year later. We were able to stop around April and got our specials prep time back.

    Caesar, to me having the prep before the elementary students get there is not the same as first period prep. It would be the same as saying to the high school teachers "You'll now teach every period other than lunch and we want you to arrive 30 min before period 1 and that's your prep. First period begins at 7:30, your prep is 7:00 to 7:30. The prep you used to have during period 3 is no longer a prep to do your own work during, it's for meetings. The only time you have for planning/grading is your 7:00 to 7:30 prep before first period, and sometimes you'll have meetings then too."
     
  41. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    That happens at my school all the time. Our prep period is regularly (several times per week) "taken away" for meetings and professional development trainings. We don't even have time before school, so we are literally teaching and in meetings every period, all day, without a break except for a 30-min lunch.

    I certainly understand that we would all like more prep time and that we deserve it. Even so, if the contract doesn't stipulate that time, then that's that. I would recommend that everyone join their union and use your voice in the form of a vote, at least in states with unions. It's the only way.
     

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