My sister used to be a teacher down in La Porte-I remember going to her house and seeing her grading papers at night. Not mere grading but reading through essays-work that required critical thinking, and more importantly time. Time that she didn't necessarily have at school. She loved the work, although ultimately she went on to a different career, but I do recall thinking that teaching must be a 24x7 job.
I was talking recently with a friend about how much time teachers have now to keep up on both conferences and grading, and whether things have changed to allow for time to get the job done during school hours and how much is actually allotted. I thought it would be interesting to get a copy of the master schedule for 2009. Here's the PDF link.
Looking at the master schedule raised a few questions. I see that teachers not only have conference periods but off periods (or department head periods). I presume the off period means off from teaching class and that it probably also wouldn't be doing, say, lunchroom duty or something. I was told that this is a period added to the schedule at some point in the past because of lack of time to add grades. That is, now that parents can go online and see grades, if there are any teachers who aren't updating quickly, this affords them extra time to be on top of doing that. And I also assume that lunch occurs someplace in there but isn't explicitly written in the master schedule, 30 minutes.
Now, conference time is explicitly spelled out in the manual, not so much what a teacher cannot do but what the school cannot make them do. Also from the PDF link-
A conscious effort will be made NOT to consume a teacher's conference period with other duties. However, there may be times that a parent conference, ARD meeting, or meeting with teachers needs to occur during that time. Teachers should use this time for planning lessons, grading contacting teachers and other appropriate functions. If you need to leave campus during this time, please sign out at the front office.
And the conference period itself must be at least 45 minutes in length, and consistently. and from TASB
Each classroom teacher is entitled to at least 450 minutes within each two-week period for instructional preparation including parent teacher conferences, evaluating students’ homework, and planning.
A planning and preparation period may not be less than 45 minutes within the instructional day. During that time, a teacher may not be required to participate in any other activity. Education Code 21.404
All right. That applies to conference time. But what's an *off* period? I can't find anything about it in the manual nor any policies concerning it. If readers of this blog can point me to a policy regarding the *off* time and what it's used for, please do. Is the presumption that teachers are using all their conference time daily for conferences and thus need an additional conference time labeled as *off* to get activities such as grading, etc done?
I notice that some people have conference or off periods at the start or end of the day. A few even have back to back conference AND off periods. I presume the Off periods are also 45 minutes. What ensures that a teacher is there in the morning at his or her desk? The honor system, and, as noted above, the provision that if any teacher is not in school, he or she has signed out with the reason. (That excludes any employees that clock in and out, of course). One also assumes that if a teacher is going to be gone, he or she has another teacher or substitute to watch the class.
I was curious, then, about the sign out sheets, here in PDF format for the period from Feb 2 -14. I scratched out the teacher's names because that doesn't really matter; the signout sheets include all campuses. -I wondered how often and how consistently they signed out and for what reasons. I saw one "DQ for caffine (sic)", other for Brookshires. One person actually put Parent Conference on the sign out, but that must have been a parent conference elsewhere than at the school, yes? I like the logs from the Intermediate School that have a column for how much time was spent off campus.