Welcome back to school!
Phyllis Campano, President, & Michael Tamayo, Vice President
As our students arrived on the first day of school on Wednesday - most of them at brand new start times and some of them at brand new schools! - a different scene played out in Olympia: state leaders went in front of the Washington state supreme court and made excuses for why they are not fully funding our schools.
Undaunted, educators here in Seattle are pushing forward. We are all anxious to see the impact of the change in start times, one in better keeping with our students sleep rhythms. SEA representatives sent a resolution to our school board in 2014 requesting this change, joining in with a chorus of parents, and then hammering out the details in broad task force.
Across the District we gathered together on September 1st, to bring renewed focus on student relationships through a joint SEA-SPS training, Resiliency and Relationships. We're also excited to be launching the SEA Institute for Equity, perhaps the first union-led project of its kind in the country.
Alongside the high expectations we have for our students and ourselves, we have high expectations of Washington's politicians, too. This is a state budget year, a critical chance to make good on the promise our state constitution makes: to treat our childrens' education as our collective paramount duty.
We are part of a national movement of support for public education. In February we walked in across the country - in over 50 cities. Right now, educators and supporters in over 200 cities are planning a walk in on October 6th. Let's plan to be part of that movement again, and continue to push forward!
SEA and SPS come together to promote strong
relationships with students
"There's really no better place to start than by building a strong relationship with our students," said
Shelly Hurley, STAR mentor and SEA-SPS Partnership committee co-chair
. "Our charge on the Partnership Committee is to tackle disproportionate discipline, but we realized that ultimately our success is based on our relationships."
Hurley, along with her district co-chair
Pat Sander, Executive Director Coordinated School Health, spearheaded a joint effort involving dozens of frontline educators, administrators, students and parents to put together last Thursday's
Relationships and Resiliency training to serve as a jumping off point to having the school year that our kids deserve.
Last summer we bargained that this training be for all of our members, not just certi-ficated staff as has been traditional. 98 schools out of 100 sent teams to be trained ahead of time to lead the school-based discussions. Staff at central office also partici- pated in the day's activities.
"The excitement and supportive comments from staff leaving the facilitators' training reinforced for me the commitment of Seattle educators to focus on the "whole child" and do whatever it takes for each and every student to achieve," said
Substitutes Hit the Ground Running
President, Seattle Sub Association
A great way to prepare for the school year is to gather for a productive professional development event. The Seattle Substitutes Association, in partnership with SPS, did just that. For the third year in a row, we produced an all-day PD event, with approximately 180 substitutes in attendance, an increase of over 50% from last year.
Starting out the day, the Substitute Office came to train participants in the use of AESOP, the new substitute assignment system. This was followed by a choice of one of five different workshops, presented by WEA/SEA members, for SEA members, and in the afternoon subs chose another workshop to attend.
We also were able to gather together as a community, something, as subs, we rarely have the opportunity to do. We met socially at lunch for a brief Union meeting, where we heard from our President, Phyllis Campano, as well as representatives from the Edmonds Substitute Association and the Renton Education Association. The day concluded with a workshop where we gathered to share ideas about being an effective substitute.
As far as we know, SEA is the only Union in the country which produces any substitute-oriented training opportunity this ambitious, and this well attended. It's just another example of what the Union can do with, by, and for our members.
ESAs work to enforce caseload ratios established in bargaining
"Winning enforceable caseload ratios was a major accomplishment of our bargaining last year," said
Vaughan Amaré, psychologist and SEA board member.
SPS did aggressively hire more ESAs to start last school year, but the contract calls for ESA Program Leadership Teams to review caseload data on a quarterly basis and adjust or recommend payment for overloads.
ESAs tried unsuccessfully to get the necessary data from the Special Ed department in order to track compliance with the ratios, and ultimately were forced to file a grievance.
Thirty ESAs - psychologists, SLPS, OTs, PTs, and audiologists came together last week to meet with Special Ed administration in a step one grievance meeting to sort through the data and determine whether the ratios had been met.
"It was powerful to be in the room together and see how each group supported the others," said
Erin Carroll, SLP.
With much of the data ultimately provided by our own team leads, we were able to determine that caseload ratios for SLPs, OTs, and PTs were met last year.
Psychologist data was less clear. Special Ed administration agreed to pay overloads for 8 psychologists. Psychologists
Vaughan Amaré and
John Lynch pressed for better data at PLT meetings throughout the year. "The process needs more transparency," said
Following our meeting, SPED administrators reviewed the audiologist situation and have now agreed that additional FTE was needed. We will continue to work with administration about the psychologist overload, and on ensuring that data is reviewed quarterly and adjustments are made going forward.
Matthew Kirshman, LA teacher at Aki Kurose Middle School, suggests using icebreakers to learn about your students' learning styles:
- Design your icebreakers with an eye on eliciting your new students' various learning styles. Take notes on what you see.
- Then, if you design & differentiate your subsequent lessons with these observations in mind, you can start to meet the needs of all learners in the very first weeks of school!
- One way of doing this is having your students introduce themselves to each other as if they were characters in a novel, short story, comic book, or movie.Make available creative material (scissors, construction paper, blank paper, rulers, markers, crayons, etc.) to enhance their depictions.
- You can either give them explicit instructions on what to include (setting, traits, goals, conflicts, themes) or see what students include independently.Either way will give you a window into the various stages of literacy-their concepts of narrative, as readers & writers.
> > > QUICK NOTES < < <
1. Looking for a grant for a classroom project? Grants for up to $2000 are available from the
Seattle Education Foundation
, a long-time supporter of creative and innovative classroom teaching. Applications are due October 24th. Click
to access the application.
2. SEA's brand new Institute for Equity has hired Marquita Prinzing, formerly a 4th grade teacher at Dearborn Elementary, as Project Leader for the 2016-17 school year. Marquita has hit the ground running: leading the recruitment of a planning and design team, and planning several focus groups with SEA members.
"I am very excited to be working on issues of education equity. I've begun meeting with educators one-on-one about how they approach equity, and I've been inspired!" said
. We want the Institute to both get behind the good work members are already doing, and figure out how we can support members in pushing the envelope." You can reach Marquita at
Get the FAQs on PLCs (Professional Learning Community)
Q. How do we choose topics and who we want to meet with?
Staff can choose who to work with in their PLC, as well as the topic. Many people meet in grade level teams, or in departments, but that is not required. Some elementary specialists meet with other specialists in other schools. In the end, however, it this the teacher's choice who to work with and what to work on (as long as it is an element of your practice).
Q. How do PLCs connect to our evaluations?
While everyone must participate in a PLC, there is no direct and necessary connection to your evaluation.
PLC participation can provide evidence for the Professional Responsibility component.
Many PLCs do use their time to look at student data for their student growth goals, since under the evaluation system everyone has to have student growth goals. If you don't do that in your PLC you will have to do it some other time, so for many people it makes sense to do it then.
Q. How often do PLCs need to meet?
PLCs meet monthly. Most schools use one of the weekly meeting times that are not principal directed. Most schools see it as a win-win to make one of those weekly meetings a PLC meeting every month. They can last as long as your PLC members choose, but at least an hour.
Reminder, too, that our contract says that
"Building scheduled faculty meetings (emergencies excepted) shall not exceed one per week; and no more than two meetings per month may be used primarily for business or professional development. Other meetings will be used for teacher-directed collaboration time or for Professional Learning Communities (PLC)."
Q. Do we need to report out the work of our PLC?
Making time to share out the work of PLCs can be beneficial for other educators in your school. Written reports or logs can't be required, however.
Q. Can a principal attend your PLC meeting?
Your PLC can invite whomever you like to your meetings. Some PLCs invite a principal or others to attend from time to time, but there is also value in creating a space where professional growth explorations are fully separate from any perceived evaluative implications.
SICK LEAVE REQUESTS
Members can access the shared leave form on the District website (
). Go to the Human Resources section to access "Current Employees" and "Leaves of Absence" to find the form. Forms can be submitted to Monica Menchaca, 206.252.0614 / Momenchaca@seattleschools.org, leave department analyst.
Carrie Clogston, who works for the Capital Projects and Planning Department has just started cancer treatments and will be out for 3-4 months. Any amount of sick leave you can donate will be very helpful and very much appreciated.