Bleow is a reprint of the Newsletter that was published on our UFT Blog yesterday. Please feel free to comment here.
Results from the questionnaire.
1. I think more common planning between communities would improve the experience of teachers and students.
Strongly Agree= 13 Agree= 5 Disagree= 6 Strongly Disagree= 30
2. I believe that Advisory is worthwhile, particularly the way it is presently structured. Strongly Agree= 32 Agree= 10 Disagree= 6 Strongly Disagree= 3
3. Though DEAR / Advisory is not considered a prep, I often spend a great deal of time working on activities. Strongly Agree= 15 Agree= 6 Disagree= 2 Strongly Disagree= 28
4. I feel that in many cases distributive leadership is a myth and that decisions are made without considering the opinions of the staff.
Strongly Agree= 13 Agree= 6 Disagree= 4 Strongly Disagree= 29
5. I would prefer not to have students come into my class as teaching assistants to simply fill gaps in their programs. Strongly Agree= 13 Agree= 7 Disagree= 3 Strongly Disagree= 28
6. I often feel that students have too much power, and teachers do not have enough power. Strongly Agree= 8 Agree= 7 Disagree= 9 Strongly Disagree= 28
7. I wish I had more support from the administration.
Strongly Agree= 8 Agree= 8 Disagree= 7 Strongly Disagree= 28
8. I feel that this non-traditional approach does not prepare students for college-level work. Strongly Agree= 9 Agree= 10 Disagree= 3 Strongly Disagree= 27
9. The administration is very sensitive to the daily struggles that teachers face. Strongly Agree= 27 Agree= 7 Disagree= 8 Strongly Disagree= 7
10. Generally speaking, the workload at the QHST is excessive.
Strongly Agree= 12 Agree= 6 Disagree= 6 Strongly Disagree= 25
11. I am pleased with the way the QHST has evolved and taken shape over the past four years. Strongly Agree= 27 Agree= 10 Disagree= 7 Strongly Disagree= 6
12. There needs to be a more balanced approach between teacher-led instruction and student-centered approaches.
Strongly Agree= 13 Agree= 8 Disagree= 3 Strongly Disagree= 26
13. I wish that the administration was more considerate with my time. Strongly Agree= 9 Agree= 7 Disagree= 5 Strongly Disagree= 27
14. I often wish that the climate at the QHST was more open to dissenting opinions. Strongly Agree= 9 Agree= 7 Disagree= 6 Strongly Disagree= 27
Comments -- These are ALL the comments, and they are taken randomly from the questionnaires. There is no significance to the order in which they are listed.
1. Main concern is time. Too much is asked of us without being given the time to do it. Remove some of the "extra" things we have to do, to free up time for class-related activities. Do we really need 3 SLC's per week?
2. Concerns -- a) no more electives, students have holes in programs; therefore, certain sugjects become "repeater classes." b) The separation between communities gives less time to meet within disciplines to plan topics, etc c) No reason for 3 start times -- 1/2 of teachers do not teach first two bands d)Tracking within co-hort level e) single grade advisories. Solutions: a)Cross community classes would allow more opportunities for students to take different electives and fill up programs. b)Split community start times/cross community classes. c) Mix communities co-horts, d) Mixed grade advisory
3. Paraprofessionals are not considered as part of the "staff." We are not included in planning and teaching, and are treated as if we are uneducated and invisible. We are not utilized to the fullest potential. Solutions: Include us in community meetings and acknowledge us. Assign us to work with several students if we can do so.
4. This is trying to divide the staff and cause problems. We all knew waht we were in for when we signed on. I only answered what I felt was appropriate.
5. I like the idea and philosophy behind small learning communities; however, there are drawbacks to having split schedules. One drawback is the lack of electives available to the students.
6. Although I don't agree 100% with everything done at QHST, why would those that represent us, put out a survey like this. The way the questions are written, it clearly shows a tone that you are dissatisfied with QHST. We all knew QHST philosophy when we were hired and we all agreed to follow it. I am offended by this survey, and I am worried that the writers of this survey will only seed to cause rift -- not solutions -- Disgraceful!!
7. Why aren't the students at QHST given all the same opportunities? Why is the division in this school so black and white?
8. Concerns: Students safety during "holes" in periods, b) excessive amounts of students in common areas, c) "Project Learn" . . . what is it? d)Why are teachers removed from subject classes and asked/told to teach "Project Learn." Solutions: Create a "curriculum" and rename Project Learn.
9. Due to split schedule, it is impossible to co-plan with other teachers. I am talking about different sciences -- for example all chem or liv. env teachers. I wish we had to SLC's rather than three so that we have more time to prep and grade papers which keep piling up constantly.
10. I am concerned about the changing time of the administration. To me, it seems as though the best interest of the students is put on the back burner. In the past, decisions have been made collectively with the best interest of the students as the primary factor behind every decision. I don't feel as though the priorities are in the right order. Solutions: Always put the best interest of the students first. Decisions should be made with that first and foremost. Let's go back to distributive leadership.
11. I wish we had a more traditional schedule -- same classes meeting daily. Students would be more prepared. We could build in vocational programs for students with disabilities. How can the Empowerment Zone people tell us we can be flexible with the idea?
12. I am somewhat bewildered by this questionnaire -- Let's use the Union for some real issues when necessary -- not to cuase negative conversation about the foundation of QHST. These questions are very leading and seem to focus on the very culture/basis that the school was founded on! Why question a method of pedagogy if you came here to do the pedagogy expected and of which you knew about ahead of time. Since when can we not do some teacher-led instruction? Or is it that it is what some teachers would really like do do all the time since it is so much easier to carry off than to create a project that students can really learn from? What are our real issues? Do teachers really need help and maybe won't accept it? Are they reallyh open to professional dialogue, for constructive critiques? I admit that we have a heavy work load, but I had the same at my last school. Opinions that do not always agree with the philosophy of QHST should be heard if they are not a put down but rahter ideas that are for the benefit of our students! Everyone should be heard and I feel are.
13. The 3 separate schedules and start times are detrimental to after-school activities. Students that finish at 2:20 are asked to wait 2 hours to be a part of a club or team. The 3 schedules are totally unnecessary. Solution: Can 2 communities start at the same time?
14. Concerns: a) I am concerned that students spend more time in DEAR than they do in their subject-area classes. b) Aren't schools supposed to be for children? Arent they supposed to be educated? What's with TA's, TI's, Service, Project Learn? Where are our priorities? Solutions: Perhaps we can incorporate DEAR into the humanities and extend iehter SS or English to cover th egap during lunches. B) Planning, planning, planning. The idea that students' academic needs come first in a "collge prep school" should be first and foremost in our minds.
And I get the last word . . . . . Thank you all for taking part in the survey and for your enthusiasm, dedication, and your professionalism. I want to end on two points we can all agree on. We do have an extremely talented staff and together we can certainly find the best ways to serve our students. Also, staff members have voiced their frustration at their inability to post comments on this blog. There are three reasons for this. First, I did not want to create a UFT blog that would make it possible for staff members to criticize other UFT members. That would be antithetical to the idea of the United Federation of Teachers. Secondly, I was afraid that staff members may write statements that might create difficulty with the administration.
Finally, when I created the blog, I thought of it more as an electronic newsletter rather than a message board. Mr. Brown has opened his blog to teachers who would like to make comments about the UFT and this blog. Here is that website: http://www.monticohort1.blogspot.com/ I, too, have contributed comments to his blog.