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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Pasco elementary school teachers seek workload reduction



Pasco elementary school teachers are saying they want relief from some of the busy-work that keeps them from their primary task of preparing and executing strong lessons for students.

They've lost some of their class-time preparation time because now they're expected to spend 100 percent of each period "engaged" with students, Deer Park Elementary teacher Kelly Main noted. No longer can they teach a group lesson, check understanding, move to smaller groups but also leave some time to tackle the paperwork, grades, parent phone calls and other things that come with the job.

Paperwork has "quadrupled," meanwhile, Main said, as data collection remains the rage. Then there's the "quiet understanding" that what doesn't get done at school will get done at home, off the clock.

"I don't know how much the students benefit, because the teachers are spread so thin," she said.

Bill Miller, one of her Deer Park colleagues, added that elementary teachers lose planning time simply by escorting their children to and from the "specials" of art, music and P.E. Teachers are told they must also check their mailboxes and e-mails during that time, and respond promptly. 

"By the time we actually get to be able to do something, we're really lucky to have 15 minutes," Miller explained, adding that morning prep time often is filled with meetings.

Teachers also must incorporate state-mandated physical activity into their days. They're having to learn about new teaching and evaluation expectations. They even have to shred classroom materials with student identifying information that they've been told not to send home in order to protect test security. 

As a result, lessons -- the most effective ones that teachers are proud about and students love to do -- suffer, the educators say.

They've been asking for relief. District leaders say they're listening. But "they're all passing it back and force, and we're here saying, 'Help!'" said Deer Park teacher Julie Chasney.

Does any of this ring true for you? What are your experiences as a teacher, parent or student? Are there ways that schools can follow all the myriad mandates and still make time for teachers to plan and prepare?

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 8:34am]


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