Rainy Days and Meetings Always Get Me Down

Besides large classes in Kent, KEA members are also very concerned about how meetings have taken time away from students. Some schools are more impacted by this issue than others.  KEA recognizes and supports the importance of its members attending legally required meetings or occasional meetings by the Administration, but we believe that reasonable limits should be placed on the number and duration of meetings.  Please comment on this post with examples of meetings gone bad.

As with the previous post on Class Size, all comments should be directly related to the topic.  KEA members can help out by  providing examples of out-of-control meetings.  Nobody likes meetings, but we believe things in Kent go beyond simply being a nuisance.  We are mainly talking about mandatory meetings that are unrelated to a person’s job, meetings that take away from time to help students, etc.  Any comments that are off topic will be deleted!

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16 Responses to “Rainy Days and Meetings Always Get Me Down”

  1. Len Dawson Says:

    If you don’t like rainy days you probably should move to a different area of the world. I love rainy days – being in Kent is perfect.

    Honestly, the meetings aspect isn’t that bad where I teach. Our administration has worked pretty well at making it not a burden in our high school. They are even having less this year (though they are changing the previous system where we had the option of going to staff meetings before or after school to JUST after school and I’m not a fan of that at all).

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      Our principal respects us as professionals enough to put things in memos and emails. We are expected to read them, and follows up with us if we don’t. Unfortunately, not every administrator is as reasonable.

    • Resolute Says:

      This was a difficult point for me as well since our principal hates meetings as much as we do. She keeps staff meetings to twice a month, once a month for committees we serve on and once a month to study our school model as a staff. But when I talk to other teachers who don’t have it as good as we seem to, I can’t help but think that it is an unacceptable practice. We are all teachers and we all deserve to be in situations where we are treated as professionals.

  2. Frustrated and Stressed Says:

    In addition to the many meetings, either before school or after school, in our elementary school we have another issue that takes away teachers’ precious time. We, in our building, have been fighting this issue for years, to no avail. This issue is playground/bus duties. We have a schedule that now has teachers doing fifteen minutes of playground duty before school for a week or fifteen minutes of bus duty after school for a week. This comes around every other week. Until just recently, we were doing duty before AND after school, every day for a week. This came around every four weeks. Now that we split the two duties we can count on having one or the other duty every other week. During these weeks of duty, we still have all the required meetings to work around. Needless to say, class preparation or paper grading is done on our own time. Bottom line, we have one week off to have our before and after school time for meetings or finally, to use for class preparation, catching up on phone calls or emails, or meeting with parents or students.

    There seems to be no one else but the “teachers” that have the “time” to do these duties. Since that is part of the teachers’ paid workday, add that their list of daily educational requirements.

    So, when teachers say we didn’t have “time” to reply to your email or return your phone call or give you a personal update on your child’s progress this week, we honestly meant it.

    • Sixthgradeteach Says:

      Thank you for addressing playground/bus duties! This has been an ongoing issue that needs to be looked at. Other districts seem to be able to find ways around having teachers do these duties. Why can’t Kent? It seems like a very simple way to add 100 minutes a week every other week, in my case, of teacher preperation, conferencing, helping students, etc. Wouldn’t it cost less to pay a classified person rather than a certificated teacher? Just a thought.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Please add the word “to” in the second paragraph before the word “their”. Thank you.

  4. kmteacher Says:

    this is not a huge issue for most of us at km. we love our building administrative team. they treat us with respect, professionalism, and integrity. if only central admin would get a clue from them, this strike would never have happened. for the most part, we are striking in support of our colleagues who are not so fortunate.

    • Resolute Says:

      AMEN! I teach at an elementary school with an amazing principal and didn’t realize half these issues existed. I still feel the need to stand up with my colleagues but it makes me sad to go against such an amazing leader as we are blessed to have.

  5. In Our School Says:

    Last year, I had to attend IEP meetings for 4 students. Each meeting took 1.5 to 2 hours each. I would have at least 1 IEP meeting per month because of the timeline of the IEP, each being different for each student. These IEP meetings would often start around 4 p.m. because the parents could not get off work until then! Doesn’t sound bad to the laymen out there, but remember, these were just my IEP meetings. Then, every week I would have 2 staff meetings (70+ minutes long–because our principal does not respect our contract lang. regarding meetings), LT meetings, grade level meetings, committee meetings, parent meetings (before and after school when asked), and parent phone conferences. My meetings would total an average of 9 hours per week. These meetings are time spent outside my regular teaching time with kids.

    I plan to NOT join a committee this year since that is NOT required by contract. Such disrespect of my profession by KSD has prompted such a decision.

  6. darla Says:

    http://theoutpost.wordpress.com/2009/09/05/in-which-my-plans-changed/

    note: parents also were invited to talk with barios and vargas

  7. Donna Boyer Says:

    Shame on the Kent School District and its authoritarian superintendent for trying to stop Kent teachers from exercising their free speech rights. The judge and the district administration should both be given copy of the Bill of Rights. WEA should appeal the judge’s decision so that superintendents around the state don’t feel that they can engage in prior restraint of free speech. The Kent teachers deserve more! I support the right of the Kent Teachers to teach school. They should be treated like professionals. The superintendent needs to look for a new job!

    • In Our School Says:

      Thank you! That was well said. Many parents/teachers I’ve talked to along the rally line, want Dr. Vargas out, as well as Chuck Lind, general counsel for KSD!

    • Lech Walesa Says:

      You are free to exercise your “free speech” rights all you want. But you also signed a contract with KSD to perform a service. They are well within their rights to expect you to honor that contract.

  8. looking at the long-term picture Says:

    Workload is an issue in Kent but stipulating the number of meetings is a shortsighted solution. Constant changes in curriculum and the significant needs of our students put teachers in an overwhelming position. As professionals, we need to meet together because our combined expertise is powerful.

    If the meetings are too frequent, deal with their purpose and effectiveness – don’t stipulate how many of these ineffective meetings you have. In its place, promote protocols that produce vision, exchange of effective teaching strategies, and targeted results. Instead of asking for fewer meetings, we should be asking for time within our student workday to tackle the range of student performance and versatile approaches to learning.

    Finding time to meet is tough. One of my previous principals said, “When explaining the teaching profession to those outside of education I likened it to what a lawyer might be facing. You are going to be in court for five hours today. You need to be ready to present. Since the judge needs to meet with the attorneys before the trial begins, you only have half an hour to prepare before opening arguments begin.” At the elementary level we have half an hour a day for planning. Simply put, we need more time during our workday to deal with the workload placed upon us. It isn’t that we aren’t willing to work hard. We are working hard. The issue is that we want to do our very best and being well prepared is essential.

    The union has proposed increasing the number of early release days. One could make the argument that decreasing our time with students defeats the goal of helping students, but focused, well-researched interventions make much more of a difference than haphazard attempts by an overstressed workforce. To have an effective approach, we need to have buy in, and be willing to work together with staff, parents, and administration. We need to suspend our own “to do list” and instead consider the common good of how we respond to students as an entire school. This means these early release days shouldn’t be half district directed and half teacher directed. (If it were teacher directed time, I personally wouldn’t be choosing to meet. I would be scoring papers, planning lessons, and gathering supplies.) All of that is part of what we do, but in good faith toward what we really want for our kids we need to allow for structured meetings – times together when we investigate, learn, and apply methods which make a difference for our schools as a whole. We ourselves know the importance of being life-long learners – that is one of the reasons we became teachers.

    Several surrounding districts have weekly early release days so that staff has time to meet. KSD seems to want to continue to study the issue. K-12 education is the only profession that I can think of that doesn’t provide time within the workday for job related training. (Strange since education is the sole purpose of our profession and yet isn’t intentionally scheduled into our day.)

    Decreasing the student week wouldn’t cost the district any money, it would decrease the number of meetings we have before and after school, would slightly lengthen the student day (due to state requirements), and if done well could create a great place to be for both students and teachers – a place with a common vision, and the ability to tackle issues seen in the data “head on” with honesty and support. This productive and professional work environment does put kids first and it also respects that I have a family and life to live outside of my devotion to education. This is a long-term solution that deals with the real issue – the need for effective meetings.

  9. KentParent Says:

    If I understand correctly, “lookingathelong-term picture” is suggesting that KSD and KEA consider having a weekly early release day so that teachers have time for meetings built-in to their day. I can’t speak for other parents but I personally would be fine w/ it. I do understand though that this could create a financial burden on some parents who would be forced to pay for after-school care on those days, so maybe such a proposal wouldn’t be very popular. The feasibility of such a plan, from the parents’ standpoint, would need to be researched. In any case, I believe that support of the union by parents is fragile right now and not returning to work tomorrow will hurt your cause. On this site and at rallies, you have seen a lot of support but I see a mix of support and disgust on local news forums. Class sizes and excessive meeting concerns are totally legit issues but I think you need more parent “buy in” to make the changes happen. If you alienate parents by continuing to strike, you lessen your hope for their support. As a parent, I’m frustrated that these concerns are even tied-in with your contracts. You have valid concerns that must be addressed but connecting them w/ contract renewal (while effective in getting everyone’s attention) may not be the most effective route for effecting means for real change. As a side note, I have seen comments on here from teachers that make it seem as though at least some of you feel that the union is leading your actions rather than giving you facts, listening to you, summarizing what the majority thinks, and acting on that (in other words, representing you). Please give careful thought at tonight’s meeting and use your own best judgment about how to proceed. Thank you.

  10. veteranteacher Says:

    “Looking at the long-term picture”,
    You have a great idea and are right on the button about what is needed. Would you send your suggestions to KSD? I don’t know if they read this blog, but your proposal deserves a bigger forum. It addresses the meeting-outside-the-workday issue while yet allowing for the professional collaboration that is necessary to provide for the needs of our students.
    Thank you for a thoughtful proposal!

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