Friday, December 15, 2017
Education

Hernando teachers union asks district to ‘loosen up’ on lesson planning rules

BROOKSVILLE — As negotiations continue between the Hernando County School District and its teachers, conversation about the way instructors plan their lessons is at the forefront.

At a meeting Monday, representatives from the Hernando Classroom Teachers Association, the union for instructors, told district staffers that the current requirement for teachers to participate in common planning, or scheduled group work with other teachers, needs adjusting.

Kathy Marcucci, chairwoman of the union’s negotiating team, said the setup places unnecessary regulation on how teachers do their jobs, then told the district’s team to "loosen up" and trust teachers to manage their already limited time how they see fit.

"It seems to be kind of overkill directing where I have to be at a certain time during the day instead of recognizing that I am a professional and my lesson plans are good," Marcucci said.

Marcucci, a history teacher at Weeki Wachee High School, told the Tampa Bay Times that while union members agree with administrators that common planning is a proven best practice that should be used, it shouldn’t be required. Instead, all planning, she said, should be left to an individual teacher’s discretion.

"Teachers feel micromanaged when their time is scheduled for them," she said. "It is demoralizing and creates an atmosphere where they are not treated as professionals."

According to the current contract, teachers are afforded five planning periods, or "non-student contact time dedicated to carrying out professional responsibilities," each week. While teachers are free to use 80 percent of that time as they wish, the remaining 20 percent can be filled with "directed activities," or tasks assigned by school or district administrators.

Because "directed activities" is not explicitly defined in the contract, it is unclear which tasks can be assigned to teachers, and, by default, common planning often is.

Marcucci said she can agree that "good planning in many cases is collaborative, but there are exceptions," such as when a teacher teaches a niche subject and could better plan on his or her own than with others who teach unrelated courses.

Lisa Masserio, a teacher at Nature Coast Technical High School and second vice president of the union, agreed. She said required common planning is unnecessary "overstepping" by the administration that doesn’t always make for better instruction.

"I shouldn’t be required to sit in a meeting on my campus to accomplish something that my administrator deems productive if my time could be better used elsewhere," Masserio said at the meeting. "Why would the district and administrators seek to control instead of trusting us as professionals?"

John Stratton, the executive director of business services who heads up the district’s negotiations team, told union representatives he doesn’t think "any of us are trying to seek control."

"I think we agree (common planning) is a best practice and want to ensure that it is happening," Stratton said.

But the union argued that there are other measures in place to determine whether a teacher is on par, like annual evaluations and district walkthroughs and visits during the school year, making administrators’ involvement in planning unnecessary.

"If a teacher’s goal is to teach good lessons, they will find the other teachers and resources they need to make that happen," Marcucci said, and if not, "let the evaluation process take care of it."

Marcucci told Stratton she would like to see the contract, set to expire in June, include an explicit definition for "directed activities," to make clear what kind of duties administrators can impose on teachers during their planning time.

Whether that definition will include common planning is still to be determined, but Stratton agreed to come to the next negotiating session, set for Nov. 16, with a proposal.

Contact Megan Reeves at [email protected] Follow @mareevs.

FOR WEB (text) ...... Minimal info about the story. No CUTLINES or directionals.

Comments
Florida lawmakers want stronger college free speech rules amid First Amendment flareups

Florida lawmakers want stronger college free speech rules amid First Amendment flareups

Rising up in defiance to Richard Spencer, hundreds of University of Florida students sounded off in a deafening chant."Go home, Spencer!" they shouted, as the exasperated white nationalist paced the stage, pleading to be heard.Were the students exerc...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Hernando could be next stop for PACE Center for Girls

Hernando could be next stop for PACE Center for Girls

BROOKSVILLE — The new year could bring about new beginnings for at-risk girls in Hernando County.Pending a vote by the School Board next month, PACE Center for Girls, an alternative education program for middle- and high-school students, could open a...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17

Pasco school district, employees reach contract agreement

The raises for Pasco County school district employees aren’t as high as anyone would like, but they’re now part of a signed tentative contract deal reached just before 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.If ratified by the staff and the School Board, the agreements ...
Published: 12/13/17
For Bexley students in Land O’Lakes, math skills go airborne

For Bexley students in Land O’Lakes, math skills go airborne

LAND O’LAKES — At Bexley Elementary School in Land O’Lakes, students are throwing paper airplanes — with the help of a high tech computerized launcher. They’re also bowling — with a little aid from computerized drones. And when they get around to it,...
Published: 12/13/17

Proposal to rollback early learning programs could bring Citrus into Pasco-Hernando coalition

Some Florida lawmakers have not hidden their desire to scale back the statewide number of early learning coalitions that oversee child care and preschool programs, including Voluntary Prekindergarten.The state Office of Early Learning has now issued ...
Published: 12/13/17
Brink Foundation, school district create Town ’N Country STEM hub

Brink Foundation, school district create Town ’N Country STEM hub

TAMPA — Elementary school students programmed an electronic mouse to make its way through a maze.Middle school students directed an electronic vehicle to stop on a dime, then use its arms to locate and lift a tiny cube.When the demonstration was done...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Pasco-Hernando State College faculty to consider unionizing

Pasco-Hernando State College faculty to consider unionizing

Caitlin Gille grew up in a union household in Wisconsin, where her mom was a long-time teacher in the small city of Wauwatosa, just west of Milwaukee.She was accustomed to seeing educators advocating for their working conditions and pay, having a sea...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2017 is ‘Feminism’

Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2017 is ‘Feminism’

NEW YORK — This may or may not come as a surprise: Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2017 is "feminism." Yes, it’s been a big year or two or 100 for the word. In 2017, lookups for feminism increased 70 percent over 2016 on Mer...
Published: 12/12/17
Book tasting event lets Fox Chapel students indulge their love of reading

Book tasting event lets Fox Chapel students indulge their love of reading

SPRING HILL — As she perused the book, something about Night of the Living Worms piqued sixth-grader Inessia Richardson’s interest. So she decided to take it home from the Fox Chapel Middle School library.The opportunity to look at Night of the Livin...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/14/17
‘It’s like an insane nightmare’: Parents question private company hired to drive special needs kids to school

‘It’s like an insane nightmare’: Parents question private company hired to drive special needs kids to school

RIVERVIEW — As a foster parent with two sons of her own, Kayla Storey has learned all the tricks to get her kids out of bed and off to school every morning. But this year, Storey says she’s the one waking up every school day with a knot i...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17