Note: It appears that this may be an ongoing theme1
We’re in the middle of state testing. To lessen the stress on the kids, it’s spread out over 6 days, with a two hour test on each day, and 3 half hour periods of what is effectively goof off time. The kids get out at lunchtime, while the teachers stick around for professional development.
On todays agenda was a union meeting, followed by a department meeting with updates from and input to the ongoing reform panel.
Issues that arose during the union meeting were a) political action about the state funding cuts (good – i’m making the advised phone call today), b) the usual rant about fat cats in the main office with secretaries and how we managed to preserve our health benefits but they’re not giving us our deserved cot of living increases (myopic and typical, but necessary, i suppose) c) how we’re not treated as real professionals (heh) and d) how we’re going to fight to make sure that next years 6th graders are taught at this school, rather than at the feeder elementary schools who are trying to keep them to boost their own populations. (Really? This is really an issue? The teachers aren’t losing their jobs – they’ll just have to work at a school that’s half a mile away? How is this professional?)
I manage to keep my mouth shut.
Then in the department meetings:
The rep from the safety and discipline group suggested that teachers may be offered the opportunity to be paid to help supervise the common areas during lunch and nutrition. Immediately there is a counter argument that a teacher’s place is in the classroom, and that our contract (you probably see where this is going) stipulated that not only couldn’t we be required to do this, but that it couldn’t even be offered as an option.
Then the curriculum rep announced that money might be available if teachers wanted to extend common planning (for grade level by department) outside of school hours. The same objection was raised.
Then, the issue of our district wide testing came up. These are moderately low stakes tests, deliberately designed to mimic the state tests in format, but with rapid and detailed results (we get breakdowns by standard, by question, by class, and by student, among others within a week and usually three days of administering the test.) Some of us find these tests useful, not only for the feedback, but as short term targets when designing our yearlong schedule. the number of tests was recently dropped from four to three, leaving one quarters worth of instruction without this goalpost. When it was suggested that we might want to reinstitute the fourth test (not by the rep, but another teacher) there was once again a voice that called out: “But the union negotiated that we’d only have to do 3 tests…”
At about this point I blurted out, loudly:
“Hasn’t the union screwed2 up enough things already? We’re trying to improve the school here!”
Shortly thereafter I left the meeting because I realized that I’d ceased to be a useful participant.
1 Yes, they know I’m blogging.
2 I think I said “screwed”. I hope I said “screwed”. It’s certainly not the word I was thinking…