Communication....again

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-04-2000
Communication....again
7
Sun, 08-12-2012 - 12:36pm

We've discussed communication in the past, but I just can't decide what is reasonable and what is ridiculous in my present situation.  This is the start of my second year at this school. Last year I was hired in the week before school started so things were rushed, out of sequence, and incomplete.

Now, our first day is Wednesday and the PTA always has an open house a few days before the first day of school. I wasn't officially hired last year so I received no info on it at all. This year I also received nothing official concerning the open house, back to school info, meetings etc.   I planned nothing until I had to show up Wednesday morning at the regular time. Yesterday I got an e-mail from the principal asking me if I was coming to the teacher's meetings on Monday and Tuesday morning and wanting to know what I had planned for the open house. Huh? No one told me a date and time, asked for anything or even said I was expected to attend their meetings or the open house.  I learned quickly last year that the teachers have meetings and other staff are not included. I'd never been in a school where non teaching staff such as media specialists, psychologists, nurses and the instructional aides are excluded from meetings, but....  Anyway I assumed nothing was expected of me becasue I had received no official communication and nothing was on the school website.

The open house is tomorrow night and the library is still a mess from the move. There were a few shelves set incorrectly and the movers didn't place books neatly or correctly. My computers are not installed and there are odds and ends to straighten up. Now I should have a plan for open house and be ready to show off the new library space by tomorrow night?  Is this unreasonable with no communication or fair warning?

I also wonder about the staff meeting. I have had my grand kids since my daughter returned to work. My grandson would have to start daycare two days early and my granddaughter would have to go to school with me and occupy herself in the library. If I decline to attend am I risking the dog house?

Issue #3: Our teachers have a full agenda. When I asked for their daily schedules to set up library periods and asked for 2 or 3 preferred times some declined to come to the library if it would conflict with a time they teach any tested subject! That's all of their periods except related arts such as music, art, PE and computer. I can't schedule them during those classes and pull them from another teacher! Only one teacher actually sent me her schedule and everyone else just stated when they would come. Some had notes stating the time was the only one they had available, period. Our principal has already taken a 90 language block and interventions period from my open times to schedule classes. Without copies of their schedules I don't know when they do the 90 minutes or the interventions. Our day is only 6 hrs and the teachers are pressured for results. I get that, but if I try to discuss scheduling and instructional support at the meeting and try to get them to give up more time for the library I'll rock the boat and start things off in a negative fashion. I know there will be several that want it their way or else.  I'd rather approach the resistant ones one-to-one and not start a discussion that could explode out of control in a large group.

What would you do? I don't want to be in the dog house from Day 1, but I wish I had received some communication. Again, I've never been in a school where we did not receive a back-to-school agenda with expectations and requirements explained a couple of weeks before everything started.  I've never been in a school with such little communication or cooperation/flexibility on scheduling. I've never been in a school with such a wall between classroom  teachers and the support staff. I've told my principal this in the past but she says I'm misunderstanding it all.

Sherry
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-07-2002
Sun, 08-12-2012 - 3:10pm

Maybe I really am better off WITHOUT a FT job this year??!!

Express!

Beth "Petrouchka"

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Sun, 08-12-2012 - 8:44pm

Hi Sherry! 

 

This is terrible communication.  My own school is on par with this;  and it is infuriating.

OK---here's what I think about the Open House:  have the open house, bring your granddaughter;  if you make it fun and share some "insider perspectives", she'll probably wind up enjoying it, too!

 

Two days early probably isn't too bad for your other little one.

 

But try not to spend too much time tidying up--not to be small-minded and petty and "get back at them", but to try and strike a personal balance between the late notice and your desire to participate.  Your composure and finesse will compensate a LOT for lack of 'completeness' or readiness.  Remember, most parents just want to talk about their kids--or have a sense they will be well-provided for and in a healthy, productive place of learning-which you can do without all the computers, etc. set up right that minute.  They will be able to see that in a warm demeanor, background, and open communication about your plans.

Issue #3 is a much larger problem---and I would let the teachers make the next move.  Without a clique/coalition/influence---this could be too much to take on alone.  You could make a draft of a schedule, send an open email to all the teachers about scheduling, and otherwise prepare as though they had or will shortly respond, and leave it at that.

The division between allied instruction and core subject matter?  Whew.  That'a a tall order and impossible to address here, as it is a calculus between your dedication, resiliency, and what you want from the job.  I might make one goal for the year---like ask to get on the mailing list for all meetings, or identifying someone who could be a confidant and shares your views---something like that.

But I would schedule extra visit time with your grandkids to help deal with the crazy administration you work for and put a smile back on your face!

 

HTH,

 

Pam 

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-04-2000
Mon, 08-13-2012 - 10:29am

Thanks for the input.  I have now exchanged a couple of e-mails with the principal and she said she doesn't know why I didn't get a letter. Hmmmmm.

She asked if I needed parents to help  but now says she didn't plan to open the library for the open house. Huh? OK! Yeah!

She also said there is nothing in the staff meetings I need to do/ know so my attendance isn't required. I can come but it's no big deal. OK...I get it.

She will remind the teachers to send me their schedule and reinforce that she expects cooperation and planning for curriculum support. Last year they saw the library as a required interruption to their instruction time, so we'll see how that works.  

I do have a couple of teachers that share what's going on from the meetings and curriculum committees etc. Still it isn't like being there because I have no voice in needs and decisions or respect from the teaching staff as an asset to the school. It sends the message that unless you are a classroom teacher you have nothing to offer.

Oh well. I'll be on my own and do my thing as best I can starting Wednesday!

Have a great year!!!

 

Sherry
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-04-2000
Mon, 08-13-2012 - 10:38am

Nah! We're all suckers for the punishment. We just keep trying despite the obstacles!

Sherry
Community Leader
Registered: 07-16-2001
Tue, 08-14-2012 - 10:22pm
The fact that you didn't get a letter might be something to take up with central office. We get one letter from the superintendent that is sent to all staff telling us when to report to the high school auditorium for our beginning of the year all-district meeting. It also includes when we have to be in the buildings for meetings. In our building, all staff except paras are required to attend. We've had meetings every day this week for most of the day. I think we were given maybe three hours in our classroom. We all knew the expectation because we got the letter and our principal followed up with an email, telling us we should have gotten the letter. I also have to add that the only person who hasn't been in our building back working since about August 1 is our PE teacher. She has no room to get ready, so she shows up on our first contracted day and not a second sooner. People kind of resent that. We've been working for weeks- some since mud-July, for the same pay.

Our library time is also part of our specials schedule, so there's no choice to come or when. Your principal needs to make a schedule for it and make the teachers work around it, not the other way around. Since that didn't happen, maybe if you offered to incorporate some of their objectives they'd be willing to come more easily. Our librarian does all of our text feature skills for us since they are in her curriculum also. It helps the teachers immensely.
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-04-2000
Wed, 08-15-2012 - 4:35pm

I doubt if there was a letter for me. I was also left out of the school handbook! Communication is an ongoing problem so a follow-up e-mail would be totally unexpected.

I don't want in the specials rotation. Their schedule is chaotic. They rotate days every week and it's impossible to remember which class comes on which day this week. Next week it will be different! We had a good plan, but the principal has let two grades change it to what they want instead of what she said she wanted (and what we agreed on) so now everything is messed up. 

I'm not going to worry about the schedule and instruction until I get the shelves reset and books organized. The movers left things in a mess! I spent all morning working on getting the circulation computer set up and then I had no Internet on any of the computers when I checked them! Then I discovered the printer cables are missing. My phone cord is missing also so I have no telephone either. It will get done when it gets done.

The great thing about it it that I have peace and quiet in the new location. I'm away from the gym, the crossroads of everything, down a long hall, and it takes effort to get to me. I'll see those that want to talk for a reason, not everyone just passing by. No matter how the schedule comes out it will be a better year.

Sherry
Avatar for nmariean
iVillage Member
Registered: 08-20-2004
Thu, 08-16-2012 - 7:59am
At my school, I would say about 90percent of the communication is via email. there were issues last year where some teachers weren't getting the emails because of technical issues (email was wrong, not set up, etc.)

Sometimes out of classroom staff is required to attend meetings, sometimes they are not. We have whole staff meetings once a month and that is for ALL staff. But we also have other meetings throughout the month where only certain grade levels or staff are required to attend.

As per my contract, teachers are required to attend a certain number of afterschool/before school meetings or activities per year. One of those is the open house. Others are PT conferences, PTA meetings, concerts, etc. We are allowed to choose some, but others are mandated and count towards our requirement.

As far as scheduling time in the library I can totally relate to this issue, since I was struggling with it last year. Our schedule works on a 6 day cycle letters A-F. each day students have a special (language, art, gym, Etc.) but library was not scheduled and we had to do that on our own with the librarian. We were allowed to schedule it during our literacy block or any other time during the day, but it was discouraged to do it during the literacy block. At my school, the librarian didn't really do lessons, it was more like a book exchange, unless we were collaborating on a project where the kids had to do research or something like that.

In the defense of in-classroom teachers, I can really understand how they don't want to interrupt the block of time they have to teach certain subjects, but it also sounds like your school has a scheduling problem altogether if it changes every week. We are NOT allowed to schedule library or computer time during the times the kids have specials, and theya re also not allowed to be pulled for any related service during those times. It really is an unfair situation to be in for you.