First of all, I don
Add Ervingson, Here’s a few questions: I seldom see any cars in the parking lot when i drive by the middle school and Elementary school near my house around 4pm. What do teachers do when their kids are at lunch, phys ed, music, art, comp lab(for Elementary teachers)? Do middle School teachers teach class all day or do they get a break(back in my day, all teachers had time off during the school day)? How much planning does an elementary teacher need? Especially one that’s been in the system at least a year. Are our Middle school kids so bad we need a dean for each grade? If so, then why do we need asst principals at the middle school? Yet, we don’t need deans in High School(Scratching my head….). Also confusing, teachers don’t get paid for snow days? Oh, and why do teachers seem to only complain to the public about not getting raises? Doesn’t Hatrick make the budget? He’s had more then enough time to get rid of some of those high priced chiefs within LCPS. Why does the school system spend money on marketing material? Or send home 20+ papers(some in spanish) with each kid on the first day of school? Another point teachers seem to miss, is there are people that feel the good ones do deserve a raise, however when you read articles and/or posts from teachers trying to compare their work with others, it comes off rather rude, which then makes me write to the BOS to complain about my property taxes going up again(20th straight year since I’ve lived in Loudoun).. Looking back, those purchasing all those smart boards wasn’t a smart idea.
@See ya Irv…Erv is concerned that the teachers in his school are not collaborating effectively with him or the county. I
Bet we won’t see Irv teaching next year as Dr. Hatrick terminates his contract at the end of this year. No one is allowed to speak out against the all knowing Hatrick. Really a shame because this is an example of someone who cares about what happens in their school and soon they will pay for going public with their concerns Thanks also to those teachers who do work past four. I think the 1 in 15 statement of teachers who actually stay past 4 is accurate and sad. Most who left are probably proud members of the LEA guaranteed.
Thank you for your response Erv. I was NOT expressing disatisfaction with our meetings and paperwork. I meant that we have enough and you seemed to be advocating for more b/c you were disappointed that teachers didn’t show up on a snow day when you did. Many people in the county and Dave Dickingson in particular continue to portray teachers as having this cushy job without really understanding the time and effort that goes into teaching, planning, collaborating. LCPS already has guidelines and timelines for observations, and collaboration with collegues. As I said I know the middle schools require team planning and student collaboration as part of common planning time. At the elementary school collaboration happens all day long. Teachers are NOT sequestered away. They talk to their same grade collegues and resource teachers all day long. They meet before school and after school as well. Our goals are our lesson plans (shared). We give feedback to one another on how things went, keep the lessons, change them, tweak them whatever. I also hold leadership positions and voluteer for our school’s community service club for students and SOL practice club and serve as an academic contact for our school. That’s just this year. So my point is…I don’t know what school you are in but in many schools what you wish was happening is happening. The “customers” at my school seem very satisfied, are very supportive and continue to be enraged at the negativity surrounding teachers of late. Letters such as yours only gave ammo to those (such as Dave Dickingson) who believe we have a “sweet” set-up because we only work 7 hours a day for nine months and get to slack off on snow days to boot. Technology has improved collabortion (which I am a big believer in as well and would be unhappy if I taught in the situation you describe). Implying that we HAVE to meet face to face to accomplish anything is bogus. My husband works in the “real” world and for all the shanigans that go on in his job…I’ll take mine. I don’t know why you have such a hard time meeting with the teachers in which you share common students. I don’t know you or your personality in school, but if you come across the way you do in your letters, that may have something to do with it.
Add Ervingson, to answer your question about taking the time to write, I see it as an investment. It is not something that takes away from my other job duties, but complements and reinforces them. It takes me just 20-25 minutes to write a letter or post; the writing results from always assessing my performance and the processes in which I partcipate, so the writing is just a crystalization. The writing activity also assists me in sharpening my thoughts or changing them; it also elicits responses of a type lacking from the normal work day.
Add Ervingson asks an important question,
Boo Hoo-it’s not a perk. It’s daycare open to the public-called CASA at the elementary schools. Yes, if teachers had to go into work on a snow day they’d have to find daycare for their school aged children, but just clearing up the other assumption. Teachers do not get childcare perks.
“The affordable programs offered at school sites (and used by many employees) are closed when schools are closed.”
Dave’s Neighbor - Are you serious that LCPS also offers childcare programs for their employees? That’s another secret perk few in the private sector get. Consider yourself very lucky.
As far as childcare arrangements on inclement weather days, why don’t you ask some of the thousands of working parents who have to deal with that an average of 10 times a year! You may have to use a leave day, just like many of them are forced to do.
Just checking in while I take a break from my Sunday work schedule. I will second what Add Ervingson & teachermom have to say. Yes, my administration has a regular schedule for observing everyone in the school; some observations are informal and some are formal. Yes, we have professional development activities at faculty meetings. Yes, we observe each other and accomplish this during our planning period. A modified bell schedule is not in place. I met with my principal for 30 minutes following my recent observation; again completed on my planning time. And yes, I do think we have an excellent administration in place.
Just wondering Erv
I am so sorry that you don’t work in a school where teachers can work together professionally and can collaborate. I am happy you were able to go to work on the “snow” day.. I could not, I had to watch my children. BUT….I did WORK! I did contact the other teachers I work with, I did do some grading, I did plan for lessons, I did e-mail several parents. What I did NOT do was go to my classroom and freeze (as I do on a regular basis). I worked on every snow day we have had, I work nearly every weekend, I work nearly every evening. I do not have to be “in the building” to work with my co-workers. Do you make it a point to actually speak to the other teachers on your team or are you part of the problem at your school? Maybe you should be making more of an effort to change the situation at your school instead of complaining about it. I recognize that elementary schools maybe different than middle or high schools but I am quite sure that you and your administration can work out some sort of plan.
Your news is good news. I was using the snow day to make a point; my focus is on a regular business day model rife with collaboration.
I do realize that each school can be different, so I am interested in understanding how your school has modified schedules and relationships so others can investigate your model and consider adoption and adaption. What has been done that enables staff to observe each other in your classrooms and then coach one another daily? Do your administrators use a weekly or monthly rotation of classroom visits for evaluation and feedback? How long do they devote to each observation? What and how often do they revise individual and team goals, and what incentives do they employ to motivate, guide, and reward? Has your administration increased the amount of the required professional development, and how is it now spread throughout the year? What kind of feedback do you receive on attainment (or lack) of goals, and have you seen a greater emphasis on measurable goals over measurement of effort?
This would be impressive to accomplish within the confines of the ubiquitous bell schedules of public schools, and very important to share. How have the changes impacted student classroom time? Has this had a positive impact on the teacher turnover challenge? How long has your model been in place, and has anyone summarized its benefits and challenges.
Having worked in multiple LCPS schools as a substitute, intern and teacher, I have realized that no two schools are the same. Each school reflects the focus of its administration. My current school and department emphasize collaboration. We work together on regular days and via technology on weekends and snow days.
I am also a parent of students in LCPS; so Erv & Dave, where do you suggest I find on-demand childcare that will allow me to attend these impromtu collaboration days during inclement weather? The affordable programs offered at school sites (and used by many employees) are closed when schools are closed.
I was part of a private school a few years ago that implemented a professional day for teachers on the snow days. And yes there was pushback from the teachers who drove a good distance on bad roads and in dangerous conditions. However, I can’t over-emphasize the benefit of being in these collaborative meetings (held on whatever day makes sense). The discussions and presentations by faculty were more than informative, they were motivating—and the basis of a good deal of creativity.
Our current model of education seems to be derived from the Industrial Revolution when workers were needed for factories… and the schools were built and scheduled in much the same way as a factory assembly line. We need a new, more creative model.
And, a final note: if online interaction and lack of face to face meetings are not sufficient for good teacher training, why does our SB promote online classes for summer school? A travesty!
I believe it is also important to remember that the main roads being cleared does not mean all teachers and staff can report to work. Many of us commute in from long distances and had unsafe conditions between our houses and our work buildings on Friday.
I also wonder (but do not know the details) of the money LCPS saves by closing the school buildings for snow days. How much more would we pay for heating every school building when a good portion of the roughly 200 teachers/staff would not be able to make it to work? How many more plows would we need to make sure the parking lots are cleared and that the entrances to the building are free from ice and snow?
I don’t sense that it is the snow days that need to be addressed, but the attitudes/practices as a whole. If many of the teachers are spending their time doing solitary work on the already scheduled work days then why would a snow day work day be any different?
I could be mistaken, but weren’t the teachers instructed/encouraged by the LEA to leave work at the end of their shift? That could account for the lack of teachers in the building after 4pm every day.
It’s obvious LCPS Teacher too values collaboration in much the same sense the writer is presenting it, and would probably appreciate it if the school system built it into the regular achool day schedule. That way he or she wouldn’t have to look for opportunities to interact with other staff on the margins of the workday. I agree with Erv for Superintendent that face-to-face collaboration is much more valuable than emails and phone calls.
I wonder if LCPS Teacher too’s experience with other staff is similar to mine at my high school. He/she says he/she is “fortunate enough to work with 4 teachers who do stay past 4, 5 and even later most days during the week.” Although not explicitly said, this seems to imply they are the exception. That is definitely the case at my school. When I look in the parking lot at 4:30 most days it’s unusual if there are more than 10 cars left. When I go through the halls to search out another teacher it’s not unusual for the hall lights to be off and I’m lucky to see more than 1 in 15 classrooms with lights on (and a teacher in it).
It sounds like LCPS Teacher too has found the right group to work with, but are they the only ones at her/his school who are available for regular collaboration?
Mr. Addison is right that public schools’ focus is on only class time and solo planning. The only time there is an attempt at group-based professional development is in August, immediately before school opens. Even if the training is good, WHO possibly has time to think about what they just experienced and figure out how to use it in lesson planning, collaborative or otherwise? LCPS knows this is a problem but does nothing to change it.
I didn’t take the writer’s letter as a specific attack on teachers (implying that we are lazy) as much as it was a criticism of how public schools structure their schools and schedules. And although Mr. Addison is really asking why regular school days aren’t different (NOT why snow days aren’t), I have to ask though, if we took Erv for Superintendent’s suggestion to have teachers work whenever Administrative staff do on snow days, just how much pushback would there be from teachers (and LEA)? Or would we be pleasantly surprised with the response?
I have a new hero and his name is Erv Addison.
Thanks Erv for stepping out and speaking up. Not following the status quo is exactly what LCPS needs and fresh ideas are the place to start. Continuing to waste resources (time and money) is at the heart of the Loudoun taxpayers’ discontent with LCPS. If LCPS started to implement more ideas like yours (or, just plain listen to people), its popularity may reverse its continuing decent.
I’ll second the “Erv for Superintendent” sentiment.
And, if you take any crap for this in the workplace, we’d like to hear about it online.
Thanks again for an honest opinion and a fresh idea.
Great letter, Erv. You are thinking like an MBA!
Whenever the LCPS administration building is open, schools should be open (with the heat turned on!) for a teacher/staff work day. I agree that the benefits would be numerous and lead to a better education for the children. Electronic communication, such as email and instant messaging, can help collaboration efforts, but nothing beats meeting in person!
Inclement weather teacher work days would also go a long way towards changing public opinion that the school system is quick to cancel schools because because the snow days built into the schedule are treated like use or loose it leave time.
Perhaps LCPS could/should follow the model of
Obviously you are disappointed with the collaboration in your school. I posted on your comment that you made last Friday and will post the same reply below. Again, many teachers were in contact with eachother over the snow days and got lots of work down. Work that we would have be doing after hours. Technology has allowed for teachers to still be able to work together even when at home.
I neither slept in or did completely solitary work. A bunch of teachers at my school showed up to work yesterday before they knew school was closed (teachers have to report one hour late during a two hour delay). They stayed, they worked.
I get what you are saying, b/c there is never, never enough time to meet with our colleagues, although I am fortunate enough to work with 4 teachers who do stay past 4, 5 and even later most days during the week. However, I have been in touch with them throughout the last 3 days
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