Thursday, November 19, 2009

Does my insurance cover insanity?

Yesterday we had our monthly staff meeting after school. Interestingly enough, the first thirty minutes of this mandatory whole-school meeting were dedicated not to raising test scores, preparing for IMPACT observations, or discussing important events coming up at our school. Rather, we spent time talking about all of the exciting ways Aflac insurance can work for us! Seriously?! I don't need to come to work to hear a commercial. This staff meeting is required - not some optional sales pitch - and the Aflac presentation went long, so we had even less time for the rest of the agenda (which consisted of such clearly unimportant topics as "How and when to report child abuse" and discussing our "school safety plan").

I don't know that I've ever seen a group of teachers more irate. Instead of lesson planning, collaborating, grading, or doing ANYTHING useful, they tried to sell us insurance. I was sitting next to one colleague who just kept saying, "I'm losing it. I'm just losing it." Personally, I used the time to write and solve my own polynomial long division problems. I felt this was more important that learning how much Aflac would pay me if I got cancer.

($5000, by the way.)

15 comments:

Glenn Watson said...

I have seen the same thing in several faculty meetings. The last time I walked out and then came back with papers to grade, which I did right in front of the salesman, who happened to be a parent at the school.

Anonymous said...

How this happens is the rep gets the sympathetic ear of someone on the admin team and -- voila! -- faculty meeting agenda pre-empted. The other day, I overheard the Aflac rep whining to a staffmember who has the principal's ear that no one was coming to see him, and the upcoming faculty meeting was discussed as a venue for his spiel.

"Dear god, no," I thought. Isn't there something in the contract about requiring teachers to sit through a sales pitch on the educational clock? Not that those meetings are full of relevancy anyway, but this is downright punitive.

Heather said...

Mr. Potter, the fact that the insurance presentation was included in the staff meeting is inexcusable. I'm glad you were able to be productive, but insurance presentations, 403(b) solicitations, and the like should all be held as optional after school or lunch time meetings.

Due to union regulations, your administration has only one opportunity per month for an after school meeting where staff attendance is required. I cannot imagine why your administration allowed even one minute of the meeting to be devoted to something like AFLAC.

Anonymous said...

The more things change, the more they stay the same. As much as Rhee would like people to believe that she has turned DCPS on its head--she has done little to affect the day to day experiences at most schools.

Yes, there is more accountability, but at the end of the day we still have a lack of resources and staff, poor facilities and incompetent people at EVERY level--including at 825.

The top-down management style of Rhee and the mayor is alive and well in the DC schools. As long as the school leader believes that collaboration and consensus building are "way overrated", we will continue to have teachers sitting in faculty meetings ready to scream at principals.

How many blogs have to lament about the conditions at schools before everyone realizes that we must "reform the reform".

Kat said...

Anonymous #2, I would never have imagined anyone could be so conspiratorially paranoid to blame an Aflac presentation on Michelle Rhee. Thanks for proving me wrong.

Glenn Watson said...

The point of the post was not to blame Rhee for the presentation but to point out she has not fixed this sort of adminstrative problem.

Kat said...

Glenn, have you seen our proficiency levels? When would you like her to address (read: micromanage) a school's misuse of faculty meeting time? It's annoying, yes, but in the big picture, it's nothing.

But since your first post is right next to the comment box and thus a reminder of how you responded to this very problem, let me ask: how did walking out and returning with papers to grade change anything? Did anyone get the point of your passive aggressive message? I'm gonna bet no. (Yet did it make you look unprofessional? Hmm...)

Glenn Watson said...

That's a nice post. You defend Rhee for not fixing a problem she clearly should and easily could fix, then attack me, a teacher, for not fixing the very same problem. The more DC teacher posts I read the more I sympathise with Rhee.

Kat said...

I'm not saying you could have fixed it, Glenn. But you could have expressed your (justified) discontent to your principal in a more direct manner.

Communication. It's not just for blogs.

(Btw, I'm not a teacher.)

Anonymous said...

Kat,

Obviously Rhee can't fix everything, but you would think that she should have been able to ensure competent administrators at all DCPS schools by now.

Many of us have examples of incompetence at the local school administrative level and at 825. How many people have to complain about school administrators before you attribute it to poor leadership at the top?

We will never get to high proficiency levels with the kind of leadership in many of our schools.

(Btw, I was not blaming Rhee for the Aflac presention--duh. Rather, this is a clear example of poor leadership that existed before Rhee and continues to exist today.)

The Reflective Educator said...

I'm not sure that even the most effective chancellor in the world could have all ineffective administrators out of DCPS in only a few years. There are so many things that go into removing them. You have to identify them, figure out what the consequences of firing them might be, and then play the political game when the fallout for your decisions come. I can think of at least administrator at my school who has a job despite his complete incompetence because of his political standing and ability to harm those who might wish to fire him. I'm sure there are more than a few ineffective administrators like that left in the district.

HereticTeacher said...

T Kat "(Btw, I'm not a teacher.)" Who said..
I'm not saying you could have fixed it, Glenn. But you could have expressed your (justified) discontent to your principal in a more direct manner. ...
Communication. It's not just for blogs.,, Did anyone get the point of your passive aggressive message? I'm gonna bet no.(Yet did it make you look unprofessional? Hmm...)"

MY RESPONSE TO KAT who is not a teacher..

I enjoyed your post and believe me in the real world of work and commerce your comment is duly justified. Heck- you guys out there in the real world even have whole courses provided to improve communication. (usely mandated after inappropriate behavior has been noted- but available traing just the same.. )Conversely in the world of public education it's a much different deal. If poor Glenn would go to the principal with email or note in hand to proffer a constructive criticism it will likely fall on DEAF ears. Principals (usually new and inexperienced with an average turn over time of 1-3 years)are so busy trying to learn all that stuff they failed to learn in college don't "have time" to put much emphasis on improving their faculty meetings and they certainly don't take kindly to critism that points out the deficiency. And less face it this is the guy who will come into your classroom and evaluate YOUR performance. Sad but true especially when the teachers are obviously begging for time to collectively share and collaborate on things like student assessment data etc. etc. So, for Glenn I say just remember to always bring your papers to grade WITH you in advance of the faculty meeting- and sit in the back. At least the time is being spent productively. And what the heck- send the note (annonomously) to the principal and maybe things will improve- but more than likely if the author is discovered YOU will be assigned to present at the next faculty meeting then your union collegues will castigate you for being a suck up and making them work instead of grading papers... and the cycle continues.... I'm usually more in favor of increased teacher effort, but in this case I have to side with Glenn Sorry Kat.

HereticTeacher said...

T Kat "(Btw, I'm not a teacher.)" Who said..
I'm not saying you could have fixed it, Glenn. But you could have expressed your (justified) discontent to your principal in a more direct manner. ...
Communication. It's not just for blogs.,, Did anyone get the point of your passive aggressive message? I'm gonna bet no.(Yet did it make you look unprofessional? Hmm...)"

MY RESPONSE TO KAT who is not a teacher..

I enjoyed your post and believe me in the real world of work and commerce your comment is duly justified. Heck- you guys out there in the real world even have whole courses provided to improve communication. (usely mandated after inappropriate behavior has been noted- but available traing just the same.. )Conversely in the world of public education it's a much different deal. If poor Glenn would go to the principal with email or note in hand to proffer a constructive criticism it will likely fall on DEAF ears. Principals (usually new and inexperienced with an average turn over time of 1-3 years)are so busy trying to learn all that stuff they failed to learn in college don't "have time" to put much emphasis on improving their faculty meetings and they certainly don't take kindly to critism that points out the deficiency. And less face it this is the guy who will come into your classroom and evaluate YOUR performance. Sad but true especially when the teachers are obviously begging for time to collectively share and collaborate on things like student assessment data etc. etc. So, for Glenn I say just remember to always bring your papers to grade WITH you in advance of the faculty meeting- and sit in the back. At least the time is being spent productively. And what the heck- send the note (annonomously) to the principal and maybe things will improve- but more than likely if the author is discovered YOU will be assigned to present at the next faculty meeting then your union collegues will castigate you for being a suck up and making them work instead of grading papers... and the cycle continues.... I'm usually more in favor of increased teacher effort, but in this case I have to side with Glenn Sorry Kat.

Kings said...

reflective educator says, " I can think of at least administrator at my school who has a job despite his complete incompetence because of his political standing and ability to harm those who might wish to fire him."

Can't Rhee fire him? he's "at will," right, like other administrators? I agree that Rhee can't guarantee 100% competent administrators, but she could sure do something about someone as blatant and harmful to the system as that.

Anonymous said...

This is another indication of the misunderstanding of the purpose of a staff meeting. It is not intended to be used for solicitation, staff development, or even planning. The purpose of the meeting is for the staff to have the opportunity to discuss issues that affect the school. This means teaches, custodial staff, paro's, and office staff. Most of the time it is only teachers present at the meetings.