On August 10th I posted a blog detailing the breakfast situation at my former school, Jewell Elementary. Feel free to read to catch up.
Within less than 24 hours of posting the blog the breakfast policy was changed. Poof. Gone. Social media is very useful in exposing bad policies, which then require people to acknowledge the policy, and make a shift – quickly. As you recall, the options for breakfast were for teachers to give up planning time to allow students to come in early to eat in the classroom or NOT give up planning time and allow them to eat on the hallway floor outside the classroom.
The next morning, August 11th, a “stand up” meeting was called for the staff. A “stand up” meeting is an impromptu meeting that is called unexpectedly and typically creates quite a few nervous jitters because there is no knowledge of the purpose of the meeting. This particular meeting was called to announce a change in the breakfast policy. No longer would there be any option of children eating on the hallway floor. The teachers were tasked with discussing how to go about organizing eating in the classroom in the mornings. The teachers were told that the monthly average of planning time being taken from them, for other purposes than planning (data meetings, prof. dev.), was indeed, within the allowable minutes. Therefore, it was okay and supposedly “contractually legal” to require teachers to give up fifteen minutes of planning every morning for breakfast.
I have a lot of questions about this idea of a monthly average of minutes that are “allowable.” Why are we averaging allowable minutes over a month? What happened to consistent and daily planning? Does this mean that if teachers were to lose almost all their planning for one week (which does happen), and then get buckets of minutes the next week for planning, that this is okay? What happens to the week with no planning? Do teachers just wing it that week? Or do they stay up until midnight on their own time, while being required to ignore their family and their own personal needs?
Considering that these teachers are already losing planning time for required data meetings, loss of one day of specials, and more, I find this monthly averaging to be bogus. How can this be contractually legal? But teachers are expected to just nod, smile, and say, okay. Then they go home and work their asses off planning in the evenings and on the weekends. Workhorses. And eventually, more Lucys.
Teaching requires a continual cycle of gathering information about our children and then using this information to determine next steps. Teachers need time – DAILY – to plan the next steps. Preachin’ to the choir I know.
So without consistent daily planning, what will happen to the learning and teaching at Jewell? What does this mean for teacher observation and evaluation? In addition, the lesson plans required at Jewell this year are incredibly cumbersome and unrealistic – requiring immense amounts of time to prepare. And of course, the required lesson plan components, once again, rob teachers of their ability to make professional decisions. My best plans were on post-its 🙂
Back to the breakfast issue. The problem still hanging in the air – that no one wants to address – is that I have been told multiple times that there are OTHER schools in Aurora having children eat on the floor. I’ve spoken to three government agencies and each say it’s not their jurisdiction. What gives? I wonder if this would be ignored in Cherry Creek? Littleton? Jeffco? Boulder, anyone?
Just a question. And I’ll keep asking them.