Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Last-Second Changes

I haven't come across much on this in the research literature, but I'm willing to stick my neck out and assert that one thing that absolutely drives people in schools nuts are the number of last-minute changes from above. People are told that they will be teaching different subjects or grades days or hours before the school year begins, for example. I was hired by the school at which I worked two days before the start of the school year because the previous 6th grade teacher had just been moved across the hall to be a bilingual teacher.

This is far from the most egregious example, but the state just shuffled around an awful lot of administrators in Nashville. A month before the start of the school year is a lot better than a day, but the former principals have been hiring staff and otherwise preparing their schools for the fall for two months now.

Imagine Mr. Smith hiring a new teacher in June and then Mr. Jones being installed as the new principal in July. What if Mr. Jones doesn't like the new teacher or the new teacher doesn't like Mr. Jones? It's going to take at least a year to sort these kinds of things out, and many of them could have been avoided had the state simply acted two months earlier.


ms-teacher said...

Two years ago, I was given the assignment of teaching a 3 hour block class of REACH (DI reading program for those far below grade level) along with teaching history for two periods to two separate group of students. A month into the school year, there was a change in schedules and my second group of students for history had their schedule changed. I was given a new group of students, along with a new subject to teach, Earth Science!

Needless to say, I felt like I was rowing upstream with that class all year long.

Anonymous said...

Similar story with my first (and only) year teaching in the San Diego City School District. I was hired in July to teach 8th grade English. After preparing my classroom, etc. I happened to be chatting w/ the VP on the Thursday before Labor Day. On her wall, I noticed the schedule had me listed as teaching 9th grade world history and geography. Sure enough, she confirmed I had been switched to this new subject(but not informed of the change). I worked over Labor Day weekend to prepare for my new subject, and was able to hit the ground running on Tuesday with the help of some very helpful teachers in the social studies department.

Of course, one month into the school year, the District realized their hiring numbers didn't match the actual student enrollment numbers, due to a mismatch b/w the estimated student enrollment and true enrollment figures calculated in September. As such, the three teachers with least seniority (myself included) were promptly removed from their jobs, and distributed to other schools throughout the county.

Due to the removal of the three teachers, all the 1,700 students' schedules were scrapped and they started all their classes over again in October.