Work to contract?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by chebrutta, May 5, 2012.

  1. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    May 5, 2012

    So, my union is calling for all teachers to work to contract for the remainder of the school year. No taking work home, no conferences or meetings beyond our hours, no checking email or entering grades... nothing beyond contracted hours.

    On one hand, I'm excited that the union is FINALLY doing something. It's not precisely in the vein of what teachers want, but it's a step forward.

    On the other hand, I have no idea how to work to contract. I work at least 25 hours beyond my duty time every week. There's absolutely no way I can do everything in 7.5 hours a day. We're in the middle of a big project. I have the essay step coming in next week... 120-ish to grade by the next week. Semester exams are coming up. I have a Field Day to plan and shop for.

    So, if you've done work-to-contract in your district, how do you get everything done without it being unfair to the kids? Also... does this count towards voluntary committees or can I still attend those meetings after school?
     
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  3. TeachOn

    TeachOn Habitué

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    I did it years ago: it was very painful, because of its effect on the kids. I hated it. The worst part was people gossiping about how others, they thought, were taking work home. Ugly. Fortunately, it didn't last too long.
     
  4. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    I've never been in that situation~ but I don't think I could do it. I'm all for fair pay and benefits, but these actions are contrary to what we're called to do as good teachers.
     
  5. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    My district almost did that last year...I think it's stupid. I get it, but you can't tell me when to work. What I do at home is my business.
     
  6. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    We did this a few years ago and it was very difficult. You cannot get everything done. So we did a lot more grading in class.

    Do you have a rubric for you essays. Have students mark up things you want included with different colors. Blue-thesis and topic sentences, red-details or examples, green-figurative language, etc. It won't make it easy, but it might make it a little easier for you to grade more quickly.
     
  7. jwteacher

    jwteacher Cohort

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    May 5, 2012

    For most states, it's the only way to have the impact of a strike without illegally striking (since most teachers work well beyond their contracted hours). It's a very effective way to bring both parties back to the negotiating table.

    While working to contract will have a negative impact on the kids in the short term, quality teachers have the most impact on long-term student achievement. What is in the best interest of kids cannot take place if the district is screwing over the very people who make that happen everyday.
     
  8. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I've been in this situation once before and we may be there again in the fall. The point is that everything is not supposed to get done; as jwteacher said, it's looked upon as a "mini-strike". The students are still receiving instruction and the structure of the school day, but none of the "extras". Teachers are encouraged (and expected) to change the way they do things so that they are working within the expectations of the job action. I hated it (and will hate it if happens again), but if this type of action can prevent a strike, it's worth it.
     
  9. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Work to contract stinks for the kids, but you have to think long term. The continued abuse of teachers will hurt them more in the long run. Things have to change. Districts cannot keep cutting from the teachers and expecting the same results. The public needs to realize that the education of their children depends on the goodwill of teachers willing to make up the difference on their own time and with their own money. They need to realize that it's not the teachers that are hurting their kids, but the districts, who keep tying the hands of the teachers. I can't think of any other job where I would be required to work so much of my own time, outside of my contracted hours, without fair compensation. I cannot think of another job where, in order to just get the basics done, I would have to work so many extra hours. The public needs to realize this.
     
  10. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    I do, and I already have the kids mark up the rough draft using a color-coded system. It's reading the final drafts that I simply won't get done... and it's a summative grade.

    Yes... in Florida, we aren't allowed to strike. This is the closest we can get. I'm just freaking out a little because I don't do things halfway, and I'm strictly prohibited from explaining to the kids why they won't be getting papers back as soon as they are used to.

    For me, the money isn't even the main point (which is what the union is fighting for now). It's the simple fact that my planning time has decreased, I have an additional class to teach (total of seven classes), I have extra paperwork due to the new eval system, and I have meetings scheduled willy-nilly. My May calendar is nothing but meetings scheduled outside of duty hours. Compensation would be great, but until there's either an increase in my prep time/reduction in classes and a change to how conferences are done, my job is very nearly unmanageable.
     
  11. Myrisophilist

    Myrisophilist Habitué

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    I understand the point of working to contract (even though this is the first time I've ever heard that term), but I know I would find it extremely difficult to limit my work. I think I would constantly be asking myself, "Am I hurting my students?"

    Are there alternatives to "working to contract" that other unions have tried?
     
  12. CanukTeach

    CanukTeach Companion

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    Do I ever want to do this? Of course not. No teachers want to do this. But if the union makes this choice it is because all other options have been tried. Unions don't just decide to work to contract. They do this after MONTHS of trying all other less invasive options. It is the last step before a strike or a lock out.
     
  13. LouiseB

    LouiseB Cohort

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    I agree that the students' needs should come first BUT the way things are going in many places, it is necessary for the reality of what teachers are doing way beyond in terms of time and money needs to be shown. Why wouldn't districts want more work for less pay? I think that the districts may have their hands tied but it is time for "outside" people to understand what is really going on for students. As we all know, many of the mandates are put into place (usually by government) WITHOUT the funds to implement. I think work to contract would be extremely difficult to do but I understand why it's happening.
     
  14. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    While it is annoying and an inconvenience, it is better than a strike.
    On a positive side, the parents in your area who think teachers work 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, 9.5 months a year, will begin to realize that that perception is false!
     
  15. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Yes. There are a variety of 'job actions' unions take...it's not fun, but as Canuk explained, it's not a decision made lightly.
     
  16. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    May 5, 2012

    I think this is the whole point of work-to-contract. The district and the public need to realize how unreasonable the expectations of teachers are. Unfortunately, talking about it hasn't worked. We've tried to explain what we do outside of class in order to meet the needs of students. We've tried to tell them how much of our own money we use to make sure their kids get the education they deserve. We've tried to explain to them what a "day in the life" really looks like. They've called us whiny brats. They've called us liars. They've called us glorified babysitters.

    Since talking hasn't worked, it's time to show them. When they ask why their child isn't getting fun and engaging lessons, or why grades haven't been entered in a timely manner, we respond that it takes time to do those things, and our contract only allows us 30 minutes twice a week to do them. We'll get to them when we can. When they ask why our classroom walls are so bare, we can tell them that the district failed to provide the materials. When they ask why their child doesn't have a good selection of books to read in the classroom we can explain that the district didn't pay for them, so they're not there. When they ask why there's no more after school activities, we can explain that our contracts only give us a half hour after the school ended, and we had paperwork, mandated by the district, that we had to complete, so there wasn't enough time to sponsor that great club their child loved so much.

    Is it going to hurt? Yes. But we have to think long term. The short term pain involved will be worth it if the public finally realizes what's really going on in their children's schools and demands that things change.
     
  17. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    May 5, 2012

    I like mmswm's post. I've never seen it done but I think it would be a good way to make people realize what actually goes on. I would have a really hard time with it, but I guess like others said you have to think long term. I guess in order for me to do it since my paperwork is all legal stuff, I'd have to bring the kids to my room since they have their required hours, but just have them doing something by themselves while I did paperwork. Scary thought! We don't have a union- we have a "teacher's association" (they're not allowed to call themselves a union), but as far as I can tell they do squat. I'd love to be part of a district that had a real, active union.
     
  18. KateL

    KateL Habitué

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    The point is that not everything will get done. You will have to skim the essays and give them a letter grade, but no feedback. You'll have to be able to tell within 30 seconds or less what grade to give each essay, to get them graded during school hours. You'll also have to cut way back on the plans for Field Day, probably just using supplies that are already at the school. For the exam, you'll have to recycle an exam from a previous year.

    Are you really not allowed to tell the students what's going on? It seems like getting the students on your side would be a major part of this plan.
     
  19. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    The thing about work-to-rule or work-to-contract is that everyone has to do it for it to be successful. The whole point of the action is to show everyone how much work we do outside our contract hours. It's not an easy thing or a pretty thing, but it can be a necessary thing. If your union asks you to participate, then participate. It might be the only weapon you have in order to get what you need as a last resort.

    You can think of a teacher as an overworked, under-appreciated mom at home. When her family doesn't help out with the dishes, laundry, homework, cooking, and when they start to complain about how she never does enough, she would be wise to simply stop doing those things. She can do just enough, like wash her own clothes, cook her own meals, but nothing more. As those dishes pile up, as the homework goes unfinished, and as the ramen gets eaten day after day, her family will figure things out and will be more appreciative of her and of the things she does for them every single day.
     
  20. lovebeingteach

    lovebeingteach Companion

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    I would be fired here in NC, where we don't have unions.
     
  21. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    That's the beauty of work-to-contract. They can't fire you if you're meeting the terms of the contract. You signed a contract that laid out specific hours. They cannot force you to work one minute past that. Nowhere in your contract does it say that you have to purchase classroom supplies. They can't force you to do so. If your contract specifies a duty free lunch, they can't force you to do anything, including paperwork, meetings or grading.

    Unfortunately, the only way for this tactic to work is if everybody does it. A single teacher trying to take a stand won't work. The impact has to be district wide, at least.

    Personally, I think every single teacher in this country needs to do this, all at the same time. The entire nation needs a wake up call.
     
  22. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Sign me up for that. I'm tired of always hearing about 'how easy it is to be a teacher.'

    My school just sent home Title I surveys. I got one back with a parent complaining that about me- she says requests conferences and I never have time for her. She has canceled on me THREE times. I have taken time off of my other job twice to accommodate her. I will no longer bend over backwards for her- when she asks, I only offer times during the day when I am required to be here, and she doesn't like it. She doesn't work; she lives off of disability. There is only the one child. She should be able to make these times!
     
  23. Reality Check

    Reality Check Habitué

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    I've been through the "work to contract" charade twice and it wasn't effective either time.

    Possibly it's just the area I'm in, but the school districts here aren't interested in a "fair agreement," they're out to bully, take away, and looking for an outright slam-dunk win for their side.

    If the union has done all the preliminary steps that lead up to a "work to contract" situation, I say just move right to a strike. It's all they understand.


    :thumb:
     
  24. lovebeingteach

    lovebeingteach Companion

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    Our contracts do not include specific hours, and very specifically state that we must complete all non-instructional duties as assigned. Buying supplies, of course, is our own choice. But, we are also required to work long hours after school to get all kinds of different things done.
     
  25. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Honestly, I have more respect for myself than to work under such conditions. I would never have signed a contract with those terms unless my salary was high enough to justify the workload.

    The unfortunate thing here, is that the kinds of people who go into teaching are typically to child-centered to stand up for themselves. The districts are counting on that, and get away with their abusive behaviors. Until teachers are willing to stand up and say "We will not be bullied and abused", the districts will never change.

    Will it hurt? Yes. But no revolution has been won without personal pain. The leaders of the work reform movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were bullied, harassed, vilified in the public, and even killed for taking a stand. They were told the same thing that teachers are being told today: there are thousands of people willing to take your place, so just leave. Leave they did. Many of them died in financial ruin. But they made a difference. There are safety standards in our work places, there are fair labor laws in place, and workers have protections that were unheard of before then.

    I guarantee you that if enough teachers had the guts to stand up and say "we won't take this anymore", if enough teachers had the guts to walk away and leave the kids in a lurch, the districts will respond. The districts, however, are counting on you to feel guilty about the kids.

    Unfortunately, in the end, keeping with the status quo is hurting our kids. We have an entire generation of kids who can't think because teachers refused to stand up for what was right. Sure we whine and complain on boards like this one, but what action have we taken to truly make a difference? If you really want to put the kids first, do something drastic. Walk out en masse. Refuse to work under vague and abusive contracts. If you have a contract that spells out your hours, stick to them. Are we going to be vilified even more? Absolutely. At least on the short term. Are people going to say nasty things about us? Undoubtedly. Will it get ugly? Most definitely. But if an entire district, or state, suddenly finds itself without any teachers, the public will stand up and pay attention.

    Years of half-efforts and talking have done nothing. We've seen mandate after mandate come down the pike, drowning us in paperwork and policies that prevent us from doing our jobs. We've seen our pay cut and public perception turn on us. Why do we keep taking it?

    Obviously, this is a hot topic for me. While I didn't leave education for these reasons, this is why I refuse to go back. I will continue to work "for the kids", just not in the public education system. When people tell me that they're so happy I'm around, and willing to make up for what the schools lack, they get an earful, but not about the teachers. I tell them to go to their districts and insist that they give the classrooms back to the teachers. Remove all the silly scripted programs and "test to the death" mentalities. Give their teachers enough planning time during the contracted hours to get everything done, or pay their teachers enough to make the extra 20-30 hours a week worth it. Insist the districts stand up to the federal government with all this high stakes testing nonsense. But I'm just one person. I will make absolutely no difference unless there are others who will take a stand and be vocal about it.
     
  26. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    The sad thing is, we no longer have collective bargaining in Wisconsin, and when we tried to fight for it, it completely divided our state. Hardly anyone stood with teachers, and now most people have a very negative opinion about my profession. I think it would be fair to say that WI is a state that hates teachers.
     
  27. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    May 5, 2012

    We were directly told not to talk to the students about or involve students in union activities. If a parent calls to complain, we are to direct them to the school board to voice their complaints.
     
  28. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    May 5, 2012

    This tactic is most closely akin to a child pouting and doing just enough on their homework to get by and hoping it will effect their teacher. But hey, by all means, go for it.

    I find it hilarious when words like "abuse" and "hate" are tossed around and yet people stay with the profession. Seriously, if you're being abused by your employer get out of the relationship.
     
  29. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Did you bother to read mm's posts, Rockguykev, or did you decide yet again that you already knew what she was going to say so you didn't have to put in the time or effort?

    And what entitles you to decide that, if you don't feel like complaining about your work situation, no one else with the same job title ought to complain either?
     
  30. webmistress

    webmistress Devotee

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    May 5, 2012

    :yeahthat: I can't cosign you enough. :thumb::thumb:

    For those saying they have to work 20 or even 10 extra hours at home so the kids won't suffer, the questions is why? No way on this earth, if education were truly about the kids and truly developmentally appropriate as well as if there was quality over quantity, would any teacher have to work that much at home.
    Of course, I know some hours would have to be done at home in most cases, but there's no way the job should entail working that much time off the clock.

    Teachers, in general, don't stand up for themselves. It's amazing to me.
     
  31. lovebeingteach

    lovebeingteach Companion

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    More power to you. I come from a Union family, as my dad was the head of the Teamsters Union in our district. (The Teamsters don't play.:cool:) I understand the importance of this type of thing. I wish we had a union all the time. There are so many things that are unfair. We are actually required to stay after school 3 days a week for tutoring. (Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday.) Do we get paid? Heck no! We have a new teacher who used to live in Pennsylvania and he is floored. He says that in Pa, the school would have to pay you for such "required" things.

    My husband works for the state of NC as a correctional officer. (There are no unions in the whole state.) He was forced to work 6 twelve hour days of over-time last month. The "higher-ups" didn't like how large his check was going to be and FORCED him to take 2 days off of work unpaid. Yep, things pretty much suck for the employer.
     
  32. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    May 7, 2012

    You're free to complain all you want just understand I'm free to find that complaining ridiculous. Taking your ball and going home appears childish. Disagree all you want but there's a reason teachers (and especially the union) is seen as a net negative by so many people. Using words like "abuse" is ridiculous. I read every post in the thread. I didn't imagine the word abuse, it shows up more than once.
     
  33. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    I didn't say she didn't use the word "abuse", Rockguykev. Once again you've assumed an argument I was not in fact making. But go read mm's next to last paragraph.
     

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