Who gets to teach which courses?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by MathManTim, Feb 26, 2009.

  1. MathManTim

    MathManTim Companion

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    Feb 26, 2009

    For you high school math teachers out there:

    How does your department decide which teacher teaches which courses? Are they assigned, or do you bid for them? Are some more desirable than others? A former teacher of mine once told me, long ago (early '90s), that the most requested course to teach at the school was Algebra II Honors. She cited a combination of well-motivated students and relative ease of material. She also mentioned that some of the math teachers who didn't have at least a minor in the field felt a little intimidated by teaching Pre-Calculus or AP Calculus.

    Do the teachers with the most seniority get to pick which courses to teach, thereby leaving a first-year teacher with the leftovers? Or does the entire department discuss and decide together who teaches what?

    MathManTim
     
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  3. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Feb 26, 2009

    We decide as a department. I ask for requests and assign as needed. I do however, go with seniority and sometimes education in a particular field to make the decisions.
     
  4. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

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    I would say it depends a lot on the principal and their procedure. We get asked what we would like to teach but there is a LOT of politics involved in the process and it is not always fair. Generally I've been pretty happy with my timetable but to some degree I've just been lucky (and I tend to like courses that a lot of other teachers don't like :)
     
  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    This is how it generally works at my school. Most departments are good about making the decision as a group, compromising and negotiating where appropriate. There's at least one department where the DC sort of chooses what he wants first and leaves the "leftovers" to the rest of the teachers in the department. I think that's sort of rude, but it is what it is.
     
  6. chemteach55

    chemteach55 Connoisseur

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    I am in a small school and it is based on several things--senority and what they can do with the schedules.
     
  7. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Really? I get the left overs at my school. My teachers get priority over me. Well, I generally take AP US History every year and then I take my other 2 classes from what is leftover.
     
  8. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    And that's why you're probably a good DC! :)

    In my department (foreign language), things don't usually get very messy. I mean, I'm the only Latin teacher. The guy next door to me is the only French teacher. No one really fights over who gets to teach Latin and French. :lol: The four Spanish teachers have a little more to work out, but they each have their preferences: two don't feel comfortable doing the Español para hispanohablantes course, two prefer upper level, two prefer lower level, only one wants AP, etc. It works out pretty nicely as far as I can tell.
     
  9. Lindsay.Lou

    Lindsay.Lou Companion

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    In my department, we get hired to teach five specific classes. Those change if and only if I agree with another person in my department to "trade" a class or two. That said, nobody has all the good classes and nobody has all the bad classes. It's an even mix.
     
  10. A is for Apple

    A is for Apple New Member

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    It can be very political at my school. The math dept. is freaking out over the new NYS curriculum as NO ONE wants to teach trig/alg II so there's a lot of arguing with that.

    We hardly ever change classes in my department so that's always good.
     
  11. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    At our school the department chair pretty much decides, but the principal has final say. They also take into account teacher requests.

    On the subject of upper level courses, the students in pre-calc, calc, and statistics are really good. Class sizes are typically small as well.

    Unfortunately, the amount of teaching materials available to you really drops off at that level and it's much harder to find resources beyond the text book itself. My Algebra II stockpile came with DVD's, a teacher resource guide for every chapter, and student work books. Our calculus teacher has a teacher's edition text book and nothing else (not even pre-made tests/ quizzes other than what's already in the book.)
     
  12. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Mar 6, 2009

    Hi, and welcome!!!

    I LOVE Algebra II & Trig!!!

    I know I'm in the minority, but I think it's a whole lot better if teachers mix it up after a few years. It's so much better to teach a course if you know what comes before it and what comes after it. I mean REALLY know, the way you learn from teaching the course.

    I bet that some of your geometry teachers would re-think the way they teach the special triangles if they had already taught Algebra II and Trig.

    I'm a huge fan of all teachers eventually teaching all the courses in the department. I think it makes for much more well rounded teachers.
     
  13. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    Same here. I think I was the only person in my department who wasn't thrilled with my schedule this year. haha.

    We typically take requests and it pretty much works out that we can honor them for the most part. We have no tracking at my school except for 2 honors classes in 11th and one in 12th, and we have no electives. So, besides grade level, there isn't much to coordinate. I will say we make sure our strongest teachers are doing 9th and 10th, for testing, and our weakest are doing 11th, since there isn't a whole lot of consequence occurring that year. But that is usually what they request anyway so it all works out.
     
  14. sahsjing

    sahsjing Rookie

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    In public schools, most likely you will be assigned to teach the worst classes as a new teacher. It is so called "by seniority".

    In private schools, most likely you will be assigned to teach the courses based on your qualification.

    That's the primary reason I stay in private schools. As the first year teacher in a private school, I got chance to teach AP Calculus.
     
  15. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I disagree. While it is probably true in some places, it certainly isn't the norm for me or my teacher friends. Most departments I've encountered have been fairly diplomatic about assigning courses to teachers, with a few notable exceptions.
     
  16. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    I totally disagree with this too. We try to give our new teachers pretty manageable preps - both behavior and planning wise. Having said that, I don't think honors or AP are particularly the "best" classes, planning wise.
     
  17. Soccer Dad

    Soccer Dad Cohort

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    It depends on your adminstrators. I know that sounds like a "duh" statement, but it all comes down to what they believe in.

    Some honor seniority. Some have personal agendas. Others base it on your qualifications and experience.

    I work in a mixture of all three scenarios.
     
  18. justfluttering

    justfluttering Rookie

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    I don't know who makes the decisions at my school. But I suspect it is the assistant principal since her current favorite teacher already knows what classes he is teaching and that he has all juniors and seniors. My DC had to go to meet the teacher night and he didn't know what classes he was teaching or what room he would be using. We are told we teach science, then right before school the schedules go out. Not a very good way of doing things really. I have no seniority at all so I got to teach the mandatory 9th grade Earth Science, plus I not popular with the assist principal. 150 9th graders in 5 classes, makes for an interesting day...
     
  19. sahsjing

    sahsjing Rookie

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    "by qualification" doesn't mean to teach the best classes, but means to teach the most appropriate classes.

    Once I observed an AP Calculus class in a public high school, and told the teacher that I wish I could teach Calculus class someday. But the teacher told me, it's by seniority to teach higher level math classes.
     
  20. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I don't think it's Seniority as a political manuever.

    I think the younger kids take material that's easier to understand, at least in math. As a result, that material is easier to explain. It makes perfect sense to me that a newer, inexperienced teacher would get the courses that tend to be easier.

    A teacher with more experience has probably taught the soph and junior courses leading up to those upper level courses. As a result, he or she is better able to draw parallels to material already taught, perhaps in the same terminology. (So, for example, a trig teacher who is teaching the sin cos and tan of 45 degrees would think to reference the special triangles that he or she knows is taught sophomore year.)

    And let's take a look at the age difference. It's HARD to be a 22 year old teacher trying to control a bunch of 18 year olds. They have a harder time seeing you as an authority figure. As a result, it's harder to attain that "controlled but comfortable" feeling that makes a math class just click. I can walk into almost any class in the building, say "OK, guys, let's get started" and they will. A younger teacher might struggle a bit more with the Seniors.
     
  21. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    I agree with Alice. In my school you begin with teaching (in math at least) the lower level courses. Eventually, the DC ensures that everyone teaches up to precalclus.

    However, in History I assign classes based on each teacher's specialty. For example, next year, my son Brendan will be teaching Economics, not because he is my son, or not because he has little experience, but becuase he has a minor in Economics.
     
  22. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    I respectfully disagree. Subject matter wise, a fresh out of college teacher knows calculus far better than a teacher that's spent 5 or 10 years teaching Algebra and then gets promoted. If you've spent a few years away from calculus you're gonna have to go relearn it as you teach it. (My department head has frequently complained of this as he's the one teaching calculus.)

    In addition to subject matter issues, the regular ed Foundations and Algebra courses are very difficult to manage. A green teacher's biggest weakness is classroom management skills and they often get handed the most difficult classes to manage.
     
  23. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sure, that newbie teacher may remember the material better. But the veteran is better able to find the explanation that will reach most of the kids.

    I can't speak for your school. In mine, the new teachers tend to get the "average" classes ( fewer disprutive kids, fewer overachieving grade grubbers) and get to work with an experienced mentor.
     
  24. Catcherman22

    Catcherman22 Companion

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    I'll also disagree with that comment..

    As a new teacher.. my explinations on topics tend to be much better then others in areas because I spent my college years tutoring 1 on 1...

    I am not saying I am better, but I agree that it'd be better for somebody in my position to be teaching algebra 2 and up then teaching algebra 1... both subject matter wise and management wise.
     
  25. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    That's certainly not the case in my district. We've got a new teacher straight out of college with a degree in mathematics (not teaching.)

    She was handed 3 Foundations II classes (block scheduling). With 28 to 33 students per class and multiple IEPs in each class. She has a teaching assistant in only one of the classes.

    Our mentor is a senior chemistry teacher who has time for about 1 meeting per month and 1 observation per semester.

    In short, our human resources are spread widely and it's sink or swim for new teachers.
     
  26. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    That's certainly been my brief experience. As an engineer I lived Algebra II for 15 years. As a teacher I was given 2 Alg II blocks and 1 Alg I block.

    I was very effective in my Alg II blocks and the superintendent of schools congratulated me for the performance of my classes.

    I wasn't as effective in Alg I and it's all because of management issues. Those students were quite a handful and I had a pretty average Alg I class for my school.

    I am pretty happy with the hand I was given. It gave me two good successes and another moderate success that I learned a LOT from.
     
  27. BlaisePascal

    BlaisePascal Rookie

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    Mar 17, 2009

    In our school (all-girls, catholic high school), the DC can make suggestions to administration, but administration ultimately decides. Because I will be going from part-time math & part-time music this year (I know, interesting combination) to full-time math next year, I was worried about what classes I'll be getting. So I met with the principal two months ago, and made my requests directly (DC had no problem with this). I didn't make my requests too specific, because I didn't want to appear too demanding. All I asked that I keep the same math classes I have this year (Honors Algebra I, Honors Precalc), and that I get NO geometry classes next year. I was better with algebra than geometry when I was in school.

    One thing that bothers me is that I still don't know the result of my meeting with the principal, ie. what I'll be teaching next year. Usually by the end of February I would know. But with the way the economy is hitting our parents hard, administration has been slow in planning for next year. I haven't been bugging administration about my concern because certainly they have bigger concerns.


    BP
     
  28. sciencegurl

    sciencegurl Companion

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    I'll answer from a science teacher perspective. We go by "building seniority". So if a teacher from another building transfers in that has more seniority in the district, she or he can't take what she wants. At the building level, seniority trumps all.
     
  29. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    I teach social studies, but our school uses a mix of both seniority and specialty. They try to simply let us teach what our specialization is in (or what we specifically request), but if someone with more seniority wants the course, they will almost always get it.
     

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