May 1, 2009 * Vol. 12 * No. 12
Results from the staff climate survey are now available. To MCEA – and teachers across the county – that means it’s time for a serious, thoughtful ‘data chat.’ Not about student performance, this time, but about our schools’ performance when it comes to teaching and working ‘climate.’
“It has always been MCEA’s intent to use the results from the survey to improve in areas that need adjustment and change and expand areas of strength,” said MCEA President Bonnie Cullison. “We now think a conscious review process, with discussion, analysis, and proposed steps forward, should be followed in every school.”
The first step in the process is for the results – and the password to view those results -- be distributed to the whole staff. In many schools, that has already taken place. Every staff member should have the opportunity to view the original data. The website actually allows you to compare this year’s results with past year’s, other cluster schools, as well as all same-level schools in the county.
At the same time, we suggest plans be undertaken to begin a systematic school-wide review process. Lessons from the data can be used to drive and instruct your school’s improvement plan. MCEA believes, at a minimum, a preliminary review take place before the end of this school.
Your union can assist in ensuring that your staff receives this important, and what we think is very valuable, information and stands ready to participate at any level in assisting a review process, including facilitating any step of the process.
Some staff members are already beginning to receive their assignment for next year. Unfortunately, with enrollment changes and the resulting addition or reduction of classes/sections, teaching assignments are sometimes changed. Such a change can be unnerving, to say the least. The negotiated agreement between MCPS and MCEA, however, addresses some elements of the process to insure that the process is fair and as transparent as possible.
Article 18 (pg. 43), “assignments” addresses these issues. In Sections B. and C., Article 18 states that “Principals will strive to assign teachers in the areas in which they are certified and experienced and where they meet highly qualified status as defined by the NCLB requirements.”
Later, Article 18 Sec. C states that teachers will be invited to express their preferences (for grade or subject assignment) in writing. Subsequently, the principal will review these preferences with “the appropriate resource teacher, department chairperson, or team leader and/or grade level teachers directly affected.”
Because elementary assignment crosses grade levels, new language has been included in the contract that addresses situations where experienced teachers (with ten consecutive years at a particular grade level) are under consideration for a grade change of more than three levels. In those cases the change must be arrived at in a collaborative manner or else be subject to review by the Community Superintendent.
And finally, at the conclusion of Sec. C, the policy states, “To the extent that it is possible, changes in grade assignments in the elementary and in subject assignment in the secondary schools will be voluntary.” Has an open offer been extended to other staff members? Has another teacher, in fact, voiced a preference for the new section or class? Is there any reason it is not assigned to that teacher? These are questions that must be addressed by the administration when making school assignments.
If there have been possible errors or misapplications of this section, contact your MCEA Building Rep. or your MCEA UniServ Director (staff person).
Staff members affected by involuntary transfers should already have been notified about their status and new vacancies should be posted on the Vacancy database. . All teachers (voluntary and involuntary) may make interview appointments by telephone for the Job Fairs. The Job Fairs are: Elementary Schools (at Northwest HS) Tuesday, April 14, 4-7 p.m.; Middle schools (at Churchill HS) Wednesday, April 15, 3-6 p.m.; and High Schools (at Quince Orchard) Thursday, April 16, 3-6 p.m.
The schedule of MCEA workshops, from ‘Stress Management to Refinancing Your Home to National Board Certification, can now be found on our website at Spring Workshop Scheduled. A printed schedule will also arrive in schools this week. The workshops cover financial management, Leadership Development in your school and union, and information on Nat’l Board Certification.
Want to better engage your students when it comes to learning phonics rules or classifying vocabulary? This works especially well if you have a lot of active boys or children who are struggling readers. This will surely boost their progress. (You may want to work on it over the summer in preparation for next year)
Kids love playing the game Twister so why not use it to your advantage. Create several homemade Twister games using shower curtain liners. You can make up several versions, such as Short Vowel Twister, Long Vowel Twister, Parts of Speech Twister, etc. These games help students identify and classify phonics rules. Ask them to place their hands or feet on a picture that fits a certain category. For example, they may be asked to put their right hand on a short e picture.
You will see that your students will be so enthused about the game that you can also use it to help them to classify parts of speech and science vocabulary (carnivores/herbivores/omnivores). You can also develop Sight Word Hopscotch (also using a shower curtain liner), in which students jump on squares with sight words instead of numbers. Then, you can change the sight words each week as the students master them. These activities not only incorporate active movement into students' learning, but also help students learn directionality and following directions skills.